Woodford is located 84 km from Sydney. While building the first road across the Blue Mountains, William Cox placed a marker peg near the site of the present-day Woodford railway station in 1814. He named it 'Twenty Mile Hollow' as it was located about twenty miles from the river crossing at Emu Plains and the locality retained this title until 1871. It initially served as a reserve for traveling stock owing to its good supply of water.
The first known white residents at Twenty Mile Hollow were an ex-convict, named William James, and his wife. They lived in a crude stone and slab hut from which they illegally sold alcohol. An Irish ex-convict named Thomas Pembroke, together with his family of seven, was granted two acres at Twenty Mile Hollow in 1831. He established an inn shortly thereafter, which later became known as 'The King's Arms'.
In 1855 it was decided that the police presence at Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls) be moved closer to Penrith and a police paddock and lock-up were established at Twenty Mile Hollow. They were located just up the hill from the inn, adjacent the present highway, between Arthur St and Woodbury St.
Another ex-convict, named William Buss, purchased the King's Arms in 1855 and it thence became known as 'Buss's Inn'. A popular watering hole, it served those traveling west to the goldfields.
The railway passed through in 1866-67 and the original railway station was known as Buss's Platform. However, Buss died in 1867 and the railway probably detracted from the road traffic and thus retarded custom at the inn. At any rate, in 1868 Buss's widow sold the building to Alfred Fairfax who renamed it Woodford House. Consequently the railway station was renamed Woodford which became the official name of the settlement.
Professor Edgeworth David, who taught geology and physical geography at the University of Sydney, and who accompanied Mawson and Shackleton on their trek to the Antarctic, built a house in Woodbury St in 1898. His book, The Geology of Australia, was regarded as the central geological text book of its era.
Things to see
The most significant historic building in Woodford is the Woodford Academy, located on the northern side of the Great Western Highway, between Arthur St and Woodford Av. Owned by the National Trust, this collection of brick and sandstone Georgian buildings dates back to the 1840s. The first structure on this site was a weatherboard inn built in the early 1830s by an Irish ex-convict named Thomas Pembroke. A single-storey stone building and single-storey kitchen wing, which form the basis of the present group, were probably erected in the 1840s when the tavern became known as 'The King's Arms'. A brick second storey was later added to the kitchen and a two-storey stone wing was built, with the group completed in its present form, by 1862. Another ex-convict, named William Buss, purchased the establishment in 1855 and it thence became known as 'Buss's Inn'. A popular watering hole, it served those traveling west to the goldfields.
At the time of Buss's death in 1867 the railway was passing through and, although it brought more people to the mountains, it detracted from the road traffic and probably retarded custom at the inn. At any rate, in 1868, Buss's widow sold the building to Alfred Fairfax who renamed it Woodford House. Fairfax resided there intermittently until the 1880s when it became a guest house to serve the growing trade of holidaymakers.
By 1897, when it was purchased by David Flannery, the property had expanded to 90 acres, though it was soon subdivided. He leased Woodford House in 1907 and it subsequently became an educational institution for boys, focusing on the liberal arts, and was known as Woodford Academy. John McManamey purchased the house in 1914 but it remained a school until 1936 when it served as a residence for McManamey's two daughters.
The Woodford Academy is open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. For more details contact (02) 9258 0123.
It is one of the thirteen historic inns listed on the excellent History Highway Inns website. Check it out at History Highway Inns which offers detailed information about the historic inns in the Blue Mountains.
On the northern side of the Great Western Highway, about halfway between Linden and Woodford, is the picnic location known as Bull's Camp Reserve. Initially known as '18 Mile Hollow', it was set aside as a stock reserve in 1829 and became a camp for convicts engaged in repairs to the road. In conjunction with this, a military stockade was established here to supervise the repairs and maintain good order on the road, particularly with the emergence of gold shipments in the 1850s.
The reserve's present name derives from Captain John Bull (1806-1901). Bull arrived in Sydney in November 1842 and, almost immediately, was appointed assistant engineer and superintendent of road gangs on the Bathurst Road. He was respected by the convicts he supervised as he maintained order without the usage of corporal punishment and gave the convicts decent burials. Bull was moved to Blackheath in 1844 and the usage of convict gangs was abandoned in 1849. Railway workers also used the site in 1866 when the first line went through. Today Bull's is a pleasant reserve with such features as 'The Waterhole', located in a former quarry site, and, on the western side of the reserve, the 'Powder Store' and 'The Grooved Rock'
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