Shellharbour Council steps back in time with Museum Exhibition

Shellharbour City Council is stepping back in time with a unique exhibition of some of its most historic artefacts.

‘Celebrating 160 Years’ showcases Shellharbour City Museum’s collection of notable pieces from some of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) earliest Council meetings.

Shellharbour Mayor Councillor Marianne Saliba will launch the exhibition at Shellharbour Civic Centre on Friday 14 June at 6pm.

On display are Shellharbour Municipal Council’s first Minute book from 1859, detailing the minutes of the first ever council meeting held in July that year.

The Mayoral and Town Clerk robes and wig are included in the exhibition, as well as the stately Mayor’s chair and the original 1859 Council seal used to stamp official documents.

Shellharbour City Mayor Councillor Marianne Saliba said the exhibition was a fascinating journey back in time.

“Most people don’t realise that Shellharbour is the third oldest Local Government Area in NSW and arguably the youngest city,” Cr Saliba said.

“The artefacts in the exhibition are a precious link to our city’s heritage. Our Museum staff have done a wonderful job curating this exhibition and I encourage the community to visit and connect with our history.”

“Both myself and Council’s General Manager, Carey McIntyre, are proud of the fact that we have a personal link to Shellharbour Council – we are both second-generation representatives. My mother, May Hudson, was an Alderman and Mr McIntyre’s father was a Council employee for 35 years,” she said.

The exhibition will be on display at the Shellharbour Civic Centre until the end of June.

Shellharbour LGA’s History

The Municipalities Act of 1858 gave opportunities for the establishment of local government and 210 people of Shellharbour and surrounding areas signed a petition dated 14 January 1859 to form a Municipality. The Municipality of Shellharbour was proclaimed on 4 June 1859.

Under the provisions and accordance of the Act, the Council had to prepare estimates required for expenses such as tolls, rates, dues, fencing, roads, bridges, punts, wharves and other public works within a Municipality.

The first meeting of Council was held at the Shellharbour Schoolroom in Addison Street on 22 July 1859 with nine elected Councillors:- Robert Wilson, Andrew McGill, Patrick Collins, Ebenezer Russell, William Wilson (Chairman), Robert Martin, William James, William Moles and Joseph Dunster.

Meetings were conducted in a room rented at the Peterborough Store on the north-west corner of Mary Street and Addison Streets, Shellharbour until the first Council Chamber was built adjacent in 1865 in Addison Street.

Stonemason Matthew Dinning, constructed the building from local basalt, and the first meeting in the new Council Chambers was held February 1866. Humphrey Dunster was Mayor.

The Council Chambers served at Shellharbour Village until the late 1890s, when Council sold the building and moved to a new Council Chamber building in Flinders Street (now Tongarra Road), Albion Park.

With the establishment of the railway at Albion Park in 1887, goods were transported by rail, and business in Shellharbour Village suffered a setback. In 1953 the Albion Park Council Chamber was re-modelled with a brick front entrance.

Due to further expansion, the Council Chambers again moved to new premises at Warilla, which opened in 1969. Shellharbour achieved City status on and from 1st January 1996, with the Council now known as Shellharbour City Council.

The Council Chambers are now located within the Shellharbour Civic Centre, which opened in January 2018.

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