Harcourt Model Suburb 1889 Heritage Panel

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Harcourt Model Suburb 1889, Heritage Panel 17

Cnr Fifth & Eighth Avenues, Campsie Unveiled by Councillor Kayee Griffin, Mayor of Canterbury on 29 April 1998.

Harcourt Model Suburb, subdivided by two Americans, William Edgar Harold Phillips and his brother , James Otis Phillips, was designed in 1889 to attract buyers in anticipation of the opening of a railway line to Belmore.

Their speculation company, the Austral Banking and Land Proprietary, bought the 200 acre "Stoneless Bay Farm" from Mary Redman for over 10,000 pounds and laid out the roads as numbered "Grand Avenues", shading the burnt clay footpaths with trees protected by white fencing. At the junction of every street corner, they installed ornamental wires for flowers and hanging baskets, claiming that the "poetry of the green fields and the running book" in the estate would bring out all that is "noble and best" in man's moral nature. They advertised that a "building bonus" would be distributed after five years among those who complied with their housing ideal that all houses should be of high quality, and stand more than twenty feet from the front fence and midway between the side fences. Harcourt was to be free of terraces and other overcrowded forms of housing.

In May 1889, Sydney was deluged by 17 inches (425mm) of rain in one weekend, and the three creeks which flowed across this estate became raging torrents which swept all the expensive landscaping away. The company failed in the Depression of 1891 - 93, and W.E.H Phillips was convicted of fraud. Only a few of the early houses, built to the high standards set by the company, have survived the activities of later speculators.

Prepared by Canterbury City Library

Photographs: 1889 illustrations of the proposed Harcourt Model Suburb (clockwise from top left): 1. Fifth Grand Avenue, looking across Cooks River to Hill's farm 2. Eighth Grand Avenue 3. An ideal home suggested for the Estate.

Research for this panel by Lesley Muir and Brian Madden. Illustration on panel courtesy of State Library of NSW and Canterbury and District Historical Society.