History of Alexandria Park

Learn about the interesting history of Alexandria Park, including how cows used to graze there in 1895.

Published

Alexandria Park is between Buckland, Park and Wyndham streets and Power Avenue, Alexandria.

Almost all the area now known as Alexandria, Waterloo, Zetland and Rosebery was in the single ownership of Daniel Cooper for most of the nineteenth century. This site was originally sandhills, but was earmarked for industrial development when noxious industries were forced out of the city in 1860, and became known as the Southern Industrial Zone for over a century.

There was a sandhill here which was named Mount Horne after Alderman JC Horne who had campaigned for the reclamation of the area. This area was chosen for open space and was gazetted as a park in 1882 and the sand was removed. A cricket oval was built but the rest of the area was used as a municipal tip for 13 years.

The first caretaker, P Dawson of Wyndham Street, was appointed on a barter basis in 1895. He was given the sole right to graze his 6 cows on the park between the hours of 6pm and 6am, in exchange for keeping the park free of weeds and watering the newly-planted Moreton Bay and Port Jackson fig trees twice weekly during dry weather.

In response to popular demand a tennis court and clubhouse were constructed in 1939 and a portion of the park was set aside for a playground. The playground was named after member for Redfern Bill McKell who was Premier of NSW from 1941–47 and Governor-General of Australia from 1947–51.

The story of Alexandria Park would not be complete without some reference to Alderman Richard Power, Mayor of Alexandria in 1932 and 1936. He lived in Wyndham Street and kept a close eye on the park and took great pride in it. The Richard Power memorial gates were erected in his memory at the south-eastern corner of the park. Power Avenue is also named after him. The park’s boundary rows of Port Jackson figs date from the 1890s. Inter-war plantings include an avenue of London plane trees, Lombardy poplars and American cottonwoods.

An historic photo of a road, footpath and entrance to a park.
Harris Street from William Henry Street, 1955. Image: City of Sydney Archives (unique ID: A-00044384)

Further reading

'Alexandria 1868-1943: ‘The Birmingham of Australia’, Sydney, c 1943

LandArc Pty Ltd, 'Register of Significant Trees', 2005