Kent Town's history

Before European settlement the Adelaide plains were home to the Kaurna people.

Their territory was a narrow tract of land stretching from the mid-north to Cape Jervis, and was bounded on the east by the Mount Lofty Ranges. The Kaurna people had an enduring spiritual relationship with the land that informed their daily life and beliefs.

In 1836, when the British provience of South Australia was founded it is estimated that there were 300 Kaurna people living on the Adelaide plains. The population had been decimated by exposure to smallpox carried down the River Murray by settlers from the Eastern colonies.

Within twenty years of Adelaide being settled, the few remaining survivors of the Kaurna people were relocated to a mission settlement at Poonindie, near Port Lincoln.

Dr Benjamin Archer Kent arrived in the Province of South Australia in April 1840 but prior to his departure from London he entered into a land agreement with Lieutenant Colonel Robert Torrens. Within a few days of arriving in the colony, Dr Kent renegotiated his lease and settled on land in Section 255 near Norwood instead of settling at Thebarton as originally intended.

He erected a wooden prefabricated cottage in a grove of wattles on the corner of Rundle Street and Dequetteville Terrace. It was called 'East Park Cottage' and he established a garden and orchard around his home and the remainder of the section was referred to as East Park Farm.

For a number of years, Dr Kent's house was the only building between the city and Kensington Village with the country between described as 'heavily timbered, with an abundance of wild life.'

In 1840, at Governor Gawler's urgent request, Dr Kent converted the brick-making machinery he had brought from England to be able to grind corn. His 'East Park Mill' was the first mill in the province and was located on first Creek between Little King William Street and North Terrace. In 1857, it became Logue's Brewery in King William Street. At it turned out, neither brick-making or grinding corn were a profitable enterprise and so Dr Kent returned to the practice of medicine. He was appointed to the first S.A. Medical Board and was one of the founders of St Peter's College.

Ownership of Kent's land was not clear and after nineteen years of wrangling with Colonel Torrens an agreement was finally reached. Torrens sold the land to Charles Robin, who paid compensation to Dr Kent and reserved for him thirteen acres on which East Park cottage stood. Robin subdividied in 1854, and sold allotments for residential development. Dr Kent at last financially solvent elected to return to England and died there in 1864. Prince Alfred College was established in 1869, on the remainder of what was Robin's land and Kent Town quickly developed into a residential area for the wealthy and their servants.

History of the PKTA

Because Kent Town's residentail areas were in danger of being broken up by commercial development and inappropriate high-density residential blocks, a group of concerned residents met on 14 July 1975 to form the Preserve Kent Town Association (PKTA). The PKTA wanted to ensure that progress did not mean the end of one of the most historic suburbs in the rich history of the State of South Australia.

More than 30 years have passed since then, bringing many changes with them. Kent Town has developed as a harmonious blend of busy industry and tranquil living. It is a great place in which to live and work; the PKTA wants to keep it that way.

Our organization has contributed to the balance of conservation and progress in this suburb. We will continue to do so into the future.