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The township of Penfield was founded by William Penfold, who subdivided section 4057 in the Hundred of Munno Para in 1856 into township allotments.1 The small township comprised of a post office, blacksmith, school, shop, two churches, and the Plough and Harrow Hotel.2 The hotel was opened by Penfold in 1853 and closed after it fell into disrepair in 1893.3 A racing club and course were situated nearby and the Bunyip Newspaper would record the horse racing results.4
Early settlers arrived in the Penfield area in the 1850s. After the settlers had cleared the land it was used for grazing animals, growing cereal crops, and later hay-farming.5
Much of the early housing was built with thatched roofs and had underground water storage tanks or wells. The settlers relied on the storage tanks to gather the rainfall for water supply, as there were no reliable rivers in the area.6 On Petherton Road, Penfield, can be seen one of the earliest houses built in the area. The cottage built of pise construction is known as Petherton Farm. It is believed to have been built during the late 1850s, and has been listed on the State Heritage Register.7
In September 1940, with the advent of World War Two, the Commonwealth Government compulsorily acquired a large percentage of land at Penfield, to build an explosives and filling factory. The Government paid a low price for the land, between £10 and £14 per acre, causing conflict between the Government and the landowners. However, the importance of the war overruled the landowners’ objections. The farming families were evicted from their land, and the township was destroyed.8 After the war the munitions factory was used as laboratories for the Woomera range. Initially, it was known as the Long Range Weapons Establishment and later Weapons Research Establishment (WRE).9 The Edinburgh Airfield was opened in 1954 after it was decided that the Mallala airport was no longer practical.10
Near the township of Penfield is the remnants of a small cemetery, which is all that remains to mark the site of the original Zoar Bible Christian Chapel, opened in 1855. The church was demolished in 1956 and many of the headstones in the cemetery have since been vandalised. The Zoar cemetery contains the graves of early pioneer settlers of the area, such as Eleanor Penfold, Thomas Long and Catherine Way.11
The area in which the Penfield township developed was commonly known as Peachy Belt until 1858.Also known asPeachey BeltGeotag
2. City of Playford Local History, Penfield, n.d.
3. J.L. Bob Hoad, Hotels And Publicans In South Australia 1836-1984, Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, 1986, p. 458.
4. The Peachey Belt In The 19th Century, Para West Adult Campus, n.d.
5 . Sarah Laurence and Taylor Weidenhofer (comp), City Of Munno Para Heritage Survey 1996, Department Of Environment And Natural Resources, South Australia,1996, p. 217.
6. City of Playford Local History, Penfield, n.d.
7. Sarah Laurence and Taylor Weidenhofer (comp), City Of Munno Para Heritage Survey 1996, Department Of Environment And Natural Resources, South Australia,1996, p. 36.
8. City of Playford Local History, Penfield, n.d.
9. Margaret Galbreath & Gillian Pearson, Elizabeth The Garden City, The Corporation Of The City Of Elizabeth, 1982, p. 18.
10. District Council Of Munno Para And Education Technical Centre, Munno Para: A Brief History, Education Department, South Australia, 1979, p. 16.
11. Sarah Laurence and Taylor Weidenhofer (comp), City Of Munno Para Heritage Survey 1996, Department Of Environment And Natural Resources, South Australia, 1996, p. 222.