Memories With Ivor Jones & Friends
Living in the Hills District with its many hills one would expect that there are extensive and expansive view from various locations and you would be right. Locations in Winston Hills provide views over the expanding Parramatta CBD where you can witness the growth of construction cranes building numerous concrete and glass towers. From Thompsons Corner at West Pennant Hills pedestrians can look over the northern and north western suburbs. One location within the Hills District bears a name that reflects what owners thought of the views in the district in during past decades. A visit to one of the historic homes in the Hills would give you some indication of what a resident would see.
On a recent visit to the homestead at Bella Vista farm if you take in the view from the veranda on the first floor you can see a vast section of the Cumberland Plains as far as the distant Blue Mountains. Bella Vista means beautiful view and the first recording of the name was 7 February 1876 – 145 years ago. The Friends of Bella Vista will be holding an open day at Bella Vista Farm on 7 February of this year. Prior to being named “Bella Vista” it was called “Mount Pleasant”.
Bella Vista was once part of John & Elizabeth Macarthur’s “Seven Hills” farm and had been handed back to the Crown in 1821 in exchange for additional land at his “Camden Park” estate at Cowpastures (now Camden). 500 acres of the Seven Hills farm was subsequently granted to James Robertson in 1837 and 500 acres to George Acres in 1823 which he named “Heywood”. Whilst in 1831 500 acres was granted to the Matron of the Orphan School at Parramatta, Mrs Susanna Ward who later in 1834 sells 133 acres to James Smith.
The Pearce family’s association with Bella Vista commenced around 1842 when William Thomas Pearce purchased the former Robertson grant of 500 acres and added his other farms in the wider Hills district (“Stanhope Farm” of 620 acres, “Duggan’s”of 640 acres and “Kings Langley Farm” of 487 acres) to create 500-600 acre working farms for his five sons.
In 1887 Edward H Pearce set aside a small parcel of land near the junction of Seven Hills Rd and Old Windsor Rd that he had obtained from his brother Philip Augustus Pearce as a small private graveyard. Pearce family tradition says that the cemetery was established on the site where John Henry Pearce died in 1872 after falling from his horse.
The Pearce family sell the property to the North Sydney Brick and Tile Co (later Norbrik) and Bella Vista Farm is leased to Ellen Jones in 1951. In 1974 the farm is compulsorily resumed by Sydney Water (Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board) who had plans to erect water storage tanks on the site.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s pressure is applied by numerous groups to preserve the farm for its historical connection to the Macarthur’s and for the passive use for residents of the Hills District. A permanent conservation order was granted in 1997 and ownership transferred to the Hills Shire Council. As they say “the rest is history”. The farm is open to the public on the 1st Sunday of the month. The next open day is also 145th anniversary of the first known use of the name “Bella Vista”. I hope to see you there.