The borough of Five Dock, which includes Burketown, Drummoyne, and Birkenhead, was incorporated on the 25th of July, 1871. It is bounded on the north by the Parramatta River, on the east by Iron Cove Creek and Parramatta-road, on the west by Concord and Hen and Chicken Bay, and on the south by Ashfield. lt has an area of about two and a-half square miles, or 1,500 acres, and is divided into three wards viz., East Ward, West Ward, and North Ward.
The Council, acting under the provisions of the Nuisances Prevention Act, some time ago passed a by-law abolishing the use of cesspits, and substituting the dry-earth system. The former have not yet been entirely superseded, but very few remain in use. The faecal matter is removed by contract, and buried in the public park. No underground pipes for carrying off rainwater are laid, there being a natural drainage into the Parramatta River.
The borough is out of the line of the Prospect water mains, and there is not much likelihood of their being tapped to accommodate the district; but should it be considered desirable at any time to do so, there will be little difficulty in the way, as it is merely a question of expense.
Water for domestic purposes is obtained from wells and tanks.
Although only a few miles from Sydney, Five Dock is but sparsely inhabited. Occupying an elevated position, and delightfully situated on the Parramatta River, there is everything to attract population, but the means of transit are altogether inadequate, and such as to deter the majority of business men from settling there.
Communication between the district and Sydney is maintained by steamers and omnibuses, but both run at infrequent intervals, and only up to an early hour in the evening. The nearest railway stations are Croydon and Ashfield, but they are at least a mile and a-half distant from the southern boundary of the borough.
Surveys have, however, been made for a tramway from Leichhardt, and if the scheme is carried out it will have a beneficial effect on the whole neighbourhood.
Surveys have also been made for extending the railway line through Five Dock – from Homebush to Long Nose Point – for the purpose of relieving the coal traffic to Redfern and other stations; but there can be no doubt that if once the rails were laid down arrangements would soon be made for passenger traffic, and then the district would be rapidly opened up.
The sanitary condition of the borough is excellent, the mortality returns being exceedingly low.
The total length of streets is over 80 miles. Of this amount about 20 miles have been formed and metalled, and the remainder are unmade – that is to say, they have been merely taken over, but not improved. As a matter of fact, any money spent on improving many of them would be entirely thrown away, on account of the large number of cattle passing through the district en route to Homebush and the Abattoirs. These cattle are brought by steamer from Queensland, and landed at a depot on the Parramatta River, whence they are driven through the district to the places mentioned.
All the footpaths in the thoroughfare through which they pass have been entirely destroyed. The estimated value of the made roads and streets is £18,780. Only the footpaths in the principal streets have been kerbed and guttered, and a very small portion has been asphalted. Householders benefiting by those improvements are charged one-third of the entire cost. With the exception of the Great Northern Road and Cambridge Road, which are each 80ft wide, nearly all the old thoroughfares are only 33ft in width; the newly-formed roads are, of course, a chain wide. All the streets have been recently aligned, but a large amount of unoccupied land remains to be subdivided, and roads to be formed. The encroachments consist chiefly of fences, and the council are endeavouring to arrange terms with the occupiers for their removal.
The borough was lighted by gas for the first time on Anniversary Day, 50 lamps having been fixed by the Australian Gaslight Company, who have contracted for the supply at the rate of £6 per lamp per annum.
The council employ permanently nine men in the repair and maintenance of roads, but all the other municipal work, is done by contract.
The only public reserve is Five Dock Park, which consists of 28 acres in the centre of the borough. It was purchased by the Government about five years ago at a cost of £5000, and vested in the council for the time being as trustees. A sum of £400 was also granted for improvements; the reserve has been fenced on two sides, and the scrub cleared; trees have been planted, and some amount of trenching has been done, but the ground is not yet laid out.
There is a large extent of water frontage to the Parramatta River, from Hen and Chicken Bay to Iron Cove Creek. Four public wharfs and numerous small ones have been erected, for the use of which no charge is made; but, notwithstanding the unusual facilities offered along the many miles of foreshore, the council have not yet taken steps towards the erection of public bathing places.
The Townhall is an elegant brick building, occupying a capital site on the Great Northern-road. It contains, besides the usual municipal offices, a room for public meetings, capable of seating 500 persons; and provision has been made for a public library which it is intended shortly to establish. It was built in 1885 at a cost of £2000, the site costing an additional £600. There is no fire brigade in the borough, although the latter contributes £56 5s. per annum to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Board. The station at Petersham is the nearest available in case of fire. The only industry in the borough employing a large number of men is Lysaght’s wire factory, which fronts the Parramatta River.
There are, however, numerous market gardens belonging to Europeans, which provide employment for a good many men.
The total number of houses in the borough is 347, and of ratepayers 854. The total capital value of rateable property is estimated at £600,000, and the total annual value upon which rates are struck is £22,771 4s, 6d. The only rate levied up to the present time has been the rate for general purposes of 1s. in the pound, but after the close of the financial year a lighting rate of 3d. or 4d. in the pound will be struck. An extra charge is made for the removal of nightsoil. The total revenue during the last financial year, including the Government grant of of £629 10s. 2d., amounted to £1446.12s. 2d.; and the total expenditure on public works for the same period was £1575 5s. 11d. A loan of £1500 was contracted for privately in Sydney in 1883; it bears interest at the rate of 6½ per cent per annum, and has a currency of 15 years.
In February, 1887, debentures to the amount of £4500 were issued; they bear interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum, and are redeemable in 10 years.
The following gentlemen occupied the mayoral chair during the years named:- Arthur W. Sutton 1871; Timothy Maher .. 1872 to 1876; Robert Murray .. 1877; John Croker .. 1878; Thomas West .. 1879-1880; Arthur W. Sutton 1881-1882; William Budd .. 1883; Samuel Poolman .. 1884; William Billerwill .. 1885; Arthur W. Sutton .. 1886-1887; John Croker .. 1878. Mr. George. Greville is Council Clerk.
(Trove: Sydney Morning Herald, Tues 7 February, 1888.)
Ed.Note: The entire suburb of what is now known as Drummoyne was once an original grant of land to military surgeon John Harris, who named it Five Dock Farm. This later became the suburb of Five Dock before being divided into the suburbs of Five Dock and Drummoyne.