Changing boundaries, changing names: the history behind Bayside Council

We often associated history with the distant past. In reality though, it is constantly being made in the present. On Friday 9 September 2016, a new chapter in the history of the local area began when Rockdale and Botany Bay Councils merged to become a new entity called Bayside Council.

All maps, Atlas of Sydney Suburbs (1885-1890).   COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SYDNEY ARCHIVES

Changes to boundaries and names are something past residents have also experienced. Look at the Atlas of the Suburbs of Sydney (1885-1890) and you’ll see that modern day Bayside originally consisted of three municipalities; Rockdale, Botany and North Botany. It also included a small portion of the Municipality of Hurstville which would later become the Municipality of Bexley.

Rockdale, which was the oldest of these Councils, formed in 1871 under the name of West Botany. In 1887, it changed its name, in light of land being sub-divided for residential development. Just a year later Botany and North Botany were proclaimed as municipalities across the Bay.


If you are wondering where North Botany was, the answer is Mascot. On 31 October 1911, the municipality formally changed its name to Mascot to differentiate itself from its southern neighbour. It had originally wanted to be known as Ascot, after Ascot Racecourse which was located in the municipality. The name however was rejected by the Postmaster General who felt there were already too many Ascots in the Commonwealth.


The logo of the former Mascot Council c. 1938. COURTESY OF BAYSIDE COUNCIL

As the logo on your right shows, the Municipality of Mascot took great pride in the fact the airport was located within its boundaries. During these interwar years aviation held a sense of excitement and wonder.  In 1948 local names and boundaries changed again when the Greater Sydney movement saw a number of small councils merged into larger entities. On the northern side of the Bay, Mascot was merged with Botany. Over on the west, the Municipality of Bexley (1900-1948) became part of Rockdale.

Interestingly, this period of time also saw the natural boundary between Rockdale and Botany redeveloped, when the original mouth of the Cooks River was filled in for the expansion of Sydney Airport. If the river still existed today, it would have entered Botany Bay roughly where the BP service station is on General Holmes Drive.

Though this council boundary remained in place until last month, the growth of Sydney Airport had practically made this line redundant. Today, the majority of Sydney Airport now sits within the boundaries of Bayside Council.

The Cooks River as it flowed before and after the Airport’s expansion ( 1948 & 1968). COURTESY OF ADSTRA/AAM



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