Early Lismore

0 - 1850 (in one paragraph).

Captain Henry James Rous in the frigate the HMAS "Rainbow" was the first white man to notice the Richmond River in August 1828.  At this time the Lismore area was inhabited by the Bundjalung people.  The first squatters arrived around 1840, as did the cedar getters.  William Wilson took up the grazing rights of the Lismore run (335 square miles) in 1844 and occupied it in 1845, with his wife and six children.  In short - this was frontier life.  There were very few white people in the whole of the Richmond Valley at this time, mostly cedar getters living in camps.  

1850 -   

Archibald Currie arrived in the Richmond area in 1853 and settled in Lismore with his wife in 1855.  From this time until the present day there have been descendants of Archibald Currie living around Lismore.  Early photographs and data of Lismore reveal much about the conditions the pioneers and early settlers lived in and the challenges they faced.  Most of these photographs begin from the 1880's - we have to imagine what life was like 25 years before when Archibald arrived.

In these early photos of Lismore, we can get an idea of the importance of the contribution Archibald and Duncan Currie made to the town by the number of times buildings and projects that we know they were directly involved with appear.  Among these are the Hospital, the Junction Hotel, the Council Chambers, the Presbyterian Church and the Agricultural and Industrial Shows.  Archibalds store appears in some of the earliest photos but this was his second 'grander' premesis, not his first store.  

According to Meg Young, Archibalds first trading post, which he opened around 1855, was situated where the old racecourse was.  Apparently as you drive up towards Dunoon, if you look back down you can still see the old racetrack.  The store/residence was little more than a tent and Susan gave birth to her eldest children here.

The following population statistics are quoted in 'the story of a north coast city - Lismore' edited by Maurice Ryan.  

1867 - the population of Lismore was 'slightly more than 50'

1871 - the population of the Richmond Valley was 4,528; Casino's population was 284; Lismore's population: 93.

1881 - Lismore's population 992 - a ten fold increase (another source cites 475 which the author doubted).     

1891 - Lismore's population 2,925.

To sum up, Archibald and Susan Currie would have been among the first white people to live in Lismore at a time (1855) when the population was less than 50 people.  16 years after they arrived (1871) there were less than 100 people in Lismore and Archibald's family of 9 would have accounted for 10% of the population.  The next decade really saw Lismore take off but really, for the first 20 years Archibald and his family were there, Lismore was barely a village - and a pretty remote one at that.   

The images of early Lismore on this page are courtesy of the Richmond River Historical Society unless otherwise stated.

Colemans Store circa 1865 - Edmund Coleman established his store at the river end of Zadoc Street.  He was elected as an alderman on the first Lismore Municipal Council in 1879. 

The SS Richmond at Colemans Point circa 1878.

Dorrough's Sawmill circa 1890.  The mill was opposite Coleman's point at North Lismore. 

The "Garfield" at Dorrough's Sawmill with Archibald's shop visible on the right of the picture.

Newtown, or Browns Creek, Bridge circa 1880.  "Newtown" was the early commercial district of Lismore near Colemans Point.  Dorrough's Sawmill is shown on the left ban

Leycester Creek Bridge, 1884 - construction linking North and South Lismore.  The building is Duncan Currie's first Hotel - the North Lismore Hotel. 

Construction of Fawcetts Bridge circa 1885, looking towards the CBD from the site of the North Lismore (now Winsome) Hotel.

The Clarence and Richmond River Steam Navigation Company on Magellan Street, circa 1885.  Note the butter kegs being loaded for trans-shipping to Sydney.

Lismore 1889.  View from the courthouse of Woodlark Street with Brown Creek in the foreground.  Note Girards Hill.

Molesworth Street, circa 1890.  The view south from near the Molesworth St and Magellan St intersection.  Girards Hill is on the left.

The Exchange Hotel 1890. 

Keen Street 1890.

Lismore Fire Brigade, 1890.  The brigade was formed in 1886 and a fire cart complete with a hose was provided from Sydney.  It was not until 1913 that a motorised fire engine came into service.  Note the little dog chasing the wheels.

Lismore 1891.  View to the north-west, from lower end of Uralba St just below site of the Lismore Base Hospital.  This part of the Street was called Ballina Rd and proceeded up the hill now known as Rotary Drive. 

Railway Celebrations, 1891.  On 31st March 1891 the first sod was turned for the Lismore-Murwillumbah railway.  It was a gala day for Lismore with flags everywhere, the river alive with ships and a large procession down the streets.  This group is returning from the ceremony, entering Woodlark St from Fawcett Bridge.  The large building to the right of the bridge is the Junction Hotel.

Keen Street 1892.  View South from near Zadoc Street during the flood of 1892.

Lismore 1895.  View from the Fire Station Tower looking across Molesworth St and eastwards along Magellan St.  Note horses tethered to hitching posts outside the old Post Office.

Royal Hotel circa 1895.  The Royal Hotel was sited on the south-east corner of Molesworth and Woodlark Streets.

Molesworth Street 1895. 

View from the Lismore Post Office Tower, 1896.  Carrington St is seen in the foreground.  The original Presbyterian Church on Keen Street is in the centre of the photograph (slightly to the left, the building with the tallest roof).  There is a photograph of family members inside this church below.

This one came from Meg Young and is probably the only photograph in existence of the interior of the original Presbyterian Church in Lismore.

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