Celebrating South Australia


11 January 1837 Survey of the City of Adelaide

11 January 1837    Survey of the City of Adelaide

Colonel William Light began the survey of the city of Adelaide on 11 January 1837. His starting point was the corner of North and West Terraces. This first section was called Town Acre Number 1, on part of which now stands the Newmarket Hotel. Opposite Town Acre 1, on the northern side of North Terrace, was the Land and Survey Office, Light's hut, and that of the first Resident Commissioner, James Hurtle Fisher. Colonel Light's wooden hut later burnt down, destroying many of his records.

The holders of preliminary purchase orders - those who bought land in England in 1835 - had the right to a choice of one Town Acre and 80 country acres after surveys had been completed. Light finished the survey of the new city by the middle of March, but at that time only twenty-five purchasers had arrived in South Australia; others were represented by family or agents. A ballot was conducted to decide the order in which preliminary purchasers selected their Town Acres; the remaining acres were then sold by auction at prices ranging from £2 4s to £14 14s. The acquisition of country acres had to wait until surveys around Adelaide had been completed.

A bronze tablet on a granite obelisk on the corner of North and West Terraces was unveiled on 16 July 1929 to commemorate Colonel Light's work.

The Newmarket Hotel was first licensed in 1847. It was rebuilt in 1884 for W.K. Simms, who owned the West End Brewery at the time, to a design of Rowland Rees. The cast iron balustrade of the balcony on the top floor was removed in 1955, but the famous spiral staircase remains. This pub is also reputed to be the one which gave the name 'butcher' to a glass of beer when the men from the abattoirs situated opposite used to come in for a drink. 


E.J.R. Morgan and S.H. Gilbert, Early Adelaide Architecture 1830-1886, Oxford University Press, 1969, p.8.
Douglas Pike, Paradise of Dissent, Melbourne University Press, 1957, p.174.