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Abbotsford House


Abbotsford House was built in 1877-78 for Sir Arthur Renwick (1837-1908) at a cost of £11,000. Renwick was born in Scotland and emigrated to Australia with his parents in 1841. He was a medical practitioner and businessman who served as a member of the NSW Parliament and was the first President of the NSW Medical Board.

The house was named after Abbotsford in Scotland, the home of author Sir Walter Scott. In turn Abbotsford House gave the suburb of Abbotsford its name. Montrose, Rokeby and Marmion Roads in Abbotsford are named after works by Sir Walter Scott.

In 1904 Renwick suffered heavy financial losses and he was forced to sell his property, which was subdivided and sold by auction in 1905. Peter McIntosh purchased the property in 1906 and sold it the following year to Albert Edward Grace, one of the founders of Grace Bros. In 1917 the property was sold to Nestlé.

The photograph shows Abbotsford House in 1917 when building of the Nestlé factory had just commenced.

Greetings across the years


Before text messages, email or the telephone people kept in contact through postcards which could be mailed relatively cheaply and often reached the recipient by the next post.

Local Studies has a small collection of postcards featuring images of our area. The collection was built up with the advice and assistance of local historian Pam Liell, herself a collector of postcards. Pam has compiled two books of postcard images, Before the phone: 100 years of postcard messages (1998) and Messages from the war: postcards of World War I (1999) both of which are held in the Local Studies collection.

The early 1900s postcard above shows the Parramatta River near Yaralla which is just visible in the background, along with the Yaralla wharf which no longer exists.

The Local Studies postcards have been digitised and are available through Canada Bay Connections. A selection of Parramatta River postcards can be viewed on flickr.

Historic home at the heart of Domremy

At the centre of Domremy College is the fine mansion built for Arthur William Sutton (1839-1913) and his wife Emily Mary Sutton in 1878.

Sutton was the first Mayor of Five Dock. The house was originally called Delapré and was probably named after Delapré Abbey, the Convent of St Mary De La Pré near Northampton, UK. Delapré is believed to have been designed by architect Benjamin Backhouse. The Sutton family moved out of Delapré in 1896 and subsequent owners included Dr C. S. Gibbons, W. G. Crockett and Patrick James Cashman.

In 1910 it was sold to the Sacred Heart Presentation Order of the Roman Catholic Church who renamed it the ‘Domremy Presentation Convent’ after Domrémy, France, the birthplace of Joan of Arc.

What are your memories of Domremy College?

Rhodes House

Rhodes takes its name from the house built in 1823 for Thomas Walker (1791-1861) and his wife, Anna Elizabeth Blaxland. Rhodes House overlooked the Parramatta River near the northern end of Blaxland Road. It was named after his mother’s ancestral estate in Yorkshire. In 1832, Walker retired and went to live in Tasmania and the house was leased. Anna Walker returned to New South Wales with her family to live at Rhodes House in 1870. After Anna’s death in 1889, three of her daughters continued to live at Rhodes. One daughter, Anna Frances Walker, established a reputation as a painter of native flora.

Walker’s Estate at Rhodes was first subdivided in September 1895 with a further subdivision being made in 1910. Three streets in Rhodes commemorate the family’s association with the area: Walker Street, Blaxland Road, and Marquet Street, named after Anna’s brother, John de Marquet Blaxland. Rhodes House is believed to have been demolished in about 1918 to make way for John Darling & Son flour mill. It later became the site of Allied Feed Mills Pty Ltd which has now been redeveloped as a residential area.

Goddard’s camerated concrete houses

In 1905 Henry Goddard, later a Mayor of Concord, patented a building method called camerated concrete. This method allowed for the walls of a house to be constructed as one joint less cavity wall.

Exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Show, it was claimed to be ‘practically indestructible, absolutely damp proof and better and cheaper than either brick or stone’. This claim has stood the test of time as the camerated concrete homes built in Ada Street, Concord still exist.

The photograph is from an album of original photographs which were donated to Local Studies by architect Robert Irving several years ago. The photographs have now been digitised and can be viewed through the Canada Bay Connections image library.

Drummoyne House

The property that gave the suburb its name, Drummoyne House, was built for successful merchant and trader William Wright (1807-1889). Wright made a fortune trading in New Zealand kauri gum, a natural resin used commercially to make furniture varnish. In 1856 he retired and about this time built Drummoyne House, named after a family estate in the west of Scotland. The name is derived from Scots Gaelic, ‘drum’ meaning ‘a ridge’ and ‘moyne’ meaning ‘a plain or marshy flat’.

The first subdivisions of the Drummoyne Estate occurred in 1882 with further subdivisions being made after Wright’s death in 1889. In successive years the house passed through a number of hands including the Hordern family, owners of one of Sydney’s best known department stores. In the 1920s it was owned by John and Anita McDonagh. Their daughters Isabel, Phyllis and Paulette formed a film company and used Drummoyne House as a set for some of their feature movies.

By 1971 the grand days of Drummoyne House had passed and it had been subdivided into flats. The Five Dock Recorder, 1 April 1971, reported its demolition with the headline ‘Making way for progress! Drummoyne House now only memory.’


‘Flora’ is a work by Welsh born sculptor William Lorando Jones (1819-1893) who emigrated to Australia in 1854.

The sculpture represents the Roman goddess of flowers and is believed to have been commissioned by Sir James Martin, Chief Justice of New South Wales, and located at his residence Clarens at Rushcutters Bay. It was later purchased by William Wright (1807-1889) for his home Drummoyne House where it appropriately overlooked the extensive gardens which Wright established around the house. Sir Henry Parkes later ordered a replica of the sculpture ‘Flora’ from Jones for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

Drummoyne House, from which the suburb of Drummoyne takes its name, was demolished in 1971. Today the sculpture ‘Flora’ is preserved at the City of Canada Bay Civic Centre.

Russell Lea


Russell Lea Manor, also known as Russell Lea House, was the home of Russell Barton (1830-1916), and was situated north of Lyons Road between Sibbick Street and Lyons Road.

The house was built between 1878 and 1882. Between 1918 and 1923 it was used by the Red Cross as a Nerve Hospital for soldiers before being demolished in 1925.

The painting by Val Delawarr shows Russell Lea in its heyday in the 1880s when the area was still semi-rural.

The suburb of Russell Lea takes its name from this grand home. More images can be seen on flickr.