By Cathy Jones
Merley Rd is built on land originally granted to Simeon Lord by Crown Grant on 9th August 1803. In 1841, this land regranted by the Crown to Joseph Hyde Potts. The land was known as the Potts Estate. The street Merley Road first appears in the 1898 Strathfield Council valuation records, at this time there were no houses.
Merley Rd was created in three separate stages. The southern side of the street was created first and was occupied by Joseph Barling’s home ‘Salve’ (later known as ‘Merley’) facing Albert Rd and hardware merchant W N Friend’s ‘Norcliffe’. The northern side was established by the sub-division of Francis Hyde Potts’ ‘Hydebrae’ estate in 1922. Merley Rd was extended on the southern end facing Inveresk Park by the sub-division of the Inveresk Estate in 1938. All houses in this section were built after 1940.
The ‘Merley’ Subdivision
Joseph Barling (1839-1921), Under-Secretary of the NSW Department of Works and Chairman of the NSW Public Service Board, built and lived at ‘Salve’ on Albert Rd in the late 1880’s. This property was leased in 1899 to Henry Gorman of Hardie and Gorman (real estate agents and auctioneers). Gorman lived at ‘Salve’ and renamed it ‘Merley’. Gorman lived here until his death in 1923. This property eventually was acquired by the Seventh Day Adventists, who built a school which opened in January 1953 on this site. The present Dickson St was once known as Merley Rd and the name inspired by Gorman’s home ‘Merley’.
Subdivision of Henry Gorman’s ‘Merley Estate’
Part of the grounds of the Gorman Estate facing Albert Rd, Dickson St and Merley Road was subdivided in 1920, creating residential blocks. This subdivision is Deposited Plan 9480. Lots 18-20 of this subdivision at located in Merley Road and are the land lots of the current 2-6 Merley Rd. The owner of this subdivision is Robert Curgeuven, who is recorded as a builder. It is likely that all these lots were developed by Curgeuven and then offered for sale. Additional blocks from Gorman’s Estate were subdivided facing Merely Road. Deposited Plan 10184 was subdivided creating Lots 1-5. These blocks were purchased by Wilfred Cooper, a builder, who in 1923 built the following houses at current 8-16 Merley Rd.
Strathfield Council records approval of subdivision for owners Joseph Maiden on January 13 1922 for two lots on Merley Rd. Certificate No. 49 of subdivision was issued. This is likely to be the properties occupied by 18-24 Merley Rd. Joseph Maiden was manager of Maiden & Co, a large station and stock company trading at the Homebush Sale Yards on Parramatta Road (now Sydney Markets).
The first property in Merley Rd was the house ‘Norcliffe’, which first appears in the 1900 Sands Directory for H C Elderton, financial agent. This is the first appearance of the street Merley Road. ‘Norcliffe’ was later owned by hardware merchant W N Friend and was a substantial size property measuring 2 acres when sold in 1951 to the Trustees of the Christian Brothers (St Patrick’s College) in 1951 from the Estate of William Norman Friend (for £12,500).
The Hydebrae Estate
The Hydebrae Estate is built on land originally granted to Simeon Lord by Crown Grant on 9th August 1803. In 1841, this land regranted by Crown to Joseph Hyde Potts and known as Potts Estate. The Hydebrae Estate was a subdivision of the grounds of the home ‘Hydebrae’ in 1922. This was the home of Francis Hyde Potts, son of Joseph Hyde Potts, owner of the original 1841 land grant. This subdivision created residential lots in Merley Road, Hydebrae Street and Shortland Avenue (then known as Elsie Street).
Francis Hyde Potts was the son of Joseph Hyde Potts and his wife Emma (nee Bates). They married in 1834 and Francis was born in 1839. Francis lived at the house ‘Hydebrae’. The house ‘Hydebrae’ is often recorded with a Coventry Road address. The death of Francis Hyde Potts is registered in 1926. ‘Hydebrae’ appears to have gone into ownership by Edgar Howard Fraser and Arthur Campbell Fraser, descendents of Joseph Hyde Potts. They were responsible for the subdivision of this Estate. All the streets in this area are named for members of the Potts family including Fraser St (Donald Fraser, son-in-law of Joseph Hyde Potts), Francis Street (son Francis), Bates St (Mother-in-law Mary Ann Bates), Edgar St (grandson Edgar Fraser) and Howard St (Edgar Howard Fraser).
A Certificate for subdivision was issued by Strathfield Council May 31 1922 for applicant Chatfield & Brown, surveyors, to subdivide ‘Hydebrae’ which also include the grounds of the property ‘Hayfield’ (facing Shortland Avenue) and create new roads. The subdivision involved new roads ’50 feet wide from Francis St to Dickson St – Dickson St extension from Merley Road to Elsie Street’. The subdivision involved 67 lots fronting Hydebrae Street, Merley Rd and Elsie Street’. A copy of the subdivision certificate is contained in Attachments.
Many houses on the Hydebrae Estate were built by Frank Smith. Smith is recorded as the builder of many properties in Merley Road and Hydebrae Street, which is part of the same subdivision.
The Inveresk Estate
When George Begg Vickery died in 1938 at Homebush, he was one of Australia’s wealthiest men, leaving an estate of £435 826. Vickery was the son of Ebenezer Vickery MLC (1827-1906), a prominent and wealthy businessman with interests in mining and farming. Ebenezer Vickery was also known for his philanthropy particularly to the Methodist Church. Among his many bequests was the establishment of the Lyceum Theatre in Pitt St Sydney.
George Begg Vickery (1865-1938) built his home ‘Inveresk’ c.1906 on Coventry Rd, presumably from the proceeds of his father’s vast estate. Other members of his family also built homes in Strathfield such as his sisters Amy ‘Lauriston’ The Boulevarde and Elizabeth ‘Tiptree’ Llandilo Avenue. After his father’s death in 1906, George Vickery was the manager of the family businesses.
Like his father, he was a devout Methodist and contributed to the Church, particularly the Homebush Methodist Church (now Homebush Uniting Church) on Burlington Rd. George Begg Vickery was also an amateur microscopist and member of the Royal Society of New South Wales. His daughter, Joyce Vickery (1908-1979) was a renowned botanist and conservationist.
After the death of George Vickery in 1938, his son Ottamar approached Strathfield Council to consider the purchase of the ‘Inveresk’ Estate, which the Council declined. Vickery then developed plans to subdivide the grounds of ‘Inveresk’ for residential development. A condition imposed by Strathfield Council was that a small public space be dedicated for recreation. During the 1920s and 1930s, Strathfield Council generally sought dedication or acquisitions of parkland with residential subdivisions, establishing a number of neighbourhood parks in the process.
The Inveresk Estate subdivision created the western extension of Merley Road and Inveresk Park and the subdivision plan was approved by Strathfield Council meeting on 25 March 1941. Council minutes note the roadway through the Inveresk Estate (Merley Rd extension), guttering and redrainage were completed in April 1941.
In appreciation of this gift, Council offered Ottamar Vickery naming rights of the new park and suggested ‘Vickery Park’. Vickery, however, preferred ‘Inveresk Park’, the name of his father’s home in Homebush.
Land transfer details indicate that land sales commenced in 1941.
‘Joyce Vickery’, Australian Dictionary of Biography
‘Ebenezer Vickery’, Australian Dictionary of Biography
NSW Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Rubinstein, W., ‘Ebenezer Vickery’, The All-time Australian 200 Rich List, p163, Allen & Unwin, 2004
Rubinstein, W., ‘George Begg Vickery’, The All-time Australian 200 Rich List, p173, Allen & Unwin, 2004
Strathfield Council Building Registers
Strathfield Council Meeting Minutes (1940-41) and Subdivision files.
‘Lumeah’ 21 Merley Road Strathfield