Lambton Ker-rai, Then and Now

Today I stumbled across this photo of the Lambton Ker-rai Creek that runs through Lambton Park. The photo is from the naming ceremony that took place back in 2003.

The Lambton Ker-rai Creek naming ceremony, Lambton Park 2003. Page 128 of the City of Newcastle Stormwater Management Plan, 2004.

Twenty years on, the growth of trees and vegetation along the creek has made a stark and improved change to the scene.

Lambton Ker-rai Creek, September 2023.

Spring 2023

Following my usual custom of noting the start of Spring when the first leaf buds appear on my mulberry tree, this year is unseasonably early. One could almost say unreasonably early, coming 15 days earlier than last year.

This is now the seventh year I’ve photographed the first buds of spring on this tree. I’ve graphed the results below, and while this is admittedly just one collection point of climatic related data, the trend is clear.

Bond Street, Newcastle, 1964

Another photo from the Merv and Janet Copley collection at the Living Histories site that caught my eye was one with the somewhat vague title of “Newcastle old coal track, NSW, 1964.” It took me a while to identify the location of the photo, the key being a search in Trove for “W Brett sails tarpaulins”. This returned an advertisement from 1921 identifying the location of W Brett’s business as being “Bond St, Newcastle (near Customs House).”

Newcastle old coal track, NSW, 1964. Merv and Janet Copley Collection, Living Histories, University of Newcastle.
Bond Street Newcastle, with the Paymasters Cafe and the gate pillars of Customs House on the right. 21 April 2023.
A close up of the Copley’s 1964 photo.
The same scene in 2023.

Lambton Park Rotunda 1973

I recently found in the Living Histories site of the University of Newcastle, a photo of the Lambton Park rotunda from 1973. The rotunda was looking so sad and disheveled, and so different from current day appearances that my initial reaction on seeing the photo was that it was mis-labeled and was a rotunda somewhere else.

Constructed in 1890, the rotunda initially had iron palisade railings. By 1925 the rotunda had fallen into a bad condition. Extensive repairs were undertaken, including replacing the iron railings with arched brickwork, and replacing the wooden floor with reinforced concrete.

Lambton Park Rotunda, 1973. Merv and Janet Copley Collection. Living Histories, University of Newcastle.
Lambton Park Rotunda, April 2023

Newcastle Council later renovated the rotunda, reinstating the look of the original, including iron railings, a wooden floor, and the dome and spire above the main roof.

Pokolbin’s Lost Airstrip

Mike Scanlon had an interesting history article in the Newcastle Herald this weekend (22 October 2022), on the mystery of the forgotten World War 2 runway at Pokolbin. In 1942 the RAAF built an air station at Pokolbin. The north-south runway was located where the current Cessnock airport is now. But there was also second runway located towards the south-west.

In the article Mike mentions that this old east-west runway can still be seen in Google’s satellite views. Using the historical imagery feature in Google Earth Pro and winding back to 2007, indeed shows a faint yet quite distinct outline of the old runway lying beneath fields and vineyards.

The faint outline of the old east-west runway of the Pokolbin RAAF base can be seen in this Google Earth satellite image from 2007. The current Cessnock airport runway can be seen in the top right of the image. (Click on the photo to enlarge)

Lambton Colliery Office Steps

In researching the Leonora Glassworks for my October 2022 article for The Local, I came across this photograph from the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate on 11 Dec 1948, of Joseph and Milon Vecera posing on the entrance steps of a building that had been demolished.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 11 Dec 1948

The newspaper incorrectly identifies the site as “Lambton Lodge”, the home of Thomas Croudace. The location is actually the small building at the left in the photo below, where the steps can be seen at the front. Brian Robert Andrews, on page 230 of his book “Coal, Railways and Mines, Volume 1”, has a diagram of the Lambton Colliery surface infrastructure that identifies this building as the colliery office.

Lambton Colliery, 15 August 1900. Photo by Ralph Snowball. Living Histories, University of Newcastle.

The double story building at the right of the photo is the colliery workshops, where Leonora Glass set up in 1947, where the Vecera twins were working in 1948 when they were photographed on the old colliery office steps.