By Cathy Jones
The name ‘Albyn’ was first adopted c.1886 for the eastern section of the road [formerly Railway Street] and the western section called ‘Bushy Hill Street’ was renamed ‘Albyn Rd’ in 1918. The origin of the name ‘Albyn’ is not known but the word ‘Albyn’ is the Celtic name for Scotland and this may have been an influence in the naming of this street.
‘Railway Street’ and ‘Woodgreen Estate’
Albyn Rd between The Boulevarde and Homebush Rd was once known as Railway Street and a road was created soon after the 1867 sub-division of Redmire Estate, linking The Boulevarde with Homebush Rd. Railway Street first appears in the Sydney Sands Directory for Redmyre in the 1882 edition, though the street appears on maps prior to this date. The street was renamed c.1886 and is noted in the 1887 Sands Sydney Directory for Strathfield as ‘Albyn road, late Railway Street’.
The northern section of Albyn Rd between The Boulevarde and Homebush Rd was subdivided for residential development in 1880 as the ‘Woodgreen Estate’. The ‘Woodgreen Estate’ created Woodward Avenue, Alviston Rd [now known as Parsons Avenue], Woodgreen Rd [now Torrington Avenue], Nichol Parade and Strathfield Avenue. The ‘Woodgreen Estate’ was marketed by real estate agents Hardie & Gorman for on-site auction on July 31st 1880. The advertisement marketed this estate as:
‘Four minutes walk from Redmyre Railway Station, Nine minutes walk from Burwood Railway Station and Seven Minutes Walk from Homebush Railway Station’.
‘These grand improved suburban properties having an area of over FORTY 40 ACRES with Frontages to The Boulevarde [100 feet wide, made and planted with trees]; Railway Street, Homebush Road, Woodward Avenue, Nichol Parade, Alviston Road, Woodgreen Street, Strathfield Avenue’
‘Situate on the Crown of the Hill, opposite to and near the residences of C E Pilcher Esq, MP; T J Thompson, Esq; Dr P Sydney Jones, Mrs Nichol, H C Fraser Esq and T B Rolin Esq, have been subdivided into LARGE blocks, varying from ¼ to ¾ acre each and will be sold at Auction on the Ground at 3pm sharp Saturday 31st July’
By 1880, the southern section of Albyn Rd between The Boulevarde and Homebush Rd was primarily owned by stockbroker T J Thompson [of ‘Malvern’ estate on The Boulevarde] at the eastern end and railway contractor William Wakeford [of ‘Cotwold’ and ‘Wakeford’s Orangery’] at the western end.
From the early 1880’s, large homes were gradually built on large land holdings such as ‘Halsbury’ 12-14 Albyn Rd in 1899, ‘Steephurst’ 20 Albyn Rd in 1882, ‘Bickley’ cnr Albyn & Kingsland Roads [demolished late 1950’s] and ‘Darenth’ 32 Albyn Rd . Architect George Sydney Jones; son of Sir Phillip Sydney Jones and nephew of T J Thompson designed ‘Bickley’ and ‘Darenth’ as well as the ‘Trinity Congregational Church’ on corner of Morwick St and The Boulevarde. Gradually, as grounds of large homes were subdivided, other homes were built resulting in a number of housing styles being evident in this section of this street.
Bushy Hill Street and Estate
The section between Homebush Rd and Chalmers Rd was once known as Bushy Hill Street, Homebush. This section of Albyn Rd was subdivided in 1880 creating the street Bushy Hill Street and Florence Street [then known as Florenceville St]. Residential land allotments facing Homebush Rd and Redmyre Rd were also created in this estate subdivision. The estate was first auctioned by real estate agents, Hardie & Gorman, on November 20 1880. At this time, all property on the western side of Homebush Rd was addressed as ‘Homebush’ and this estate was heavily marketed its’ close proximity to Homebush Railway Station. Advertisements note ‘great improvements are about to be made at Homebush Station, and communication with the city will be so increased as to bring Homebush, by that means, as near to Sydney as Burwood now is’
The Bushy Hill Estate was presumably named for it’s natural environment, which was described as ‘splendidly elevated land, with fine slopes; and is lightly timbered with turpentine trees’. The advertising states that:
‘the surroundings are most Rural and Picturesque and glimpses of fine woodland scenery are obtainable from any part of Bushy Hill’, ‘Bushy Hill is quite the country….this suburb is not affected by the strong sea breeze, so injurious to many’ and ‘Residents of overcrowded suburbs are already moving further out, and Homebush is rapidly improving. What is required can be found at BUSHY HILL – Open Country, Pure Air, Cheap Land and Long Terms’.
Though this advertising seems odd today, one of the reasons Strathfield developed as a prestigious residential area, was the argument that healthy lifestyles [ie free of contagious diseases] were possible away from overcrowded conditions of the City and in drier air [ie away from the sea]. One of the main advocates of this argument was Sir Phillip Sydney Jones, an eminent physician, noted for his work in tuberculosis and an early resident of Strathfield [from c.1878 to his death in 1918]
The residential development of Bushy Hill St, between Homebush Rd and Chalmers Rd, was relatively slow. By 1910, only two houses were built on the north side of Bushy Hill St, one still remains, though much altered at 79 Albyn Rd called ‘Abingdoon’ built c.1897 for engraver John Floyd.
The Hatherly Estate
The southern section of Bushy Hill Rd was subdivided for residential development in 1913 as the ‘Hatherly Estate’. This estate was created from the subdivision of the grounds of the home ‘Hatherley’ owned by Col. John Maclean Arnott, Managing Director of Arnott’s Biscuits. Arnott later changed the name of the house to ‘Birnam Wood’ and the street Birnam Grove was created from the demolition and subdivision of this home in 1927. After the subdivision of the ‘Hatherley Estate’, more houses were built in Bushy Hill St and there are many examples of architecture from this period [late 1910’s to late 1920’s] still in existence including the heritage listed Californian Bungalow ‘Wawona’ 96 Albyn Rd, designed by architect Herbert Dennis in 1916 for Percival Arnott, Director of Arnott’s Biscuits.
Other parts of the Bushy Hill Estate, particularly Homebush Rd and Florence St, were developed in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s as evidenced by a large number of Victorian properties still in existence such as ‘Norwood’ and ‘Wrexham’ 14 & 16 Florence St and ‘Quisiana’ 81 Homebush Rd. The cottage on the corner of Albyn Rd and Homebush Rd was once known as ‘Franklin Cottage’, though this house has been altered beyond recognition, the chimney that still can be seen, is Victorian-style. ‘Franklin Cottage’ served between 1886 and 1887 as the Council Chambers of Strathfield Council and the Town Clerk’s residence, prior to the opening of the current Council Chambers in 1887. The first meeting of Strathfield Council was held at ‘Steephurst’ 20 Albyn Rd and the front rooms were rented for a short time to the Town Clerk Fred Bennett to operate as the Council Chambers and Town Clerk’s residence.