History of Ashbury
The name of the suburb "Ashbury" was arrived at as the area is located midway between Ashfield and Canterbury. The first section of the name Ashfield was taken together with the last section of the word Canterbury. The area was previously known as Goodlet's Bush Area. Development of the area began about 1919.
Ashbury was in the area once belonging to Canterbury Farm, which was owned by R. Johnson in 1793. After a succession of owners of the Johnson Grant, Robert Campbell bought the land mainly to accommodate the overflow of imported cattle rejected by the government. In 1840, Robert Campbell was approached by two entrepreneurs, William Child and Francis Kemble, to sell them part of his land as a site for a sugar processing factory.
Robert Campbell died in 1846, and under the terms of his Will, his estate was divided six ways. About 1850, Jeffreys, Campbell's son-in-law, engaged the architect Edmund Blackett to design for him a gentleman's residence. This residence became known as Canterbury House. While Canterbury House was still being built, a railway line was under construction from Sydney to Parramatta Junction.
Jeffreys died in 1861, and his family returned to England, severing the direct connection between the Campbell Family and Canterbury, which had existed for nearly 60 years. Canterbury House was leased through the 1860s and 1870s to various people. In 1876, Canterbury House and the surrounding area, was sold to John Hay Goodlet.
John Hay Goodlet died in 1914, leaving his property to his second wife. She began to subdivide the paddocks of Goodlet's Bush (the area surrounding Canterbury House) into suburban allotments, and gradually the suburb of Ashbury took shape. A site in Trevenar Street was resumed for a public school on 2 November 1923, and lessons commenced the following year in the local hall. The name of the school was changed from South Ashfield to Ashbury in 1926, and the new buildings opened in August 1928.
Land for a Catholic Church was bought on the hill behind Canterbury House by the Vincentian Fathers on February 1924. The first masses were held in a marquee in 1929, and St. Francis Xavier's Church-School opened the following year. Teachers were provided by the nuns of the Ursuline Order, who opened a convent, then St Ursula's secondary school (closed 1965), on land opposite the church. Land for the Methodist Church at Ashbury was purchased on 18 August, 1924, and a church was erected and opened in April, 1926, by the Rev. H. H. Nolan.
A non-official post office was established at Ashbury on 7th June, 1926. The first Postmistress was Elizabeth King and the first office was at 32 King Street, Ashbury. The Canterbury Race Course and the Ashbury Bowling Club, together with the Canterbury High School, are situated along Ashbury's south eastern boundary.
Many of the street names in Ashbury are derived from those of Goodlet and his two wives, Anne Alison Panton and Elizabeth Mary Forbes. Elizabeth died in 1926, and Canterbury House was given to the Presbyterian Church as a site for a college. The last of the land surrounding the house was sold by the church in 1928, and eventually the house itself was demolished to build suburban houses. With the last subdivision of Canterbury House Estate, the last recognisable piece of Campbell's Canterbury Estate disappeared. The outlines are now difficult to define.
The highest point in the Canterbury Local Government Area, Peace Park is situated on corners of three properties originally granted in the 1790's. The South Ashfield Brick and Tile Company once operated the South Ashfield Brickworks (later called the Ashbury Brickyard) from this site. This Company was incorporated in 1910 and tapped local Wianamatta Series shales "to manufacture and sell brick tiles, drain pipe and all kinds of pottery ware".
The seven subscribers, who each took up one share, were:
- W. J. Loudon
- H. E. Pratten
- H. G. Spencer
- George Holland (builder)
- C. H. Crammond (estate agent)
- David Abel (plumber)
- David Aiken (solicitor)
In 1924, the Suburban Land and Investment Co (who purchased property in 1911), sold strips of land along King, Holden and the eastern end of Goodlet Street's to three builders. It is most probably this team who erected the houses that now front onto the streets around Peace Park.
Just prior to the purchase of the works property by Brickworks Ltd in 1938, two young boys, Charles Dunn, aged nine, and his brother William, aged six, who lived nearby in Holden Street, drowned in the pool at the bottom of the unused pit.
The date brick production ceased is unknown, however, the quarry was still providing shale to the company's works at Burwood in 1965. The disused brick pit was purchased by the NSW Government in 1978 for use as open space. The surviving single stack and kiln were demolished in 1987 by Canterbury Council to make way for Peace Park which was so named in recognition of the International Year of Peace.
Peace Park features a ceremonial paved area to pay tribute to the site's previous history of brick manufacture. Trees, symbolic of peace in both Eastern and Western cultures, were planted by students of Canterbury Girls High School during 1992. Peace Park was officially opened during 1993.