Aerial photograph of Cheltenham. Source: Six Maps

The suburb of Cheltenham lies to the northeast of the Parramatta CBD and is administered in the main, by Hornsby Shire Council. Formerly part of Hornsby Shire prior to 2016, the small strip of land along the corridor on the south side of the M2 Motorway lies within the Epping Ward of the City of Parramatta. In 2016, the suburb as a whole had a population of 2,243 persons most of whom lived in separate dwellings. [1]

In April 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip made a number of exploratory journeys in the area. Accompanied by a party of officers and marines he visited Middle Harbour and then travelled cross- country along the North Shore and along the Pennant Hills ridge to the vicinity of Beecroft. [2]

For thousands of years the land around the Cheltenham area was home, hunting ground and meeting place for members of the Wallumedegal people. [3] In 1796 a number of grants were made to soldiers of the New South Wales Corps and in 1798 to several missionaries including Rowland Hassall and then to Samuel Marsden in 1799. [4] European settlers cleared the land for farming and for timbergetting purposes seriously diminishing the supply of native plants and animals on which Aboriginal people relied.

A large tract of land in the Beecroft and Cheltenham area was set aside by Governor Gidley King in 1804 as the Field of Mars Common, thus restricting the development of the area until the 1870s. [5] Although timber was removed from the common, many areas of land remained heavily covered by trees and undergrowth.

In 1874, the NSW government resumed the Field of Mars and the land was subdivided for residential purposes. The Main Northern Railway Line opened from Strathfield to Hornsby in 1886 with a railway station at Beecroft. The coming of railway transport encouraged subdivision and land sales in the area. Many wealthy and influential settlers chose to build amongst the tall trees and bushland environment including Judge Grantly Fitzhardinge and businessman, Ludovic Blackwood.

William Chorley, successful Sydney tailor and landowner, built his home, Mount Pleasant in 1889 near the railway line and convinced the NSW Department of Railways to construct an additional station between Beecroft and Epping, which opened in 1898. Chorley named the new station Cheltenham after the town of his birth in Gloucestershire, England. [6]

Today the suburb of Cheltenham retains much of its architectural heritage and is renowned for its fine stands of trees and landscaped gardens.

Cathy McHardy, Research Assistant, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2020.

References

[1] ABS Census Data for Cheltenham (NSW). Retrieved on 4/10/2019 from https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SSC10896

[2]        Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. (1995). Beecroft and Cheltenham: The shaping of a Sydney community to 1914. Beecroft: Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. p. 2.

[3]        Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. (1995). Beecroft and Cheltenham: The shaping of a Sydney community to 1914. Beecroft: Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. p. 14.

[4]        Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. (1995). Beecroft and Cheltenham: The shaping of a Sydney community to 1914. Beecroft: Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. pps. 6-8.

[5]        Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. (1995). Beecroft and Cheltenham: The shaping of a Sydney community to 1914. Beecroft: Beecroft Cheltenham History Group. p. 41.

[6]       Hornsby Historical Society. (1979). Pioneers of Hornsby Shire: 1788-1906. Sydney: Library of Australian History. pps. 60-61.