Parts of today's suburb were once known as Kingswood Estate, Mitchamville, Kimberly, Kingswood Park, Brenchley Estate, and North Mitcham.
The area was subdivided from J Phillipson's Estate and various others between 1877 and 1942.
Kingswood Where's the Royal Connection?
The leafy residential suburb of Kingswood developed in two parts, the northern half remaining rural, seemingly oblivious to the flurry of activity on the southern half until 1900. Then within almost the first 20 years of the century, each generous allotment had an Edwardian style house built upon it. Kingswood was developed from two 134 acre Sections Numbers 244 and 245, bounded by prominent roads, Cross, Belair, Princes Roads and Smith-Dorrien Street with Tutt Avenue dividing the sections.
The northern half of Kingswood was bought from the bankrupt estate of English wine merchant John Reay in 1845 by Jonas Moses Phillipson a gentleman of Middlesex. Phillipson migrated to South Australia and settled at Walkerville but he returned to Forest Hill, England where he died in 1869. Meanwhile, the land was leased to Thomas Drummond until 1871, (Thomas Drummond was the son of Mitcham Schoolmaster Ralph, and by 1901 Thomas had settled at Findon running a successful dairy.) At the time of Mitcham Council's first assessment in 1853-4 a dwelling was noted on the section. During the 1870s the lease passed to Louis Kell. Then the section was halved and leased to both Joseph Norton and Joseph Daw. The ownership of the property passed to Jonas Phillipson's widow Matilda who eventually transferred it to her sons Walter and Ernest Phillipson in 1893. Again it was leased for seven years to George Howell until 1901. Parts were then transferred to the Phillipson daughters, Ellen Constance Campbell, Katherine Backhouse and their unmarried sister Georgina. Land was also transferred to (apparently unrelated) Lousia Counsell, wife of James an accountant of Mt Lofty. James Counsell established a partnership with W. E. Dalton in 1893 and became a prominent member of the Institute of Accountants of SA and "acted as secretary to various important estates and mining and other companies and was a licensed land broker.
As auditor he was retained by the Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Company ... and other commercial houses in Adelaide." It appears this gentleman had the privilege of naming Kingswood after his grandfather's birth place, Kingswood, Gloucestershire, England. Curiously, the subdivision was first offered as Kimberly but evidently sold better a few years later as Kingswood. By 1907 Louisa and James Counsell were living in one of the first houses built establishing the present day image of Kingswood. By 1910 Mr Alexander J McLachlan, a solicitor had purchased the house and held it until 1927. This same house has now become known as "Abbotswell".
Opposite "Abbotswell", on the corner of Rugby Street and Cross Road, Elizabeth Salter purchased a block in 1904. Between 1907 and 1935 H.H. Toms a warehouseman, son of an importer, was living in a residence on the block. Eventually in 1958 Wanslea Incorporated bought the property, but it was 1966 before they moved in. "Wanslea" stands for Womens Australian National Serviceman's League. Over fifty years ago this group established an emergency care service for children whose parents were called away unexpectedly. In 1992 Local History volunteers assisted with a "Record Rescue" when "Wanslea" was burnt down. Now faithfully restored it continues to serve the community under the direction of Anglican Community Services.
The southern half of present day Kingswood was, for the first decade and a half of settlement, owned by Charles Cortis and then in 1854 divided approximately in quarters. The north west quarter was taken up by William M Letchford who began building what is now "Eynesbury", named after the next owner's wife, Annie Wilcox's birth place in England. "Sunset Lodge" next door was built as "Harling House" about 1861 and later renamed "Brenchley" by Charles Everett who married Henrietta Gamble, sister to Alice Prince and Mrs Henry Taylor.
John Prince, called his property in the south west corner of the section, "Parkfields". In 1857 he built the Torrens Arms and ran a store, where the Mitcham Shopping Centre and Council Chambers are now. The relationship between John Prince and George Prince of "Kallawar" in Albert Street Mitcham is not known, but when the Brownhill Creek flooded the only way to Mitcham Village from Victoria Terrace (Belair Road) was to cut across both Princes' properties and this track became known as Princes Road.
The east side of the section, from East Parade, was in 1854 divided into "long paddocks" between 5 and 7 acres and leased to various people except for the south east part which was owned by the Playford family. Nicholas Dadswell was one occupier who was a bootmaker, described in his obituary as "with a retiring nature and well read", he lived in this spot for 37 years until his death in 1892 . Charles and Rebecca Brinkworth, also lived on one of the "Long Paddocks" as the area became known as did Job Baker for over 30 years, after whom Baker Ave. is named.
The first subdivision in the southern part of Kingswood took place along Princes Road between East Parade and Arnold Street in 1877. Once the tramline was laid and opened in 1879 the whole of the road on the north side was offered for building blocks. Hillview Road was subdivided in 1884 and then there was no more subdivision until 1912 when Mitchamville, north of Truro Avenue was offered.
Mary Lane ran a school behind the Torrens Arms hotel in the 1870s. Mary was a daughter of James and Mary Levi and connected to the Phillipson family. At one time the schoolroom was used as a Council Office and in the 1950s as a Wolf Cub club room. Later around 1908 Miss Constance Ralph opened "Rutherdale School" in Secombe's chemist shop at the point of North Parade and Princes Road. In 1914 St Joseph's school and church moved to the corner of Cambridge and Tutt Avenues and in 1955 the Mitcham School, the oldest continuously operated school in SA moved to one of the "Long Paddocks". The eastern boundary of the section and the school grounds is lined with large old gum trees and the around the yard a few more, that were possibly there before settlement.
1914 saw Charles Petts, his wife Lousia and their five daughters settled at "Ruapaki", 12 Hillview Road. He was an artist and photographer of great imagination. In fact one of his daughters still lives in Kingswood.
During World War I many street names were changed and Mecklinburg was altered to Tutt, named after the first young man, Private A Tutt, to enlist from Mitcham. It is appropriate that the RSL has it's club rooms on the corner of Tutt Ave and Belair Road. Incidentally, this building was once used as Mitcham Council Chambers until the present chambers were built.
Affiliated with the National Council of Women, the Kingswood Women's League of Service was established in 1918 and as it only disbanded a couple of years ago, it would hold the reputation of being the oldest independent organisation of women in the district. Their objective was to "develop a knowledge and understanding of the ideals of a high and noble citizenship and to devote that development to the service of district and country." For the State's centenary in 1936 they donated the drinking fountain on the corner of Kyre Ave and Belair Road that has been recently restored. As well as doing a great deal of relief work, two centres for the Mothers' and Babies" Health Association (now CAFHS) were established by the members initiatives.
Kingswood Recreation Grounds were originally bought in 1907 by David Hollidge who established Kyre College in 1901, the six acres at Kingswood were their playing fields. When the college merged with Scotch College, founded in 1919 at Torrens Park, it became a public park and oval for Unley High School (established where Mitcham Girls High School is now.) The Memorial Gates were installed in 1936.
Trees are now important part of the scenery and several years ago neighbours watching the redevelopment of a block successfully protested about the potential removal of a gum tree, hence "Kingswood Gum Tree Reserve" on the corner of Eynesbury Ave and Rugby Street.
The fabric of Kingswood is changing with the pressure of "urban consolidation" losing its Edwardian character. Perhaps it is still seen as "the finest subdivisional land near the city... In these days of heavy taxation and extreme charges for domestic labour sentiment has to be cast aside". This comment still rings as true for older people on what are now considered large blocks as it did for the trustees of George Willcox the deceased owner of "Eynesbury" in 1919 when "Eynesbury" was subdivided into 66 residential sites as Kingswood Park.
In 1907 on February 8th David Henry Holliage founder of Kyre College in 1902 purchased about five acres of land in Kingswood for a sports ground for his school in Thornber Street, Unley Park. He believed that gymnastics and sport were an essential part of education and participation was expected in tennis, cricket, football, walking races or paper chases across the countryside. (History of Unley 1871-1971, Payne & Cosh). World War I effected the college and in 1918.
The Presbyterian Men's League took it over and established Scotch College.
In 1917 Councillor Duncan led a lobby of residents to enable purchase of the land over a ten year period. It was evident that no open space or reserves had been set aside for public use in the subdivision of Kingswood.
Resolutions at the first meeting of the ratepayers of Kingswood and residents of the adjoining districts of Unley and Mitcham passed.
- That the purchase of Kyre Oval is desirable, and that we pledge ourselves to help to raise the necessary money to pay off the liability of the purchase.
- That bonds be issued and that the district be monetary canvassed for contributions towards the above purchase.
- That the members present constitute a committee re oval purchase.
- That various School Councils be united to cooperate with the High School Council, re oval purchase.
- That the name of the Committee be Kyre Oval Purchase Committee.
- That the Committee meet this night fortnight.
- Motion of thanks to the Chairman, and to Councillor Duncan and Mr Jeanes.
A subscription list was opened in the room and donations to the extent of ?342 were promised.
Kingswood Oval Minute Book
It was proposed that the Government would fund half and 24 guarantors including some councillors and staff would raise the other half.
History of Mitcham - WA Norman 1954
1918 May 25 - An opening ceremony by the Governor.
1920 May 18 - Kingswood League of Service Women formed and also contributed to fund L113.10.0. Over 3 years L497 raised by small donation and L711.1.0 from 18 community events organised by residents. Mitcham Council provided L75 for three years.
1925 - Community contribution paid back.
1936 - SW Jeffries (Minister of Education, Resident at Blackwood) opened the Memorial Gates, the pillars of which record the original guarantees.
Managed by the Kingswood Recreation Grounds
Committee supported by users including the adjoining Unley High School.
The permanent preservation of the land for recreation purposes is secured by the fact that the land is vested in the Minister of Education, who in 1917 executed a declaration of trust which provides that he shall hold the grounds for ever for the purposes of a public recreation pleasure ground and as a playground for the enjoyment of the Unley High School, and also for athletic sports or the playing of other games any other form of amusement, pastime, carnival or meeting as the Minister may approve.
The management care, control and conservation f the ground is vested in a committee consisting of the guarantors,but with certain restriction on their power, on of which is that the ground can only be let fee of charge on Sundays, etc. (History of the City of Mitcham, WA Norman 1954; The Torrens Park Estate, Preiss & Oborn 1991)
1979 - Included on the first City of Mitcham Heritage Survey.
1995 - Statement of heritage value, these gates and the oval represent the provision of community and sporting facilities by the Government and the desire of the local community to retain recreational space within a developing suburb.
It displays historical, economic or social themes that are of importance to the local area.
It is a notable landmark in the area.
(Heritage Survey of the City of Mitcham, Taylor Weidenhofer, 1995)