History of St Andrews

Decades before its first streets were ever built, St Andrews was earmarked to become a massive "satellite town", larger than Campbelltown.

But like so many big ideas, it floundered. Today, St Andrews is merely one of 30-odd suburbs orbiting its old rival.

The drama began in 1957 when the NSW Housing Commission announced it would resume 5460 acres (2184ha) of rural pasture between Raby Road and the railway line to build a "huge" town. Forming the core this ambitious proposal was the site now occupied by St Andrews.

The local press reported on the angry public meeting that resulted and the protests that were lodged. The Mayor, F.J. Sedgwick, joined the criticism, insisting far more suitable land was available east of the railway, instead of this "prime agricultural land". The Campbelltown-Ingleburn News agreed and noted a "general feeling of bewilderment".

"Owners of the properties concerned were soon up in arms over the proposal when they received their advice of the effect of the proclamation, which virtually froze the land, preventing its sale, or even improvements without the permission of the Housing Commission," it was reported.

The "hugeness" of the plans caused much of the concern. To build a new town from scratch on this scale had only ever been attempted with Canberra. The local Liberal MP, Blake Pelly, described the scheme as a "tragic blunder" and scored valuable political points.

The Labour State Government came in for a bucketing and with an election on the cards it suddenly dumped the plans in November 1957, declaring them to be "impracticable". But idea wasn't dead.

With the coming of the 1960's, the private firm of Frank Wolstenholme Pty Ltd formally announced its own plan to develop a satellite town of 5000 people on the same site.

Draft maps showed that the civic and commercial centre of this Minto New Town (as it was called) was to be - once again - the present site of St Andrews.

But this plan was dumped as well by the State Government, which had since adopted the policy of concentrating all its future "satellite town" plans in Campbelltown.

So in the end, St Andrews remained undeveloped pastures until the 1970's, when Lend Lease corporation - which by then owned much of the land - began its own planning.

Yet Lend Lease moved with caution, particularly when it came to naming the planned suburb. It still remembered the outrage caused when its earlier Sherwood Hills estate of the 1960's was suddenly renamed Bradbury in 1969 - causing thousands of people to change their address.

Understandably wary about promoting a new name without full consent, Lend Lease's first move was to submit its own choice - St Andrews - to Campbelltown Council for consideration. But there were no problems, and in May 1976 the title was officially approved by the Geographical Names Board.

St Andrews was chosen because the western extent of the new suburb stood on the old St Andrews property of Andrew Thompson, one of the most prominent citizens of the early colony.

Thompson was transported to NSW as a convict in 1792 for burglary. On his arrival he was ironically made a constable on the Hawkesbury River and won a pardon. During the floods of 1806 and 1809 he personally saved over 100 lives and drew high praise from Governors King and Bligh.

By the time he was 37 years old, the canny Scotsman owned extensive land, stock, ship and business interests. From 1809, he developed a close friendship with fellow Scotsman, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and named his St Andrews farm after the patron saint of their home country.

When Thompson died in 1810 (due to health problems caused by the flood rescues), he had bequeathed a quarter of his estate to Macquarie (although of high rank the governor was not a wealthy man.)

Macquarie later visited St Andrews to inspect his sizeable inheritance, noting its fine rich soils, farmhouse, and paddocks stocked with sheep and cattle.

Given this tartan-clad history, Campbelltown council decided in 1976 to name all streets in the suburb after Scottish place names.

The result is more than 100 Caledonian-inspired titles, the main ones being Aberdeen Road, Bannockburn Avenue, Stromeferry Crescent, Aberfeldy Road, Stornoway Avenue, Ballantrae Drive and Stranraer Drive.

A brief selection of other names honoured would include Kintyre, Mull, Galashiels, Hebrides, Iona, Duncansby, Glasgow, Dunbar, Kinross, Edinburgh, Nith, Rutherglen, Rannoch and Inverness.

Glenshee, Bute, Dundee, Oban, Leith, Selkirk, Shiel, Lochalsh, Midlothian, Spey, Lanark, Arisaig, Kinross, Blairgowrie and Gleneagles can also be found in the street directory.

This theme also satisfied a long-held ambition of Council. As early as February 1964, aldermen had supported the notion of naming roads in "some future suburb" after Scottish locations. This was to honour a Highland township which Council had been forging close links with - the Burgh of Campbelltown.

By 1977, Lend Lease had sold large sections of the suburb to the State government, so it could be developed by Landcom.

The Macarthur Advertiser backed efforts by homebuyers to form progress groups and wrote: "Residents of St Andrews have acted swiftly to improve the way of life in their new, and isolated, suburb west of Minto."

St Andrews Public School opened in 1978. In the same year, Landcom was busy selling "residential land at realistic prices" in the St Andrews and Outlook Estates - the most expensive lots being $10,750. Within months private home builders were also in action on the suburbs open hills.

St Andrews Park recalls the early land grant itself, while Reid Murray Reserve notes an early land developer who also bought land in the area so he could create a "satellite town", but he went bankrupt.

Byrne Reserve is believed to honour the pioneering Campbelltown family of that name. Michael Byrne built famous Glenalvon homestead in Lithgow Street.

Stan Thomson Park recalls a member of the family that ran the St Andrews dairy farm early this century. Born in 1906, Stan served as an alderman in the early sixties and died in July 1988.

"Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs - How and why they got their names" written by Jeff McGill, Verlie Fowler and Keith Richardson, 1995, published by Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society.

Reproduced with permission of the authors.