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

St Ives

There are two possible sources for the naming of St Ives: after St Ives in Cornwall, or after Isaac Ellis Ives, Member of the Legislative Assembly for St Leonards in 1885-89.  The district, first settled by timber-getters (some legal, some not) in the mid 1820s, developed in the 1850s and 60s as a community of orchardists known as Rosedale, the name given to the by Daniel Mathew to his Estate in the area.  As the local member (his colleague in this two-member seat was Sir Henry Parkes, the Premier) Ives, as a result of representation by settler Philip Richardson, worked hard to secure for his community a post office (1885) and a school and school residence (1889).  The post office, originally named Rosedale, was renamed St Ives about 1900.

 
Cnr Carbeen Avenue & Mungarra Avenue 13/33 Battalion in St Ives 1942 (Australian War Memorial photo) : c2000 (photo Ian Hill)

Early Settlers

The first landholder in the district was Daniel Dering Mathew, who arrived in the colony in 1812.  In 1819 he returned to England to purchase mechanical saw-milling machinery.  In 1823 he was granted 800 uncleared acres which he named Rosedale, which stretched into what is now Pymble Golf Course.  In 1824 he established a saw mill on the corner of Cowan Road and Stoney Creek Road (now Mona Vale Road).  His grant was not formalized until 1838.

Another orchardist was Vernon’s son-in-law, Philip Richardson, an Irish gentleman, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, sometimes known as The Squire of Rosedale.  He was said never to have worked his farm: his native-born wife Julia Vernon superintended it with much vigour.  Killeaton Street is named after Richardson’s family home in Ireland.

Other early orchardists included George Mudie, a Scot who, having worked for his father in a bakery at Circular Quay and tried his luck (very successfully) on the Victorian gold fields, bought 125 acres at £1 an acre, on the Cowan Road.  He paid in gold sovereigns.  Mudies Road bears his name.  James Terrey, had 100 acres, now the site of the Pymble Golf Course.  He also owned 640 acres further east, named after him - Terrey Hills - as well as land at Cottage Point.

The major transport route in the area was a dirt track known as Stoney Creek Road (now Mona Vale Road).  It was originally constructed by Daniel Mathew to take timber from his saw mill to Sydney.  Access was also in the opposite direction along Pittwater Road to Pittwater.  The common name Mona Vale Road now applies to them both.

St Ives was the one district in Ku-ring-gai not affected by the opening of the steam railway in 1890.  For the first half of the 20th century it remained an isolated, largely self-sufficient rural community.  There was no electricity until 1914 and for a long time the only telephone was at the Post Office.  Without a direct train link, its connection with the outside world was an unsealed road.  Each household grew its own fruit and vegetables and kept its own hens.  A local butchery and bakery supplied the needs of the district.  Domestic supplies such as household linen were bought at Anthony Hordern’s annual sale or by catalogue.

In the early 1950s, St Ives began its phenomenally rapid transformation into a dormitory suburb.  Unlike most of Ku-ring-gai it is relatively flat and lent itself to residential development.  This growth was spurred by a number of factors – great improvement to the roads and particularly the opening of the Eastern Arterial Road between Boundary Street, Roseville, and Mona Vale Rd, increased car ownership, Sydney’s growth and the post war need for more homes.  The area was rezoned in 1959 from ‘rural’ to ‘residential’.  In 1954 its population was under 3000.  Between 1961 and 1976 the population trebled from 5247 to 18521.

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