Northcote a City for 100 Years!
Northcote has been through much change from its early beginnings as a township in 1854, to its current status as a suburb of the City of Darebin (1994 – present day). In 1837 Robert Hoddle surveyed the land and High Street was established as part of Melbourne’s grid system of street planning. The name Northcote is thought to be derived from the leader of the English Conservative Party, Stafford Henry Northcote.
In its infancy, Northcote was a township. In 1864 Northcote was added to the Epping Roads District and, for the first time, was governed by a local government body. The Epping Road District expanded to become the Shire of Darebin in 1870, which turned Northcote into a Riding (an administrative jurisdiction or electoral district). A year later, in 1871, Northcote separated from the Shire of Darebin to become the Shire of Jika Jika. In 1883, Northcote separated from the Shire of Jika Jika to become a Borough. It became a town in 1890 and its population was on the rise. By 1914, the population had risen dramatically to over 21,000 people living in 4801 houses.
The Council successfully applied for Northcote to become gazetted as a City on 30 March and a special Proclamation ceremony was held to celebrate this soon afterwards on the 27 May 1914.
The Proclamation ceremony was held on 27th May, 1914. Thousands of people lined the decorated streets to be part of this historic occasion and watched special guests and dignitaries arrive in a cavalcade of motor cars along High Street. His Excellency, the State Governor, Sir Arthur Stanley read out the Proclamation from a dais outside Northcote Town Hall. He explained to the crowds that the gazette notice he was reading was in fact the city’s birth certificate and he had great pleasure in congratulating the Mayor on a very fine child. This was met with laughter, applause, cheers and singing from the crowd even though it was a very wet wintry day.
A special edition of the Northcote Leader (30 May 1914) was printed in purple ink to commemorate the occasion. It was double the usual size and was sold for the price of one penny. The headline proudly stated “Northcote a City! Citizens Rejoice!” followed by “A city set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Also being celebrated on this day was the introduction of an electricity supply to Northcote.
As part of the celebrations the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Dennis, switched on the supply of electricity from a special switchboard erected inside the Town Hall. The lamps shone brightly amid more cheers from the excited crowds outside.
The Town Hall was brilliantly illuminated for several nights afterwards much to the delight of the local citizens, proud that their town was now a city – and with electricity too!
This year, we celebrate the anniversary of when it became The City of Northcote.
Electricity comes to Northcote.
Coinciding with the proclamation of Northcote as a city was the celebration of the first electric lighting being switched on in the area.
Northcotes more influential citizens were invited inside the town hall to witness the first electric illumination in Northcote. The Mayoress, Mrs. Dennis, at the press of a button, illuminated many globes in the hall, all arranged to spell out “A CITY ON A HILL CANNOT BE HID”
The guests in the hall were brought to their feet at the spectacle. Though some felt it to be a miracle and the reporting in the Northcote Leader declaring that science “does not know” how electricity works, the fact that it had become an everyday event suggests that it is not a miracle.
Out the front of the town hall, where hundreds were still gathered to see the electric lighting display after the proclamation were enthralled by the light shining before them. There were three emblematical designs of ruby globes arranged to spell out the three years of Northcotes advancement: 1883, 1890, and 1914 - borough, town, and city. In between each year were green-lighted six point stars while white globes followed the outlines of the building in all directions. The front of the town hall was described as a “fairy maze of colour and brightness”. This display was described as “fine”.