On the 22nd October, 1841, the settlement of Melbourne was divided into four wards for the purpose of electing commissioners for the management of the Melbourne market established under the provisions of Act 3, Victoria No. 19 of the governor and Legislative Council of New South Wales. The internal boundaries of the four wards were the centre lines of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street prolonged to the settlement's boundaries.
The first markets were established by the Commissioners on the present site of St. Paul's Cathedral (hay and corn), the Western Market site - now the National Mutual Centre (fruit and general produce) and at the north-east corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street opposite the present Queen Victoria Market site (cattle). A fish market was later established on the present site of the Flinders Street Railway Station (Swanston Street frontage).
From the time of its establishment in 1835, Melbourne had been a province of New South Wales and the affairs of the settlement had been administered by the Parliament of New South Wales.
However, with the growth of the settlement there had been an increasing demand by the inhabitants for greater autonomy over their own affairs and, accordingly, on 12th August, 1842, Melbourne was incorporated as a Town by Act 6 Victoria No. 7 of the Governor and Legislative Council of New South Wales. The Town of Melbourne so incorporated was subdivided into four wards (the internal boundaries being the same as those defined in Act 3 Victoria No. 19 for the election of the market commissioners), the names given to the wards being Bourke Ward (north-west), Gipps Ward (north-east), La Trobe Ward (south-east) and Lonsdale Ward (south-west).
Contributed by Ann Mavric (PPPG Member No. 1171)
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