Biographies of the Early Aldermen

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Mayor Joseph Nicholas Jolly

Mayor in 1889; Alderman in 1885-92, 96-97

Joseph Jolly was preceded in the Council affairs by Mr William Jolly JP of South Kingston who operated one of the local buses and offered himself as a candidate in the 1863 election.

Joseph Jolly was born on 17 May 1843 and married Mary Ann Scanlon in 1864 and they lived in Wilson Street. He was a member of the Manchester Unity Oddfellows’ Loyal St John’s Lodge. He worked as a painter in Regent Street Paddington in the early 1870s and joined in partnership with Charles Lane.

In August 1879 he won a Council tender to ‘affixing names to lanes at 2/6 per plate’ which is considerably cheaper than the 8/ they were paying for enamelled plates in June 1866 and the £10 paid in 1887. He moved his business to Newtown from 1883, operating a decorating shop in Central House on King Street near the railway bridge and later on the west side of the road three shops south of the Cricketers Arms. He offered services as ‘house, sign and ornamental painter, oil and colourman, paperhanger, glazier, grainer, writer etc.’ One of his competitors in this line of business was Edwin Quartly who started in 1880 and whose company business continued selling hardware in King Street after his death in 1922 (it has been a ‘Mitre 10’ franchise business since the 1990s).

Jolly gained office as alderman for Kingston in February 1885, the very month the Town hall building was repainted. He often complained of unkempt (and presumably unpainted) buildings in the area. He asked for the removal of canvas blinds from awnings in July 1886; he complained of a very flimsy structure in Enmore Road in June 1888 and that the school’s wooden fence should be replaced by iron railings on a dwarf stone wall in October 1888.

He bridled when Mayor Bellemey said Council had no jurisdiction over inappropriate structures except in cases of encroachment (though the Inspector of Nuisances did recommend the demolition of Miss Hudson’s ‘very old and dilapidated house’ in Bailey Street in February 1881 with its ‘great holes and chinks in the wall’). Sydney City Council was able to condemn residential structures from 1887; Alderman Jolly asked in July 1888 that the Government to pass a short act enabling Municipal Councils to regulate the erection of buildings within their own municipality. In February 1886 he complained of the larrikins who congregated down on Camden, Edgeware & Alice Streets in the evenings and on Sundays for ‘playing games and objectionable purposes’.

He was Mayor in 1889 but seems not to have been able to institute reforms for a cleaner, less objectionable town.

An issue put to him in May of that year demonstrates contemporary religious attitudes. Alderman Pierce complained on behalf of Daniel James & others of the ‘obstruction of the public highway’ the congregation and band of the Salvation Army at the Cambridge and Cavendish Street corners on Enmore Road for hours on Sunday and on weeknights to the inconvenience and annoyance of the general public. Mayor Jolly replied that Council is powerless except for the bylaw against loitering (see Salvation Street).

He was Secretary and Lane was superintendent of the Newtown & Camperdown Volunteer Fire Brigade which operated.

Jolly was absent from the colony in May 1887 and frequently absent from Council through ‘severe indisposition’ in his last three years and for two months during his mayoral term. He resigned in May or July 1892 and his death was reported on 27 April 1897.

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