The earliest history of Hazelbrook and Woodford has some similarity to that of numerous other localities in the Blue Mountains. From the timeless wanderings of the aborigines to the first tentative colonial exploratory attempts the area was nothing more than inhospitable mountainous terrain. Doubtless, the fIrst white people to enter the district were desperate convicts escaping from the terrors of captivity in a harsh open-prison environment to the terrors of the unfamiliar bush land. Later,others lived on the fringes of that brutal society seeking a living from hunting the strange animals. Their names remain unknown.
There is intense interest among long-time residents of Hazelbrook in discovering how the town was named.
The Origin of the name Hazelbrook
Research by Brian Fox.
First references to the name Hazelbrook
The first reference I have found is on the 1st edition of the Parish of Woodford. County of Cook. Compiled by T. W. Foster 2nd December 1881. The initial survey information to complete the compilation of this Parish Map came from Survey Plans by Licensed Surveyor George Pitt who carried out the earliest detailed surveys of this area late 1878. Pitt's surveys were partly in response to allocating free blocks ofland (most lots were 50 acres, 20.2ha) for the NSW Volunteers Forces Regulation Act of 1867. Ref: Survey Plans C774.1507 dated Ist-3rd October 1878 and C784.1507 dated 3rd October 1878. Neither of these plans showed the locality or creek name of Hazelbrook.
Note: In the book Hazelbrook Heritage A Social History of Hazelbrook and Woodford, 1989 page 22 and 45 a map of above is shown with the name Hazelbrook on the map. But when I viewed the original copy of this plan at the Lands Department Plan Room, Sydney the name Hazelbrook had been added at a later date.
So we can deduce that from survey plans and the information cited below re Hazelbrook House that the locality name of Hazelbrook was first introduced to the area between 1879-1880. Township of Hazelbrook
The area of land between Woodford and Lawson centred around Hazelbrook Railway Station was defined as the Town of Hazelbrook on the 21 st March 1896.
Early Parish Maps showed this as the Hazelbrook Population Area Proclaimed 21 st March 1896.The Government Gazette 21 March 1896 Ms 96-600Dep, defined these boundaries of the township. The Population Area was enacted by two Acts of Parliament. An Act for regulating the Alienation of Crown Lands 18th October 1861. This Act defined Population Boundaries as towns having contained 100 inhabitants and over. Secondly An Act to regulate the Alienation Occupation and Management of Crown Lands and for other purposes 17th October 1884. This Act ensured that areas were defined by lines bearing north east south and west and Gazetted as such.
Suburb of Blue Mountains City Council On the 23rd October 2003 the Geographical Names Board officially designated Hazelbrook as a Suburb within the Local Government area of Blue Mountains City Council.
Hazelbrook House was constructed between 1879-1880 by Edward Higgs. This is within the earliest time frame for the name of Hazelbrook and was the first house of any importance constructed at Hazelbrook. So the owner needs to be examined closely to see if he had any responsibility in naming of this locality.
Ownership of Hazelbrook House
Edward Higgs was the original owner who had Hazelbrook House constructed. Why did he call his house Hazelbrook? As the owner he naturally had the right to name his property whatever he liked.
The Blue Mountain Echo 18th March 1927 records "It is high time houses were numbered". But houses were not given a number until about 1953. So did he name his house after the local usage name for the area, or for example from where he was born and bred?
Edward Higgs was born in Berkshire, England. Ref: Birth place obtained from death certificate from NSW Register of Birth Death and Marriages by Ken Goodlet 30th October 2003. Edward (1838-1898) son of Henry and Elizabeth married Mary (died 1904) they had at least two girls named Elizabeth and Ellen. Edward was an employee of the NSW Railways and before he retired in 1889 (aged 51) and had risen to the position ofInspector in the Traffic Branch, Railways. Ref: Information obtained by John Fox from NSW Probate and Public Service List 10th October 2003. John Fox's research also found that at the time of Edward's death they were living at Penrith on the comer of Castlereagh Street and North Street in a house they called "Hedsor". And Hedsor is a locality within the birthplace of Edward in Berkshire. The Nepean Times 4th May 1889 records Mr Edward Higgs retirement at Penrith having served 30 years with the railways. Before moving to Hazelbrook Edward Higgs previous appointment was at Kelso near Bathurst.
So was there also a place or property in Berkshire called Hazelbrook?
In searching for a name in Berkshire, England and the British Isles for the name Hazelbrook, within the time frame of the 1830's several areas of research were undertaken. But no record ofthe name Hazelbrook has been found.
1. www.berkshirerecordsoffice.org.uk Lisa Spurrier, Archivist Berkshire Record Office. "The Place Names of Berkshire" (the definitive work) but no Hazelbrook is mentioned.
2.Maps@bl.uk Geoff Armitage Maps RR Manager replied, "I have checked for Hazelbrook, Berkshire in the Ordnance Survey Landranger Gazetteer with no success".
3. webmaster@BerksFHS.org.uk Eddie, Research Centre, "I have checked in a comprehensive gazette for any references to anything like Hazelbrook (Hazlebrook etc) in England and Wales and no references found".
4.Local Studies Specialist, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Alan Hankin. "The 3 volume Placenames of Berkshire makes no mention of any place called Hazelbrook, there is no village or hamlet by that name, nor river or stream". No record in our Sale Catalogues of house by that name or any other reference in our catalogues of other library material".
5. Enquiries@BerksFHS.org.uk "No place in the 1851 Census for Berkshire with a similar name though there are places like Hazelwood and Hazel Court.
6.Gazetteer of the British Isles, Bartholomew, ninth edition show no Hazelbrook but a number of names with prefix of Hazel.
7. Dr Paul Cavill Research Fellow English Place-Name Society, School of English, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England. "There are plenty of Hazel names in Berkshire but there are no Hazelbrooks indeed there are no Hazelbrooks anywhere in the current Ordnance Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles. The hazel names in Berks include Hazeldene, Hazelhanger, The Hazels, Hazelton, Hazelwood. But no Hazelbrook, I'm afraid.
Other references to Hazelbrook House
The Blue Mountain Echo 5th June 1914. Late Mr William Crane. "By the decrease ofMr William Crane ex-Stipendiary Magistrate at the good old age of 871/2 years .To him there was no place like Hazelbrook where he purchased some 25 years ago (1889) the property adjoining the station known as "Hazelbrook House" and some hundred acres in addition. He always said Hazelbrook must have a great future. . . gave land (donated) for the Anglican Church".
The Blue Mountain Echo 9th March 1917, p3. Hazelbrook. "Mr Bourne has disposed of Hazelbrook House which has been a landmark in the district for the past 42 years.It was built before there was a railway station and from its wide verandahs a most commanding view of the country may be obtained. The purchases have decided to demolish the building and erect in its stead three fine modem brick cottages".
Note: The reference to Hazelbrook House being a landmark for 42 years would make the construction at 1875, but land title deeds show this is not correct and that the earliest date of construction for Hazelbrook House would be 1879.
The record of Hazelbrook House long before the railway station attests to the fact that the name Hazelbrook did not originate with the railways but rather Hazelbrook Railway Station took its name from Hazelbrook House, which was located directly opposite.
Other localities with the name Hazelbrook
No other place names within NSW have been found with the name Hazelbrook a number of books in the Geographical Names Board library have been checked which included.
An Alphabetical list of Place Names in NSW compiled by E G Gleeson 1954, Bailliere's NSW Gazetteer and Road Guide as to every place in the colony 1866 and Pastoral Possessions ofNSW, Hanson, 1889 as well as the current database of the Geographical Names Board.
Hazelbrook Wool Works was located near Queanbeyan, NSW. Ref: www.canberrahistory.org.au this wool works was on part of the Oaks Estate a land grant to Robert Campbell in 1837. This land was subdivided and 300 blocks put up for sale in 1887. Ref: A phone call to Karen Williams 16th December 2003, author of the book "Oaks Estate" said that the wool and scouring plant was established in 1877 but did not take the name Hazelbrook Wool Works until 1885. As this name is after 1880 there is no connection with Hazelbrook on the Blue Mountains.
Hazelbrook House, Ireland. Located in Terenure, Dublin Ireland. When I contacted Hazelbrook House in Ireland has to how the name originated the answer was that Hazel was the name of the estate during British rule and that the owners had just added brook as there is a stream running to the side of the house.
Ref:firstname.lastname@example.org 8th October 2003.
Hazelbrouck, France. The Blue Mountain Echo 4th April 1924, p6. Hazelbrook. Looking though old records a local correspondent found that Hazelbrook was named after a town of that name spelt Hazelbrouck in France. He would like to know if any old timer can vouch for that.
The Blue Mountain Echo 11 th April 1924, p5 Woodford 33rd Battalion (AIF) writes Your correspondent who discovered from old records that Hazelbrook was named after a town called Hazelbrouck on the way to Armentieres.... Hazelbrook may therefore rejoice in processing a much more euphonious name than its cousin (but not namesake) in France.
Note: The above article implies that the origin of the name of Hazelbrook was not commonly known in 1924, less then 40 years after the name was first given to this locality. This could certainly imply that the name was not due to a prominent person or place name.
Persons with the Christian or Surname, Hazelbrook.
People having their name as Hazelbrook is rare. The Katoomba Daily 19th May 1933 records a Miss Hazel Brooks employee of the Empire Theatre at Katoomba. At present there is only one family in Australia with the surname Hazelbrook. Alexander (Sandy) Hazelbrook in Melbourne and his son in Sydney. As part of this research I contacted both of them (Telephone call 24th and 26th December 2003) Sandy Hazelbrook mentioned that his father was born in Maidstone, Kent in England and his mother was Scottish. His parents were married in Ceylon and then owned a tea plantation in India before finally moving to Australia. His son, Simon recalls a couple of times when they visited the mountains the family taking a photograph underneath the sign post for the Town of Hazelbrook and being amused to have a locality name the same as their family name. But they had no idea of the origin ofthis or their family name.
How and Why of Station Names meanings and origins, State Rail Authority of NSW. 2nd edition 1982. Hazelbrook "may have been named after the large number of Hazel type shrubs in the area".
Australian Railway Historical Society.
email@example.com 24th November 2003. Ken Williams "All State Rail material we have in our collection simply states that the suburb of Hazelbrook may have come from a large number of Pomaderris apetala (Hazel) type shrubs growing in the area".
Isobel Bowden (1908-1986) OAM, schoolteacher, local historian and botanical illustrator, confirmed that trees in the area are similar to a hazel-nut.
Ref: Hazelbrook Heritage A Social History of Hazelbrook and Woodford, 1989 page 45
"Isobel Bowden had compared the seed on a tree growing at the back of Selwood (below), with that of a hazel-nut".