Lilyfield

2008
CC BY-SA 2.0
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Lilyfield

No evidence that lilies were ever grown on any part of 'old' Lilyfield has come to light. Lilyfield was never the name of an official land grant, nor was it an estate, or the name of an estate house (such as Garryowen, at Callan Park). [1] It was never a locality, and Lilyfield has never been a postal district – it shares post code 2040 with Leichhardt, of which it has been part for most of its post-settlement history.

Present-day Lilyfield has been created in recent decades by the Geographical Names Board extending to the north and south the small unspecified local area known as Lilyfield. [2] The origin of the name Lilyfield has been identified as the name of the first post office in north-eastern Leichhardt, founded in Lamb Street.

On 29 June 1888 a deputation, introduced by Frank J Smith MP, presented a petition for a receiving post office to John Stuart Hawthorne MP. [3] The petitioners were from Brenan's Estate, Orange Grove Estate, and Leichhardt Hill Estate. The post office was approved on 14 July 1888 and Hawthorne was requested to suggest a name. [4] Hawthorne and Smith replied on 19 July 1888, 'we would respectfully request that the name 'Lilyfield' be given to it'. [5] David M Anderson was appointed postmaster on 3 August 1888, and his store in Lamb Street, between Balmain Road and the future goods railway, accommodated the post office.

Rough and rocky terrain which later became the route of the goods railway separated Lilyfield Post Office from residents on the Leichhardt Hill Estate, which eventually got its own post office in 1899. Thus it could be assumed that in these early decades, Lilyfield was limited to a physically undefined area in north-eastern Leichhardt, south of Balmain Road and north of the goods railway. It seems that Lilyfield extended no further westward than Balmain Road where it turns southward.

Lilyfield's noxious trades

In the section south of the later goods railway, actually part of Leichhardt proper, noxious and offensive industry flourished along the banks of Whites Creek. [6] Glebe Island Abattoirs (closed in about 1916) supported 'boiling-downs', works where bones were rendered to produce tallow. Bone boilers Peter Tancred, Thomas Elliott, Isaac Tester and Francis Hemming plied their trade along the banks of the creek. [7]

Tallow was a most important candle-making substance, but its production caused foul smells and left behind putrid offal. Leichhardt had become known as the 'Depot of Stinks'. [8] In a campaign begun in 1879, his first mayoral year, the Leichhardt mayor and eminent Sydney building contractor, John Young, succeeded in abolishing bone-boiling. The noxious trade had become detrimental to the real-estate development of the area. [9]

Young was aided in this goal by William Stafford, the indefatigable Inspector of Nuisances for Leichhardt Council. [10] Tancred sold to Elliott and had moved from White's Creek before Stafford began his inspections. [11] In 1880–1881 Stafford successfully prosecuted Elliott who moved from the area. [12] Tester relocated to East Botany before Stafford could have him summoned to court. [13] From 1880 Hemming made much better money by subdividing his land for residential allotments. [14]

In his evidence to the Royal Commission on Noxious and Offensive Trades on 2 February 1883, Young was asked if bone-boiling was a problem in Leichhardt. He replied

We had them up White's Creek, Elliott's, and four or five others; but they were removed in consequence of the municipality objecting to them being there, and they were a great nuisance … as far as Mr Elliott was concerned, his establishment was enough to poison any one out of the place. [15]

When asked how far away Elliott's offensive works could be smelled, Young answered 'Right into Petersham' a distance that the Commissioners agreed was two miles 3.2 kilometres). [16]

Tancred began bone-boiling on new premises. [17] Elliott became a partner in Walsh, Rennie & Elliott fellmongering and wool-washing, and in Walsh, Elliott & Rennie's meat preserving factory and also in Walsh Elliott & Co's tannery. [18] These factories were located at Botany where there were no known objections to the smell. Tester set up boiling-down works at Rose Vale, East Botany, where also no record of complaints has survived. [19]

Subdivision and suburban development

With the freshening of the atmosphere, real estate development and the street pattern expanded throughout the decade of the 1880s. This growth flourished under the name of Leichhardt, not Lilyfield.

This part of Leichhardt kept its name until 1977 when the Geographic Names Board formally designated Lilyfield as a suburb in the Municipality of Leichhardt. [20] The name was gazetted on 11 March 1977. In 1993, after much discussion, the GNB again extended the boundaries of Lilyfield to take in a greatly enlarged area south-west of the Rozelle postcode area and north of Blackmore Park, and, between Blackmore Park and Rozelle Bay, north of the goods railway. This enlargement took Lilyfield to the Iron Cove shoreline, including the Rozelle Hospital, Leichhardt Park and a small residential area, as well as the area south of the goods railway line bounded by the centreline of Balmain Road after it turns southward, the northern boundary of Moore Street, and Whites Creek and the railway line itself. [21]

Why residents would prefer the name Lilyfield over Leichhardt is a mystery and may have something to do with the real-estate imperative. Surrendering the surname of the famous Prussian-born Australian explorer for the unspecific area-name 'Lilyfield' is difficult to understand. Walter Beames named his 1849 subdivision 'Leichhardt Township' some 22 years before incorporation of the area bounded by Parramatta Road, Whites Creek, the Balmain grant boundary Iron Cove and Long Cove Creek, as the Municipality of Leichhardt. [22]

A Sydney grocer, Beames befriended the Prussian naturalist and explorer, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt, who arrived at Sydney in the Sir Edward Paget on 14 February 1842. [23] Beames may well have supplied provisions gratis for Leichhardt's 1844 expedition overland to Port Essington (near Darwin). Nearing Port Essington, Leichhardt encountered a creek which he 'called ... 'Beames Brook', in honour of the liberal support I received from Walter Beames Esquire, of Sydney'. [24] Beames responded by naming his subdivision 'Leichhardt Township' after the intrepid explorer who had vanished on his trek across Australia in 1848. Beames 'Leichhardt Township' was bounded by Brenan Street (adjacent to the later goods railway), Derbyshire Road, Balmain Road, a line south of Styles street and White's Creek. The northern part of 'Leichhardt Township' has been included in the 1977-designated Lilyfield. [25]

In terms of street pattern and residential development, Lilyfield south contains small brick or weatherboard cottages, terraces and semi-detached dwellings with corrugated iron or tiled roofs proliferate, with isolated examples of stone walling. There is no change in the built environment between Lilyfield and Leichhardt from which it was excised.

Lilyfield, north of the goods railway, is a different picture, with Iron Cove forming its shoreline. The 60-hectare Rozelle Hospital, dating from 1876 but now closed, dominates the scene: in 2009 the future of the hospital site is unclear. Leichhardt Park has the local swimming centre and nearby is Leichhardt Oval, with a new grandstand, the home of the Tigers. Along the banks of the Hawthorne Canal, the former Commonwealth munitions repository and the NSW Department of Public Works Depot have been converted for commercial purposes.

The name Lilyfield has nominally united two dissimilar areas which should have had separate names resulting from their differing historical development and land use. At present it is not clear that there is a united community called Lilyfield.

Notes

[1] E McEvoy, Plan of the Western Hamlet of Balmain, State Library of NSW, Mitchell Library, M4/811.1821/1851?/1 & 1b (card 2)

[2] Geographical Names Board Reference 33003, File No GNB3587

[3] National Archives of Australia, SP32/1, Box 385, B8773

[4] National Archives of Australia, SP32/1, Box 385, B9097

[5] National Archives of Australia, SP32/1, Box 385, B9097

[6] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, p 60

[7] Balmain Independent & Leichhardt Observer, 6 Nov 1880, p 6b, 12 Mar 1881, p 19 Mar 1881, 16 April 1881, 28 May 1881

[8] Balmain Independent & Leichhardt Observer, 6 Nov 1880, p 6b

[9] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, p 60

[10] Balmain Independent & Leichhardt Observer, 6 Nov 1880, p 6b, 12 Mar 1881, p 19 Mar 1881, 16 April 1881, 28 May 1881

[11] Land & Property Information, formerly Land Titles Office, Old System Title Bk 122 No 303, Bk 147 No 372 (mtges), Bk 185 No 747 to T Elliott

[12] Balmain Independent & Leichhardt Observer, 6 Nov 1880, p 6b, 12 Mar 1881, p 19 Mar 1881, 16 April 1881, 28 May 1881

[13] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, Appendix C, p 13

[14] Leichhardt History Journal, No 25, pp 1–25

[15] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, p 60

[16] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, p 60

[17] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, Appendix C, p 14

[18] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, Appendix C, p 13, p 14

[19] Report of Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades within the City of Sydney and its Suburbs, NSW Govt Printer, Sydney, 1883, Appendix C, p 13

[20] Information from Geographical Names Board, 9 August 2006

[21] Geographical Names Board, 3587/A (map of assigned Lilyfield)

[22] A Vialoux and C M Reeves, Leichhardt, Its History and Progress, Local Government Publishing Co for the Municipal Council of Leichhardt, Sydney, 1921, pp 20–21

[23] Renee Erdos, 'Leichhardt, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig (1813–1848)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 2, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1967, pp 102–104

[24] L Leichhardt, Overland Expedition from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, London, 1847, facsimile, p 370

[25] A Vialoux and C M Reeves, Leichhardt, Its History and Progress, Local Government Publishing Co for the Municipal Council of Leichhardt, Sydney, 1921 p 31

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