Georges River Libraries has a number of early Council Rates Books in its collection. We’ve experimented with putting selected information from the Kogarah Rates Book of 1903 into a spreadsheet.
In 1903, Kogarah was administered as three Wards – East, Middle and West. The Rates Books consist of large heavy ledgers for each of the Wards. They give details of who owns which property, and if there is an occupied house or business on the property then the householder’s name is also given. Entries are made in order of street, although some longer streets stretch over more than one Ward. All up, 3,116 rateable properties are listed, but it should be noted that a property may consist of multiple lots, particularly at this early period in Kogarah’s development. Many of the properties are undeveloped, meaning that only 859 householders are listed. This aligns fairly closely to the number of householders in the entry for Kogarah given in the 1902 Sands’ Directory of Sydney, which is 841.
The most useful feature of the Rates Book is its listing of Kogarah property-owners, many of whom did not live locally. Some of them lived in country NSW or even interstate; one owner lived in New York, and another in Noumea. Property-owners also included large financial institutions such as the Centennial Bank, the Bank of NSW, Colonial Finance and so on. It is a peculiarity that on the whole property owners appear to have kept their holdings within one particular ward, and didn’t spread their portfolio across the three wards.
Kogarah Council’s largest rate-payer at this period would appear to have been the property developer Ernest Broughton, who had 74 unsold properties on his books, mostly on the Marks Grant Estate, along the Boulevard, a development which sold at a snail’s pace. The Terry Estate had 55 properties on its books, and Sweeney Co had 42. Mr L Carroll and Miss A M Gray also owned numerous properties.
Not surprisingly, many of the Kogarah Aldermen of the time owned multiple properties – the names of Carroll, English, McPherson, Pritchard and others recur. It would be difficult to know whether they were on the Council because they owned multiple properties – or vice versa. The house which was liable for the most rates was, not surprisingly, Ellesmere (pictured above), the mansion of Joseph Carruthers, who was on the point of becoming Premier of New South Wales. The MLA for Petersham, Llewellyn Russell Jones owned a large chunk of Kogarah Bay, which was nice for him. The most significant business in Kogarah by far was the brickworks of the influential Judd family.
Elsewhere, some clues as to street names in Middle Ward can be found in the names of ratepayers James Hamer, William Jude, and Samuel Peyton. Note that some streets have been re-named since 1903.
The Rates Books also detail how much a particular property was rated for, but this information has not been included on the spreadsheet because life’s too short. Note also that the hand-written entries do not always give a person’s full name, and were not always completely legible.