PRINCE ALFRED SQUARE
Church St, Victoria Rd, Marist Place & Market St
Beginning at Lennox Bridge, cross to the corner of the Par k and follow the park boundary in an anti- clockwise direction from feature to feature, noting the buildings on the outer street perimeter.
Click here to visit Prince Alfred Square Interactive map with labels
From a gaol site to a delightful Victorian Park, Prince Alfred Park has an unhurried presence about it- an old world air enhanced by the many monuments and reminders of times past by.
A. Lennox Bridge Church Street 1836-39
Governor King bridged the river at Church Street in 1802 to give access to the gaol over the river. River flooding weakened the bridge foundations and in 1833, David Lennox, Superintendent of Bridges, was asked to submit plans for a new sandstone structure. Governor Bourke laid the foundation stone in November 1836 and it was completed by convict labour by 1839 at the low cost of £1797. Time elapsed before it was named in his honour in 1867. The bridge is a satisfying Georgian design of single arch spanning 91 feet (27.73 m) but it regrettably has suffered unsympathetic alterations. In 1902 it was widened for a tramway; in 1912 a parapet was removed to provide a cantilevered pedestrian way which was in turn removed by the Main Roads Board who widened the bridge and replaced the balustrade. David Lennox (1788-1873), a widowed Scottish stonemason, migrated to Australia seeking work in 1832 and was the colony’s first experienced bridge builder. He built almost 100 bridges in NSW and Victoria, many of which still stand including Lansdowne and Lapstone Hill bridges. On retirement he lived at Parramatta in a self-built house that still stands at 4 Campbell Street. He was buried in St John’s Cemetery although his grave is unmarked.
B. The First Gaol Site Prince Alfred Park 1796-97
A gaol of doubled logs, requisitioned from settlers, it was built across the river at the order of Governor Hunter in 1796, for holding ‘second time’ offenders. There were 22 cells in the 100 ft long building with a thatched roof. It was ‘wilfully and maliciously’ destroyed by fire in December 1799 and the culprits were never apprehended despite the great rewards offered. This was followed on the same site by a Second Gaol on the direction of Governor King that was completed in 1804 of sandstone and surrounded by a high wall. Convict built, it was poorly made at a cost of £1500 and included a second storey meant as a refuge for convict women and their children. The gaol became unsafe in the 1830s and a new gaol was planned in North Parramatta. Designed by James Barnet, it was constructed by the Houison and Payten partnership. It was occupied in 1840 although not completed until the 1850s.
C. The First Female Factory Site – Prince Alfred Park (1804)
Built above the second gaol, this refuge for convict women became known as The Female Factory. King had George Mealmaker, a Scottish dissident weaver, make hand-looms and teach the women to weave various types of woollen and linen cloth, thus beginning the first weaving industry in the Colony. The Factory became too small to cope with the growing numbers and after much agitation by Rev Samuel Marsden, Governor Macquarie had Francis Greenway design a new site near the river in Nth Parramatta. This was built by Isaac Payten and William Watkins.
D. The Gaol Green – Church Street (1837)
Despite applications for the use of the land surrounding the gaol pending its removal, Governor Bourke gazetted the site as a ‘Village Green’ on 27 November 1837 for the use of the people of Parramatta as soon as the site was vacated. Miller George Howell and Police Magistrate Campbell were appointed Trustees. Known as the Gaol Green, the land was levelled and allowed for use for ‘people to promenade’. The first planting was by a party of councillors and school children in 1869. The Borough Council became the Trustees of the site in June 1874.
E. Prince Alfred Square – Church Street (1868)
When Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred visited Parramatta in 1868, in a wave of Royal fervour the Park was upgraded, as was the name, firstly to Alfred Square and later to Prince Alfred Square. The Parramatta Cricket Club took a lease on the park in 1874, changing its name to The Alfred’s and fenced the park with a picket-paling fence; it became a social institution in the town. In later Victorian times, the Park was landscaped, gardened, and surrounded by an iron palisade fence, several of the corne- posts of which still remain. Enhanced by the buildings that surrounded it at this time, the Square developed a delightful Victorian atmosphere, much of which remains because of the monuments and memorials it contains.
MONUMENTS WITHIN THE PARK – IN ANTI-CLOCKWISE ORDER
F. The War Memorial – Prince Alfred Square (1922-23)
A trachyte obelisk, 5 m in height, set on a plinth and facing Church Street to close the axis of Palmer Street, it bears a plaque reading ‘Erected to perpetuate the spirit of those who served the country in the cause of freedom 1914-1919’. Engraved on it are the names of Parramattans who died in World War I and subsequent wars. The foundation stone was laid by Mayor Ald Simpson and unveiled by Lord Forster, Governor General of Australia.
G. The Band Rotunda – Prince Alfred Square (1891)
A delightfully Victorian bandstand was erected here by Parramatta Borough Council after much political debate about the cost ‘and the waste of taxpayer’s money’. The building was erected by Ald Noller, a building contractor. Regular band concerts were given by the Lancer Band and the Parramatta Brass Band. It was renovated to its former graceful style in 1996.
H. The Paul Harris Rotary Tree of Friendship – Prince Alfred Square (1905)
Paul Harris, a Chicago solicitor, was the founder of the international business and professional men’s organisation, Rotary International in 1905. In 1935 on a tour to visit Rotary Districts located in the Pacific region he spent a four-weeks tour in Australia visiting the principal Rotary Clubs. His final visit to a Rotary Club meeting was to Parramatta, where in memory of his visit, he planted the ‘Firewheel Tree’, a tree of friendship.
I. The Gollan Memorial Clock Tower – Prince Alfred Square (1954)
The Parramatta Chamber of Commerce felt that a public clock was needed in Prince Alfred Park and wrote to Council in May 1952 with the suggestion. Council agreed and decided to erect a memorial to long-standing local parliamentarian George C Gollan where the Clock Tower now stands. Erected by public subscription at a cost of £1,150, it was unveiled in 1954 by the Mayor, Ald HV Horwood. The Clock Tower design was chosen by competition and built by CH Webb Bros Pty Ltd. The tower is in the Inter War Art Decorative (Art Deco) Style and is faced with Gosford sandstone. Standing about 6 m in height, the clock mechanism is operated by an electrically controlled pendulum and master clock at the Council chambers.
George Charles Gollan represented Parramatta as a Member of the Legislative Assembly between 1932-1953. He served as Minister without Portfolio, Colonial Secretary, and Minister for Labour and Industries and Social Services. The memorial is a tribute to this ‘humane politician’. His great interest was in the welfare of children was shown by his generosity in providing daily during the depression years, free milk to each child attending the Parramatta Kindergarten. He also visited the Children’s Ward at Parramatta Hospital every Christmas morning to distribute toys and gifts.
J. The Bills Horse Trough Prince Alfred Square
George Bills (1859-1930), the son of a naturalist migrated to the colony in about 1871. The family business was in the export of native birds, which was legal at that time. This led to the manufacturing of wire bird ages, and then, wire bed mattresses. Prospering, they were soon operating factories in Sydney and Melbourne. George and his wife Annis were childless but very fond of animals and became remorseful at the suffering caused to birds in the early days of their business. They turned their attention to caring for animals and seeing horses often being ill-treated, and lacking in watering facilities wherever they worked, they began providing horse troughs for them. In addition they began making regular donations to dog’s homes, horse shelters and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (later the RSPCA). Anna died in 1910 leaving her estate of £3,350 to George who continued his philanthropic gifts until he died in 1913. He left £70,000 to a trust fund created to erect horse troughs throughout Australia and worldwide. Between 1930 and 1940, 700 horse troughs were erected around Australia, USA, Africa and, India. Some troughs were made of granite but most were constructed of reinforced concrete and with a simple plaque, often of terrazzo, stating ‘Donated by George and Annis Bills, Australia’. Because of road widening and motor vehicle transport, many troughs were removed or destroyed. The estate trustees dispersed the residual funds between animal loving organisations and in 1981 the estate was wound up. It is significant that a trough remains in Parramatta standing almost opposite to where Dellow’s Wheelwright business stood at the turn of the century.
K. The Mathew Anderson Memorial Fountain – Prince Alfred Square (1885)
This unusual granite monument and drinking fountain with its Roman Doric corner pedestals topped by a granite ball, is located on the north west corner of the park. Dr Mathew Anderson RN was a respected surgeon who was in charge of the Parramatta Colonial Hospital from 1827. He was a churchwarden, a magistrate and warden of the District Council where he fought tirelessly and successfully for a dam to provide the town with pure drinking water. On the cessation of transportation, he helped to convince the government to cede the hospital to people of Parramatta and he became its first chairman. He was personal physician to Governor Bourke and to John and Elizabeth Macarthur who encouraged him to live at Hambledon Cottage for a time after his retirement. On his death in 1850, he willed £200 towards providing drinking fountains, mainly for the children of the town. The first of thirteen known fountains was located at the corner of Church and Macquarie Streets in 1885 but was moved to allow for the Council’s Centennial Fountain of 1888. It subsequently came to rest here as a fitting, if unusual shaped piece of Victoriana, to remind us of an early and ardent citizen. Once a Council Ward was named in his honour while a street still commemorates his name.
BUILDINGS SURROUNDING THE PARK -IN ANTI-CLOCKWISE ORDER
L. The Site of the Watch House and National School – Church Street (19th century)
A watch house (police station) was removed from the corner of Church and Macquarie Streets to almost opposite Market Street, for convenience to the gaol, probably during Macquarie’s era. When the new court house and police station was built in Church Street, the site was used for a National School, the teacher being Mr Murray, whose sons began the department store. The school was closed when others came into use and the Congregational Church nearby used the building for a Sunday School and Church Hall. The lot nearest the bridge was once used by Houison and Payten for their workshops.
M. The Congregational Church of St Peter – Cnr Church and Palmer Streets (1872)
Built on a lease and land grant to William Ellison, St Peter’s is a fine sandstone church erected in the Victorian Gothic Style and opened in 1872. It has a small but ornate square tower and spire. The church has associations with ardent Congregationalist John Fairfax, founder of the Sydney Morning Herald who laid the foundation stone and contributed to the building fund. The church hall was erected in the early 1900s.
N. 368 Church Street – (formerly Anthony Malouf and Company, Solicitors) (c1855)
A double storey masonry building apparently built originally for commercial premises. It has a gabled roof and clad with corrugated iron; the upper storey retains its multi-paned sash windows but the street floor is modernised. It is a remnant of the ribbon commercial development to the north of the bridge along what was then known as Castle Hill Road.
O. Site of Henry Harvey’s House and Bakery – (Later Granger’s Bakery) Cnr Victoria and Church Sts (c1827)(dem)
Henry Harvey (c1796-1874) arrived as a convict in the 1817 and became a prominent property owner in Parramatta. He lived here after gaining his ‘ticket of leave’, having been assigned as a servant to the Palmer family at Pemberton Grange. Coming from a family of bakers, he began a bakery alongside his shop and house in Church Street. He left the bakery business to his nephew Henry Granger who came to join him in 1844. The shop remained in the Granger family until 1960 when the business was sold to Fielders Ltd who sold the site to Macdonalds in 1969.
P. Site of Dellow’s Wheelwright Shop – Victoria Road (late 1800s-early 1900s)
Originally Pennant Street, Victoria Road was proclaimed in 1887 on the Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign. Dellow’s Wheelwright Shop stood on the driveway entering McDonalds from Victoria Road. James Dellow snr, when aged 11, came with his parents to the colony in 1855. Apprenticed to a wheelwright in Baulkham Hills, in time he began his own business in Parramatta, building a residence alongside the business. He became an alderman of the Council in the 1890s and his son James jnr. eventually took over the business. Dellow’s plant was very modern and with a capable staff, James advertised to make and repair vehicles such as sulkies, drays, wagons and baker’s carts.
Q. St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral – Victoria Road (1827-28, -37,-59, -36, 2004)
There have been five churches built on this site; the first church was commenced in 1827-28 with permission to quarry sandstone from the government quarry but remained partly unfinished for lack of funds. Government funds were made available under Governor Bourke’s 1836 Church Act and a second building was designed and built by James Houison that was consecrated in May 1837. The first building was completed for use as a school. After sixteen years the building became too small for the growing congregation and again Houison was commissioned by Dean Coffey to design and build another, in the Victorian Gothic Style, using stone from the first church, and adding a steeple. The third church was completed in about 1859 but the steeple was not completed until 1883, Houison having died in 1876. A fourth and larger church, again recycling the same stone, was completed in 1936. In a similar style, incorporating the same steeple, the spire of which was renovated in 1988, about the time when St Patrick’s became a pro-cathedral. In 1996, a fire lit by a demented person completely burned out the church that, though fortunately was insured, lost its historic windows and many religious artefacts. The old building was restored and new additions made in 2002. Architect Romolo Gergoula, who planned the new Parliament House buildings at Canberra, designed the new St Patrick’s. Designed in accordance with Vatican 2 of the Catholic Church, the architect has been able to skilfully blend the old with new.
R. St Patrick’s Presbytery – (Murphy House) Marist Place (1904)
A two storey brick Federation Filigree house designed by J Hill and built by AE Gould as a presbytery attached to the church. Dominant chimney stacks are heavily corbelled with a Christian cross motif, while the hipped roof has crosses as finials. The ground verandah floors on three sides are laid in geometrically patterned tiles. Alterations have been made to bring the rectory in to the precinct of the cathedral and no longer houses the church clergy.
S. Riverside Theatre Complex – between Church and Market Streets (1989-90)
This riverside site was really part of the original Gaol Green that was dissected by Market Street. Stone from the demolished gaol was dumped along the riverbank but probably used later for retaining walls, although some had been approved for use of the nearby Catholic Church. by Council. Prior to 1883, Council had considered this site for its Council Chambers. Parramatta Municipal Baths were built on this site in 1888, on the river bank but not within the river itself, and were modernised in 1934 during Mayor Henry Ohlsen’s period of office. They remained for twenty years until the Parramatta Swimming Centre in O’Connell Street replaced the baths. As a Bi-Centennial project, Parramatta City Council constructed the Riverside Theatres on the site (originally named The Parramatta Cultural Centre) which was completed in 1989-90. Later, the Parramatta Information Centre, a tourist service of the Council previously located in the Park, was added to the complex but later moved opposite to the Heritage Centre.