Silverwater

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Silverwater

Silverwater, in the municipality of Auburn, is an industrial suburb bounded by the Parramatta River, Duck River, the M2 Motorway and Silverwater Road.

The traditional custodians of the land were the Wangal clan of the Eora/Tharawal culture. They lived close to the Barramattigal clan of the Dharug culture, and the two often exchanged goods. [1]

Silverwater was part of the 1807 grant of land to John Blaxland, who called it the Newington Estate. Newington started to break up from 1860, when the Blaxland family sold the estate. [2] 'Silverwater' was first used by Campbell, Mitchell and Co in October 1883, with land sales of what was called the Silverwater Estate. Land sales continued until 1920 under various names – Newington, Riverside Heights, Silverwater (again) and Suttors. Small farms of about three acres (1.2 hectares) were offered for raising dairy herds, poultry or pigs. In 1905, Riverside Heights was advertised as 'close to the new abattoirs' at Homebush. [3]

Prestige homes were built on larger blocks north of Parramatta Road. This area was sometimes called North Auburn, following the opening of Auburn North Public School in 1891. [4] Jack Lang, who was premier of New South Wales from 1925–27 and again from 1930–32 and the local member of parliament for many years, lived in the area, initially in Carnarvon Street and then Adderley Street. In other parts, more modest housing was common. Due to the development of industry, housing was not as prominent away from the main roads and North Auburn, as it was elsewhere in the municipality. [5]

Commerce and industry

Apart from some retail development along Parramatta Road, commercial development was generally confined to small corner stores. During the 1920s and 1930s, the names of dairies recorded were Kentwells, Paul G Behan and Michael Kelly. In 1927, a Mr HC Meredith wrote to Auburn Municipal Council asking for permission to use land at Silverwater to breed alligators, crocodiles, seals, walruses and octopuses for private aquariums. Permission was not granted. [6]

Industrialisation had begun with the enterprises of John Blaxland – salt making in 1808 and blankets in 1819 – but the major development came after 1900. Some early companies with long histories were Ammonia Company Australia Ltd (1905–55), British Imperial Oil (1907–), Clyde Brickworks (1912–79), General Chemical Company (1912–), and Australian Linoleum (1928–) which was later absorbed by Michael Nairn and Co. [7]

Outdoor pursuits

Silverwater Road (earlier Sutherland Road), is approximately in alignment with the carriageway from Parramatta Road to Newington House. Between 1900 and 1960, the end of Sutherland Road on the banks of the Parramatta River was a place for local residents to relax and enjoy weekends and public holidays. There were boats for hire at a boatshed and a wharf. [8] In the earlier years, there was enough wood for a fire to boil the billy. [9] In 1928, the Auburn Municipal Council built a tidal pool next to the wharf to add to the enjoyment. It closed during World War II and never reopened. [10] During the 1950s, powerboat races were held on the Parramatta River with a clubhouse at Silverwater. [11] The council also created the Silverwater Reserve where Duck River joins the Parramatta River on the western side of Silverwater Road. People from Auburn and Lidcombe had, by custom, always enjoyed the outdoors. [12]

In 1928, land to the west and south of the Newington State Hospital was leased to the Carnarvon Golf Club. A course was developed, but the land was requisitioned for the US military forces in 1943. [13] After 1946, the golf club leased land that had been part of Lidcombe State Hospital on the west side of Joseph Street.

Transport

For most of the period, buses connected with Auburn Railway Station. Before GA Sinclair's motor bus in 1917, these were horse-drawn. [14] Until 1939, the Parramatta ferries passed, going to their wharf at Rydalmere. Suggestions were made for river crossings (both ferries and bridges) between Silverwater and Rydalmere but it was not until November 1962 that the Silverwater Bridge, built by the Department of Main Roads, was opened by the premier of New South Wales, RJ Heffron. [15]

Part of the land at Silverwater was sold to the Commonwealth Oil Refineries, who developed a plant to make petroleum from Newcastle coal. The plant was sold to the Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Australia) Ltd in 1953, when the petroleum was manufactured from cheap imported oil. In 1955, the corporation was the first in Australia to manufacture plastics by processing petrochemicals. Waste by-products, including dioxins, were stored on site or elsewhere on the peninsula between Duck River and Homebush Bay. The rise in the price of oil in the crisis of 1972–73 forced the closure of the plant.

Most of this land was given in trust to the Auburn Municipal Council, and Wilson Park, with picnic facilities and sporting grounds was created. Twenty years later, earlier pollution had made its way to the surface and Wilson Park was closed. The Homebush Bay Development Authority was able to contain the pollution on site and Wilson Park reopened in 2003. [16]

 

Notes

[1] Emma Lee and Lia Darwala, Aboriginal History of Homebush Bay Olympic Site, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Sydney, 1998, maps 1–3

[2] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, p 32

[3] Copies of subdivision plans held at Auburn Library from the Mitchell Library collection of plans

[4] Auburn North Public School Centenary Committee, Auburn North Public School; The First Hundred Years 1891–1991, Auburn, NSW, 1991

[5] B Nairn, The 'Big Fella': Jack Lang and the Australian Labor Party 1891–1949, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1986, pp 33–36; K Mealing, The Roof Over Our Heads, Auburn District Historical Society, 1988; Auburn Municipal Council, Triennial Report, 1978–79, item 14

[6] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, p 78; Sands Sydney Directory 1920–32

[7] Auburn North Public School Centenary Committee, Auburn North Public School; The First Hundred Years 1891–1991, Auburn, NSW, 1991

[8] B Nairn, The 'Big Fella': Jack Lang and the Australian Labor Party 1891–1949, Melbourne University Press, 1986, pp 33–36; K Mealing, The Roof Over Our Heads, Auburn District Historical Society, 1988; Auburn Municipal Council, Triennial Report, 1978–79, item 14

[9] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, pp 32–35; Sands Sydney NSW Directory 1890–1930/32, Silverwater and North Auburn, Auburn Council, 2002

[10] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, p72. Jones Boat Shed with rough water at Silverdale (photograph), Auburn, NSW, 1926, Auburn LGA Pictures no 697

[11] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, pp 122–26. See also map dated 1941 in Lidcombe Municipal Council, Lidcombe: Its Development as an Industrial Suburb, 1941

[12] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, p 72

[13] Silverwater Park (4 photographs), Auburn LGA Pictures, package GOL/Silverwater Park, 20 June 1955

[14] Boating on Duck River about 1925 (photograph), Auburn LGA Pictures, no 842

[15] Aerial photograph from Newington and Parramatta River, early 1950s looking West to Duck River (photograph) ; Milton Kent and Son, 1953, Auburn LGA Pictures, no 200

[16] Auburn Municipal Council, Liberty Plains: A History of Auburn, NSW, centenary edition, 1992, p 120

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