Summer Hill is located about 7 kilometres from Sydney and is a relatively small suburb of about 110 hectares. The boundaries of Summer Hill are defined by Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road to the north, the rear of the properties on the west side of Prospect Road (with a detour around Trinity Grammar School) to the west, Old Canterbury Road to the south, and the light rail line to the east. North of Summer Hill is the suburb of Haberfield, to the east is Lewisham, to the south is Dulwich Hill, and to the west is Ashfield.
Summer Hill Has a mix of Victorian houses from the late 1870’s through to Federation-era houses and quite a few post World War 1 Californian bungalows. There are some delightful Interwar flats that are well maintained. More than one hundred properties in Summer Hill are heritage listed, and the strong feelings of some residents of the suburb towards protecting the local architecture has ensured that these properties and the character of Summer Hill are protected from over and inappropriate development.
Summer Hill, a potted history
The area around what is now Summer Hill (and much of the Inner West including Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, Ashfield, Ashbury and Hurlstone Park) was shown as ‘The Kangoroo Ground’ in Watkin Tench’s map of 1793. The earliest known use of the name "Summer Hill" was in 1876, for a land subdivision adjacent to the present-day St Andrews church. The name Summer Hill was presumably chosen by the developer. The suburb officially became Summer Hill when the station was opened in 1879.
The first land grant in this area was in 1794 for a farm, to former convict Henry Kable who went on to become an overseer, constable, nightwatchman and chief constable. The land in the eastern corner of Summer Hill was an additional grant of 30 acres (12 ha) made to Henry Kable in 1804. Kable was associated with emancipist and boat builder James Underwood and this eastern corner and other early land grants in the Summer Hill area were all purchased by him in 1821 and 1822 would subsequently become part of his estate. Underwood died in 1844 and left a will so complicated that it required special legislation before it could be subdivided.
One of the earliest land grants recorded in the area of what is now Summer Hill (covering Short Street, Junction Road, Henson and Bartlett Streets was a grant to Joseph Foveaux on the 3rd of October 1794. The hand drawn subdivision plans show the land to have been part of 100 acres. Foveaux took over the Governorship of the colony of Sydney after the Rum Rebellion in 1808. His hundred acres were then in what was known as Petersham Hill. In 1799 he sold the land (Long Cove Farm) to Charles Grimes. Grimes in turn sold the land to John Palmer in 1801. Robert Campbell, who owned the Canterbury Estate, acquired Palmer’s farm in 1814 and subsequently went on to own almost all the land in Summer Hill south of Smith Street.
James Underwood purchased Henry Kable’s farm in 1882 and eventually went on to own all the land north of Smith Street to Parramatta and Liverpool Roads but after his death in 1844 it took over 30 years and an act of parliament to sort out his estate.
The Underwood Estate was eventually subdivided, first in 1878 and a re-subdivision in 1880 after the Summer Hill railway station opened in 1879. In essence, what is now Summer Hill was divided into two parts; the northern part was owned by James Underwood and the southern part by Robert Campbell.
Residential development began in the 1870’s but really took off after the Summer Hill Station opened in 1879.
Heritage Conservation Areas in Summer Hill
The North Summer Hill Heritage Conservation Area:
Much of the land north of the railway line is now included in The North Summer Hill Heritage Conservation Area. The area has numerous one and two storey Victorian Filigree detached, semi-detached and terrace housing and Victorian Italianate style one and two storey houses, mixed with diminutive Victorian period weatherboard cottages, Federation and Inter-war period single storey detached houses and two to three storey Inter-war Art Deco style residential flat buildings, reflecting the development period of the area. A walk around the old Underwood Estate reveals not only some beautiful architecture spanning the years from the late 1870’s to World War 2, but also the leadlight styles and aesthetics and changes over this time frame. There is no reference to leadlight or coloured glass in the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016.
Another unique area has been identified as Haig Avenue, Summer Hill:
The Heritage Conservation Area which was the result of a 1919 re-subdivision and again there is no reference to leadlight or coloured glass in the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016.
There were many beautiful mansions built in the 1880’s in the old Underwood Estate. Between the 1930s to 1970s many of the of surviving Victorian period mansions were demolished to make way for home units or, converted to flats.
South of the railway line there are a number of further significant Heritage Conservation Areas.
The Clover Hill Heritage Conservation Area:
This area was originally subdivided in 1877 and further subdivisions have resulted in a mixture of detached and semi-detached late Victorian, Federation and Inter- war housing styles, one and two storeys. It is in the area of James Street and Old Canterbury Road. There is no reference to leadlight or coloured glass in the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016.
The Fleet Street Summer Hill Heritage Conservation Area:
This street has a 'Victorian' look and feel to it. There is no reference to leadlight or coloured glass in the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016; there is only one dwelling with leadlight. Leadlight was not that common in houses built in the late 1870’s and early 1880’s.
The Prospect Hall Heritage Conservation Area:
This area includes Hurlstone Avenue, Rosemont Avenue and parts of Old Canterbury Road, Prospect Road, Henson Street and Herbert Street and was part of the 1908-1910 subdivision of the Prospect Hall Estate developed by Dr Henry Hinder (1908-1910) and after 1910 by Stanton & Son. The area is significant because the original building covenants applying to the subdivision in 1908 have resulted in an aesthetically consistent feel to the area. What is fascinating is that the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016 refers to Original timber-framed windows and timber panelled doors consistent with the periods and styles of houses… but not the beautiful leadlight they contain!
The Lindsay-Louisa-Short Heritage Conservation Area:
This was a 1934 subdivision of the site of an 1882 house “Kenilworth” (demolished for the subdivision), undertaken by local entrepreneur Sydney Daniel Baker, who submitted all the building applications (as owner-builder) for the semi-detached houses within the area in the period 1934-1937… not a lot of leadlight.
The Quarantine Ground, Summer Hill, Heritage Conservation Area:
This area consists of parts of Nawranie, Smith, Wellesley and the northern ends of Carrington and Spencer Streets, is a mix of Victorian, Federation and Inter-war period housing reflecting its history of subdivision and re-subdivision from 1885 into the inter-war period. Again, the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016 refers to Original timber-framed windows and timber panelled doors consistent with the periods and styles of houses… but not the beautiful leadlight they contain!
The Teakle Street Heritage Conservation Area and
The Trafalgar Square Heritage Conservation Area also listed in the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016 have references to Original timber-framed windows and timber panelled doors consistent with the periods and styles of houses… but not the beautiful leadlight they contain!
The Tavistock Estate Heritage Conservation Area consisting of parts of Smith, Morris, Nowranie and Monbie Streets, is an 1870s subdivision which has been subject to later re-subdivision, the development of which illustrates the long 1870s to 1930s period of development. Again, the Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016 refers to Original timber-framed windows and timber panelled doors consistent with the periods and styles of houses… but not the beautiful leadlight they contain!
I am indebted to the Ashfield and District Historical Society for their excellent publication 'Summer Hill' edited by Chris Prattern for a lot of the above content. The Draft Comprehensive Inner West DCP 2016 Chapter E1 Heritage Items and Conservation Areas) downloaded from https://www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/develop/planning-controls/current-development-control-plans-dcp/ashfield-dcp) has also been an invaluable source of information.