MUNICIPALITY OF LEICHHARDT  - A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY LEICHHARDT
&
A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY BALMAIN

 


MUNICIPALITY OF LEICHHARDT

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY LEICHHARDT
Among the early settlers in Leichhardt many years before the incorporation of the area, which included Annandale
(afterwards a separate municipality), were men of mark in the public life of the old colony, and pioneers of commerce, who
laid the foundations of business concerns in Sydney, which greatly prospered and were famous amongst the leading
emporiums of the Commonwealth, The old families occupied large estates, which covered the major portion of the area,
which probably accounts for the lapse of many years between the date of the first Municipalities Act (1859) and its
incorporation in December of 1871.

As mentioned, Annandale was originally part of the Leichhardt Municipality, and one of the strongest minds and most
determined characters connected with the pioneering movement of the colony (Colonel Johnston) made his home within the
area. In 1806 Johnston, who commanded the military forces of the convict settlement, was made a Crown grant of practically
the whole of Annandale and a considerable portion of the former Municipality of Peter Sham, It was from Annandale that
Johnston marched at the head of his troops to Castle Hill to quell the revolt which had broken out amongst the convicts
stationed there. It was from Annandale also that, in response to a requisition from the citizens who were dissatisfied with the
arbitary and tyrannical ruling of Governor Bligh, Johnston marched his troops, with flag and banners waving and trumpet
sounding, to the residence of the Governor and then and there arrested him. Governor Bligh was then placed on board ship
and commanded to leave the colony. Colonel Johnston was ordered to England under arrest and his grant of Annandale
confiscated and converted into a penal settlement by Governor Macquarie, who was sent out to replace Bligh. The Annandale
grant, however, was subsequently restored to Colonel Johnston, who was succeeded by his
son, Captain Robert Johnston, who had been a naval commander.

A very large portion of the Leichhardt Municipality was originally included in Crown grants to Captain Piper and Ensign
Hugh Piper, made in the year 1811. The land was dense bush with splendid timber in addition to thick scrub, and what is
now Balmair. Road was a rough bush track "leading to nowhere in particular", but used print.pally by private
property-owners as a short cut to their residences.

Prior to the incorporation of Leichhardt the area north of Parramatta Road was knowr. as Piperston, but when a Mr. Walter
Beams bought a considerable area of land, he re-named it "Leichhardt" in memory and honour of the great explorer, of whom
he was an old friend, and the district was thereafter known by that name.

In 1873 the houses had increased to 122, the population was about 610, and in 1885 the figures were 2,110 houses and 10,550
inhabitants.

BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY BALMAIN
The peninsula now part of Balmain was one of the first places which attracted attention, bu: the first .visitors do not seem to
have been very strongly impressed with its appearance. It is described as being covered with a dense ti-tree scrub, through
which some gwn trees straggled and struggled up towards the sun. The shores were rought and rocky, and the rocks were
covered with brambles and native currants. Further exploration showed that the point was admirably adatped as a trap for
kangaroos, and it became the custom for the sporting men of the colony to go out in parties and drive a mob of kangaroos
from the plains (now Leichhardt and Ashfield) down to the point.

In 1800 the point, containing about 550 acres, was granted by Governor Hunter to Dr. William Balmain, surgeon of a ship
which arrived from India, as a reward for medical services rendered by him to the colony. The gift to-day appears to have
been a agnificant one, but so little was thought of it as the time that Dr. Balmain passed it on for ten shillings to his friend,
Dr. John Gilchrist, Professor of Hindustance at Calcutta. Hence it was for a time known as "Gilchrist's Place." The old name
however, was the more popular and thus the name "Balmain" remains to-day.

The first settlement was near Peacock- Point and a shipÓuilder's yard was commenced. The growth of the place was retarded
by the want of means of communications with Sydney. The only way the settlers near the point could reach the town was by
pulling themselves across in their own boats. Reaching Sydney by land was out of the question. Some of those who lived on
the flat lands towards Iron Cove and Leichhardt kept carriages and travelled in via the Parramatta Road, but there were no
roads from the point. A track was cleared through the scrub from where the Darling Street Wharf is to be top of the first
ridge, but beyond this there were only a few cattle tracks.

In 1851 Captain Rowntree settled in Balmain and purchased a piece of land at the head of Waterview Bay and with Mr. T.S.
Mort, under name of Rowntree and Co., constructed on his property the first floating dock. In 1854 the original Mort's Dock
was constructed and Opened.

The first steamer which ran to Balmain is believed to have been the "Experiment" owned by the Parramatta Ferry Company.
She ran from Deliottets Wharf, Miller's Point to Pearsons Wharf, Balmain. This was an old and broken down boat, and it is
said that there was a wooden plug in the top of the steam chest which freque:;tly blew out when the pressure was too strong.
This made it necessary that a man should be placed near at hand so that he 'could drive a new plug in when required. The
"Experiment" only ran on Sundays and holidays for the excursionists and picnickers, her fiStit voyage being made in or about
the year 1840.

In 1850 the population was about 1,000 people, and in 1860, when the place was incorporated and comprised 88 acres, the
population was estimated at about 3,000.

LEICHHARDT TO-DAY

In January, 1949, the Municipalities of Annandale, Balmain, and Leichhardt were amalgamated and thus the Municipality of
Leichhardt as it exists this day was formed with the following boundary; Parramatta Road (north side), Johnston') Creek,
Rozelle Bay, Johnston's Bay, Darling Harbour, Mort's Bay, Snail's ay, Iron Cove, Hawthorne Canal to Parramatta Road.

There are about 194 miles of streets and at the 30th June, 1966, the preliminary figures of population were 59,260.

During the year ended 1965 there were 678 factories with 14,684 persons employed therein.

The value of land now stands $80,924,267 whilst with improvements it amotnts to approximately $220,085.315. The collectable
municipal rates amount to $1,690,412.

The Municipality has an area of 2,478 acres with playing and recreational area totalling 1162 acres, and the height above sea
level at the Leiohhardt Town Hall is about 146 ft.

 
   
   

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