If it wasn’t for a plague of mosquitos causing trouble in the suburb of Newtown in the 1880s, the idea of the Norwest Business Park may never had been conceived by Doug Lanceley.
The British colonies in the Antipodes were undergoing a population explosion due to gold discoveries and many young men from the British Isles sought fame and fortune in the lands of the Southern Hemisphere. Amongst those young men was Edward Lanceley, who in 1876, decided to go move to New Zealand.
After a few years in the land of the Long White Cloud he thought that he would try his luck in Australia in 1880 and moved to Sydney and sought work around Newtown but was troubled by swarms of mosquitoes along Shea’s Creek and decided to return to New Zealand. Unable to secure a passage to New Zealand straight away and with funds of only sixpence in his pocket together with a tent and a bedroll for shelter, headed for Gore Hill on Sydney’s North Shore seeking work in one of the many brickyards in the district. He found the work to his liking and decided to stay.
He worked hard at his adoptive trade and was soon asked to manage a brickyard owned by Messrs J B Magney and G J Weynton who were brickmasters who had been working the clays at St Peters. Magney and Weynton had purchased an existing brickyard at Gore Hill and had installed a small machine capable of turning out 10,000 bricks a day. Edward Lanceley was subsequently invited to join Magney and Weynton in the partnership which then morphed into what became the the North Sydney Brick and Tile Company.
Another company which owned and operated the nearby Gore Hill Brickworks was the Land Company of Australasia Ltd. This company collapsed in 1893 and was acquired by the North Sydney Brick and Tile Co in 1894 and the bricks produced by the company were stamped “MWL” evidently the partnership of Magney, Weynton and Lanceley was still in place. The Gore Hill Brickworks was said to be the largest brickworks in NSW. It also had the largest Hoffman Kiln in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.
In 1914 Lanceley founded another brick company named Ryde Brick and Tile Works. The brick plant at Gore Hill, after eventually closing, became the future site of Royal North Shore Hospital, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and North Sydney TAFE.
Edward D. Lanceley, in 1934, became a director of a new company. This company, named Brickworks Ltd, was created to acquire the State Brickworks at Homebush which the NSW Government owned and wished to sell. This eventually led to a consolidation within the brickmaking industry bringing together a number of brickmaking companies which became part of Brickworks.
The North Sydney Brick and Tile Co remained a separate entity for a while. Whilst still operating as a separate company in the 1950s, the managing director of North Sydney Brick & Tile Co, Doug Lanceley (son of E D Lanceley) had the company purchase a large tract of land on Old Windsor Rd close to Bella Vista Farm and established a quarry to extract clay for the making of bricks.
Finding that it was prohibitive to transport the clay to St Leonards he decided to move the brick plant from St Leonards to the Quarries located on Old Windsor Rd thus establishing what was to become Norbrick. Doug Lanceley had purchased more land than what was needed for brickmaking and decided to create a business park similar to those he had seen in England whilst travelling to the UK.
Finding the development costs for the business park a serious financial drain, Norbrick was acquired by New Zealand businessman Sir Ron Brierley who later sold to Malaysian interests the site now becoming a major portion of the Bella Vista – Norwest precinct in The Hills.
Therefore, if E D Lanceley had not been so perturbed by the mosquito hordes at Newtown in 1880 and not been able to afford the fare back to New Zealand, he would never had gone into the brick business and moved to the North Shore and his son would not have purchased land in the Hills District and developed the idea of building a business park.
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