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Launceston's firsts

Launceston can lay claim to many Australian 'firsts', including the first use of anaesthetic in the Southern Hemisphere, first Australian city to have underground sewers and the first Australian city to be lit by hydro-electricity.

If you would like to add another first or request an amendment to an already listed first, please call the Council's Customer Service Centre or send us an email.

1814 - First licensed hotel in Australia
The Launceston Hotel was founded on its present premises 1814 and is the oldest continuously licensed hotel in Australia.  (It should be noted that an hotel in New South Wales and an hotel in New Norfolk make the same claim, although it is not known if they have been continuously licensed.)

1825 - First country newspaper
"The Tasmanian" was established in January 1825.

1827 - Launceston was the birthplace of Australian Golf

1834 - Launceston's first playhouse
Australia's first Actor-Manager, George Seth Coppin, founded Launceston's first playhouse.

1834 - Launcestonian's founded Melbourne
Trips to Port Phillip Bay by the Henty Brothers (1834) and Batman (1835) resulted in the founding of Melbourne from Launceston.  John Batman [Bateman] was born at Parramatta.

1835 - First urban land use plan of its kind was established
Henry W H Smythe drew the first town plan of Launceston.  First of its kind in the world - first urban land use plan.  Forty years before the next known survey of its kind

1835 - Oldest Bank in the Commonwealth outside of Britain
The Launceston Bank for Savings was established in 1835.  The bank has since become the Tasmania Bank and now part of Trust Bank.  Trust Bank is therefore the longest functioning savings bank in Australia.  Also oldest bank in the Commonwealth outside Britain.

1846 - Oldest continuously functioning private school in Australia
Launceston Church Grammar School opened in 1846.

1847 - First use of anaesthetics in the Southern Hemisphere for surgical operation by Dr William Russ Pugh

1849 - Launceston Chamber of Commerce was the first Australian City to start an institution of this kind

1851 - First, first-class cricket match held in Australia - Victoria v Tasmania
Played in Launceston (Victoria vs Tasmania).  First recorded intercolonial cricket match.  Tasmania won by three wickets.

1853 - The first local government elections held in Van Diemen's Land were held in Launceston.  1 January 1853. 
(No elections had been held in Hobart)

1855 - Launceston City Mission is one of the the oldest City Missions in Australia.

1860 - First Turf Club established at Mowbray Racecourse
Tasmanian Turf Club is the oldest club in Australasia to have functioned continuously under the same name.  Races were held at Mowbray since 1860.  Launceston offices 1917.

1860 - First underground sewage system in Australia
Third city in the world to be served by underground sewers.
1871 - First use of a telephone in Australia
First unofficial use of telephone in Australia between Campbell Town and Launceston. 

1876 - First railway in Tasmania
First railway in Tasmania was opened on 10 February 1871 between Launceston and Deloraine.

1879 - The Launceston Football Club is the oldest football club in Tasmania

1889 - Launceston was the first Tasmanian city created by parliament

1890 - First Australian demonstrations of sound recording on wax cylinders
Frank Styant Browne photographed the first Australian demonstrations of sound recording on wax cylinders in 1890.

1891 - First Art Society established
The oldest art society in Australia, the Launceston Art Society, was established in 1891.

1892 - The Brindley Water Pipe Organ was delivered to the Albert Hall
The Brindley Water Pipe Organ at the Albert Hall is the only working model in the Southern Hemisphere.  It was built around 1825, and came from Scotland in 1892.

1895 - Launceston became the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to be lit by hydro-electric power. 
10 December 1895.  Duck Reach Power Station began supplying Hydro electric power.  The South Esk River was The first Australian river used to generate electric power. 

1896 - First X-Ray photographs
The Department of Radiology at the Launceston General Hospital is the longest continuously operating Department of Radiology in the Southern Hemisphere

1897 - First elections under the Hare-Clark system were held in Launceston

1905 - The Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club was the first in Australia and is the second oldest motor cycle club in the world.

1905 - First city in the British Empire to have a three phase, four wire electricity distribution system

1916 - Launceston RSL was the first RSL Club in Australia to receive its Charter

1919 - First crossing of Bass Strait by air - Launceston to Melbourne
Lt. Arthur Long left Freelands Aerodrome in Launceston and flew to Melbourne (landing at Stanley en route).  This was the first crossing of Bass Strait by air and was in a two-seater bi-plane

1920 - First laminated tennis racket in the world
Mr Alfred Alexander invented in Launceston the first laminated tennis racket in the world.  The factory was established in 1926.

1932 - First major airline, Ansett Australia, founded
Australia's first major airline, Australian National Airways, (now Ansett Australia) was founded in Launceston by the Holyman Brothers (Victor and Ivan), who established their early services to Hobart and Flinders Island.

1937 - The first deep therapy unit installed at the Launceston General Hospital was the first in the Southern hemisphere

1947 - First use of radioactive phosphorous for treatment in Australia was at the Launceston General Hospital

1948 - First female elected to a Legislative Council
Mrs Margaret Edgeworth McIntyre OBE was elected in May 1948 as the Member for Cornwall in Tasmania's Legislative Council.  She was the first woman elected to the Legislative Council.  Killed in a plane crash in September 1948.

1949 - First use of two-way radio in the control of taxis
On 4 August 1949, the Mayor of Launceston, Alderman Henty, launched the first use in Australia of two-way radio controlled taxis.  The Plaza Taxi Company fitted nine taxis and a control car with two-way radios.

1949 - First female Alderman in Tasmania
In December 1949, Mrs Dorothy Edna Annie Edwards elected as an Alderman of the City of Launceston.  First woman elected as an Alderman in Tasmania.

1955 - First female Mayor in Tasmania
In December 1955, Alderman Dorothy Edna Annie Edwards elected as Mayor of Launceston.  The first woman Mayor of a Tasmanian city and one of the first woman Mayors of an Australia city.

1957 - The City of Launceston Lions Club was the first chartered Lions Club in Tasmania

1961 - First use of closed circuit television as a security measure in Australia 
The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery used the technology when it exhibited 58 original Dutch paintings.

1962 - First Australian city to add fluoride to its water supply

1972 - Dr Clifford Craig wrote the first authorative book on colonial furniture

1973 - Launceston has the longest single span chairlift in the world
Cataract Gorge Reserve Chairlift

1975 - First Mall constructed
Launceston pioneered a mall - The Brisbane Mall was opened on 4 October 1975 by the Mayor of Launceston, Alderman David V. Gunn

1983 - First authentic Scottish tartan produced in Australia

1994 - First female president of the Uniting Church in Australia and the first female president of the Tasmanian Council of Churches
Launceston's Mrs Jill Tabart is the first female President of the Uniting Church in Australia and the first woman to be president of the Tasmanian Council of Churches, only the second lady person to hold the position. 

1995 - First Tasmanian Governor to be born and educated in Tasmania
His Excellency the Hon. Sir Guy Green, A.C., K.B.E., assumed office on 2nd October 1995, his Excellency was born and educated in Launceston.

1998 - First breeding of a seahorse in captivity

2000 - First multimedia laboratory established