Increasing traffic made it imperative to improve the route between the Blue Mountains and Bathurst, and in 1830 the Surveyor-General, Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, began his famous road. Descendng from the Blue Mountains by the Pass of Victoria, Mitchell’s road avoided Mount York and crossed the River Lett – below Hartley – some distance above the junction of the streams at Glenroy. In this way traffic was diverted from the original road to Bathurst via Mount Blaxland.
In August, 1836, Edward Denny Day, Police Magistrate at the Vale of Clwydd [Hartley], applied to purchase three hundred and twenty acres at the confluence of the River Lett and Cox’s River. S.A. Perry, Deputy Surveyor-General, who stated that on this area there was or had been a military station requested Surveyor J.B. Richards to measure the land and to report as to whether he thought it desirable to reserve the land in question or any portion of it. Richards replied that there still remained in good repair a paddock of about thirty acres and also a cottage and other buildings which had been very much injured by being unoccupied. From the situation of this portion of the land, and the improvements on it, he considered it a desirable reserve, and might be let to advantage to keep it in repair. The official comment on this suggestion was : “Nonsense! The Government should have nothing to do with such trifling arrangements. If it is not wanted, sell it!” Accordingly the land was put up for sale on January 11, 1837, James Blacket of Sydney being the purchaser. In April, 1837, James Blair, Police Magistrate, reported that William Kay, a life prisoner, had with another convict been left un-superintended on the land at Cox’s River, and that he had been brought before the Bench charged with being out at night, without a pass, and with abusive language. Consequently Blacket was informed that unless he kept a ticket-of-leave overseer on his land his assigned servants would be withdrawn. Blacket replied that he had visited the property twice and his free groom once since its recent purchase, that he had engaged free carpenters to build a house there for himself, and finally that a free man should be “sent to Glenroy, Cox’s River by 1st May”. On May 1 Blair reported that a qualified person had been duly sent and was then residing on the property. Here is the first known mention of the name “Glenroy” for this locality. In the Lithgow Mercury of January 6, 1922, it is stated that “In Gaelic [?] it means the ‘Red Valley’.”
In the Bathurst Free Press in the fifties a new name appeared at Glenroy. In April, 1852, Wm. Macdermott, Glan Roy, Hartley, publicly requested all persons indebted to the late John Macdermott to settle their accounts and creditors to send in their claims. In September, 1853, he offered 50 pounds reward for the recovery of a roan entire, stolen or strayed from Glen Roy, near Hartley. On August 21, 1854, William Patrick Macdermott of Glen Roy married Mary, first daughter of Charles O’Conner of Cox’s River and at the residence, Glen Roy, on June 18, 1855, a son was born. After living at Glenroy for quite a generation the Macdermotts let the farm and settled in Lithgow, where Mr. Macdermott was for a long time district registrar. He died in the nineties, and his widow’s death occurred at North Sydney on October 3, 1906.
The decision to make a Parish Road from Hartley to Bullock Flats [Oberon] via Binda was announced in the N.S.W. Government Gazette of November 2, 1866, and it was proposed to take it through McDiarmid’s [Macdermott’s?] property. Under date February 8, 1867, it was announced that as no objections had been raised to the proposed road it was to opened and made. This road through Glenroy – at a higher level to the right of the present  Jenolan Caves road, and sometimes mistaken for part of the original road to Bathurst – was declared open for public use by notice dated October 11, 1867. On September 4, 1888, notice was given of a proposed deviation in this Hartley-Oberon road from a point within Glenroy crossing Cox’s River to another point on the same road. The deviation was opened in November, 1890. It crossed Cox’s River by a bridge of which the abutments may still be seen a short distance above the present bridge at Glenroy.
Glenroy Bridge, opened in 1901. The site of the military depot of Macquarie’s day is out of view to the left.
This wooden structure, built on six concrete piers, was opened and named Glenroy Bridge on October 19, 1901, by the Hon. E.W. O’Sullivan, Minister for Works. A later deviation of the Jenolan Caves road, entered after the River Lett, bridge is crossed below Hartley, was made at a lower level than the old road on its right. This deviation is the road beside the River Lett that is travelled today by visitors to Glenroy and the caves.
Many people attended the commemorative service at Glenroy on May 2, 1936.
(Photo by C. Price Conigrave.)
In August, 1935, the Rev. W.P.F. Dorph, rector of Hartley and Mount Victoria, approached the Blaxland Shire Council with the suggestion that the holding of the first Divine service west of the Blue Mountains be commemorated. He took as his historical authority the evidence given at that stage by Mr. W.L. Havard in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. XXI, Pt. 1, pp. 68-70. This suggestion met with the approval of the council, who consequently had a memorial erected on the historic ground at Glenroy. The memorial is of local granite, with a tablet of marble, and stands in an area of about sixteen perches adjoining a north-western side of the Jenolan Caves road as it approaches the Glenroy Bridge. By notice given in the N.S.W. Government Gazette of October 2, 1936, this land was resumed for its preservation as a place of historical interest and vested in the Blaxland Shire Council. Mr. James Thompson, of Glenroy, by the public spirit he showed, facilitated the matter of resumption.
A commemorative service at Glenroy was held on the sunny afternoon of Saturday, May 2, 1936, and was attended by a large congregation.
The Archbishop of Sydney (Dr. Mowll) unveils memorial at Glenroy.
(Photo by C. Price Conigrave.)
At this service the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. H.W.K. Mowll, unveiled and dedicated the memorial inscribed with the words:
The importance of prayer was emphasized by Dr. Mowll in his address. Referring to the splendid spirit of the pioneers he stated that everything possible should be done to acquire a knowledge of the country’s early history and that a debt of gratitude was owing to the Blaxland Shire Council for providing the stone of commemoration. In a changing world one should be reminded that pioneers placed the worship of God in its rightful place. Family worship was important, for the hearth-stone was the keystone of the Empire.
Messrs. W.L. Havard, F. Walker, W.A. Macdonald and the capable and enthusiastic organizer of the ceremony, Rev. W.P.F. Dorph, also addressed the gathering. There were present, too, the neighbouring rectors, the Revs. Dixon Hudson, of Leura, W.V. Gurnett, of Blackheath, L. Daniels and R.W. Hemming, of Lithgow, and F.H.B. Dillon, of Lawson. The Blaxland Shire Council was represented by Crs. L.S. Williams (President), J.L.W. Barton, C.A. Commens and J. Morris; the Engineer, Mr. C.R.C. Lundy, and the Shire Clerk, Mr. C.E.W. Brown. Afternoon tea was provided by the ladies of the district.
This ceremony marked the end of one part of the cavalcade past Glenroy, from the coming of the explorers upon the deserted fires of the aborigines, until after the time in 1927 the present King George and Queen Elizabeth moved swiftly by on a modern highway. The pageant is not yet over, and perhaps the best is still to come.