York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia. In 1829, Ensign Robert Dale and a party of colonists, made
an excursion to the Northam, York and Beverley area looking for suitable agricultural lands. Dale returned to Perth with glowing reports of rich soils that could support a wide variety of crops.
Having approval from Governor Stirling, Ensign Robert Dale returned to survey the area in 1831 and by the
early 1830's the area was settled by farmers, who concentrated on growing sheep and wheat. However a township was
only established in 1835-36 when an army barrack and store were built and 50 acres (20.23 hectares) of land were
Governor Stirling bestowed the name York after settlers saw similarities to their native Yorkshire in
By the mid 1840's the areas of Northam, York and Beverley were well established as an agricultural district,
however the colony was facing a labour shortage. With many disheartened settlers having left the state, farmers
began complaining about inadequate labour to transform the harsh terrain. The solution was to bring convicts from
Britain to help ease the burden. Many opposed the introduction of convicts but the majority of farmers, led by the
York Agricultural Society, supported the idea. The convicts offered a cheap labour solution to build roads,
bridges, buildings and clear the land and ultimately help increase the economy and infrastructure of the colony. By
1850 the first shipment of convicts had arrived at Fremantle and by 1851 convicts were introduced into York.
In 1886, with the arrival of the railway and the discovery of gold at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, the town
boomed. York was the end of the line for the railway which meant miners and prospectors flooded into the town to
prepare for the long journey across the plains to the goldfields. It was during this time that many of York's fine
buildings were constructed.
Things You May Not Know About York
It is common folk lore that the old York hospital is haunted.