A Short History Of Beaconsfield

July 13th, 2023 - by Brad Gillespie

Like its big sister Alexandria, Beaconsfield has transformed over recent years, going from an industrial heartland to an appealing residential area.

We take a short look at its fascinating history.

A tiny claim to fame

Sitting just five kilometres from Sydney’s CBD and directly south of Green Square, Beaconsfield also has a tiny claim to fame: it is one of the smallest suburbs in Sydney, taking up just 0.2 square kilometres in area. It’s a peaceful pocket of residential housing within an area that was once industrial but has been changing rapidly.

The suburb comprises a handful of streets that are big on character with a great address. It is bordered by Botany Street and O’Riordan Street, with Johnson Street to the North and Beaconsfield Street to the South.

Data from the 2021 Census shows that there were just 1,172 people living in Beaconsfield’s 548 dwellings.

Beaconsfield’s beginnings

Beaconsfield sits on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. The wider area used to be sand dunes and wetlands which became known as the Botany Swamps, Lachlan Swamp, Shea’s Creek and Waterloo Swamp.

In 1823, Beaconsfield was part of a land grant to William Hutchinson, an English butcher who was transported for theft but ended up becoming one of the richest Australians of all time. His original land grant covered 1,400 acres. In 1825 he sold it to Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levey, who founded Cooper & Levey, an entrepreneurial company with wide-ranging interests, including the import and export of goods, shipbuilding, wool-trading and whaling.

At one stage, Cooper & Levey owned most of the land in Waterloo, Alexandria, Redfern, Randwick and Neutral Bay. This particular landholding they purchased became known as the Beaconsfield Waterloo Estate.

An 1880s map of “St Peters Brick Pits and Surrounds” shows the western edge of “Beaconsfield Ward”. Bourke Road already exists, while the grid of streets familiar as Beaconsfield is shown more clearly on the full Parish Map of Petersham and Alexandria. Just to the North East of Beaconsfield lay Waterloo Dam, with the marshes and swamps that once defined the area still clearly visible.

Subdividing the land

The suburb of Beaconsfield we know today eventuated as the result of several subdivisions.

An advertisement from the Sydney Morning Herald in April 1884 proclaimed the “Beaconsfield Waterloo Estate” was “the working man’s model township”:

“Facing the main Botany Road, and opposite Goodlet and Smith’s Brick Works”, one hundred leasehold allotments were up for grabs at a public auction on 5 April 1884, “at a nominal ground rent, payable quarterly”. Plans for the allotments and the added incentive of “free tram tickets” were available from the auctioneers (trams later ran down Botany Road from 1902 to 1960).

Another subdivision of the “Beaconsfield Estate” was auctioned in 1904, covering the southern end of William, Queen, and Victoria Streets. More of Victoria Street was advertised for auction in 1916.

Most of the houses constructed on the land were worker-style terraces designed to house those labouring in the nearby factories and industries.

The area was formerly part of the suburb of Alexandria but was only officially gazetted as a suburb in its own right on 10 June 1977.

Local landmark: Beaconsfield Park

Like the suburb, Beaconsfield Park is named in honour of Benjamin Disraeli, a Conservative British politician who was appointed the first Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876. Disraeli served as Britain’s Prime Minister on two separate occasions: first in 1868 and then for six years, from 1874 to 1880.

In 1937, Beaconsfield Park was created on land purchased by the Council.

It was formally opened the following year, in December 1938, by the Hon ES Spooner, Minister for Works and Local Government. During the ceremony, Redfern MP William McKell unveiled a bubble fountain erected in memory of the late John Shirley, a former alderman on Alexandria Council who gave 34 years service.

With a barbecue and picnic area, children's playground, and sports facilities that include a basketball court and tennis courts, today Beaconsfield Park is also home to a popular dog off-leash area, good amenities, and there are great cafes nearby.

Property market update: Beaconsfield real estate

Beaconsfield retains its historical character and street appeal, particularly on Victoria Street. It’s also home to great warehouse conversions and modern apartments.

Beaconsfield is walkable from Green Square train station and close to great cafes, restaurants and destinations, including The Cannery Rosebery and East Village Shopping Centre. However, it retains a quiet suburban feel, making it one of our area’s secret gems.

According to 2021 Census data, 16.2% of dwellings were freestanding houses, 44.6% were semi-detached, row or terrace houses and townhouses, while 36.6% were apartments.

The suburb holds great appeal for a range of buyers, from first-home buyers lured by smaller apartments to families attracted to its great location and houses and investors attracted to its yields, which are currently sitting at 3.1% for houses and 4% for units.

The median rent is $950 per week for a house, while rents on units have risen 12.5% in the past year to hit $675 per week.

Beaconsfield is a high-demand area, with realestate.com.au reporting that houses spend an average of just seven days on the market and sell for a median of $1.338 million.

Recent listings in Beaconsfield

7/62 Victoria Street, Beaconsfield, is a cleverly-designed one-bedroom apartment in a light and bright warehouse conversion with a mezzanine living area and versatile floor plan. It went to auction in July 2023 with a guide of $675,000.

5/58 Victoria Street, Beaconsfield, A generous and stylish three-bedroom townhouse, this property sold in April 2023 for $1.34 million.

7C Victoria Street, Beaconsfield, a contemporary three-bedroom house, sold for $1.9 million in February 2023.

18/101 Queen Street, Beaconsfield, This stunning three-bedroom, dual-level apartment in a boutique block with city views sold in August 2022 for $1.3 million.

If you’re interested in making vibrant Beaconsfield your home, contact us today.