House History

House History | Local Government

Local councils are often a good source of knowledge, but they may not always hold archives on site. Call or enquire online first.

Shoalhaven District Rate Books are located at the NSW State Archives, which houses a growing collection of rate books and other related documents from 43 local government areas.

The addition of these records to the NSWSA collection is a means of ensuring the records can be better preserved in appropriate, secure and climate-controlled conditions. It also means the records will be available to the whole community for current and future research.

NSWSA are more than happy to assist with any enquiries and records can be pre-ordered online for viewing. https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/


Rate assessment and valuation of books: are not always easy to access and some are no longer available. Very old rate books may be fragile and some records have been lost or destroyed.

It is necessary to know the local government area in which a house was located as there have been many council amalgamations and changes over the year. Most rate books have not been indexed and are arranged by Ward or Riding, so it can often be a slow process to find the property searched for.

Listings of land parcels and ratepayers were compiled annually, and reveal much about the early pattern of land occupation, tenure and subdivision. The books provide a guide to the succession of ownership of individual properties, as well as a means of dating early building activity in the area. Information that may be contained includes description of the property, valuation, type of building material (timber, stone or brick), owner and/or occupier, occupations of owner and/or occupier.

If there are no street numbers at all, some educated guess work may be required. The house may be the fourth property after an intersection for example. Remember that the sizes of blocks of land may change over the years. Areas were often sub-divided, and what one year may have been a single rateable property, may become three properties in a subsequent year.

Council meeting minutes: may contain references to properties or streets, recording decisions made concerning subdivisions, large building projects and other developments.

Council meeting minutes can also provide insight into particularly controversial developments, particularly as issues of urban conservation become prominent from the 1960s onwards.

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