By Cathy Jones
Early Estate and Sub-Division
Burlington Road is situated on the site of various 1793 land grants offered to a group of free settlers in an area known as Liberty Plains. The grants were made by the NSW Colonial Government anxious to secure a food supply for the growing colony. The land was granted to Frederick Meredith 60 acres dated 28th May 1793, Thomas Rose 70 acres originally granted on 10 May 1798, Simeon Lord granted 160 acres dated 9 August 1803 and Edward Powell 19 acres dated 1 January 1810.
The land proved difficult to farm and the settlers abandoned farming activity and moved from their land. Eventually, this land and other land located in the current day Homebush West and Homebush [both sides of the railway line] came under the ownership of James Underwood, Edward Powell’s son-in-law. The land became known as the ‘Underwood Estate’.
By 1878 when the section of the ‘Underwood Estate’ known as the ‘Village of Homebush’ was subdivided, residential development of the suburbs of Strathfield (then Redmire) had already commenced. The large ‘Redmire Estate’ commenced residential subdivision in 1867 and by the late 1870s, large homes for wealthy merchants and businessmen were being built in Strathfield. In 1877, a rail halt and later a station was established at Redmire.
A railway halt and later a station was established at Homebush in 1855, which was intended to service the Homebush Racecourse, site north of the current railway line. There is little evidence of development on the south side of the Homebush Railway until the development of the ‘Village of Homebush’ estate from 1878 onwards.
‘The Village of Homebush’ estate is a section measuring 306 acres of the ‘Underwood Estate’ located south of the railway. The land was purchased by a group, intending to subdivide the land for residential development and included: William George Pennington, William Henry Mackenzie Snr, John Piper Mackenzie, Robert John King, and Charles Wye Weekes.
The ‘Village of Homebush’ subdivision created Burlington Road, Beresford Road, Abbotsford Road, Bridge Street, Coventry Road, Meredith Street, Homebush Crescent and Bellevue Street. A section of Coventry Road has been renamed Mackenzie Street. Bellevue Street has been renamed Homebush Road and Homebush Crescent has been renamed The Crescent.
Residential development commenced c.1880 in Burlington Road. Typically, the first homes were set on large lots of land.
Many of the early residents of this area were persons of some prominence in industry or public service such as David Kirkcaldie, Commissioner of NSW Railways and A W S Gregg, principal of Richardson and Wrench real estate agents and auctioneers.
There were a number of Victorian style homes which have either been demolished or are in very poor condition. The last remaining two storey Victorian style home that survives with any integrity is ‘Marlborough’ (built c.1883), 94-96 Burlington Road. The best remaining examples of single storey Victorian styles homes are ‘Finchley’ (built 1892) 61 Burlington Road and ‘Meyrick’ (built c.1889), 82 Burlington Road. These properties are included on Strathfield Council’s Local Environment Plans as heritage items.
Though some Victorian style homes are still in existence in Burlington Road, most have lost many original features or have been considerably altered. Demolition and redevelopment of these properties commenced in the 1930’s. The onset of the 1930’s economic depression accelerated the decline of demand for large mansion style homes. The following are examples of Victorian style houses which have been demolished or severely altered.
- The house ‘Comraques’, built 1891, was located on the south west corner of Burlington Road and Meredith Street. The first owner was Henry Pain, who sold it to W H McClelland, a silk merchant and Alderman on Strathfield Council. After the death of the later owner James Paterson, the house was demolished and subdivided in 1936. The interwar style cottages located at 74 to 80 Burlington Road are built on this subdivision.
- The house and in particular the front façade of ‘Pretoria’, 86 Burlington Road has been externally altered. ‘Pretoria’ was a single storey Victorian similar to 88 Burlington Rd in appearance.
- ‘Garaville’ was the home of forwarding agent W H Shortland and built c.1880. This house has been demolished and subdivided into two building blocks now occupied by 90 and 92 Burlington Road.
- ‘Deep Dene’, built c.1891, was a two storey Victorian style home located at 73 and 75 Burlington Road built for the Rossiter family. The house later became a boarding house and was demolished in the 1970’s. Photographs show prior to demolition the house’s exterior was severely altered and was in very poor condition.
Burlington Road contains other architectural styles, such as Federation. Some of which have been heritage listed, which includes: ‘Talgai’ 63 Burlington Road Homebush (built c.1914), ‘Gowan Brae’ 65 Burlington Road Homebush (built c.1914), ‘Camden Lodge’ 102 Burlington Road Homebush (built c.1917) and ‘Billesdon’ 104 Burlington Road Homebush (built c.1915 with photo featured at the top of this article).
Since WWII, development in Burlington Road is unit development, replacement housing or subdivision of larger blocks.
Strathfield Planning Scheme Ordinance
The Local Government Act 1919 provided NSW Councils with the authority to control land use eg zoning. In April 1920, Strathfield Council was the first Council in NSW to use the new laws to adopt a ‘residential proclamation’, which was gazetted in September 1920. The proclamation excluded any trade, industry, shop, place of amusement, advertisements or residential flats in areas outside of town centres and major roads. The proclamation was in force until February 1969 when the Strathfield Planning Scheme Ordinance (SPSO) was gazetted. The SPSO was developed in accordance with guidelines of the Cumberland Planning Scheme. The SPSO, with amendments, remained the primary planning instrument for Strathfield Local Government Area until the adoption of the Local Environmental Plan in 2013.
One of the initiatives of the SPSO was the intensification of housing density near transport interchanges and town centres. Burlington Road, between Meredith Street and Bridge Road, was rezoned to permit 2-3 storey walkup units.
Due to the close proximity of Burlington Road to Homebush Rail Station and Homebush shopping centre, the section of Burlington Road between Homebush Road and Meredith Street was rezoned to permit multi-unit development. Many houses includingVictorian style buildings such as ‘Viva’ 18 Burlington Road, which was identified in the 1986 Strathfield Heritage Study, were demolished.
Building registers indicate that development in Burlington Road occurred quickly, once the ordinance was adopted. The majority of unit developments in Burlington Road were approved between 1969 and 1971.
The section of Burlington Road between Meredith and Bridge Road was excluded from the multi-unit rezoning and remains the only section of Burlington Road with houses.
Commonwealth of Australia Electoral Rolls, Division of Homebush, 1939.
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986
Parkinson, L., The Underwoods: Lock, Stock and Barrel, 1989
Sands Sydney and Suburban Directory, 1880-1932/3
Strathfield Council Building Registers Vol. 4 [1928-1935] and Vol.5 [1935-1940]
Strathfield Council Building Approval Index Cards 1950s to early 1990s
Strathfield Council Valuation Lists 1880s
Uniting Church Homebush 100 Years of Faithful Service, 1885-1985
Wise’s Post Office Directory 1904. 1908, 1936