The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Act, 1910 commenced on December 28, 1910 and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Trust (MIT) was formed to undertake development work for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.
Mr L.A.B Wade, chief engineer for the Irrigation and Drainage Branch of the Department of Public Works, was appointed as Executive Officer and Secretary to the trust which acquired land under the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area Resumption Act, 1910, either by purchase or resumption and decided on a policy of concentrated irrigation of the most suitable lands.
With the end of the MIT in 1913, the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission (WC&IC) commenced.
New buildings were added to the administration centre and a two-storey residence (now Leeton Soldiers Club) was erected in 1913 on the corner of Acacia and Yanco avenues to accommodate the commissioner.
Another large residence (our Visitors Information Centre) was erected on Yanco Avenue to accommodate the principal engineer, and buildings for a hospital, doctor and visitors were erected on the commission’s grounds.
The WC&IC planned the building of the butter and bacon factories, with the first cannery established (1914) at Petersham and later, a second much larger cannery built in 1918 enabled the processing of the large crops.
It was also responsible for local government and civic services until January 1928, when the Shire of Willimbong (1928-46) was created.
The commission also was instrumental in assisting farmers settling into the irrigation area, forming settlers associations, progress associations, agencies to supply machinery on loan and so on, assisting settlers, providing financial assistance and terms of repayment for settlers taking up farms on offer.
At the end of the first war, the commission assumed responsibility for accommodating returned soldiers on the irrigation areas with further farms opened up and prepared with channels, roads, and drains constructed by commission workers.
In 1918 the WC&IC and/or its associates provided a water filtration system for the cannery and butter factory; a fire service stationed at the cannery; the Yanco Power House and Electricity Supply System (1914); streetlights (1936/37); Yanco Horticulture and Agricultural Society (formed 1914) as well as reserves set aside for public parks, recreation and sport.
To accommodate the growing WC&IC, a new building was planned and signed off by architect Mr J K Miller and built by H T Brown at 23-33 Chelmsford Place.
This became the WC&IC headquarters and was officially opened in 1938 by Major Reid, Chairman of the Irrigation Commission and Minister for Agriculture.
(Continued next month)