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Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 3, November 1983

The Nelson City Council

The Nelson City Council

There was a certain amount of feeling in the town of Nelson and many citizens believed that the time had arrived to form a Nelson City Council. In October 1873 a petition praying that it should become a municipality was circulated and signed in the town and forwarded to Mr Robert Burn who, as a member of both the Provincial Council and the Board of Works, forwarded it to his Honour the Superintendent for presentation to the Governor.

page 19

The first Nelson City Council was appointed on March 30, 1874, the members simply being the members of the old Board of Works, so taking advantage of the Municipal Corporation Act passed some years earlier. The City Council took over the works which the Board of Works had created and, with them, the officials of the Board. These included W. C. Mirfin, manager of the Gas and Water Works. The Council also had to incur the liability of £50,000 in connection with the transfer of the Gasworks and Waterworks from the Government to Council. Meanwhile the City Council had no income and faced a financial crisis. Following an election in September 1874 all the council employes, except the newly appointed Town Clerk, were given notice of termination of their services. This included the manager of the gasworks but there soon was some dissatisfaction when lights failed in the evenings and one City Council meeting in April 1875 was abandoned during discussion when lights failed.