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Community Libraries Local Family History Events Salisbury North

Historical Events

The Local History Collection at the Len Beadell Library has a range of resources relating to the people, places and events that have shaped the City of Salisbury.

The Kaurna people

The Kaurna people lived in the Adelaide plains area for thousands of years. The Kaurna langage group extends from Port Broughton the North to Cape Jervis at the south, roughly bordered by the Adelaide Hills - see the Indigenous Languages map on the ABC web site for details.

European settlement and the birth of Salisbury

In 1839, three years after the founding of South Australia, a 20 year old Scot named John Harvey migrated to South Australia from the town of Wick in Caithness. In 1847, he purchased land along the Little Para River to establish a township. Section 2191 of the Hundred of Yatala became one of the main land sections which John designed as a town.

In 1848, he began selling allotments for the township of Salisbury, named after his wife Anne's (nee Pitman) home town in England. Many of Salisbury's main streets are named after John and his family. It was not long before the township contained fifty dwellings and shops.

Fast track to Salisbury

After much discussion and debate the railway was started and the line finally reached Salisbury on 29th December 1856. The train was pulled by a Stephenson & Co No. 4 engine and had 10 carriages. 400 tickets were sold at 11 shillings (at today's value ~ $80) which included a meal at Salisbury. The trip took 42 mins from Adelaide to Salisbury, stopping at Dry Creek, and 30 mins for the return trip.

The coming of the railway to Salisbury proved to be a great boon to the people of Salisbury. It cut down on the journey to Adelaide from several hours one way to approx 40mins. This meant that products produced in Salisbury could be sent to Adelaide in less time and in a better condition than the previous long bumpy road trip. The residents of Salisbury were no longer isolated by distance and the ability to access a form of transport other than walking. People now could visit family and friends or shop at a variety of shops not available to them in Salisbury.

World War II changed Salisbury

The first way was the building of a munitions factory which later over time became DSTO. As Long Range Weapons (LRW) the complex was involved in the building of rockets and the testing of atomic devices. The symbol of the rocket and the atom was incorporated in to the city coat of arms.

Secondly, the building of temporary cabin homes to house the munitions factory workers saw the doubling of Salisbury's population and a change in the occupation of its residents, from mainly agriculture to industrial. This set the scene for the next change.

The third change brought about by the war dealt with the increase in immigration which in turn led to the building of new homes by the Housing Trust of SA at Salisbury North. The continued development of the munitions factory complex (DSTO) attracted skilled migrants from the UK who required homes close to their place of work. Many workers built their own homes which blended private as well as Housing Trust homes.

As Salisbury North increased and prospered other suburbs were developed by real estate developers who saw the potential for growth in the north. Such development lead to the creation of a new satellite city, Elizabeth, the construction of which was overseen by Salisbury, the Housing Trust of SA and the State Government.

Community Libraries History Salisbury North 1955 Ariel

Aerial photo of Salisbury North in 1955

Further reading

Playford's South Australia : Essays on the History of South Australia 1933 - 1968 Chapter 11 "Equality of Sacrifice? War Work in Salisbury South Australia" ISBN 0-646-29092-4