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 McMystery of the turned comma

In looking at old newspaper articles on Trove, I have often come across surnames that started with a capital M followed by what I thought was an apostrophe. For example, M’Michael, M’Ewan, and M’Dicken.

It was only through an email conversation with Robert Watson today, and looking a bit closer that I realised that it’s not an apostrophe, but an inverted comma. I wondered whether this was a typographical convention to use the inverted comma instead of a superscript C, and whether those names were actually McMichael, McEwan, and McDicken?

A bit of searching proved my guess correct. Michael G. Collins, in his academic paper “M’Culloch and the Turned Comma” writes

But two or three centuries ago, not all printers setting type by hand would have had a lower-case superscript “c” in their repertoire. John Smith’s eighteenth century Printer’s Grammar indicates that most printers’ “founts” would not have included a “superior c”, and suggests that the “inverted comma” was a substitute for it. To make do, therefore, printers apparently took the piece of type for the comma, and turned it upside down when representing either “Mac” or “Mc ”. Thus the comma [,] when flipped, became [‘] – a poor man’s superscript “c”.

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.

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.