History of Wentworth Park

History of Wentworth Park

Wentworth Park

Wentworth Park is bounded by Bridge Road, Wattle Street, William Henry Street and Wentworth Park Road, Ultimo. This area was originally the swampy mouth of the creek variously known as Black Wattle or Blackwattle Creek.

Between the 1830s and 1860 various noxious industries were established along the shore, including in particular abattoirs and boiling down works. The pollution from these works so polluted the swamp that, even after the removal of these establishments from the area in 1860, the local council lobbied to have the area filled in because of the stench that continued to arise from the water and mud.

William Charles Wentworth


William Charles Wentworth. (NSW Parliamentary Archives, WentworthWC-992)

Filling the creek and head of the swamp commenced in 1876 and continued until 1880. Silt dredged from the harbour was used to carry out the process and numerous sea walls and dykes were constructed as part of the programme. When the area was filled trustees were appointed to manage the new park and a competition was announced to design the new facility.

By 1882 ovals, greens, paths, lakes and other facilities were completed, and the park was named after NSW statesman William Charles Wentworth (1790-1872).

During the 1880s and 1890s the park came to serve as a focus for community activities including concerts, celebrations, moving picture shows and in particular sport. The early years of the twentieth century saw the removal of the lakes, and the establishment of a kindergarten in 1914.

During World War 1 a large number of timber sheds were erected on the northern sports ground to store wool for the war effort. These sheds remained for some years after the end of the war. In 1919 the high-level railway viaduct was built, which now carries the Central to Lilyfield light rail.

In October 1932 greyhound racing began in the park and as time went on the dog racing facilities grew to dominate the park. From brick walls to grandstands, tote buildings and kiosks.

During World War 2 the American troops established a camp in Wentworth Park and more wool stores were built, although these were eventually demolished in the 1950s. In 1979 the National Coursing Association applied to construct a large new grandstand which was eventually completed in 1985.

Main image: Wentworth Park, looking E across Wattle St, Ultimo, 1956. (City of Sydney Archives, SRC13385)

Further reading

Manidis Roberts Consultants, ‘Wentworth Park Plan of Management’, 1990.

Last updated: Friday, 28 October 2016