I must thank fellow Blue Mountains resident Stephanie Moxham for alerting me to this story. Stephanie posted the following letter on a local history FB site. It had been published In The Katoomba Daily on Saturday, May 25 1935.
To the Editor
Sir, – Mr George B. Whyte wants to know why Leura should surrender its name. This is why; Katoomba is on the map; Leura is not. People all over the world have heard and know of Katoomba. There are thousands in this State who do not know about and have never heard of Leura.
Katoomba is very prosperous. Can the same be said about Leura? The change of name to East Katoomba would bring prosperity to business people and tourist establishments, increase property values and ease the burdens of landholders. There is no valid reason against the change of name.
Oh my goodness. From where and from whom did this revolutionary idea spring?
I discovered the answer in the same newspaper a few days earlier, presumably from a reporter attending a Katoomba council meeting. He wrote;
Ald. Shaw is of the opinion that steps should be taken to bring the Leura Urban Area into the municipality. He considered the change would result in little loss to the Shire and prove a big advantage to Katoomba.
Not surprisingly there was a note of caution from another alderman;
Ald. Freelander explained that it would be first necessary to receive an application from residents within the area. Council could expect strong opposition from the Shire.
What an understatement that was! Blue Mountains towns and villages all have a strong sense of identity, and rivalry bubbles below the surface even today.
Alderman George Shaw, who owned a shop in Katoomba’s Parke Street, was not to be deterred;
Ald. Shaw; So far as getting the required number of names is concerned, I could easily obtain fifty myself. At present Leura and Katoomba are regarded as separate towns, and I think the whole of the former should be within the latter and renamed East Katoomba.
On June 8, ‘Miss Leura’ spoke up for herself in the strongest terms. And well…..who could not sympathize with the young beauty, other than the wretched Alderman Shaw of course. 😎
What have I, Leura town, done that designing neighbours wish to change my name? I, Leura, 3231 feet above the hurly burly am world famous for my magnetic forces, my beauty, and my exclusiveness, and do not wish to marry the big burly neighbour and have attached to my person, “East Katoomba.”
Leura I was from the beginning of the mountain world, and Leura I choose to remain. I have what Katoomba has not. No wonder that town wishes to be coupled with me. I am a gem, small, compact, with adequate shopping centre and a beauty all my very own.
There was a lot more in the same vein, but I’m sure you get the sense of the village’s fury.
It goes without saying that the name was not altered. Even as a proud resident of Blackheath I have to admit that East Katoomba, sorry LEURA (only joking 😛), is the most photogenic of our Mountain communities, especially in spring when the avenue of cherry trees in the Mall is in full flower.
It appears Alderman Shaw upset quite a few people during his many years on the council. A gentleman by the name of Miles even wrote to the newspaper complaining about him I was amused to spot this follow-up letter of apology, published in 1937.
And in fairness to Alderman Shaw, several of his fellow councillors expressed their support, with one stating that the man simply suffered from an excess of enthusiasm.
FOR A LIGHTHEARTED ‘DICTONARY’ OF OUR BLUEMOUNTAINS VILLAGES CLICK HERE.