Rodent-based rainfall metric

I encounter all sorts of weather when cycling to work. For some reason, when it comes to wet weather, I describe the level of wetness on a three part scale based on the liquid effect on rodents – the three levels being ‘damp rat’, ‘soggy rat’, and ‘drowned rat’. (I suspect Mark Maclean and his interest in things found in the drain may have been the inspiration for my metric.)

Both yesterday and today was a ‘soggy rat’ ride.

Hotels of Lambton

Miners’ Arms Hotel, Lambton.

As a follow up from my January 2021 article on the Reservoir Hotel, I have now finished compiling a comprehensive list of Lambton hotels

The aim was to research and document the names, locations, years of operation, and licensees for each of the 22 hotels that operated (or still operates) in the area covered by the Lambton Municipal Council.

Early on in my research, I came across a 1936 newspaper article looking back at Lambton’s history, which closed with the reminiscence of …

“… the flourishing times when the suburb had no fewer than 16 hotels”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 15 February 1936

Normally I am pretty wary about these kind of summary statements made decades after the fact, but to my surprise, when I had finished my research I found it to be dead accurate – in 1881 Lambton reached a peak of 16 hotels!

A new level of survey stupid

I’m not a fan of surveys. As a rule I ignore invitations to participate in a survey, particularly from commercial entities. I have two main objections.

  1. The asymmetry of work vs reward. If I complete a survey, I’m doing the work, but the business is getting the reward. I lose my time, they gain details to help them make more money.
  2. Most surveys ask stupid questions.

Like this one, after I recently purchased a Ryobi power tool and registered the product on their website to get an extended warranty period …

 

Stupid survey

Really? On the basis of my experience of using their website, they want to know if I’d recommend their product? The two have the most tenuous of connections. It’s like me asking you …

“Thinking of your recent experience of reading this blog post, how likely are you to recommend me to perform brain surgery on your family and friends?”

UnlikelyVery likely
012345678910

P.S. I was very satisfied with the power tool. Totally unimpressed by the follow up customer survey.

How it was

A few weeks ago I attended a Zoom seminar run by Newcastle Family History Society, at which Jeff Madsen explained how to navigate and search the Historical Land Records Viewer to find old land title certificates, which can contain valuable historical information, as well as the occasional map.

I had used this service before to find some old maps, but was never able to find anything when searching the Torrens (land titles) records. I learnt that the reason why I never found anything is because none of the contents are indexed. The only way you can find a land title certificate is if you know the Volume and Folio number. This is often referred to as the Vol-Fol, and is searched for by entering the numbers separated by a hyphen as shown below.

Without a Vol-Fol number, your chance of finding what you want is literally millions to one. However, having found a title certificate (that’s a story for another post), it will often contain a reference to the previous certificate, and possibly one or more references to following certificates. These links then form a ‘Chain of Title’ that shows the progressive changes of ownership and subdivision of land. Using this concept of ‘chain of title’, starting with my own property in Lambton I was able to trace the chain back to the original mineral lease granted to Morehead and Young in 1863 (Vol-Fol 2-4), and then trace the chain forward to Vol-Fol 3-156 from 1864 wherein the plan of the township of Lambton appears on page 3.

Finding this map was very exciting. It is the oldest map I had found of Lambton, more than 30 years older than what I had seen before. The map revealed a few interesting details:

  • It confirmed my previous suspicion that the original name for Howe St was How St, almost certainly named after Robert How, an investor in the Scottish and Australian Mining Company.
  • The main road from Wallsend to Newcastle was originally going to be Dickson St.
  • The section of Grainger St between Dickson St and Young St (Newcastle Rd now) was originally called Reservoir St.
  • Grainger St appears on this map as “Granger” without the ‘i’. Unlike the ‘How/Howe’ discrepancy, this is almost certainly a mis-spelling on the 1864 map. Newspaper reports and Government Gazettes overwhelmingly and from an early date spell it as “Grainger”. The street is named after “Charles Garston Grainger” which returns 454 results in Trove, whereas searching for “Charles Garston Granger” returns no results.
Map of the planned Lambton Township, 1864. Vol-Fol 3-156.