By Cathy Jones
The Broadway or Enfield Broadway is the shopping precinct located at the crossroads of Liverpool Road, The Boulevarde and Coronation Parade.
The majority of the shops and housing built at The Broadway were developed by Ebenezer Ford, described as the ‘uncrowned King of Enfield’ or the ‘Man who built a new suburb’. Ford bought eight acres of bushland at The Broadway in the early 1900s with a plan to build a suburb. In the early 1900s, Enfield contained ‘three houses and a smithy’, however with the extension of the Ashfield-Enfield tram line to Burwood and the extension in 1901 from Burwood to Mortlake, the Broadway became more accessible with connections to rail transport at Burwood. As a result of development, by the late 1920s the population of the Enfield area had increased to 15,000.
The Broadway is mainly located in the former Enfield Municipal Council (now part of Burwood Council) but the western shops on Liverpool Road and The Boulevarde are located in the Strathfield Council area.
In the article ‘The Man who built a suburb’ (1929), the story of Ford’s endeavours are described:
“In 1901, young Ford, already a successful business man, whose first job had been sticking labels on chemist’s bottles at a salary of 7s 6d per week. commenced to build his first shop, on what Is now Broadway. Enfield. He found a tenant before it was completed, and that tenant, a butcher, is still in the same shop. People told him he was mad to build there, and old residents scorned him.
Still the young dreamer went on and built more shops. While working on the second lot a man, who did not know him, asked him who owned the shops. “Chap named Ford.” said that individual while mixing mortar. “Well, he’s a lunatic,” commented the visitor. “He’ll be broke inside a year. Ford did not go broke. He built more shops and then set out to build cottages. “
In a 1911 by-election following the resignation of Ald. George Marlow, Ebenezer Ford ran for election to Enfield Council, representing the west ward, which he won. Until his death in 1932, Ford was elected at every Council election. At the 1928 and 1932 elections, he was elected in the Central Ward of Enfield Council. He was also elected as Mayor in 1915-1917 and 1920-1929.
However, his personal and financial dealings and Council service raised issues regarding potential conflicts of interest. In 1911, he was ousted from his position as an Alderman due to his interest in a contract between the council and Enfield Park Brick Company which he was a director. Ford appealed the decision to the High Court and the Court, by majority, upheld the appeal, and made an order nisi for the discharge of the ouster, with costs in May 1916.
Ford returned to Enfield Council as an Alderman and Mayor. From 1920 to 1929, he served as Mayor for nine consecutive years. He continued to develop more shops and cottages as well as development of estates such as the Mintaro Estate in Strathfield and an estate around High Street Strathfield, which was resumed by the NSW Government for housing in the 1940s. He later built a bank at Broadway and got a banker to open a branch there. The large Enfield Cinema (later the Savoy) was built at Broadway. The access to bus and tram services connecting Enfield to Burwood (rail station) and the Parramatta River (Cabarita and Mortlake) was key component of the decision to build a theatre of this size but also the establishment of a large shopping precinct and growing populations at Broadway and Enfield to support this commercial undertaking.
Ford was also was responsible for the building of the Enfield Council Chambers in 1930, which was located at The Broadway, behind the Enfield War Memorial. Ford died in 1932 at his home ‘Telerah’ Wakeford Road Strathfield. Ford Park in Strathfield South is named for him.
Dunlop, E. (1974). Harvest of the Years, Burwood Council
Jones, C, (2010, revised 2020). Ebenezer Ford at viewed at https://strathfieldheritage.com/local-government/former-enfield-council/mayors-of-enfield-municipal-council/ebenzer-ford/
Jones, C (manuscript, unpublished), History of Enfield Council’s Mayors and Aldermen
‘The Man who built a suburb’. (1929, May 5). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), p. 25. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223961209
‘A Mayor Ousted’. (1916, April 12). Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92788556
‘Mayor of Enfield’. (1916, May 5). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), p. 5 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221359239
Photos of Broadway, c.1930s from the Strathfield-Homebush District Historical Society collection