Summer Hill is located 8 kilometres west of the Sydney Central Business District. Just 15 minutes from the city Summer Hill has an enviable range of shopping and dining options, all contained within a unique village atmosphere.
The boundaries of Summer Hill are defined by Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road to the north, the rear of the properties on the west side of Prospect Road (with a detour around Trinity Grammar School) to the West, Old Canterbury Road to the south, and the north-south goods railway line to the east. North of Summer Hill is the suburb of Haberfield, to the east is Lewisham, to the south is Dulwich Hill, and to the west is Ashfield
Summer Hill features a mix of federation era houses, as well as medium density apartment blocks near the Summer Hill railway station. Local independent business people run most of the shops, with the main shopping area known as the Summer Hill Village.
Summer Hill is a suburb rich in heritage. More than one hundred properties are heritage listed, and the strong feelings of some residents of the suburb towards protecting the local architecture has seen the introduction of a heritage review, which is expected to add more properties to the heritage register.
Despite formerly being working class, Summer Hill and many of the surrounding suburbs have gradually undergone gentrification over recent years. Culturally, Summer Hill is a blend of medium-density European Sydney suburbia, with Italian influences (which are most evident in Leichhardt to the East and Haberfield to the North), Eastern influences (which are most strongly evident in Ashfield to the West), and smaller influences from many other cultures.
For detailed demographic information please visit Council’s online Community Profile
Summer Hill's shopping precinct is centered around a small plaza with good pedestrian access, and is surrounded by cafés and restaurants along Lackey and Smith Streets. The suburb is very small by Australian standards, having a population of just over 6000, in an area of 1.1 km². It features some fine examples of architecture from the 19th and early 20th century.
The Summer Hill flour mill was built circa 1922, utilising the north-south goods railway line that was constructed during World War 1. The silos were added from the 1950s onwards. The flour mill has been owned by various companies, including Mungo Scott, and Goodman Fielder, and then Allied Mills. In October 2007, the mills were sold to a developer, EG Funds Management, who plans to redevelop the mill site into a residential and commercial precinct.
The Ashfield & District Historical Society produced a publication on Summer Hill (1999) - history and architecture of the suburb, A4, 244 pp, illus that is available for $20-00 - ($27-50 posted). Visit their website for further details.
Prior to the arrival of the First Fleet in Port Jackson in 1788, the area of land we now know as Summer Hill, and surrounding areas, was the home of the Wangal and Cadigal Aboriginal peoples. What is now called the Hawthorne Canal (and was originally the Long Cove Creek) appears to have marked the boundary between the Cadigal and Wangal aboriginal group lands. Today there is a small park in Summer Hill, called Cadigal Reserve, located at 1-4 Grosvenor Crescent. A bronze plaque placed by Ashfield Council names the reserve after the Cadigal (Eora) group of Koori people. Iron Cove and the mangrove-lined estuaries of the Long Cove and Iron Cove Creeks would have provided a good source of fish and molluscs, the most common food of the coastal tribes in the Sydney basin.
In the early days of the colony, the stretch of land between Iron Cove and the Cook's River was known as the Kangaroo Ground. The use of this name suggests that kangaroos were then common in this area, and therefore that the country was probably fairly open (the type of terrain favoured by Kangaroos); and secondly, that kangaroos may have formed a significant part of the aboriginal diet.
No record is known to exist relating to the demise of the aboriginal population from the district. It seems likely that the well-documented outbreak of smallpox among local Aboriginal People in early 1789 had a major impact. Governor Phillip not only recorded that half of the local aboriginal population was estimated to have died from the disease, but he also noted that the aboriginal people always "retired from where the diseases appeared" as well.
The first white property ownership in the area that would later become Summer Hill was in 1794, with a grant for a farm to Henry Kable, a former convict and jailor. The land in the eastern corner of Summer Hill was an additional grant of 30 acres (120,000 m²) made to Henry Kable in 1804. A little later in the century this eastern corner would become part of the estate of James Underwood. Underwood died in 1844 and left a will so complicated that it required special legislation before it could be subdivided.
The earliest known use of the name "Summer Hill" was in 1876, for a land subdivision adjacent to the present-day St Andrews church. The name Summer Hill is thought to be a name chosen by the land sub-divider, presumably based on an attachment for England. Local historians regard the suggestion that the name is a derivation of "Sunning Hill" as a dubious story which has no substance.
Summer Hill's largest mansion, Carleton, was built in the early 1880s on Liverpool Road for Charles Carleton Skarrat. The suburb boomed with the opening of the railway station in 1879, and the subdivisions of much of the surrounding area followed. Between 1880 and 1910, the area became an upper-class suburb, and was a popular choice for city-types who worked in banking and insurance. Subdivision of gardens for housing continued in the 1920s and 1930s, and socioeconomically the suburb changed as some of the wealthier inhabitants moved to the North Shore. Demolition of most of the surviving mansions occurred in the 1970s to allow erection of home units, especially within walking distance of the railway station.
Sources: Summer Hill Village Business Association and Wikipedia