The other Hill street

In my article on Doctor John James Hill in March 2017, I wrote that while Hill St in Lambton was possibly named after Doctor Hill, given the timing of the road naming I was sceptical that was the case. However I have since found that there was another Hill Street in North Lambton, that almost certainly was named after John James Hill, because it was in a subdivision of land owned by Doctor Hill. This Hill St had its name changed to Percy St in 1920.

Alderman Lightfoot … moved that the necessary procedure be taken to have the name of Hill-street, North Lambton, changed to Percy-street. It was most confusing to have two streets in the municipality bearing the same name.

Lambton Council Meeting, 18 May 1920.
Official change of name of Hill St to Percy St in Government Gazette, September 1920.

Background

As I was searching through various land titles in the Historical Lands Records Viewer, I found Vol-Fol 1122-48 from 1894, that showed blocks of land between Hill St and William St in North Lambton. This was curious because today, Hill St in North Lambton is nowhere near William St in Jesmond?

The mysterious Hill and William streets on Vol-Fol 1122-48 from 1894.

The solution to the mystery is that the Hill St in this map is actually Percy St today, and the William St in the map is the east end of Michael St today.

In 1867, Daniel Jones purchased 50 acres of land between Jesmond and Lambton which he named “North Lambton” (not to be confused with the modern suburb of North Lambton).

In July 1871 Jones sold a large portion (about 16 acres) of the North Lambton subdivision to Doctor John James Hill, who then began reselling individual blocks of land.

Vol-Fol 123-202.

Notice that in this map that “Frederick St” is below section E, and “William St” is below section C. Today this is Michael Street, and whereas the map from Vol-Fol 123-202 shows William St joining on to George St, this part of the street does not exist today and probably never did. This is a good reminder of the care needed to interpret old maps, particularly in land titles and deposited plans. A street marked in an old map can either be an indication of a street that has been built, or a street that is planned to be built. You have to use other evidence to decide which.

Map from Vol-Fol 123-202 overlaid into Google Earth.
Historical parish map showing the one street with three differently named sections – Michael St, Frederick St, and William St.

In 1873 Doctor Hill lodged Deposited Plan 96, which was a re-subdivision of the land he had bought in Sections C and E of North Lambton.

96 | Hill, J.J. | County of Northumberland | North Lambton, Lambton, Newcastle, re-subdivision of part of Sections C & E on Deposited Plan 40.

Deposited Plan 96 in the Plan Lodgement Book.

There is no map I can find of the DP96 subdivision, but presumably the purpose was to subdivide into a greater number of smaller blocks in order to maximise profit. In the new subdivision, Doctor Hill added an extra street running east-west through the middle of Section C and named it Hill St.

Hill, William, and Arthur Streets on Vol-Fol 512-82 from 1880.

This “Hill St” was then renamed to Percy St in September 1920 to avoid confusion with the original Hill St above High St in Lambton. As if to graphically and ironically underline the need to reduce the confusion caused by having two Hill Streets, in one of the historical parish maps someone has added an annotation renaming the wrong Hill St! Oops.

The wrong Hill!

But wait – there’s more …

The other other Hill Street

In Hill’s subdivision of Section E in North Lambton, a narrow east-west lane was also added above Hill St. It seems that when Hill St became Percy St in 1920, that this laneway running behind the houses on the north side of Percy St came to be known as Hill St, and is marked as such on some maps.

Another “Hill St” – between Percy St and Fifth St. University of Newcastle, Special Collections.

This lane was a private road in the subdivision until Newcastle Council passed a resolution in 1991 to dedicate it as a public road, and noting that it was “also previously known as Hill Street.”

Dedication of Wall Lane (also known as Hill St) as a public road. NSW Government Gazette, 22 May 1992.

The name “Wall Lane” was in honour of the Wall family who ran the shop on the south-east corner of Arthur and Percy Streets for many years.

Vol-Fol 690-71. Purchase of land in August 1941 by George and Julia Wall of land on the corner of Hill (now Percy) and Arthur Streets.

But wait – there’s even more …

The many monikers of Michael

Earlier in this article I mentioned that what is Michael St today, originally was three differently named sections – Michael, Frederick, William. But that was just in the stretch of road that lay in Lambton municipality – the section of road in the Wallsend municipality had yet another name – Robroy St.

Robroy St (now Michael St) shown on Vol-Fol 4928-170 in 1938,

A newspaper article from 1945 titled “Postman’s Headache at Jesmond”, notes that

The street in question, before the advent of Greater Newcastle was Frederick-street from the North Lambton area to Steel-street, Jesmond, Michael-street outwards to the old Lambton-Wallsend boundary, and Rob Roy-street thence to Blue Gum road in the Jesmond area. It is stated that, although it is now all Michael-street, officially, the three names still persist with the uninitiated, and piecemeal house numbering adds to the confusion.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5 December 1945.

Worlds apart

My October 2021 article for The Local is out, this month on William Thomas Dent.

Often my research for these articles leads me in unexpected directions, and this month was no exception taking me to the short lived Hartley Vale colliery of James and Alexander Brown in the Broadmeadow area, and all the way to the other side of the world to the coalfields of Durham where William’s father Mark Dent was a key figure in the great miners’ strikes of 1844 .

One of the things that struck me about the story of the Dent family is how much things can change in the space of one generation. Because of his involvement in the miners strikes, Mark Dent found it hard to get work, was subject to poverty and was “driven from his native land” to seek a living in Australia. William arrived in Australia after his father, lived and worked in a coal mining community, grew wealthy as the head of major financial institution, was an alderman for 17 years, many of them working co-operatively alongside Thomas Croudace the Lambton colliery manager.

The unexpected find from this month’s research is that Dent St North Lambton is probably named in honour of Mark Dent the famed mining unionist who died in Lambton in 1882, rather than William Thomas Dent who was only a relatively junior alderman at the time Dent St was named.

Hartley Vale Colliery, Newcastle

The naming of coal mines is often ambiguous and confusing, especially when a locality name is used for a mine in a completely different region. Such is the case with the short lived Hartley Vale Colliery in Newcastle in the 19th century.

Today when we hear “Hartley Vale” we think of the Hartley Vale on the western side of the Blue Mountains, near Lithgow. A form of coal called kerosene shale was found in this location in 1865, and by 1874 the NSW Kerosene Shale and Oil Company had a substantial mining operation there. But 150km away in Newcastle there was another “Hartley Vale” colliery, with no connection to the Blue Mountains.

In 1862 the brothers James and Alexander Brown were operating a colliery at Minmi, west of Newcastle. In late 1862 they issued a prospectus for a new company, called the Melbourne and Newcastle Minmi Colliery Company, and by February 1863 had sold their mine to the newly floated company. Around the time they were divesting themselves of the Minmi colliery, the Browns acquired the coal lease on a 310 acre block of land in the Broadmeadow area adjacent to Hamilton. This new venture they named “The Hartley Vale Colliery” (sometimes spelled “Hartly Vale”) and commenced to develop it, including plans to build a rail line from the pit to the Great Northern Railway

THE HARTLY VALE COLLIERY. This new colliery which has been in the course of development for several months, having bared a good seam of coal and began to open it out, is now also about beginning the formation of a railway to connect the works with the Great Northern Line, to come in somewhere about the spot where the Waratah and Lambton junction is formed. This line has been surveyed and cleared, and in the course of a few days it is anticipated that the formation will be commenced.”

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 13 August 1863.

By June 1864 the Browns had reportedly spent £12,000 developing the mine which was nearing completion.

The works at the Hartley Vale Colliery have proceeded so far as to be ready for coming into market, with the exception of the completion of a small portion of the branch line intended to form a junction with the Lambton. In consequence of a dispute between the two companies, the progress of this line has been retarded.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 25 October 1864.

The completion of the rail line from the Hartley Vale mine was prevented because of a dispute with a competitor, the Lambton colliery. To remedy this impasse the Browns petitioned the government to to pass an Act of Parliament to give them the right to construct their railway. The Bill was brought before the Parliament in October 1866, but ongoing disputes and opposition from competing interests meant that the bill was not passed until December 1867.

Plan of the Hartley Vale Railway, 4 October 1867. State Library of New South Wales.

Having finally obtained the legal right to build their railway, it was of no consequence, for by this stage, after spending £18,000 the mine had already proved to be unprofitable.

No sooner was the Minmi Company floated (1863) than the Browns took up land at Hartley Vale, sunk their shaft, erected their winding gear, and other appliances ; but found the seam run out so shallow as to be unprofitable to work, so that was dismantled and abandoned, with a loss of £18,000.

Report on the death of Alexander Brown, Australian Town and Country Journal, 7 July 1877.

About the same time that the Hartley Vale Colliery railway Bill was passed in December 1867, the Browns acquired a new coal mining lease in the adjacent area of New Lambton, and within a few months were pushing ahead with the development of the New Lambton Colliery, including a branch rail line that was to use materials from the failed Hartley Vale venture.

The greater portion of the [New Lambton] line will be constructed with the material used in the formation of the old line to the Hartley Vale colliery, which turned out such a lamentable failure, and through which the Messrs. Brown lost such an enormous sum of money.

The Newcastle Chronicle, 27 June 1868.

The location of the failed Hartley Vale colliery can be identified by the Hartley Vale Colliery Railway Bill and accompanying map. The Bill describes the railway as passing through …

“… fifty-four and three hundred and ten acres leased to the said James Brown and Alexander Brown and known as the Hartley Vale Colliery.”

NSW Government Gazette, 27 December 1867.

The 54 acre block was the area eventually sold to Thomas Adam in 1869 to form Adamstown. The 310 acre block stretches from Adamstown to Broadmeadow, with the approximate location of C and D pits as shown in the Google Earth overlay below.

Location of C and D pits of the Hartley Vale colliery.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
4 Jul 1863A passing remark in a parliamentary discussion about Reserves, indicates that the the Browns had acquired a mining leases in Newcastle by July 1863. "The Government, however, had leased portions of it [Newcastle Pasturage Reserve] to the Australian Agricultural Company, James & Alexander Brown, and the Waratah Coal Company."
13 Aug 1863"The Hartly Vale Colliery.-This new colliery which has been in the course of development for several months, having bared a good seam of coal and began to open it out, is now also about beginning the formation of a railway to connect the works with the Great Northern Line, to come in somewhere about the spot where the Waratah and Lambton junction is formed."
25 Aug 1863"The Co-operative, Wallsend, the Hartley Vale, and the Australian Agricultural and Coal Company, are contemplating running onto" the Great Northern Line.
8 Jun 1864"I may mention that a rumour gains ground here that some desire is evinced by the Messrs. Brown to connect the projects of the Co-operative Company and the Hartley Vale Colliery. On the Company's property it is said that £10 000 have been expended, and £12,000 on the Vale." [There is no evidence that this rumoured joint venture proceeded.]
18 Jun 1864"A report was in circulation a short time ago, that Messrs. J. A. Brown had some intention of working the seam of coal which exists on a property of theirs, called Hartley Vale, adjoining the Co-operative Company's pits."
25 Oct 1864"The works at the Hartley Vale Colliery have proceeded so far as to be ready far coming into market, with the exception of the completion of a small portion of the branch line intended to form a junction with the Lambton. In consequence of a dispute between the two companies, the progress of this line has been retarded, which, however, is now in a fair way of being completed in a few weeks."
22 Apr 1865"Towns have sprung up and forests have been cleared with surprising rapidity. A dozen years ago no one know of the Glebe, of Wallsend, Minmi, Lambton, or Hartley Vale … But notwithstanding all the improvements in the town, and all the facilities for trade, one cannot help feeling that there is a sort of lassitude about the movements of people-a sort of 'hanging on' appearance … Lambton and Waratah doing only about quarter-time, and Wallsend, which is, perhaps, best off, not doing more than half its capabilities. Minmi, Tomago, Hartley Vale, and the Lake Macquarie pits doing nothing."
20 Aug 1867"Mr COWPER presented a petition from certain persons of Waratah against the passing of the Hartley Vale Colliery Bill."
20 Aug 1867Notice by James and Alexander Brown and Stephen Foyle to petition parliament to enable then to construct the Hartley Vale railway.
3 Dec 1867
28 Nov 1867
Partial opening of the Hartley Vale Railway. The descripton of the piece of line just opened suggests that it was the branch line from the Hartley Vale line that went eastwards to the Dog and Rat pit, and in 1868 to the New Lambton colliery.
27 Dec 1867
23 Dec 1867
Passing of the Hartley Vale Colliery Railway Bill in NSW parliament.
27 Jun 1868"The greater portion of the [New Lambton Colliery] line will be constructed with the material used in the formation of the old line to the Hartly Vale colliery, which turned out such a lamentable failure, and through which the Messrs. Brown lost such an enormous sum of money."
17 Nov 1875"NEW LAMBTON. The old Hartley Vale pit, which has been standing open for several years without any protection, is now being covered over by the employees of the Messrs. Brown."
7 Jul 1877In a report on Alexander Brown's death … "No sooner was the Minmi Company floated than the Browns took up land at Hartley Vale, sunk their shaft, erected their winding gear, and other appliances ; but found the seam run out so shallow as to be unprofitable to work, so that was dismantled and abandoned, with a loss of £18,000."

Vaxed to the max

I just got my second AstraZenaca Covid-19 vaccination. Like last time I went to the Raymond Terrace Respiratory Clinic, who once again were super efficient and organised. In my post on the first vaccination I noted that “within 5 minutes of arrival I was in the examination room having the vaccination in the arm.” This time round I decided to justify that observation with stopwatch measurement. From the time I left my car in the parking lot to sitting down in the chair to be vaccinated was 5 minutes 51 seconds! With confirmed Covid cases in Newcastle this week after an absence of a year, that is beautiful timing.

The plaque is found

Back in September 2015 I wrote about the power station built in Lambton in 1890 to supply the electric light scheme. In a follow-up article in August 2017 I wrote about the commemorative plaque that had been placed on the power station at its opening, and that its last known location was Nesca House in 1975. Ed Tonks subsequently provided to me a photo showing the plaque on display in 1985, but that its current whereabouts was unknown. 

A few weeks, thanks to keen work from Robert Watson, the plaque was located in storage at Ausgrid’s Wallsend depot. This weekend the plaque is on display for the Love Lambton 150 celebrations, in the Lambton library, which is the former Lambton council chambers where all the decisions about the electric light scheme were made by the aldermen and mayor.

The Lambton Electric Light Station plaque, on display in Lambton library. 26 June 2021.

Muting the LG MS2596OW Microwave

When the microwave we had been using for several years failed recently, a family member passed on to us an LG MS2596OW microwave to use. The microwave is fine except for the mind-flippingly irritating electronic tune that it constantly plays when cooking finishes.  The user manual provides no assistance in disabling the sound, but thanks to a suggestion from a review site, I learned that it is possible to mute the sound on this microwave by holding the Clear and Keep Warm buttons for 5 seconds. Peace at last!

You can repeat the procedure to turn the sound back on again, but the only reason you’d want to do that is to demonstrate how annoying the sound is when a visitor asks why the microwave doesn’t beep.

Note that if the power to the microwave is disconnected, the mute setting doesn’t stick, so you have to mute it again when the power is reconnected.

Vaccination 1

I just received my first AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination this afternoon at the the Raymond Terrace Respiratory Clinic. I have to say I was super impressed with the organisation and efficiency of the process. There were friendly staff members on hand to direct people through each step of the process. Although I noticed a few people queuing at the door as I pulled into the car park, within 5 minutes of arrival I was in the examination room having the vaccination in the arm. With the 15 minute mandatory wait after injection, I was in and out in 20 minutes!