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February 27, 2014

The best of the worst – Street names

The city of Adelaide has its own royal namesake in Queen Adelaide, and many of our streets are similarly titled in remembrance of all those lords and ladies who graced our town. Owen Lindsay looks at the historic figures that might not deserve a stretch of our common ground dedicated to them.

  • Words and pictures: Owen Lindsay
No. 5

No. 5

5. George Fife Angas (1789-1879)
We can’t deny that Angas’ direct role in shipping the first Germans over to South Australia was a masterstroke – the mere thought of an Adelaide without trashcan lid-sized schnitzels makes us shudder. But we’re not so appreciative of his other pet project: ensuring that New Zealand was colonised by the English rather than the French. Imagine: we could be living in an Australia where it’s only a four hour flight to the Eiffel Tower 2, and every morning buttery, fresh baguettes and croissants are shipped over by the container load. Monet could have been our loveable Kiwi cousin, and instead we got Russell Crowe. Thanks for nothing, Angas.


No. 4

No. 4

4. ???? Archer (????-????)
Originally Archer Street was slated to be named ‘Willoughby Street’, in honour of all-round good guy Sir Henry Willoughby. Congratulations were given; bouquets of flowers presented; champagne bottles cracked open. Then, Governor Hindmarsh stepped in and told everybody to hold their horses because the street will now instead be named ‘Archer Street’. Backs of necks were nervously rubbed; eyes were cast downward; champagne was hastily recorked. It was all a bit uncomfortable. So who was this magnificent “Mr. Archer”, who apparently urgently deserved the honour of his own eponymous stretch of Adelaide? Must have been somebody of extreme importance, right? No: “Mr Archer” was literally just some bloke who had once given Hindmarsh a couple of sheep. The preceding sentence contains nary a misprint.


No. 3

No. 3

3. Charles Hindley (1796-1857)
When Charles Hindley was struck by a mystery illness, he consulted his family physician, Dr. Robert Bently Todd. Well-versed in the most modern techniques that medical science had to offer, Dr. Todd immediately prescribed Charles drink “six pints of brandy in 72 hours [88 standard drinks in three days]”. The cutting-edge treatment did not work, and within the week Hindley was dead from alcohol poisoning. Undeterred, Dr. Todd went on to prescribe himself the same course of medicine, and was also soon cactus. The controversial “get thoroughly maggoted” technique is still undergoing clinical trials on Hindley St today.


No. 2

No. 2

2. John Jeffcott (1796-1837)
There’s one good reason why John Jeffcott deserves to be remembered: he was a tireless supporter of the campaign to end the Transatlantic slave trade. But there’s an even better reason why we should immediately remove the signs from Jeffcott St and pretend this ghoul never existed. Upon being dumped by his fiancé, Jeffcott caught wind of somebody talking trash behind his back. His response was quite reasonable: he challenged the trash-talker, Dr. Peter Hennis, to a DUEL TO THE DEATH. The good doctor’s brains were soon blown all over the cobblestones, and Jeffcott scurried into hiding to escape arrest. (He was later acquitted, in what we can only assume was a charming 19th century version of the OJ Simpson trial.) Three years later, this bloodthirsty coward was inexplicably named South Australia’s first judge. And then he got a street named after him. And here we are today.


Drumroll please... No. 1

Drumroll please… No. 1

1. Daniel Bell Wakefield (1798-1858)
The Wakefield brothers were a pack of dunces and (in some cases) literal criminals. Eldest son Edward served three years in prison for kidnapping a 15-year-old girl and ‘eloping’ with her, and was comprehensively slammed by Marx in Chapter 33 of Das Kapital. Middle son Arthur also spent time behind bars for helping his brother deceive and abduct the young girl, and was instrumental in triggering the first violent clash between British settlers and Māori in New Zealand. As for second-eldest Daniel (who Wakefield St is named for) – he was described by even his brothers as a “dull, ill-mannered fellow most notable for his sloth and indolence”. After floating fruitlessly between several disastrous attempts at work, Daniel married – only to soon separate, having amassed huge gambling debts and infected his wife with what Wikipedia describes as “an unpleasant social disease” (we’re guessing the clap). So that’s three of the Wakefield brothers for you – and not one of them ever set a shoe on Adelaide soil.


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