The history of the Strathfield started with the Wangle Indigenous Australians, but then involves the first disastrous white settlement at Liberty Plains. After this settlement failed the land became part of the Redmire estate and was subdivided and sold into lots of land. A house called Stratfield Saye was built and it is from this that the Strathfield area derives its name. In 1887 Strathfield council was formed and after many mergers and threats of amalgamation the Municipality of Strathfield was formed.
The Municipality of Strathfield area was once home to the Wangal clan who were part of the Turuwal tribe, whose country was known as Wanne. Although knowledge of life in Sydney prior to European settlement is limited, there is evidence that Indigenous Australians were living in the Sydney Basin for at least 20,000 years prior to 1788.
European settlement in \"Liberty Plains\"
European settlement began in 1793 when the first free settlers were granted land to establish farms in the area then known as \"Liberty Plains\". Eventually there were 63 settler farmers in the area, however they were largely unsuccessful in their efforts. Governor Hunter wrote to the Duke of Portland in August 1796 complaining that the English settlers had arrived in the colony with high expectations and unfounded reports of government assistance without any real understanding of the level of work they would have to undertake to develop the land. Further, Governor Hunter complained that \"the settlers have more than once killed what they received from the Government â€“ every reduction of the ration of animal food occasioned the destruction of what might then have been in their possession.\" The settlers soon exhausted their own resources and were living on credit. In March 1798 Samuel Marsden, following a visit to the settlement with D\'Arcy Wentworth, found them in a dire situation. They had run out of \"seed wheat\" and he wrote that \"should a ship arrive with any articles of consumption, they can\'t raise a single pound in the two districts [Concord and ?? areas].\" Most of the settlers eventually moved away from the area. However, Edward Powell returned and successfully established a Halfway Hotel on Parramatta Rd [now site of the Horse & Jockey Hotel]. Assistant surgeon D\'Arcy Wentworth settled in what is now the North Homebush area.
Birth of Strathfield
On 31 October 1903 a subdivision of the Redmyre Estate was auctioned. The pamphlet shows it was billed as \"The Railway Station Estate, Strathfield\".
Frank Smith was granted 243 acres (1 kmÂ²) of land by Governor Macquarie in 1808 [regranted 1810] following representations from Lord Henden, a relation by marriage of Wilshire. Ownership was transferred in 1824 to ex-convict Samuel Terry. The land became known as the Redmire Estate, which Michael Jones says could either be named after his home town in Yorkshire or could be named after the \"red clay of the Strathfield area\". Subdivision of the land commenced in 1867. An early buyer was one-time Mayor of Sydney, Walter Renny who built in 1868 a house they called Stratfieldsaye, possibly after the Duke of Wellington\'s mansion near Reading, Berkshire. It may have also been named after the transport ship of the same name that transported many immigrants â€“ including Sir Henry Parkes â€“ to Australia, though the transport ship was probably also named after the Duke\'s mansion as it was built soon after his death and was likely named in his honour. A plaque marking the location of Stratfield Saye can be found in the footpath of Strathfield Avenue, marking the approximate location of the original house [though some of the wording on the plaque is incorrect]. According to local historian Cathy Jones, \"ownership of [Stratfieldsaye] was transferred several times including to Davidson Nichol, who shortened the name to â€˜Strathfield Houseâ€™, then â€˜Strathfieldâ€™.\"
Strathfield was proclaimed on 2 June 1885 by the Governor of NSW, Sir Augustus Loftus, after residents of the Redmyre area petitioned the New South Wales State government. Residents in parts of Homebush and Druitt Town [now Strathfield South] formed their own unsuccessful counter-petition. It is possible that the region was named Strathfield because the Redmyre land was sold as \"Strathfield\" land, and the naming was an attempt to avoid the rivalry between Homebush and Redmire. At the time of incorporation the population of the Strathfield municipality was estimated at 600 (thus satisfying the 1867 Municipalities Act\'s requirement of a minimum of 500 residents in an area before a municipality could be established) and the net revenue was Â£1,210. The area at that time was only about 1/3 of the size of today\'s municipality with boundaries at Homebush Crescent and the railway in the north, the Boulevard in the east, Liverpool Road and the Cooks River in the south and undeveloped land in the west.
Strathfield Municipal Council opened their Council Chambers along the corner of Redmyre and Homebush Roads in October 1887. The building was a reasonably expensive undertaking for the newly formed council. The Council Chambers was designed by architectural firm Sulman and Blackmann, however the design is credited primarily to John Sulman who was a resident of Strathfield. The Chambers provided limited space for community activities. In 1923, the Strathfield Town Hall was built, designed by architect Harry C. Kent. Soon after the Council Chambers were opened, however, the council was scandalised when they discovered that the town clerk, Bennett, had embezzled Â£635, which was at this time, a third of the Council\'s assets. The clerk refunded the money and was dismissed and evicted from the council cottage he had been living in.
Strathfield Council soon started expanding its boundaries. The Flemington district was unincorporated and was annexed by Strathfield in 1892 and increased the area of the Strathfield Municipality by about 50%. The council was further divided into three separate wards soon after: the Flemington ward, the Homebush ward and the Strathfield ward. These wards were abolished in 1916. Following the introduction of the Local Government Act in 1919, the Municipality was one of the first to proclaim the major part of its area a residential district by proclamation in 1920. The proclamation excluded any trade, industry, shop, place of amusement, advertisements or residential flats and largely stayed in place until 1969 when the proclamation was suspended by the Strathfield Planning Scheme Ordinance.
In 1898, Strathfield council was threatened by a forced amalgamation into a greater Sydney council. Heading the push was Strathfield Alderman George Christie who outlined the scheme in his pamphlet \"The Unification of the Municipal Council of Sydney and its Suburbs\". Christie felt that local councils operated under severe limitations that constrained their own management and growth, as well as self-determination and proposed that 41 municipal councils be merged into the City of Sydney. The push to amalgamate the councils into one mega-council was known as The Greater Sydney Movement, and it had many supporters, but just as many opponents. Supporters included Sidney Webb, who visited.
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- Municipality:Municipality of Strathfield