THE WAY WE WERE: The first meeting of Greater Newcastle Council, formed from 11 suburban councils, in 1938. Picture: Newcastle City Council collection
EIGHTY years have passed since 11 suburban councils were added to Newcastle council to form the City of Greater Newcastle on April 1, 1938.
For theanniversary, Newcastle City Council has resolved to mark the contributions of the inaugural mayor, Arthur Griffiths, and other civic leaders, and to work with state archives and the University of Newcastle’s cultural collections to develop a “comprehensive historical record of the City of Newcastle”.
In a lord mayoral minute drawing on the work of university archivist Gionni Di Gravio, Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle had its first district council in 1843.
The first mayor of Greater Newcastle, Alderman Arthur Griffiths, and his wife. Portrait painted by Howard Harris in 1938. Griffiths was seven times mayor of Waratah Council before it was incorporated into Greater Newcastle Council. Griffiths sat on Hunter District Water Board for 26 years and was an executive of the Local Government Association for 14 years. He retired from local government in 1948 after 37 years service. Picture: Newcastle City Council
There was “public disquiet” about“theSydney-centric distribution of government funds”. Municipal councils began in themining townshipsaround Newcastle. Eleven of these – Adamstown, Carrington, Hamilton, Lambton, Merewether, New Lambton, Plattsburg, Stockton, Wallsend, Waratah and Wickham councils– were formedin the 1870s and 1880s, before joiningto form the Greater Newcastle Council area in 1938.
Citing a Newcastle Sun article from April 28, 1938, showing a “a loan works program” of £400,000, Cr Nelmes said the Griffiths council, “like this current council. . . appears to have implemented a large infrastructure and amenity renewal that literally paved the way for delivering quality services”.
“Arthur Griffiths was a colourful identity, aseventime mayor of Waratah who waspassionate about seeing Newcastle thrive as a city, and having its status recognised by the government in Sydney,” Cr Nelmes said.
“AldGriffiths was instrumental in the drafting of the Greater Newcastle Act, and steering it through the parliament, in my opinion he could most certainly be considered the father of the City of Greater Newcastle.
“On this anniversary I pay tribute to him.”