A surbub in Sydney's Inner West, Ashfield is about 8 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district. Ashfield's population is highly multicultural. Its urban density is relatively high for Australia, with the majority of the area's dwellings being a mixture of mainly post-war low-rise flats (apartment blocks) and Federation-era detached houses. Amongst these are a number of grand Victorian buildings that offer a hint of Ashfield's rich cultural heritage.
The major community event in Ashfield each year is the Carnival of Cultures, a celebration of the area's multiculturalism. Held every year since 1996 in Ashfield Park, it includes performances, food stalls and children's entertainment. In recent years, the Sydney Writers' Festival has also held part of its program in Ashfield as part of the regular Authors at Ashfield series of talks.
The main shopping precinct is located along Liverpool Road south of Ashfield railway station. Along this strip, there are a few medium-sized office blocks, many street-level shops and Ashfield Mall, a shopping centre containing supermarkets, a discount department store and specialty shops. This commercial area also extends into Charlotte Street and Elizabeth Street on the northern side of the station. A second commercial precinct is located along Parramatta Road consisting mostly of automotive-related retail and light industry.
For visitors passing through Ashfield along Parramatta Road, Liverpool Road or the railway line, the three main landmarks that stand out are the tower of the old Peek Frean Biscuit factory (now Bunnings Warehouse) on Parramatta Road, Wests Leagues Club on Liverpool Road next to the railway line and the Ashfield water reservoir in Holden Street to the south of the town centre. The water tower was built in 1912 and provides the water supply for the surrounding areas.
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Workers in the old AWA factory in 1936
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area now known as Ashfield was inhabited by the Wangal people. Wangal country was believed to be centred on modern-day Concord and stretched east to the swampland of Long Cove Creek (now known as Hawthorne Canal). The land was heavily wooded at the time with tall eucalypts covering the higher ground and a variety of swampy trees along Iron Cove Creek. The people hunted by killing native animals and fish.
The arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 had a devastating effect on the local people, mainly from the introduction of smallpox, to which the indigenous people had little resistance. Back then, the land between Iron Cove and the Cooks River was known as the Kangaroo Ground. This suggests that the land was open terrain favoured by kangaroos, that they were common in the area and may have formed a significant part of the Aboriginal diet.
By 1790, a rough track had been built between the colony's two settlements at Sydney Cove and Parramatta. This route later became the main artery of the expanding Greater Sydney and, as the northern boundary of what is now Ashfield, dictated early British settlement in the area. The first land grant in the area was made to Rev Richard Johnson in 1793 and all of it had been granted by 1810. By the 1820s, all the grants had been amalgamated into two large estates: Ashfield Park (the northern half between Liverpool Road and Parramatta Road) and Canterbury Estate (the area south of Liverpool Road). Ashfield Park was named by Robert Campbell, whose father was the laird of Ashfield in Scotland.
In 1838, Elizabeth Underwood, then owner of Ashfield Park, subdivided part of her land to form the village of Ashfield between Liverpool Road and Alt Street. Part of the subdivision was the building of St John's Church in Alt Street in 1841. This is the oldest surviving building in Ashfield. By 1855, the village had about 70 houses and 200 residents. However, the opening of the Sydney-Parramatta railway line that year, with Ashfield as one of its six original stations, led to a population explosion. In 1872, there were enough residents for the area to be granted a municipal council. By 1890, the population had grown to 11,000. During this time, Ashfield was seen as a highly desirable location compared to the city, which had become crowded and pestilent. Many grand Victorian houses were built in the latter part of the 19th century.
Buy the time of World War I, many of Sydney's inner city suburbs like Ashfield had fallen out of favour. Many of the grand homes were knocked down in the 1920s and 1930s and replaced with small art deco blocks of flats or semi-detached houses to attract new residents. By the 1950s, the population of Ashfield had begun to fall again, as it had in many surrounding suburbs, as people moved to newer houses on larger blocks of land on Sydney's urban fringe. The Council's response was to start approving large blocks of flats, many of which were built during the 1960s and 1970s but which also continue to be built today. There is, however, recognition of the area's heritage with many buildings in the suburb protected by heritage orders.
Former Peek Freans Factory, Parramatta Road
While never a noted industrial suburb, Ashfield has had a couple of significant industries. On Parramatta Road near Frederick Street was the Australian Six motor car factory which opened in 1920. The site later became an AWA factory producing radio valves and other components. The site has since been turned into a commercial and residential development. On the other side of Frederick Street at 476 Parramatta Road is the landmark heritage lisited Vita-Weet building, which was the Peek Freans biscuit factory from from 1935 to 1975.
The art deco building was sold to Consolidated Biscuits, owner of Arnott's biscuits, who operated there until 1993. Bunnings Hardware have operated on the site since 2001 The building, designed by architects Ross & Rowe, was notable for its colossal cantilever concrete awning. The tower was added sometime after 1937 which changed the scale of the structure. The tower of which was (and still is) a familiar site to passing motorists on Parramatta Road. The factory is no longer industrial, serving today as a large Bunnings retail outlet.
Amesbury (1888), Alt Street, Ashfield
Ashfield Council had published a number of guides for heritage walks in the area.[ To the south of the town centre are Plynlimmon (built 1867) in Norton St and now a child care centre; Glenore (built 1897) and Buninyong (built 1901), two adjacent properties in Tintern Road; Mountjoy (built 1870) now part of the hospital in Victoria Street; Glentworth (built 1887) also in Victoria Street and now part of a retirement village; Ashfield Castle (built 1887) in Queen Street and originally known as Ambleside; Thirning Villa, (built 1868) and now part of Pratten Park; Gallop House in Arthur Street, now part of a nursing home; and Milton in Blackwood Avenue, which was built in the 1850s and was once home to NSW Premier Sir Henry Parkes.
North of the railway line are Pittwood in Charlotte Street, formerly part of a nursing home but now used by Sydney Missionary and Bible College; the impressive tower of Amesbury (1888) in Alt Street; nearby Taringa in Taringa Street; and Gorton in Henry Street, which was built in 1860 and since 1876 has been the Infants Home. On Lapish Avenue on the western end of town still stands a street scape of five Art Deco Sydney Bungalow styled semi-detached pairs and a block of units at each end that were designed and built during World War II as speculative housing the full history of the land has been meticulously research and documented.
A number of these properties are listed on the Register of the National Estate including Amesbury, Ashfield Castle, Buninyong, Glenore, Taringa and two unnamed Gothic houses at 177-179 Norton Street. Also listed on the Register are Ashfield Park (see Parks section), the police and fire station in Victoria Street, and the band rotunda in Yeo Park.
Ashfield bandstand, Yeo Park
Ashfield Park on Parramatta Road is one of the largest urban landscapes in inner west Sydney. It features big phoenix palms, a war memorial, a children's playground with a statue of Mary Poppins, a monument to International Mother Language Day built by former artist-in-residence Ian Marr and the Bangladeshi community, a statue of Philippines national hero Jose Rizal, a sporting field and one of Sydney's oldest bowling clubs. The park, which is just over 6 hectares in area, was proclaimed in 1885 when it was claimed at the time you could 'see all the way to Martin Place'.
The area's major sporting ground is Pratten Park, home of the Western Suburbs grade cricket club in summer and used by the Canterbury District Soccer Football Association in winter. There are also tennis courts and a bowling club adjacent to the main oval. Thirning Villa, located within the park, is home to the Ashfield District Historical Society and an artist in residence sponsored by the local council.
The other sporting field in the area is at Hammond Park on Frederick Street. It predates both Ashfield Park and Pratten Park having begun life in 1877 as a private cricket ground. In 1888, it was intended to be the setting for the first descent of a parachute from a hot air balloon in Australia. Unfortunately, the parachutist (JT Williams) missed the mark and landed in Homebush, roughly 4 km away. This park was also the site of an ice skating rink in the late 1800s.
The other parks of note in the area are Yeo Park on the southern edge of the suburb and featuring a National Heritage listed band rotunda, and Explorers Park on the corner of Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road, built to commemorate the point where many early British explorers began their journeys west and south. It also features engraved images from early indigenous people in Sydney.
The following notable people were born or lived in Ashfield: Daphne Akhurst (1903 1933): Five times Australian Open tennis champion, who was born and raised in Ashfield.
Geraldine Brooks (1955-): Pulitzer- Prize-winning author, she grew up in Ashfield and lived there during her University studies.
Robert Campbell (1769 1846): Early settler responsible for giving Ashfield its name.
Ian Clunies Ross (1899 1959): Veterinary scientist and founder of the CSIRO, he was for a while commemorated on the Australian $50 note.
Rev Bill Crews (1944-): As the Minister of Ashfield Uniting Church, he created the Exodus Foundation to assist homeless and abandoned youth.
Mei Quong Tart (1850 1903): Prominent Sydney businessman, tea house owner and acting consul to the Imperial Chinese government in the late 19th century.
Sir Henry Parkes (1815 1896): Former NSW Premier and "Father of Federation", he lived in Ashfield during the 1870s.
P. L. Travers (1899 1996): Author of five volumes of Mary Poppins stories, she lived in Ashfield during her later school years.
Haberfield is a neighbouring suburb to the immediate north-east of Ashfield and 6.5 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district. Haberfield sits south of Iron Cove, which is part of Sydney Harbour. It is bounded to the east by the Hawthorne canal, to the northwest by the Iron Cove Creek canal and to the southwest by Parramatta Road. Its main road is Ramsay Street and the point of land that faces Iron Cove, Dobroyd Point, is a historical locality of Sydney.
Haberfield was child of the the garden suburb movement of the early 20th century. The new development by landholder Richard Stanton was promted as "slumless, laneless and publess". The houses were designed by the architectural firm Spencer, Stansfield and Wormald. Stanton named the suburb Haberfield, after the English branch of his family. The fact that the development started in 1901 and a number of the early streets were named after prominent federal politicians has led to the suburb also being known as 'The Federation Suburb'. Haberfield retains its well-kept parks, tree-lined streets and fine Federation-era houses with immaculate gardens from that era, and as a result, the entire suburb is heritage-listed.
Haberfield also has a strong Italian influence, which is most evident in the local shops along Ramsay Street, close to the intersection with Dalhousie Street. These include two hand made pasta shops, a traditional Italian bakery, traditional and contemporary Italian pastry shops and gelaterias, and Italian delicatessens and butchers, as well as many Italian cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.
Hawthorne Canal: Hawthorne Canal is named after John Stuart Hawthorne (1848-1942), member of the Legislative Assembly for Leichhardt from 1894 to 1904. The canal at the time of its construction was variously known as the Long Cove Canal, the Leichhardt Canal and the Hawthorne Canal. The canal had a ferry service operating from 1903 through 1904. The service was operated by the Drummoyne - Leichhardt Ferry Company, and there were nine ferries operated each weekday and twelve on Sundays. The ferry wharf was on the eastern side of the canal aligned with Barton St, and a footbridge was built from the western side. The ferry service became impractical due to sedimentation in the canal, and competition from the tramway.
It was over Long Cove Creek at Lewisham, where the creek passes through a wooden gorge, that Australia's first railway viaduct was built in 1855 as part of the Sydney to Parramatta Railway. The Rozelle to Botany Goods line follows Long Cove Creek along much of its length between Leichhardt and Dulwich Hill, passing through an industrial centre which sprung up around a flour mill on the western bank of the creek near the viaduct. Long Cove Creek began in marshy ground at what is now Johnson Park.
Iron Cove: a bay on the Parramatta River, Iron Cove is surrounded by the suburbs of Birchgrove, Balmain, Rozelle, Lilyfield, Haberfield, Five Dock, Rodd Point, Russell Lea and Drummoyne. The bay extends from Longnose Point to the south-west and is fed by the Hawthorne Canal and the Iron Cove Creek.
In the early days of the colony of New South Wales, the area was sometimes known as Long Cove, presumably for its long narrow shape. The origin of the name 'Iron Cove' is unclear. In his book on Sydney Harbour, P.R. Stephensen suggests that the name is derived from the iron shackles worn by convicts from Cockatoo Island who were forced to work in the area around the bay from 1839. However, he goes on to note that this is merely "a surmise". Another possible explanation for the name is that it was derived from the Ironbark trees that used to grow there.
Summer Hill, to the immediate east of Ashfield, and also on the Western railway line, is located 7 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district. Summer Hill is a primarily residential suburb of Sydney's Inner West, adjoining two of Sydney's major arterial roads, Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road.
Before the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in 1788, what is now known as Summer Hill was part of a larger area where people of the Wangal and Cadigal nations lived. What is now called the Hawthorne Canal (originally Long Cove Creek) appears to have been the boundary between the Cadigal and Wangal Aboriginal nations. Today there is a small park in Summer Hill, called Cadigal Reserve, at 1-4 Grosvenor Crescent, named after and in memory of the Cadigal (Eora) group of Koori people who used the mangrove-lined estuaries of the Long Cove and Iron Cove Creeks as a good source of fish and molluscs, the most common food of the coastal tribes in the Sydney Basin.
1878 subdivision plan covering the northern half of the suburb
The first land grant was made here in 1794 to former convict and jailor Henry Kable, and the suburb began growing following the opening of the railway station on the Main Suburban railway line, in 1879. By the 1920s, the suburb had become relatively upper class, with large estates and mansions built throughout the suburb. Some of these still exist today. Following a transition to a working-class suburb in the mid-20th century, when many of the large estates were demolished or subdivided, the suburb today has a "village" character and a mix of medium-density apartment blocks and federation houses. More than one hundred properties are heritage listed, and there is a strong desire among residents of the suburb to see the local architecture further protected.
Despite formerly being working class, Summer Hill and many of the surrounding suburbs have gradually undergone gentrification over recent years. Culturally, Summer Hill is a blend of medium-density European Sydney suburbia, with Italian influences (which are most evident in Leichhardt to the east and Haberfield to the north), Asian (mainly Chinese) influences (which are most strongly evident in Ashfield to the West), and smaller influences from many other cultures.
The earliest known use of the name "Summer Hill" was in 1876, for a land subdivision adjacent to the present-day St Andrew's Anglican Church. The name Summer Hill is thought to be a name chosen by the land sub-divider, presumably based on an attachment for England. Local historians regard the suggestion that the name is a derivation of "Sunning Hill" as a dubious story which has no substance.
Lewisham is a neighbouring suburb to the east of Ashfield located 7 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district. The original residents of the Lewisham area were the Cadigal clan of the Darug tribe. Artefacts found near the Cooks River indicate at least 7,000 years of habitation in the local area. When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, the settlers set up camp in the middle of Cadigal territory. While the first governor Arthur Phillip tried to establish cordial relations with the Cadigals and their neighbours, the two groups were competing for the same food sources and tensions inevitably developed. In 1789, a smallpox epidemic wiped out the majority of the Cadigals. By 1809, all the land within Lewisham had been granted.
Lewisham took its name in 1834 from the estate of Joshua Frey Josephson, a German-born businessman who would later become mayor of Sydney. The estate was named after the London borough of Lewisham, which means Leofsa's village or manor. One of the earliest settlers in the area was John Gambling who took up a grant in 1810. His name was remembered in Gambling Creek, which these days is a covered drain which flows into Hawthorne Canal. Like neighbouring Enmore, it was partly cleared in the 1830s and was part of a much larger district known as Petersham. Lewisham village developed around the railway station in the 1870s.
An important piece of Sydney railway history has been preserved at the site of the Lewisham railway viaduct. The site is a showcase for four different types of bridges representing most of the eras. On the down or south side are a pair of pin-jointed Whipple Trusses on display. Next to them and carrying the local trains are 3 pairs of welded plate web girders, Next, and carrying the interstate trains are 3 Lattice Trusses. On the north and carrying the mains are 3 pairs of Warren Trusses, completing this on site working museum which recalls 138 years of railway bridge construction technology.
The first bridge to carry the railway across Long Cove Creek (known today as Hawthorne Canal) was a tall sandstone structure, constructed as part of the original Sydney to Parramatta Railway, which opened to traffic opened in 1855. One of a series of 27 bridges and 50 culverts built by the biggest single free labour force the colony has seen comprising of 650 men, its stone, and that of other bridges built as part of the project, came from a nearby quarry.
The Long Cove Creek Railway Viaduct was by far the largest construction work on the line and in its day was a major engineering achievement. By the 1880s, the cement which bound the sandstone blocks of the viaduct together was starting to crumble, and a replacement bridge was built to carry the newly duplicated line. Designed by R. Kendall, who retired as State Rail's Engineer-in-Chief in 1922, a the new 3-span Whipple Truss bridge came into service in 1886 when the line was quadruplicated. These were subsequently added to in 1926 by Warren Trusses when sextuplication occurred. The bridge was replaced by a steel girder structure in the 1950s.
Public transport: train to Lewisham. Walk east along Railway Tce.
Long Cove Creek: Like Rozelle Bay, the next major bay on the southern banks of the Parramatta River has two tributaries entering it which were significant watercourses to the Aborigines and early colonial settlers. The bay, known today as Iron Cove, was known as Long Cove until well into the 20th century. Long Cove Creek enters the cove through the eastern arm at its head via the Hawthorne Canal. This uncompleted canal was part of a scheme proposed in 1929 connecting Parramatta and the main western railway line with Botany Bay via a series of natural and man-made waterways.
Gambling Creek: Gambling Creek recalls John Gambling, who was granted 40 acres in the Lewisham area on Gambling Creek. The creek is now a covered drain which flows into Hawthorne Canal.
Dulwich Hill is a neighbouring suburb, located 7.5 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district. Dulwich Hill is an established residential area with many examples of Federation architecture. The streets are wider than many inner-city suburbs and houses are bigger than some older, neighbouring suburbs such as Petersham. Dulwich Hill is today zoned for medium-density housing, and numerous blocks of flats having been built in the last forty years. Dulwich Hill railway station is located on Wardell Road, in the southern part of the suburb. The station is serviced by the Bankstown Line of the Sydney Trains network. The Dulwich Hill Line of Sydney's light rail network includes four stations located in the suburb.
Dulwich Hill is named after the London suburb of Dulwich, England. The name is said to mean 'meadow where dill grows'. It had been known as Petersham Hill, Sarah Dell, Wardell's Bush, South Petersham and Fern Hill before its current name was adopted. Its railway station was originally known as Wardell Road, a name which honours early settler Dr. Thomas Wardell (1793-1834), but was renamed Dulwich Hill in July 1920 in line with the the local school and post office.
The area became part of Sydney's expanding tram network in 1889 and, like many suburbs in the inner-west, experienced rapid growth in the early twentieth century. As a consequence, the suburb has a large number of examples of Australian Federation architecture. It also features examples of Edwardian, Gothic and Italianate architecture. The tramway ran up until 1957.
The neighbouring suburb of Ashbury lies to the south west of ashfield, and is located about 10 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district. Ashbury is mostly residential and has no commercial centre, although there are a few shops on King Street. Its major landmark is Peace Park, the highest point in the Canterbury local government area. Ashbury derived its name from the two neighbouring suburbs Ashfield and Canterbury. Ashbury is near Canterbury Park Racecourse and borders the Cooks River, where there is excellent access for cyclists and walkers to the Cooks River Cycleway.
The first land grant in the area was 100 acres (40 ha) made to Reverend Richard Johnson (1753-1827), the colony's first chaplain. The land that extended over Ashbury was known as Canterbury Vale. It had numerous owners, including Lieut William Cox (1800) and Robert Campbell (1769 1846) before being subdivided. At that time it was known as Goodlet's Bush, after an early settler, John Hay Goodlet, who bought Canterbury House in 1878.
Ashbury Reservoir, completed in 1914, is rare, being one of only four reservoirs of this class ever constructed in the Sydney metropolitan area. It was the first elevated water service reservoir built by the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board to utilise a Monier concrete reinforcement system. Originally water from Woollahra Reservoir was fed back to Ashfield Reservoir (1888) to supply the higher areas in Inner West. By 1927 an additional main from Potts Hill supplied Ashfield Reservoir. The reservoir is now supplied by the City Tunnel. Location: Holden Street, Ashbury.
Croydon Park, to the south-west of ashfield, was named as a separate suburb to Croydon due to inefficient postal deliveries. The suburb of Croydon Park takes its name from the land subdivision of the same name which in turn is named after the London suburb. The subdivision was sold in two sections. The first sold in 1878 was the northern end of Croydon Avenue. The second, larger section in 1880, and took in all land west from Croydon Avenue to Melrose Street and from Georges River Road south to Cook's River. Croydon Park's subdivisions sold well and were initially settled by people in the building trade, including builders, slaters, joiners and brickmakers, as well as Chinese gardeners who had market gardens on the fertile Cook's River flood plain.
Croydon Park, commonly mistaken for Croydon, boasts numerous parks and parklands, particularly close to the Cooks River. Picken Oval is home to the Western Suburbs Magpies Australian Rules team and is currently under redevelopment. Lees Park is a homeground of Canterbury Junior Soccer Association. Other parks and reserves include Flockhart Park, Rosedale Reserve and Croydon Park.
Iron Cove Creek: The eastern arm at the head of Long Cove is known as Iron Cove, into which flows Iron Cove Creek. It was originally known as Ironbark Creek, which gave rise to the name Ironbark Cove, the original name for the bay into which it flows. Iron Cove Creek supplies water and sediment enriched in copper, lead and zinc to the Iron Cove under low flow conditions. Once a natural watercourse abound with native vegetation and wildlife, Iron Cove Creek was transformed in the late 19th century into a stormwater channel that drains a fairly large catchment area in Sydney's inner-western suburbs. Iron Cove Creek still follows its original course from its source around Norton Street, Croydon though it is but a shadow of its former self. In the 1860s Iron Cove Creek was a freely flowing waterway which in places broadened into ponds that made excellent and picturesque swimming holes. Water birds and snakes were abundant in this area. UBD Map 234 Ref J 11 and UBD Map 234 Ref L 15
Liverpool Road, Burwood Heights
Burwood Heights is a neighbouring suburb to the west of Ashfield. Burwood and Burwood Heights were probably named after Burwood in Cornwall, England. The name was first used by Capt. Thomas Rowley of NSW Corps in 1799 when he named his 260 acre grant Burwood Farm. The land passed through a succession of owners until subdivision began in 1834, first into farmlets for use by dairy farmers, then into town lots.
Burwood grew from being a small village after the Parramatta to Sydney railway was opened in 1855. The Geographical Names Board of New South Wales assigned Burwood Heights the status of a separate suburb on 19th January 2007. Burwood Heights is a residential suburb with no schools or public buildings. The name was probably invested by a real estate agent as a name for a new subdivision there, as it is has only a marginally higher elevation that Burwood.
Croydon is a neighbouring suburb, located to the north-east of Ashfield, 9 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district. Croydon is named after the London suburb. To the north are Kings and Canada Bays on the closest reach of the Parramatta River, to the northwest is Concord Hospital and the Olympic Games complex at Homebush Bay. To the south is Canterbury Racecourse. The railway station of Croydon which was initially opened in 1875 as Five Dock, was soon renamed Croydon. The present name was suggested by Ashfield Council in 1876 but the reason for its selection is unknown.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area now known as Croydon was part of the land which the Wangal tribe. Their focus of tribal land was believed to be centred on Concord and stretched east to the swampland of Long Cove Creek. The land was heavily wooded at the time with tall eucalypts, blackbutts and turpentines covering the higher ground and mangroves, swamp oaks and swamp mahoganies in the lower swampy ground of Iron Cove Creek. The diet of the Wangal was primarily fish so they spent most of their time living near the shores of the Parramatta River and fishing in canoes. The land away from the river shores provided fruits, berries and edible plants as well as possums and kangaroos, which were killed both for food and their skins. One of the Wangal's leaders, Bennelong, befriended the first governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, in 1788 and was later taken by him to England.
In the first few years of white settlement, a rough land route had been established between Sydney and Parramatta, traversing through the territory of the Cadigal, Wangal and Burramattagal people, and following their traditional walking tracks. This track later became Parramatta Road, the main artery of the expanding Greater Sydney. It being was the northern boundary of what is now Croydon influenced modern settlement in the area. The first white settler in the area was Mary Nelson, the wife of convict Isaac Nelson, who came to Australia as a free settler in 1791. She was granted 15 acres here on what is known locally as Malvern Hill. Numerous other grants were made, one to First Fleeter and the colony's first surveyor-general, Baron Augustus Alt (1731-1815), whose 100 acre grant which he named Heritage Farm, included where the railway station now stands. From the 1860s, the farms of the area were slowly subdivided for housing lots and the village of Croydon grew.
From around 1800 to 1860, development in the area was slow with the forests gradually being cleared for orchards and grazing land. The area was a haunt of bushrangers in the 1820s with two major thoroughfares, Parramatta Road to the north and Liverpool Road to the south providing regular opportunities for holdups. Development and subdivision was speeded up by the arrival of the Sydney-Parramatta railway in the 1850s. Since World War I, little has changed in Croydon. Numerous art deco blocks were built in the 1930s which fit in with the general heritage feel of the area.
Five Dock is a harbourside suburb to the north of Ashfield, located 10 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Canada Bay. Five Dock lies roughly at the foot, or southern end, of the Drummoyne peninsula. More precisely, Five Dock lies between Parramatta Road and the City West Link Road to the south and Hen and Chicken Bay, on the Parramatta River, along with the suburbs of Wareemba and Russell Lea, to the north. Like many suburbs in the inner-west of Sydney, Five Dock has some well-preserved examples of Australian Federation architecture and California Bungalow style residences. Many of these homes have been renovated however, and have not retained all of their original features.
Five Dock Bay from the Gladesville Bridge
The reason for the name is obscure, though it is commonly believed it refers to five natural crevices on this headland. If this is so, only two of these crevices remain. It was first used for Five Dock Farm, the property of the original grantee, Surgeon John Harris, who took possession in 1806. Many Five Dock streets are named after mayors, aldermen and other associated with local government, including Charles Street, Corden Avenue, Henley Marine Drive, Hill Street, Howley Street, Ingham Avenue, Kerin Avenue, McGrath Avenue, McKinnon Avenue, Myler Street, Preston Avenue, Sutton Street, Timbrell Drive, Udall Avenue, West Street and William Street.
Another series of streets is named after early landowners, subdividers and prominent local businessmen, including Ramsay Road, Taylor Street, Mitchell Street, Betts Avenue, Friend Avenue, Harris Road, Gildea Avenue and Bennett Avenue. Rickard Street, Noble Street, Heath Street and Augusta Street were named after Sir Arthur Rickard and members of his family. Rodd Road, Trevanion Street and Barnstaple Road are named after Brent Clements Rodd and members of his family. A few streets take their name from local residents, including Mackaness Close and Langsworth Way.
The US Great White Fleet - a sixteen battleship fleet that sailed on a world voyage from December 16, 1907 - February 22, 1909 - visited Sydney in August 1908 and several local street names recall ships in the fleet. Connecticut Avenue is named after the USS Connecticut (BB-18). Illinois Street is named after the USS Illinois (BB-7). Minnesota Avenue takes its name from the USS Minnesota (BB-22). New Jersey Road takes its name from the USS New Jersey (BB-16). A few streets are named after prominent people: Queens Road after Queen Victoria; Garfield Avenue after American President James Garfield, Kingsford Avenue after Charles Kingsford Smith, Bevin Avenue after Ernest Bevin and Henry Lawson Avenue after Henry Lawson, who lived on Great North Road briefly in 1922. The name of Coronation Avenue commemorates the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
The land around Five Dock, including Abbotsford, had originally been granted to Surgeon John Harris and he called the estate Five Dock Farm. In 1836, Five Dock Farm was bought by the auctioneer Samuel Lyons who subdivided it into smaller estates of between 12 and 24 hectares under the name of Renwick. The names of the smaller properties are recalled in the names of localities or landmarks which were once part of Five Dock Farm - Russell Lea, the property of pastoral and mining magnate Russell Banton (1830-1916); Rodd Point and Rodd Island. Five Dock was further subdivided for residential development in the land boom of the 1880s when it took on the shape and character of the suburb we see today.
Five Dock has two separate stretches of publicly accessible foreshore on the Parramatta River. One of these foreshore stretches constitutes a small section of the Bay Run, a popular 7 km walking and cycling track which passes through several other suburbs along its way around Iron Cove. The other foreshore area lies on Hen and Chicken Bay and Kings Bay, and features a pedestrian and bike path leading around the bay towards Abbotsford.