Parramatta Stories

Hundreds of research posts of historical interest

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Waves of People

Parramatta movements, arrivals, migrations

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Welcome to the City of Parramatta Council Research & Collection Services

The Research and Collection Services (RCS) team operates out of the Heritage and Visitor Information Centre.

We manage, preserve and document the history of our local government and the people, places, art, events, and natural and built environments which have contributed to the rich history of Parramatta’s communities – from Aboriginal peoples from 40,000 years ago, to the arrival of Europeans in 1788 and successive waves of migration.

You can explore the digital archives, collections and photographic records online, use the resources of the Research Library which is open six days a week or contact our expert team by phone or online form. Research and Collection Services also regularly holds events, workshops and community talks.

Parramatta and World War One

In 2018, we mark the Centenary of the end of ‘The Great War,’ World War One, which endured from 4 August 1914 to 11 November 1918.

We have compiled the biographies of 1,962 soldiers, seamen and nurses from the Parramatta District, the culmination of a four-year project. Read about the stories of dedication, courage and loss and view the interactive touch table display in the Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre.

We’re also publishing a range of eBooks from our ‘World War One’ series, starting with ‘Parramatta Nurses’ and ‘Indian Soldiers’.

Parramatta Timeline 1788 - Present

A chronological list of events from Parramatta’s early colonial settlement to the present.

1788 24 April. Site of Parramatta chosen by Governor Phillip.
1788 2 November. Settlement at Rose Hill (now Parramatta) founded.
1788 King’s Wharf, Parramatta, established.
1789 1 November. James Ruse established the first private farm in Australia.
1789 November. First wheat crop harvested at Rose Hill.
1790 June. First burial in St. John’s Cemetery.
1790 Parramatta Town laid out.
1791 James Ruse granted 30 acres.
1791 Australia’s first grape vines planted in the Governor’s garden, Parramatta Park
 1791  30 March.  Experiment Farm, No. 1 grant.
1791 May. Military barracks completed.
1791 4 June. Rose Hill renamed Parramatta
1792 First Public House erected.
1792 Foundations laid for the first Town Hall site in Parramatta.
1792 22 February. John Irving, Australia’s first emancipated convict, granted land on the Parramatta River.
1793 Elizabeth Farm House built.
1793 First road constructed to Parramatta. An unsealed road travelled from Sydney to current Flemmington then to Mona Street, South Granville and then to the south of Parramatta around Pitt and Church Street.
1796 Sydney’s first Gaols built in Alfred Park and in Sydney Town.
1796 September. First Church opened.
1799 First part Old Government House, Australia’s oldest surviving public building, completed.
1799 First Parramatta Gaol burns down.
1801 17 August. Female Ophan School opens.
1803 9 April. First St. John’s Church opened.
1803 Female Factory set up in conjunction with the new gaol for the manufacture of woollen and linen cloth by female convicts.
1804 New gaol for male convicts completed in Prince Alfred Park.
1810 April. First horse-race held in Parramatta.
1810 John Eyre’s school opened.
1811 Town extended by Macquarie
1812 Map of the town by James Meehan, Deputy Surveyor.
1814 ‘Native Institution’ school for Aboriginal people founded.
1816 New St John’s Parsonage built.
1818 New Hospital erected.
1818 Parramatta Orphan School completed.
1820 Military barracks completed
1820 Convict Barrack erected.
1820 Towers of St. John’s Church completed.
1821 Brislington House built.
1821 New Female Factory at North Parramatta – the Second Female Factory – completed.
1821 First Methodist Church/ Parramatta Wesleyan built.
1822 Aboriginal Meetings in Parramatta Square, 1822-1833
1822 Agricultural Society established.
1823 Parramatta Observatory erected.
1825 Foundation stone of the Darling Mills (Flour) laid
on site of present Sydney Woollen Mills.
1828 First Post Office built in Parramatta
1828 Work begins on Howell’s wind and water mill
1832 13 February. The first King’s School opened at Harrisford House.
1836 January. The Second King’s School building completed above the weir North Parramatta.
1839 Lennox Bridge completed.
1839 A second Wesleyan Church built replacing the church built in 1821. This “Regency” style church later served as a hall and after 1900 this hall was called as “Macquarie Hall”.
1840 Harvey’s Mill built and begins operations between 1840 and 1841.
1840 John Ireland and Issac Titterton proprietors of White Horse Hotel
1841 Byrnes Bros. Flour Mills erected. Later used as a cloth mill.
1842 Third Parramatta Gaol opens Clifford and Dunlop Streets  
1843 Parramatta’s first newspaper “The Parramatta
Chronicle” published.
1843 Second St. John’s Church opened
1855 26 September. 1st Railway opened to Parramatta Junction near Granville.
1856 Dam at Lake Parramatta completed.
1857 Parramatta Park Created
1859 Parramatta Fire Brigade established.
1860 Parramatta Rifle Corps formed
1860 4 July rail line extended to current Parramatta Station.
1861 November. Parramatta incorporated as a municipality.
1863 Ranleigh House built.
1868 Municipality styled a ‘Borough’.
1870 Parramatta Amateur Dramatic Society formed.
1872 Parramatta Gas Company purchased land on the Parramatta River.
1872 19 May. Congregational Church building opened.
1873 Gas turned into town mains for first time.
1881 First Parramatta Council Chambers erected.
1882 Anderson Fountain erected.
1883 Parramatta Town Hall completed.
1885 The third Wesleyan Church opens. This church, which was named “Leigh Memorial” in 1899 by Methodist Conference, still stands today.
1888 Foundation Stone of the Centennial Fountain laid.
1888 15 September. Centennial Baths opened.
1889 8 February. The King’s School new chapel opened.
1890 Friendly Societies form a Medical Institute.
1900 First motor car runs in Parramatta.
1902 Granville District Football Association formed.
1908 2 December. New Friendly Societies Dispensary building
opened.
1910 August. Sewerage scheme completed and taken over
by Municipal Council.
1911 May. St. John’s Church Parish Hall opens.
1911 4 November. Billy Hart’s Australia’s first aviator lands in Parramatta Park.
1913 Parramatta High School opens.
1913 4 December. Parramatta and District Historical Society formed. 
1915 Electric light used in town for first time.
1915 23 February. New High School Building opened.
1917 2 July. Nurse Dorothy Cawood saves patients at Messines and is first woman in Sydney to be awarded a Military Medla.
1918 15 September. Foundation Stone Royal Gate, St John’s laid.
1924 21 May. New Masonic Temple opened.
1925 New Presbyterian Church completed.
1925 Work begins on Parramatta’s first shopping arcade.
1930 6 February. Roxy Theatre opens.
1930 Rivoli skating rink opens.
1935 Wishing Pool opens Parramatta Square.
1936 Granville Swimming Centre opens.
1936 26 May. Third St. Patrick’s Church, opened.
1938 27 October. Parramatta proclaimed a City.
1938 Parramatta Grand Prix in Parramatta Park.
1938 150 year celebrations.
1938 The Star Hotel, Parramatta Square opens.
1947 Parramatta District Leagues Club play their first season.
1948 December. First Greater City of Parramatta Council elected.  (The Greater City of Parramatta was formed by the amalgamation of Dundas, Granville, Ermington, Rydalmere, and Parramatta)
The first traffic light in NSW installed at Parramatta.
1955 The completed maternity unit opened at Parramatta Hospital.
1956 11 December. Olympian Betty Cuthbert victory parade. 
1958 Meals on Wheels service established.
1958 Children’s Library opened in Prince Alfred Park.
1958 A central library was established in Jubilee Hall within the Town Hall
1958 New Parramatta City Council Chambers opens a 2 Civic Place (now Parramatta Square)
1959 Opening of the Parramatta Leagues Club.
1959 24 October. Parramatta War Memorial Swimming Centre opens.
1959 A branch library opened at Granville.
1960 The Queensland Insurance Building opens in Centenary Square.
1961 David Jones’s first suburban store opened.
1961 Miss Australia Tania Versak visits Parramatta
1962 Silverwater bridge opened.
1964 28 November. Central Library Building opened.
1975 Westfield complex opened as the largest shopping complex in the southern hemisphere.
1975 Survey of historic buildings in the Parramatta CBD completed
1975 Barry Wilde Bridge Opens.
1977 18 January. Granville Railway Bridge Disaster
1978 Westmead Hospital opened.
1979  Album “Canned Rock” recorded from three concerts held inside Parramatta gaol
1981 Macquarie House built.
1981 HMAS Parramatta Memorial unveiled.
1988 Bicentenary of Parramatta’s foundation.
1988 50th anniversary of the declaration of Parramatta as a City.
1988 Position of Mayor of Parramatta raised by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the status of Lord Mayor in recognition of Parramatta’s significance in the Greater Sydney metropolitan area.
1988 Opening of the Riverside Theatre complex in February.
1989 Archaelogical Management Plan of Parramatta CBD completed.
1993 Rivercat Service to Parramatta inaugurated in December.
1998 Opening of the Parramatta Heritage Centre.
2006 Opening of the new Parramatta Transport Interchange in February including the upgrading of the station and a new bus interchange.
2008 Opening of the new Justice Precinct in February.
2010 Old Government House and Parramatta Park, as well as ten other Australian sites with a significant association with convict transportation, were inscribed as a group on the World Heritage List as the Australian Convict Sites.
2012 Sydney Wanderers, Soccer League franchise launched.
2013 David Jones Building on Church Street demolished
2015 Library and Post Office in Civic Square demolished as a part of the Parramatta Square project.
2015 Council Works Depot moves to Rydalmere Operation Centre
2016 12 May 2016, the City of Parramatta is established under the Local Government (City of Parramatta and Cumberland) Proclamation 2016. The City is divided into five Wards – North Rocks, Epping, Parramatta, Dundas and Rosehill.
2017 9 September 2017, 15 Councillors are elected. 25 September 2017, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor are elected by Councillors.
2017 November, construction begins on the $2.4 billion Parramatta Square development.
2017 14 November 2017, the Parramatta Female Factory site is inscribed on the National Heritage List.
2018 March, the commemoration of 125 years of the City’s Regiment – the Parramatta Lancers.

 

 

Explore our Research Library and the Collections

Research Library

The Research Library contains books, magazines, newspaper clippings and microfilm related to the history of Parramatta and Western Sydney. We can help you to research your family and house histories, and provide access to genealogy databases and websites.

Archives

The Archives include Council records dating back to 1861, as well as rate books, valuation records, and historic maps, plans, photographs and videos. We also preserve community archives which document the collective memory of the Parramatta area.

Parramatta Museum and Art Collections

Cultural Collections

The Cultural Collections hold significant objects, artworks and ephemera which relate to the people, places and events which have made an important contribution to Parramatta’s culture. We also hold artefacts from local archaeological excavations.

Photographic Library

The Heritage Centre has an extensive photographic, print and audio/visual collection from the Parramatta District since the 1800s. Items are available online or may be viewed at the Centre by appointment.

Recent Heritage Stories

Catholic Death Rites

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Parramatta. Photograph by Caroline Finlay, City of Parramatta.

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, was founded by Jesus Christ. It is the largest Christian Church in the world and one of the most important institutions in the history of Western civilization. read more…

Research on the History of Parramatta

Parramatta Square: A 200 Year History

Situated adjacent to St John’s Cathedral is the area now referred to as Parramatta Square. But don’t be fooled by the modern facade for this area has been a community hub at the centre of Parramatta  for over 200 years.

Cumberland Hospital and Female Factory Precinct

The Cumberland Precinct in North Parramatta is home to some of the most significant heritage sites in New South Wales. From the 1790s until today it continues as a mental health precinct for the Cumberland Hospital.

River Foreshore Parramatta

This stretch of river foreshore was arguably the most significant piece of land during the early European settlement of the area. It was also significant for the local Aboriginals for it was here that the fresh water of the river and the salt water of the harbour met.

Parramatta Stories

From our various collections our team continue to put together research on people, places and events that relate to Parramatta and district from its earliest days to the present.

World War 1

 Biographical stories and accounts of events which relate to the actions of Parramatta servicemen and women during World War One

Parramatta Mayors

Biographies of Parramatta’s Mayors and Lord Mayors brought together in a single resource, not only for interested researchers, but as a way of exploring the heritage and identity of Parramatta. 

Centenary Square

The revitalisation of Church Street Mall and its renaming to Centenary Square provides an opportunity to visit some of the interesting sites and buildings at the square.

Civic Place

Civic Place

In the coming years Civic Place, Parramatta will see dramatic changes as it transforms into Parramatta Square. Learn more about the site’s history and what it will become.

History of the Lancers

History of the Lancers

‘The Lancers’ are an integral part of Australia’s military history and in 2018, the Royal NSW Lancers mark the 125th anniversary of their association with the City of Parramatta.