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Australian Colonial Intelligence

Sydney's North Shore Suburbs ~ 1851


Dear Grandpa Pencil looks at early Australian development through journals, official reports and newspaper excerpts of the day. Readers should remember that these accounts are based on personal observations at the time and some have, since, been shown to be flawed.

'Sydney's North Shore Suburbs' is drawn from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: August,1889

North Shore is divided into four boroughs: St. Leonards, East St. Leonards, Victoria, and North Willoughby.

East St. Leonards Town Hall, a brick building, more useful than ornamental, is within four or five minutes' walk off the ferry landing at Milson's Point. The borough, covering an area of between 500 and 600 acres, contains 1099 houses and a population of about 5250. It was incorporated in 1860.

East St. Leonards is not particularly well off for public buildings, but between Milson's Point and Kirribilli Point are some of the prettiest private residences to be found in or around Sydney.

It is remarkable that while East St. Leonards is rich in water frontage, not one yard of the frontage has been reserved for the use of the public as a park or recreational ground.

The Government decreed that one hundred feet of land, from high water mark, should be reserved all around the harbour pro bono publico, but the law seems to have remained in this respect a dead letter.

At Cremorne, formerly known as Robertson's Point, there remains about a mile and a half of the once-extensive water frontage still available.

The borough of St. Leonards, which adjoins that of East St. Leonard's, is six square miles in extent. It possesses 1597 houses and a population, roughly speaking, of close to 8000.

St. Leonards was incorporated in 1867.

Choice building sites in St. Leonards are worth about 14 pounds per foot, although one section at the junction of Miller-street and Lane Cove road, is valued at between 50 and 60 pounds per foot, but this is on account of its exceptional position.

Victoria is an off-shoot of St. Leonards. It is two hundred acres in extent. The Mayor is Mr. William Waterhouse, this being his second year of office.

Victoria ward became a borough in 1871. Victoria contains 779 houses, and a population of between 3000 and 4000.

North Willoughby, the remaining North Shore borough, covers an area of thirteen square miles.

The population is about 1600 and there are just 550 houses within the borough. North Willoughby became a borough in 1865.

Choice building sites in the main thoroughfare are worth from 4 to 5 pounds a foot, and owners evince an inclination to 'hold on' for the rise in values which they are certain coming

Certainly when the line now in the course of construction between Hornsby and Milson's Point is opened for traffic, which will probably be in a couple of years' time, North Willoughby, through which it passes, ought to 'look up.'

The oldest resident of Milson's point is Mr. J Milson, a cheery old gentleman about seventy years of age, who has lived in the Point which bears his family name since he was four years old.

The Point, by the way, was called after the late Mr. J. Milson, who held a Crown grant of some fifty acres or thereabouts early in the century.

Messrs. James and John Milson, his sons, are the only surviving members of the family.

Mr. John remembers a time when hordes of black fellows frequented North Shore, and he has watched many a corroboree danced where shops and stores now stand and busses and cabs ply for hire.



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