Coromandel Valley was named after after the ship Coromandel (662 tons) which arrived in 1837, and from which some of the crew fled to settle in the Mitcham hinterland.
They Jumped Ship to Live in Coromandel Valley
In the early days Coromandel Valley stretched between the back of today's Belair Railway station southwards to the incline from the Sturt Valley. The suburb of Coromandel Valley is now divided by the Sturt Creek which forms the boundary between the Cities of Mitcham and Happy Valley. This article will cover the north side of Coromandel Valley suburb.
Within a month of official European settlement in SA, some of the crew from the "Coromandel" jumped ship at Holdfast Bay and headed for the hills. Just where they hid in Coromandel Valley before giving themselves up after the ship had sailed, is folklore still debated.
Among a number of people who soon moved the fertile valley was the Rev. Samuel Gill. Within a year of his arrival in the colony he obtained a Land Grant for Section 863 diagonally cut by the Sturt River. Sadly, in the same year, he lost both his wife and a daughter. Artist, Samuel Thomas Gill was his eldest son. The Rev. Gill started a school in the valley and remarried. His new wife was Elizabeth Murray a sister to Alexander Murray. His house stood until the 1960s when it was demolished due to pressure from encroaching subdivision.
Peter Cumming, a middle-aged draper and merchant with his wife and five children arrived from Glasgow Scotland in 1846. During the following six years he took up the first land grants to develop "Craigburn" which was his home until 1868. He was a councillor on Mitcham's first Council in 1853. The property "Craigburn" had a quick succession of owners over the next couple of years including George C Gooch, (brother to Walter Gooch of Belair), and Walter Watson Hughes, (of Torrens Park). John Crozier bought "Craigburn" in 1875 and transferred it to his son William in 1884. From 1887 parts of the property were leased to Michael McNamara, and E. Austin with Mark Watts. The following year the eastern side was sold to Alexander Murray. Alexander G Downer, solicitor, bought "Craigburn" in 1899 and except for a small piece of land being sold to Lachlan McTaggert in 1909 it remained in the Downer family until it was sold to Minda Inc. in 1923. When the area becomes subdivided it will form its own suburb, of "Craigburn Farm".
Alexander Murray also came from Glasgow, Scotland about 1840 with his wife and three children. He later established a successful biscuit and jam factory to utilise the produce grown in the district and named his property "Craiglee". His eldest son, also Alexander, married Peter Cumming's daughter Elizabeth in 1862 and their daughter married pastoralist Lachlan McTaggart who introduced golf to the district. He made some of his property available for a course and was patron to the Blackwood Golf Club when it was formed in 1930. Five years later when the Blackwood Bowling Club was established the McTaggarts also became patrons of this organisation.
During the 1860s there was much discussion leading to a parliamentary enquiry as to which track was to be developed into a main road. There was the choice of a high road along the ridge pass "Craigburn" or the low road along the valley close to the Sturt and Minno Creeks. The ordinary people of the valley favoured the latter route because stock being driven to market could have a last drink before reaching Adelaide. Subsequently both were developed there being little difference in the cost of one from the other.
Thomas Turner arrived in 1848 aboard the "Baboo" with his family and settled upstream on the Sturt at "Swinton". This property is still occupied and worked by his descendants. Also on the "Baboo" were brothers, Enoch and Abel Shepley. Enoch leased several sections of land from the SA Company, which had initially been set aside as an Aboriginal Reserve perhaps to protect their burial ground. In 1860 he purchased an adjoining section and immediately built a two-storey store and residence by a ford crossing the Sturt River at the bottom of a road that linked Main Road to Coromandel Parade, now Winns Road. The following year he transferred the property to his wife Lucy who in 1883 leased it to Richard Winn. He eventually purchased it and operated a bakery opposite. Since 1970c the building, which had become known as Winn's Bakehouse, has been run as a museum by the Coromandel Valley and District National Trust Branch. Mitcham Council has since purchased it. The Museum is open to the public every third Sunday afternoon in the month.
The SA Company released some of its land for St Johns Anglican Church in 1874 and three years later some for a Public School, which opened in 1877. In 1882 the remaining land was subdivided into 22 allotments but most were not sold until 1891 and the last in 1897. Messrs Winn, Hall, Webb, Cullen, Scherer, and Baust were some of the purchasers. In 1896 Mary Smith, wife of Jacob Smith purchased Lot 18 and engaged John Weymouth to build a house on "The Knoll". This is still occupied by their descendants. The property ran down to Sturt Creek where later Frank Smith dug a dam during his grief after the death of his only son John. A plaque was unveiled in 1995 and the once rural dam was renamed the John Wesley Smith Memorial Lake. Part of the property was sold in 1968 to retired grazier George and Alfreda Trevilyan, hence Trevilyan Court.
Coromandel Valley can boast of one of the oldest cricket teams in SA. Is it any wonder, as some of its early members would run down to Adelaide or Glenelg to play a match on Saturday mornings, this being their only training other than life in the market gardens, vineyards and orchards.
After World War II properties changed hands and the area between Main Road and Coromandel Parade was gradually subdivided by butcher, AC Jackson between 1956 and 1966, although some blocks were not built on until the 1970s.
In recent years sections of the Sturt Creek have been opened to the public as a joint Happy Valley and Mitcham Council project known as the Sturt linear Park. At the moment one can walk between Shepherd's Court and Winn's Bakehouse to the seasonal music of water and under the cool shade of trees.
See Coromandel Valley Chronology (4553 kb) for more information,