Dictionary of Sydney

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The Campbelltown suburb of Glenfield has a complicated genealogy. The name seems to suggest that the area was part of the 1,500 acres (600 hectares) granted to surgeon Charles Throsby by Governor Macquarie. He called the estate Glenfield after his home village in Leicestershire, and built a large farmhouse overlooking the Georges River. In fact, hardly any of this estate lay within the boundaries of the modern suburb: Glenfield House, restored by the Historic Houses Trust, is in Casula.

Meehan's estate

[media]Much of the area now known as Glenfield was granted to James Meehan, the man who surveyed the entire Campbelltown district. He gained over 2,000 acres (800 hectares), named his estate Macquarie Field, and built himself a homestead known as Meehan's Castle. In 1820–22, Meehan rented this house out for use as an elite academy for boys; pupils included the son of Governor Macquarie. After Meehan's death in 1826, however, his heavily mortgaged estate was sold to the wealthy ex-convict entrepreneur Samuel Terry. In the late 1830s, on Terry's death, the estate passed to his daughter, Martha, who had the mansion known as Macquarie Field House built for herself and her husband, the merchant John Hosking. When Hosking, the first mayor of Sydney, went spectacularly bankrupt in the early 1840s, Martha's watertight marriage settlement meant that his creditors could not touch her estate. The Hosking family lived at Macquarie Field House for years, although it was once again rented out as a private school in the 1860s. The house is still standing but – just to confuse matters – is located inside the boundary of Glenfield.

Glenfield emerges

The name Glenfield was first attached to the northern part of the Macquarie Field estate in the late 1860s, when a railway platform was built and officially designated 'Glenfield'. During the land boom of the 1880s, Martha Hosking's estate was broken up, with speculators, such as Thomas Saywell, buying and subdividing land east of the railway. But the village now known as Glenfield grew slowly – by 1911 it had a population of barely 170, although it boasted a post office, Presbyterian church and a public school.

The area remained rural for decades, scattered with dairy and mixed farms, although Glenfield had another saleable resource in sand, mined from the banks of the Georges River. Tons of this sand was used in the construction of Sydney's Central Railway Station. Glenfield's open spaces also made it a suitable location for two important state institutions. The Department of Agriculture opened Glenfield Experiment Farm (later known as the Veterinary Research Station) in 1923, to research and control animal diseases. Three years later, the Hurlstone Agricultural High School was moved from cramped premises in inner-west Hurlstone Park to several hundred acres at Glenfield.

Suburban development

After World War II, state planning authorities selected Campbelltown as a growth centre. New subdivisions were built in Glenfield during the 1950s and 1960s, bringing the population to about 1,500 by 1971. Bookended by two military reserves (at Ingleburn and Holsworthy) it was still a relatively quiet area, although the 'Glenfield siege' brought brief notoriety in 1968. For over a week, an armed man, Wally Mellish, kept his girlfriend Beryl Muddle hostage, refusing to surrender to the police surrounding his house, and broadcasting his demands on Sydney radio.

The pace of development soon accelerated, with the population virtually doubling by 1976. Improved road and rail access to Glenfield served new estates built in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the Agricultural High School is still located in Glenfield, creeping suburbanisation eventually obliged the Veterinary Research Station to move to Camden Park, where it reopened in 1990.

By 2006 the population of the suburb had reached 6,759.


CA Liston, Campbelltown, The Bicentennial History, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1988

J McGill, V Fowler, and K Richardson, Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown NSW, 1995

Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser