Council History


Shire Hall at Brookvale

Council’s official birth date is Tuesday March 7, 1906, when 'Warringah Shire Council' was formed as a rural local government area of Sydney. 

Under the then Shires Act, ratepayers with properties worth at least £5 could vote for up to nine Councillors for a three-year term. To give an idea of how isolated the northern beaches were then, the 1911 Census counted 2,823 people living in just 700 households.

The first temporary Council was installed until proper elections on November 24, 1906. The temporary Chairman was a colourful character called George Brock, about whom a lot more is known than the first elected President, Thomas Fishbourne. 

George Brock started life as a lowly draper but was lucky enough to inherit £10,000 - a small fortune in those days. He bought up land in Mona Vale and set about building an enormous mansion complete with polo grounds, artificial lakes, a racecourse and a clubhouse. 

Brock borrowed another £15,000 on the promise that the government would extend a tramline through to Newport. His vision was to have holiday makers stay on his enormous estate, but the promised railway never materialised. The locals named it ‘Brock’s Folly’.

The Council first met in Narrabeen Progress Hall on June 14, 1906, moving meetings from 1912 for the next 60 years to the Shire Hall in Brookvale. Work began on a new Dee Why Civic Centre in 1971, inspired by Sulman Prize winning architect Edwards, Madigan & Torzillo. The building was completed in 1972 and the Council has remained there since 1973.

The coat of arms was adopted in 1968. It features two dolphins, a crested Wedge-tailed Eagle, the Flannel Flower on a shield and the motto "arte et labore" (by skill and labour). The coat of arms can be seen on the Mayoral chain. Various versions of the Flannel Flower have been used as Council’s logo in the past and it remains Council's official seal. In 2013, a place mark for Warringah, featuring a 'W' was created and became Council's logo.

The Council was dismissed in 1967 following the jailing of two Councillors for bribery. It was again dismissed in 1985 amid corruption allegations but subsequent inquiries resulted in no charges being laid and Council was returned in 1987. In 2003, a public inquiry found the community had lost confidence in the Council and an administrator was appointed.

In 1991, a non-compulsory postal poll was held over whether the northern part of Warringah, known as A Riding, would split from Warringah. Despite being 600 votes short of the numbers needed, the Minister for Local Government announced the secession. Pitttwater Council was proclaimed in 1992. 

Warringah dropped ‘Shire’ from its title when the new Local Government Act was passed in 1993. Shire Clerks became General Managers and Shire Presidents became Mayors and the term Alderman was dropped in favour of Councillor.

Following five years under administration and a program of dramatic organisational change, elections were again held. In 2008, Independent candidate, Michael Regan, became Warringah's first popularly elected Mayor and he was re-elected again in 2012. Many initiatives were put into place to prevent corruption, including the hiring of an independent Ombudsman and the setting up of the Warringah Development Assessment Panel, the first panel in NSW to independently determine Development Applications.

After years of consultation surrounding local government reform, the New South Wales Government dissolved Warringah, Manly and Pittwater Councils and proclaimed the new Northern Beaches Council in their place on Thursday 16 May, 2016.

At the same time the State Government appointed Dick Persson as the Administrator for the Northern Beaches Council and former Pittwater General Manager Mark Ferguson as the Interim General Manager.



In this section you can find

Historic Plaques and Memorials

Historic plaques and memorials are valued by our community as a way of commemorating people, places or events of national, state or local ...