Our history and heritage

Odd jobs of our city’s past

We’ve sure seen a lot of change in our 175+ years of operation. We’ve dug into the archives to come up with 6 odd jobs that no longer exist at the City.

  • Council block boy, 1928

    This smartly dressed fellow was tasked with removing horse dung and other nuisances from the city’s streets. Each block boy was in charge of a city block, hence the name. The manure was kept in special receptacles until it was collected and sold to the public as fertiliser.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Town Hall clock cleaners, 1937

    Well, it isn’t going to clean itself… This pic shows workmen suspended by ropes to clean the clockface at Sydney Town Hall. Note the great hats.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Garbage punting, 1913

    A problem in a rapidly growing city: how to dispose of garbage? In 1876 council resolved to take it out to sea in a punt like this one pictured. Tides brought much of it back to shore (residents recalled seeing everything from vegetable debris to rats wash up on Bondi Beach). The practice was put to an end in 1932.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Data Processing Manager, 1970s

    In 1970, council took the first step toward computerising the city’s vast collections of data by approving the position of Data Processing Manager. This photograph, from 1977, shows the purpose-built room constructed in Town Hall House to house the council’s mainframe computer.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Lift Attendant, 1932

    Taking an elevator was much more personal in the city’s early days. This photo shows a lift attendant in Town Hall’s elevator, which was installed in 1906.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • City mobile library driver

    Can’t get to the library? No problem - it will come to you. The mobile library was the brainchild of City Librarian Francis Bell. This photo shows Bell alongside librarians Miss Ruth Broinowski, Miss Margaret Pedersen and driver Mr J. Royston. It visited schools and factories every fortnight, loaded with 5,000 books and periodicals. The service continued until 1991.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives