Ten days after the landing at Sydney Cove on the 26th January, 1788, Captain John Hunter with Lt. Bradley, led an expedition along one of the rivers running into Sydney Cove. This is now known to us as the Parramatta River. Having left at daylight, the expedition proceeded up the river, passing several natives in the coves on the opposite river bank. They landed on the shore opposite and prepared breakfast. Captain Hunter listed this in his diary as “Breakfast Point”. It was in this area that the Australian Gas Light Company was established. It is now the high-rise development of Breakfast Point.
His report to Captain Phillip indicated that the land around this area might be suitable for farming. Captain Phillip was so impressed with his report that five days later he made the same trip with Lt. Bradley. After breakfast he rowed around to the flats just around a bay we now know as Homebush Bay. They landed and walked two or three miles into the country. This is the first recorded exploration beyond the riverbank of land now within the Municipality of Concord.
Later, still looking for suitable farmland, they proceeded further along the river, where the second white settlement in the colony was established in November 1788. It was named Rose Hill but later changed to Parramatta.
Finding it necessary to get convicts to this new settlement they made a rough bush track by following the foreshores of the river. This track was originally known as the “path” and eventually was named Parramatta Road. This track was used to march convicts from Sydney to the new settlement at Rose Hill. All were handcuffed and the more violent ones were chained as well. As the 14-mile walk was a two-day march it became necessary to have somewhere to rest overnight, about a day’s march from Sydney.
In 1792 Governor Phillip had a convict stockade built on the Longbottom Government farmlands (this is now Concord Oval). These are thought to be the first buildings on Concord soil.
The first land grants were made in Concord on 24th December, 1793. These were made to four free settlers and five non-commissioned officers of the N.S.W. Corp. However, the government was beginning to realise that soldiers and convicts did not make good farmers, and requests were made to Great Britain for more free settlers who were more used to farm work. The first of these free settlers arrived early in 1793.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Concord was a peaceful rural backwater, heavily wooded but sparsely populated. It remained that way for the first half of the century. Scattered around were the huts and shacks of those few grantees trying to make a living from their land grants.
A census taken in 1828 showed a population of 265 – 19% were children under the age of 12 years. There were isolated pockets of settlement, particularly in the area where the Village of Longbottom was planned in 1843.
The first land sales in this area took place in 1834.
Emanuel Neich, who was the original licensee of the Bath Arms Hotel from 1834 to 1890, was one of the larger buyers. During his fifty-six years as the owner of the Bath Arms, he had two wives and fathered 24 children.
Lack of transport was a problem that faced Concord in the closing stages of the 19th century. The nearest train link, which opened in 1855, was Redmyre Station (which was renamed Strathfield in 1878) on the Parramatta line.
While small family-run workshops had been a feature of Concord’s early days, late in the 19th century the nature of the municipality’s industries changed with the coming of large-scale industrial complexes such as the Australian Gaslight Company, which opened at Mortlake in 1886.
Many large “gentlemen’s estates” were established during this century: “Braygrove”, 1880, home of the Bray family, then became Tullochs Iron Foundry, later, Digital Computers, and now Rhodes Business Centre; “Rhodes House”, 1820, the family home of the “other” Thomas Walker; “Yaralla House”, 1840, family home of Thomas Walker (father of Dame Eadith); “Lansdowne House”, 1853, Emanuel Neich (owner of the Bath Arms Hotel); “Clermont House”, 1861, which became “Our Children’s Home” and is now a long day care centre and kindergarten.
Because the road, rail and river facilities circumvented Concord, commercial and industrial development was grafted onto the perimeter and the municipality remained at heart a scattered residential suburb. By the year 1898 the population had risen to 2,400; then, by the year 1916 the population reached 7,000. By 1921 it was 11,013, and by the year 1933 had increased to 23,213 – a little over 100% in 12 years.
With these increases in population, it was necessary to have places of worship and education. Between 1860 and 1935 the number of churches increased to 16. The schools, from 1879 to 1929, increased from 1 to 7. After the opening of the railway line to Hornsby in 1886 it is interesting to note how large industry was established in close proximity to the railway line: Arnott’s, North Strathfield, 1907;
G & C Hoskins Foundry, Rhodes, 1911 (in 1922 transferred to Port Kembla and began trading as Australian Iron & Steel); Westinghouse Brakes, Concord West, 1912; John Darling Flour Mills, 1919 (taken over by Allied Feeds in 1960); Berger Paints, 1917; Tullochs Ltd., established 1915, closed in 1974.
On the Hen and Chicken Bay and Parramatta River side of the municipality similar large industries were established: Farleigh Nettheim Ltd., Tannery, 1880; Wunderlich Industries, 1917, but moved out of the area in 1950; Welcome Australia,1919; DuluxPaints, 1921; Major Bros. Paints, 1924; Tanner Middleton Timber Mills, 1927; and Bushells Ltd., 1957.
In 1901 the steam tram which ran from Burwood was extended to Mortlake. Then, in 1907, it was further extended to Cabarita Junction and Cabarita Park. Correys Pleasure Gardens and Dance Pavilion was one of Sydney’s leading recreational resorts. This resort was established on 2.8 hectares of land adjacent to Cabarita Park, fronting onto both Hen & Chicken Bay and Kendall Bay. These pleasure grounds catered for all the family and were used regularly for annual picnics.
In the year 1912 the trams were electrified and by the year 1931 the income from this line had increased to £64,183. With the added transport and industry being established it was only natural that the land sales in this area would increase.
(compiled by Sid Money in 1993)