Gladesville, Henley and Huntley’s Point

Gladesville was so named in 1861 after John Glade who acquired land in that area in 1836. He died on 30 August 1848 and his body was interred in the historic churchyard of St. Anne’s at Ryde.

The Gladesville District celebrated its Centenary in 1936.

Gladesville Mental Hospital was commenced in 1838 and was partly occupied in 1839.

Dr McLean was the first Medical Officer. One of the older buildings within the Hospital grounds, a part stone, part brick and timber structure known as “The Priory”, was used by the Marist Fathers as far back as 1847.

It was later used for a period as a Clubhouse for the members of Hunters Hill Golf Club, which for some years used portion of the Hospital grounds as a golf course.

Speaking of sport reminds one that as far back as 1898 Hunters Hill boasted a Ladies’ Cricket Club.

On the gable end of the Priory building was an old sundial painted by a Lay Brother of the Marist Order in 1852. It was possibly the only example of a vertical sundial in Australia and was well worth inspection. The great tragedy is that in more recent years that part of the building on which it was painted was demolished and this valuable relic lost.

The Tarban Creek stormwater channel, which carried stormwater from as far away as Ryde, emptied into a dam adjacent to what is now known as Manning Road Bridge. On it was situated a pumping station in an old stone building. It was probably built about 1860-65 and provided Gladesville Hospital with water for many years. The pumping station building was still in existence but not in use in November 1935 but it was subsequently demolished.

In 1829, a punt was running across the Parramatta River from Bedlam Point, Gladesville, to Abbotsford at a point occupied by the ‘Red Cow Inn’, a building used later by Sydney Rowing Club. This punt formed an important link with the Great North Road, now Victoria Road, and which now runs from the city right through to Parramatta.

For over 30 years the punt was known as the “Bedlam Ferry”, arising from the fact that the road leading to it passed through the grounds of Gladesville Mental Hospital; ‘Bedlam’ being the name applied to a famous mental hospital in England.

This punt was later moved down river and for many years ran from Huntley’s Point to Drummoyne, the latter point becoming the southern abutment of the first Gladesville Bridge, opened in 1882. With the opening of this bridge both Gladesville and Ryde were connected with the city by omnibus.

In 1908, the tramway was extended from Drummoyne to Ryde but in 1949 the tramway service was discontinued, the Government having decided on the removal of the tramway service from the Sydney Metropolitan area. Buses then took over the Public Transport System of Sydney.

A locality of interest in the Gladesville area is Blandville, afterwards to be named Henley. It was named after a Dr Bland, a well-known medical philanthropist of the last century, of whom Statesman Wentworth said, “He served Australia faithfully and well for over 50 years”. Dr Bland purchased the area named Blandville and subdivided it about 1866.

Blandville (Henley) is noteworthy for two reasons; opposite its extremity in the Parramatta River lies the “Three Brothers” - rocks which are submerged at high water. To mark their position and to commemorate the name of a famous Australian Champion World Sculler, Henry Ernest Searle, a monument was unveiled in the latter part of the 19th century.

While on the subject of the Parramatta River, it is of interest to note that on New Year’s Day 1857, the first Regatta was held on this river. It became an annual fixture for very many years and, it is said, was attended by the elite of Sydney.

Another interesting locality is Huntley’s Point, a small peninsula lying between the Parramatta River and Tarban Creek. Settlement took place here at an early date and the land was originally granted to one Thomas Stubbs. However, in 1848, Alfred Huntley was living there and he built “The Point House”, a two-storey building which is still standing. It was from Huntley that Huntley’s Point took its name.

The Huntley’s Point Peninsula developed into a very delightful and purely residential area with no shops and its own ferry wharf, supplied by the Council but paid for by the residents by the imposition of a local rate of 7/16 pence in the pound over a period of 15 years. However, tragedy was to largely overtake this lovely area in the late 1950s, the bulk of the residences being acquired by the Department of Main Roads and demolished to allow the construction of the North-Western Expressway and Overpass and the Gladesville and Tarban Creek Bridges.


Compiled by Roy D. Stuckey, OBE, Hon. FIMA,
Town Clerk of the Municipality of Hunter’s Hill from
1935 to 1967
President, Hunters Hill Historical Society
1961–1968 and 1969-1978