Harris Park Source: Six Maps

The suburb of Harris Park is located south of the Parramatta River and east of the Parramatta CBD. It is part of the Rosehill Ward of the City of Parramatta. The name derives from the property of John Harris which together with the grants of John Macarthur at Elizabeth Farm form the basis of the geographical area of the suburb. [1]

European history of the Parramatta District began in April 1788 with an exploration party led by Governor Arthur Phillip which travelled along the river to the vicinity of The Crescent and had decided upon the site of the town. By November that year, the governor had established an outpost consisting of convicts and marine on the site.

For thousands of years the land around Parramatta was home, hunting ground and meeting place for members of the Burramattagal clan of the Darug people. European settlers cleared the land seriously diminishing the supply of native plants and animals on which Aboriginal people relied. [2]

First Land Grant

Deed for the first land grant in the colony of NSW to James Ruse. Retrieved 3/03/2020 from the State Library of NSW http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110363516

It was in Harris Park that the first land grant in the colony of 30 acres (12 ha) was bestowed to emancipated convict James Ruse in February 1791. Known as Experiment Farm, Ruse diligently cleared the land and planted crops, proving that viable farming was possible in the area. [3]

John Harris

John Harris, Surgeon, ca. 1790-1805 by unknown artist (unframed). Retrieved on 3/03/2020 from the State Library of NSW. http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110336037

John Harris, medical officer, magistrate, landholder and farmer arrived in the Colony of New South Wales in June 1790 as Surgeon’s Mate aboard the Second Fleet convict transport Surprise. In 1793, Harris was granted 100 acre (40 ha) at Parramatta, expanding his holdings with the purchase of the adjoining lands from James Ruse the same year. [4] Harris’ farmhouse known as Experiment Farm Cottage located in Ruse Street, Harris Park is owned by the NSW Branch of the National Trust of Australia and is open for visitors several days a week. [5]

First subdivisions

Subdivision plan of 14 Choice Lots at Harris Park – Harris St, Marion St, Wigram St. [nd]. Retrieved on 3/7/2019 from State Library of NSW Z/SP/P6/95. http://digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE9142381&change_lng=

For much of the 19th century the area around Harris Park remained as large land holdings consisting of orchards and mixed farming including horse and cattle breeding. Thomas Harris inherited the estate of his father John who died in 1838. Then in 1870, Thomas died and the estate passed to his son John. In 1876, John Harris subdivided part of Harris Estate to the east side of Harris Street although Elizabeth Farm Estate remained undivided until the 1880s. [6]

The extension of the railway line to Parramatta Junction (Granville) in 1855 and thence to Parramatta in 1859 also stimulated suburban expansion and population growth in the Parramatta area. Plans advertised the proximity of the blocks to Parramatta and Harris Park railway stations as a major advantage for purchasers. [7]

Subdivision plan of Harris Park Estate, Parramatta at Railway Station – Aird St, Campbell St, Western St, Church St, Wentworth St, Fitzwilliam St, Parkes St, Cowper St. [nd]. Retrieved on 3/7/2019 from State Library of NSW Z/SP/P6/93 from http://digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE9142388&change_lng=

In some parts of Harris Park in the 1870s, glasshouses belonging to Samuel Purchase’s Somerset Nursery and the nursery business of Silas Sheather dominated the landscape. [8] One of the suburbs notable residents was Leslie W. Pye who was born in 1871. He became a pharmacist and opened his own business next to the Bank of NSW in Parramatta in 1894. Pye was also an accomplished cricketer who played for Australia in 1902. [9]

1900 – World War Two

Much of the housing in the Harris Park area was constructed during the period 1910-1930. South of Alice Street substantial houses were constructed whereas to the north, the subdivision of the 1920s contained more modest weatherboard houses. [10] Nearby to the Harris Park railway platform a cluster of small cottages were constructed. [11] During the 1920s there was further subdivision of Experiment Farm and the Elizabeth Farm Estate. [12]

Post War Migration

Softening of the Commonwealth Government’s Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 in the late 1950s culminated in the formal abolition of the policy in 1973. Sweeping changes were made to the government’s immigration policy in the 1970s removing migration restrictions and introducing the notion of a multicultural Australia.[13]

In the post war period, the demographic makeup of Harris Park and more widely the Parramatta area began to change with people migrating from countries other than the United Kingdom.

In the 1960s many people from the Hadchit area of Northern Lebanon made their new home in Harris Park. [14]

Recent History

Since 1996 there has been a significant increase in the number of people from overseas living in Parramatta, however changes have taken place in the country of origin of the population. In the 1996 census year, about 36% of residents reported that they had been born overseas, increasing to 49.5% in 2016. From a population of over 226,000 people, about 10% were born in India and 10% in China. The number of people from Lebanon settling in Parramatta has decreased from about 6,000 in 1996 to 2,688 in 2016. [15]

There were just over 2,400 persons who had migrated from India in the Parramatta area in 1996, increasing to over 7,000 in 2006 and over 13,000 in 2016. The suburb of Harris Park reflects this trend with over 46% of the 5,800 residents born in India according to the 2016 Census. [16] Harris Park has become known colloquially as ‘Little India’ due to concentrations of skilled migrants settling from predominantly the Gujarat area from the north-west India. [17]

The Parramatta area with its unique neighbourhood identities enjoys a rich and diverse cultural heritage which continues to develop and be celebrated year by year.

 

Cathy McHardy, Research Assistant & Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2020.

References:

[1]          https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/harris_park

[2]          Guider, M. (2003). Aboriginal History of Parramatta. Parramatta: Author. p. 6.

[3]          Kass, T., Liston. C., & McClymont. J. (1996). Parramatta: A past revealed. Parramatta: Parramatta City Council. p. 18.

[4]          http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/harris-john-2164 Retrieved 26/6/2019

[5]          Experiment Farm Cottage. Retrieved from https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/experiment-farm-cottage/

[6]          Kass, T., Liston. C., & McClymont. J. (1996). Parramatta: A past revealed. Parramatta: Parramatta City Council. p. 187.

[7]          Advertisement for the sale of land in the Harris Park Estate. (1876, November 3). Advertising. The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 7. Retrieved from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13382757

[8]          Kass, T., Liston. C., & McClymont. J. (1996). Parramatta: A past revealed. Parramatta: Parramatta City Council. pp. 202, 203.

[9]        Sahni, N. (2019, February 9). Leslie W. Pye – Parramatta chemist and cricketer [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://arc.parracity.nsw.gov.au/blog/2019/02/09/leslie-w-pye-parramatta-chemist-and-cricketer/#more-6580

[10]        Parramatta Development Control Plan: Heritage Conservation Areas. (2011). https://www.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/sites/council/files/inline-files/4.4_SPECIAL%20PRECINCTS_HERITAGE%20CONSERVATION%20AREAS.pdf

[11]        Kass, T., Liston. C., & McClymont. J. (1996). Parramatta: A past revealed. Parramatta: Parramatta City Council. p. 270.

[12]        Kass, T., Liston. C., & McClymont. J. (1996). Parramatta: A past revealed. Parramatta: Parramatta City Council. p. 317.

[13]        Barns, S. & Mar, P. (2018) Waves of People: Exploring the movements and patterns of migration that have shaped Parramatta through time. Parramatta: City of Parramatta, Western Sydney University. p. 64.

[14]        Barns, S. & Mar, P. (2018) Waves of People: Exploring the movements and patterns of migration that have shaped Parramatta through time. Parramatta: City of Parramatta, Western Sydney University. p. 59.

[15]   https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/1996/communityprofile/105406250?opendocument

[16] https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/communityprofile/LGA16260?opendocument

[17]        Barns, S. & Mar, P. (2018) Waves of People: Exploring the movements and patterns of migration that have shaped Parramatta through time. Parramatta: City of Parramatta, Western Sydney University. p. 68.