Thew Reserve – who is Thew?

Strathfield South Bowling Club 2003
Strathfield South Bowling Club 2003

Recently I received some inquiries regarding the origin of the name of Thew Reserve.  Thew Reserve is located in Augusta Street Strathfield and was formerly the site of the South Strathfield Bowling and Recreation Club, which regrettably closed after 50 + years of operation.  Fortunately, the building has been upgraded and will soon open as a community facility with special focus on seniors and persons with disability.

Concerning the question of who is “Thew”?  I have drafted a short biography of Albert Henry Thew.

Thew Reserve in Augusta Street Strathfield was named for Albert Thew, Town Clerk of Strathfield Council from 1907 to 1938 in recognition of his service to the Strathfield community.  Thew served as the Town Clerk of Strathfield for 31 years during a very challenging period for Strathfield Council.  His service commenced in the Edwardian period and extended through World War 1 and the Great Depression. He retired shortly before the commencement of World War 11.

Albert Henry Thew (1871-1951) was appointed as Town Clerk of Strathfield Council on 12 February 1907.  General Managers was known as Town Clerks until 1993 when the 1919 Local Government Act was replaced.

At the February 1907 Council meeting, Mr Alderman Reid moved:

That Mr A H Thew be appointed Council Clerk to the Municipality of Strathfield as per agreement drawn up, and the existing seal of the Council be attached thereto” Seconded by Mr Alderman Allen and carried unanimously.  His worship the Mayor said he believed Mr Thew as capable and would give Council every satisfaction.

Thew replaced John Hope Balmain as Council Clerk who served from 1888.  Balmain died in 1907.  Thew was formerly Town Clerk of Rookwood Council (which became Lidcombe and is now part of Auburn Council).  Upon his appointment, he and his family took up residence at 69 Redmyre Road Strathfield, which until 1960 was the residence of the Strathfield Town Clerk.

Thew served as Town Clerk until 1938 when he retired.  He died in 1951 aged 79 years.

During Thew’s period as Town Clerk, Strathfield experienced a rapid increase in population accompanied by significant land subdivision and building development. Some involved subdivision of large homes and gardens, others involved subdivision of undeveloped and vacant land, especially on the southern and western sections of the Strathfield Local Government Area. The subdivision of developed estates occurred mainly in central Strathfield and parts of Homebush north of the railway. The population of Strathfield increased 100% from 1911 to 1921 and 67.8% from 1921 to 1933.  In contrast, the Sydney population increased 30-40%.

Many streets in Strathfield were created, extended or built during this period. New development required public infrastructure to be established such as roads, nature strips, street trees, kerbs and gutters, lighting and footpaths.  The objective of Council’s infrastructure and streetscapes programs was to create high quality, attractive, healthy and liveable neighbourhoods.

In 1920, Council declared all of Strathfield a residential district except for town centres and imposed high standards for subdivision and building including minimum 50 foot frontages, prescribed site open space, prescribed building materials such as brick, not timber to minimise fire risk, minimum floor areas and ceiling heights for housing.

Council also commenced acquisitions of land to dedicate for parks and open spaces from the 1910s. The first park in Strathfield, Strathfield Park, was built in 1914 after protracted negotiations with the State Government, which included holding a public referendum on the selection of the site.  This was followed by planned acquisition of public open space throughout Strathfield to support increasing population growth and housing density.  Parks which were acquired during the 1920s and 1930s included AireyPark, Davey Square, InvereskPark, Kessell Square, FitzgeraldPark, Melville Reserve, PilgrimPark, Boden Reserve and Strathfield Square at the Strathfield Town Centre.

It is fitting that a local park is named after the Town Clerk who was responsible with the Councils of the day in acquiring and developing so many of the parks and open spaces in Strathfield which are so valued today.

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