The new roos

On 25th April 2017, prior to the main Anzac commemoration service at the Lambton Park Memorial Gates, there was a short ceremony to mark the return of the kangaroo statues to the top of the two main gate pillars.

When the foundation stone for the gates was laid on 19th October 1918, the newspaper in reporting the details of the impending construction noted that …

“On the top of the main piers will be bronze kangaroos, and the heading King and Country.”

The new bronze kangaroos on the Lambton Park Memorial Gates. April 2017.

The kangaroos did indeed get erected on top of the main gate pillars, as the following poor quality newspaper photograph from 1922 shows.

A photo of the memorial gate with the original kangaroos appeared in the Anzac Day edition of the Newcastle Sun, 25th April 1922.

At some unknown time later the kangaroos disappeared from the gate pillars, and there has been some suggestion that they were removed and melted down during the Second World War years as part of the war effort.

However this is unlikely, as it seems that the original kangaroos weren’t made from bronze at all, but “imitation stone”! A newspaper article from 17th May 1921 reported that some of the “thoughtless youth” of the community …

“… have made a target for stone throwing of the imitation stone kangaroos which grace the top of each gate pillar, and have succeeded in almost smashing off the tail of one figure. Another missile has chipped a piece out of the marsupial’s hip.”

Given their construction material, being prone to weathering, and an easy target for vandalism, it seems likely that the kangaroos condition deteriorated, and they were quietly removed.

Full credit to all those involved in the placing of the new bronze kangaroos atop the pillars, ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gates next year, with ornamentation as originally intended.

The lost chambers of Waratah

My next article for the Lambton and New Lambton Local (coming in May) is on the Lambton Courthouse, erected 1879, and demolished in 1937. In researching the article I discovered that in neighbouring Waratah, where they had missed out on a having the courthouse constructed, that court sessions were being held in the Council chambers.

I was aware of three different council chambers/town halls in Waratah, and wondered which one was used for court sittings. It was none of the ones I knew of, and the more I looked the more places I found where Waratah Council had met. Read all the details on my Waratah Municipal Council page.

In a nice coincidence, as I finished writing that page this evening, I realised that it is 146 years to the day since the first ordinary meeting of the Waratah Municipal Council on 21st April 1871.

Waratah Courthouse, originally the Waratah Municipal Council Chambers. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

New Lambton Copper Smelter

Mike Scanlon in today’s Newcastle Herald has an article about the naming of Christo Road in Waratah. In the article he quotes from a letter from a reader, Greg Archbold, who says of John Penrose Christoe

“He arrived in Newcastle about 1869 to establish a smelting works at New Lambton where I believe (the old) Goninans is now located. “

This location is indeed correct, although the various suburbs and names mentioned in connection with the smelter makes things a little confusing.  The smelter was the English and Australian Copper Smelting Company, which operated until about 1917.

Photograph of Waratah copper smelter by Ralph Snowball, 1906. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The location of the smelter is now in the modern suburb of Broadmeadow, but at the time the smelter was built, Broadmeadow wasn’t a suburb or town – it was a swamp. So the smelter was variously described as being “within a mile of New Lambton” or “near Waratah”, those being the closest townships.  The association of the smelter with New Lambton was reinforced by the fact that the land the smelter was built on was the leasehold property of Messrs. J. and A. Brown, who owned the New Lambton colliery, and who had an exclusive agreement to supply coal to the smelter. For this reason the works were often referred to as “The New Lambton Copper Smelting Works”.

Corporal Barrett’s 1910 map of Newcastle shows the location of the smelter, and also shows that Christo Road was originally called Newtown Road. (Newtown was the original name for Hamilton North.)

1910 Barrett map overlaid on Google Earth, showing the location of the copper smelter near Waratah.

A 1906 real estate poster shows Christo Road mis-spelled as both “Christie Road” and “Christie St”.

1906 map showing Christo Road as “Christie Road”. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Real estate advertising that doesn’t align with reality is nothing new. The 1906 poster above shows the promise of neatly laid out roads and residential blocks in the Waratah West region near Christo, Creer and Morpeth roads.  However a 1944 aerial photograph of the area I recently obtained from Newcastle Library, shows that 38 years later, there was only Christo Rd and a tiny smattering of houses in the area.

Christo Road Waratah West in September 1944. Newcastle Region Library, Local Studies.

Christo Road Waratah West, 2016.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
6 Nov 1869"The English and Australian Copper Company, who carry on extensive smelting works in South Australia, are about to establish similar works within a mile of New Lambton.
12 Feb 1870Construction of the English and Australian copper smelting works at Broadmeadow has been in progress for three months, and smelting "will be commenced in about two months." (This was a wildly optimistic estimate, as smelting eventually commenced in June 1872, more than two years later.)
The manager is "Mr. Christoe, a gentleman of great experience in copper-smelting."
15 Sep 1870The weather has significantly delayed the opening of the smelter.
"For upwards of two months there was such an accumulation of water at the establishment as to defy the possibility of the works being proceeded with, and thus the company were unexpectedly debarred from carrying out their design in the contemplated time as regards the inauguration of the process of smelting."

The manager of the smelter is Mr. Christoe.
15 Jul 1871Advertisement for a General Manager for the New Lambton Smelting works.
6 Feb 1872Mr Christoe supervising operations at the Burwood Copper Smelter, Glenrock lagoon.
18 May 1872Copper ore has been received, but smelting has not yet begun.
18 Jun 1872Lighting the first fires in two of the coppersmelting furnaces of the English and Australian Copper Smelting Company's works near Waratah.
2 Oct 1917Smelting of ore has ceased.
"The business of the company during the past year had to be conducted under conditions of great risk and anxiety, which finally forced the board reluctantly to instruct the manager in Australia to cease making purchases of ore, to smelt out all copper available, and to close the smelting works, a process that has been carried through."
6 Nov 1919"The long connection of the English and Australian Copper Company, Limited, with the Newcastle district has been finally severed through its having recently sold the land that was the site of the works, known as the Waratah works."
8 May 1920"The chimney stack of the old copper works, which was felled some time ago, gave about 150,000 bricks."

Lambton Colliery, 1944

In a previous article I wrote about finding parch marks in Lewis Oval, and suggested that they were due to the railway cutting and tunnel of the former Lambton Colliery. I recently obtained a scan of a 1944 aerial photograph of Lambton from the Local Studies section of Newcastle Library. By overlaying the photograph in Google Earth I can see that my guess was spot on.

The former Lambton Colliery, September 1944.

The site of the Lambton Colliery, 2016. Google Earth.

The 1944 aerial photo overlaid onto Google Earth.

Corlette St and the Newcastle Cricket Ground

Mike Scanlon had an interesting article in yesterday’s Newcastle Herald about the appearance of the famous English cricketer W.G. Grace at a cricket match in Newcastle 125 years ago, on Friday 5th February 1892. The Newcastle Morning Herald had a report of the match on the following day.

“The match between 12 members of Lord Sheffield’s team of cricketers and 20 members of clubs in the Newcastle district was commenced on the Newcastle Cricket Ground yesterday.”

The only surviving remnant of the Newcastle Cricket Club is the odd little reserve in the middle of Corlette St in Cooks Hill.

Corlette St, Cooks Hill. Google Maps.

Corlette St, Cooks Hill. Google Earth.

Corlette St originally only extended as far south as Parry St. T. S. Parrott’s 1893 map shows an unlabelled rectangle in the area between Parry and Tooke Streets.

Corlette St, Cooks Hill. 1893.

Corporal Barrett’s 1910 map shows the area marked as a “Football Ground”.

Corlette St, Cooks Hill. 1910. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

By 1917 the sporting ground had gone, and the area had been subdivided by the A.A. Company and was being sold off at an auction on 1st December 1917.

Corlette St, Cooks Hill. 1917. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Confirmation that this is the site of the W.G. Cricket match comes in a short newspaper piece spruiking the auction.

“The sites are portion of the A.A. Company’s Cook’s Hill Estate, which embraces the old Newcastle Cricket Ground area.”