Launceston is a city of ‘firsts’ with numerous achievements of state, national and even international significance by residents and local organisations celebrated in the pages of The Examiner over the past 175 years.
The Launceston Municipal Council can claim two very important firsts. The city’s underground sewers date from 1860 and are the oldest in Australia and the third oldest in the world. The Examiner reported on July 21, 1863, that there had been no objections from Launceston residents to legislation compelling house owners to construct drains onto the sewer at their own expense!
The Duck Reach Power Station, which was commissioned on December 11, 1895, made Launceston the first city in Australia to be lit by a publicly-owned hydro electricity supply. “At eight o'clock the city was illumined, the arc lamps in the centre of the streets throwing forth a splendid light,” The Examiner reported.
Some notable medical firsts have been undertaken in Launceston.
Using equipment he had designed from a magazine article, Dr William Pugh performed the first successful operations with the use of anaesthesia in Australia in June 1847 at his private hospital in Charles Street.
The Examiner provided a detailed description of the operations and reported the great satisfaction of the patients with their ‘painless’ procedures.
Margaret McIntyre, who won the seat of Cornwall (now Rosevears) in the Legislative Council in May 1948, was the first woman elected to the Tasmanian Parliament.
The Examiner noted that she had only attended nine sitting days in Parliament before being tragically killed in a plane crash on the way home from a National Council of Women conference in Brisbane.
And Launceston can claim a number of sporting firsts. On February 11, 1851, Australia’s first inter-colonial cricket match was played at the Launceston Racecourse grounds (today’s NTCA Ground) between Victoria and Tasmania. The Victorians scored a total of 139 runs in their two innings but despite a batting collapse in their second innings the Tasmania team managed a total of 141 runs to win the match.
There are many more Launceston firsts and perhaps some that we have claimed over the years (not included here) that have turned out to be a little dubious!
- Thanks to QVMAG History Curator Jon Addison for his assistance
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