Grand Junction, South Australian History

Early Grand Junction.

William Light’s survey of Adelaide commenced on 11 January 1837 and was completed 10 March. Unsold and unreserved land Sections in the town of Adelaide, in the vicinity of the area now known as Grand Junction and Gepps Cross, were offered for sale in March 1837. Five miles north of the Adelaide town centre the northernmost sections south of Grand Junction Road in the vicinity of what is now known as Gepp’s Cross and Grand Junction were mostly bought by land speculators for the price of five guineas. Prices suggest the sale of leases.

The Grand Junction was the meeting point of what was once the most accessible route out of Adelaide City to the north (the North Road later called the Lower North Road), and the east-west road from Upper Dry Creek to the Port (later called the Grand Junction Road). It remained so until January 1843 when labourers completed a bridge of 120 feet span across the Torrens River. This enabled travellers to take the more direct route northward on the road from the city to Gawler Town (later called the Great North Road), and the junction of roads at Gepp’s Cross took on a greater significance than the Grand Junction. The use of the Lower North Road further declined after the Adelaide and Gawler Town Railway was commissioned.

Section 337 which had its northern boundary on Grand Junction Road and its western boundary on North Road was purchased by Isaac Emery of Adelaide. Section 338, immediately south of section 337, had its eastern boundary on North Road and was purchased by WA Gray of Adelaide. Section 359, 360 and 361 were all purchased by the South Australian Company.

In September 1849 Joseph Ragless was granted a cattle slaughtering licence for Section 359, Great North Road, near Gepp’s Cross. The Grand Junction Inn was built on a triangular shaped forty acre piece of land, being the southern portion of Section 1001.

In July 1849 the Government Gazette advertised Crown lands for sale by public auction on Wednesday, 22 August, at the Court House, Adelaide, at eleven o’clock. Included were the County of Adelaide, Hundred of Port Adelaide, Land Office plans number 1 and 330. Country lots were listed at an upset price of £1 per acre. The attendance at the sale was good, and the biddings for a few favourite lots pretty brisk.

The sales of land near the Grand Junction were section 1000 of 156 acres with the southern boundary along the Lower North Road purchased by William Maturin for the sum of £212. William Maturin [1814-1889] was Deputy Assistant of the Commissariat Department and Auditor General as well as Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor in 1851. He left the colony ten years later to take up a position in London as Deputy Commissary General with a seat on the London board of the Bank of South Australia.

Section 1001 of 159 acres with the southern boundary along the Lower North Road was bought by Esau Burford for the sum of £159.1. Esau Burford [c1805-1881] arrived in the South Australia in 1840 and resided at Islington. Section 1004 of 245 acres with the eastern boundary along the North Road was acquired by Daniel Brady [1797-1889] for the sum of £255.1. Brady had various land holdings in the area, including the Cross Keys Inn on section 2245 situated diagonally across the North Road from the south-eastern corner of Section 1004.

The ink could hardly have dried on the sale deed when Esau Burford subdivided Section 1001 into a near rectangular shaped lot of 119 acres and a triangular shaped 40 acres at the southern end. On the triangular 40 acre site an inn, stables and holding yards were constructed near Grand Junction Road. The building was recognised in the Government Gazette 20 February 1850 when the Central Road Board called for tenders for repairs to the road near the ‘Grand Junction Hotel, North-road’. Two weeks later the inn was stocked and ready to trade.

In 1854, in apparent reference to the junction of roads, land sales for small acreage lots immediately north of and adjoining section 1001 were said to be situated ‘Near the Grand Junction’. The five sections most likely to have the future railway passing close to or through the land were snapped up by speculators such as, Edward MacCabe, a wealthy auctioneer and commission agent of Hindley Street, Adelaide, who would have known a bargain when he saw one. He purchased sections 977 and 978.

William Levi, became the owner of section 979, while Arthur Hardy purchased section 980. Hardy had arrived in the colony in 1839, became a pastoralist, barrister and quarry-owner. In 1851 he built a mansion, and in 1857 the first summer retreat on the highest ridge of the Adelaide Hills. He was president of the Court of Disputed Returns, and between 1857 and 1874 served on the Central Board of Education, and as a Member of the House of Assembly between 1875 and 1887.

Reputed to be one of Adelaide’s richest men, Hardy was living beyond his means when depression hit the colony’s banks in 1886. His debts amounted to more than £40,000 and he had to assign his estate to a trustee for his creditors. Five months after the purchase of the section Hardy was not listed as a land owner affected by the Adelaide and Gawler Town Railway and is therefore likely to have sold it by September 1854. Speculator Edward McEllister. bought Section 980 of 8 acres 3 roods, immediately north of the common boundary of sections 1000 and 1001 for £31.10 in April 1854. McEllister was a storekeeper in Rundle Street, Adelaide and resided at Prospect Village. He was a frequent purchaser of land throughout the colony.

In December 1856 some land holders in the Grand Junction area subdivided their land near the new Adelaide and Gawler Town Railway and advertised lots for sale by auction at the Grand Junction Inn. The Grand Junction Inn was first licensed in June 1850. Six months after the Grand Junction Inn was opened it was reviewed by a traveller who also described the country between Adelaide town and the inn.

He wrote; January 25th, 1851. — It was on the evening of a very hot day that we took our departure from Adelaide to the North, the weather not permitting us to set out earlier. We passed through North Adelaide, the Torrens forming the boundary of the Hundreds of Adelaide and Yatala, through the latter of which we pursued our road, skirting Prospect Village at the back of Mr Graham’s capacious enclosure and fanciful residence. After some miles of uninteresting country, we put up at the Grand Junction Inn, at the corner of the diverging roads from Town to the Port and the North, where, from our knowledge of the land lord [Robert Sutton Schuyler] and landlady, we felt sure of every comfortable accommodation. The sphere is a new one to the parties who keep this house of entertainment, but from their long acquaintance with what constitutes comfort combined with elegance, which they themselves have enjoyed, no house on the road can furnish more substantial luxuries in everything of the domestic character.

We here experienced that relief from insect torment which mosquito curtains afford, and were provided with a bed, the goodness of which we had formerly appreciated on one of the Yankalilla hills. The fare was as good as the sleeping accommodation, and a lady may safely trust herself to the attentions of the hostess of the Grand Junction. The landlord shewed us a skittle-alley of his own erection attached to the building, covered in, yet light and well ventilated, with accommodations for players and spectators. The game, he said, was an attractive one to a profitable class of his customers, and he seemed rather proud of this auxiliary to his establishment.

James Pitcher and John Merritt of the Grand Junction Inn left for Melbourne on the ship Asia in January 1852 to try their luck on the Victorian gold diggings. Immediately after their return in April 1852 James Pitcher advertised for blacksmiths to supplement the services offered at his Grand Junction Store situated opposite the Grand Junction Inn.

In 1857 notice was given that on and after the 1st April next, the following changes will be made with regard to the Dry Creek and Little Para Post-Offices:— The office at the Dry Creek will be removed to the Grand Junction, at which place Mr James Pitcher, who already has a store there, is appointed Postmaster. The daily mail to the Little Para will be discontinued, and in lieu thereof a weekly one will close at the General Post-Office every Saturday at 3.30 pm.

The first use of the locality ‘Grand Junction’ as a place of residence in an official birth, death or marriage registration was the birth of Samuel born 1 December 1857, the son of Ann née Haunson and William Ridley. The small community of Grand Junction has only one recorded marriage in the nineteenth century. On 20 March 1859 the marriage between James Morgan and Elizabeth Clarke was celebrated at the residence of Cornelius Clarke, Grand Junction.

In July 1853 in the Legislative Council it was proposed that the sum of £5000 be set aside for ‘the purpose of erecting at the Stone Quarry, near the Dry Creek, a Labour Prison, and for enclosing said quarry as a stone yard; and also for laying down an iron tramway from thence to or near the Grand Junction Inn, for the purpose of transmitting metal and wrought stone to that place for sale.’

A month later John Chamberlain one of the joint owners of sections 920 and 921, and a member of the Central Road Board, proposed to the Board that trams should be laid down from the Grand Junction on the North-road to the Dry Creek as a trial. In a letter to the editor published two weeks later he proffered ‘from this line the public will reap the largest amount of immediate benefit.

Materials will be procurable for the repair of the streets in Adelaide, for the North, Old North, and Port Roads, and for a portion of the Northeast Road, at a price far below their present cost, and building stone of the best quality will be brought within the reach of the city at a much reduced rate. These are direct benefits. The public will in the next place have an opportunity of testing the value of trams to their fullest extent, in consequence of their subjection to the heaviest kind of traffic, and that which is most destructive to the roads at present in use.

About a half mile north of the Grand Junction Inn, the Township of Ashby was created by division of land ‘into lots for sale so as to place the acquisition of a freehold in one of the most promising localities on the Gawler Town Railway within easy reach of the working man.’ On 15 December lots were advertised for sale by auction on Monday 5 January 1857 by Edward John Peake, Land Agent and Auctioneer.

A week after the offer to sell Ashby Town lots Mr White of Green’s Exchange trumped his opposition and offered for sale by auction on 30 December, one week early than the Ashby Town sale, the south western corner of Section 920, described as ‘opposite the Grand Junction, having frontage to the Lower North-road and the road to the Port, containing 67 Acres, and likely to become a property of great value, from the fact that as the Gawler Town Railway passes through the property, a terminus is here intended for the branch to the port.’

Lots 920 and 921 appear to have passed from the ownership of George Brandis, Thomas Hinkley and John Chamberlain as tenants in common, to be solely owned by Hinkley. In December 1856 land being the south-western portion of sections 920 and 921 was subdivided into five acre lots by Greens Auctioneers on behalf of Thomas Hinkley who had departed for Melbourne. The Land offered in ‘the Grand Junction new Township’ was said to possess ‘the advantage of valuable frontage on to the Main Junction and Port Roads, and in the immediate vicinity of the Adelaide and Gawler Town Railway.’ The auction was held 30 December at the Grand Junction Inn with refreshments provided.

The Grand Junction School situated at the corner of Main Junction and Grand Junction Roads opened in 1855, two years before Grand Junction Township was created. At the end of the second school year a public examination of the 60 children at the Grand Junction School took place before a large number of their friends, after which the school broke up for the holidays.

The number of students was stable for a few years, although when inspected by the Central Board of Education in August 1857 only 43 were in attendance. In December 1858 Jane King the wife of the school master died at their home in Queenstown, Port Adelaide. Thomas King left the Grand Junction School and took up a post with the Central Board of Education.

The Grand Junction School was inspected in September 1859 and the Board reported that there had been several changes in the management of the school and that it was progressing favourably under the present schoolmaster Thomas Sweetman.

Thomas King again had an interest in the school’s affairs again at the end of 1859 when the Board advertised for a person to immediately take up the post of schoolmaster for the Grand Junction School. A married man, whose wife could attend to the Girl’s School, would be preferred. Applications were to go to Mr King, teacher, Port Adelaide or to E W Wickes Esq, Board of Education.

The number of children in the Grand Junction area declined and the Board of Education suggested that the school be transferred to a more central location, whereupon Sweetman applied to the Yatala Council for the use of the council chamber at Gepp’s Cross, but the move never eventuated. Thomas Sweetman departed during the 1861 school year to take up an appointment at the Glenelg School.

No records have been discovered for any licensed teacher being appointed for the Grand Junction School for the three years after Sweetman’s departure and in all probability there was none. In March 1865 Elizabeth Pitcher applied for a licence to teach at the Grand Junction School, which was put aside by the Education Board to reconsider in the forthcoming financial year’s budget.

In July 1865 the Education Board appointed Miss Pitcher mistress for the Grand Junction School and she remained in the post until the end of the 1867 school year. Thomas Chartres was the school master at Allendale near Kapunda in the years 1861 to 1866 and in addition he was a storekeeper. He was declared insolvent in February 1866. In 1867 he was appointed by the Board of Education as schoolmaster for the residents of Sunny Brae, about two miles to the south west of Grand Junction. The following year he moved to Grand Junction where he was schoolmaster until his death in June 1870 when the post became vacant.

Grand Junction Storekeeper James Pitcher pleaded to the Board of Education for the services of a disengaged teacher as a replacement for the deceased, as the school had been established fifteen years before and operated with satisfaction since. The Board of Education failed to respond favourably and the Grand Junction School ceased to operate.

In 1867 Bailliere’s South Australian Gazetteer and Road Guide referred to Grand Junction as a postal township in the electoral district and Hundred of West Torrens, and under the control of the Yatala district council. It os situated on a flat called Para Plain, which is bounded on the East by gentle hills and on the West by a salt swamp. The name is given to the place in consequence of five roads meeting there. The district is an agricultural one and produces excellent crops of wheat and hay. The nearest places are Dry Creek or Montagu, distant 2¼ miles N.E. The means of communication therewith, as with Adelaide 6 miles south, being by Bowden’s mail omnibuses along the great and lower North roads. There are two hotels, the Grand Junction and the Bird in Hand. The surrounding country is flat and the soil good. The population numbers about 100 persons. There was no entry for Gepps Cross.


With special thanks to Lance Merritt for his research


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