By Cathy Jones
‘Wellbeck’ is an Victorian Italianate house located at 96 Abbotsford Road Homebush. The house was built on 1878 Village of Homebush Estate.
‘Wellbeck’ was built c.1892. Its first owner was Albert Nicholson, a solicitor. Nicholson was the owner and occupier until c.1900, when the house was purchased by the Mutual Life Association.
In 1903, the house was transferred to Mrs Emily Maria Forrester who renamed it ‘Warwick’ and lived their with her three young daughters, Florence Louise, Gertie Emily and Ellie May. Her son Charles Albert Forrester had already married and lived at ‘Chesney’ Liverpool. Mrs Forrester was the widow of William Forrester (1842-1901) of Warwick Farm. In 1882 Forrester had bought the rural property Warwick Farm and he became one of the most successful horse trainers and owners of his time. He owned and trained two Melbourne Cup winners, Gaulus in 1897 and The Grafter in 1898 and had multiple Cup place getters in that decade. After Mrs Forrester died in 1917 her unwed daughters Gertie and Ellie moved to Cremorne.
The house was then sold to Albert James Sydney Palmer, a cutter. The house was then renamed ‘Wellbeck’. Palmer sold the house in August 1927 to Andrew Gillies Gibson and Ellen Ruth Gibson, ident agent and his wife for the sale price of £1750. In May 1939, Mr & Mrs Gibson sold the house to Charles Martin, gentleman and Emma, his wife for £1400 pounds. In August 1959, the house was transferred from the estate of the late Charles Martin to Edward Stevens, public servant and his wife Anne for £5450 pounds. By 1966, the house was owned by Liros & Marigo Ajdukovic.
Death of Mr. William Forrester. (1901, August 31). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912), p. 542. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165231714
Department of the Valuer General NSW – Valuation List – Valuation District of Strathfield
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986
Notice of Land Transfers under Local Government Act 1919
Sands Sydney Directory
Strathfield Council Valuation Lists
Thank you for telling the history of ‘Wellbeck’ which within the Forrester family is known as ‘Warwick’, because as you have written the house was renamed when my great great grandmother moved there from the family’s private racecourse and training track ‘Warwick Farm’. When Emily Forrester arrived in Homebush in 1903 she had three single daughters but in 1904 her eldest daughter Florence married George Seymour Pearson. The newlyweds moved to a house that still stands on the north eastern corner of Ben Boyd and Kurraba Roads, Neutral Bay. The Pearson’s then moved further along Kurraba Road to a cottage named Kooringa. In the 1920s after the death of her husband Florence redeveloped the land and built a fine block of appartments. The two Pearson daughters Marjorie and Joyce married and Joyce had a daughter the journalist and writer Juditha Dent (better known as Cherry Ripe).
My other two great great aunts Gertie and Ellie didn’t marry and after their mother’s death they they sold 96 Abbotsford Road and moved to the lower north shore near their sister in Neutral Bay. They bought the two storied Edwardian-era semis at 24 and 26 Murdoch Street, Cremorne. The Forrester family connection to Homebush didn’t end at that time. In the early 1930s my grandparents William and May Forrester moved from variously living at Darlinghurst and Scotland Island to Bates Avenue, Homebush. My grandmother’s parents Gordon and Ada Joyce-Brandon owned a Claude Hamilton designed apartment block at the top of The Cross in Farrell Avenue. Here they had their daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren living in their ‘Tennyson House’ mansion flats during The Depression or on their land at Scotland island. When my grandfather Bill Forrester was working again he moved his young wife and two children to Homebush where his best friend from his schooldays at Sydney Grammar was the resident pharmacist William Cutcliffe, of Rochester Street. My mother’s Godfather, was Uncle Billy the chemist. Around the same time my Forrester grandmother’s sister and husband Rene and Harry Weir lived on the north western corner of Burlington and Bridge Road, Homebush.
My grandparents Bill and May moved to Cootamundra with their daughters, my mother Pamela and aunt Ann. When the family moved back to Sydney in 1945 they lived at 26 Murdoch Street, Cremorne, next to the maiden Forrester aunts. In 1968 my parents moved from a house I believe to have been designed in 1926 by Thomas Pollard Sampson at 2 Wallis Ave, Strathfield, to 19-21 Meredith Street, Homebush. Forrester descendants were again living in Homebush. Uncle Billy Cutcliffe was still the chemist before Jim Harrison took over. There was a Bank of NSW, a real Post Office and a country style hardware. Most importantly for me there was a cake shop that made vanilla sponge birthday cakes with mock cream and strawberry jam fillings … blue icing for boys and pink for girls. More importantly for my sister, Sara, there was a record store in The Crescent selling the latest LPs. My widowed grandmother, May Forrester, returned to live in Burlington Road, Homebush, in 1971 and remained there until 1988.
I hope one day Cathy, you might tell the history of my childhood home ‘Dunkeld’ in Meredith Street. I believe it was built c.1906 by pastoral agent and tennis player J.P. Duguid. The house was then owned by James Pearce the proprietor of the Strathfield Flour Mills. The son of Pearce was briefly married to Charlotte Alexander who lived next door in Meredith Street and became in typical Aussie style the neighbour “Aunty Lottie” of my childhood years. The divorced Miss Alexander and her bachelor brothers lived at number 17 and at 15 Meredith Street Frank and Lily Thompson lived for many decades. Frank Thompson was Chairman of Mathews Thompson Grocery Stores and in 1960 sold the 265 stores to Coles. He was also Chairman of PLC Croydon from 1931 to 1974. Frank’s sisters started ‘Branxton’ at Strathfield. So there is a lot to tell in Meredith Street just between Broughton and Abbotsford Roads near the highest point of the 1878 Village of Homebush Estate.
We are very lucky to have ‘Strathfield Heritage’ to read the stories of our homes, schools and families. Cathy this is an invaluable community resource.