A Park of Renown

HMS Renown at Fremantle, 1927. W E Fretwell collection.

One hundred years ago, on 31 July 1920, the Renown Park Estate at Mortdale was subdivided and advertised for sale.  The first subdivision of the estate consisted of 87 lots, fronting Morts Road, Judd Street, Hurstville Road and the newly-created Renown Street.  A second subdivision of the estate developed a further 118 lots, fronting three new streets: Edward Street, Grigg Street and Mountbatten Street.  The estate adjoined an area donated by the vendors to Kogarah Council to be set aside for a park, named Renown Park on the subdivision plan.  Perhaps because of this, lots sold well, at prices ranging from £2 to £3/15/- per foot of frontage.  Prospective purchasers took into account the short walk up Morts Road to Mortdale Station.  Hyperbolic advertising stated that the estate was “One of the Best Investments ever offered to the Public.”

What was the derivation of the new street names? The naming of the estate commemorated the morale-raising visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1920 of HMS Renown, carrying Edward, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII).  The Prince of Wales’s private secretary during his tour was Lieutenant-Colonel Edward W M Grigg (later raised to the peerage as the 1st Baron Altrincham); and Lord Mountbatten accompanied them.

After the Great War, the Clyde-built battlecruiser HMS Renown was fitted out as a sort of Royal Yacht, and the Prince of Wales was sent on a lengthy tour to thank the citizens of the Empire for their wartime sacrifice.  When he visited Sydney in mid-June 1920, a crowd estimated at 100,000 queued to catch a glimpse of him at Sydney Town Hall; some of his more enthusiastic subjects vigorously clapped him on the back, which reportedly tried the Royal patience.  Later in the tour, in Western Australia, the Royal train was derailed by a cow on the line and several carriages were overturned; the Prince’s party escaped unscathed.  He apparently quipped, “At last we have done something that is not in the program.”

The Mitchell Library has several subdivision plans showing the Renown Park Estate: plans M24/92, N13/37, and M24/38a which shows seven photographic views of the vicinity.

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