The History of Coachman’s Park
Coachman's Park is positioned on the corner of Queen Street and Charles Hackett Drive.
Charles Hackett Drive was named after a member of the Hackett family. In the 1960s and 1970s the park was called “Rotary Park” and sometimes “Hingerty Park” but in 1976 officially became “Coachman’s Park”.
Coachman's Park, Queen Street and Charles Hackett Drive St Marys in 1960
Estimated taken 1960s
Photograph from Penrith Library Collection
Charles Hackett Drive
Charles Hackett Drive was named after a member of the Hackett family. He was the son of convict James Hackett sent to Australia in 1826 for horse stealing. “Charlie” as he was known inherited most of the estate from James who owned a big portion of land from Queen Street to South Creek.
In 1937 a part of the old Hackett racecourse paddock abutting South Creek was sold subdividing this area from Queen Street. In the 1960s and 1970s the park was called “Rotary Park” due to the efforts of the St Marys Rotary Club to keep the park in good condition.
The Council had originally named the park “Hingerty Park” but in 1976 officially became “Coachman’s Park” associating it with the Bennett Wagon works in Queen Street.
In 1984 Council remodelled the park with paving, pergolas, park seating and landscaping throughout with funding through the Community Employment Program. In 2013, after community consultations, Council redesigned the park with inclusion of public artworks reflecting St Marys’ industrial and Aboriginal heritage.
Charles Albert Hackett
Image estimated from 1940’s
Photo courtesy of Lyn Forde
Interview with Phil Martin
My name is Phil Martin. I’m a resident here at St Marys. I’ve lived in St Mary’s for 69 years in my 71 years. I’m a retired police officer.
I grew up in St Marys and went to school here. My four children, grew up here and my grandchildren are living in the area as well. When I first moved here in 1949 St Marys was a little village. Queens Street mainly were houses, there was a church, and there was a whole range of other things. There were very few shops in Queens Street.
Well, the Coachmans park, I have fond memories of Coachmans park for a range of reasons.
Coachmans Park was originally developed by the St Marys Rotary Club. St Marys Rotary Club started in 1957 and my father was a member of the club. In 1961 with the 1961-62 Rotary year, St Marys Rotary took on a project that was to develop a block, just off an empty land on the corner of Queens Street and Charles Henry Drive and make it into some sort of park.
They took that on as a project and my father was part of that. At the time I was attending St Marys high school and I use to walk through that area everyday going to and from school so I watched it develop.
Initially it was just a plain block of land and alongside it was then the Crown Theatre which doesn’t exist anymore. The Rotary took it over while it was Council owned and they put concrete paths in and in the centre of the park they built a raised garden made out of concrete blocks. It was in the shape of the Rotary Wheel and then they made it into a garden. Over the years I think it was up until 1971 they continued doing different things to the park - they put a town clock out the front of the park so the connection was simply that.
I watched it grow from just a plain block of land into a Rotary Park and then of course later on it became Coachmans Park because of its association. A lot of people don’t realise that it was a part of a land grant that the government bought and that has huge significance historically.
Well over the years it’s been used for different things. Originally it was just an area where you’d sit and relax. In modern times there were things like the annual St Marys Spring Festival so the park gets used for fairs. A whole range of other things where put in the park with performances across the stages. For last couple of years, for three years actually, I was one of the main organisers of the annual Spring Festival so we used to do most of the entertainment in the park.
We would have the main stage set up and we would have music and guest singers and whole range of other things. Even Elvis Presley use to come along from time to time!
It’s an area where you can relax and sit down - it’s a shaded area with the original trees, oh I won’t say the original trees - those trees have been planted in my lifetime but they do provide shaded area for people to sit and relax.
Researcher: Lyn Forde St Marys & District Historical Society Research Officer
Lyn Forde is 56% English/Scottish, 19% Irish and 25% European. She is a 7th generation Australian with two First Fleeters connected to Ropes Crossing. Lyn was born in Penrith, lived in St Marys, Kingswood and now lives in Werrington. She went to St Marys Public School, St Marys High School and Penrith Business College. Lyn retired in 2005 working in administration.
Lyn is divorced and a great grandmother of four. She has researched local history since the 1970’s and she is a contributor of the History Page in the local Nepean News. Lyn was a Secretary of the first St Marys Historical Society and currently a Research Officer & Vice-President. She is also a member of Encore Historical Sewing Group at St Marys Corner. Lyn has researched and self-published several books on local history, it is the area where she feels at home and where she can research her earlier family and community connections.
- Written by Adam Gatt Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 email@example.com https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
- Back to QSRT 2018 - Windows on Queen Project