It‘s all in the name . .
Glen Forrest has had a long association with the timber industry but the area wasn’t known by this name until 1915. Timber tracks extended south from the York Road as early as the 1840s but permanent settlement had to wait until the late 1870s when Alfred Smith established a steam driven sawmill in the Mundaring District.
. . Boosted by the train
When the Eastern Railway went through, Smith’s Mill became profitable and a siding (and later a railway station) was established to transport the timber down the hill. By the end of the 1890s, all the good stands of timber near the mill had been cut out and it closed. However, the railway’s presence had encouraged the establishment of other industries (and settlers) in the area, which continued to be known as Smith’s Mill.
. . Orchards, Nurseries and Vineyards
Attracted by the ironstone-gravel slopes, Richard Hardey established a vineyard, the earliest in the hills. At first he railed grapes down to his press and fermenting vats on Peninsula Farm, Maylands. Later he built a cellar at Smith’s Mill. An early attempt at a tea plantation failed but nurseries and other vineyards thrived and the area became renowned amongst WA orchardists for fruit trees.
. . Gravelpits, claypits and brickyards
William and George Burkinshaw bought the failed tea plantation block and pioneered the gravel industry in the hills. They could boast supplying Government House and Kings Park. Others went into competition with them. The owners of one such company were so impressed by the quality of a large bed of clay beneath their gravel pits that they registered a new company and Statham Fire Brick Works, that operated until the late 1960s, was the result.
. . New name for new townsite
The government subdivided Greenmount Suburban Lots 144 and 145 into 47 one-acre lots in 1902 and the village needed a name. The name Smiths Mill was duplicated in Queensland and a suggested alternate name ‘Amherst’ was found to exist in Victoria so, due to the wishes of the residents, the name was not changed. Twelve years later though, tiring of men coming to look for work at a non-existent mill, residents lobbied for the town to be renamed and chose Glen Forrest, a valley to honour former Premier John Forrest.
A State Registered Place in Glen Forrest is the Glen Forrest Octagonal Hall.
Mosaic ref: 2006.155 and 2002.248
Photos below: Alfred Donovan and his son Vivian, standing outside their service station in Glen Forrest and (bottom photo) Octagonal Hall, Glen Forrest, in the 1940s.