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City Of Bayswater


The History of Bayswater, Part I: c50,000 BCE – 1929

Aboriginal people have lived in the Bayswater area for thousands of years. The remains of a campsite have been found at nearby Upper Swan and are believed to be between 40,000 and 53,000 years old. When Europeans first arrived in the area, the entire South West region of Western Australia was occupied by the Nyungar people. These people were nomadic hunter-gatherers and they altered and regulated the environment through systematic burnings.

The first European exploration of the Swan River took place in 1697 by Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh. This was followed by the French during the next century and the English in 1827. The English, encouraged by James Stirling's naive report on the area's fertility, decided to establish the Swan River Colony. The land along the Swan River was divided into a number of narrow strips of land, which would later shape the pattern of suburban development.

However, most of the land in Bayswater was either of very poor quality, or waterlogged, or both. After a short period of occupation, land in the Bayswater area was abandoned as the English settlers moved on to more productive areas. In the meantime, the traditional Aboriginal hunting and gathering patterns began to deteriorate as the rule of the settlers became harsher and they were forced to turn to rations for food.

Until the 1870s, a period of “absenteeism” occurred. The owners of the Bayswater land were often living in the eastern colonies, or even overseas. The only obvious evidence of colonisation in the district for much of this time was a track that ran through the area between Perth and Guildford. This track would later become known as Guildford Road.

In 1881, the Perth-to-Guildford railway line was built, passing through Bayswater. As with many areas along the railway line at this time, Bayswater underwent enormous changes. A minor property boom occurred and subdivision of the original land grants began. The first property to be developed between Drake and Lawrence Streets was called the Bayswater Estate. Land speculation intensified when gold was discovered in the eastern parts of the colony. The gold rushes attracted thousands of people from the eastern colonies and from overseas and many of these eventually settled in the Bayswater area.

King William St - 1910

King Willam St - 1997

King William Street - 1910

King William Street - 1997

In 1887, the Perth Road Board decided to construct a track between North Perth and what is now Bassendean. This later became known as Walter Road and it later became the focus of the small, semi-rural communities of Morley Park and Hampton Park. The district was still sparsely settled at this time. Land was still relatively cheap and many people bought a number of adjacent blocks in order to have land to farm. Although there were still few residents in the area, those present managed to pressure the Board of Education into building a small school by 1894.

However, provision of basic services often lagged well behind demand. As new residents continued to arrive, pressure on existing resources became acute. Many of the local residents felt they were not properly represented by either the Swan or Perth Road Boards, between which the area was split. Pressure for local representation came to fruition in 1897 with the gazettal of the Bayswater Road Board.
World War I had a huge impact on Bayswater with many men going to Europe to fight and die. Almost everyone had a family member or relative who was enlisted. Although the war was on the opposite side of the world, it was the centre of life for the people of Bayswater. Military convoys along Guildford Road and shelling practice on the river flats were constant reminders of the war.

Railway Station 1917

Railway Station - Present

Railway Station - 1917

Railway Station - 1997

The 1920s brought new development to Bayswater with many houses being built in the new suburb of Bedford, following the extension of Beaufort Street as far as Coode Street. At the other end of the district, factories were beginning to dominate what would become the industrial area, with the Cresco factory built in 1928. Occasionally, Aboriginal camps would still be set up on the outskirts of the Bayswater townsite during the 1920s and one “old men's camp” existed on Guildford Road for years.

History Part 2 - 1930 to Present Day

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