By Cathy Jones
The Strathfield district is known for its numerous parks and open spaces. The first public park, Strathfield Park, was dedicated in 1914 following a referendum of local residents to select the site. Much of the land for parks was acquired in the 1920s and 1930s, during periods of rapid increase of population and building activity in Strathfield. Acquisition of open space was required to provide public recreation areas for increasing population. Many of the sites, which are now parks, were considered unsuitable for building, generally due to flooding problems, as many parks are located close to rivers, creeks or watercourses.
Strathfield now has many parks and reserves ranging from significant and large areas such as Strathfield Park, Bressington Park and Mason Park, Hudson Park and Airey Park to smaller neighbourhood parks such Boden and Pilgrim Reserves. Parks provide an array of sporting facilities including playing fields for cricket, rugby league, rugby union, soccer and netball, outdoor bowls, tennis, basketball, volleyball and golf.
Strathfield Municipality contains 9.5 hectares of remnant bushland. 6.6 hectares is managed and/or owned by Council.
The land on which Hudson Park is located was once part of Rookwood Cemetery but isolated when the goods railway was built in 1916. After much lobbying by Strathfield Council to the NSW Government, Hudson Park formally transferred to Council control and later Hudson Oval and Hudson Golf Course were developed.
During the rapid residential development and subdivision of large estates during the 1920’s and 1930’s, Strathfield Council was concerned about the loss of open space and instigated policies of acquiring public parks wherever possible. Many of the smaller neighbourhood parks in Strathfield were considerable unsuitable for building and acquired as public recreation parks during this period such as Boden Reserve, Wallis Reserve and Thew Reserve.
Large open spaces adjoining Powell’s Creek, once part of Homebush Council, were swamps and later used as tip sites. These lands were filled and capped and playing fields were developed such as Mason Park and Bressington Park.
With the acquisition of the west ward of Enfield Council in 1949, considerable amounts of parkland were added to Strathfield Municipality such as Ford Park, Elliott Reserve, Bark Huts Reserve and Cooke Park. Enfield Council had active parkland acquisition and refurbishment programs undertaking loan programs during the 1930’s Depression to buy public land and upgrade local amenities. Land for Ford Park was acquired during this time and Coronation Reserve refurbished as a park.
Fortunately, programs of land acquisition for park purposes was initiated in the early 1900s, as large-scale land acquisition is now unlikely due to cost of acquisition and limited availability of suitable sites.
Origin of names of parks and reserves
Airey Park is named in honour of Joseph Airey, an Alderman of Strathfield Council [1917-24] who helped obtain this land for park purposes.
Austin Park – Marlborough Rd and Courallie Avenue, Homebush West
Austin Park was once known as Austin Playgrounds. The park was named after Edward Austin, Mayor of Homebush [1914-16, 1920-22].
Bark Huts Reserve – Elliott Street, Belfield
Bark Huts Reserve was formerly known as Elliott Street Reserve but renamed in 1985. Bark Huts was a former name of a settlement near Cooks River in the late 1800s.
Begnell Park – Madeline Street and Cosgrove Rd, Belfield
Named for Jim Begnell, who was instrumental in obtaining land for sporting purpose.
Bill Boyce Reserve – Cnr Pomeroy Street and Wentworth Road, Homebush.
Named for Bill Boyce, long serving Alderman [1954-78] and Mayor of Strathfield [1969-70, 1973-76]. Bill Boyce Reserve was previously known as Pomeroy Reserve.
Boden Reserve – Pemberton St, Strathfield
This reserve was named for Frederick Boden, an Alderman of Strathfield Council [1924-33].
Bressington Park – Underwood Rd, Homebush
The park land north of Saleyards Creek was formerly part of Mason Park and in 1956, this area of park was renamed after George Bressington. Bressington was employed from 1906-1937 as the overseer of Homebush Council. Bressington was elected as an Alderman in 1937 and served until 1947. He was elected as Mayor of Homebush from 1941-1947. The rear of Bressington Park was used as an all-purpose garbage tip until 1977 and the site was levelled off and land used for recreation purposes. The park was reduced in size with the building of Homebush Bay Drive and the realignment of Council boundaries in 1992. Part of Bressington Park is now known as Bicentennial Park in Sydney Olympic Park.
Centennial Playground – Alviston St, Strathfield
To celebrate the centenary of Strathfield Council’s incorporation in 1985, Strathfield Council established a new park called ‘Centennial Playground’.
Chain of Ponds Reserve – Cave Road and Augusta St, Strathfield South
The Chain of Ponds Reserve was formerly named Cave Road Reserve but renamed in 1985. The name refers to this part of the CooksRiver, which is described as a “Chain of Ponds”.
Coronation Reserve was dedicated in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.
Cooke Park – located between Madeline St and Chisholm St, Belfield.
Named in honour of Thomas Cooke, a former Mayor of Enfield Council.
Cosgrove Reserve – Pemberton St, Strathfield
Named in honour Alderman William Cosgrove, Mayor of Strathfield [1940-43]. This land was purchased by Strathfield Council to provide a buffer between the homes in Pemberton Streetand the nearby goods freight railway line.
Cox’s Creek Reserve – Sylvanus Street, Greenacre
The reserve takes its name from the Creek.
Davey Square – cnr Coventry Road and Beresford Rd, Homebush
Named in honour of Alderman George Arthur Davey, Mayor of Strathfield [1926-27].
Davey Square Memorial – cnr Coventry and Beresford Rd, Homebush
A small surplus area left over after the alteration of the road design, named after former Mayor George Davey. The small park contains the Homebush War Memorial.
Dean Reserve – Dean St, Strathfield South
Takes its name from the nearby Dean St. The Reserve was once the site of the Western Suburbs Brick Company [c.1930’s] and was later used a tip.
Drew St Playground – Drew St and Matthews St, Greenacre
Takes its name from the adjacent street, which was named for Harold Drew, former Town Clerk of Enfield Municipal Council.
Edwards Park was named for the late Alderman William Edwards, former member of Council and Deputy Mayor.
Elliott Reserve – Elliott Street & Punchbowl Rd, Belfield
Takes its name from the adjacent street, which was named after the Elliott Estate on which the street and reserve is located.
Fitzgerald Park – Broughton Rd and Abbotsford Rds, Homebush
Named in honour of James Fitzgerald who was Strathfield Council’s Overseer of Works [1888 – 1918].
FordPark was named in honour of Ebenezer Ford [d.1932]. Ford was Mayor of Enfield [1915-17, 1920-29] and is credited for the straightening of theCooksRiver.
Florence Reserve – Florence St and Albyn Rd, Strathfield
Florence Reserve was created by Strathfield Council when a decision was taken to block access fromAlbyn RdintoFlorence St, thereby creating a cul-de-sac. Takes its’ name from the adjacent street, which is believed to be named after the ‘Florenceville’ Estate owned by H. A. Allen c.1875.
Frank Zions Reserve – Mitchell Street Strathfield
Frank Zions Reserve is named after the late Frank Zions OAM. Zions was a long standing resident of Strathfield – a former Mayor of Strathfield. His distinguished career in Local Government included several terms as the Executive of the Local Government Association.
Freshwater Park was created named after William Freshwater, Strathfield Council’s head gardener from 1887 to 1929.
Humphries Reserve – Homebush Rd, Strathfield South
Named in honour of Bertie Conick Humphries, Strathfield Municipal Council Alderman [1952-63]. Humphries Reserve is owned by Sydney Water as it is part of the site of the Sydney Water Supply but Strathfield Council cares and maintains the reserve .
Hudson Park – Arthur Street and Mitchell Rd, Homebush West
Named in honour of Colin Hudson, a former Mayor of Strathfield [1944-49]. Alderman Hudson served on Strathfield Council from 1941 to 1952 and once held the record as longest serving Mayor. Hudson Park was once known as ‘Hampstead Downs’.
Hudson Park Golf Course – Arthur St, Homebush
Named for Colin Hudson, Mayor of Strathfield [1944-49].
Ismay Reserve – Powells Creek, Homebush
The reserve takes its’ name from the adjacent street, Ismay Avenue. When the street was created, the sub-divider developed the name ‘Ismay’ a contraction of the names of his children Isabel and May.
Inveresk Park – Beresford Rd, Merley Rd and Dickson St, Homebush
Inveresk Park was donated as public land from the subdivision of George Begg Vickery’s house and estate, “Inveresk” by Vickery’s son Ottamar in 1938.
Kessell Square – Fraser, Marion and Shortland Rd intersection, Strathfield
Named after Arthur John Kessell, Mayor of Strathfield [1919-20] and City Jeweller.
Laker Reserve – Elva St, Strathfield
The reserve is named after Henry Laker, a former Engineer of Strathfield Council [1918 – 1936]
Maria Reserve – Maria St, Strathfield South
Takes its’ name from the adjacent street. ‘Maria’ is believed to be the wife of early land owner, Edward Sanders.
Mason Park – Underwood Rd, Homebush
The park was named for Albert Mason, a former Mayor of Homebush Council, which amalgamated with Strathfield Council in 1947.
Named after Albert Mason, former Mayor of Homebush Council, which amalgamated with Strathfield Council in 1947.
Marlene Reserve – Marlene Crescent, Greenacre
Takes its’ name from the adjacent street, which was named in honour of Marlene Matthews, who was a local resident and Olympic athlete in the 1950’s.
Matthews Park – cnr Amarina and Roberts Rd, Greenacre.
This park is named after James Sandry Matthews, Town Clerk of Strathfield [1938-1966].
Melville Reserve – Hampstead Rd, Homebush West
Melville Reserve is named for solicitor Alexander Melville, an Alderman [1925-1940] and Mayor of Strathfield [1939-40].
Mount Royal Reserve – Barker Road, Strathfield
Formerly named Curnow Reserve, this reserve is now known as Mount Royal Reserve, named after the mansion opposite. Part of this street is a disused section of South Street.
Palmer Reserve – Palmer St, Strathfield.
Takes its name from the adjacent street.
Pemberton Reserve – Pemberton St, Strathfield
Takes its name from the adjacent street.
Pilgrim Park – Broughton Rd, Homebush
Named after William Pilgrim, Mayor of Strathfield [1921-22].
Prentice Reserve – Prentice Lane, Strathfield South.
Takes its name from the adjacent street, which was named for the Prentice family, early settlers in the South Strathfield area. William Prentice [1838-1899], his sons and grandsons were local butchers in the Enfield area.
Shortland Gardens – cnr Arthur Street and MacKenzie Street
Named in honour of Alderman Percy Douglas Shortland, Mayor of Strathfield [1933-38], Barrister-at-law and District Court Judge.
Slater Reserve – cnr MacKenzie Street and Bridge Streets
Named for Arthur E Slater who served as an Alderman on Strathfield Council in the 1930’s.
Southend Tennis Centre – Maria Street, Strathfield South
The name ‘Southend’ refers to the location being in the southern end of StrathfieldMunicipality.
St Anne’s Reserve – Therry St, South Strathfield
Father John Joseph Therry original land grant in 1837 is referred to as the Village of St Anne’s, which is designed around St Anne’s Catholic Church, built in 1864. The reserve is located within this village area.
Strathfield Park was the first public park in Strathfield and dedicated on 11 February 1914.
Sutherland Gardens – cnr Kessell Avenue and Fraser Streets
Named for Keith Sutherland, Alderman [1930’s to 1950’s] and former Deputy Mayor of Strathfield Municipal Council.
Thew Reserve – Augusta St, Strathfield South
Named after Albert Henry Thew, Town Clerk of Strathfield of Strathfield Municipal Council [1907-1938].
Todman Garden – Oxford Rd, Strathfield
Named after George Todman [1849-1924], tobacco merchant and prominent early resident of Strathfield.
Named in honour of Frederick Wallis, Mayor of Strathfield [1923-24].
Wentworth Reserve – Wentworth Rd, Homebush
Wentworth Reserve takes its name from the adjacent street, which was named for D’Arcy Wentworth [1762? – 1827], an early settler of Homebush and prominent medical practioner and public servant in early NSW history.
Frank Zions Reserve – cnr Mitchell and Karuah Sts, Strathfield
This reserve was dedicated by Strathfield Council in 1997 and is named in honour of Frank Zions Mayor of Strathfield [1971-72].
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Douglas Pike [ed], Melbourne University Press 1972.
– Garrett, J., ‘Sir Phillip Sydney Jones’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1891-1939
– Howard, R., ‘John Hennessy’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1891-1939.
– Walsh, G., ‘Ebenezer Vickery’, Australian Directory of Biography 1851-1890.
Connolly, C., Biographical Register of New South Wales Parliament 1856-1901, ANU Press Canberra, 1983.
Delaney, [Fr] W J & Dawes, John., They passed this way: a coverage of the history of the first 100 years of progress in the parish of St Mary’s Concord 1870-1890, Devonshire Press,Sydney, 1970
Digby, Everard [ed], Men of Mark, 1899
Emilsen, Susan., Dancing on St Dom’s Plot: A History of Santa Sabina and Santa Maria Del Monte, Santa Sabina College Limited, 1994
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Council Heritage Study, 1986
Gibbons, Y., Oral history of Bruce Ward, Mayor of Strathfield [1960-62], Strathfield Council, 1993.
Gibbney & Smith, Australian Dictionary of Biography: Biographical Register 1788-1939, Australian National University, 1987.
Howe, Geoff., ‘An anti-pollution pioneer’, Heart of the City, Hippo Books,Sydney, 1998.
Innes, D., The Story of Golf in NSW 1851-1987,New South Wales Golf Association 1987.
Jones, M., Oasis in the West, Allen & Unwin, 1985.
NSW Births, Death and Marriages Pioneer, Federation and Between the Wars Index
Radi H., Spearitt P, & Hinton E., Biographical Register of New South Wales Parliament 1901-1970, ANU PressCanberra, 1979.
St Anne’s Centenary Guide, 1985
Sands Sydney Suburban Directory
Strathfield Council Rates, Meeting and Valuation Books
Cathy Jones 2011. (c) Cathy Jones 2011. Under the Copyright Act 1968, you must obtain permission to use, reproduce or publish.