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Local History

The City of Holdfast Bay was formed in 1997 through the amalgamation of the City Councils of Brighton and Glenelg. Both townships had been established on Indigenous Kaurna land.  Glenelg became a municipality in 1855 and Brighton followed in1858.
In 1838 Brighton district was surveyed by Colonel William Light. The area became a rural farming area, but because of its sand hills and long sandy beaches, it also became a place for holiday houses built by wealthy professionals and notable people of the day.
With the advent of the railway and the car, settlement grew quickly and Brighton became a popular day trip destination as people flocked to the beach.

The City of Holdfast Bay was formed in 1997 through the amalgamation of the City Councils of Brighton and Glenelg. Both townships were established on Indigenous Kaurna land with the first European settlers arriving in 1836 in Glenelg. The Proclamation document was read on 28 December 1836.

The majority of land quickly became a rural farming area but, because of its sand hills and long sandy beaches, it also became a place for holiday houses built by wealthy professionals and notable people of the day. Glenelg became a municipality in 1855 and Brighton followed in 1858.

Post-war immigration changed the once rural seaside village into a town. From a settlement that started in tents and prefabricated huts, it developed into South Australia's premier seaside resort. With the advent of the railway and the car, settlement grew quickly. Brighton became a popular day trip destination with people flocking to the beach. Many amusement facilities were developed and Jetty Road, Glenelg subsequently grew into a main shopping area.

Learn more about the history of the Holdfast Bay area by contacting the Holdfast Bay History Centre or exploring our interactive displays at the Bay Discovery Centre.

The Glenelg Town Hall

Originally known as the Glenelg Institute Building, Glenelg Town Hall was designed by Edmund Wright, architect and former Mayor of Adelaide. The foundation stone was laid on 11 December 1875 by Sir Henry Ayers and the Institute formally opened in 1877. The building had a grand main entrance on the western frontage and a tower to take in the panoramic view of the ocean and surrounds. A cupola was later added to house the clock donated by Mayor Thomas King in 1884. In 1887 the building became the Glenelg Town Hall. Wander through the Bay Discovery Centre, housed within the Town Hall, to learn more about the history of Holdfast Bay.

Kingston House

Kingston House, built circa 1840, is the oldest historic building in Holdfast Bay. It was owned by George Strickland Kingston, who came out on the Cygnet as Deputy Surveyor to Colonel Light.  He was an architect and designed many of the early colonial buildings in Adelaide.

Kingston House in Cameron Avenue, Kingston Park is open to the public from 2.30pm-4.30pm every Sunday in March until the last Sunday in November.

Partridge House

Built in 1899, Partridge House was built for Mrs Elinor Varley. It was bought by the former Glenelg Council in 1971 after it was threatened with demolition.  Since 1977 it has been used as a community facility. Take a wander through the gardens to the north of the house and see the elaborate Townsend Drinking Fountain, made of bronzed iron and set on a bluestone base.

Partridge House, booking and function information.

Other Local Places

There are many prominent mansions within the City of Holdfast Bay. Download a copy of our Mansions of Glenelg Walking brochure to discover more. Watch out for open house events throughout May each year during South Australia's History Festival.

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