Street names and names of parks, hills and other sections of the shire, are a snapshot of the town’s Aboriginal and European history, captured in names like Y’dire and Wolseley Park, Breen Street, Kamilaroi Highway and Pike Street.

Back in the 1950s and sixties, St Joseph’s Parish acted on predictions that Gunnedah was to expand rapidly to the south, with an increase in population, by purchasing land adjacent to Links Road, with plans to build another school.

When the population predictions did not eventuate the land was sold but the link remains with the naming of McDermott Place, honouring Monsignor John McDermott, parish priest from 1944-1954, while Daniel Keane Crescent was named for an Irish Catholic priest who took the parish through the difficult years of the Great War and the construction of the new St Joseph’s Church dedicated in 1919. He was still serving the parish and wider community when he died in 1944.

Gallen Avenue took the name of the landowners, with the Gallen name still prominent in the business sector of the town, while Cushan Avenue recalls the cordial factory operated by the Cushan family for 112 years from the one site in Elgin Street.

Read more about Cushan’s Cordials here: The Christmas crate of Cushan’s Cordials a loved family favourite – Gunnedah Times

Pike Street carries the name of an important pioneering family, with the Pike brothers Charles and WH (Bill) Pike providing Gunnedah’s first electric street lighting in 1908. The brothers were the sons of Henry Pike, the founder of Curlewis, who had established a sawmill on the corner of Barber and Marquis Streets (now the Namoi Flour Mill and Presbyterian Church) for some years prior to 1908. From the sawmill’s steam engine, they had attached a small generator to light the mill and their father’s home nearby, the catalyst for the later supply of electric power to the town. Recognition for the continuous electrification of the town of Gunnedah can be attributed to Bill Pike, who maintained the franchise to supply the town with electric power for a period of 37 years, until the local Municipal Council purchased his operations in April 1945. For many years Pike’s Powerhouse was renowned for the twice-daily shrill of the brass steam whistle, at 1pm and 6pm. The whistle also sounded at other times – to give an urgent summons to the local volunteer fire brigade, and in the 1939-45 war period, to signal a compulsory air-raid practice. When the war ended it shrilled continuously for hours. Pike’s chimney stack was a landmark in Gunnedah, towering 100 feet high, nine feet square at the base and tapering to seven feet square at the top. The 49,000 bricks were laid by local bricklayers Frederick Babbage and his son Kruger and demolished in 1949.
Breen Street takes its name from Gunnedah’s first mayor, Thomas Breen, who was appointed to the position when the inaugural municipal council was elected in November 1885, although his tenure only lasted three months. He was the licensee of the Imperial Hotel in Barber Street but died suddenly on June 13, 1887, aged 48 years.

William Pike. Recognition for the continuous electrification of the town of Gunnedah can be attributed to Bill.

As you turn into Palmer Crescent it is timely to remember Athol Palmer who was an influential figure in Gunnedah’s development in the first half of the 20th century. He was the Gunnedah Town Clerk from 1924 until his retirement in 1967, after a 50-year career in local government. His contribution went far beyond his municipal duties. He demonstrated a tremendous capacity for hard work, particularly during the Great Depression and in the war years and was a key figure in virtually every worthwhile community effort.

Jarmain Close appears to have been named for John William Henry Arthur Jarmain, known as Arthur Jarmain. He was a blacksmith and wheelwright and a coach and buggy builder in Conadilly Street. He was elected as an alderman of Gunnedah Municipal Council in 1890 and served until 1901, including one year as mayor (1894). Arthur Jarmain was a strong advocate for the creation of a local fire brigade and of the establishment of a reticulated water supply, raising these matters in council on many occasions, particularly in the aftermath of the 1888 fire in Conadilly Street, which destroyed a large number of shops and offices.

Baxter Street reflects the enormous contribution made by William (Bill) Baxter when he set up his law practice after service in World War II. Mr Baxter was closely associated with the returned servicemen’s movement.

He was on war service in 1943 when the Gunnedah and District Servicemen’s Club was established but later served as president for a total of 21 years (1952-67 and 1973-79) and acted as the club’s honorary solicitor for 45 years. He was a life member of the club. At civic level, he served several terms on Gunnedah Municipal Council and on the Gunnedah Hospital board and was honorary solicitor for many local organisations. In 1990 Mr Baxter completed 50 years as a solicitor. His son Michael joined him in the practice and was a solicitor in the town for 48 years, following in the footsteps of his father when it came to community service.

Meldrum Street is not well known to residents, as a short border to Arthur Heath Park, connecting South Street to Hunter Street. James Meldrum came to Gunnedah in the 1930s to establish a drapery and florist’s business. He was elected to Gunnedah Municipal Council in December 1941 and served almost nine years on council. Elected mayor in late 1944, he was re-elected 12 months later. After the war he sold a large area of land in the Mornington area, as Gunnedah’s residential boundaries expanded. During his time as mayor, he was involved in negotiations which ultimately led to the establishment of the local abattoir in the 1950s.

Meldrum Street in Gunnedah is named after James Meldrum who served on council in the 1940s, including as mayor.

Johnston Street appears to have been named for John Johnston, the first squatter on land that became known as The Woolshed in 1835, the beginning of the settlement of Gunnedah. In 1848 the Gunnedah Run was described as being 22,000 acres and in 1849, the Johnston homestead was converted to the Golden Fleece Inn, on the corner of Marquis and Maitland Streets on the river side.

Winder Place, sandwiched between to Ashford’s Watercourse and Gunnedah South School, honours Mel Winder, the first principal of Gunnedah South School, which he opened in 1955. A dedicated teacher, he had a 44-year career as an educator, including 26 years in Gunnedah. Mel Winder was heavily involved in the Gunnedah community and was an accomplished sportsman, playing cricket, rugby league and golf. He was also one of the leading rugby league referees in the northwest. Mr Winder and his wife Cauleen were life members of Gunnedah Golf Club.

Gunnedah’s early parks followed the English trend with Wolseley Park named after Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley, a Field Marshall and Commander-in-Chief of the British Army for a period from 1895. The name was proclaimed on October 9, 1885, while Kitchener Park was initially known as Brooker Park, after Alderman William Brooker who advocated for its enclosure. Named after Earl (Field Marshall) Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who had a brilliant military career but in later years, the name fell out of favour after his role in ordering the execution of Harry Harbord (the Breaker) Morant during the Boer War. English-born Morant was a man of many talents – a published poet and bush balladist, a daredevil and a horse breaker of renown, who lived in the Gunnedah and Boggabri area for several years in the 1890s, including a stint on the large Gunnedah holding, Pullaming.

Ken Green Park remembers a former Gunnedah postmaster, appointed in 1966. In the civic field, he played a very active role and was elected to Gunnedah Municipal Council in 1959. At the time of his death, he had served almost 12 years on council and was a key member of the works and abattoir sub-committees. He was Country vice-president of the Local Government Association, chairman of the Gunnedah District Hospital Board, a Rotarian, long-serving director of the Servicemen’s Club board and president of Gunnedah branch of the Postal Institute. He was a lifelong ALP supporter and was president of the local branch for many years, as well as holding positions on regional, state and national executives. A World War II veteran, he was only 45 when he collapsed and died in Gunnedah in March 1971.

John Longmuir Playing Fields in the showground complex was named in honour of John Longmuir, a second-generation newspaper owner and editor of the highest integrity, well-known in NSW Country Press circles.

His influence also extended to the community. He served three terms on Gunnedah Municipal Council and was deputy mayor for five years. His involvement embraced sport, as he held executive positions in rugby league and cricket at local and regional level and was one of the founders of the Junior Cricket Association and junior league.

The Dr PH (Peter) Stanley overhead bridge acknowledges the long-serving wartime GP, Percival Stanley.

The Dr PH (Peter) Stanley overhead bridge acknowledges the long-serving wartime GP who was involved in a long campaign for the building of an overhead bridge to allow doctors living and working on the town side of Gunnedah to get to the hospital quickly during an emergency. Doctors and ambulances were often delayed in an emergency when the Marquis Street crossing gates were closed. Doctors sometimes had to clamber over the gates, dodge the train and then walk or run to the hospital. Dr Stanley served nine years on council and was mayor in 1939 and 1940. His efforts to ensure that an overhead bridge was built were not forgotten and in 2005 the Abbott Street structure was renamed the Dr PH Stanley Bridge.

Originally known as the Small Town Hall, the Smithurst Theatre was named after Gunnedah’s longest serving chemist, Cyril A. Smithurst who was the foundation president pf Gunnedah Musical and Dramatic Society, taking a leading role in many productions. Mr Smithurst came to Gunnedah in 1935 after purchasing the pharmacy of Howard Cooney at 177 Conadilly Street. He was active in many community organisations, including St Joseph’s Catholic Church. Mr Smithurst retired in 1991 at the age of 91 and died the following year.

The Smithurst Theatre was named after Gunnedah’s longest serving chemist, Cyril A. Smithurst. On his retirement in 1991 at age 91, Mr Smithurst was also the longest practising pharmacist in Australia.

Gunnedah is the junction of the Kamilaroi Highway – named for the local Aboriginal tribe – Gunnedah’s streets and parks and with new sub-divisions popping up in recent years, the names have a more recent influence such as World War II hero Len Siffleet, honoured with the naming of Siffleet Terrace off Links Road.

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