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History of Campbelltown

The summer still of post-war Campbelltown was shattered in December 1920. Its streets and parks suddenly erupted into a frenzy of marching bands, floats, sporting events, horse displays, a historical pageant, a queen competition and even a grand community ball.

The town was celebrating its 100th birthday with zest. And why not?

It was the Roarin' Twenties and optimism was hardly in short supply. The Great War was over, local farmers and businessmen were doing well, Campbelltown's housing market was booming, and the local press bragged of the "astounding improvements" being made to shops and buildings. There was even talk of electricity being connected soon. 

Old family names such as Warby, Fitzpatrick, Kershler, and Vardy eagerly joined in the birthday fun. It was only fair, as these clans had helped to pioneer Campbelltown. Yet at the same time, the celebration arguably belonged to one person in particular - a craggy old Scot who had died 96 years earlier.

It was Governor Lachlan Macquarie who had founded and named Campbelltown on the afternoon of December 1, 1820. A crowd of fifty or sixty curious farmers watched as he marked out the site. "This ceremony having gone through, I named the township Campbell-Town in honour of Mrs Macquarie's maiden name, and on my pronouncing this name aloud, all present gave three hearty cheers in honour of the occasion…", the Governor later wrote in his journal. His wife was a member of the powerful Clan Campbell of Cawdor.

But Macquarie's days were already numbered. His policy of appointing ex-convicts to high positions of trust, his humanitarianism, and his generosity with land grants had cost him dearly with enemies in London.

A month before his reluctant return, he managed a final visit to Campbelltown in 1822. However, few of his bold plans had yet come to fruition. The only major construction work was the unfinished St Peter's Anglican Church(379KB, PDF).

Arrival of the new Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, saw plans for Campbelltown indefinitely shelved. In 1823, the chief architect, Standish Harris, as that apart from a church, a school, and a few bark huts, the town had little to offer.

Years rolled by as Brisbane's staff dallied and delayed, while Macquarie's dream sat unfinished, except for a scattering of buildings and homes outside the official town boundary. It wasn't until 1827, a year after Brisbane was replaced as Governor by Sir Ralph Darling, that the first measured plan of "Campbell Town" was finally drawn up by a surveyor called Robert Hoddle.

His grid pattern saw the foundation for the new town and, after all his hard work was done, Surveyor-General John Oxley gave Campbelltown its first street names. His choices were hardly subtle, but no doubt delighted and flattered Sir Ralph and his top officials.

The dedication of Dumaresq Street, in particular, was a sure-fire hit, for this was the maiden name of Darling's wife, Eliza. Her elder brother, Henry Dumaresq, was the Governor's private secretary, and another brother, William, had surveyed the road from Campbelltown to Menangle Ford.

The Auditor-General of NSW, William Lithgow, the aide-de-camp to the Governor, Thomas de la Condamine, and a senior staff officer, Archibald Clunes Innes, were all honoured by Lithgow Street, Condamine Street and Innes Street.

Nearby Cordeaux Street denoted William Cordeaux, a government commissioner and wealthy owner of Leppington estate, while Oxley Street was titled for the proud Surveyor- General himself.

Lindesay Street was a nice welcoming present for Colonel Patrick Lindesay of the 38th Regiment, who had arrived in Sydney only weeks before to take command of the garrison. The man he replaced, Colonel William Stewart, is recalled by Stewart Street. One of the young officers accompanying Lindsay was Captain Charles Sturt, who had quickly become a good friend of Oxley's and was therefore rewarded with a place on the map as well - Sturt Street. He later went on, of course, to become one of the more famous explorers.

George Street honoured the reigning monarch, King George IV, while Howe Street paid tribute to William Howe, the Campbelltown police magistrate until 1833. (It had been Howe's constant lobbying for town allotments that had led to the 1827 survey).

Queen Street did not yet exist under its present name. An 1844 map actually describes the main road as "High Street", and "Queen Street" does not seem to have come into common use until early this century. Most likely because it marked the 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, or her death in 1901.

Despite the new survey, it still wasn't until October 1831 - eleven years after Macquarie's proclamation - that the first settlers were allowed to take possession of their own land. Construction of a convict-built reservoir next to modern-day Hurley Park, and the resulting water supply, saw land values skyrocket.

But the growth probably came too quickly, and the town soon had a piecemeal image. In her book, Campbelltown - the Bicentennial History, Dr Carol Liston notes that buildings, fences and gardens had been built across street lines.

Innes Street, initially meant to join High (Queen) Street, was totally blocked by fences and land owned by Reverend Thomas Reddall and St Peters Church. Steps to re-establish this link were thwarted after protests by the Bishop of Australia, William Broughton. To this day, Innes Street comes to a halt at Lindesay Street, and its remnant on the other side of the church land was renamed Browne Street. This honoured William Browne, a farmer from Appin who was one of the first wardens of St Peter's.

By this time, Campbelltown's outer boundaries had also been established. To the north was a rough track running alongside St Peter's cemetery. It was most likely this geography that caused Broughton Street to be named after the Bishop.

To the south, Allman Street recognised police magistrate, Captain Frances Allman (1836-44), who commanded the iron gang which had built the new water reservoir.

The "Gold Rush" years saw the railway line hurtle south from Sydney to Goulburn, and for some years Campbelltown was a major railhead, with its station opening - with much fanfare - on May 4, 1858.

But the land lying between the main street and the station was still farm paddocks and not yet part of the official town. Taking the bull by the horns, local businessman (and future MP), John Hurley, purchased the farm land in question and subdivided it, creating several new roads.

The reason why Railway Street got its name is obvious, as it connected the station to the main street area. A narrow laneway, today called Short Street may have been given its name in reference to its stunted length. It was always a haphazard site and in the 1920s, Council described it as a "source of nuisance" due to its overgrown grass and weeds.

Patrick Street's origins are more complex, because it is understood the thoroughfare was originally named "Hurley Street", in honour of the subdivider. But the nearby Kings Arms Hotel was owned by a Patrick Hurley. Probably due to confusion, or maybe even small town politics, the lane was soon being called "Patrick Hurley Street". By the 1900s it was simply "Patrick Street".

Another early pathway was narrow Milgate Lane, which was converted into the Milgate Arcade in 1979. It was named for Spencer Samuel Milgate, manager of a nearby hay supply and corner store.

Local confidence suffered a setback in the 1860s and 1870s when rust destroyed the wheat industry. But dairy farming soon replaced it, and a level of hope returned.

Campbelltown Public School opened in January 1876, and Campbelltown Council formed in 1882. It soon made plans for new surveys and alignments of its streets, most of which were gravel, crushed stone or dirt. But well into the early 1900s, Campbelltown was still contained within the framework set by Governor Macquarie in 1820.

In 1901 the Agricultural Society had acquired land for a showground (now located near the Moore-Oxley Bypass), but it was considered "out in the bush". The ground became an army camp in 1914 when the First World War erupted.

It was the end of that bloody conflict that saw the first major residential estates developed outside the old village area. On November 23, 1918 - just a fortnight after the Armistice - there was an auction of "28 choice building sites, three minutes from the station" at Kershler's Estate, named after a prominent local family.

This created two new roads, the first being King Street. George King and his prominent family lived nearby, operating a general/produce store on the corner of Queen and Broughton Streets. ("King's Paddock") was the name given to the site now occupied by Council).

Iolanthe Street's origins are more uncertain, but the name suggests one of the subdividers or developers was a keen fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, whose satirical operetta, Iolanthe, was first performed in 1882.

Also subdivided at the end of the war was Mossberry Estate, named after an old home at the site (demolished in 1994). One of the new roads created was Warby Street, recalling pioneer settler John Warby (see Leumeah), whose family still owned large parcels of land in the district. Chamberlain Street was named after a Normanhurst real estate agent called H.W. Chamberlain, who managed the subdivision.

St Peters Church subdivided its glebe as well, naming the two resulting thoroughfares after prominent church figures. Reddall Street recalls Thomas Reddall, the first parish rector, while Moore Street honoured the prominent - and generous - role played by Thomas Moore in establishing the Church of England in the early colony. Moore helped build St Lukes in Liverpool, established the Missionary Society, and left a large slice of his property at modernday Moorebank to the church.

By January 1920, the local newspaper was also advertising Eaglemont Estate, boasting lots in an elevated area with "fine panoramic views which cannot be built out." It was the Genty family that had subdivided this site - hence the creation of Genty Street. The name of their homestead was immortalised by Eaglemont Crescent.

But of all these booming post war estates, none captured the public's imagination more than the Soldier Settlement, east of the township.

As troops returned home from the bloody trenches of the Western Front, the Government could think of no better reward for these brave veterans than to give them their own farms. And under this scheme, it acquired the Cransley dairy farm of Mr Houghton in 1918. (Cransley Cottage still stands near the Campbelltown East shops.) The large property was cut into 38 poultry farms, and about June 1919, diggers and their families moved in. The three dirt roads in "The settlement" were eventually given names that persist today. Macquarie Avenue recalls the founder of Campbelltown, while Valley Road highlights an obvious geographic feature.

But the main stretch was unquestionably Waminda Avenue. This name was chosen by the diggers themselves, from an Aboriginal term for "comrade". The name was originally given to the settlement's progress society and was said to be "held sacred" by the veterans.

But if Waminda Avenue's history is anything to go by, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" may have been a more apt title. The farms were a disaster from day one, due to inexperience, lack of capital and war injuries. Dozens of diggers sold up and left. For a time, only pride and guts seemed to keep "The Settlement" afloat. But Campbelltown itself was growing at a faster rate than ever seen. By 1924, four years after celebrating its centenary, electric power was available.

The Rudd estate, a huge area of land stretching from Chamberlain Street to Leumeah Station was subdivided in 1926 creating "farmlets" for orchard or poultry farming (see Leumeah). New thoroughfares were Rudd Road - after the family - and Thomas Street. Thomas Rudd, founder of the local family, had been transported as a convict for stealing a bag of sugar. However, with the onslaught of the Great Depression and World War Two, development grinded to a halt. Campbelltown had seriously overestimated its potential. It wasn't until after the war ended in 1945 that optimism returned, as thousands of young soldiers returned home to marry.

A Campbelltown Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1949, and the following months saw the birth of the first of the famous St Elmo Estate. These would double the size of the township within just a decade, and set the foundations for the city of the future.

The mastermind behind the St Elmo dream was Neil McLean, After the war, he leased the historic St Elmo house(217KB, PDF) at the top of Broughton Street, and ran his "Ronross Hatcheries" poultry business on the nearby hillsides.

But in 1948, disease hit the entire stock and the fowls had to be destroyed. Down, but not out, McLean turned his hand to real estate. Purchasing his leased property, he hired a surveyor/engineer, Wal Lewis, to design a new subdivision and supervise road construction. It was to become Campbelltown's first "prestige" housing estate.

When work began in 1949, residents were stunned at the lavishness. Located adjacent to Lindesay and Broughton Streets, it boasted large brick homes, kerbing and guttering and sweeping views.

The first road formed was Lilian Street, named after a relative of McLean's. But the estate itself was nicknamed "Snob's Hill" by local residents. McLean was disappointed at the poor sales. "Campbelltown was still regarded by many people as distant - in the sticks," he would later explain. So for his next estate, McLean aimed at an entirely different market - ex-diggers.

St Elmo Estate No 2 proved a godsend for returned soldiers seeking a cheap house and land to raise a family. Hundreds of newcomers were soon moving into fibro and weatherboard homes north of Snob's Hill.

Newly-formed streets were named after the family of the developer, including a McLean Road. His two children were noted by Rosalind Crescent and Ronald Street, while other family names were noted by Ruzac Street and Clark Crescent. An unusually-named Mereil Street was invented by joining the first names of Neil McLean and his wife, Merle.

McLean had wanted to expand his estate northwards into the scrubby "Warby Paddock", but the owner refused to sell. So in 1955, he opened new subdivisions south of Allman Street, which would be known at St Elmo Estate Nos 3, 4, 5 and 6. This land was on a part of the old property once held by William Bradbury, so the newly-built main road was given the title Bradbury Avenue. This now forms the official boundary of Campbelltown and Bradbury and many of the St Elmo streets created are now regarded as part of Bradbury (which did not exist in 1950s).

Tiny Asher Place recalls an old family, with Charlie Asher being the Council's overseer of works in the 1920s. Hammond Place recalls early publican, Thomas Hammond, who built Campbelltown's original court house in 1826, while Meehan Place honours early surveyor James Meehan (see Macquarie Fields).

A major thoroughfare was planned to be "Worrall Road" - after George Worrall. But as this was the same man hanged for murdering Frederick Fisher (whose ghost is our town patron), it was rejected by a defensive Council. So the new name was Grandview Drive, highlighting the view across to the Scenic Hills. Geographic considerations were also used for High Street and Hilltop Crescent.

Farnsworth Avenue remembers the mayor of the day, Jack Farnsworth (1953-57), while Hannaford Street notes an earlier mayor, Charlie Hannaford (1919-25), who had owned a dairy farm in the area. But one of the properties being subdivided for housing was Austin Park, once owned by James Bocking - hence Austin Avenue. Percy Marlow, Mayor from 1926-30, 1939-46 and 1951-53, is remembered by Marlow Place, while Sheather Place was inspired by Frederick Sheather, town clerk for the marathon term of 1901-44.

Other smaller streets included Lachlan Place (the Christian name of the town's founder), Fisher Place, after the famous spectre, and Ruse Place after pioneering farmer, James Ruse. The origins of Radnor Place and Rogers Place are unclear, although several early settlers went by the name of Rogers. By 1957, St Elmo was being so widely used as an address that the local newspaper had to curtly remind its readers they lived in Campbelltown.

Forming the eastern boundary of the St Elmo Estates was an old and rutted dirt track known as Wedderburn Road (due to its destination). But with the development of the new estates, the road was diverted, sealed and renamed St Johns Road. It was so titled because it ran past St Johns Catholic Preparatory College for Boys, run by the Sisters of Good Samaritan. This facility later closed in 1969 and became the new home of St Patrick's Girls College. Nearby St Thomas More Primary School, founded in 1978, was named after the Catholic parish church at Ruse, which honours the Archbishop killed by Henry VIII for refusing to renounce the Pope's authority.

Campbelltown was rocked in 1955, when the giant manufacturer Crompton Parkinson Pty Ltd announced it wanted to build a new factory on rural paddocks west of the railway station. The township had no factories at the time, and the hundreds of new jobs it would create stirred huge excitement.

Bursting with glee, Council decided to create an entire industrial estate next to the Crompton Parkinson site. In 1956, it officially resumed the land to develop new streets and blocks. Surrounded by small farms, Badgally road had already existed for years. It was named after its destination, the hill on which St Gregory's College now stands. Earlier this century, Badgally was actually pronounced "Badjally". The Sydney Gazette of October 19, 1811, reported a kangaroo hunt at the site, describing it as "Badge Allen" hill.

Blaxland Road was created as part of the industrial estate, but was little more than a dirt path and ran much shorter than its current length. It was presumedly named in memory of explorer Gregory Blaxland, who succeeded in crossing the Blue Mountains in 1813.

Other new roads recognised families who road owned the land resumed. Farrow Road, next to the railway station, recalled farmer William Farrow, while Rose Street and Kialba Road paid tribute to the Payten family.

Kialba had been the name of a beautiful old home built by architect Alfred Payten at the turn of the century, which stood close to the railway line until it was demolished in the 1960s. Adjoining Rose Street honours the maiden name of Alfred's mother, Sarah, a daughter of Thomas Rose of Mount Gilead.

Developed for industry much later, Watford Road honours James Watford, whose local mail coaches once ran daily to Parramatta and Sydney. In 1989, Council also approved a subdivision of 18 new factory lots, calling the newly formed thoroughfare Frost Road. This recalled John Frost, born in Campbelltown about 1840. His descendants contributed to the community and once farmed the nearby fields. A son, Thomas Frost, was an aldermen in the 1920s.

By the late 1950s, the town still came to an abrupt end at Camden Road (named for its destination). Directly south was a nine-hole golf course. In 1954, this was purchased by Cumberland County Council (forerunner of the State Planning Authority) and in 1957 expanded to an 18-hole championship course.

Old Menangle Road wound through the middle of it, but with the 1957 expansion, steps were taken to block its path. Only a tiny portion of it, near Emily Cottage(202KB, PDF), was left. The Campbelltown Catholic Club would open nearby in 1968, and in 1994, the last remnant of Old Menangle Road became part of that club's car park.

A gravel road which ran from the southern part of Queen Street into parkland alongside Fisher's Ghost Creek was named Milby Road by the Council in April 1960. Only a small section of it survives today, as an entrance way to the carpark of Fisher's Ghost Restaurant(227KB, PDF). This building had once been a private hospital called Milby - hence the road name.

The northern part of town had been developing more steadily, and July 1959 saw the opening of Campbelltown North Public School. Nearby Campbelltown High School, which began at Liverpool Junior Technical School in 1954, had moved to its present site in 1956. It was shortly after this that Tyler Street - apparently named for a local family - was created.

But the major developer in the north during the late 1950s and early 1960s was undoubtedly the Housing Commission. The first streets it created were called after the builders it employed - Alam Homes, the Lytton company and J. Dan Pty Ltd. Both Seddon Place and Cuthel Place noted well-known family names. Old "Warby Paddock", which Neil McLean had been unable to purchase in 1954, was later resumed by the Government and in August 1961, the Commission launched a new estate with streets named after British poets and writers to give it a "classy" image. Burns Road (named after the Scottish bard Robbie Burns) forms the suburb boundary, and streets east of it are dealt with in the chapter on Leumeah.

Those on the Campbelltown side include (Lord) Byron Avenue, (William) Shakespeare Street, (Percy) Shelley Street, (Alexander) Pope Place, (Sir Walter) Scott Street and (Robert) Browning Avenue.

In July 1960, the front page of the CI News declared it to be the end of an ear. "With the closing down of the last poultry farm in the Soldiers Settlement at Campbelltown, the end has come to a colourful ear in local history," the paper reported. "The area is now a bustling centre of road construction workers and builders as the first of hundreds of homes take shape." It was the start of the urban area known unofficially know as "Campbelltown East". The newly-developed streets between Waminda Avenue and Smiths Creek were named for Australian capital cities, being Canberra Crescent, Brisbane Road, Darwin Road, Hobart Avenue, Perth Avenue and Adelaide Avenue. The "border town" of Albury is also noted.

Other streets were named after Australian poets, such as Banjo Patterson, CJ Dennis, Henry Lawson, Dorothea Mackellar and Henry Kendall. This area eventually blended with the Housing Commission development off Burns Road to become known as the "Poets Corner".

One odd street left over, Valinda Crescent, was named after the home building firm of the same name. On the higher land to the south, streets were named after great Australian rivers. These include the Richmond, Colo, Nepean, Barwon, Megalong, Loddon, Murray, Manning, Apsley, Hunter, Hastings, Clyde and Gwydir.

Streets off Macquarie Avenue followed the first name theme used in the older St Elmo Estate nearby, such as Ronald Street. The result was Raymond Avenue, Russell Street and Randolph Street.

By 1965, local bus indicators still called it "The Settlement" but the local press referred to the new estate areas as "East Campbelltown". Calls to turn it into a separate suburb were made, but never succeeded.

Campbelltown East Primary School opened in February 1961, and three years later, Council bought Valley Road Reserve as a recreation area. In 1969, two new ovals for cricket and football were built at Waminda Reserve next to Smiths Creek.

The Housing Commission purchased a large slice of land between Broughton Street and Valley Road and in 1970 let tenders for road construction and housing. Due to their close proximity to Macquarie Avenue, the two new streets were named after Governor Arthur Phillip and Sir Joseph Banks. Other streets in the area recalled Aboriginal place names such as Bilgola, Carcoola, Coolah, Bundarra, Karuah, Coraki and Yennora.

Developed at the same time was Hume Street and Mitchell Street, named after the famous explorers, Hamilton Hume and Sir Thomas Mitchell - probably because they were so close to Sturt Street.

The only roads in the Campbelltown East area not yet mentioned are Colonial Street and College Road. This is because they didn't exist until the late 1970s - well, in name anyway.

Their routes actually form the original path of Georges River Road, as it left George Street on its way to Kentlyn. When a better access across Smiths Creek was opened in 1977 by extending Broughton Street, the old route was sliced in two at Waminda Avenue. Colonial Street was the name chosen for the north section by residents, while College Road recognised nearby St Patrick's Girls College.

By 1960, the wisdom of locating an industrial area west of the railway was being questioned. Factories already established had found it was flood prone and remote. The only access was via a railway level crossing linking Broughton Street and Badgally Road, and motorists were subjected to long delays due to shunting and hold-ups at the nearby railway station. In August 1961, Council pinned its hopes on Langdon Avenue, described at the time as "a road constructed in a recently new subdivision". The Landon's were an old family and Muriel Langdon would win the Miss Spirit contest at the 1962 Fisher's Ghost Festival.

It was proposed to make Langdon Avenue the new level crossing, but in April 1962 the Railways Department decided it didn't want any level crossings at all, and offered to contribute to the cost of a new road entrance. So, for the rest of the 1960s and much of the 1970s, anyone wanting to get into the industrial area had to drive over the Campbelltown Road railway overbridge, enter Kialba Road, turn into Rose Street, and then head along Blaxland Road.

By 1974, the pot-holed, maze-like entrance to the Industrial area was causing outrage. An angry Chamber of Commerce demanded Blaxland Road be extended to Camden Road to form a new access. But lack of funding prevented any action. However, when it became clear to residents of the proposed Claymore estate would have the "unenviable task of negotiating Rose-Kialba Street horror stretch" simply to drive to and from home, the Council began negotiations with the owner of most of the land, Crompton Parkinson, in 1976.

Yet it was not until three years later that the company agreed to selling two hectares for the Blaxland Road extension. And even then, work did not begin until 1980.

Meanwhile, in January 1979, Blaxland Road in the north had been linked with Campbelltown Road anyway, and the difficult Kialba Road entrance had been closed off.

A new street created off this northern extension was named Mill Road. This paid homage to Old Keighran's Steam Mill which was built nearby in 1855 but fell into disuse after rust destroyed the wheat crops. It nevertheless remained a famous landmark at the entrance to Campbelltown, until it was demolished, and its stone used for an army chapel in 1968.

With the massive expansion of Campbelltown in the 1970's, there was major concerns about the traffic congestion in Queen Street. It claimed a bypass was needed for through-traffic - a plan which called for the realignment and extension of two older roads, to form the Moore-Oxley Bypass.

This was not a new idea, and had been proposed as early as 1955. Work started in July 1973 on the massive project, which would eventually see Campbelltown and Appin Roads joined by a sweeping dual carriageway. And although there is still some work to be done, the basic link was opened to traffic in November 1980.

Rudd Road was split in two by the Bypass, and the smaller section adjacent to Campbelltown High School was renamed Beverley Road. This was to honour nearby Beverley Park Hospital and School, on land donated to the NSW Crippled Children's Association in 1938.

The old route of Queen Street, south of Camden Road, has also been renamed. In this case, as Art Gallery Road, after the cultural facility which was opened in 1988. Originally known as the Campbelltown Bicentennial Art Gallery, the centre has undergone much transformation since the doors first opened to become the Campbelltown Arts Centre (C-A-C).

The busy intersection of Queen Street and Lithgow Street was closed in August 1979, and a year later it was redeveloped as the Lithgow Street Mall - a "peaceful haven for shoppers". Part of the main street itself was closed in the mid-1980's, to create a leafy Queen Street Mall near the famed cluster of 1940's heritage buildings.

Development of arcades and car parks within the CBD have also seen the creation of new laneways.

The oldest of these would most likely be Coogan Lane, near the post office. From the late 1950's, Alderman Bill Coogan (who owned a butchery in Queen Street) had argued for the need to establish a car park at the rear of the shops. Council finally agreed, and in January 1962, the large site was opened. Just four months later, Ald Coogan died at the age of 54, so in tribute, Council named the access way into the car park after him. Anzac Lane was named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, due to its proximity to the RSL Club. Carberry Lane, which leads to the multi-level car park opened in 1991, was named for Nicholas Carberry, who was an Appin innkeeper in the 1830's.

In March 1981, the narrow access tot he car park between Browne and Broughton Street was called Appey Lane. This recalls Appey Mohr, a spinster school teacher who lived in an old house near the railway station in the late 1800's.

Plans were announced in 1980 to construct a major new road along the railway. Developed over the next few years, it was named Hurley Street, in honour of the town pioneer John Hurley, who originally subdivided the area in the 1850's.

Plans to develop a "Regional City Centre" on the green hills south east of Queen Street, had been made public as early as 1971. It was to feature high-rise office blocks, conference facilities, sports stadiums, transport interchanges, and become a city within a city.

Quarter of a century later, most of the grand plans have failed to materialise. But, in the other hand many have, such as Campbelltown Hospital (1977), Macarthur Shopping Square (1979), Campbelltown TAFE (1981), Macarthur Rail Station (1985) and the University of Western Sydney, Macarthur, first established as an Institute for Higher Education in 1983.

A network of new roads to serve this "Regional Centre" have since been built. Therry Road recalls John Therry, the pioneering Catholic priest, while Gilchrist Drive honours Campbelltown's first Presbyterian preacher, Hugh Gilchrist.

Other roads note early land grantees in the surrounding areas - John Kellicar, Daniel Tindall, John b, William Eggleton, Daniel Geary and Thomas Tailby. Thomas Robinson was an early teacher at the St Peter's Church school and a small road behind the motor registry recalls Barney Bugden, who ran a black-smithy at the southern end of Queen Street in the 1920's.

Campbelltown is lucky to boast several large parks or reserves, some more than a century old.

Best-known is probably leafy Mawson Park, located in the heart of the CBD. This was where Governor Macquarie had given the town its name in 1920, and for years was known as either "The Green" or "The Recreation Reserve". In 1938, it was named in honour of Dr William Mawson, who retired after 28 years of practice in the town. In August 1969, council increased the size of the park by closing part of Howe Street near St Peter's Church.

Hurley Park was originally a cattle paddock and the site of the first stone water reservoir, built by the convict iron gang. It appears to have been used as a "common" later that century, but sparked controversy in 1897 when the site "reverted" to the Crown.

Alderman Charles Bull led efforts to have the paddock declared a park, and while this debate raged, the Campbelltown News mourned the death of P.B. Hurley in March 1898. There were many tributes made to both he and his father, local pioneer John Hurley MLA, one of which was probably the dedication of the park name. The fight to protect the site as a public reserve was won, but it continued to be used for grazing purposes, and even a small tip, until a sportsground was created in the 1960s.

The old reservoir(255KB, PDF) had stopped functioning as Campbelltown's water supply in 1888, but it remained full for decades after. One newspaper report mentions a huge community picnic held at the site in November 1918, noting "aquatic displays in the once-tabooed reservoir exhilarated spectators." It continued: "If Sydney could boast such a swimming basin all her jealousy of Campbelltown might be washed away". The now-dry reservoir is under careful restoration, amid some debate whether it could be filled again to create a "water feature".

The Showground was used as just that (and a cricket ground) until 1974, when the Campbelltown City Show was relocated to Menangle Park. In 1979, the old showground became home to the Harlequins Rugby Union Club.

Popular Koshigaya Park was developed from an old paddock originally granted to Joseph Phelps. After Campbelltown formed a Sister-City pact with the Japanese city of Koshigaya in 1984, the lovingly landscaped park was named in its honour.

Centenary Park, sitting on the high crest behind St Elmo house, boasts sweeping views of the city and was originally earmarked as a site for Campbelltown Hospital, and then the Tafe. These plans were abandoned, of course, and in 1981 the State Government handed the hilltop to Council as a public reserve, possibly a lookout. Local parliamentarian, Cliff Mallam, pressed for it to become a tree-lined botanical garden, named "Lang Park". He claimed legendary ALP Premier Jack Lang, and the poet Henry Lawson, used to sit on the crest, boil the billy, and talk politics around the turn of the century.

But in 1982, Campbelltown Council was celebrating its 100th birthday - so the reserve was called "Centenary Park".

The newest addition to the suburb's green spaces is so new, it still only exists in name. The grassy paddock and shallow creek behind the Catholic Club is planned to become Marsden Park. This recognises the role played in the Campbelltown community by local publican and alderman, Guy Marsden, and his wife, Tibby (Phyllis), who both died in the 1980s.

Today the culture and community spirit of our city is celebrated through an annual calendar of events, engaging the local community and attracting visitors from across greater Sydney.

While the city is experiencing population growth, much emphasis is still placed on protecting the natural environment for which Campbelltown is renowned and residents love. The vast vistas of Campbelltown's Scenic Hills and the immediate vicinity of the Georges River Corridor, the Dharawal National Park and the Australian Botanic Garden are Campbelltown's point of difference to Sydney's other strategic centres. 

Campbelltown is home to a number of sporting and recreation facilities. Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Athletics Track, together with Club Menangle, the headquarters for Harness Racing NSW, provide world class facilities catering for both professional sporting associations and community groups.

Campbelltown is continuing to create a destination where people want to live, visit, work, play and invest.

"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 and extended with permission of the authors.

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