The former Leigh College is located at 416-420 Liverpool Road, Strathfield South. The site is very prominent, with street frontages on Liverpool Road, Hill Street and Hillcrest Street at Enfield [or Strathfield South].
This site includes three significant historic properties: ‘Brundah’, a Victorian style house, ‘Leigh College Hall’, a neo-Georgian Revival style building and the E. Vickery Memorial Chapel.
All three buildings are listed as individually as heritage items on Strathfield Council’s Local Environmental Plan.
The Victorian house ‘Brundah’ appears to have been erected between 1883 and 1886 for Thomas Alt, a wine merchant. This house is one of the oldest existing houses in Enfield and would have overlooked the Cooks River, when it was first built. The Alt family owned ‘Brundah’ until 1911 when it was sold to Paul Lamarand. Previously stables existed, which dated from the 1860’s. It is assumed that the extensive two storey service wing at the rear of the house may be from the same period as the house or part of an earlier building.
In 1915, the Methodist Church Conference ratified the purchase of this property for the purposes of a Theological College, giving the name ‘Leigh’ in commemoration of the Rev. Samuel Leigh, the first Wesleyan Missionary to the Colonies. The Rev. W E Bennett was appointed the first Principal. By the mid 1920’s pressures had mounted for a new College and in 1927, the foundation stone was laid for the new building by the Governor of NSW, Sir Dudley de Chair. The new building, known as ‘Leigh College’ opened in 1928 at the cost of 25,000 pounds. The architect was Byera Hadley and builder C F Gage.
The College provided accommodation for male students who travelled daily to Sydney University to receive
instruction. The old house ‘Brundah’ provided space for dining facilities and the residence of the Principal. It was not until 1952 that the building was completed with a faithful adherence to the original design.
In April 1927 the College was further expanded with the construction of a small chapel known as the E Vickery Memorial Chapel. It was donated by Mrs Elizabeth Newman of ‘Tiptree’ Llandilo Ave Strathfield in memory of her father, the Hon. Ebenezer Vickery MLC. Vickery was one of Australia’s wealthiest men and a great benefactor of the Methodist Church in Sydney.
In 1974, the Enfield site became the United Theological College following a merger between Leigh College [Methodist], Camden College [Congregational] and St. Andrews College [Presbyterian]. Since the mid 1960s however, the buildings became progressively inadequate for their purpose. The student population changed from young, single men, to include those of both sexes, some married and with an average closer to 35. In 1987 much of the land, including the former stables, was sold for residential development and Leigh Hall along with ‘Brundah’ were used for the teaching of English mostly to overseas students or recent migrants. In 1998, Australian College of Languages relocated to a city location.
The Australian International Academy has recently commenced occupation of this site.
‘Our coming of age’, The Methodist Church Strathfield, 1908-1929 [booklet]
‘The History of Leigh Hall & Brundah House’, Noor Al Houda Islamic College, 2004 [pamphlet]
Schwager/Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd Architects and Planners, “Conservation and Re-use Analysis for Uniting Church Theological College Enfield’, January 1985
Acknowledgement to Kathy Reichs for information on Byera Hadley.
This article was written by Cathy Jones, 2006. This article is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the author.