St Marys Council Chambers, 1933

“New Council Chambers,Official Opening at St. Marys:A fine structure”,
Nepean Times 9th December 1933, p. 3.

Since the incorporation of the municipality, 40 years ago, St Mary’s council has been a tenant never possessing a home of its own – until last Saturday, when it officially entered into possession of a fine premises erected in Mamre Road, along side the depot. It was a great day in the town and the important ceremony, which was performed by Mr. J. Jackson, M.L.A., was largely attended by local folk and visitors.

Present and past council were well represented in the splendid gathering with which the elements seemed to have most considerate, unsettled conditions giving way to ideal weather. The present St. Mary’s council was represented by the mayor (Ald H.P. Christie), who was accompanied by the Mayoress, Mrs. Christie, and alderman W.A.Kennelly (ex mayor), J.Irwin (ex mayor), R. Beacroft (“father of the council” who has been alderman for 23 years), L.T. Roberts, L.A.Muscio, P.Thompson, and J.Oag. Other ex majors present were Messers R. Dent, T.W.Brooker, W.Morris, and F.Brell. Mrs.Garner, the first Mayoress of St. Mary’s, was among the gathering and neighboring municipalities and shires were represented by Ald. A.H. Hand (mayor of Penrith), Cr.J.C.Page (president of Blacktown shire council), Mr. G.N. Stuart (shire clerk Blacktown), Cr. Scott (Nepean shire), and Mr. D. Leitch (Castlereagh council clerk). The water board was represented by Messers Cheetham and maunders. The new building is the design of Mr Carfrae, one of Sydney’s best known architects, and was erected by Messers C. and R. Ellis, builders of Rhodes. It has a vestibule entrance, a public office, town clerk’s room, inspector’s room, and spacious council room. It is built of Roughtex brickwork, with semi-glazed mottled tiled roof, and is on reinforced concrete foundations. It is designed on the semi-colonial style. The joinery is of polished maple, and the floors of polished tallow wood. For the work the building relief committee advanced 1000 pounds at 3 per cent interest; the amount being repayable over 15 years. Speeches at the opening ceremony were delivered from the verandah of the building, the large crowd being congregated on the footpath and roadway. Mr Jackson was accompanied by Mrs. Jackson and by his brother. Mr J.N.Lawson, member of Macquarie, was also present. In introducing Mr Jackson the mayor (Ald Christie) said; I would like you to know how much assistance Mr Jackson has been to us in getting these council chambers-in obtaining the money for us and also in extending the terms. Five years is the usual term for a loan from the loan council, but Mr Jackson, by constant work, has managed to have it extended to 15 years (Applause). You quite understand that it will be quite a light load, interest being only 3 per cent. Our thanks are also due to him for his interest in the town, and also for his help in obtaining a grant for relief work. It is the hope of every council to have its own home, and we in St Marys are the proud possessors of a beautiful building, the cost of which is very little more than the rent we have been paying for inadequate quarters. The office we started with, I think, was about 9ft by 11ft. Last year we removed to a one-roomed place, it was not very adequate and we were always paying rent. In 15 years time we won’t have to pay anything, and we will have a building of our own. We thank the architect for the splendid design, and for the builders in the way in which they have faithfully followed out his plan, and also our local men (Hear, Hear). The work of polishing the floor and tables, attending to seating and renovating the depot along side the council chambers was only carried out by a local man (Mr Stanton). I would like to thank all the people who have helped in the past, more especially those who have helped in those functions we have held for charity in the district. They have been a great source of help to me. They came along everytime, and things went on very successfully (Applause).

Mr and Mrs Jackson, by request of the Mayor, each planted a young jacaranda tree in the front ground, each supplementing the act with an appropriate little speech. Mr Jackson was presented with a beautiful bouquet by Winsmore Thompson, and Mrs Jackson, presented a similar gift to the Mayoress, expressing the hope that Mrs Christie would live to have many happy memories of this day. (Applause) Mr Jackson said that he had been asked to perform the simple ceremony of opening the council chambers. It was a small act turning the key in that door, to walk in and declare the building open. But this incident had considerable significance to him. He regarded it as a great day because he wanted to see most earnestly the developing of country towns, and if Australian towns were to be developed, they can only be developed by the public spiritedness of the citizens who dwell within their borders. ‘When I came here to-day and look over these council chambers, it is plain to me that they have been well conceived, well architected, well built, and that with such a start this community can look to the future with complete confidence. It is a great privilege with any alderman to lead the people in his district to better days, better service, better organisation; it is a great privilege for him to be allowed to serve the people among whom he dwells. It is a great opportunity for those who live in a township like St. Marys. It is there privilege under our system of local government to give self-expression through their municipal authority, and when the aldermen that you have selected see to it that there is a central point from which its government shall radiate all the qualities of this structure, it indicates quite clearly that they have a mind in keeping with the traditions of their jobs. It is a great thing to be an alderman of St. Marys. I know of no sweeter word in the English tongue than ‘St. Marys’. Any man entering this village from the hilltop gazing across the panorama, if he dwells here, can feel nothing but pride in the fact that in this township is his residence. It is a township that has a very wonderful history. It has traditions in everything that matter, and is second to none in this great island continent of ours, for it was here in the early days that some of the great standard of St. Marys was recognized. Here was the manufacture of means of transport of such a quality that it reputation spread to the borders of N.S.W., and no matter what modern means of transport exist to-day, there is no man possessing the latest that is procurable in aeroplanes and motor cars, or any other means of transport, who regard it with greater pride than did the men who owned the wagons in days gone by that were built in the little village by the south creek stream regard their possessions. I repeat that a very highed standard was set here. Here about us was built history. We can picture thousands of pilgrims who made their way to what was to them ‘westward ho’ –fighting their way out in order that they might produce, the result of which production was to make austral what she is. In the midst of it all, in those great days, St. Marys –or as it was known then, south creek –played a very important part. The traditions of St. Marys of yesterday are great, but we cannot live on yesterdays. We in this great country have to ask ourselves, what of the future? Your municipal representatives have indicated what they think about the future. They have said by placing this structure here that they believe that progress is the password in St. Marys. ‘In the fervent hope that great things are to come from his administrative building and from the people who comprise the citizens of the district, I wish the alderman in their labours the best results; I wish the people peace of mind and contentment and that measure of prosperity that is due to them, and if they well apply themselves, on this new site, to the work ahead, greatness will be the lot of St. Marys, and those of us who have had any association with it will be proud of it’ (applause). Turning the key in the front door, Mr. Jackson added, ‘I declare this building open for business’. (Applause) Ald. R Beacroft proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Jackson. This was seconded by Ald.Oag, and carried by acclamation. Mr Jackson briefly returned thanks. Mr J.N.Lawson, M.H.R. briefly addressed the gathering. ‘I wish to compliment St. Marys on this splendid building’ he said ‘I want to compliment the mayor and alderman on the tenacity courage and enterprise they have shown, I want to compliment the architect and builders, and I also want to thank the humble but just as important bricklayers, carpenters, etc., on their share of the work. It is quite evident to me that the pioneering spirit with the people of St. Marys is a very active thing, and I hope that it will never die and never languish (applause). The building was thrown open, and the interior was inspected by the gathering. Afterwards the company adjourned to the supper room of the Masonic temple, where afternoon tea was served by a diligent committee of ladies.

The mayor presided after the loyal toast had been honored, Ald. Kennelly proposed ‘the visitors,’ coupled with the names of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Lawson.’ I suppose’ he said ‘that no council is better known in the whole area than is St. Marys. I often accuse the ‘Nepean times’ of living on us. We are a most interesting council. Those of you who know anything of us know us as having a good ‘dinki-di go’, if I might so call it. But I think that here you see us in our less aggressive mood. This is one of the most important historical centres in N.S.W. We are the only people, I think, in N.S.W. who have an old buffers’ reunion. A couple of years ago at a re union, I apologised to the visitors from the suburbs because here they had come through the only dark spot on the road. I was really ashamed of it then but now we have our wonderful electricity scheme. We have brought you to what is now one of the brightest spots on the western road. You have seen the water pipes lying along the road ready to be put in. It may surprise you to know that in may, 1928, this council signed for the water scheme. Like the historic wheels of the poem, the wheels of the water board grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small. Evidently they have been grinding small, because the board had a 10-inch main provided to the boundary; now they are putting in a 6-inch. We protested. But we realised, like wise alderman, that that probably their engineers know best. Perhaps in ten years time or so it will be necessary to run water into a 10 inch main. The idea of council has been to make St. Marys at least equal to the other places on the road. It will be said that we are rather extravagant in having these council chambers erected in times of depression. But we were in a very tight corner; we had outgrown the place that had served us from the inception of local government. We had to get into another place from which we might have been evicted at any time. The government, through Mr. Jackson came to our rescue, and were able to welcome you to a building that is equal of any similar building around here. Ald Irwin, in supporting the toast, said that the visitor he was most pleased was Mrs. Garner, the first Mayoress of the town. (Load applause). In his opinion St. Marys should never look back, it should go right ahead. He believed that the alderman of the past had done all they could; had the same conditions been available to them, they would have got the money for this work. The present council had built the council chambers, and got the credit for it, and he supposed that it would get the credit for the water coming along, but it was to previous councils that the credit was given. He was sure that St. Marys could not have better parliamentary representatives than it had at the present time. Mr Lawson, M.H.R., said that St. Marys had maintained the good old-fashioned spirit of hospitality. Mr Jacksons, M.L.A., paid a tribute to the mayors and alderman, who through the years had been playing their part in the municipality.

Cr. J.C. Page, president of Blacktown shire, said he wished to convey the best wishes of his council for the future welfare of St. Marys. ‘We are just as proud of your council chambers as you are,’ he said ‘because we feel that we are wrapped up in St. Marys. Blacktown and St. Marys have been working consistently together trying to benefit their respective areas.’

Cr. Scott, of Nepean shire, congratulated St. Marys on the forward step it had taken, and explained the similar steps that his council had taken years ago to have a council chambers of its own and residence for the clerk, which had been justified by results. He congratulated S.T. Mary’s council on the step it had taken and hoped that those who had condemned them most would be the first to come along and congratulate them, as had been his experience in Nepean shire.

Ald. Hand, mayor of Penrith, added his congratulations, and said that this forward step would be an incentive to those who sat at the table to greater effort. Penrith had a council chambers that was built in 1881. Penrith municipality was incorporated in 1870, and meeting of council were first held, he understood, on site now occupied by the bank of N.S.W. people in Penrith were clamoring for a town hall, and he hoped that before very long Penrith would have a visit from the politicians for a similar function to this.

Mr D Leitch briefly responded on behalf of Castlereagh council. Some of them would have read in the local press, he said that Castlereagh’s agitation in regard to council chambers was not so far advanced; they were still fighting. Ald. Cheetham of auburn council one of the district representatives on `the water board, said that he brought the congratulations of his own council. With regards to the water scheme, he explained that larger pipes could have been put down if the money had been available. As it was the amount of deficiency of revenue that the councils had to guarantee was considerably less than it otherwise would have been Mr. Cheetham commended the work of Mr. Jackson, and said that had there not been a change of government he did not think that they would have had this water scheme so soon.

Ald. Maunder, of Holroyd council, the other district representative on the water board, said that he was pleased to be associated with the bringing of the water scheme to St. Marys. He gave credit to his predecessor, Mr. Scouller, for his work he had done in this respect. Mr Carfrae, the architect, and Mr. Ellis, builder also briefly responded. Mr Jackson proposed ‘the mayor and alderman of St. Marys’, and referred to the presence of several past mayors. The mayor responded and referred to the valuable assistance of the ladies in promoting this function. The ladies were accorded a vote of thanks, and Mrs. garner, the first Mayoress of the municipality, in responding, recounted her experiences when she held the position and referred to the progress that had since been made. The ladies who so excellently attended to the afternoon tea were Mesdames W.A.Kennelly, J.Irwin, Pond, P.Thompson, Misses Kennelly and muscio, and Jean Irwin.