Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc
incorporating the
Ku-ring-gai Family History Centre

Pymble

Pymble is made up of two suburbs, Pymble and West Pymble.  West Pymble commences west of Inverallan Avenue, and now includes a section to the south of Ryde Road which used to be known as Gordon West.  There is a small, geographically isolated pocket around  Beechworth Road but still part of Pymble.  When the railway went through, a station was planned approximately at the junction of  Beechworth Road and the Pacific Highway.  This never eventuated, so  Beechworth Road remained separated from Turramurra by Sheldon Forest and from Pymble proper by a valley.  In 1980 two last subdivisions took place at the end of Beechworth Road, the Quadrant Close and Ingham subdivisions.

 
Pacific Highway (c1950 : June 2001)

Early History

Robert Pymble was not the first, but was certainly the most influential, early settler for the suburb eventually named after him.  He arrived in Sydney in 1821, and petitioned Governor Macquarie for a land grant which was not honoured until 1823.  This grant ran from the present Bobbin Head Road in the north, bordering Thomas Hyndes’ 2000 acre Big Island Estate, down to Station Street in the south, bordering Daniel Dering Mathew’s property.  Fred Pymble, a descendant of Robert Pymble, recalled that Pymble bought up unwanted grants for a token 1/- (a shilling or about 10c) an acre.  Pymble, Hyndes and Mathew began, as did so many others, feeding the near-insatiable market demand for timber.  Hyndes and Pymble went into partnership in the timber-getting business, and employed hundreds of convicts.

Blackbutt, stringy and iron bark and blue gum were felled to become piles, posts, rails, palings, girders and shingles for the wharves and housing in Sydney.  There was a large saw pit on Bannockburn Road and two smaller ones on each side of the Pymble Golf Club dam.  The timber was sawn into lengths carted by bullocks, later draft horses, down the dirt tracks of Mona Vale Road and the Pacific Highway to Fiddens Wharf, which was situated at the end of Fiddens Wharf Road, Killara.  From there the timber was ferried to Sydney.

Orchards were eventually established, with much labour.  Pymble’s soil was rich, suitable for citrus fruits, plums, peaches, apples, pears and grapes.  There was no fruit fly then to ruin the crops – it was not until the turn of the century that this pest brought about the demise of orchards in Ku-ring-gai.  The native birds were actually beneficial, as they ate the insects, including the dreaded codlin moth, able to ruin a crop of apples.  The codlin moth was also controlled by tying a sugar bag around the base of apple and pear trees.  As the larva attempted to climb up to the fruit, they would get caught in the bag and be squashed before they could do any damage.

Other orchardists in the area were Richard Porter, who had 100 acres around   Beechworth Road, and Buckingham and Bloodworth, both of whom worked orchards around Pymble Ladies College.

‘Irish Town’, so named simply because Irish settlers congregated there, lies mostly in modern North Turramurra, but there is a segment in modern Pymble.  It ran from Merrivale Road in the east to Bobbin Head Road in the west, and a short distance south of Pentecost Avenue, including the area around Reely Street to Reynolds Street.  Johann Henri Rhule, a German, who changed his name to John Henry Reely when World War I broke out, settled in Irish Town in 1854, and established a fine orchard.  Pentecost Avenue went through Reely land, which meant demolition of the weatherboard house he built, but its brick and slate replacement still stands.  Another orchardist in Irish Town was the Irishman Samuel King from Northern Ireland.

A real community spirit developed amongst Pymble’s settlers, and the centre of community was frequently the place of worship.  The establishment of permanent churches meant a long and combined struggle.  Pastors slogged through mud tracks to hold services for their flocks.  The Presbyterian Church was one of the late arrivals, being built only in 1895, with Samuel King donating stone from his quarry for its construction.  Sunday service was a full family outing, with everyone in their best, in highly polished buggies.  The family trees so comprehensively traced by Gay Halstead in The Story of St Ives (NSW) and some of its Neighbours demonstrate just how tightly intermarried the major founding families were in this tiny population.  Thomas Henry Reely (son of the strict Lutheran John Henry Reely) married a daughter of the Irish Presbyterian Samuel King, demonstrating a religious tolerance in this new land, and perhaps also the centrality of the church to the community.  Samuel King remained a stalwart of his church until he died, only two days after the dedication of its new building, in March 1908.

© Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc.