Fremantle Stuff > Streets > Davies Street

Davies Street

The street is named after George Alfred Davies, who had the (third) farm there.

The Whadjuk Nyoongar were the first people in this part of country then known as Beeliar.  At the time of invasion, 1829, the most prominent of the people in that country were Midgegooroo and his son Yagan.

After colonisation, the first owner of the land in the area was Henry Maxwell Lefroy (1818-1879) who arrived in the colony in 1841. Lefroy Road indicates the position of his farm there.

The land bounded by South Street, Caesar Street, Lefroy Road and Fifth Avenue was developed by Henry Maxwell Lefroy as a vineyard and orchard, known as 'Mulberry Farm'. The western portion of the estate was used for dairying purposes by identities such as Lane, Fletcher, Wade and Caesar. (FCC)


Lefroy's 30m high olive trees

... he soon bought land near Fremantle including a 100 acre farm where Beaconsfield TAFE is now located. This expanded into a large operation employing up to 12 men tending 5000 fig trees, 2000 other fruit trees and many vines. Lefroy Road runs through the original property and behind the TAFE College there are what are believed to be some of his original olive trees still growing on the west side of Bruce Lee Reserve. (Mike Lefroy, 2010)

George Curedale purchased 82 acres of land from the estate of Henry Maxwell Lefroy in 1881, land was bounded by the present South Street, Lefroy Road, Curedale Street, almost to Fifth Avenue. Curedale Street was named after George.


According to Kate Caldwell,

The land on which this street and the Grosvenor Hospital were built originally [sic] belonged to the Curedale family, but was lost by foreclosure to the Davies family, George Davies the founder being born in 1776 and dying 1853. Davies Street adjoins Curedale Street.

I assume that ‘foreclosure’ implies that the Curedales borrowed money from the Davies (perhaps to pay the Lefroy estate for the land), and couldn’t service the loan. It seems that it was this George Alfred Davies (1846-97), grandson of the patriarch, who built the house that became a hospital and then an ashram, on the site of the Curedales’ farmhouse.

(The date given for the construction of the house on the Fremantle Library's page for the Grosvenor Hospital photo is 1880, but I think that might be a typo for 1890, because another page - the one about street names, says that the Curedales only bought the land in 1881. I'm assuming that the 1881 is accurate, and that the foreclosure was around the end of the 1880s - but I'm only guessing.)

If George Davies continued to farm the area, it may have been to supply grapes for his wine store, Grosvenor Cellars in Bannister Street. Davies may have given the same name to his house as the one he gave his wine store in Bannister Street, as that was the name of the Hospital that it became after his death. There is also a Grosvenor Street at the end of Davies Street.


Entrance to former Grosvenor Hospital

After the death of George Davies, in 1898, his house was sold to Sister Scott for conversion to a private hospital, the Grosvenor Hospital, at 151 South Street Beaconsfield (corner of Field Street). Since then, it has become the Sivananda Ashram and Beacon Yoga Centre. Matron Ethel Field was in charge at one time, and the street must be named for her.


The sump: site of the future Spot Park

Davies Road was on the alignment of the proposed 'Eastern Bypass' which would have continued Stirling Highway south to the Roe Highway. Since that project was abandoned, some of the Main Roads Department land has been sold and new housing constructed, there and on Curedale Street.

At least a tiny part of country has been returned to the use of the first people. The Mandjah Boodjah Village Housing Co-operative is between Davies and Curedale Streets. It is 'a mixed equity, co-operative and affordable Indigenous housing project for living in harmony'.

south st

South Street showing the installation of the tramway. The photographer is on the top of the hill near where Sea View Street is now, looking towards the 'Lefroy's Hill' cutting (at present-day Field Street) in the middle distance and the Carrington Street intersection on the far horizon. Davies Street, if built then, would be to the right at the bottom of the dip in the road. Click on the image for larger size. Photograph from the Fremantle Library Local History Collection LH002423. This is the Library's caption:

The original terminus in South Street at Davies Street, looking east. Note the cutting through what was known as Lefroy's Hill. Pans for the sanitary service are stacked outside the fence of the Pine Grove Nursery. The large roof on the right was Grosvenor Hospital. Horse and sulky to the right. Taken 28 July 1905.

Note that the terminus is not where the camera is but down the hill a bit further away. If you look very closely at the photograph you can see a workman down where the terminus is. There is another photo, 2426, taken the same day, down there looking back up the hill to the west, and you can see the workman clearly - as well as the same driver, horse and gig, which I assume has transported the photographer and his equipment out here. I think it's very likely, tho the Library does not say so, that the photographer was George Edward Keane.

References and Links

Caldwell, Kate 1931, 'Fremantle street names', Early Days: Journal of Royal WA Historical Society, 1, 9: 45-57; repr. in John K. Ewers, 1971 [1948], The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, 2nd ed.; appendix 9: 'Fremantle Street Names': 219-230. [See also: street names.]

Fremantle Library: various webpages, including the one for street names.

Davies Street Community in Facebook: closed group.

Garry Gillard | New: 6 August, 2018 | Now: 15 November, 2019