Biographies of the Early Aldermen

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Mayor William Bailey JP

Mayor 1871-76, Councillor/Alderman 1863-64, 1867-78

He was a builder, he was no doubt pragmatic and the longest-serving of the early mayors.

His place of residence is unclear according to the Sands Directories; in Cooks River Road in 1858, in Station St/Enmore Rd between 63 and 71 (in ‘Camborn Terrace’ between Cooks River Road and Union St), in Cavendish Street in 1873 and in Enmore Rd in 1877 and at Trafalgar Terrace in 1886.

It is said that he belonged to the Church of England but this should be checked as the Sydney Mail of 10 August 1861 reports that a certain Mr W Bailey was appointed replacing Alderman Robert Dunlop to superintendent the Newtown Wesleyan schools.

He built the Congregational School which operated as a Sunday school and regular school. Thomas Holt MP officiated at the laying of the school’s foundation stone on 23 January 1862, saying ‘it is destined to be instrumental in working a great moral reformation in NSW’ (‘Sydney Mail’). Nicholas Trengrouse, a senior draghtsman in the Railway Department and an alderman in Marrickville’s first council, designed it as a large room of dimensions 73 by 33 feet which could be made into smaller rooms with folding cedar doors. Its walls were coloured with french grey paint. William Bailey’s building now functions as the community hall serving the present owners of the church which is now the St Nicholas and St Constantine Church. They added one storey to the building in 2000.

William Bailey received 13 votes in Enmore in the first election in 1863. He voted almost always with his fellow Enmore representative Joseph Kingsbury in his first year. In October 1863 he brought forth petitions for those householders of Enmore residing ‘in a portion of land lying between Newtown and Marrickville’ who wished to be annexed into the wealthier Newtown municipality.

He protested in the 1864 election that Council’s Clerk WH Mackay was influencing voters toward his rival Rowland Hill. It is not known if he stood in the 1865 or 1866 elections, he did sign the letter opposing Richard Cozens in the 1866 election, but there must have been some resentment or criticism of him for when he next campaigned in 1867 he urged the voters, ‘Don’t forget to support the one who lost his seat as Councillor by doing his duty faithfully’.

He successfully campaigned in the 1867 election for Enmore with the slogan ‘Vote for Bailey, your tried friend’ receiving 59 votes. He was appointed to the Finance Committee.

The words ‘hard rubbish may be shot here’ appear in the Council minutes as one of his proposals of 7 July 1868. He was proposing that rubble or fill may be deposited in a boggy slump of land in Station Street.

He was unsuccessful in 1867 and 1870 mayoral elections, but by 1871 Henry Munro seemed to be no longer interested so Bailey was elected unopposed as Mayor for 1871 to 1874.

On 5th May 1874 he drew attention to the necessity of the painting the exterior walls of the Town Hall, which provided an instant reaction. On 30th June 1874 he was obliged to give an explanation for the painting over of Henry Munro’s name on the Town Hall’s façade.

His mayoralty lasted until 9 February 1876 when he stated he would not stand for re-election and was happy to vote for Alderman JF Smith (Smith returned the compliment two years later by suggesting that Union Street West be renamed for Bailey). However Aldermen Abbott, Fallick, Henderson and Cozens were obviously unhappy with this decision. They left the Council chamber and there not being a quorum remaining, the meeting lapsed.

Notable events which occurred in his term were; Council applying to the Government to proclaim Newtown a town, to be known and styled as the Town of Newtown, in March 1873. In January 1874 the public pound was commenced in Wells Street, the Post Office agrees to deliver letters to all householders; the Josephsons sell up the valley; in February 1876 arrangements are made for night-soil to be dumped on property belonging to James and Emmanuel Slade in the Redfern area for 10 pounds per annum (providing pits to be placed in charge of the Council); Government takes over responsibilty of the roads via the Main Roads Act and one assumes that in 1877 all road tolls were abolished.

He was one of the first to complain of the larrikins in October 1872, there were several complaints of ‘small mobs of ruffians on the main road amusing themselves by insulting respectable females’. He wished to sack the Inspector of Nuisances for neglect of duty, but instead settled for an apology.

Union Street West and was renamed for him in 1878. In this final year as Alderman he acted as Chairman pro tem for special meetings held to discuss the Municipalities Act. In the 1880s he acted as a state electoral returning officer.

Subdivision map no N6/157/219 at the Mitchell Library with the date 24 February but without a year indicates he owned 76 lots what was then known as the Rosewarne Estate covering Pearl and Commodore Streets.

He is believed to have died in Newtown in 1907.

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