Members of the City of Canada Bay Heritage Society would be aware that No. 1 Bent Street is the address of the Heritage Society’s Museum, located in the former Concord Library.
Bent Street was named for Ellis Bent (1783-1815) who, before travelling to Sydney, accepted an appointment as Deputy Judge-Advocate of N.S.W. He arrived aboard HMS Dromedary, the same ship that brought the new governor, Lachlan Macquarie. Bent became the first practising Barrister-at-Law in the Colony.
At first, relations between the two were quite cordial. At Bent’s behest, Macquarie built a brick cottage for the judge, who considered his position worthy of somewhat better accommodation and devoted his attention to improving his estate, rather than his legal duties.
Macquarie increasingly clashed with Bent over the independence of the judiciary. Eventually, Macquarie felt he could not continue to govern while his authority was challenged by Bent and wrote to the Secretary of the Colonies, Lord Bathurst, asking for a determination of whether the military or the judiciary should prevail. Bathurst backed Macquarie, but before his response could reach New South Wales, Bent died leaving a widow and four children without means of support. A fifth child was born after Bent died.
Macquarie graciously wrote again to Bathurst recommending a pension for Bent’s wife. Although somewhat unusual, it was acceded to in the circumstances, allowing Mrs Bent and her family to maintain a level of propriety suitable to their former station.
Advertisements for the auction of land from Josselyn’s Paddock in 1903 show the area along Major’s Bay Road was largely undeveloped. Referred to locally as “Hillcrest”, it later flourished with the arrival of the steam tramway. A shopping precinct soon developed along the section between Brewer and Gallipoli Streets. The area became known as Central Concord to distinguish it from other nascent suburbs.
Originally Bent Street provided a link between Wellbank and Brewer Streets, running parallel to Major’s Bay Road. The Brewer Street end was later blocked off, turning the thoroughfare into a cul-de-sac. The effect of this may have been to limit commercial development in the street, but it also created a disconnect between Bent Street and the Christian Brethren Church at No.26. Most people who are aware there is a church beside the car park, assume it is in Brewer Street. The church, however, has not moved and while the building has changed, the address has always been the same.
Bent Street was formed between 1886-1887. It was listed in the NSW Government Gazette, on 11 December 1888. Its completion was delayed by a difference in levels between Bent and Wellbank Streets as well as poor drainage at the Brewer Street end, which at the time was the upper reaches of a swamp.
In 1985 Concord Council commissioned a Local Heritage Survey to identify houses and precincts of historical, cultural, environmental or architectural significance within the municipality. The street-by-street study listed four houses in Bent Street. Since then, two of the houses have been demolished. The two remaining; Nos. 12 and 20 are increasingly rare examples of different styles of mid-Victorian architecture.
Almost aligned with Bent Street is Ellis Street. It is not quite contiguous, but then the same might be said of the man himself.
Main Photograph: The street running left to right is Wellbank Street. The first thoroughfare to the left is the lane behind shops in Majors Bay Road, the second thoroughfare is Bent Street. The house on the right-hand corner was demolished to build the Concord Citizens Centre and the Concord Library (now our Museum).