by Cathy Jones
The Municipal District of Strathfield was proclaimed on 2 June 1885. The name of the Council was derived from the house ‘Strathfield’ built for the Mayor of Sydney, Walter Renny c.1868. This house was originally called ‘Stratfieldsaye’, the name inspired by the Duke of Wellington’s home in England. This house was later known as ‘Strathfield House’ and then ‘Strathfield’.
Strathfield Council originally included the areas of Redmyre [now suburb of Strathfield], Homebush and Druitt Town [now parts of Strathfield and Strathfield South]. Of these areas, only Homebush retains it’s original name. Flemington [now suburb of Homebush West] remained unincorporated and was added in 1892.
The first meeting of Strathfield Council was held on 19th August 1885 at ‘Llanelly’ [now ‘Steephurst’] at 22 Albyn Rd, to elect the first Aldermen. James Inglis MP of ‘Billy Tea’ fame was appointed the returning officer. ‘Llanelly’ was the home of stockbroker George Thompson, grandson of retailer David Jones. The Alderman elected to the first Council included Thompson; George Hardie, a mining agent, of Torrington Rd; Albert Allen, storekeeper of Druitt Town, William Von Der Heyde, a tobacco merchant of Albert Rd; Henry Australia Perkins, a wealthy gentleman of Meredith St and James Thompson, independent, of Albert Road.
The first Mayor of Strathfield, George Hardie, was elected on 30 August 1885. It has been reported that Strathfield was named after the first Mayor’s home, however this is incorrect. Hardie’s home was actually called ‘Torrington’. In 1885, ‘Strathfield’ was the home of John Hardy, of Hardy Bros & Co, a City based jeweller. In any case, this story is obviously incorrect as the name ‘Strathfield’ was selected as the new name of the District prior to Hardie’s election as an Alderman and Mayor.
Hardie’s Mayoralty was short-lived as the State law required that two Aldermen retire at the end of the first year on Council. Hardie’s name was picked from the hat, thus ending his service on Council. Hardie was appointed as the returning officer for the next Council election and later returned to England. His brother, Robert Hardie, founder of real estate agents Hardie & Gorman, was Mayor of Burwood in 1887.
‘Llanelly’ [now ‘Steephurst’] operated as the Strathfield Council Chambers for a short time, later moving to ‘Franklin Cottage’ [corner Albyn and Homebush Rd Strathfield]. The Strathfield Council Chambers were opened in 1887 at 65 Homebush Rd Strathfield and have operated from the same location since 1887.
Expansion of Council boundaries
The original Strathfield Council area expanded in size with the amalgamations of Enfield and Homebush Councils in the 1940’s. The Municipality of Enfield was proclaimed on 22 January 1889 [additional area west of Enfield added in 1893] and Municipality of Homebush on 6 June 1906. The area of Flemington was incorporated into the Municipality of Strathfield on 16 February 1892. Homebush Municipality was added to Strathfield Municipality in May 1947 and on 1 January 1949, the west ward of Enfield Municipality was added to Strathfield Municipality. The central and east wards of Enfield Council were added to Burwood Council.
Strathfield Council abolished wards in 1916. In 1947, following the merger with Homebush Council, a Provisional Council operated from 1947-48 with 12 Aldermen – 9 from Strathfield Council and 3 from Homebush Council. An election was held in November 1948 for the ‘United’ Strathfield Council (which included candidates from the west ward of Enfield Council). There was a total of 15 Aldermen – 9 from the First Ward (Strathfield and Homebush areas) and 3 from the Second Ward (Enfield area). Elections were held in 1950 for the period 1950-1953. A total of 10 Aldermen positions were elected from the First and Second Wards, which had 5 Aldermen in each ward, following boundary readjustments. The ward system was abolished from the 1953 election.
Strathfield Council has been threatened by Council amalgamation on many occasions, most particularly in 1947, 1973, 1983, 2003 and 2015-2017. In 1999, the Council considered amalgamation with Burwood Council, which did not proceed after community consultation. The NSW Government presented a plan to merge Strathfield with City of Canada Bay and Burwood Councils in 2015. This was opposed by Strathfield Council. Following legal action, the NSW Government decided not to proceed with this plan in 2017.
Strathfield Council has seven Councillors who are elected at general elections. The Mayor is elected by the Councillors each September. The Mayor of Strathfield is not popularly elected and is elected by the majority of Councillors on a bi-annual basis.
By Cathy Jones (2009, revised 2017)