House names were used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to identify the location of a house, prior to the numbering of streets. In Strathfield, street numbering commenced in the 1920s. House names were used on records such as post office directories, such as Sands or Wise’s directories which listed the house location and occupier.
Land records such as valuation lists held by Councils often noted the name of the house as well as Lot numbers. Records from early 1920s to 1950s frequently feature house names.
Directories such as Sands and Wise’s Post Office Directories (like an early version of White Pages phone directory) list the occupant of the property because the purpose of the directory was to identify where a person lived. While Council records list the owner because the purpose of a valuation record is to value the property for taxes and rates.
If you want to find the name of your house in Strathfield, please take the following into consideration:
Researchers should be aware that there have been a number of Council amalgamations and boundary adjustments in Strathfield Local Government Area that would affect their research. The location of your house will determine which records are available.
- Strathfield Local Government Area was incorporated in 1885. This area is only a third of the current council area and was bounded by the railway line at north, Liverpool Road at south, The Boulevarde at east and Rookwood Cemetery at west.
- Flemington (now Homebush West), which had remained unincorporated, was added in 1892. Therefore there are no council records prior to 1892 of this area.
- Homebush Council was incorporated in 1906 and amalgamated with Strathfield in 1947. Homebush Council was located north of the railway line and bounded by Powell’s Creek and current Homebush Bay Drive (approximate boundary location) and Courallie Avenue. Most Sands records exist from 1908 as this area was previously unincorporated. Some Homebush Council records are still in existance though there are no building registers and valuation records are not fully complete.
- The west ward of Enfield Council was added to Strathfield in 1949. Enfield Council was incorporated in 1889 and its west ward was amalgamated with Strathfield Council in late 1948 (officially 1 January 1949). This ward was bounded by Juno Parade at Greenacre and Punchbowl Road at Belfield at south, Roberts Road at west, Coronation Parade at east and Liverpool Road at north. Enfield Council records are still in existance, though there are no complete building registers and valuation records are an incomplete series.
- In 1992, a boundary adjustment with Auburn Council added additional area in Homebush West near the former Ford car factory. All records prior to 1992 are held by Auburn Council.
Sands Sydney Directory indicates that most streets in Strathfield Council used street numbers by 1928, Homebush Council by 1929 and Enfield Council by 1923. However, there were still many properties, especially large homes that continued to be known by their names for many years.
Renumbering of Streets
Researchers should be aware that most streets in Strathfield Local Government Area have been renumbered over time. Renumbering has been necessary due to sub-divisions of large properties and the need for additional street numbers.
Most streets in the former Enfield Council area were renumbered and reversed (eg changed from odd to even and even to odd) in the 1950’s to standardise the numbering system throughout Strathfield Local Government Area, where odd numbers are used from north and west facing properties) and even numbers for south and east facing properties.
Sources of Information
The Sands Sydney Directory (published until 1932/3) is a popular reference for local and family history research as it is available in many local libraries. The Sands Directory was early post office directory which listed occupants of properties in street order. Information in Sands is not always accurate and lists occupiers, not owners. Sands is best used in combination with other sources of information to verify your findings.
Council records such as valuation lists often record the house name. Though valuation records from c.1920s to c.1960s generally include house names, a change of name is not always recorded especially if a renter was using a different house name. Occupancy details are more likely to appear in Sands Directory than on Council property records, which were concerned with recording property ownership and payment of rates and taxes. House names are not permanent.
Houses were often named by the owner or occupant but can change with a new owner or occupant. There are many examples in Strathfield such as the previously mentioned ‘Brunyarra’ built by John Spencer Brunton c.1886. Later known as ‘Prestwich’ (when owned by Judge Edward Scholes); ‘Murrumbah’ (when owned by Dr Arthur Mills and later Albert Grace of retailer Grace Bros); ‘Del Monte’ (1928-1950, when owned by Mrs Mary Bailey, who operated Del Monte as a wedding reception centre); and lastly, Santa Maria Del Monte (from 1950 when acquired by the Sisters of St Dominic).
It is not unusual for houses to have multiple names, particularly when ownership or occupancy changed on a frequent basis. House names can move with the occupant. In Strathfield, it is not uncommon for a resident to move to another house in the district and name his new house with the name of his previous home. Examples include:
- Architect Harry Chambers Kent designed and built ‘Kelmswood’ (88-94 Redmyre Rd) in 1893 as his private residence, on the corner of Redmyre Rd and Florence St. Around 1916, Kent moved across the road to the other corner of Redmyre Rd and Florence St (86 Redmyre Rd) and called the new house ‘Kelmswood’. Kent’s original house is now called ‘Woodstock’ and his later home was later renamed ‘Wyangarie’, then ‘Borambil’ by subsequent owners.
- John Robert Firth, Mayor of Strathfield (1916, 1928-32), lived at ‘Holmfirth’ in Redmyre Rd but later when he moved to a home called ‘Girraween’ in Victoria St, which he renamed ‘Holmfirth’.
- John Curnow, Mayor of Strathfield (1925), originally lived in Meredith St in a house called ‘Chyralsson’. When he later moved to 147 Albert Rd and named this house ‘Chyralsson’ also.