History of Summer Hill Community Centre
By Chris Pratten, Ashfield and District Historical Society
Once home to the Cadigal Aborigines, the area we know as Summer Hill was being traversed by European settlers at least as early as 1791, when a track to Rose Hill had been formed along the present alignment of Parramatta Road. Today’s Summer Hill was part of an area of land originally called the Kanguroo Ground in early maps.
Settlement proper started in 1794 with the granting of land to the emancipated convict Henry Kable, followed by further grants to various members of the infamous rum corps. Governor Macquarie opened the road to Liverpool along its present alignment in 1841. The early land grants were soon grouped into two main farms- Kable’s (later Underwood’s) north of present day Smith Street, and Campbell’s South of Smith Street. By 1800, Kable was growing on his farm 55 acres of wheat and 40 acres of maize as well as running 100 pigs; he later added an orchard, a vineyard and a flock of sheep. By 1810, Campbell was running 640 head of cattle on his 1600 acres Canterbury Farm, which extends across from Summer Hill to where Canterbury racecourse is now situated.
Little development took place in Summer Hill until the 1870s. The big boom in development started in 1879, when the opening of Summer Hill Railway Station coincided with the subdivision of all land between the railway line and Liverpool and Parramatta Roads.
The name ‘Summer Hill’ dates from 1876, when it was first used for a land subdivision of part of the old Campbell estate up near today’s St Andrew’s Church.
The oldest building still standing in Summer Hill today is St Patrick’s Church, which was built in 1874 as a large home named Kelvin Grove. Summer Hill’s first post office opened in 1882 in a Lackey Street store and a public school in 1883.
Aims & Objectives
To establish a thriving, dynamic, community centre in the heart of Summer Hill that:
- promotes the values and worth of all people
- encourages the active involvement of all residents and groups
- celebrates the cultural richness and diversity of the community
- creates opportunities for the development of individual potential and wellbeing
- fosters a cohesive and harmonious community
Objectives and Principles of Summer Hill Community Centre:
- to provide an inviting, accessible and safe community facility as a focal point for all residents and groups to meet
- to develop programmes, services and activities that the address the social, cultural, recreational, welfare and educational needs of the community, which includes the needs of those from non-English speaking backgrounds and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
- to establish networks with other groups, community leaders and key agencies to pool resources and take up issues of concern for the benefit of the community
- to competently administer the centre to operate efficiently and ensure financial and ensure financial and community accountability
- to establish strategic partnerships with key organisations, and in particular, Ashfield Municipal Council
- to establish a skilled team of volunteers to function as an essential support for the centre’s operations
- to provide information to residents about their rights, community services available, and referral assistance to the relevant agencies for individuals who need help
- to attract resources to the centre through fund raising, applying for grants and seeking sponsorships
- to promote strong membership of the Summer Hill Community Centre so that it is representative of the local community, its issues and its needs, and that it is viable in the long term as an organisation/ association