Sunday, 11 August 2013

The street names of Hobartville

Driving through the streets of Hobartville, a subdivision of Richmond, one may note some of the unusual street names including Grand Flaneur, Tim Whiffler, Tarragon and Sardonyx.

There is a story behind these and some of the other street names, which makes an interesting story. Andrew Town, son of William Town & Mary Ann nee Durham, was in 1840 in Richmond and as a young man, married Emma Susannah Onus in 1863 at St. Peter's Church, Richmond.

On his father’s death in 1868 Andrew inherited property as well as Tarragon a stallion known as one of Australia’s foundation sires. Andrew’s father had raced him for about five years and had won many races including the 1866 Australasian Champion Stakes at Flemington. Tarragon was a good stallion and following his retirement from the track, siring many winners including the 1877 Melbourne Cup winner Assyrian.

Town purchased additional thoroughbreds and began a breeding program and also imported various horses which resulted in better-quality bred stock. With his expanding business, Town purchased the Hobartville Estate on the outskirts of Richmond, in 1877 from the Cox estate.

Hobartville still operates as a horse stud. Photo taken 1996, M. Nichols

Town held yearly sales at Hobartville in the late 1870s, these were spectacular events in a marquee set up in the grounds with special trains between Sydney in Richmond to ferry the crowds. Between 1872-1884 over 700 horses were sold at Hobartville, valued in the vicinity of £95,000. Town also purchased the 1880 Melbourne Cup winner, Grand Flaneur whilst his other celebrated sire was Maribyrnong. The Fawn, was one his mares and bred yearlings which sold for large sums. Her colt Segenhoe by Maribyrnong was sold for 2000 guineas.

In 1872 Andrew Town was one of founding member of the Hawkesbury Race Club and Chairman from 1888-89. He was involved with Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association and President from 1879-1889. Andrew also had a keen interest in harness racing and in 1882 imported in 1882 the Childe Harold for £3935. This horse improved the quality of trotters and laid the foundations for harness racing in Australia. The former Harold Park raceway was named in honour of this famous horse.

Following a drought in the late 1880s and the oncoming economic depression of the 1890s, Andrew Town ran into difficulties which led to his eventual bankruptcy. He died in 1890 aged only 49 and his funeral was held at St. Peter’s Richmond and he is buried in the cemetery across the road. A number of obituaries are  found in the newspapers of the day including the Windsor & Richmond Gazette Evening News and the Sydney Morning Herald. 

The Hobartville estate eventually went to William Alexander Long and George Hill as part of mortgages and securities from Town. Percy Reynolds purchased the property in 1900 and carried on his own family’s tradition of breeding horses and establishing Hobartville as a Hereford cattle stud. The Reynolds family property was Tocal in the Hunter Valley. Percy bred many good performers including Patrobus who won the Melbourne Cup in 1918. Hobartville changed owners many times in the 1960s. In 1966 a large piece of land was subdivided from the main property of Hobartville and many of the blocks were purchased by the Housing Commission on behalf of the RAAF and Army.

The RAAF have long since departed (1990s) and today it is home to numerous families who live on the estate. Many would not be aware that some of the streets of Hobartville, bear the names of some of the famous breeding stock that were once connected to the Hobartville estate.

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