The Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

Steward Family

© Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

The Steward family market garden operated in Prospect for approximately 50 years. In the mid 1920s William Oliver Steward moved his family from Wentworthville to Prospect, were their farm was bounded by the St Bartholomew’s property, Church Lane, (now Watchhouse Rd) and the Great Western Highway (now Reservoir Rd).

In 1930 William Steward sold 4 acres of his property to the Anglican Church so that the graveyard could be extended.

William and Thelma Steward had  6 sons, Charles William who died on 24/10/1921 aged 4 months, Ronald Arthur who died on 9/3/1925 aged 8 ½ months,  Kenneth Allan who died on 7/3/1927 aged 4 years 8 months.  Their next three sons, Douglas, Donald, (known as Curly) and Bruce survived childhood.

Douglas was a fitter and turner with Goodyear’s. Donald and Bruce worked on the farm. When each of the sons married they were given a few acres of the property to build a house on.

Douglas married Aileen and they had 2 daughters, Gayle and Lauraine and 2 sons, Wayne and Gregory. Douglas died in 2006.

Donald married Dulcie Campbell and they had three daughters, Debbie, Kathie and Christine.

Bruce married Gwen Johnston and they had a son Peter and a daughter Joanne. Bruce died in 1985, after which Gwen opened a shoe store with her children in Guildford. When this venture closed, Joanne returned to her teaching career and Peter to accountancy. Gwen sold the Prospect property and now resides with her daughter’s family at Cherrybrook.

The Steward farm’s main winter crop was sweet peas, which were bought by a Sydney florist. Thelma Steward picked and carefully packed them in cardboard boxes early every morning. Then they were transported by her son Donald to Pendle Hill station, where he had to carry them up the stairs and down onto the platform to be put on a train to Sydney. Other winter crops were carnations, stocks, beans and peas. The Steward’s main summer crop was tomatoes. During an average season they would harvest tomatoes from 42,000 plants. The plants would be put out under Hessian in September, so as to be ready for the summer harvest. The tomatoes were picked by the family, sorted and boxed in their own packing shed, and then transported by truck to the Sydney fruit and vegetable market. On the weekend the family would sell them by the roadside on the highway (now known as Reservoir Rd).

They also had 8 acres planted out with 80 peach trees and 2 acres planted out with 100 nectarine trees and various citrus trees. During World War 11 the farm produced cabbages for the army.

Most of the area that this produce was grown in is now occupied by the Motorway and associated access roads and round-a-bouts. The land that was owned by Donald and Bruce is still in private ownership. the remainder is owned by the government and will soon be developed.

When the farm closed down, both Donald and Bruce bought milk runs. Donald’s run was in Lalor Park, Bruce’s was in Smithfield.

After Donald sold his milk run he bought and operated, with his wife, a Streets Ice Cream depot at Mays Hill. They also bred Quarter horses at their Prospect property, which was called the Curly D Stud. They sold their Prospect property in 1986 and relocated the stud to Toowoomba, Queensland.

Bill Steward in his garden

Rear of same packet (enlarged to show writing)

Front of seed packet

Photo and seed packet courtesy - Steward Family