|EVOLUTION OF OLD WINDSOR ROAD ( Windsor Road and Old Windsor Road CMP, 2005):
The 1796 plan shows the 'Road to the Hawkesbury' commencing at the more northerly branch of the Toongabbie Creek, with a track connecting the road to Toongabbie and Parramatta beyond. The plan shows the road probably as surveyed, with straight lines connecting points of the route. By the time Grimes produced the c1806 map of NSW , the Old Windsor Road is shown with some minor deviations, probably caused by the practicalities of hill and river crossings. These deviations include the kink in the road to the east of Box Hill Estate, and the re-routing of the road enabled by the construction of the bridge at South Creek in 1802. The line of the Old Windsor Road prior to this deviation is indicated by the present location of the Hawkesbury Road between the intersections of Chapman Road and Pitt Town Road. Both deviations enabled the Old Windsor Road to avoid the low-lying land along the Killarney Chain of Ponds.
Both the 1796 and 1806 plans show that the Old Windsor Road approached Parramatta from Toongabbie via the Government Farm at Rose Hill (declared the Government Domain by Governor Macquarie in 1810 )22 arcing across the Government Farm and meeting the Prospect Road for its approach to the present town of Parramatta. This route was probably established c.1792 with the establishment of the Toongabbie Government Farm.
Concurrent with, and an integral part of, Governor Macquarie's 1810 plans for the Government House and town plan at Parramatta, the Windsor Road turnpike was planned and constructed, following the route of Church Street across the Parramatta River and bypassing the Government Domain altogether.
Macquarie moved the western road to Prospect to the ridgeline at this time in order to increase privacy for Government House,23 and the 1813 plan published by Burr & Ballisat, although nearly identical to Grimes' 1806 in most respects, shows the Old Windsor Road joining the Prospect Road along the ridge for the approach to Parramatta.
The undated plan of the County of Cumberland appears to record the configuration of the Old Windsor Road about the 1820s. In this plan the deviation at Box Hill is clearly shown, but is less pronounced than the 1806-1813 deviation. At the Parramatta end, the Old Windsor Road is shown running due south in a straight north-south line (rather than a curve, as is shown in 1796 and 1806) between Toongabbie Creek and the Western Road.
By 1827, GB White's survey shows a relatively major change in the route of the Windsor Road near Box Hill, where the road is aligned along a broad curve at Riverstone, near the intersection with Garfield Road East, and removing the characteristic kink in the road previously evident near Box Hill. The reason for this realignment is not clear at present. The 1827 plan does not include the route of the Old Windsor Road south of Kellyville, and therefore does not indicate any changes to the Parramatta end of the road at this time.
By 1860, at the time of surveying lots subdivided from the former Government Domain at Parramatta (the area presently occupied by Westmead Hospital), the present-day alignments of Darcy Road, Mons Road, Hawkesbury Road, and Hainsworth Road (now Institute Road within Westmead Hospital) appear to have been laid out formally for the first time as boundaries of new lots within the subdivision. The plan depicts a number of 'cart tracks' which neatly mirror the alignment of the new streets. Although appearing to travel a circuitous route, the cart tracks avoided crossing the Toongabbie Creek and the Parramatta River. In mid-20th century street directories, parts of Darcy Road are called the Old Windsor Road, leading to the present conclusion that the cart tracks indicate the route of the Old Windsor Road as it approached Parramatta.
Mackenzie's 1885 survey noted several locations where the original alignment of the Old Windsor Road differed from the 1885 route, with the earlier alignments frequently marking the boundaries between civil parishes. Additionally, the route of the Old Windsor Road through the former Government Domain at Parramatta is confirmed by the 1885 survey along the present day alignments of Darcy Road, Fulton Avenue, Hart Drive, and Ferndale Close.
CHRONOLOGY of WINDSOR ROAD & OLD WINDSOR ROAD
*1794: The first land grants were made in the Hawkesbury area to 22 emancipists in response to the need for additional agricultural land. By the end of 1794, over 100 grants were made in the region between present-day Windsor and Pitt Town. A government store, soldiers' barracks, granary, and government cottage were established at Green Hills (later known as Windsor) to service the settlement.
*1794:- A road was established between the Green Hills/Hawkesbury area and the older settlement at Parramatta. The road amounted to a track, suitable for travel by horseback or foot. The road traversed the Government Domain at Parramatta and approached the Government Farm at Toongabbie.
*1797:- Governor Hunter ordered landholders to undertake road improvements along the Hawkesbury Road, including widening the road to 20 feet. (This is the date for the creation of the Windsor Road as a carriageway.)
*1802:- A bridge was constructed at a new South Creek crossing of the Windsor Road, financed by tolls, and replacing the previous punt crossing further east. The current road alignment at South Creek dates from this time. The earlier road alignment, leading to the punt crossing, is reflected in the alignment of the present day Hawkesbury Road.
*1804:- Convicts from the government farm at Castle Hill revolted and were confronted by military forces near Rouse Hill. The battle came to be known as the Battle of Vinegar Hill after a 1798 uprising in Ireland against British rule. The soldiers were able to apprehend the rebels by quickly travelling via the Old Windsor Road, which was the key to the containment of the rebellion.
*1805:- Surveyor James Meehan surveyed an alignment between Parramatta and Kellyville which became the basis for the (New) Windsor Road in 1813. A committee was formed to collect funds for the upkeep of the colony's two main roads: Sydney to Parramatta, and Parramatta to Windsor.
*1806:- Surveyor Grimes' map of 1806 shows the road from Parramatta to Green Hills (the Old Windsor Road) and from Prospect to the Cowpastures.
*1810:- Governor Macquarie described the Windsor Road as "scarcely intitled [sic] to that name…in so bad a state of repair as to be scarcely passable." Later in the year, Macquarie established five towns along the river: Windsor, Richmond, Pitt Town, Wilberforce, and Castlereagh. A contractor, James Harrex, was engaged to build a new turnpike road between Parramatta and Kellyville, following Meehan's 1805 alignment via Castle Hill. This new alignment would avoid the hilly section (referred to by Governor King in 1803 as "the Seven Hills") of the original (Old) Windsor Road. The new alignment also enabled a more direct route to the Hawkesbury from Sydney. Most importantly, the new route avoided the newly-proclaimed Domain at Government House, Parramatta, and was part of Governor Macquarie's extensive plan for the improvement of Government House and its landscape setting.
*1812-1813:- Upon the failure of James Harrex to complete the new road works, John Howe took over and completed the contract, which included the construction of 70 bridges. The new road was 32 feet wide and alignment stones marked the carriageway.
*1810s:- Governor Macquarie introduced a toll system on the Windsor Road with toll gates north of Parramatta and south of Rouse Hill.
*1816:- Land granted to Richard Rouse who built Rouse Hill House and moved in between 1818 and 1825. Rouse also constructed a toll house opposite.
*1824:- A regular passenger coach service between Parramatta and Windsor commenced; however, the poor condition of the road caused the coach service to be suspended in the late 1820s. Complaints about the poor condition of the Windsor Road continued in the following decades. By the 1830s, passenger and mail coach services were established. 1826-1832 Governor Ralph Darling held an ambition for the colony's roads to be developed along the concept of the English system of "great roads."
*1827:- Newspaper report on "an outbreak of bushranging on the road between Sydney and Windsor. Several vehicles have been stopped and the passengers stripped of all valuables." Escaped convict, 'Bold' Jack Donohoe, described in 1830 as "the most notorious of the bushrangers currently operating in New South Wales," got his start robbing bullock drays on the Windsor Road. Donohoe is remembered as the last of the convict bushrangers and the first of the bushrangers to be romanticised in bush ballads.
*1833:- Windsor Road was proclaimed as a Main Road under 4 Wm IV No 11, gazetted 11 September 1833, to be maintained at public expense.11 The Old Windsor Road was declared a Parish Road. 1835 A toll house, the second on the site, was constructed at the South Creek crossing near Windsor.
*1830s:- The deteriorated condition of the Old Windsor Road rendered it "impassable" in sections, and the options of either repairing and re-opening the Old Windsor Road or creating a new road alignment were debated. The alignment stones along the Old Windsor Road may date from this period.
*1830s-40s:- The No. 12 Road Gang, a convict gang, was assigned to maintain the Windsor Road, however lack of men and ineptitude of the overseer compromised were complained of in correspondence by the Roads Branch of the Surveyor General's Department.
*1849:- The Windsor Road Trust was formed to oversee maintenance of the Windsor Road. Convict labour carried out maintenance in the previous two decades to the establishment of the Windsor Road Trust.14 Responsibility for the road between Vinegar Hill and Windsor was charged to the Windsor Road Trust, while from Vinegar Hill to Parramatta, responsibility for maintenance of the road was under the Parramatta Road Trust.
*1853:- Fitzroy Bridge constructed across South Creek at Windsor, replacing the earlier Howe's Bridge.
*1864:- Steam railway extended from Penrith to Richmond via Windsor.
*1867:- Factors including the 1867 flood of the Hawkesbury River, the opening of land west of the Blue Mountains brought about by the railway in 1869, and the onset of the rust disease which affected the area's wheat crops combined to bring about the end of the Hawkesbury's role as Sydney's 'breadbasket.' Maize and vegetable crops replaced wheat farming, and in the 1880s, farmers in the Hawkesbury Valley turned to orcharding. 1885 Surveyor Mackenzie surveyed the Old Windsor Road for the Surveyor General.
*1920s:- Dairying and poultry farming industries took hold in the Hawkesbury Valley. Orcharding continued to take place along the roads in areas such as Baulkham Hills area.
*1924:- The Department of Public Works used water-based macadam in reconstructing the Windsor Road near Rouse Hill. A bitumen coating was laid down in 1925-6, and renewed in 1928-9. Water-based macadam was an improved road surface treatment necessitated by the rapid rise of the motor vehicle.
*1928:- Windsor Road, together with Bells Line of Road and the Darling Causeway was announced as Main Road 184 on 22 May.
*1940s:- Cutting and filling of the Old Windsor and Windsor Roads was reportedly undertaken by the United States military to prepare evacuation routes should a Japanese invasion take place in Sydney.
*1948:- Shoulders of the Windsor Road were widened to 22 feet to provide for anticipated traffic.
*1981-1984:- High-level bridges constructed by the Department of Main Roads over Pye's Crossing and Johnston's Bridge. The last unmade section of Old Windsor Road was surfaced by Blacktown and Baulkham Hills Councils.