Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.


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Asquith lies in the parish of South Colah and is within the Hornsby local government area. For the most part Asquith follows the ridge on either side of the Pacific Highway, approximately two kilometres north of Hornsby.

The first inhabitants of the area were the Aboriginal people who had lived there for thousands of years. [1]

At the time of European settlement the area was heavily wooded, undulating bushland. The first Europeans to come into the region were timber-cutters, drawn to the fine stands of large trees. The timber was cut in huge sawpits and carried by bullock teams and jinkers to the Lane Cove River, to be transported by punt to Sydney. After the last of the suitable timber was removed, permanent settlers moved in and established orchards.

Early settlers

In 1860 Daniel Cody purchased 20 acres (8 hectares) of land south of the present-day Asquith railway station. He paid £20, about the same price per acre that Thomas Salmon paid in 1874 for his 44 acres (18 hectares) of land nearby.

Some of the names of early settlers appear on the government map of 1890, including John Wall, Thomas Duffy, William Stokes, Jonathan Fear and Thomas Salmon. Nathaniel James Wall, born in 1881, is thought to be the first child of European parents who was born in the area.

Asquith acquires its name

The land at Asquith was subdivided by estate agents Henry F Halloran and Co in 1915, when Herbert Henry Asquith was the British prime minister. [2] The town took its name from him and many of the streets were named after members of the British cabinet.

The developers asked the Railway Department to build a station at Asquith but were refused. As it was to their advantage, the developers paid for a railway platform, which was opened in 1915. It was the last station to be opened north of Hornsby.

A large employer of local labour was Fowler's Pottery, which began at the start of the century as a brickworks on the present site of Storey Park in Lodge Street. It turned to the production of earthenware pipes and ceramic building materials until the Depression, when it was forced out of business. The council bought the site, demolished the brick stacks and used the bricks for the foundations of new buildings. [3]

Bullock's Brick Works, located in Baldwin Road, manufactured fire bricks and pipes. It was another local industry forced to close because of the Depression. [4]

Electricity was available in Asquith by 1926 and water mains were laid in 1935.

Asquith's postwar boom

A camp for displaced persons abutted what is now the Asquith Bowling Club's car park. It was established on 11 November 1948, when 75 refugees who had walked from Hornsby railway station settled down on the site to spend their first night camping. The next day, army tents with wooden floors were set up. The camp boasted a cookhouse, toilets and showers. It was in existence for two years and held people from Europe, mostly from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, who had been displaced because of World War II. The men of the camp laboured laying sewage pipes and digging trenches in the Hornsby Shire for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board.

A house-building program in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in an influx of families, and new schools were built to deal with the demand. Asquith Girls High School on Stokes Avenue was built on land owned by the Stokes family, who owned orchards in Asquith and were among the original landholders in the area. [5]

In 1951 the County of Cumberland planning scheme marked Asquith as an industrial area, and the Wrigley's Chewing Gum factory was set up between 1958 and 1960. It has become a landmark with its globe-shaped water tower and is architecturally significant. The industrial area at Asquith has continued to grow, with a wide variety of industries located there.

Today Asquith contains a mix of bushland, residential and industrial areas. There is an 18-hole golf course, several playing fields and reserves and parks.


[1] R Hawkins, 'Hornsby Shire's Aboriginal Past', unpublished, p 5

[2] Local Studies collection files, Hornsby Library

[3] C Schofield, Shaping Hornsby Shire, Hornsby Shire Council, Hornsby, 1988

[4] C Schofield, Shaping Hornsby Shire, Hornsby Shire Council, Hornsby, 1988

[5] Sands Sydney Directories 1858 to 1932–33, John Sands, Sydney