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2 corrections, most recently by ooohgetyou - Show corrections

FROM VILLAGE TO CITY.

Municipal

Growth

Reviewed.

ENGLISH-SPEAKING people cannot long be without governmental institutions, and as early as June, 1838,   steps were taken to set up a municipal administration for the infant colony. This step was taken under the authority of an Act "to provide for the management of roads, streets and other internal communications within the settlement of Western Australia" under the authority, so far as Perth was concerned, of a body of trustees consisting of justices of the peace and the proprietors of allotments held in fee simple.

IN the following year the trustees were

empowered to make an assessment for the improvement of the town. This ar- rangement, however, did not last long, and, in 1841, the legislation was repealed and the Town Trust of Perth created, which presided over the civic destinies of Perth until 1858, when it was supplanted by the Perth City Council.

The trust levied its first rate in Febru- ary, 1842, the object being to provide a footpath in Hay-street. The owners or occupants of allotments on the north side of the street had to pay 20/ each, and all others 10/ each. Whether they all paid history does not relate. About that time it was the practice of the sheriff and his officers to put up for sale land or property without first describ- ing any encumbrances which might have been over it. This, of course, tended to reduce the prices paid for lots, for buy- ers were disinclined to bid their true value at the risk of finding debts hang- ing over them. A quarter allotment in Hay-street, between William and Bar- rack streets, was sold in 1850 for £30.

Financial Difficulties.

THE Act under which the trust operated

was full of many obvious defects, and the Town Clerk of Perth (Mr. W. E. Bold) has expressed amazement that the  

trust ever managed to function. For instance, there was really only one fixed source of revenue—the tolls levied for the use of jetties and other means of communication, and money could only be borrowed on the security of the tolls. Rates had to be levied for specified works, and only on those property own- ers who would benefit from the work— an admirable idea in theory, but one not calculated to make the trust's financial lot a bed of roses.

An effort was made in 1846 to construct a clay road in St. George's-terrace, and

a tender for £250 was received, but all that the trust could raise was £100! Finally, after the Press had endeavoured to enlist the help of volunteers for the work, the contractor offered to do the job for £110, provided he was given prison labour. In that year a number of horsemen were fined for riding their mounts along the footpath in the Ter- race. Eventually, after a good deal of public controversy, the trust was dis- solved in 1858, having given up the fight against the heavy financial odds, and in December of that year the Perth City Council held its first meeting. The prin- cipal works that the trust managed to carry out were the construction of clay roads and paths. Its first meetings were held at the Courthouse, and, later, they

were held at either the Commercial Hotel or the United Service Tavern.

"Old King Cole."

THE first chairman of the council was

Mr. H. L. Cole, who, on account of his enterprise, was known as "Old King Cole." He arrived at Perth in 1829, and in 1840 built the United Service Tavern, of which he was licensee. An outstand- ing figure in his day, his interests, both public and private, were widespread. He died at Albany in 1866, leaving no de- scendants. Other members of the first council were Messrs. B. Smith, T. Smith, T. Farrelly, C. King and J. Farmaner.

Up to 1864 the chairman was elected by the councillors, but after that date he was chosen by the ratepayers at the an- nual meeting. In the same year the city was divided into three wards. When the council was formed it took over from the trust liabilities amounting to £80, and in its first year receipts amounted to a mere £331, while in 1878 the finances were in such a plight practically all works were stopped. The first loan for permanent works—drainage of the city—

was raised in 1863, and in 1875 a loan rate of 6d. in the £1 was levied. At that time the population of Perth was only about 5,000. The population of the metropolitan area today is 216,000.

With the coming of 1871 an important event occurred in the city's municipal life, the city being incorporated under an Act for establishing municipalities. The Town Hall had been opened in the previous year, and the first meeting of the council after its incorporation—pre- vious meetings had been held in the Mechanics' Institute in Hay-street—took place in the new building. Nine years later the city was given a mayoralty; the first occupant of the office was Sir George Shenton, who played a distinguished role in the public and commercial life of   Western Australia.

Progress in Earnest.

IF the council still had to keep a close

rein on the purse-strings, progress— not necessarily entirely civic—was taking place, and the city benefited accordingly. Telegraphic communication with Guild- ford was provided in 1879, and later with country towns; in 1879 the first sod of the Eastern railway was turned by Gov- ernor Ord close to where the Horseshoe Bridge was built later; in 1887 the first telephone exchange was opened in Perth. With the discovery of gold at Coolgardie the old order began to change, and the calm, placid life of the community was leavened with the excitement of the never-ceasing flow of gold-seekers. Many

Barrack-street in 1870, looking tawards the river.  

of those fortunate in their quest saw in Perth a place that had begun to live, to move forward, and they invested in city lots and raised impressive buildings. A new era had dawned for Perth.

"Of the future of Perth, who shall prophecy?" a visitor asked in 1912. "Twenty years have seen the city grow from a village to a city worthy of the name. Given the fulfilment of the pro- ject of a Greater Perth, future genera- tions shall see a city spread for many miles along the banks of the Swan, with modern systems of sewerage and water supply, fast and frequent trains, widened

streets, noble public buildings, wide open spaces, and, it is to be hoped, a live sense of municipal responsibility." For the greater part a dream came true!  

Greater Perth.

THE quickening of the city's pulse

stimulated the growth of suburbs, and, with it, the need for an expansion of local government. The Perth District Road Board had existed from the early days, but its boundaries were not finally gazetted until 1887. In 1909 the question of a Greater Perth became a prominent topic, and a scheme was drafted for the

union of Perth, Subiaco, Leederville, North Perth, South Perth, Victoria Park, Maylands and Mt. Lawley. It did not come to fruition, but in 1914 the muni- cipalities of Perth, North Perth, and Lee- derville became one body, and, three years later, they were joined by Victoria Park. In 1917 the Monger's Lake reserve was placed under the administration of the City Council, and the Limekilns Estate of 1,290 acres was purchased by the city. The city endowment lands (2,281 acres)

at City Beach were included within the city's boundaries in 1918. Since then the council has spent a considerable sum in developing the beach and property on town-planning lines. A boulevarde to the beach townsite was opened in 1928, and in 1929 the first sale of allotments was held.

Among the bigger undertakings the   council has carried out in recent years are the reclamation of swamp land at Lake Monger, the widening of Mount's

Bay-road, and the construction of River- side-drive and the improvement of the adjacent lands. The council has also been associated with the river reclamation work, and since 1935 it has spent be- tween £70,000 and £80,000 on river fore- shore improvements. The council has occupied its offices in Murray-street since 1925, but with the growth of its many activities this accommodation has be- come insufficient, and the council is anxious to obtain the Government's per-

mission to build municipal offices on the Esplanade, which, it is considered, would add to the city's dignity and save money for the ratepayers.

During the Centenary year, 1929, the city was honoured by the status of the Mayor being raised to that of Lord Mayor. The first holder of the office was Mr. J. T. Franklin, M.L.C. The present Lord Mayor is Mr. Charles Harper, who has been in office since 1938. Mr. Bold has been Town Clerk since 1900—the seventh occupant of that office since

1858.  

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