In November 1854 an advertisement was placed in the Sydney newspaper Empire seeking the services of “a competent surveyor to lay out for sale the township of Cundle on the Manning River”.1 The set out, and probably also the design, of this private township was subsequently awarded to Walter Clayton.
Walter came from Sussex, England.2 Born circa 1821, he served his apprenticeship in England3 before relocating to New South Wales where he was appointed a Registered Surveyor in February 1855.4
Cundletown is of an unusual design being laid out around an arrangement of six village squares. A strong English influence is evidenced both by its layout and in the naming of the streets and squares.
In February 1857 Walter had completed his task and was due to take up another appointment in the Macleay area. However, he was tragically drowned at Cundle Wharf prior to his departure, being survived by a pregnant wife and young daughter. He is said to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Dawson River Cemetery; one of its earliest interments.5
Cundletown has been modified over time, both by the construction of Taree Airport and by road realignments, but Market Square remains as a visible reminder of commercial ambition and a life cut short.
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Empire Saturday 25 November 1854 Page 1
2 Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 22 June 1895 Page 1
4 NSW Government Gazette Tuesday 13 February 1855 (Issue No. 26) Page 365
5 Empire Thursday 12 March 1857 Page 5