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Wrenfordsley Park

This park is referred to in a letter to the editor by Philip Webster in 1885. It is not presently known where the park was. Webster writes in part as follows:

Webster, West Australian, 11 May, 1885, p. 3:
But what says the rising generation of Fremantle : " We have nice streets and roads, 'Odd Fellows Hall,' 'Masonic Hall,' 'Literary Institute,' 'Grammar School' now rising on the top of Monument Hill, a 'lovely church,' and three Parks, 'The Peoples Park,' Wrenfordsley Park' and the 'Mayors Park,' the latter although least, is the last, and only just finished, now awaiting the opening day that the Mayor's name may be engraven in Red, White and Blue, facing ' Adelaide Street,' ' Edward Street ' and ' Parry Street.' The first of June is not far distant when the good people of the port are longing to enjoy this gala day.

The Oddfellows Hall was opened in 1867, the Masonic Hall in 1877, the Literary Institute (the first one, in Cliff Street) in 1868, the Grammar School (top of High Street) in 1885, St John's Church (the second one in Kings Square) in 1882, Fremantle Park in 1879. The Proclamation Tree in the Mayors Park (Adelaide Street) was not planted until 1890.

Sir Henry Wrenfordsley was an undistinguished lawyer who happened to act as Chief Justice of the colony for a short period in 1891 while Onslow was given leave by the governor Sir Frederick Broome. Before that he was Attorney-General 1880-1883, so it seems likely that the park was named in his honour at the end of that period, when he also received his knighthood, in June 1883.

One guess I may make as to the park's location is what is now called the Princess May Park. It was only given that name in 1901 when the Princess visited. If it was a park before that - in 1885 - rather than just the anonymous ground around the school(s) - perhaps it required a name. Hitchcock provides no help, but Cranky Billy's letter (following) places it on Adelaide Street and close to the Mayor's Park.

Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 3 June 1885, p. 3:
'CRANKY BILLY' ON A WOODEN YARD IN A FREMANTLE STREET.
Sir, — Will you please give me a little room in your papers to ask the Inspector of Nuisances to walk up my way in the North Ward and take down (what some people call) a wooden stockyard, on the top of Adelaide Street. Somebody put up a wood-en fence on this highway ; it looks like Josephson's hen cage, only it has no wire netting over the top. My brother Denny says Webster called it, in another Perth paper, the Mayor's Park, and my brother Frenchy says the Mayor is going to have Barrett down to plant some trees inside, and flowers and greens outside. The side next Wrenfordsley Park and Adelaide Street will be all flowers mixed up, red, white, and blue ; the tother side, next the Priest's house, will be all cabbages, becoz green is good for the eyesight, and the tother end, right in front of parson Roberts' manse, my brother Tom says the Mayor will have all this part planted with orange blossoms, digged in like cooch grass. My brother Bonnor is the oldest of our family and carries the mason's hod when he can get work; he says that Denny, Frenchy, and Tom are all wrong ; it's only a joke about calling this wood-en thing the Mayor's Park. If the Inspector doesn't come up here quick the wood-en fence will be scattered all over the road. The other day the wind sent it all over one side ; and another Nor-wester will finish it. One old householder came to look at it the other day, he said it's shameful to waste the ratepayers' money like this, but he don't care how the Council spends the money, they may let it all go in a heap in the new Town Hall, becoz he will make all his tenants pay the rates like a L.A.M. (B). Another landlord says it's ridiculous to call this wood-en affair the Mayor's Park, but it ought to be sold by auction and cleared away at once. The sand should be carted away and the road macadamised. See what bad streets we have, and no chance of any improvement, as all the Ratepayers' money will fly away in the grand Town Hall ; but I don't care, for I will send the Tax Collector to every tenant, it shall not come out of my pocket. Another landlord was cheeky to the Mayor the other day after he got a big letter tied up in pink tape, full of dignity, from the foreman of the Building Act. This landlord asked the Mayor for the loan of his Park for a hording round his sand and bricks in the back Street, where he is making his house higher, becoz he don't want to be flooded out a second time by the water running from the road.
Mr. Editor, tell your people when they come down from Perth, in their traps, to be very careful in entering Fremantle, as just round Davis's corner you are upon the Mayor's Park in a giffy. We always look out for the Daily News our way, as we like it better than the tother papers, and father's eyes are bad, so I read all the news to cheer him up in the evening. I now finish and sign my name just as everybody calls me,
CRANKY BILLY.
Fremantle, May 27.

The West Australian, Thursday 25 November 1886, p. 3:
Water Supply at Wrenfordsley Park. The Mayor called the attention of the Council to the fact, that some time ago it was considered advisable to provide an additional water cart for the use of the outlying portions of the town. The expense of carting the water from the river was, however, almost prohibitive. Under these circumstances he had suggested to the Director of Public Works, that, seeing £67,000 had been set aside for water supply purposes, the Government might see their way clear to sink a well in Wrenfordsley Park, at which the water cart would be enabled to get the necessary supplies. It would only be needful to sink to a depth of twelve feet.

References and Links

West Australian, 11 May, 1885, p. 3.

Louch, T.S. 1976, 'Wrenfordsley, Sir Henry Thomas (1825-1908), ADB.


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