Constitution Road West
Constitution Road West crosses two
The territory from Sydney Cove to Parramatta, on
the northern side of the Parramatta River, was thought to be that of the Wallumedegal, and had the aboriginal
name Wallumetta, the territory of the Wallumede people.
On the 3rd January 1792, the
first land in the Ryde area was granted to eight marines, along the northern bank of the river between Sydney
and Parramatta. The area wa s named by Governor Phillip the 'Field of Mars', Mars being the ancient God of war,
named to reflect the military association with these new settlers. Today's Field of Mars Reserve is the remnant
of a district which once extended from Dundas to the Lane Cove River. These grants were followed soon after by
grants to ten emancipated convicts in February 1792, the land being further to the east of the marines grants,
thus the area was called Eastern Farms or the Eastern Boundary. By 1794 the name Eastern Farms had given way to
Kissing Point, a name believed to have originated from the way in which heavily laden boats passing up the
Parramatta River bumped or 'kissed' the rocky outcrop which extends into the river at today's Kissing
Further grants were issued in
1794 and 1795, gradually occupying most of the foreshores between Meadowbank and Gladesville.
Some of the grants were at the
North Brush, north of the Field of Mars settlement, in the area of Brush Farm and Eastwood. Most of the Grants
were small, from thirty to 100 acres.
By 1803 most of the accessible
land had been granted. Settlement was based along the Parramatta River and overlooking ridges. Governor King
recognised that most of the smaller settlers had insufficient land for their stock but it was not possible to
grant them larger allotments. In 1804 it was decided that a 'traditional English common' - a large area of
public land for use by local inhabitants - would be set aside. Six commons were gazetted.
The Field of Mars Common, an area
of approximately 5,050 acres located north of the Field of Mars and the Eastern Farms, covered most of the Ryde
municipality. The village itself comprised only a modest scattering of houses in a few streets around the
church, surrounded by farms, orchards and some large estates. Nevertheless the name was well-established by 12
November 1870 when the Municipal district of Ryde was officially proclaimed
Land originally granted to
Surgeon William Balmain in 1794, in the district of the Field of Mars, was bestowed the name 'Meadow Bank'.
Balmain returned to England in 1801, leaving his estates to be managed by fellow surgeon D'arcy Wentworth.
Wentworth agreed to sell Balmain's grants to John Bennett, an ex-convict who had been transported in 1795. By
1819 both the 'Meadow Bank Estate' and 'Chatham Farm' to the north, belonged to Bennett. In 1823 he was joined
by his nephew William Bennett. John Bennett died in July 1829, a bachelor, and his nephew inherited his estate,
building Meadowbank House around 1835. William then sold 'Chatham Farm' to Major Edward Darvall in 1855. William
Bennett died in 1865 but his widow remained at Meadowbank until her death in 1879. The estate was subdivided in
the late 1880s, given impetus by the opening of the railway from Strathfield to Hornsby in 1886. The station
opened here was called Hellenic but this was later changed to Meadowbank, after the Meadowbank