By Cathy Jones
Ford Park is bounded by James Street, Water St and Maria St and the Cooks River, Strathfield South. It is one of the parks located on the foreshore of the Cooks River accessible via the Cooks River Cycle and Pedestrian path.
Ford Park is located on the original 1808 James Wilshire land grant which was later known as the Redmire Estate, which runs from today’s Redmyre Road Strathfield to the Cooks River and is bounded at the east by The Boulevarde and Coronation Parade.
The land for the park was acquired in various stages, commencing in 1931 when this section of the Cooks River was straightened and concreted. Additional land was acquired in 1933 and 1935 through NSW Government subsidised loan schemes. When the west ward of Enfield Council was amalgamated with Strathfield Council on 1 January 1949, this site came under the control of Strathfield Council.
Naming of the Park
Ford Park was named in honour of Ebenezer Ford (d.1932), Mayor of Enfield (1915-17, 1920-29). Ford was an advocate for the concreting of the Cooks River, a popular view of the day.
Ford was a prominent resident of Strathfield and Enfield. He was a builder by profession and was extensively involved in land and property development in Enfield, owning and developing most of the Broadway shopping centre on Liverpool Road. He served as an Alderman on Enfield Council for over 20 years and he was Mayor for 12 years. His obituary notes that Ford was proud of his record of never missing a Council meeting, until his final illness in 1932. He was president of the Western Suburbs Hospital and had been a member of the board for about 15 years. He was president of the Burwood District Friendly Societies Dispensary, which office he held since its inception more than 20 years ago.
Ford’s son Emil was a prominent solicitor and resident of Strathfield. His son, Harvey Ford was Mayor of Strathfield [1965-66] and the grandson of Ebenezer Ford.
An interesting feature of Ford Park is the Jessie Broomfield Memorial Water Fountain for Dogs. The purpose of the water fountain was intended for the convenience of dogs, not people.
When Jessie Stuart Broomfield died in 1935, her will not only bequeathed that money be distributed to various homes and institutions for dogs in the city of Sydney, but that that drinking fountains and troughs for dogs be erected with her name inscribed on them.
In 1941, the Trustees of the Estate advised Enfield Council that Jessie Bloomfield had requested that drinking fountain or water trough for dogs be placed in either Jackson or Ford Park. This work was completed in 1948. Another Jessie Broomfield fountain is located on Anzac Parade, La Perouse.
Landscaping and vegetation
Landscape plans were developed in the late 1970s to revegetate Ford Park, which was largely cleared of trees and vegetation (as shown in the 1947 photograph above). Ford Park contains revegetated parkland that is mostly indigenous vegetation typical of Cooks River and its tributaries. The revegetated parkland forms a habitat corridor which connects with the other Cooks River/Coxs Creek foreshore parks. The shared Cooks River pathway, which runs from Botany Bay to Homebush Bay, runs along the Cooks River in Ford Park.
Land located in Ford Park adjacent to the Cooks River is identified in the Strathfield Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2019 as a biodiversity connectivity priority area and Green and Golden Bellfrog (GGBF) linkage area.
Death of Ebenezer Ford, Sydney Morning Herald, 17th August 1932, p17
Cooks River Parks Plan of Management, Strathfield Council, 2020