Hollywood revisited

A few weeks ago I met up with Mike Scanlon from the Newcastle Herald, and we had a pleasant chat about a number of local history subjects, including the depression era shanty town “Hollywood” near Jesmond Park, which I wrote about last March. Mike has made use of some of my material in his article in the Herald today and made it available to a wider audience.

You can check out my page on Hollywood for further background information and photos, and also leave comments there. You can also read my monthly column for the Lambton and New Lambton Local, “That was then, this is now”, which focuses on the history of these suburbs, as well as other blog articles on the local history of Newcastle.

Fragmentary remains of human habitation, in “Hollywood”.

Birdwood Park

In this weekend’s article in the Newcastle Herald, Mike Scanlon writes about the restoration of the Birdwood Flag, made in 1917 for General Sir William Birdwood. In the article Mike mentions that

“The now truncated Birdwood Park in the West End is probably named after this popular WWI general.”

Searching Trove I found that the park was constructed by Newcastle Council in 1892, was originally called “West End Park” and covered three acres.

Newcastle Morning Herald, 14 Apr 1892, p4.

Newcastle Morning Herald, 17 Nov 1892, p8.

Corporal Barrett’s 1910 map of Newcastle shows the trapezoid shaped park adjacent to the brewery, with the modern King and Parry streets yet to be built.

Overlaying the 1910 map into Google Earth we can see that the park originally extended further to the south of present day King and Parry streets.

1910 map overlaid into Google Earth, showing location of West End Park.

Using Google Earth Pro’s area measurement tool, the area of the park in the 1910 map shows as 3.2 acres, which corresponds well with the three acres mentioned in the 1892 newspaper article.

Area of West End Park in 1910.

In August 1920, Newcastle Council renamed the park to “Birdwood Park”.

Newcastle Morning Herald, 1 Sep 1920, p6.

Although it is not explicitly stated that this renaming is in honour of General Birdwood, that is almost certainly the reason for the name change. In just the year before, New Lambton Council had renamed one of their streets in honour of the WW1 general.

A real estate poster from 1924 shows that the construction of Parry St (and a narrow diagonal section of King St) has truncated the park, reducing its size to about 2.6 acres.

Real Estate Poster from 1924, showing Birdwood Park.

An aerial photograph from 1944 nicely shows the shape of the park at that time.

Birdwood Park, 1944. Newcastle Region Library, Local Studies.

A later re-alignment and widening of King St resulted in a further truncation of the park, down to its present size of about 1.8 acres.

Birdwood Park in 1944, with the outline of the present day streets.

Birdwood Park 2016. Google Earth.


Bull’s Garden, Whitebridge

Mike Scanlon in today’s Newcastle Herald has an interesting article on Bull’s Garden, an exotic pleasure garden established by Edmund Bull in Whitebridge around 1860. The gardens lasted about 70 years and were closed in the 1930s.

A 1911 map held by the National Library of Australia shows the location of Bull’s Garden, to the east of Bulls Garden Road. I have overlaid the map into Google Earth to identify the location in the current landscape. (KMZ file for Google Earth)

Portion of 1911 map, showing location of Bull’s Garden, Whitebridge. National Library of Australia, MAP RASC 33.

1911 map overlaid in Google Earth.

Location of former Bull’s Garden, Whitebridge.

The location of Bull’s Garden, 1944 aerial photograph overlaid into Google Earth.

The Skyline drive-in

I met up with Paul Zuljan on the weekend, who grew up in Lambton, and we went looking for some places he remembered from his youth, one of them being the old Skyline drive-in theatre.  I vaguely knew where it had been located, but in looking at the following map from 1960, the outline of the theatre is clearly marked.

Portion of Northumberland County District scheme map, 1960. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

I overlaid this map into Google Earth …

… then put an outline around the area, and now the location of the drive-in relative to the modern landscape is clearly visible.

If you have Google Earth installed, you can download the KMZ file for the overlay and outline.

The lost chambers of Lambton

My latest article for the Lambton and New Lambton Local is out, this month on the Lambton Courthouse, that was opened in 1879 and demolished in 1937.

An unexpected outcome of researching this article is that I discovered a few places I didn’t know about before, where council chambers either existed or were planned, in Waratah and in Lambton.

In Lambton, I discovered that before the council was even a year old, in January 1872, it applied to the Minister for Lands to have an area in Dickson St set aside for Council chambers. The land was never used for that purpose. The courthouse was built on the adjoining block in 1877-78, and the block originally intended for the council was resumed in 1886 for the construction of the police barracks and lockup.