The suburb of Chatswood is Willoughby’s largest suburb. It is coloured Grey on the Suburb’s Map.
Just how big the suburb is can be ascertained by comparing its size to the overall size of Willoughby.
Because the suburb it is quite is large it is also quiet diverse. The early development within the suburb occurred at the intersection of Mowbray Road and the North Sydney/Gordon/Lane Cove Rd now called the Pacific Highway. With the coming of the railway line in 1890 the focus shifted to the station area around Victoria Avenue. The eastern side of the railway line, being flatter and hence more accessible developed earlier than most of the land to the west of the railway line which is made up of picturesque gullies and streams.
There is a popular belief that the name is derived from the wife of an early Chatswood identity – Richard Hayes Harnett Snr. Harnett’s second wife was called Charlottle (Chattie for short). It is reported that Chattie used to walk and paint in the woods near where she lived (near current Chatswood Railway Station). Henry Lawson, a ‘friend’ of Harnet penned a poem he called “Chatswood” where he suggests that Harnett named the area Chatswood after his wife:
“Chattie’s Wood” has long since gone, and shops are standing in a row
Where the young wife when a-dreaming in the days of long ago;
How the pretty name was altered doesn’t matter, anyhow;
But the wife is still remembered, as they call it Chatswood now.
Based on reports from local residents who knew ‘Chattie’ there is a conflicting claim as to the location of Chattie’s Woods. This is articulated in the poem “Henry may have got it wrong“.
Willoughby First School
School or Arts & Mechanics Institute