Named after England's Henley-on-Thames, the popular seaside suburb of Henley Beach began in 1877 as a speculative venture by a group of investors. Allotments were offered for sale, public transport was secured and the isolated village township slowly progressed. By 1883, both a horse tram service and a narrow gauge railway had given impetus to the town's development with 24 houses being occupied by 134 people. However, winter flooding continued to be a regular problem until 1937 when the River Torrens outlet was completed. Housing development then thrived rapidly throughout the township, especially after the Second World War. In spite of some changes over the years, a significant number of heritage buildings still remain today. A walk around Henley Beach with the free H&GHS app will leave you informed, engaged and surprised.
We started our walk along Military Road, at the architecturally interesting Henley-Fulham Uniting Church. Its original gabled building with porch is still standing and can be seen at the back. It has an unusual floor design which is reflected in the shape of the walls.
Further down the road, we found Henley Beach's original police cells at the rear of the former police station. These two brick cells had apparently contained more dead bodies, due to suicides and drownings, than live prisoners. What a reputation!
Also on South Street, at the corner of Esplanade, the most impressive Del Monte was built. Its late federation-style architecture and craftsmanship made the building truly iconic in the bygone era. Originally a luxury guest house, it has now been transformed into a seafood restaurant.
For chocolate lovers, here's a piece of history you might be interested in. Located along the Esplanade, just north of North Street, you will find Haigh Mansions. Yes, Haigh, as in our South Australian award-winning Haigh's Chocolates! Alfred E Haigh constructed this two-storey building, which comprises eight self-contained flats, as a beachside accommodation for his family, friends and associates.
And, last but definitely not least, we arrived at the very significant War Memorial dedicated to those who had served in the wars and other conflicts. What I found special about this memorial are the 28 individual photos that adorn its inside walls - these 28 men made the supreme sacrifice during World War I. A beautiful stained glass window was also created with money raised by the community. Not usually open to the public, we were indeed privileged to be allowed entry. However, a 360-degree interior view of the War Memorial is available virtually via Henley & Grange Historical Society's app.