East Rockingham

The east Rockingham area was the site of the original town of Rockingham from about 1830. The town derived its name from the ship Rockingham which was blown ashore in May 1830 opposite the present day Governor Road. The original settlement was established just over three kilometres inland at what became East Rockingham and today is the border between Rockingham and Kwinana. Peel sent a small party there to build homes and cultivate the soil, which was an improvement on the sand and limestone at Clarence town. Some original settlers, families such as the Meads, Hymus’, Keys, Thomas’, Chesters, Sloans and Smirks survived but eking out a living was very difficult and Governor Stirling was petitioned for assistance. Not surprisingly, no assistance was forthcoming. The first East Rockingham School was originally situated diagonally opposite the Rockingham Road Board office which were built in 1905 on the junction of Mandurah Road and Office Road. The situation of the Road Board office gave Office Road its name. Previously the Board had held meetings in the Rockingham Beach School and then leased space in the Rockingham Agricultural Hall built in 1898. A new East Rockingham school was built in 1933, which later became a school for migrant children before being relocated in the late 1960s to Brownell Crescent in Medina where it was used for a scout hall.
It wasn’t until the long-discussed timber export industry began to be taken seriously that a new township of Rockingham was planned adjacent to the waterfront which included timber jetties and timber yards. A route for a small railway (or tramway as it was then called) was also surveyed to bring the timber (jarrah and tuart) from Jarrahdale to the new port. Unfortunately capital and skilled workers were not immediately available, and it wasn’t until 1870 that a syndicate applied for and received a long-term lease over a large area of forest with plans to build a sawmill, the railway and port at Mangles Bay. Progress at last, but at the expense of the “old Rockingham” which was bypassed and gradually deserted.

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