In December 1957, the then young Councillor Marilyn Baker and her family left the north of England and arrived on the shores of Australia early that following year.
Her parents had made the decision to immigrate to South Australia as work was drying up due to closing of cotton mills in the UK.
Cr Baker reminisced on what she saw when they first arrived in Playford during the peak of summer.
“It was about 104 degrees [Fahrenheit] (40 degrees Celsius), we got on the little Renhen and came out to Elizabeth South,” Cr Baker said. “There were no sealed roads, it was all dirt roads. “Philip Highway was a dirt road and we had to walk from Elizabeth South to the Housing Trust offices, which were on Ridley Road.”
Arriving at the Housing Trust, they were given a big ring of keys to go look at houses within the area.
Her family chose their forever home across from Ridley Reserve in what was then a small town of 900 people.
“It was known as the town with no grandparents because a lot of people were immigrating with young families and there was an urgency for people to form those relationships, form all the clubs, churches and that sort of thing,” she said. “That’s what evolved very, very quickly over the first few years and since then I have obviously watched it develop from a town of 900 people to a town of 40,000 people and then the amalgamation with Munno Para to become a city of 97,000 people.”
Over the years Cr Baker has been involved in many groups, clubs and organisations from the original Elizabeth Hockey Club and Royals Marching Girls Club to school committees and her continued commitment to Local Government.
“I love the place, I love the people and I have a great sense of commitment to the area,” she said. “My husband grew up in Elizabeth and he is fifth generation Australian, and he loves the place as well. “We had our children at the Lyell McEwin Hospital and they’ve grown up and they haven’t travelled very far. “We just really like the place, love the family atmosphere.”
Cr Baker served for 12 years as Mayor of the City of Elizabeth prior to amalgamation with the City of Munno Para Council. She has served a total of 35 years within Local Government.
“It was an amazing experience, a young girl from the north of England coming because mum and dad were starting to lose their work, going to school, getting an education, getting married, and all of a sudden, from that very humble beginning, I’ve been elected Mayor of the city,” she said. “It was really an amazing experience to represent my community.”
As one of the fastest growing Councils in Australia, Cr Baker said the city had a lot of opportunity to provide new services closer to home for its community.
“I think Playford has a very rosy future,” she said. “I think people are realising there is everything you could wish for out here. “There is not only the facilities and infrastructure, but the open space and the opportunities. “If you think about it, we are half way between Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, and I mean how good that is.”
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