By Cathy Jones
24 Meredith Street Homebush is located within the site of various 1793 land grants offered to a group of free settlers, including Frederick Meredith, in an area known as Liberty Plains by the NSW Colonial Government anxious to secure a food supply for the growing colony.
The land proved difficult to farm and the settlers abandoned farming activity and moved from their land. Eventually, this land and other land located in the current day Homebush West and Homebush (both sides of the railway line) came under the ownership of James Underwood. The land became known as the ‘Underwood Estate’. In 1878, 306 acres of the Underwood Estate was subdivided for residential development and marketed as ‘Village of Homebush’. This subdivision created Burlington Rd, Beresford Road, Abbotsford Rd, Bridge St, Coventry Rd, Meredith St, Homebush Crescent (later The Crescent) and Bellevue Street Homebush Road.
24 Meredith Street was built in c.1889-1890. The land occupied by the houses located at 16 to 24 Meredith Street Homebush were owned in 1889 by John Waugh, a local builder. Waugh is likely to have built and developed the houses with the intention to on-sell or rent the properties. Waugh did not reside in any of these residences and all were leased for short periods, before being sold.
By 1896, ownership of the house at 22 Meredith Street Homebush had transferred to Edward Henry Rogers, a merchant. During Rogers’ ownership, the house was frequently tenanted to various occupants. John Price, of Kite & Price Timber Merchants Homebush was a tenant from c.1903-05. Price was an Alderman on Strathfield Council 1902-1920 and Mayor of Strathfield 1906-07. By c.1914, the house was owned by Harold Norall, a draftsman.
From c.1924 until 1963, ‘Chester’ was the home of the Hopman family. The house was owned by John Henry Hopman, father of famed tennis player and coach Harry Hopman (1906-1985). Tennis courts were located at the rear of 22 and 24 Meredith Street until they were sold and subdivided in 1961, creating a new residential lot on Broughton Road. The courts were reputedly used by Harry Hopman for social tennis, practice and tennis coaching. Hopman reputedly lived here until c.1934, when he married tennis player Nell Hall.
Hopman’s father John Hopman was a teacher and headmaster of Rosehill Public Primary school. Harry Hopman was a noted player and won many titles, however he is best known as captain and coach of 22 Australian Davis Cup teams. Hopman coached the Australian Davis Cup Team to 16 wins between 1939 and 1967, with players such as Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, Neale Fraser, John Newcombe, Fred Stolle, Tony Roche, Roy Emerson, Ashley Cooper, Rex Hartwig, Mervyn Rose, and Mal Anderson. Harry Hopman was also a journalist, providing sporting commentary. After World War II, this became his career until he commenced tennis coaching. He moved to the United States in 1969 and established a teaching academy. Some of the players he coached included John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis.
Hopman’s brother, John Henry Hopman, was a manufacturer’s agent and is profiled in Notable Citizens of Sydney 1940 as residing at the Meredith Street house.
In the late 1950s, Strathfield Council named a street in Greenacre, Hopman Crescent. It was one of three streets named for sporting identities from the Strathfield district, the others were athlete Marlene Matthews and cricketer Alan Davidson. Unfortunately, Hopman Crescent was built on land which has since been consolidated and the street was built over.
In 1961, land at the rear of 24 Meredith Street with Broughton Road frontage was sold. 24 Meredith Street became Lot 2, DP 208551. The vacant land was sold for £1500 by Jane Siberteen Hopman, 24 Meredith Street to Gordon and Wilfred Makin, radio engineers. Jane Siberteen Hopkins died in 1962 at the age of 86 and is buried with her husband, who died in 1945, in the Catholic Mortuary at Rookwood Cemetery.
In 1963, the house was transferred from John Henry Hopman [executor of estate of Jane Siberteen Hopman] to Frank and Frances Corsi, building contractor, for £5500.
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry [NSW] at http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au