Mittagong History Local Government 1
The history of local government in Mittagong (Part 1).
Talks began between Mittagong residents in 1887 about forming a municipality. On the 28th of April 1887 a meeting that was convened by H Childs with a resolution carried by 19 votes to 9 that a municipality should be established. A petition in favour of the proposal was published on the 14th of November 1887 in the Government Gazette. 138 residents who opposed the municipality signed a counter petition and it appeared in the Gazette in March 1888. Objectors believed the Municipality was not necessary until the new Local Government Bill had been passed. They also believed that the town sanitary condition of the town was good, the building were not extensive and were scattered. On the 24th of July 1889 the municipality was gazetted after a new petition signed by 115 people was sent in. On the 21st of September the first election was held with the following being elected: William Middleton, Charles Sheather, Thomas Viles, Robert Snowden, Fredrick Draper, William Richards, Henry W Edwards, Edward Dawson and John Mealing who was the first Mayor.
The Church of England schoolroom was the venue for Council meetings for many years but in 1900 Council bought a building from John Mealing for £510, which was remodelled for municipal offices.
The School of Arts offered its building and assets in 1953 on condition that a new Council Chamber that the Shire Council intended to construct should take in the old building and be used as a public hall. The conditions were agreed to and in May 1954 the Mittagong Shire Council for the new building to cost £30,549 accepted a tender. The actual cost ended up being £43,964 and was opened on the 10th of December 1954 by the Minister for Local Government, Hon JB Renshaw, and MLA.
Kerosene lamps inefficiently lighted the town for almost 30 years. It was decided to erect 35 street lamps in June 1891 at a rate of 3d in the pound. On the 2nd of November 1891 the lamps were lit for the first time. In March 1914 Council appointed a committee to report on a better lighting systems. R Franki prepared a report on an electric lighting scheme, which was adopted, and a referendum was held in 1917 where ratepayers voted in favour of the proposal. On the 6th of December 1924 the Mayoress, Mrs JW Loseby, officially switched on the current. In 1920 kerosene lighting was abandoned and for four years the town had no streetlights.
The Shire Council agreed to take a bulk supply of gas from Bowral Municipal Council in 1958 to establish its own gas undertaking at a cost of £13,000. The Shire president Cr IL Jurd, officially turned on the supply on the 18th of March 1959. Mittagong Shire was the first Council in New South Wales to buy gas from another local authority.
In 1902 a scheme to supply Mittagong with water was proposed and in April 1907 a referendum was held, the vote being 78 in favour and 11 against it. In May 1908 tenders were accepted and AW Tooth at Barkers Creek turned the first sod on The 6th of June. The storage reservoir collapsed in January 1909 and a new one to replace it was completed in 1910. The supply had been turned on and in 1933 a filtration plant was set up.
In 1920 the War Memorial situated at the junction of the Hume Hwy and the Bowral Rd was completed in 1920. In 1922 a programme of road and footpath improvements was initiated. A 1930 report said that Council had transformed the town thoroughfare and has launched a scheme for further improvements. In 1931 the Hume Highway was reconditioned through the town, a storage dam was built, the Sports Ground improved, a concrete drain constructed, kerbing and guttering in concrete done and Station Street paved with concrete, a new road was built over the Gib out of funds from a Federal Grant. Council agreed to another street improvement scheme in 1950, which aimed at tar sealing the streets.
Lake Alexandra has seventy acres of parkland surrounding it. The lake was originally a water supply dam for railway engines hauling coal from the back of Mount Alexandra to the iron mines. In the 1800's it was drained when the Mittagong Land Company and a bank built by a grant of £100 for relief work from the Government gave the land around it to Council. Alexandra Square and the land around Lake Alexandra were reported to be in a deplorable condition in 1924. The Square had been remade and the grounds around the lake were being rehabilitated ten years later.
The Municipal Council bought the old railway dam, next to the Sports Ground as a site for a swimming pool, from the Railway Department for £75. The site was cleared and improved by Council with voluntary help from residents and Mayor Ald. G Worner officially opened the pool on the 7th of February 1931.
The pool and picnic area was named Boswell Park after Mr G Boswell who was President of the swimming club in 1930 and he had an active interest in the development of the area. In 1959 the pool was reconstructed and the dressing sheds, which had fallen into disrepair, were repaired at a cost to Council of £21,000.
In May 1922 the Municipal Council acquired 25 acres from the Berrima District Farm and Dairying Co., which was opposite the Maltings for 1000 pounds. A further 50 acres was bought at a later date with the area being developed as a Sports Ground. Over time the area has been used as a camping area and in 1959 Council established a caravan park with modern amenities at a cost of £9,500.