Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.


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Bradfield was a suburb in the Ku-ring-gai local government area, and shared its early history with West Lindfield.

A new suburb

In 1924, Councillor Christopher Bowes Thistlethwayte of Ku-ring-gai Shire Council envisaged a new suburb created from the Moore estate and Ku-ring-gai Council land. He imagined the suburb would eventually have a direct route through to the Harbour Bridge. The area would be called Bradfield, after John Job Crew Bradfield, one of the designers of the bridge and a resident of Gordon.

In 1927 the first 'Bradfield' subdivision of the Moore estates was gazetted. A prospectus to buyers stated:

“It is an ideal residential area, both from a health standpoint as well as a scenic one, the plateau is about 300 feet above sea level and, as planned, each residence will have an extensive and open view.” [1]

Although initial land sales in the area were slow, a major access road, Lady Game Drive, was built using labour funded through a government scheme to provide for unemployed workers.

Scouts from all over the world came to Bradfield for the Australasian Scout Jamboree held from December 1938 to January 1939. This event was held at Bradfield Park, on an old racecourse previously known as Cook's Flat, which had once been a cattle-tethering area for a convict camp.

Following the Jamboree, the site became a training depot for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during World War II, and after the war, the site of the Bradfield Park Migrant Hostel.

All Saints' Air Force Memorial Church, West Lindfield, was dedicated as a memorial to the Air Force servicemen who undertook their initial training at Bradfield Park during World War II. It was one of the largest RAAF bases in Australia and in October 2006 a second memorial was unveiled featuring a sculpture and plaque located in Queen Elizabeth Reserve on the site of the RAAF Training Base and Migrant Hostel.

New residents

Migrants commenced arriving in Australia in 1947 and the population of Bradfield increased due to the conversion of the RAAF huts for use as a camp for displaced people. The establishment of Housing Commission settlement which provided emergency accommodation also swelled the numbers of people living in the area.

By 1951 the migrant camp, run by the Commonwealth Hostels Ltd, was used mostly for those of British origin. The camp occupied part of th area bounded by Lady Game Drive and Bradfield Road. The British migrants were housed in the former Air Force huts until about 1969, when there was a sudden influx of migrants from South America, who remained until this section closed in 1971.

To the south of the migrant section was the Housing Commission settlement which from late 1947 [2] provided temporary and emergency accommodation for the postwar housing shortage. It also housed many of the residents of the Redfern slum clearance program which took place in the early 1950s. The residents of the Housing Commission area were self-sufficient, providing their own furniture and doing their own cooking. The Housing Commission section included shops, a post office and a kindergarten. Bradfield Primary school was established and remained until 1971 and this catered for both migrant and Housing Commission children. Other local residents' children attended Beaumont Road School.

Change and disappearance

In 1973 the CSIRO's National Measurement Laboratory took the site which covered almost 30 hectares. Previous proposals for the use of the site had been rejected by Ku-ring-gai Council as unsuitable for a residential area.

The advantage of the site as a measurement laboratory was the low level of vibration. It was predicted by the CSIRO that the levels of vibration caused by traffic would remain low as road construction for heavy traffic was unlikely in the vicinity of the Laboratory. The CSIRO started the move from Sydney University to the West Lindfield site in 1977 and it was completed mid-1978.

The nearby land bounded by Charles and Edmund streets and Bradfield Road was made into a recreation area by Ku-ring-gai Council. A playing field, tennis courts, children's playground and barbeque area were established and landscaped and the area was named Queen Elizabeth Park.

A 'History of Bradfield' appeared in the Courier newspaper for 20 March 1952, subtitled 'Ku-ring-gai’s newest suburb', and concluded with the words:

Few suburbs have developed with more natural advantages Its residents have the opportunity, by taking full advantage of and developing pride in their surroundings, or creating a community in which friends, family life and public spirit will ensure the happiness and contentment of its citizens and the progress of its institutions as they will inevitably develop. [3]

However a little over a decade later in Ku-ring-gai, the name 'Bradfield' signified the migrant camp, and residents seeking to build a community with a separate identity complained of the stigma associated with the hostel.

By 1970 Bradfield had ceased to exist, and the suburb became part of West Lindfield and West Killara.


Hardie & Gorman Pty Ltd, auctioneers, Hardie & Gorman, Sydney NSW, 1927

CSIRO Corporate Property , Bradfield Park, West Lindfield: National Standards Laboratory, Ku-ring-gai Council, Gordon NSW, 1970

Michael Hogan, Almost like home: living in Bradfield Park Gordon, NSW, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Sydney, 2012

JFH Wright, Measurement in Australia 1938–1988: A history of Australia's National Standards Laboratory, CSIRO, Division of Applied Physics, Lindfield, 1988

West Lindfield local studies resource folder no 3, Ku-ring-gai Municipal Library, 1988

West Lindfield – West Killara Progress Association, Date range: 1947–1971, Ku-ring-gai Libraries, Archive 0120



[1] Hardie & Gorman Pty Ltd, auctioneers, Hardie & Gorman, Sydney NSW, 1927, p 1

[2] Michael Hogan, Almost like home: living in Bradfield Park Gordon, NSW, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Sydney, 2012

[3] The Courier, 20 March 1952, p 10