Early settler Captain E. H. Cliffe purchased a 56 acre estate on the waters edge, he named it "Cliffeton" and it is believed that the area's name was derived from that. A hotel called the Clifton Arms was built in 1871 by D. Butters. It was leased in 1879 then bought in 1880 by David Thompson who built the Marine Hotel that operated from 1885 to 1967. Thompson also built a wharf and dancing pavilion here and the area became popular as a picnic spot. In 1906, Sydney Ferries Ltd, purchased the Thompson estate comprising land, the three-storey hotel, wharf dancing pavilion and skating rink. The company built a large circular swimming enclosure that could hold 3,000 spectators, a boatshed and a tramway from the wharf to the hotel. Before First World War, ferries full of picnickers came at weekends. The structure burnt down in 1956. Clifton Gardens is on Chowder Bay Submarine Mining Corps BaseIn the 1890s, a base was built at Chowder Bay for the Submarine Mining Corps. Mines were attached to cables that went under the water from the bay to the other side of the harbour. They were designed to be detonated if an enemy ship entered the harbour. In 1922, after changes in technology that made these types of mines ineffective, the Corps was disbanded. Chowder Bay then became a depot and barracks for Army engineers. In the 1970s it was the site of the Army Maritime School until the school closed in 1997.