History of Jamestown

Includes the towns of Jamestown, Caltowie and Tarcowie


The Corporation of Jamestown was proclaimed on 25 July 1878, although as part of the District Council of Belalie it had experienced Local Government since 1875. Jamestown, like most other town surveyed by Lands Department surveyors in this era, was modelled on Adelaide, with a central business area surrounded by parklands, and residential areas beyond. The township was sited so that the Belalie Creek ran through it, and this provided the first settlers with ample water-and in addition, for the first seventy years, some quite damaging floods. Following the devastating floods of January 1941, when two bridges were washed away and the centre of the Town was inundated by a metre of water, levee banks were built: these, together with better farming practices, have kept the Town free of floods.

The township was named James Town after the then Governor of South Australia, Sir James Fergusson. The streets were named after places in the Governor's home county of Ayr in Scotland: Irvine, Kilmarnock, Clyde, Arran, Doon, Muirkirk, and Cumnock, with Ayr Street being the major thoroughfare.

The growth of Jamestown, following its initial Settlement in late 1871 and early 1872, was astonishing. By 1877 over a hundred stonemasons were employed in the Town to construct the various shops, churches, and houses, and by 1878 most of the business area in Ayr Street had been built. By 1881 Jamestown had a population of 995, a number that remained more or less static for the next thirty years.

With the inspiring leadership of the Corporation's first Mayor, twenty-eight-year-old Dr John Cockburn, later Premier of South Australia (1889-90) and K.C.M.G., Jamestown became a trendsetter for rural townships in South Australia. It was the first town with a tree-planting programme, which was started in 1879. By 1885 21,000 trees had been planted. J. B. Collins, the first editor of the JamestownReview, and William Curnow, the forester at Bundaleer Forest, were, with Cockburn, the instigators of this programme, despite considerable opposition from other residents. During this period the Belalie Creek was dammed for ornamental purposes.

Throughout its history, Jamestown's prime function has been that of service centre for its agricultural hinterland. Over the past twenty years it has also become a retirement centre, with an influx of retired people coming from the surrounding farming districts and even some from Adelaide. The 1981 Census recorded that Jamestown had a higher proportion (15.76 per cent) of its population over the age of sixty-five than any other Council area in the Mid and Upper North of South Australia.

The last fifty years have seen a gradual improvement in community facilities, ensuring that the Town's residents have a very satisfactory quality of life.

In 1954, after the completion of a pipeline from the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline at Spalding, reticulated Murray water was connected to the Town.

The Institute was rebuilt and dedicated as a Memorial Hall in 1957. This building housed the administrative office of the Corporation with its staff of Chief Executive Officer and Assistant Chief Executive Officer.

In 1962 a caravan park was constructed by the Jamestown Progress Association; and in the same year the first grain silos in Jamestown were erected. Subsequent additions gave a storage of 35,000 tonnes in 1984. The construction in 1979 of a fertiliser depot in the same area, using the same railway spur line and weighbridge, has complemented this facility.

In 1966 Ayr and Irvine streets were redesigned and rebuilt, and 1969 saw the standardisation of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway through Jamestown, and the building of a new railway station and stock saleyards.

The upgrading of sporting facilities on Victoria Park commenced in 1968 with the development of twelve lawn tennis courts. Subsequently, in the same area, there has been the turfing of the oval in 1970; the conversion of the Show Society's luncheon pavilion into a table tennis centre in 1971; and the provision of twelve triple-purpose tennis/netball/basketball courts, in the area to the north of the lawn tennis courts, in 1970. The construction of a tennis clubhouse occurred in 1973, football clubrooms in 1978, and a new grandstand in 1982.

In 1978 the first of the Belalie Lodge Homes for the Aged were opened, and May 1979 saw the opening of the thirty-bed Jamestown Hospital, which had been extensively rebuilt at a cost of in excess of $1 million.

In the field of education extensive alterations and additions were made to the kindergarten and each of the three schools. The most significant of these was the development of the Community Library, opened at the Jamestown High School in 1983.

The appearance of the Town has been enhanced through a number of measures. In 1975 the Lions Club initiated a scheme for the beautification of the Belalie Creek, helped in recent years by the Apex Club; and in 1979 the Corporation embarked on a programme of kerbing and sealing streets, and has also, with the Lions Club, planted many trees throughout the Town. A Common Effluent Drainage Scheme was installed in 1980.

In 1984/85, the rate revenue was $151 286.

(Source: "South Australia, the civic record 1836 to 1986")

During 1990 discussions were held with the District Council of Jamestown regarding amalgamation and agreement for amalgamation was reached on 1st January 1991 resulting in the formation of the District Council of Jamestown. Further local government consolidation saw the District Council of Jamestown amalgamate with the District Councils of Spalding and Rocky River to form the Northern Areas Council which was effected on 3rd May 1997.

Jamestown Districts

The District Council of Jamestown was formed on 1 May 1935 with the amalgamation of the District Council of Caltowie, 95 percent of the District Council of Belalie (a small section east of the Travelling Stock Route in the Hundred of Whyte was added to the District Council of Hallett), and the Hundred of Mannanarie in the District Council of Yongala. Local Government had begun in the Jamestown District sixty years earlier with the gazetting of the District Council of Belalie on 11 November 1875. This Council brought Local Government to the whole of the Hundred of Belalie, including the township of Jamestown. The District Council of Caltowie was gazetted in 28 February 1878, but the Hundred of Mannanarie was not part of a Local Government area until it was added to the existing District Council of Yongala in February 1888.

The Jamestown District was first settled by Europeans in late 1840, when John Bristow Hughes established Bundaleer Station. This run (Pastoral Lease115, an area of 799 square kilometres) extended from the Broughton River in the south to Mount Lock in the north, and from Yackamoorundie Creek in the west to Freshwater Creek in the east. When fully developed under C.B. Fisher, the lease carried 47,000 sheep and 3,700 cattle. Other parts of the District were parts of the following pastoral leases: Mannanarie (Pastoral Lease 61), Yongala (Pastoral Lease 107), and Canowie (Pastoral Lease 129)m whose former homesteads are now within the Council area; Booyoolie (Pastoral Lease 38); and Wirrabara (Pastoral Lease 302).

In 1869 the passing of the Wastelands Amendment Act brought vast changes to what became known as the Northern Agricultural Areas. During the following years the whole of the area was resumed by the Government and surveyed into farms with an average size of 130 hectares. In each of the Hundreds a town was surveyed: Jamestown in the hundred of Belalie, Caltowie in the Hundred of Caltowie, Tarcowie in the Hundred of Tarcowie, Yarcowie in the Hundred of Whyte, and part of Yatina in the Hundred of Mannanarie.

The first farmers arrived in the area in the period from November 1870 to May 1871, in time to sow and reap their crops in the 1871 harvest. Late in 1871, the first town blocks in Jamestown were sold; and in March 1872, a saddler, Robert Hall, became the District's first shopkeeper.

The settlement of farmers into the area and the growth of the townships to service those farmers was rapid in the 1870s. It was rapid because the natural vegetation of the largely treeless tussock grassland was easily cleared so that crops could be sown. By 1880 the whole area was settled, and the construction of homesteads and outbuildings, shops, and community facilities such as Institutes, schools, churches and flour mills proceeded at a rate that has never been achieved since.

In 1875, tree planting commenced in the Bundaleer Forest Reserve: the first planting of forest trees in Australia.

Since 1935 the Council has pursued a policy of tight financial control, while improving both the quantity and quality of its road making machinery. Because the Council has an insignificant urban area (the small townships of Tarcowie and Caltowie and the fringe of Jamestown), most of its works program is concerned with the construction and maintenance of rural roads.

From 1950 to 1964 most of the major roads within the District were sealed: Jamestown to Spalding (1950-57), Jamestown to Caltowie (1956-59), and Jamestown to Mannanarie and then to Yatina and Yongala (1959-64). This work was done by Council staff and machines, with the help of substantial grants from the Highways Department. More recently, the sealing of the Hallett road has been completed (1986), a large section of the Jamestown-Caltowie road has been rebuilt, and work will continue on the road with the highest priority: the Jamestown-Appila road.

Since 1936 the Council's method of carrying out road works was changed from a system where most of the work was done by contractors allotted on a tender basis to one where all work, including cartage, was done by Council employees and Council equipment.

In 1935 the new Council took over the District Council of Belalie offices, built in 1900. In 1957 these were demolished to make way for new offices, which in turn were extensively remodelled and added to in 1980. The offices now house three members of the Council's administrative staff, together with the two officers of the Northern Pest Plant Control Board, which was formed in July 1977 to assume the weed-control responsibilities of seven Councils in the Mid North. The Council also employed nine permanent outside staff, including a Working Overseer. In 1984/85, the rate revenue was $250,850.

(Source: "South Australia, the civic record 1836 to 1986")

During 1990 discussions were held with the Corporation of Jamestown regarding amalgamation and agreement for amalgamation was reached on 1st January 1991 resulting in the formation of the District Council of Jamestown. Further local government consolidation saw the District Council of Jamestown amalgamate with the District Councils of Spalding and Rocky River to form the Northern Areas Council which was effected on 3rd May 1997.

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