The Makings of a City History Conference 2006


Kings, Councillors and Colonial Things

Penrith City Library held its 5th Annual History Conference on Saturday 18 March 2006

We screened the Squatter’s daughter on Friday night to about 30 people. As usual it went down very well. There were about 80 people at our conference. His Worship the Mayor Councillor John Thain opened proceeding and was later called upon to launch our local government pages. Please have a look at http://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/index.asp?id=927. They are all there – every alderman/alderwoman/councillor since 1871 from every council. Graeme Seaman has done a great job for us in spending practically every Wednesday at Penrith City Library volunteering his time to collate them.

Our speakers once again were wonderful and provided participants with a mine of useful information.

In the afternoon, we investigated the significance of local government in our history . In 1871, Penrith became the first town in the district to become incorporated as a municipality, followed by St Marys in 1890, Mulgoa in 1893, and Castlereagh in 1895. In 2006, we are celebrating, over 100 years of local government along with the rest of New South Wales. We are particularly celebrating the fact that our district was incorporated over 30 years before the State Government enforced incorporation across the state in 1906.

Jim Mason, OAM and Pat Curry both former employees of Penrith City Council and now volunteers at Penrith City Library, entertained us on the politics of local government. Jim worked at Penrith City Council for 45 years. He recalled when he first started at Council and how times have changed. Pat, who has been indexing the Nepean Times for many years, discussed the political side of the paper and its commentary on local political affairs. She also demonstrated the benefits to researchers of the index to our local newspapers. Jim thought he could not talk for half an hour, well it was a challenge for our Conference Co-ordinator, Alison, to stop him!

We also launched our photographic database on the web at http://photosau.com/penrith/scripts/home.asp City Librarian Colin Stevenson launched the database with much pride.

Subtitled this year: Kings, Councillors and Colonial Things , the Conference looked at the impact on the local area of the King family. In 1806, Governor Philip Gidley King, granted huge tracts of land around South Creek to his children. Phillip, Anna Maria, Elizabeth and Mary. In the following year, Governor Bligh granted a further 790 acres to King’s wife, Anna Josepha. These grants expanded to over 4000 acres, from Kingswood to Ropes Creek.

Dr George Parsons from Macquarie University presented a talk on Governor King, the man and his influence on the colony. Norma Thorburn, President of the St Marys Historical Society followed with a history of the development of St Marys as a town with reference to the land donated by the King family for St Mary Magdalene Church of England.

Dr James Broadbent , historian and conservator continued the colonial theme by discussing the styles and background to the many colonial homes in the City.

During the Conference two significant launches were made by Penrith City Library:

* The launch of the Library’s significant Photographic Collection on the Web by City Librarian Colin Stevenson.

* The Launch of the Council’s local government history pages . The Library’s Research staff, with the help of volunteers, have significantly expanded these pages. This web site now includes a list of every person who has been elected onto any of the past or present Councils in the City. Short biographies of the Mayors and photographs (if we have one) will also be included.

The History Conference – a professional job well done by all staff involved. My thanks to all of you, you have done us proud!

Lorraine Stacker
Research Services
Penrith City Library