Sydney history – The Month of February


11 February

St James’ Church, Sydney, designed by Francis Greenway, is consecrated by the Rev. Samuel Marsden.

St James Church, 1969

St James Church, 1969 (City of Sydney Archives, CRS 871/55)


25 February

T. S. Mort begins building a dry dock (Mort’s Dock) at Balmain, Sydney. Mort’s Dock is completed in 1855.


9 February

John Robertson replaces Henry Parkes as Premier of NSW.


10 – 12 February

Run on the head office of the Savings Bank of New South Wales in Sydney, depositors withdrawing their funds in gold.


9 February

The word “cobber” first appears in print in the Bulletin.


6 February

Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club founded in Sydney. Bondi lays claim to being Australia’s (and the world’s) first surf lifesaving club; however this is disputed by Bronte who had set up a life saving club (without the word ‘surf’ in its title) in 1903.



Influenza pandemic causes the closure of theatres, libraries, churches, and schools in New South Wales . The wearing of masks is made compulsory.


4 February

A shark fatally attacks a young lifesaver, 16 year old Milton Singleton Coughlan, at Coogee Beach , Sydney, just prior to the commencement of a surf carnival. 6000 terrified onlookers on the beach watch as Jack Chalmers and Frank Beaurepaire (an Olympic champion) bravely rescue the boy from the shark’s jaws. Coughlan dies soon afterwards in hospital. The Sunday News ( 5 February, 1922 ) reports:

 Jack Chalmers pointed to his Digger’s badge.

 “It’s the spirit of this that made me do it,” he said. “When I saw a mate in danger I acted first and thought afterwards.”

Jack Chalmers

Jack Chalmers. (City of Sydney Archives, Newsclippings W 207)


6 February

Black Sunday, perhaps the most famous rescue operation of the Bondi Surf Life Saving Club. Freak waves drag hundreds of people out to sea at Bondi and life savers rescue more than 300 people.


3 February

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip arrive in Sydney to begin an Australian tour, the first by a reigning monarch.

The Log Arch on Macquarie Street. The Arch was part of the decorations prepared for the Royal Visit of 1954

The Log Arch on Macquarie Street. The Arch was part of the decorations prepared for the Royal Visit of 1954. (City of Sydney Archives, SRC1632).


25 February

Sydney’s last tram leaves from La Perouse.


25 February

Fire destroys Sydney’s Lyceum Theatre


14 February

Elton John, British singer, marries Renata Blauel at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point, Sydney.

Detail view of carved sandstone head, St Mark's Church (1848), Darling Point, 2001-2

Detail view of carved sandstone head, St Mark’s Church (1848), Darling Point, 2001-2 (City of Sydney Archives, Gary Deirmendjian: ‘Sydney Sandstone’ Collection: 20798)


This Month In Sydney’s History is drawn from the following source material:

  • News clippings and scrapbooks, City of Sydney Archives.
  • Graeme Aplin, S. G. Foster, Michael McKernan (eds.), Australians: Events and Places, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, Sydney, 1987.
  • Anthony Barker, What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia From 1788, rev.ed., Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2000.
  • Bryce Fraser (ed.), The Macquarie Book of Events, Macquarie Library, McMahons Point, 1983.
  • Graham Jahn, Sydney Architecture, The Watermark Press, Sydney, 1997.