The subdivision of land for housing at the end of the nineteenth century fundamentally changed Concord and its surrounding districts, transforming what was essentially a rural district of orchards, small farms and market gardens into an expanding patchwork of industrial and commercial development with its attendant population growth. As houses, factories and businesses increasingly encroached on nearby farmland, the area’s scattered communities were enveloped in a wave of suburbanisation. Previously identifiable villages and localities became part of a broader suburbia and the reality that they had ever existed was largely forgotten.

One example of this pattern was “Sunny Side” on Queens Road, Five Dock, between Walker and Regatta Streets, which extended as far as Hen and Chicken Bay. Such areas were defined not by gazetted boundaries, but by local lore. Sunny Side residents identified with their area through a community church hall, known as Sunnyside Mission. The hall was established as a branch of the Burwood Congregational Church, but over a period of fifty years served as a meeting place, polling booth and public school. Children attended Sunday School in the hall, couples were married here and audiences gathered to listen to uplifting speeches. Sunny Side Mission even had its own cricket team that successfully competed in the suburban churches’ competition.

Land at Sunny Side was first subdivided and offered for sale in July 1884. It was again offered for sale in January the following year, having sold only a handful of lots on Queens Road. The remaining 52 lots on the as yet unfinished Regatta Road, attracted little interest.

In 1888 Five Dock Council reported that levelling Regatta Road was nearing completion. The unsold lots were again offered for sale at an auction on the last day of 1895. The subdivision plan, as advertised by the auctioneer, showed less than a dozen lots had been sold in the intervening period. A final auction was held in 1905.

The name “Sunny Side” was retained, at least unofficially, well into the twentieth century. In 1927 the Labor Daily News reported the success of the Sunny Side Branch in raising funds for the ALP candidate in the Drummoyne Electorate. Family notices and other advertisements still referenced Sunny Side until the late 1930s. The post-war housing boom swept away many of the less pleasant industries such as Martin’s Soap Factory, replacing these with neat cottages that blended seamlessly into their suburban environment. Sunny Side was now a distant memory.

Andrew West


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