Foundation of the Cheltenham Recreation Club
William Henry Harris (1882-1954)
In 1907 William Harris purchased 5 ½ acres of William Chorley’s
subdivision of Cheltenham between Beecroft Road and The
He developed the house and grounds over the years from 1907 to
about 1920. The house was much enlarged, deep verandas were
added to all sides and formal gardens with gravel paths were laid out
including rare ornamental trees and some 3,000 rose bushes. A bowling green was constructed on the southern side of the house which was much used by William Harris and his friends.
William Harris was especially fond of riding his horses around Cheltenham and Beecroft. He was remembered by local community for his love of horses, his daily riding and the fact that he was never seen with his coat off.
He was also keen sportsman. On 30 October 1912 he hosted a gathering of fifteen local male residents of financial means at his home “Edensor.” At this meeting he offered to donate two acres from his garden in addition to his private bowling green to establish a recreation club to provide ‘a bowling green for the Dads, a croquet lawn for the Mums and tennis courts for the children’.
Following this private function, a public meeting was held at the Beecroft School of Arts on 7 February 1913 at which a Foundation committee of 7 was appointed; subscription rates were set, and a promotional scheme agreed upon to encourage membership of the proposed Cheltenham Recreation Club. The land was transferred to the newly incorporated club on 28 June 1913 and construction commenced on two tennis courts, a four-rink bowling green, and a croquet lawn. In 1923 he gave a further portion of the ‘Edensor’ land for extensions and in the 1950s another portion which had been a cow paddock in front of the house.
He was Patron of the Club from 1913 to 1953 and spent many hours with old friends there.
After William’s death, part of the property was sold to pay death duties. A sympathetic
subdivision and covenants on the garden have resulted in little alteration of the current grounds to its original character.
The Cheltenham Recreation Club has been important both for preserving a large area of open space and in providing leisure activities for the local community.
Extracts from Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group articles.
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Any corrections or additions please send to the Beecroft Cheltenham History Group
William Chorley (1860 – 1936)
William Chorley was born in Wiveliscombe, Somerset, in 1860. His wife, Lily Alder, whom he married in the Baptist Chapel, Stroud, in 1881, was born in Devon. He was then aged 21, she 19 years. William was a tailor by trade, working in Cheltenham after his marriage. Their first child, Edith, was born in 1882, and the following year they immigrated to Sydney.
Although he delighted to tell his children in later life that he had arrived in Australia with five pounds in his pocket, William Chorley must have had some capital to buy out a few months after his arrival the tailor for whom he worked. The firm ‘Chorley and Co. Tailor and Robe Maker’ in George Street, Sydney, soon had Vice-Regal patronage and when it closed after nearly one hundred years of business in 1980, it boasted it had tailored by appointment to every New South Wales Governor since 1883 and every Governor-General since Federation. The firm specialised in formal court dress and service uniforms.
As well as being a skilled tailor, William Chorley had a keen business sense, speculating successfully in large tracts of land in Beecroft after 1887. He moved his family from Strathfield to Beecroft about 1889 for the sake of Lily’s health and they lived at first in a small cottage in Beecroft Road. In 1889 William purchased three lots of half an acre each near Cheltenham station, and a large area of fourteen and a half acres extending from The Crescent to Beecroft Road, north of Kent Road (later Cheltenham Road). He paid £514 for this latter Crown Land. It was here, well back from The Crescent and facing the railway line, he built his home, ‘Mount Pleasant’
In 1890 William purchased a small town lot of a quarter acre on the western corner of Welham Street and Beecroft Road, on which he built a large bungalow for leasing. In 1891 three lots on Railway Crescent north of Hannah Street were purchased, on one of which the local bakery was later to be built. He also purchased three portions in Malton Road and Copeland Road East and seven acres of rough bushland on the southern side of Boundary Road. In 1893 the purchase of 4 ½ acres on The Crescent extended his home estate. His subdivision of 1910 provided for The Boulevard being drawn down the centre of this block.
It was William Chorley's proposal to the Railway Commissioners that brought about the building of a platform between Epping and Beecroft, thus saving himself a sulky trip twice a day to Epping. He paid the Commissioners £100 of the £260 cost of the overhead bridge, and George Rattray (who owned a large property between Beecroft Road and The Crescent which William Harris was to purchase a few years later and named ‘Edensor’ also paid £100. Chorley chose the site, close to his home, and gave the platform the name ‘Cheltenham’, remembering the fine Georgian spa town in Gloucestershire which he had left to come to Australia.
With nostalgia, and perhaps with a vision of another Cheltenham in Sydney, he named the roads in his subdivision ‘The Promenade after the main wide, tree-lined street of the English town and ‘The Boulevard’. The road running along the western side of the railway line had been known as Carlingford Road and it became Chorley Crescent and later The Crescent. Kent Road running from the overhead bridge at the new platform to William Kent’s Epping grant became Cheltenham Road. Chorley sought to maintain a high standard of residential development in his sub- divided land after 1910 by stipulating precise requirements in his covenants. There was to be one house per lot, no commerce or industry, and houses of a good character.
Extracts from Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group article.
Full article link
Any corrections or additions please send to the Beecroft Cheltenham History Group www.bchg.org.au