The History of Langley Park

Whilst Langley Park was created in response to the public need for open space near the city, the park has had many uses.

Located on land reclaimed between 1921 and 1935 it was the site for Perth’s fi rst airstrip. Major (later Sir) Norman Brearley used the area as a landing strip when he pioneered civil aviation in Western Australia in the 1920’s – a time when aviation was routinely perilous.

Born in Geelong in 1890, Brearley was an aviator and pioneer of commercial air transport in Australia. He moved to Western Australia in 1906 and began promoting his ideas for the future of aviation for the state. He staged his fi rst public fl ying demonstration, complete with the razzmatazz of a band, at the Western Australia Cricket Association Oval in Perth in 1919.

The cricket oval demonstration was followed by aerobics and 10 minute joy-rides at ‘Brearley Base”, now Langley Park. The rides cost £5 ($10), which was then more than the average weekly wage of the time. That didn’t stop people’s enthusiasm, they were fascinated with the aeroplane.

Whilst long-since not used as commercial airfi eld, Langley Park still provides Perth with a location where small, fi xed-wing aircraft can land. This however will cease to be possible once the new Waterfront development is completed.

In 1937 the fi rst section of Riverside Drive was opened by the Acting Lord Mayor, T.W. Langley and the area was named ‘Langley Park’.

The grassed, rectangular area of 900 x 100 m is predominately a fl at open space with only a few trees at the east and west ends and a prominent building on the northern side. This building was one of the fi rst sewerage pumping stations in Perth.

Originally Perth was laid out between Mount Eliza and Herrison Island. The main streets following the lie of the land between the river and the swamps and lagoons to the north, all of which created serious drainage problems. So much so that the Colonial Secretary once asserted “they were living on a dunghill”.

In November 1869, William Dale, Inspector of Nuisances, reported that in recent years there had been much sickness, including fever that was believed to be attributed to sewerage problems. Throughout the 1880s, improvements to the city’s water supply and sanitation were on-going concerns. In 1903, action was finally taken.

Construction commenced on the Claisebrook Sewage Treatment Works in 1906. To improve the effi ciency of this system, the Perth Works Department designed three identical pumping stations to be situated in Mill Street, the Causeway and Hill Street, later known as Langley Park, which were commissioned in 1914.

In 1989, a new central sewage station was built in Perth and the three old pumping stations were decommissioned, with the Langley Park one being transferred to the City of Perth.