A redletter day for Barellan was reported on in the Narrandera Argus issue of December 3 1951. It was the switching of electric current supplied by the Narrandera Municipal Council under franchise from the Northern Riverina County Council.
Power was officially switched on by the President of the County Council Cr D Edis. The event was celebrated by the holding of a dinner in the Barellan School of Arts. It was attended by a number of prominent residents of Barellan, as well as a number of Narrandera residents. Amongst the official party were the Mayor of Narrandera Ald W G Armstrong, the Deputy Mayor Ald T Gordon and Ald J Ward, N MacAulay and R H Hankinson.
Others in attendance were the President of the Yanko Shire Council Cr E J Martin, who was also a member of the Northern Riverina County Council; Crs W R Scilley, W Bicket and H W H Cuthbert; as well as Crs A A Wallace (Bland Shire), Aitken and Dyason (Coolamon Shire) and G Davey (Consulting Engineer of the Northern Riverina County Council).
Besides those guests were the Electrical Engineer of the Municipal Council, Ollie Parker, who planned and supervised the whole of the extensions to the rural area; Mr W R Bowry (Town Clerk) and Mr S H Wright (Yanko Shire Clerk), as well as several members of the electricity and office staffs of the Municipal and Shire Councils.
The Mayor proposed the toast of the Northern Riverina County Council and in doing so said that he fully appreciated the great work that was being done by the Northern Riverina County Council in the re-development of the great south-west insofar as supplying water and electricity was concerned.
During the past 12 months it had been his privilege to meet Cr Edis, who always displayed a keen desire to expedite the supply of current to such centres as Ardlethan, Barellan, Beckom and other centres. He hoped that in the course of a few weeks that Beckom would be hooked up with the service. His Council appreciated the excellent work done by Mr Parker and the staff under his control in connection with the work of extending the electricity mains into the rural areas over which the Council held a franchise.
Cr Edis, in responding, thanked the Mayor for the manner in which he had proposed the toast and also for the way in which the company had received it. He expressed his appreciation of the honour because it was only a few years ago that Mrs Edis had the honour of performing the ceremony of turning on the water supply to Barellan. He said the County Council was formed in the first place for the purpose of supplying water to the towns in the area of this part of the south-west, but in the early stages they had great difficulty in coming to terms with the Government because they could not comply with the regulations that the scheme should be financed on a 50-50 basis. The regulations provided for such a financial arrangement, but as they did not carry sufficient population to enable that to be done the County Council took what it could get and it was ultimately agreed by the Government to the scheme being carried out on the basis of the number of houses in the area to be served.
However, the water supply had been extended to the district. The County Council received every assistance from the Local Government Department. It did not give them all they asked for, but they took what they could get. The population of the area was increasing and it became obvious that an electricity service should be extended to the area.
The County Council realised that the supply of current was essential and negotiations were conducted with the Minister. An explanation of the negotiations for permission and financial help to carry out extensions to this part of the County Council’s area took some time, so that the franchise was ultimately given to the Narrandera Municipal Council and arrangements were made with the Department for it to undertake the work of carrying out the scheme of extending the mains and supplying current to the people in the villages and those along the outlying routes. They realised that the current had to go through very scattered areas, but the Municipal Council of Narrandera carried out the extensions and the County Council greatly appreciated its good work.
Cr E J V Martin (Yanko Shire) proposed the toast to the Franchise Authority – the Narrandera Municipal Council. As representative of that portion of the shire he extended a welcome to the visitors and said that he felt honoured at having such an opportunity. He congratulated the Municipal Council on having extended the electric supply into the rural areas and said that it was a service which they would greatly appreciate. The Narrandera Council had a considerable amount of money available in its electricity account some years ago and undertook to provide the amenity of electric power to the rural areas.
Cr Edis mentioned the matter of the early years of the County Council’s history, which was in the first place formed to provide a water supply to the towns and villages in its area as well as the people along the route. Mr G Davey (consulting engineer) supported the toast and spoke of the early history of the scheme to supply the people in the rural areas with electric current. Although the State had entered upon a rural electrification scheme, it had a long way to go before it could catch up with the United States system. However, even in the United States there were many areas that did not have electricity. The distribution in the United States was widespread.
Ald T Gordon (Deputy Mayor) responded and said the Municipal Council had undertaken to exercise a franchise for the supply of current to the areas north of Narrandera under agreement with the Northern Riverina County Council and on the south with the Yanko Shire Council. He did not know when the work would be completed, but it was a long range plan that would take some years. It was only a few weeks ago that they went to Ardlethan to switch on the light at that centre. He congratulated the people on having electric light, but reminded them that when they got their accounts they would realise that they had to pay for it. Unfortunately the Electricity Supply Authority in the State had a habit of altering the price of current and they did not know what they had to pay for the current until they got their accounts.
Ald R H Hankinson proposed the toast to the Yanko Shire Council. He congratulated the people of Barellan on having another of the services which were enjoyed by larger towns and he thought that they would thoroughly appreciate it. The women folk in particular would greatly enjoy such an amenity. First they had the water and now they had electric current, the same as was enjoyed by metropolitan areas. He congratulated Cr Edis on what had been done by the Northern Riverina County Council. He had been chairman of that body for a number of years and they rendered a splendid service. Speaking of the relations that existed between the Municipal Council and the Yanko Shire, he said that those two bodies had lived in the same building since 1906, when the Yanko Shire Council came into existence and the utmost harmony always existed between them. The riding in which Barellan was situated had been represented by Crs Martin and Killen for some years and Cr Martin had always been a great advocate of the extension of electricity to Barellan.
The Yanko Shire Council developed the area since former days, as he remembered visiting Barellan in connection with a First World War loan and on going home in the evening got bogged to the axles of his car. That day he rode to Barellan over a good road, except for a very short distance.
Cr A A Wallace (Bland Shire Council) supported the toast and in doing so said he wished to congratulate Barellan on having received the electricity service. He suggested that Barellan people should form some kind of an association to keep matters relating to the township before the appropriate authorities.
Cr Bicket (Yanko Shire Council)responded, saying that it was very pleasing for him to be in attendance at such a function and referred to the arrangements made some years ago between the County Council, of which he was a member and the Municipal Council. These arrangements culminated that evening so far as Barellan was concerned by the switching on of the current. He was pleased at the progress made in the development of that portion of the shire, and paid a tribute to the Municipal Council for the part it was playing in such development. He also referred to the harmonious relations that existed between the Municipal and Shire Councils.
Mr W W Black (Barellan) proposed the toast to the visitors. He said that it was indeed fitting that Cr Edis should have the privilege of switching on the electric current to the township, as it was only a few years ago that they had the pleasure of attending a function at which Mrs Edis turned on the water supply provided by the Northern Riverina County Council, of which Cr Edis was the chairman.
Cr Dyason (Coolamon Shire Council) thanked the Narrandera Municipal Council for going to the assistance of the County Council and carrying out the extensions in a most expeditious manner. Cr Cuthbert said that he was at Barellan before there was any Barellan and resided there for a number of years. At the time he was fully convinced that Barellan had a bright future and conceived a closer settlement plan, which George Gow commented on as being a good one. It was Mr Gow who put Barellan on the map. Later he went to Grong Grong to live and changed his opinion about Barellan, he quipped. He was pleased to see that Barellan had since obtained the amenities of a water supply and an efficient electricity service.
The crowd then adjourned to the street, where there was already a large number of residents waiting for the switching on ceremony to begin. The front of the School of Arts and for some distance each side was festooned with coloured electric bulbs, which came to life after the current was switched on.
The Mayor (Ald Armstrong) asked Cr Martin to introduce Cr Edis to the assemblage and invite him to perform the switching-on ceremony. He said that that evening the residents of Barellan would have the privilege of the electricity service and enjoy the doubtful blessings of zoning. Cr Martin said that he had for the past six or seven years done his best to have the service extended to Barellan. Cr Edis, with Mr Hart and Mr Davey, rendered yeoman service in the early days towards having the water supply extended to Barellan, and although the water was important, the Narrandera Council, by arrangement with the County Council, had carried the other great amenity of electric current to the area.
Cr Edis spoke about the early struggles of the County Council in raising money for the work of extending water and electricity to the area and paid high tributes to the services rendered by Mr Parker and Mr Davey. He also gratefully acknowledged the assistance given by the Local Government Department, the Yanko Shire Council and the Narrandera Municipal Council.
Cr W R Scilley (Yanko Shire) said no man was more entitled to the honour than Cr Edis, who had been one of the founders of the Northern Riverina County Council and its Chairman since its inception in 1938. He mentioned the difficulties in raising loans in the early years of the Council’s existence, but that was the experience of most of them. It was formed with the object of providing a water supply to the villages in the south-west and the people along the route. Since that time the County Council had increased the number of councils which were affiliated with it from about four to eight.