Freshwater Park was created in the sub-division of the Strathlea Estate in 1930[i] and named in honour of William Freshwater, Strathfield Council’s head gardener from 1887 to 1929.
Mayoral Minute [Mayor Alderman J Firth] dated 12th February 1929 stated:
“I further recommend that the land along Cooks River be handed over to this Council by the vendors of the Strathlea Estate and be named Freshwater Park in honour of W. Freshwater’s 42 years service with this Council”[ii]
Freshwater Park, according to the former Town Clerk James Matthews, was a ‘veritable no man’s land’ along the Cooks River. It was subject to frequent flooding and was in every respect a most unattractive site. So unattractive was it that its owners when sub-dividing the nearby land, asked the Council if it would care for the land for park purposes. The Council accepted it and later added to the land by purchasing a number of allotments abutting on it.
In October 1931, the Strathfield Golf Club was formed with the intention of establishing a golf course in Freshwater Park. The Golf Club negotiated an agreement with Strathfield Council for the use of 37 acres of Freshwater Park on the understanding that ‘no respectable resident or ratepayer be refused admission to the Club’ [Innes 1987: 161]. The first Golf course of 9 holes was laid down by golf professional Will Cory and following acquisition of additional land from NSW Government Railways in 1933, the course was extended to 18 holes in 1934 [Innes 1987: 161]. The 18 hole course was designed by professional golf architect and local resident, Tommy Howard.
A substantial section was set aside for a children’s playground and equipped with a small cricket wicket, some playground apparatus and seats[iii], which was a requirement of the Minister for Lands in exchange for approving the development of the nearby Thew Reserve into the Strathfield South Bowling Club.
[i] Strathlea Estate dated 1930. Sub-divided by Arthur Rickard & Co Ltd.
[ii] Mayoral Minute 12/2/1929 contained in Strathfield Council Committee Reports 1929 Box 024 Strathfield Council Archives.
[iii] Oral history of James Matthews, Town Clerk of Strathfield [1938-1966], p3