By Cathy Jones
The Strathfield Town Centre is located on The Boulevarde Strathfield, near the Strathfield Railway Station. The Boulevarde Strathfield is the boundary between Strathfield and Burwood Councils, which means that the Town Centre is divided between two different Council areas. This boundary was determined by the alignment of land grants of the 19th Century.
The development of the rail systems was the impetus for the location and development of the Strathfield Town Centre. Approval for a railway station was granted by the NSW Government in 1875. An halt was established at Redmyre (later known as Strathfield) followed by a rail station in 1877.
In the period of 1870-1890, a number of large houses were built along The Boulevarde close to Strathfield Station. These included: ‘Silwood’ built 1878 home of financier and architect Randolph Nott (who owned most of the land around Strathfield Station), ‘Walthamstowe’ built 1878 home of ironmonger Cornelius Edwards and later William Beaumont, ‘Presteign’ built 1880 (located on corner of The Boulevarde and Churchill Avenue) was the home of William Beaumont. ‘Clareinnis’, located near the corner of Redmyre Road and The Boulevarde was the home of David Buchannan, Member of NSW Parliament.
The first shops were built near the corner of The Boulevarde and Redmyre Road in late 1880s. These shops are two storey and Victorian in style. ‘Keary’s Corner’ is located on the corner of Redmyre Road and The Boulevarde and was a famous historical-style sweet shop for over 60 years.
Records including Sands Sydney Directory and Strathfield Council’s Register of Miscellaneous Licences record that this group of shops have regularly had changes of use including milk bars, banks, restaurants, hairdressers, real estate agents and clothing shops. Frances Pollen’s ‘Shopkeepers and Shoppers’, 1989 [p228-230] contain a short article on Strathfield’s shops with particular focus on the shop ‘Dunlops’, a local drapers and mercers store. Though this store has since closed, an old Dunlops sign is still visible on the rear of the shop in Orr’s Lane.
The major changes to the Strathfield Town Centre are as follows:
1909: ‘Silwood’ was compulsorily acquired by NSW Railway Department for projected changes to the Strathfield Railway Station. The Department of Railways leased the house to private occupants until the house was demolished in the 1920s for significant railway alterations.
1920s – ‘Silwood’ and ‘Walthamstowe’ demolished and in 1927, the Strathfield Railway Station was considerably expanded. The old station was completely removed and a new station with four island platforms was constructed. The development consumed sections of Clarendon Street (now known as Albert Road), The Boulevarde and the whole of the homes ‘Silwood’ and ‘Walthamstowe’ to a depth of about 200 feet. Clarendon Road was re-routed diagonally to The Boulevarde and Strathfield Square was formed.
1920s – Land not required for the railway expansion was purchased by Strathfield Council. This land became Strathfield Square. A small grass park was located in the middle of the Square surrounded by the roads: Albert Road, The Boulevarde and Churchill Avenue (then known as The Avenue).
1920s – The house ‘Presteign’ was sold. Shops and offices were built in the front of the building, along the frontages of The Boulevarde and Churchill Avenue. The house was converted into a private hotel. The house was obscured by the shops and offices built in front of the house. A photograph in the Strathfield Town Centre photo gallery clearly shows the house existing behind the shop frontages.
1980s – Strathfield Square was redeveloped. The grass park was replaced by a pedestrian plaza which was designed to facilitate pedestrian movement and limit vehicle access.
1980s – Strathfield Council sold the Council car park facing Redmyre Road to facilitate the building of Strathfield Plaza which faces Churchill Ave, The Boulevarde and Redmyre Road. The house ‘Clareinnis’ and a petrol station on the corner of Redmyre Road and Orr’s Lane was also demolished for this project. The Strathfield Plaza development was completed in 1981 and was part of a larger commercial development, which included building of the Strathfield Plaza shopping centre and residential tower and office tower. The residential development was the first multi unit ‘high rise’ development built in Strathfield Local Government Area. This development was 17 stories in height and included 129 x 2 bedroom units.
1990s – Using the height limits established by the Strathfield Plaza development, additional high rise unit developments were built in the Strathfield Town Centre along Albert and Churchill Avenues. Redevelopment of these sites involved the demolition of single storey homes along Churchill Avenue and shops along Albert Road including the Strathfield Hotel.
2007-2008 – Strathfield Council initiates Strathfield Town Centre Project to develop new concept plans for the future development of the Strathfield Town Centre.
Malcolm S ‘Old Homes in Strathfield’, Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter Vol.5 No. 4, March 1983
Strathfield Council Valuations Lists
Sands Sydney Directory published by John Sands until 1932
Wise’s Post Office Directory
© Cathy Jones 2008. This article is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the author.