Interesting Events in the History of Newtown


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1793 - 1830

1793-94: Almost all of Newtown Municipality is granted to Lieutenant Thomas Rowley ('Kingston Farm') and to Nicholas Devine ('Burren Farm'); there are seven other smaller lots ( 20/30 acres) granted to lower-ranking army personnel and emancipists

10th August 1806: Governor William Bligh takes up the 210 acre area originally granted to the support the colony's schoolmaster in 1779 and names it as 'Camperdown'

1827: Camperdown Race Course is in operation near the junction of Missenden and Salisbury Roads

24th November 1832: The Sydney Gazette notes this area is known as New Town; there is a Newtown in Hobart and there was one in Melbourne which was renamed Collingwood in 1842.

1834: Thomas Mitchell & Robert Wardell discuss a road through the area to the south.

1837: Emma Macpherson describes New Town as a flourishing suburb (in My Experiences in Australia 1858)

1838: Accounts by James Backhouse and illustrations by John Thompson describe Aboriginal life in the area, particularly around Cooks River


1841: Sir Maurice O'Connell makes first small allotment sale at 'Camperdown Terrace.'

1843: The Cooks River Road Trust is formed by a consortium of landowners who collect tolls for the next thirty years

26th December 1844: The first St Stephen's Church of England is consecrated and opens c.1846

1844: 'Elegant private residences in the romantic district of New Town' are described by Thomas Henry Braim's 'History of NSW from its settlement to the close of year 1844'.

15th October 1844: The Loyal St Johns Lodge of Masons commence; it will have 1800 members by 1912).

5th November 1845: Writer Daniel Deniehy praises the fresh air and rural nature in 'The Legend of New Town' (published in 'The Sentinel').

16th January 1849: Shareholders in the Church of England Cemetery Company buy 13 acres from the O'Connell family to open up the Camperdown Cemetery; the first burial is Sir Maurice O'Connell himself.

1849: The Wesleyans build their first church.


1852: The long running legal case which became known as the Newtown Ejectment Case started in 1852 and went back and forth between England and Australia seven times before a settlement was reached. It started when a descendant of Nicholas Devine, a 'Micky Devine', came to Australia and laid claim to a large area of Newtown claiming that Bernard Rochford, Nicholas Devine's servant, had illegally claimed his employer's estate. (Account of the Ejectment Case).

Further information can be found on page 86 of the Newtown Diamond Jubilee 1863-1922 book.

1853: Thomas Holt, woolmerchant and Treasurer in the first colonial government buys the Camden Villa estate.

2nd June 1855: The Sydney-Parramatta Railway opens.

26th October 1855: Newtown station opens with a level crossing at Station Street. John Faulkner is the first stationmaster.

1856: Ten steam trains per day service Newtown.

1856: The Newtown Congregational Church opens (on last Sunday in November) on land donated by John Fairfax. It is similar in design to that of Redfern (1847-1964).

1857: The main building of the University of Sydney is completed.  Lecturers Dr. Charles Badham and Registrar and Assistant Professor of Classics Hugh Kennedy reside in Newtown.

1857: Newtown is 'a beautiful village' according to John Askew's 'Voyage to Australia and New Zealand'. At this time the area comprises terrace houses on narrow streets in the O'Connell and Kingston subdivisions. There are large homes on big estates at Enmore and south of Wilson Street. Notable residents include Thomas Holt, newspaper-owner Samuel Bennett, Colonial Treasurer Sir Saul Samuels MLA, banker Felix Wilson, David Hutchinson, chief clerk to Supreme Court and Auditor-General, Christopher Rolleston

15th December 1859: The passing of the Municipalities Act of 1858 prompts local people to suggest municipal councils to supply services and apply rates. Redfern is incorporated this year. 169 local residents (claiming to represent 8000 inhabitants in 3500 houses) petition the Governor for a council to cover everything between Redfern and Ashfield down to Botany Bay.

1860 - 1865

21st January 1860: 718 householders and freeholders of Newtown sign a counter-petition saying that the December 1859 petition would be 'injurious to their interests'. Paddington is incorporated this year.

1860: The Newtown Cricket Club commences at the University grounds (and later moves to what is now Erskineville Oval).

5th November 1861: The Municipality of Marrickville is incorporated.

1861: The census records 165 one-roomed houses in Newtown.

10th June 1862: Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877) opens a school for girls at Rathbone House on Stanmore Road near Fotheringham Street and prepares to open the Greenbank School at Tempe House.

12th July 1862: 223 persons again petition Governor John Young for a Newtown Municipal Council.

August 1862: A meeting, presided over by J Lucas at the Union Inn calls for a municipality (according to the Newtown Guardian newspaper of 13th December 1962).

12th December 1862: Newtown is incorporated and covers 480 acres in three wards, O'Connell in the east, Kingston the west and Enmore south.

16th February 1863: Council's first meeting is held in the Oddfellows Hall.  Architect/surveyor Frederick Holland is voted first Chairman

20th October 1863: A first burial is made at the Petersham Catholic Cemetery.

1863: A public school known as a 'National School' commences in rooms owned by the Congregational Church.

16th February 1864: Doctor Joseph Kingsbury is elected Chairman.

May 1864: Council meetings are held in the School of Arts building.

4th April 1864: Councillor William Curtiss declares that a house of ill-fame in Hordern Street is a disgrace to the neighbourhood.

29th April 1864: John Fairfax, Thomas Holt and the Congregationalists open the denominational Camden College which operates up until 1876.

1865: Henry Munro is elected Chairman.

12th June 1865: Captain Mc'Lerie, the Inspector General of Police, approves Council paying £10 to the local Senior Constable of Newtown so he may assist in the suppression of nuisances.

September 1865: Council discusses buying the triangle of land north of the railway station.

1866 - 1869

16th January 1866: Chairman Henry Munro announces the suspension of clerk W.H.Mackay for using a cancelled cheque.

February 1866: Builder William Curtis is elected Chairman.

3rd August 1866: The Chairman's quarterly report refers to the improved state of finances, and recommends purchasing part of the Wesleyan land on Cooks River Road as being suitable for erecting Council chambers (it is held until April 1868).

26th November 1866: An ex-gravedigger, Robert Tubbey and others testify to Government enquiry into the profit-making company which manages Camperdown Cemetery. They mention that 14390 bodies and 233 still-born children have been interred there; twelve to fourteen coffins packed together (in the pauper-ground, from the poor-houses) and loose earth filled in over them; coffins all 'blow-flied over like a lot of bees, maggots in the water; a pond a mass of putrefaction running down towards the railway station; and a grave left uncovered for six or eight days in the scorching sun'.

June 1867: The Australian Gas Light Company erects a gas lamp at the corner of King Street and Enmore Road for the cost of £9 per annum, on the proviso that Council light and extinguish it daily. Council resolves the following year to light the whole municipality with street lamps; there will be 381 lamps by 1895 with a total power of 26765 candles.

15th April 1867: St Joseph's Catholic Church is being built.

23rd October 1867: Councillor Bailey complains of stagnant water in a hole on Mr Joy's property at corner of Station and Crescent Streets; this will be first of many such complaints.

6/18th January 1868: One person dies in train crash at Newtown station.

9th January 1868: The revised Municipalities Act replaces the terms 'Chairman' and 'Councillors' with 'Mayor' and 'Aldermen', and the municipality is called a 'borough' until 1884.

28th January 1868: Council is overdrawn at the Australian Joint Stock Bank.

8rd February 1868: Henry Munro is elected Mayor.

5th May 1868: The decision is made to take over the mortgage of the School of Arts building at cost £1000 as well as take over its library in order to receive a Subsidy from Colonial Secretary Henry Parkes.

February 1869: Builder William Curtis is elected mayor.

10th May 1869: £635 is spent to enlarge and renovate the School of Arts building as the Town Hall.

1869: The Councils of Cook and Camperdown amalgamate.

1870 - 1875

13th January 1871: St Peters is incorporated.

21st February 1871: Builder William Bailey is elected Mayor and remains so until 1876.  During these years Council's annual budget will be reduced by 1/3.

3rd April 1871: The Governor, the Earl of Belmore and his wife, lays the foundation stone for St. Stephens Church Camperdown and the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Darlington. The illustrated Sydney News considers the Darlington site as a 'most beautiful and salubrious position elevated above all surrounding land, advantages that cannot be too highly estimated when the deprivation of the unfortunate and afflicted creatures to whose welfare and benefit this noble institution is devoted are considered'.

14th December 1871: Petersham is incorporated.

1871: The population of the municipality is 4328 people. The state government gives £300 to widen Enmore Road.

1872: Macdonaldtown is incorporated.

18th March 1873: Council applies to the Government to proclaim Newtown a town, to be known and styled as the Town of Newtown.

30th October 1873: 177 residents petition the Legislative Assembly against the Sunday traffic in intoxicants. The local branch of temperance campaigners against that 'fruitful source of care, misery, drunkenness and immodesty' are known as the Daughters of Temperance, Fourth division (known as the 'Star of Peace') and meet in their hall on Newtown Road.

17th February 1874: Henry Parkes, William Wilkins and over 100 parents attend a meeting calling for a larger public school. Parkes says it is a surprise that so 'populous and prosperous a place' does not have appropriate housing for its 200 pupils.

3rd March 1874: The municipal pound commences in Wells Street.

29th August 1874: Blondin appears.

10th October 1874: Clerk Robert N. Banks (who commenced in March 66) dies.

1874: The new St Stephens church celebrates its first service.

1876 - 1879

May 1876: Council decides that the Town Hall will no longer be let for dancing.

15th July 1876: Henry Parkes and Thomas Holt officiate at the laying of the foundation stone at the Superior Public School to a design by George Allen Mansfield. Stephen Campbell Brown MP says Newtown is one of the largest suburbs in the colony with a larger number of inhabitants than any other in Sydney and refers to the sectarian controversies of the day by saying there is 'no bigotry' here (Town & Country Journal).

3rd July 1877: Council's Nuisance Prevention Committee arrange for the encouraging and carrying out the earth closet system within the Borough

9th October 1877: Newtown Road is renamed King Street and Enmore is renamed Queen Street.

1877: The tollgates at the entrance of Newtown and at the bridge are abolished.

[?]1877/1878: Newtown Station is moved to present site and Macdonaldtown's is opened. 1878 Newtown Station is expanded with longer platforms, a new footbridge and goods office[?]

2nd January 1878: Mayor Smith suspends Council clerk E.V. Llewelyn on suspicion of not accounting for £5/17 rate money received in December.

1878: Newtown's Brass Band commences (this popular amateur band averaged more than 2 performances per week and later received a £100 annual Council subsidy).

1878: A first mention is made of a split in the Enmore ward.

4th March 1879: Council donates £25 to the Volunteer Fire Brigade but declines their request for land next to the Town hall.

4th April 1879: A local Court of Petty Sessions is in operation on a temporary basis within the Town Hall until the Court House is constructed in Australia Street.

1879: The Eveleigh railway yards commence operation and will greatly expand around 1885.

1880 - 1885

16th April 1880: The Public Instruction Act is enacted requiring much school building work; Newtown North Superior Public School in 1883, Enmore in 1887 and Camdenville in 18xx.

4th June 1880: The Police form the No. 5 Division supervised by Acting Sub-Inspector Larkins.

5th October 1880: The rapid suburbanisation in Enmore prompts Council to the need to form a Parks Committee and to select and buy land for public recreation; it is worsened by the University disallowing residents from using their grounds for walking or cricket. The Committee meets for less than ten years and fails to make any purchase.

26th November 1880: The west side of the railway bridge is widened into a triangular shape, 18 feet wider on its north end and 44 on the south; the rail platform is lengthened and there is discussion on another entry to the platform from Erskineville Road.


18th January 1881: The Wesleyan Newington College moves to Stanmore.

28th June 1881: Disinfectant is flushed down drains to counteract the threat of smallpox

12th July 1881: Council is sued for the first time, by Mr D Murray who falls over asphalt.

31st December 1881: The tramline is opened between Newtown and Marrickville; it is considered the 'best-paying line in the system' according to the Aldine History and will later be extended into the city.

1882: The municipal population is now 8327.

February: Cabinetmaker Ninian Melville is elected mayor after a twenty year struggle for the position.

6th February 1882: 616 votes are cast as local options for the Licensing Act.

August 1882: A water supply commences at a standpipe in Bedford Street.

1882: The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital opens on Missendon Road with capacity for 146 patients.

August 1883: After twenty years of complaints of the dusty Newtown Road and a successful trial in King Street in the city in 1880, Council discusses the notion of wood-block road paving with the State Government; 3000 residents petition the Legislative Assembly by 28 February 1888 to woodblock.

September 1883: The Australian Gas Light Company commences dropping the price of gas supply until 30 July 1889 when Council enquires about incandescent street lighting.

12th April 1884: The Town & Country Journal says Newtown has 'spread over the high land with rapid strides' but, unlike Petersham, makes few claims for picturesque beauty.

15th October 1884: The Illawarra railway line is opened with stations at Erskineville, St Peters, Marrickville (now Sydenham) and Cooks River (now Tempe). The Commissioner for Railways declines on 11 November 1885 to rename St Peters as Enmore.

5th December 1884: James Murphy from the Holt Sutherland Company offers to Council the Oyster Beds Paddock at Shea's Creek as a nightsoil depot; 'if your council is seeking a place for the disposal of refuse from the streets and yards of the district, we have no objection to your depositing it and casting it into the trenches facing Ricketty Street'.

1886 - 1889

April 1885: Council is informed that a telephone service will be connected on the proviso there are 15 local subscribers; Newtown's Telephone Exchange opened in 1888 and council has its 'phone installed in June that year.

5th June 1885: The Newtown Courthouse is completed.

24th November 1885: The Ratepayers Association is concerned at 'double-voting and asks that the electoral roll be revised to remedy 'this blot' which is 'a disgrace to on our civilisation'.

9th January 1886: Despite there being a 'large number of cesspits requiring to be emptied', Sydney mayor refuses the dumping of nightsoil in the Botany Water reserve.

19th January 1886: Marrickville Councils writes urging the prevention of further pollution of Cooks River.

16th March 1886: The Enmore ward is split into Enmore and Camden.

4th May 1886: Enmore Park is proclaimed within the Marrickville's municipality but controlled by an independent trust until May 1909.

6th July 1886: Council transfers its account to the Bank of Australasia after 23 years with the Australian Joint Stock Bank.

1886-1892: Quadruplication of the railway line commences. Local streets are being paved with asphalting. Stanmore Fire Station opens

June 1887: Henry Parkes lays the foundation stone for Newtown's new St. Georges Hall; it is designed in what is described as the 'modern Italian style' and the subject of resumption plans in 1890 and 1911.

11th October 1887: Mr Bartlett's Varieties Theatre is i operation in King Street

February 1888: Pharmacist Richard Thomas Bellemey is elected mayor and prompts more discussion on resuming St Georges Hall as a Town Hall.

25th February 1888: The swimming baths have opened on King Street just west of Brown Street, this building will be later converted to Marcus Clarks 'cash store', a cinema and a dance hall.

4th December 1888: Petitioners complaining of large volumes of smoke from the brickyards.

1888: W. Frederic Morrison discusses the state electorates in the 'Aldine History of NSW' and suggests the proximity to the University justifies Newtown's 'claim to be the intellectual electorate'. The delivery of water under the Upper Nepean Scheme is completed.

2nd January 1889: Alderman O'Connell draws attention to the typhoid fever in Gowrie Street in Camden ward. The Herald reports that William Jones, aged 34, of 53 Gowrie Street succumbed to the attack on the 21st, son Edward died on the following day; on Monday daughter Maggie died too; and the mother alone is left. Mrs Charlotte Jones, 31, is now recovering from the fever at Prince Alfred Hospital but does not yet know of the loss of her husband and children. On 24 May 1889, the NSW Board of Health names Erskineville as the suburb where the highest mortality has occurred in the state; the problem of faulty cesspits is made worse by the new railway viaduct impeding drainage to Shea's Creek.

23rd April/21st May 1889: Sections of Newtown east of Liberty Street are to be connected to the sewer being built to serve the Royal Price Alfred Hospital.

26th March 1889: The Trocadero amusement hall and skating rink opens in Kings Street; the minutes for April this year mention a swimming club.

2nd July 1889: Two local newspapers commence publication, the 4-page 'Newtown Chronicle' and 'The Independent' (which closes in 1911). There are thirty hotels in district


March 1890: St. Peters Council writes asking for Newtown's assistance in campaigning for the Alexandra navigation canal; the former nightsoil dump is to be converted into useful factory sites alongside Shea's Creek which is to be dredged and channelled for barges; the Department of Public Works will extend the canal to Buckland Street Redfern over the next decade.

10th July 1890: Newtown is considered as a shopping Mecca serving all the south western suburbs; a newspaper report in the Echo (and/or W. Freame (?) claims 612 were business houses. Compare Marie Ryan (p.63) - " As Newtown produced very few of her own basic necessities, shops were the very foundation of the suburb. 413 shop residences are recorded in 1892, and 20 buildings served solely as shops. Of this 413, all but 57 were found on Enmore Road or King Street, hailed as "another Oxford Street".The remaining 57 were scattered in more distant parts of the borough and were mostly corner shops".

1890: A branch of Sydney Technical College opens in Newtown.


1891: A steam tram operates between Newtown and St Peters station; it will later be replaced by a horse tram.

1891: The population of the municipality is now 17870 people; only three of the mansions, Stanmore House, Thurnby and Linthorpe retain a semblance of their formerly large gardens.

10th January 1892: The new Newtown and Macdonaldtown railway stations open as part of the two-year long quadruplication of the line.

1892: Francis Crago, of Cavendish Street Stanmore, builds the Federal Flour mill on a siding adjoining the old railway station.

1892: Newtown is the fourth most populous of Sydney's suburbs. Marie Ryan, p 4.

1892: The fire station building opens in Australia Street; their manual fire engine will be replaced three years later with a steam engine. Prominent shop-owner Mr Hatte pays for an ornamental fountain at Newtown bridge.

February 1893: A plan to rename the municipality as South Sydney is discussed (North Sydney was created in 1890 when two smaller muncipalities amalgamated).

March 1893: There is great unemployment in the area and council staff are asked to work on alternating weeks on half-pay.

20th June 1893: Dead children are found in the garden of baby farmer John Makin of Macdonaldtown.

14th August 1893: The Governor, His Excellency and Lady Duff opens Newtown post office; it carries more mail than any other office in the state that year apart from those at King Street in the city and Haymarket.

1893: The John Vicars Wool spinning mills is established near Edgeware Road.

1893: Erskineville separates from Macdonaldtown Municipality[?].

13th February 1894: Burwood's Town clerk William Redfearn shoots Mayor William Paisley in Burwood Council chambers.

1895: Opening of the Bankstown railway line.

1897: There are 4668 houses and 22 miles of streets in the municipality.


1st April 1900: Tram depots open at Newtown and Tempe.

1st January 1901: The Commonwealth of Australia established.

1901: The population of the municipality is 22640 people.

1905: Camperdown ratepayers petition to join Newtown this year but it is amalgamated within Sydney City in 1908.

1906: The Newtown Markets are in operation on Newman Street opposite the school.

8th January 1908: Newtown's Rugby League Club is formed.

1909: Royal Commission on Sydney Improvement proposes two branch rail lines to Randwick and Botany branching off just south of Erskineville station.


31st December 1910: The municipality's gas streetlights are disconnected and replaced with 418 electric lamps, there will be 465 lamps in 1922.

1910: The Victoria Palace and Clay's Picture theatres in operation; the Stadium opens in 1912.

1910s: Residents at Sydney University's Women's College in Carillon Avenue describe Newtown as a 'drab industrial suburb'.

1911: The population of the municipality is now 26498 people.

1912: A murder in Gowrie street. Jubilee Celebrations.

1913: A Royal Commission into electorates proposes Newtown be included with the city and eastern suburbs

1913/14: Army Barracks are established at Addison Road Marrickville; it is said that one sixh of lovcal eligible men were called up for service.

1916: Local hotels have 'six o'clock closing' until 1955.

1917: Majestic Theatre opens in Erskineville Road, renamed as the Elizabethan in 1955.

1919: Influenza Epidemic.


1921: The population of the municipality peaks at 28168 people.

1922: Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

3rd June 1922: The Salvation Army builds hall in Brown Street.

1927: The railway is expanded with two island platforms demolished, the bridge widened and the Hatte's drinking fountain removed.

1927: Real estate agents Hardie & Gorman classifies its Newtown properties as being part of the 'city' rather than suburban.


1931: The Mc Kell Greater Sydney BIll.

19th June 1931: The 'Black Friday' eviction battle between police and tenants in Union Street.

1933: Newtown Rugby League Club wins premiership.

1933: The population of the municipality declines to 25290 people.

1935: Additions are made to facade of Town hall.

1938: Lilian Fowler is Newtown's and Australia's first woman Mayor.

1940's - current

1947: The population of the municipality declines to 24933 people.

1949: Newtown is incorporated into the City of Sydney.

1955: Elizabethan Theatre opens.

1962: Mary Reibey's house is demolished for inexpensive flats.

1968: Part of Newtown under Marrickville Council; South Sydney Council formed.

1980: Elizabethan Theatre destroyed by fire.

End of timeline