A Surprising Story Behind These Riverwood Street Names

Herne Bay (later Riverwood) Aerial View, Herne Bay NSW, Possibly 1940s LMG 15-913

     A number of Riverwood street names have a surprising connection.  Clarendon Street, Romilly Street, Talbot Street, Hardwicke Street, Cairns Street, Eldon Street, Littleton Street, Thurlow Street and Erskine Street all derive their names from English or British Lord Chancellors.  How did this come about?

     Edward Percy Simpson (1858-1931) was a solicitor who owned land in the area, which he subdivided in 1886 and marketed through the auctioneers Mills and Pile as the Tivoli Park Estate.  His house at that time, Tivoli Park, occupied a site in the block bounded by Erskine, Cairns, Thurlow and Romilly, in the vicinity of the rear of present day 4 Larkhill Avenue.  The house had a vineyard and orchard running through Cairns Street to Belmore Road.  It’s likely that his legal background prompted his choice of street names.

     The Tivoli Park Estate was offered at auction on 20 February 1886, and comprised 260 lots, but lots were slow to sell, being at a distance from shops and transport links.  On this occasion Simpson was slow to turn a profit.  However, as his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography makes clear, he was normally a very shrewd operator.  He went on to become senior partner in the practice of Minter, Simpson and Co, solicitors.  He was a director of several well-known firms, including the Mort’s Dock and Engineering Co.  He was chairman of Richardson and Wrench Ltd.  He was also an influential member of the Royal Sydney Golf Club, where his portrait hangs; his action in persuading the club to purchase land at Rose Bay is described in ADB as “an act of almost incalculable perspicacity”.

     The Mitchell Library has a copy of the Tivoli Park subdivision plan, R10/6.  Our aerial photo, taken in the 1940s, show most of the estate, with Romilly Street running left to right, the East Hills railway running from bottom to top on the right, and Salt Pan Creek just beyond the top of the photo.  The road bridge over the railway is at top right.  Larkhill Street encloses the triangle in the centre of the photo.

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