Belfield

The suburb of Belfield is located across Strathfield Council and Canterbury-Bankstown Councils.

The section of the suburb of Belfield located in the Strathfield Council area is bounded by the Cooks River and Coxs Creek Stormwater Channel at the north and Punchbowl Road at the south.

Origin of the name

The name ‘Belfield’ is a constructed from the names of adjoining suburbs Belmore and Enfield, however its’ origin is subject to some debate. Some believe that it came into usage after the opening of the Enfield Marshalling Yards in 1916, others state that the name Belfield originated with actions of local residents to establish a local post office. The area of Belfield, bounded by Punchbowl Rd, was originally part of Enfield Council but was absorbed into Strathfield Council in 1949.

Early settlement

Many would be unaware that one of the oldest European settlements in the Strathfield Municipality was located in present day Belfield. Land grants commenced in 1809 with a grant of 60 acres to John Alford. In time, these smaller grants were sold and consolidated into larger estates. One of these was the 250 acre ‘Clareville’ Estate, the home Judge John Stephens [1771-1833], the first Supreme Court Judge of NSW and cousin of writers Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. ‘Clareville’ was located on the banks of the Cooks River. Stephens died at ‘Clareville’ in 1833 and this estate was acquired by Charles Elliott in 1849 and later subdivided into smaller residential allotments, establishing streets such as Water St. The street Clareville Close was derived from this source.

Belfield was originally populated by farms, dairies and market gardens. Some homes dating from the late 19th century, reflecting this history, are still in existence in Madeline Street.

Homes developed as employment opportunities increased with the establishment of the Enfield Marshalling Yards in 1916.

Another wave of residential development in Belfield occurred after World War II with the building of War Service and Housing Commission homes in streets such as Patricia Street, Robinson Street and Victory Avenue.

Parks

Belfield contains significant parks and open space. Large parks include Cooke Park, named for Thomas Cooke, the last Mayor of Enfield Council and Begnall Oval, named after Jim Begnall. Parks such as Elliott Reserve and Maria Reserve were developed on land reserved in 1951 by NSW Government for a proposed roadway along the Cooks River travelling from Botany Bay to Chullora.

The plan for the ‘Cooks River Country Road’ was eventually discontinued and the M5 motorway proceeded in its’ place. Elliot Reserve was named for the Elliott family, early landowners in Belfield and Maria Reserve, was derived from Maria Street, in turn named for the wife of early landholder Edward Saunders.

Acknowledgement is given to the Canterbury & District Historical Society and Canterbury Council Library for their assistance in the research of this article.

© Cathy Jones 2004, updated 2018. This article is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the author.

4 comments

  1. Dear Cathy,
    I don’t want to see another change of the history to the name Belfield. I have lived on the Strathfield Council side of Belfield all my life. For no reason, someone councillor or officer in Strathfield Council has proposed to rename the Strathfield side of Belfield as Strathfield South. As far as I can recall, many Gregory’s-branded street directories printed in the 1970s referred to streets such as Robinson St as being in Enfield, not Belfield. I have always known living on the Strathfield-side of Belfield as Belfield even though it was officially gazetted in 1991 (source article: History of Belfield And Memories – please correct me on this).

    To change the Strathfield side of Belfield to Strathfield South may well be a source of confusion for motorists. To illustrate, when you enter Belfield from Georges River Rd, you will see a sign provided by Canterbury Bankstown Council indicating “Belfield”. People continuing to drive all along Punchbowl Rd (continued from Georges River Rd and Coronation Pde (originally known as Punchbowl Rd), will believe they are driving through Belfield and not Belfield (on the left) and Strathfield South (on the right).

    Conversely, for motorists driving along Punchbowl Rd from Wiley Park will be seeing a sign provided by Strathfield Council labelled “Strathfield South”. They will think that they are driving through “Strathfield South” and not “Strathfield South” (on the left) and “Belfield” (on the right).

    What about those who travel along Water St (on the Strathfield Side), cross Punchbowl Rd into Burwood then enter the Belfield Shopping Centre with its Belfield Post Office. By the way, one of the original reasons for the naming of the suburb of Belfield was the establishment of the Belfield Post Office. Also, the name Belfield may have had its origins from the first house of worship, Belfield Methodist (now Uniting Church) advertising its church services between Belmore and Enfield, source, https://belfield.nswact.uca.org.au/about/

    Then there is the issue of correspondence by snail mail and parcel delivery. I should not have to change my postcode from 2191 to 2136. Despite the option of bills being delivered by email, snail mail is important for documents from government departments and utilities. It would be a burden to remember to contact government departments, utilities, other services and friends to update their records.

    In sum, I am extremely reluctant to change the Strathfield side of Belfield to Strathfield South for historical, administrative and navigational reasons.

    Thank you,
    Anthony of exciting Belfield

    Like

    1. Anthony

      You probably need to contact Council with your concerns. Change of name would require agreement of the NSW Geographical Names Board. Names of suburbs in this area have changed many times. People tend to be passionate about names of suburbs, particularly if they are life time residents. Most old records refer to streets in the Strathfield Council portion of Belfield as Enfield. Enfield now has shrunk to only a few streets.

      Cathy

      Like

      1. Dear Cathy,
        Thank you for the response. I have submitted my concerns to the council via the council’s webpage a few months ago as soon as the issue raised by council was ‘snail’ mailed to residents. So I await a response.
        In my anecdotal and extremely small sample survey, I asked a few residents what they thought on the proposed name change of Belfield, a typical response was that they were not happy and “…there was nothing we can do…” .
        In the same way, I would be extremely reluctant to even have the name Belfield changed to Belfield Gardens, Belfield Heights, Belfield Grove, Belfield Hill, Mount Belfield, Belfield upon Cooks, Belfield upon Cox
        Thanks,
        Anthony of exciting Belfield

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s