York, Western Australia
York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia, situated on the Avon River, 97 kilometres (60 mi) east of Perth in the Wheatbelt, on Ballardong Nyoongar land, and is the seat of the Shire of York.
After thousands of years of occupation by Ballardong Nyoongar people, the area was first settled by Europeans in 1831, two years after Perth was settled in 1829. A town was established in 1835 with the release of town allotments and the first buildings were erected in 1836.
The region was important throughout the 19th century for sheep and grain farming, sandalwood, and horse breeding.
York boomed during the gold rush as it was one of the last rail stops before the walk to the goldfields.
Today, the town attracts tourists for its beauty, history, buildings, festivals and art.
History (post European settlement)
With the increasing population of the Swan River Settlement in 1830, it became evident that suitable land would have to be discovered for the growing of crops needed to provide necessary food.
Ensign Robert Dale, a 20-year-old officer of the 63rd Regiment, led a small party in the first exploratory journey over the Darling Range, during the winter months of 1830 into what was later to be known as the Avon Valley.
He returned with a report of "park-like lands with scattered trees", and after a second expedition, Lieutenant-Governor Stirling concluded that there appeared to be 1,000 square miles of "the finest imaginable sheep-land".
As a result, Stirling decided that the new district should be thrown open for selection and this was done by Government Notice on 11 November 1830. By December 1830, 250,000 acres had been allotted, and in January 1831, 80,000 acres. Before the end of 1831 a further 6,030 acres in small lots had been taken up.
In September 1831 Dale escorted the first party of settlers to the district, reaching the Avon valley on 16 September. They immediately set about the construction of huts, the preparation required for their stock and the cultivation of new land. Dale proposed an area two miles south of the summit of Mt Bakewell as the site for a future town to serve the district.
In September 1833 a garrison of eight troops of the 21st North British Fusiliers was stationed at York. Rules and regulations for the assignment of town allotments at York were gazetted in September 1834 and allotments were advertised for sale from July 1835.
A township did not begin to appear until 1836. In July 1836 York comprised two houses, a barn, an army barracks and some out-houses, with about 50 acres of cleared land.
In 1834, Revett Henry Bland settled in York as the resident magistrate and purchased a 50 acre block of land south of the town site, and a larger block which he established as a farm called Balladong, after the Ballardong Noongar, the Aboriginal occupiers of the area. This area became to be called Bland's Town or Bland Town.
In 1836, John Henry Monger Snr arrived and bought land immediately north of the town site from Bland and his business partner, Arthur Trimmer for £100 on which the first house in York had been constructed of wattle and daub. Monger opened a hotel by early 1837, constructing in 1842 a "long, low building" opposite the hotel for a store, and “every three months his wagons would journey to Guildford or Perth for supplies”.
In 1840, the York Agricultural Society was established, which became very influential in the following years, holding annual shows to the present day. The York Racing Club was established in 1843. Both societies continue today.
At the request of the influential York Agricultural Society, from 1851, convicts were transported to the Colony and relieved the labour shortages. As "ticket-of-leave" men, they constructed many of the early buildings.[a]
York was connected by rail in 1885. Following the discovery of gold in the Yilgarn in 1887, the town was teeming with miners, all alighting from the train and preparing to make the long journey across the plains to the goldfields.
Heritage buildings and sites
For a town of its size, there are more heritage buildings in York than in any other town in Western Australia. not only that, the entire town has been declared a "Historic Town" by the National Trust of Australia. The streets of York are lined with buildings both big and small that evoke the essence of the nineteenth century. The main street, Avon Terrace, remains almost exactly as it was in 1911, the year that the spectacular Town Hall was constructed. But behind the main street lie a wealth of historic houses and cottages and places of interest each with its own story and of the generation of people who lived in them.
With its hamlet Bland's Town, York has buildings from each decade from the early settlers (1830s and 1840s), the convict period (1850s and 1860s), the coming of rail (1885), the Gold Rush (1887 to 1900), and the Federation boom, culminating in the York Town Hall (1911).
Faversham House, overlooking the north end of Avon Terrace, is one of the grandest surviving Colonial homes in the State.
More than 200 buildings or sites in York are heritage listed, most within the town itself. Many of York's older homes and buildings have now been restored and, while some have retained their original use (e.g. the York Post Office and the Western Australian Bank building - now Westpac bank), others have been adaptively re-used with success, such as the old Primary School.
Co-op, York Post Office, Courthouse
The centre of the town has fine examples of more than a dozen Victorian and Federation architectural styles, virtually uninterrupted by modern buildings. The Victorian Georgian style resident magistrate's House, one of the oldest houses in York (dating from the 1840s) now houses the Residency Museum. Other Victorian Georgian buildings are the old sections of Settlers Inn and the Castle Hotel.
York churches include the Victorian Romanesque style Anglican Holy Trinity Church (completed in 1854), designed by Richard Roach Jewell; St Patrick's original church (1859-60); St Patrick's Church (designed in the Gothic Revival style by the former convict architect Joseph Nunan and completed in 1886); and the York Uniting Church constructed of local granite in the Gothic style (1888).
The Catholic Presbytery is in Victorian Rustic Gothic style.
The coming of rail in 1885 brought the Victorian Filigree style Imperial Hotel (1886).
Most of the main street, Avon Terrace, has Victorian or Federation Free Classical buildings, including the Co-op (IGA) (1888 façade), the Motor Museum, and Dinsdale's Shoe Emporium (1887), with a cluster of Federation Romanesque buildings at the north end, including the former Fire Station (1897).
Some of the most significant buildings in York are in Federation Arts and Crafts style (or its commercial equivalent, Federation Free Style). The 19th century Western Australia Government Architect, George Temple-Poole, a lover of Arts and Crafts style, designed six buildings: the railway station building (built in 1885); the York Post Office (1893); the Courthouse and police station (c. 1896); the York Hospital (opened in 1896); and the old Primary School. All are on the State Heritage Register.
Early 20th century buildings include the Federation Mannerist (or Edwardian Opulence) style Town Hall (designed by James William Wright of Wright, Powell and Cameron and built in 1911), and the Federation Filigree style Castle Hotel (1905), designed by William G Wolf, who designed His Majesty's Theatre.
Notable people associated with York
- Rivett Henry Bland (1811-1894), early settler, appointed by James Stirling to settle the York district, first resident magistrate of York and Beverley, his principal duty being to protect the settlers from the aboriginals, with whose language and customs he obtained an intimate acquaintance.
- William Locke Brockman (1802-1872), an early settler who became a leading pastoralist and stock breeder, and a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council.
- (1814-1886), emigrated to Western Australia with his two brothers William Burges and Samuel Evans Burges. They took up 5,600 acres (2,300 ha) of land at York in 1837, which they named Tipperary after their birthplace.
- William Burges (1806 or 1808-1876), brother of Lockier. As secretary of the in 1847, he was closely involved in that body's ultimately successful petition for Western Australia to become a penal colony. He strongly opposed female convicts.
- Solomon Cook (1812-1871), American engineer who built a mill and the colony's first steam engine at York in the early 1850s.
- Robert Dale (1810-1853), the first European to cross the Darling Range, where he discovered the fertile Avon Valley and explored the future locations of Northam, Toodyay and York.
- (1810-1874), early settler and landholder.
- (1835-1927), son of , inherited Wilberforce. Elected in 1880 to the Legislative Council seat of York.
- Nicholas Hasluck (1942-) A.M., retired Judge and poet, has a home in York.
- Paul Hasluck (1905-1993), KG GCMG GCVO Governor General, lived in York for a while when young.
- Edmund Henderson (1821-1896), Comptroller-General of Convicts in Western Australia from 1850 to 1863 and in about mid 1854 drew a picture of York from Mt Brown, which was turned into an engraving which was published in The London Illustrated News on 28 February 1857.
- William Heseltine (1930-), GCB GCVO AC QSO was Private Secretary to Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister, 1955–1959, and later Private Secretary to the Sovereign, and Keeper of the Queen's Archives, lived at York for a while during retirement.
- Talbot Hobbs (1864-1938), KCB, KCMG, VD architect of a number of York buildings.
- Richard Roach Jewell (1810-1891), architect of a number of York buildings.
- Lawrence Dominic McCarthy (1892-1975), was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, born in York.
- Richard Goldsmith Meares (1780-1862), second resident magistrate of York and Beverley.
- John Henry Monger Snr (1800-1867), early settler, opened first hotel and store in York, became a prominent land owner, built the first two stages of Faversham House.
- (1831-1892), was a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council from 1870 to 1875, and again from 1890 to 1892.
- Joseph Nunan (1854-1917), architect of architect of St Patrick's Church in York.
- (c.1790–c.1880), early York settler.
- Stephen Stanley Parker (1817–1904) J.P., M.L.C., son of Stephen Parker (senior)
- Stephen Henry Parker (1846–1927) Q.C., M.L.C., son of Stephen Stanley Parker
- Christopher Pullin (1947-), former judge, has a home in York.
- John Smithies (1802-1872), Wesleyan minister who tried to establish the Gerald Mission in York.
- George Temple-Poole (1856-1934), architect of major York buildings.
- Tommy Windich (c1840-c1876), Indigenous Australian member of a number of exploring expeditions in Western Australia in the 1860s and 1870s. Worked at York.
- John Burdett Wittenoom (1788-1855), early settler and land owner.
- James William Wright (1854-1917), architect of York Town Hall and other buildings in York, partner in railway extension to York.
At the post office site, the mean annual daily maximum temperature is 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) and the mean annual daily minimum temperature is 10.5 °C (50.9 °F). The hottest month is January with a mean maximum temperature of 33.6 °C (92.5 °F), while the coolest month is July with a mean minimum temperature of 5.3 °C (41.5 °F). Mean temperatures are based on data from 1880 to 1996. York has a mean annual rainfall of 449.8 millimetres (17.71 in). The wettest month is June with 87.9 millimetres (3.46 in) and the driest is January with 9.5 millimetres (0.37 in).
A severe thunderstorm lashed the town and surrounding areas on 27 January 2011, resulting in roofs being ripped off, trees being uprooted and power lines being brought down. About 40 houses were damaged in the town as a result of the storm but no injuries were reported.
Climate data for York and York Post Office (averages: 1880–1996; extremes: 1934–2016) Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) 46.6
Average high °C (°F) 33.6
Average low °C (°F) 16.6
Record low °C (°F) 7.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 9.5
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 1.4 2.2 2.7 5.8 9.9 14.6 15.3 13.1 10.0 6.4 4.2 2.1 87.7 Source: Bureau of Meteorology
Facilities and attractions
The town has adapted by changing from a traditional sheep and wheat agricultural community into a tourist town. It features festivals, a motor museum, art galleries, recreational facilities including skydiving and paragliding, many bed and breakfast services and the picturesque Avon River. The town population in 2010 was approximately 3800 and increasing 4% annually.
York is well serviced with all essential facilities, including York District High School for students from kindergarten to Year 10. The York Visitor Centre is located in the Town Hall. The York Community Resource Centre enables access to tertiary education. There is a 24/7 medical service, the York District Hospital, library, and swimming pool.
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