Soon after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, European colonists began to explore and settle south of Sydney, including the Liverpool, Campbelltown and Camden areas. The area around the Georges River was first explored by Europeans in the 1795. The first land grants in the Moorebank area, located close to the Georges River, were given to settlers from 1798. Small allotments were granted to convicts to grow wheat and vegetables, and larger grants around the Georges River were given to officers, civil servants or free settlers.
Portrait of Thomas Moore, 1840, W.Griffith (Samuel Marsden Archives, Moore Theological College)
Thomas Moore, a ship’s carpenter, arrived in Australia in 1796 and was appointed as Master Boat Builder in the dockyard at Port Jackson and Surveyor of Timber. He married convict Rachael Turner in 1797. In 1809, Moore was awarded 1300 acres of land along the Georges River’s eastern bank. Naming the property Moore Bank, Moore supplied the fledgling Colony with meat and timber from his rich land. Moore became the first citizen of Liverpool and was commissioned by Governor Macquarie to oversee the building of the Liverpool township. Moore acquired great wealth through his property, building, farming, banking and business interests, steadily adding to his land grants to became one the Colony’s largest landholders. He was a generous benefactor to churches and banks in Liverpool and Sydney. By the mid-1820s, Moore was residing in Liverpool and leasing out the Moorebank estate. Moore died without an heir in 1840, leaving his 6400-acre Moorebank estate to the Church of England. The Church leased parts of the land to new arrivals in Australia, particularly farmers and gardeners. In 1856, the Church established Moore Theological College at Moore’s former Liverpool residence in Elizabeth Street. After over thirty years in its Liverpool location, Moore Theological College was relocated to Newtown in 1891.
In 1895, William Alexander Smith built a brick cottage called Arpafeelie in Moorebank Avenue. The cottage ended up playing a role in the military development of the site. Lord Kitchener stayed at Arpafeelie in January 1910 during his military review at Liverpool. During WWI, the cottage was an Army isolation ward and nurses’ home. Arpafeelie was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1926 and used an officers’ mess, nurses’ home and quarters for Signal Corps members of the Australian Women’s Army Service during World War II and Army Special Investigation Services during the Vietnam War. The cottage was renamed ‘Kitchener House’ in the late 1950s, honouring the late Lord Kitchener.
The façade of Moore College, 1890 (Samuel Marsden Archives, Moore Theological College)
View of cottage used as HQ during Lord Kitchener’s visit, c1910 (Australian War Memorial)
Nurses home at the Liverpool camp, 1915. (National Library of Australian, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ 1915)
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