Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Suburban Herald

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Suburban Herald

Suburban newspapers were integral to the process of suburbanisation and community formation in Sydney as elsewhere. New morés were being fashioned, or old ones readopted in changing circumstances; social hierarchies were adjusting to new expressions of class formation; and new and growing localities were rigorously competing for finite resources. Local newspapers transmitted these discourses and debates. And they were an important form of social control and regulation. Wherever local 'communities' strove to advance their districts by enhancing their social standing and amenities, newspapers flourished.

Sydney's northern region is a prime example of these themes. Suburb building in the second half of the nineteenth century was accompanied by the rise of 'local rags'. The first of these newspapers preceded – and fought for – 'local' government. The Weekly Times, the North Shore's first newspaper, commenced publication in 1858, the year that the New South Wales Municipalities Act was passed and two years before the incorporation of East St Leonards. One of the Weekly Times's initial and successful campaigns was to bring the civilising influences of a school of arts to bear upon the district. [1] The North Shore and Manly Times , circulating in North Sydney, Manly, Mosman, Willoughby and 'throughout the Railway line', was established in 1885. So too was the North Shore Times. These papers sprang up in a period of suburban expansion which saw growing agitation for the amalgamation of East St Leonards Borough, St Leonards Borough and Victoria Borough into North Sydney Municipality, which eventually occurred in 1890. [2]

Around the turn of the century additional publications emerged, promoting both infrastructural development and prominent people who were 'untiring in their efforts to get a fair deal' for the 'north'. [3] The Northern Suburbs Weekly Dispatch went to press for the first time in the early 1900s under 'the patronage of the Leading Residents of the Northern Suburbs'. [4] It was joined by the Mirror (otherwise known as the Northern Suburbs Chronicle) which boasted circulation in St Leonards, Artarmon, Chatswood, Lindfield, Killara, Gordon and Hornsby.

Suburban expansion after World War I saw the launch of the Broadcaster, a weekly started in about 1920, and the Great Northern 'The Cock of the North', as its rooster-bearing banner proudly proclaimed – which began weekly publication around 1925. Other newspapers, including the New Clarion and Megaphone, were to be published from the mid-1930s with the easing of the Depression. In terms of local patriotism, however, by far the most important of all of these newspapers was the Suburban Herald.

An eight-page, free, weekly paper, the Suburban Herald commenced publication on Friday 2 October 1925. Printed in the Suburban Herald Printery at 420 Lane Cove Road (later Pacific Highway) in Crows Nest, it mimicked the Sydney Morning Herald in its form, banner and layout. Economic depression forced cessation of publication after 18 December 1930 until July 1936 when it was reissued weekly until its final closure later in 1938. [5] Distributed to households and businesses from Mosman to Chatswood, the Suburban Herald averaged a weekly circulation of 15,000 copies during the second half of the 1920s. Estimating a readership of over 50,000 people, [6] its proprietor and publisher, John Gay, claimed that it was the 'Greatest Free Distributed Newspaper in the Commonwealth'. [7] The Suburban Herald carried advertising – including ads for local businesses and travel – and reported on the meetings and other activities of local government in the area.

The Suburban Herald was an ardent advocate for the salubrious northern suburbs, from time to time portraying its southern neighbour, the City of Sydney, as a font of corruption and vice.


[1] John Pert, 'The "Peeps into the Past" (Suburban Herald)', North Shore Historical Society Journal, vol 23, no 4, November 1983, p 6

[2] Joy N Hughes, Local Government... Local History: A guide to Local Government Minute Books and Rate Records, Royal Australian Historical Society, Sydney, 1990, p 66

[3] Northern Suburbs Weekly Dispatch, vol 9, no 31, 1910, p 1

[4] Northern Suburbs Weekly Dispatch, vol 9, no 31, 1910, p 1

[5] State Library of New South Wales: originals, BN 535; microfilm RAV FM4 950

[6] Suburban Herald, 30 October 1935, p 8

[7] Suburban Herald, 23 January 1930, p 6