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Originally part of the homeland of the Wallumeda People, the traditional owners of the land, Beecroft and Cheltenham are almost unique among Sydney suburbs, as large parts of them are heritage areas. Situated 26.5 kilometres from Redfern Station, then the Sydney terminus, Beecroft developed along the railway line from Sydney to Newcastle, opened in 1886. It was a small platform in the middle of nowhere, named after Hannah Beecroft, the wife of Henry Copeland, Secretary (i.e. Minister) for Lands.  The first land sales took place here in 1887. Cheltenham, named for the home town of a significant early settler William Chorley, was the name given to the railway station opened in 1898, 25 km from Sydney.

Both suburbs became known for their quiet village atmosphere and fine gardens. Despite closer development throughout Sydney over the past twenty years, they retain something of the semi-rural atmosphere of their origins.

Many significant people have had associations with Beecroft and Cheltenham. Some of their life stories can be found here.