Epping

2008
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Epping

Epping, administered by Hornsby, Ryde and Parramatta councils, is in the parish of the Field of Mars and was at first part of a large parcel of land that stretched from the Parramatta River to Pearces Corner. It was known generally as Pennant Hills, and later the Epping district was known as East Carlingford.

First occupants and first Europeans

Aboriginal people from the Wallumedegal group, whose lands stretch along the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, were living in the region of Epping when the first Europeans arrived. [1]

The first settler in the district was David Kilpack, a freed convict who received grants of land in 1794 and 1795 totalling 80 acres (32.3 hectares). He died two years later and his widow Eleanor married Thomas Higgins, whose son Thomas Edward Higgins was one of the first settlers in the Hornsby district. [2]

The western side of Epping stands on two major land grants – Lieutenant William Kent had 170 acres (69.8 hectares) granted by Governor Hunter, and his nephew William George Carlile Kent was granted 460 acres (186.1 hectares) in 1803. The western boundary of the Field of Mars bordered their land.

Many settlers struggled to clear the land and make a living from their farms. The government, in an attempt to ease the burdens on these pioneers, proclaimed town commons, where they could pasture their animals, leaving their own land available for food crops. One such common was the Field of Mars common which covered between 5,050 and 6,253 acres (2,044 to 2,530 hectares). [3]

Timber

Epping had an important role in the early years of the colony, particularly during the time of Governor Macquarie, when timber from the area was in high demand. The trees were tall and spreading, mainly blue gum, blackbutt and some cedar, with an understorey of wattle and pittosporum. There was little undergrowth, and the ground was covered with luxuriant kangaroo grass.

A convict timber camp which included huts, a cooking place, sawmill and possibly burial ground, was established in 1817. Because the trees were soon removed, the general area was known as Barren Ridges by 1825. The camp occupied the sites along Oxford Street where the post office and Catholic church now stand. The first Methodist chapel in Hornsby Shire, established sometime before 1821, was at also at Barren Ridges.

Orchards and bushland

After the sawing establishment closed, the Epping area consisted mostly of orchards and bushland, with most people making a living from vegetable and fruit growing. In the 1820s, the Mobbs family established citrus orchards in the Epping area, and other orchardists soon followed. Produce was carted to Ermington wharf on the Parramatta River and sent by boat to the Sydney markets. The Hazlewood plant nursery was operating by the 1860s.

The railway

Epping railway station was opened on 17 September 1886 and was at first called the Field of Mars station, then renamed Carlingford the following year. People were not happy with this name, as the post office was called East Carlingford, and the different names caused confusion. When William Midson suggested the name Epping, it was accepted, and the township was officially named Epping in 1899. [4] It was a popular choice, as the district was by this time heavily forested, the result of secondary growth since the end of logging, and the area reminded residents of Epping Forest in England. The word Epping is said to mean 'people of the look-out place', [5] and fine views can certainly be seen from the ridges and hills around Epping.

The coming of the railway resulted in an increase in land prices. The first subdivisions of land were made at Epping in the same year as the railway lined opened, with a section of the Field of Mars subdivided into large blocks and sold by the government. This was the beginning of the development of the area into the suburb of Epping.

The government resumed the commons land in 1874. It was opened up for sale in 1889, [6] and by the turn of the twentieth century, there were twelve houses in the area bounded by Rawson to Midson Roads and Chesterfield Road to Devlins Creek, covering an area of about 450 acres (182.1 hectares). [7] The first general store was built by Joseph Walker in 1892.

After World War II, there was an increased demand for housing, and the small farms and orchards were subdivided and sold.

Epping at the turn of the twenty-first century

At the turn of the twenty-first century, areas of Epping to the north and east were still heavily wooded and surrounded by bushland, with the upper section of Lane Cove National Park giving residents access to fine bushwalking tracks.

The Epping Returned Services League Club was rebuilt in 1995–96, and is a popular place of entertainment for the surrounding area.

The Channel 7 television studio, situated in Mobbs Lane at Epping, is a production studio where popular Australian television series, such as Home and Away, have been produced.

In 2008, Epping railway station was being extended, with additional platforms to cater for the new Epping to Chatswood line. Originally called the Parramatta rail link, the line was to link Chatswood to Parramatta via Epping.

References

WG Hazlewood, 'History of Epping', Sydney Allen for WG Hazlewood, Epping, New South Wales, 1966

Hornsby Shire Historical Society, Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788–1906: a history, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983, revised edition

Frances Pollon (ed), The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde NSW, 1988

Notes

[1] Hornsby Shire Historical Society, Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788–1906: a history, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983, revised edition, p 42

[2] Hornsby Shire Historical Society, Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788–1906: a history, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983, revised edition, p 49

[3] Hornsby Shire Historical Society, Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788–1906: a history, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983, revised edition, p 48

[4] WG Hazlewood, 'History of Epping', Sydney Allen for WG Hazlewood, Epping NSW, 1966, p 9

[5] Frances Pollon (ed), The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde NSW, 1988

[6] Hornsby Shire Historical Society, Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788–1906: a history, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1983, revised edition, p 49

[7] WG Hazlewood, 'History of Epping', Sydney Allen for WG Hazlewood, Epping NSW, 1966, p 14

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