Fairfield City Open Libraries: Heritage Blog

Life on the Crescent (Part 1)

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Early days on the Crescent

Fairfield was typical of the tiny rural towns which sprouted around railway stations at the turn of the century. The township was a relatively rustic and isolated location for settlement in the 1800’s as it lacked the good soil and dependable water supply and commerce that Smithfield could offered to its residents. In the 1880’s, the only houses in the Crescent belonged to Harry and George Stimson, both of whom owned vineyards along the banks of the Orphan School Creek in Fairfield West.

The developments and changes took place with the establishment of a railway link between Parramatta and Liverpool in 1856 when Fairfield became a sole intermediate station. The availability of transport for bulk freight brought about the expansion in local industries such as timber cutting, fruit-growing and other farm produce.

Fairfield Crescent

Clockwise, from left to right. 1. Early settlers on the Crescent,1890. 2. The Crescent (looking south) with the three Wheatley family shops in the foreground. 3. The Crescent (looking north), unpaved until the late 1920’s. 4. The Crescent in 1908 , with the Wheatley’s General Store and Sims’ Fairfield Railway Hotel in the background.

 

In the early day of Fairfield’s commercial developments, the Railway Hotel was the most imposing structure on the Crescent. George Wheatley’s General Stores was located on its right hand side and Gibson Store was located on its left hand side. Stimson Sawmill was located within the extensive goods-yards and cattle-pens sections of the railway station. The small cottage at the end of the street, on the corner of Ware Street and the Crescent was the quarters of the town’s only policeman.

At the far end of the Crescent, a line of tall trees indicated the entrance to Cambridge House. The Victorian mansion known as Cambridge House was design by Varney Parkes and built for William Stimson by Walter Furner in the late 1870’s. The nearby cottage, with the protruding veranda roof was James’s House, which later became Konneman’s smithy.

[Source: Excerpts from “Fairfield: a history of the district” by Vance George]

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