The Tarnagulla Borough Council 1864-1915

Article researched and written by Donald W. Clark.

The Bet Bet Road District, which included the township of Tarnagulla was proclaimed on the 14th January, 1861. The township of Tarnagulla was defined in the Government Gazette of 1861 page 409 and the township of Newbridge was defined also on page 407.

The Bet Bet Road District met on Tuesday, March 26, 1861, at Grant's Bet Bet Hotel, for the purpose of appointing a chairman for the ensuing year. Charles Cameron was elected as President and G. Cook was elected Secretary. Members of the Board were: Messrs R. McRae, T Costello, C. McKindley, D. Kirk, Jas. Forbes, H. McKindley, Jas. Nixon, and H. Bottam. Engineer was R. T. McMillan. Assistant Engineer and Collector was Mr S. Cameron. All of the Board's meetings were held at Grant's Hotel on the Bet Bet Creek until March 27th, 1863.

About the time that the next elections were due, a Local Government Bill was on its way through Legislature, and extended powers which would be given to all local bodies. This caused considerable rivalry between the Tarnagulla and Dunolly sides of the district. The Tarnagulla residents were determined that they would have a much greater say in the affairs of the Board and would have a majority in the new Board; so much so, that on the day of the election, Wednesday, 18th March, 1863, every available person travelled from Tarnagulla, by all types of conveyance, to the polling centre, where they swamped the polls, winning five out of the nine seats, and G. Cook as Secretary.

Two police constables were on duty at the polling centre and at about 5 pm, Sergeant Webb with three constables arrived from Dunolly on foot in heavy rain. After the election was completed and the nine members were declared elected, the meeting proceeded to fix the rate for the coming year. This was finally settled at 3d in the pound. The meeting was broken up several times by brawls, and finally everything got out of control ending in one huge brawl involving almost every one present, including a big party of Chinese who had arrived to vote. Nearly every movable article in the hotel was broken into pieces and all of the windows smashed in. One of the constables present remarked: "It banged a Tipperary election hollow."

The first meeting after the election was held on March 27th, 1863 when Mr Pierce was elected as chairman; other members of the Board were Messrs. McDougall, Hammond, Beynon, Shaw, McBride, Cameron, Costello, and Minto with Geo. Cook again as Secretary. Mr Pierce moved that meetings be held at the Company's Hotel, Tarnagulla, in the future. This was agreed to, and the first meeting was held at this hotel on Tuesday, 21st April, 1863, and from then on until Tarnagulla left the Board in 1864.

The rate of threepence in the pound as fixed on March 18th, 1963 was never collected because the cost involved would be greater than the receipts, but the new Local Government Act authorised the increase in the rates to fifteen pence in the pound. The Board therefore decided that it would collect the rates in the future.
Following a public meeting of residents of Tarnagulla and Newbridge a petition, in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Corporation Act 1863, Section 11, was presented to the Governor. This was signed by 163 household residents of Tarnagulla and Newbridge, in the Parish of Tarnagulla, praying to His Excellency to constitute a borough under the style and title of the Borough of Tarnagulla, within the boundaries as set out. This area included the township of Tarnagulla and the township of Newbridge, west of the centre of the Loddon River.

The Borough of Tarnagulla was constituted by the Governor in Council along the boundaries as set out in the petition, and Robert W Hammond was appointed under the Municipal Corporations Act 1863, to be the officer by and before whom should be conducted the first election in the proclaimed Borough of Tarnagulla. The Councillors elected were: Jas. Ray, G. Barlow, R. H. Burstall, J. Pierce, Thos. Bayliss, Henderson, Martin, Newington, and Prendergast, with Jas. Ray being elected as first Mayor of the Borough.

The Borough Seal was designed to embody the Royal Arms of Great Britain, with mining and agricultural emblems to represent Tarnagulla and Newbridge respectively.

The streets of Tarnagulla, namely, Commercial Road, Gladstone, Stanley, Elgin, North, Beynon, Bulwer, Lytton, Canning, Clyde, Wood, Welsh, Camp, Victoria, King, Poverty and Wayman Streets were defined in the Government Gazette of 1865, page 849; and the streets of Newbridge were set out on page 848 and were, Jennings, Ramm, and James, Nelson, Parker, Market, Gifford, Lyons and Raglan Streets.

Council Chambers

Up until August, 1866, Council Meetings were held in privately owned premises such as hotels etc. In August 1866, the Borough Council amalgamation purchased the two storey building in Commercial Road, previously known as the Company's Hotel, which was built in 1859 at a cost of 2000 pound, for 200 pounds plus an additional 150 pounds for the furniture etc. An outbuilding of the premises still houses the Fire Brigade. The Hotel premises were those which were used by the Bet Bet Road District Board but were later used by the Colonial Bank as bank premises until new bank premises were built at the corner of Poverty Street and Commercial Road. The bank had had considerable work done on the hotel, including repainting and embellishing the interior, the removal of the heavy cornice from the front of the building and having the front of the building Stuccoed.

The Borough Council occupied this building as Council Chambers until 31st October, 1915, on which date was held the last meeting of the Borough of Tarnagulla Council as a separate Council. Present were: Crs. Martin (Mayor), Duggan, Newman, Ison, Ramsay, McKenzie, Jennings, Ramm, and James.

The Borough Council was forced to amalgamate with the Bet Bet Shire Council by an order in Council of 6th September, 1915, and as from the 1st of October, 1915, all borough Councillors were entitled to attend Shire meetings. This was until August, 1916, when a fresh elections took place. The cause of the amalgamation was that the revenue was only 260 pounds which was 40 pounds short of the required amount to permit the Borough to qualify under the Local Government Act.

Cr. J. E. Duggan who was a Borough Councillor for 16 years was the first to be elected to the Tarnagulla Riding of the Shire. He was later joined by Donald M. Calder on October 21st, 1915.

Two Councillors of the Old Borough were elected to Parliament: Cr. Thos. Comrie was elected to the Legislative Council and Cr. D. J. Duggan was elected to the Assembly, and became a member of Cabinet and appointed Minister of Lands.