Lakemba NSW

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SydneyNew South Wales
Population: 15,508 (2011 Census)
Postcode: 2195
LGA: City of Canterbury
State electorate: Lakemba
Federal Division: Watson
Ald. Benjamin Taylor
Lakemba is named after the property of Mr. Ben Taylor who lived near the present station. His property was known as "Lakeba" after the island of Lakeba (pronounced "Lakemba") in the Fiji Islands (see also Lakemba - Name Origin). The area was originally known as Potato Hill in colonial times due to the number of potatoes grown there. Ben Taylor's house stood on the corner of the Boulevarde and Haldon Street. Although Taylor owned a large portion of Lakemba he did not benefit by the rise in land values as he sold before land prices appreciated.

Quite a number of streets or roads in the district are named after Alderman who served on the council for varying terms. Amongst these are Sproule Street, Quigg Street, Dennis Street,and Taylor Street.

Early Development

Lakemba Railway Station, 1909
Lakemba as a suburb did not develop until after the opening of the railway in 1909. A photograph taken when the line was opened shows the land around Lakemba station covered with scrub and timber. A few small scattered houses had been built. As late as 1920 the area was still mainly residential.

Early businessmen of Lakemba included Allaway, who sold his shop to a Mr Foster. Allaway was said to be the first shopkeeper in Lakemba. Playford was the first milkman and the Allan Brothers, the first Bakers; they had a bakery on the Liverpool Road. Gabb's and Hardy's shops in Lakemba Street were two of the early stores - Gabb was the butcher and Hardy the grocer.

In 1905 much of Lakemba was forest country. Dean's tannery in Wangee Road was one of the early industries. Charcoal burners were at work and the product was used to burn hand made bricks at a small brickyard. C. Brack looked after a nursery owned by Horton's , the seed merchant of Sydney.

Haldon Street, Lakemba, 1912
Haldon Street, Lakemba, ca 1920s
Concreting Haldon Street, Lakemba, 1930s
Land could have been bought in what is now Haldon Street for 45 Pounds an acre in about 1900. A poultry farm and piggery was carried on, on land opposite the present Roman Catholic Church at Lakemba, where a dressed sucking pig could be purchased for ten shillings. Poultry farms were also carried on elsewhere in the locality. The land near Bennaroon Road and Yangoora Avenue is said to have been the site of an aboriginal camp. Land values in the district have appreciated considerably. The Lonnard Estate opposite Wiley Park was sold for 6/ - per foot. In the shopping centre at Lakemba land bought for 8 Pounds per foot was sold a couple of times in a month and the price paid by the last buyer was 30 pounds per foot. In another case, property bought for 19 Pounds was sold soon after for 40 Pounds. Much development took place in the 1930's and today, land which in the 1920's could have been bought for 50 pounds per block.

In the early days of flying, pioneer airman "Bill" Hart, and Stone, another early aviator, flew from Botany Bay to Parramatta for a wager of 100 Pounds. Stone is said to have lost his way and came down on Wiley Park. The legend has it that he saw Cook's River and thought that it was Parramatta River.

Business in the 1920s

Irwin and Voght built many shops in Lakemba and sold them quickly. By 1922 a Chamber of Commerce existed at Lakemba. In October of that year, the Chamber pointed out to Canterbury Council that Haldon Street had become a busy shopping centre and asked that it be numbered. In 1932 the Chamber suggested the tar paving of Haldon Street, form kerb to kerb, as it was an important thoroughfare. About 1920, Lakemba business people included,

■John Holland, Grocer,
■John Ryan, Grocer,
■James Crannery, Grocer,
■Clarkes, Chemist,
■George Broughton, Land and Estate agent.

Spencer opened the first picture show, an open air theatre. Smith purchased it, then Britz and Clunan and today , modern premises of the Greater Union Co. stand on the site at the corner of Haldon and Gillies Streets. Nurse Wright had a maternity hospital at the corner of Railway and Haldon Streets.

Golf Club

A golf club was formed about 1912 and played on the ground used by the Fire Brigade Board as a rest paddock for its horses. This land lay between Hillcrest Street and Rosemount Avenue. The first president was Mr. Johnston, station master at Lakemba and the first secretary was W. Scarvill. The course was officially opened by Carnegie Clark, golf professional of Sydney. The course - a nine hole one, was used for about three years and the land was then subdivided.

Post Office

Lakemba Post Office, 1980s.
Lakemba Post Office was originally known as Belmore and Later South Belmore. In April 1910 the department was asked to change the name of the office to Lakemba and in June this was done. G. H. Jones was postmaster at that stage and he asked for authority to move the office to new premises, at the corner of Canterbury Road and Flora Street. This was agreed to. The postmaster offered to provide a horse and cart to carry mails to and from Lakemba Station four times daily and to provide a letter delivery. In May 1915, the post office was taken over by G. B. K. Wilkinson, an Estate Agent in Canterbury Road.The Post Office was moved to new premises in 1918, when A. G. Gartner was Postmaster.

Lakemba Public School

First Public School at Lakemba, 1907 (Belmore South)
This school has been in existance under the name Lakemba since June 2, 1910. It was known as Belmore from 1878 to 1907 and as Belmore South from 1907 to 1919.

From 1873 to 1878 two half time schools known as Belmore South and Essex were in operation. In 1877 application for the establishment of a public school to be erected on the site containing two acres situated between the two schools mentioned was made. The land for a site was offered by Dr. G. D. Tucker free of charge to the Council of Education. The population of the locality was then about 250. The local committee members at the time were Messrs. J. Wiley, Jas Chisholm, Hy. Berghfer, F. C. Poby and Peter Brandt.

The application was approved and a school building was erected on the land offered at a cost of 926 Pounds 10 shillings; the structure was finished in July 1879. The school seems to have been opened in August 1879 with Mr. D. M. W. Thomas as teacher in charge. For the remainder of the year the attendance was 43. The school in the existing building continued in use with several additions until September 1913, when it was transferred to more convenient premises, on the present site.

The land was acquired from the Sydney Permanent Freehold Land and Building Company Ltd., at a cost of 348 Pounds, in August 1911. Two acres were added in 1917 in exchange for the original site which had been evacuated in addition to the site for the sum of 1470 Pounds. Enrolment at the school increased from 398 in 1913, to 846 in 1916. Then six new classrooms were added at a cost of 2536 Pounds. In 1923, a building for a boy's school was completed, thus adding ten new classrooms, the work costing 8733 Pounds. The enrolment at this stage was 1400. Additions were made in 1926 which consisted of six new classrooms, for which 5085 Pounds was paid. In 1928, plans for additions were prepared and the tender of Patrick and Sons accepted for the work, which consisted of four new rooms for the boys' department and a new infants building of two storeys; which cost 13510 Pounds. The infants' building was erected on a site acquired from the Water Board in 1927.

Churches and Mosques

Lakemba Congregational Church

Church bus picnic, Lakemba, 1929 (Lakemba Congregational Church). Photograph courtesy Beryl Atkinson.
The first Congregational Church was commenced at Essex Hill in 1880 and was under the care of Rev. J. Dinning who had the oversight of the church at Druitt Town. The foundation stone of the present church was laid by Mrs Benjamin Palmer in 1911. In 1890 the Rev. W. West became Pastor and served for a period of 20 years. In July 1912, the present fellowship was formed and consisted of 50 members. From 1913 to 1917 the Rev. A. J. Griffiths M. A. had the oversight of the church. He was followed by Revs. E. E. Davies and C. J. Cribb. The Rev. John Morris settled in 1929 and retired and retired in 1949. In the year following, the Rev. Harold Weir took charge but later, was compelled to resign owing to ill health.

Lakemba Presbyterian Church The Presbyterian Church first became active in the Lakemba district when Mrs. Kyle commenced a Sunday School in her home in Croydon Street. Land was acquired and a church, a weatherboard structure, erected in Canterbury Road about 1910. Prominant in the church with Mrs. Kyle were Mrs. Ellis, Mrs. Condie and Mr. D. McKinnon. The old church building still stands as part of the present structure; in later years it was extended by voluntary labour under the direction of Mr. McCredie. In 1917 Lakemba and Bankstown were formed into a Home Mission Station and this arrangement continued until 1922. In that year both districts became separate Home Mission Stations. In 1929 the Lakemba Presbyterian Church was raised in the status of a Sanctioned Charge and called its first ordained Minister. the Rev. E. C. Bowen, who remained until 1934. The following clergyman had charge of the church in the between wars period:

Rev. D. J. Albert-----------April 3, 1935 to July 28, 1938
Rev. S. H. Eastman-------April 20, 1939 to March 31, 1942
Rev. S. T. Knight----------April 27, 1942 to June 30, 1947

A new manse was completed in 1949, largely by voluntary labour, at a cost of 1575 Pounds. It was opened on April 30, 1949.

Ali Bin Ali Mosque Ali Bin Ali Mosque, commonly known as Lakemba Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Australia was completed in 1977.


JERVIS, James : A History of the Municipality of Canterbury. [Campsie, NSW: Canterbury City Council], 1951.