Cutting the uncertainty

Way back in my very first “Lambton Then and Now” blog post on this old Ralph Snowball photo of the tramway cutting in Lambton, the date of the photo was uncertain. In a comment on the photo, Robert Watson helpfully narrowed down the date to the years 1887 to 1890, as the tramway was constructed in 1887, and the Lambton Park rotunda erected in 1890 was not visible.

Recently I had an “aha” moment when viewing this image again, as I noticed that the photo shows lots of freshly painted white poles along the streets. These were erected in readiness for the new electric lighting system that commenced in 1890. The contract for the erection of these poles was awarded in November 1889 and it wasn’t until 31 January 1890 that the paper reported that “the work of erecting the poles for carrying the wires is going ahead rapidly.”

The construction of the Lambton Park rotunda was commenced by May 1890 and completed in September 1890. There is no sign of any rotunda construction in the photo.

So putting these two pieces of information together, I would suggest that the photo is from sometime in the first six months of 1890.

Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Update 22-Dec-2015

Paul Zuljan let me know that there is another version of this photo in the Hunter Photobank, that has the photographer’s initials “RS” and the year “1890” inscribed on it.

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