Parramatta Centennial FountainPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown

The fountain commemorates the centenary of the settlement of Parramatta and the founding of the Colony in 1788. The plaque on the fountain also lists the Mayor, Charles J. Byrnes, and the names of the eleven aldermen in office at the time.

The design was in the form of a sandstone drinking fountain and clock in the Victorian Free Classical style, incorporating a four-dial clock (to be illuminated at night). The foundation stone was laid on the 26th January 1888. The long awaited installation of the clock was reported in the Argus on Saturday 4 December 1909.

Parramatta was founded in 1788, the same year as Sydney. As such, Parramatta is the second oldest city in Australia, being only 10 months younger than Sydney. The British Colonists, who had arrived in January 1788 on the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, had only enough food to support themselves for a short time and the soil around Sydney Cove proved too poor to grow the amount of food that 1,000 convicts, soldiers and administrators needed to survive. During 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip had reconnoitred several places before choosing Parramatta as the most likely place for a successful large farm. Parramatta was the furthest navigable point inland on the Parramatta River (i.e. furthest from the thin, sandy coastal soil) and also the point at which the river became freshwater and therefore useful for farming.

On Sunday 2 November 1788, Governor Phillip took a detachment of marines along with a surveyor and, in boats, made his way upriver to a location that he called The Crescent, a defensible hill curved round a river bend, now in Parramatta Park. As a settlement developed, Governor Phillip gave it the name "Rose Hill" after British politician George Rose. On 4 June 1791 Phillip changed the name of the township to Parramatta, approximating the term used by the local Aboriginal people. A neighbouring suburb acquired the name "Rose Hill", which today is spelt "Rosehill".


The good folks of the "ancient and historic borough of Parramatta" resolved to erect a memorial in their town to mark the centenary of the colony, of which Parramatta is the oldest town. This memorial took the shape of a " Centennial Fountain." The report of the memorial committee was brought up and adopted on November 30, 1887, the design chosen being that of Mr. H. Hallomby, architect, Sydney. The description of the memorial is as follows: It is about 33ft high, rests on a curvilinear square, with fountains for the use of the public at the sides of the square forming the base of the columns. Round this are Corinthian columns; and from these columns rise spires bearing lamps. Between these spires, and flanked by them, is a taller spire, borne on two pillars similar to those below. At the summit is a finial, consisting of a vane and a cross, and the points of the compass; while beneath is space for a clock, with four dial faces (not yet obtained). The probable cost is estimated at about £240. On the lower portion of the column is an inlaid tablet, with the following inscription :

Centennial Memorial, 1888, Borough of Parramatta. Mayor : Charles J. Byrnes, J.P. Aldermen : Hugh Taylor M.L.A., Joseph Booth, F. C. Cox, J.P., Frank Beames, J.P., W. J. Ferris, William Drew, Thomas Dixon, William Brodie, Laurence Tiernan, Thomas Moxham, James Dellow, Town surveyor: E. J. Love, Council clerk : Sydney Wickham.

A range of circular steps leads to the Centenial Fountain ; and the area is enclosed by a circular chain railing pendant from stone pillars. After some opposition to the project in the Parramatta Town Council, tenders were invited; the cost to come out of the premium obtained ( £600) on the £15,000 loan raised by the council some time previously. The tender of Messrs. Stenhouse and Mack, at about the amount named, was accepted. The foundation-stone was laid by the Mayor of Parramatta on January 26, 1888, in the presence of perhaps the largest gathering ever seen in Parramatta, and with great ceremony. The day was one of general rejoicing, not likely to be soon forgotten. It had been intended to formally open the Centennial Fountain on the same day as the Centennial Baths (situated near Lennox Bridge, George-street) ; but the idea was not carried out; and there has been no formal opening yet.
Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW), 
31 August 1889.


Address:Church & Macquarie Streets, Parramatta, 2150
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.815212
Long: 151.003168
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Structure
Monument Theme:Landscape
Designer:Mr. H.H. Hallomby
Monument Manufacturer:Stenhouse & Mack


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 26th January, 1888
Source: H,MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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