Vision: John James Galloway, the surveyor who created the core street patterns for many inland New England towns.This is the ninth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture.
Previous post: Designs with success in mind - grand designs of New England
The golden age of
England homestead construction that began in the 1800s and
extended to the outbreak of the First World War also saw expansion in town
Like the homesteads, the first town buildings were roughly constructed from timber slabs with bark roofs near main tracks and water supplies. Those little centres were straggly places.
At Armidale, the biggest Northern settlement outside the lower Hunter in 1851, horse races were held in the dusty main street, while stringybark huts dotted the landscape. It was a rough and ready male dominated place. Order needed to be imposed.
To the Government in
, order was necessary to allow proper
registration of land title and collection of revenue from land sales. The Government
was also concerned about the development of private as opposed to official
townships. Surveyors were appointed to undertake the necessary mapping. Sydney
Scotland, in 1818, John
James Galloway came to
with his family in 1837. In 1847 he was appointed surveyor for Australia New England and Gwydir and setting about his task of
imposing order. In so doing, he created the basic grid structure that would
underpin the later streetscape in inland New England.
Sometimes he had to compromise. When he surveyed Armidale in 1848,
Galloway had to deal
with existing buildings. The grid was meant to run north-south, east west, but Galloway was forced to shift this slightly to accommodate
those building, giving Armidale streets in the old city that slight skew that
The area covered by the grid pattern that would become the Armidale municipality and then city was limited in size to a bit over 3.2 square miles, 2,060 acres, on the old measurement. It remained this way until 1961 when the city boundaries were finally extended.
You can see the effects today if you look at a map. The old city grid is clearly evident, set within the more varied surround of later developments.
A government desire for order was not the only force at work. In social terms, the male oriented frontier society was progressively replaced by families who (and especially the women) demanded an ordered society and increasing comfort. Shops, schools and churches were needed, while those who could afford it began to demand bigger, more ornate dwellings.
The result was a period of town construction that gave us much of the built landscape that we value today. To a degree, the pattern of that built landscape is all about money, as well as time, materials and changing fashion and technology..
In my next column, I will look further at the evolution of that built landscape.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 1 November 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.