Council’s sesquicentenary today

The council’s first minute book.

TWO pubs and a police station were the polling places for the Derwent Valley’s first municipal election 150 years ago today. Fifteen candidates contested the six available positions on the then Rural Municipality of New Norfolk. Voters turned out to cast their votes at the police office in New Norfolk and at the Gretna Green Hotel, Gretna, and Fentons Arms Inn, Glenora.

In order of the votes received, the candidates were Walter Angus Bethune Jamieson 188, William Dean 182, Ralph Terry 162, John Anthony Moore 157, Ebeneezer Shoobridge 142, William George Salier 136, George Francis Huston 132, Henry Lloyd 130, Michael Fenton junior 129, Alexander Riddock 128, William Cahill 116, George Nicholls 63, Ebeneezer Geiss 61, William Blyth 51 and Joseph Richards 26.

The council’s inaugural meeting was held on the same day as the election. Business at the first meeting included electing warden (mayor) and appointing a council clerk (general manager) and a superintendent of police. The most successful candidate in that day’s election, Walter Jamieson, was unanimously elected warden of the municipality, with a salary of 100 Pounds per annum (about $13,000).

The meeting instructed the warden to ask that the police buildings be transferred to the municipality for use as council chambers. This office would serve a triple role as police station, court house and council chambers for the next 70 years. In 1933 the council turned its gaze to the library hall at the opposite end of High St and lobbied the government to hand it over for remodelling into the municipal offices that are still in use today.

In 1996 the New Norfolk Council was renamed the Derwent Valley Council, with boundaries considerably different to those of 1863.

Minutes of the first council meeting, March 18, 1863.

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