Over 4,600 historic plans of 460 regional towns in NSW —including Armidale, Uralla, Moree, Glen Innes, and Quirindi — have just been digitised and made available for the first time on the State Library of NSW’s website.
Subdivision plans were ephemeral items, usually discarded once a development site was sold. Luckily, the State Library has acquired and preserved these 100-year-old plans for the people of NSW and beyond, to access and use.
“Subdivision plans are an absolute goldmine for genealogists and local historians as they allow us to place ourselves in the past — on a street, in a town, where we once lived, where our ancestors established themselves,” said State Library’s maps expert, Maggie Patton.
“What’s more, they are filled with fascinating details like property prices, town descriptions and sometimes a photograph.”
Dating from as early as the 1880s, up to the 1930s, the plans were produced by real estate agents and auctioneers to advertise new subdivisions and land sales. They range from hand-drawn surveyors’ plans to beautifully designed colour posters.
“They provide a fascinating visual record of how your town was imagined by town planners of the past, and how it has developed and expanded over time,” says Ms Patton.
“Some of the plans are annotated with sales figures, and you can see how public transport or access to shops, parks and local attractions influenced the popularity of a town.
“Estate agents used creative marketing strategies to entice people to regional locations by promoting special events with free transport, refreshments or entertainment for the kids.”
For the past 10 years the State Library has been progressively digitising its collection of 40,000+ subdivision plans of suburban and regional NSW with funding support from the NSW Government. These are now publicly available on the Library’s website.
The State Library Shop also allows you to order an archival print of a subdivision plan as a gift. Simply search your regional town at sl.nsw.gov.au/subdivision, copy the link of your chosen map, and send an enquiry to order your print at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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