Grafton is an historic city in northern New South Wales, and many visitors and residents alike enjoy its old world charm with its Victorian and Georgian architecture and peaceful setting on the banks of the Clarence River.
One of the frequently asked questions is, how did various streets ‘get their name’?
Below I have briefly outlined, how many of the streets were named.
In 1848 the government surveyor, William Wedge Darke was instructed to lay out a town on the banks of the Clarence River. This he did with maps and plans drawn up and lodged with the Surveyor General’s Department in Sydney between 1849 and 1854.
Charles Fitzroy was the Governor of New South Wales at the time and Darke sort to honour him by naming many of the streets of the newly laid out township after members and connections of the illustrious Fitzroy family.
The Naming of Grafton Streets
Prince Street, named for Prince Albert of Saxe- Coburg the husband of Queen Victoria. It began at one of the main landing places for ships coming to the north bank of the settlement, which was laid out by Darke in 1848, running northward to the then town boundary at North Street. Over the years it developed as the main commercial street in Grafton.
Victoria Street, named for Queen Victoria, (1819-1901). She was born on 24 May 1819, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III. She came to the throne in 1837 on the death of her uncle, William IV.
William IV was king from 1830-1837, and was the third son of George III, and the younger brother and successor to George IV.
Queen Street, was also named for Queen Victoria, the queen of Great Britain from 1837 to 1901.
Fitzroy Street, was named for the Fitzroy family. In particular, in memory of Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton and grandfather to Charles Augustus Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, at the time when the settlement on the banks of the Clarence River was surveyed and laid out by William Wedge Darke in 1848.
Pound Street, was so named as it essentially followed the track from the main section of the North Grafton village, due west to Hewitt’s paddock, where the first Pound, for the impounding of stray and neglected animals, was situated.. Later when the entrance of Alumny Creek was closed off, a ‘pond’ of water, which had to be bridged at this crossing, caused townspeople in the 1930’s to believe that the street name was derived from the corruption of the word ‘pond’, but this was not so. By that time, some one hundred years after settlement the citizens were not aware of the fact that the original Pound had been at the western end of this street.
Bacon Street, was named for Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam and Viscount St Albans (1561-1626), one of the greatest of English philosophers and statesmen. It is believed it was suggested to Darke as a consequence of a follow on from naming of Oliver and Fry Streets.
Oliver and Fry Streets, were named in honour of Oliver Fry, the second commissioner of Crown Lands for the area. He was a prominent government official in the area from 1842 to his death in 1859. he was just one of the prominent citizens that darke named streets after.
Dobie Street, was named for Dr John Dobie, the first Public Health Officer, in the colony of New South Wales, and later one of the first pastoralists in the Clarence Valley, taking up firstly, Ramornie, and then Gordonbrook , before returning to England. He was also a Justice of the Peace of the colony and took a prominent part in the early history of the district.
Clarence Street, was named for the Duke of Clarence, (as was the river), who later became King, William IV.
Kent Street, was named for the Duke of Kent, who was Queen Victoria’s father.
Villiers Street, was named for Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, who was the mistress of King Charles II and the mother of Henry Fitzroy, the 1st Duke of Grafton, and therefore an ancestor of Charles Fitzroy the Governor of New South Wales.
Duke Street, was named for the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Kent. This street is adjacent to Clarence and Kent Streets, both of which were named for the Dukes of Clarence and Kent.
Alice, Maud and Mary Streets, were named for Princess Alice Maud May, the daughter of Queen Victoria, who was born in 1843.
Turf Street, was so named by Darke as it essentially followed a track from Hewitt’s store and hotel, northward towards the roads to the Richmond River and Tenterfield. Some of the earliest match races between local horses took place along this stretch of cleared ground in Hewitt’s paddock. Hewitt’s Paddock stretched from the river to the town boundary on North Street.
North Street, was named at it was the northern boundary of the town of Grafton when it was laid out by Darke in 1848.
[Ref: pp 27-28 Grafton- First City on the North Coast, Our Unique Heritage]
South Grafton Streets
Darke also laid out a section of streets at the settlement on the south side of the river and named many of the streets there, but in stark contrast they were named after local features and townspeople.
Wharf Street, was named as it led straight to the principal wharf on that side of the river.
Spring Street, was so named because some part of it followed the track along the bank of Christopher Creek, to the waterhole, which was spring-fed and the only supply of fresh water at South Grafton.
Through Street, was so named because it followed the original track from William C B Wilson’s property on the top of what became known as Wilson’s Hill, ‘through’ the village to the cluster of cottages along the river bank towards Cowan’s property.
Darke later surveyed three more streets for the South Grafton section of the town. These were named Abbot, Skinner and Ryan Streets.
Abbot Street, was named for Sylvanus Abbot the Chief Constable for the Clarence River District in the early 1850’s. He had his residence on the river bank near this area.
Skinner Street, was named for Dr Alexander Skinner who set up a medical practice at South Grafton on the river bank in this vicinity. It later became the main commercial street in South Grafton.
Ryan Street, was named for Thomas Ryan who owned Waterview Station and this street was aligned with the track that led from the settlement westward along the edge of the swamp to Waterview Station homestead. Ryan was a Justice of the Peace and sat on the Grafton Bench for many years.[p 28 Grafton First City on the North Coast, Our Unique Heritage]