History Matters || Sealing town's future as first bitumen is laid

Road to progress: Rennie Thornton engineer, left, unknown, driver thought to be Tom Methven and shire clerk Sydney Dymock with the Case steam roller in Bourke St.
Road to progress: Rennie Thornton engineer, left, unknown, driver thought to be Tom Methven and shire clerk Sydney Dymock with the Case steam roller in Bourke St.

The Severn Shire Council was formed in 1906 and the FJ Madigan-designed shire chambers in Bourke Street was built by Arthur Butt for 997 pounds, and occupied in 1910.

The pronunciation is Seven - after the Severn, the longest river in the UK, from whence came the Bloxsome family who took up Rangers Valley.

Syd Dymock was only the third shire clerk, following John L Eather and Robert W Morrow.

From 1912 to 1945 he served under Shire Presidents Andrew Telfer, William Cramsie, William Ross, Bill Wilson, Tom Farlow, Maurice Ryall, Albert Potter and Walter Adams.

Tom Rice took over as clerk in 1945 followed by Bruce Tucker and Robert Langford.

The title was changed to general manager in 1993.

The two Glen Innes councils amalgamated to form the Glen Innes Severn Council on September 15, 2004.

I wrote in The Beardies Heritage: "In 1923 the engineer was given an allowance of 20 pounds towards the 'upkeep' of his horse."

It was shire president Wilson's council who, in 1925 were cited as leaving their mark on concrete culverts.

That year the council and Main Roads Board gave consideration to bituminous macadam reconstruction and surfacing of the Glen Innes-Inverell road.

The Main Roads Board, later Department of Main Roads took over the important work on the main roads in 1926.

The Severn Shire Council maintained the New England and Gwydir Highways for a considerable number of years, the full cost being born by the board.

With lack of money in 1935, councils still weighed up the use of horses and drays or graders, and the cry of "populate or perish" being advocated, bitumen was proposed for the five mile length of road towards Grafton.

Twenty years later the first bitumen in the shire went on that road.

In 1936 when Basil Marsh became shire engineer, lengthsmen in the various areas each had a certain section of road as their responsibility.

Sydney James Dymock died in 1983 at age of 102.

Download the free Glen Innes Heritage Tour phone ap to see histories and early photos of 40 places ( including the Severn Shire building) in the walking tour of the CBD and another 19 buildings and places in the Driving Tour.