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Lefevre’s Peninsula was named semaphorein May 1837 but Portonians soon abbreviated the name to ‘the Semaphore’.  The name ‘Semaphore’ was not used until the 1850s and was usually ’the Semaphore’ reflecting its derivation from either the signal station flagstaff on the beachfront or the Semaphore Hotel (1851), which was intended to have its own flagstaff with semaphore signal arms attached.

Semaphore began as a service point for shipping. From the mid 1860s it took on additional roles as a residential suburb for Port Adelaide and a seaside resort for metropolitan Adelaide and towns near the country railway lines.  In the absence of a comprehensive history this chronology is designed as a ready reference to the construction of some (of) the area’s landmarks and the establishment of its institutions.


  • 1849                       Area surveyed for sale by the Government
  • 1851                       Semaphore Hotel opened on the south corner of Blackler Street & the Esplanadesemaphore
  • 1856                       Telegraph line extended to Semaphore from Port Adelaide
  • 1859                       Port Bridge (site of Jervois) opened
  • 1860                       Jetty completed
  • 1862                       Road from jetty to Port Bridge completed
  • 1864                       District Council of Glanville formed
  • 1864                       Peninsula Literary Institute formed.  (into recess 1880)
  • 1866                       Jetty Hotel (became Federal Hotel c 1901) opened.
  • 1867                       Semaphore Hotel on Semaphore Road opened
  • 1867                       Wesleyan Church, Semaphore Road opened
  • 1872                       District Council of Lefevre’s Peninsula formed
  • 1875                       Timeball Tower operational

An extract from an article by Brian Samuels that appeared in the Portonian in June 1987.