These days ownership of property can change regularly, but in Lambton’s early days it was not uncommon for properties to be owned by the same person or family for decades. Sometimes localities within a suburb became known, not by street names, but by property owner names. One such case is “Peacock’s Corner”, with a number of newspaper articles in the 1870s referring to this location where John Peacock dwelt.
John Peacock was a miner, who was living in Lambton from at least 1869. From various newspaper reports we know that his house was built on the Commonage (Newcastle Pasturage Reserve), between Dickson and Young Roads.
In an 1873 sale advertisement, Peacock’s house is described as brick built dwelling containing six rooms, one half of which was let at 4s. per week. It seems that no sale eventuated, and Peacock remained in the house. In 1877 a new Courthouse was built on land adjacent to his dwelling, and there was some contention as to whether he would need to be removed from the site. In 1880 at the instigation of the Bench of Magistrates, the Lands Department wrote to John Peacock ordering him to remove from the site within six months.
“It appearing from the report of Mr. District Surveyor Evans that you have erected improvements upon portions of No. 13, and part of 14, of section 1, within the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, I am directed to inform you that you are in illegal occupation of the land and that it will be necessary for you to remove within six months from this date whatever improvements you may have erected thereon, as it forms part of the area recently approved of as an addition to the Court House site at Lambton.”
Ninian Melville M.L.A. the local member for Northumberland intervened, making representations to the Lands Department, and John Peacock was allowed to remain on the site. In 1887 Peacock once again advertised the sale of his house. At this time it was described as a 13 room family residence with nearly a quarter acre of land. However, given the legal uncertainties of ownership of property on the Commonage, it appears that no sale eventuated.
Just two years later John Peacock’s situation was dire. The Lambton Miners’ committee heard that …
“the old gentleman was suffering from want of food. Peacock had got work at Lambton to fill small coal, but his health failed him. On being visited by the officers they found that it was a very distressing case. Mr. N Elliott, the butcher, provided him with meat, but he had not bread in the house.”
The Miners’ Committee organised a charity raffle to assist Peacock, and they reported in June 1889 that they had “secured £10 6s for the old gentleman by the raffle.”
The following year, in 1890, the Government finally resolved the question of property ownership on the Commonage. The Government allowed people who had built upon or made improvements to land on the Commonage, to make application to purchase and obtain legal title to the land. On 30 July 1890, on the 13th sitting day of the Land Court deliberating on these applications, it was noted that …
“The application of John Peacock, for portion 810, was refused, as the land was required in the public interest; but the board found that the applicant was entitled to come under the provisions of the Act, and they accordingly recommended that he should be allowed to select some other portion.”
The Government Gazette of 30 December 1890 shows that Peacock was successful in applying for portion 759 (on the opposite side of Young Rd), with an area of 21 and half perches (about one eighth of an acre), for a purchase price of £35 8s.
Whether he ever obtained portion 759 or made use of it is unclear, as John Peacock passed away just 18 months later in June 1892, and his house and meagre remaining possessions were put up for public auction on 15 July 1892. By September 1892 the house had been pulled down and removed from the Police Reserve on portion 810.
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|16 Jan 1869||"John Peacock, of Lambton, appeared, on summons, to answer the complaint of Edward Keepe, for assaulting and beating him, on the 9th instant."|
|17 Oct 1871||Lambton Council recommends that the surveyor "be instructed to continue the line of main road from Dark Creek along the line of Mr. D. Jones's property and the Lambton and Waratah Coal Company's property, through Young-street to near the back of Mr. John Peacock's dwelling, forming the junction with the lower and upper crossing. "|
|30 Dec 1871||"One of the miners working at the Waratah new tunnels, an old man named John Peacock, was rather badly hurt by a fall of coal hitting him on Friday last, lacerating his back and right leg, and otherwise shaking him; however, no bones were broken; and under the skilful treatment of Dr. Hill and his assistant, it is hoped he will rapidly mend."|
|27 Jan 1872||A public meeting held in Lambton "near John Peacock's dwelling" for the purpose of nominating aldermen.|
|7 Sep 1872|
4 Sep 1872
|"In pursuance of an advertisement in the local papers, a well attended public meeting was held on Wednesday night last, in the open-air, near Mr. John Peacock's dwelling, on the Commonage, between Waratah and Lambton. "
"The proceedings were orderly and well conducted, with the exception that a few, urchins of pit boys created some annoyance by throwing stones and half bricks upon the zinc roof of Mr. Peacock's dwelling, making a great noise as they rolled down."
|13 Mar 1873|
9 Mar 1873
|A motion in Lambton Council "that Dixon-street be stumped, cleared, guttered and formed, and made passable from Morehead-street midway between Mr. Peacock's and Jefferson's."|
|29 Mar 1873|
25 Mar 1873
|In a Lambton Council meeting, reference is made to proposed "improvements in the track at the east end of Dixon street to beyond Peacock's dwelling".|
|24 May 1873||"THE undersigned being about to leave the neighbourhood, offers FOR SALE the Brick built DWELLING, on the Pasturage Reserve, known as Peacock's, containing six rooms, one half of which is now let at 4s. per week. The property is centrally situated, and near the thriving town of Lambton. Apply to JOHN PEACOCK, Lambton Commonage."|
|18 Apr 1874||The original route for the main road is described: "This road was to pass the Assembly Rooms, Wallssend, by the saw-mills, Dark Creek, and Broom's Hotel, leaving Peacock's corner on the right, and go straight across the neutral ground, to the termination of the Hamilton branch of the Newcastle road, near Cameron's."|
|2 May 1874||At a public meeting discussing the proposed main road, Mr Morgan says that "The new road would not hurt the old one, and would pass near Peacock's corner."|
|6 May 1874||Thomas Croudace describes the proposed nothern route of the main road from Newcastle to Wallsend as going "across the New Lambton and Lambton railways, between the old Dog and Rat Pit, and New Lambton Smelting Works, to the ridge whereon old Peacock lives."|
|5 Dec 1874|
30 Nov 1874
|"A meeting of persons favourable to the re-election of Mr. Hannell as member for the county, was held at Peacock's corner, on the Commonage."|
|25 Feb 1875||"Court-house and Lockup. — The new building is to occupy a site near Peacock's corner, and facing one of the cross streets."|
|22 Jan 1877||"The new court house and lock up is to be erected on the Commonage, near to Peacock's place, facing to the East. I am in formed that the whole of the land in front, between the two roads, is to be reserved, and planted with shrubery, &c. If this is so, it will cause the removal of the extensive buildings erected by John Peacock, which will be a serious matter to him."|
|10 Feb 1877||"TO SELL, OR LET BY TENDER. A FOURTEEN-ROOMED BRICK HOUSE. The above premises is situated on the Commonage, adjoining the New Court-house ground, Lambton. A RARE CHANCE for a Family Hotel, or General Store. For further information, apply to JOHN PEACOCK, On the Premises."|
|27 Jul 1878||In describing the area of the proposed Lambton recreation ground (now Lambton Park), the north-east corner is described as being at "the extension of Elder-street on the north, and the Main Road running from the railway crossing to Peacock's corner on the east." The railway crossing was where Lambton Road crossed the Waratah Coal Company's railway, and was known as "Betty Bunn's Crossing."|
|25 Dec 1880|
30 Sep 1880
|Letter from the Lands department gives John Peacock 6 months to remove his buildings from the commonage. "It appearing from the report of Mr. District Surveyor Evans that you have erected improvements upon portions of No. 13, and part of 14, of section 1, within the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, I am directed to inform you that you are in illegal occupation of the land and that it will be necessary for you to remove within six months from this date whatever improvements you may have erected thereon, as it forms part of the area recently approved of as an addition to the Court House site at Lambton."|
|3 Feb 1881||Mr J. McWilliams, a candidate for council elections, "contended that John Peacock's house was no detriment to the Court House."|
|20 Jun 1881||"Personal. IF this should meet the eye of JANE PEACOCK, my daughter (last heard of in Ballarat, Victoria), or of CHRISTINA PATERSON, they are requested to write to me. JOHN PEACOCK, Commonage, Lambton."|
|10 Mar 1885||Mr. N. MELVIILLE M.L.A. "referred to the attempt that had been made to remove his very good friend Mr. John Peacock off the Commonage and which he had prevented at a cost to the country of some twenty three shillings for telegrams (Laughter)."|
|21 Mar 1885||Thomas Griffiths arrested for being drunk and disrorderly and "shortly after placed on garrison duty in the fortress near Peacock's corner." This is a semi-humorous reference to being placed in the police lock-up behind the Lambton courthouse.|
|25 Jan 1887||John Peacock considers running for Lambton Council, but in the end doesn't nominate.|
|26 Feb 1887||FOR SALE: "FAMILY RESIDENCE, With nearly a quarter acre of Land, known as Peacock's Property, situated in Dixon and Young streets, Lambton, close to the Court-house, containing 13 Rooms, Outhouses, Stables, &c., with a never-failing supply of water. The property is suitable for an Hotel or Boarding-house, and plenty of room to build two or three houses more."|
|27 Mar 1889|
25 Mar 1889
|The Lambton Miners' Committee has their attention drawn to John Peacock's state… "and that it was reported that the old gentleman was suffering from want of food. Peacock had got work at Lambton to fill small coal, but his health failed him. On being visited by the officers they found that it was a very distressing case. Mr. N Elliott, the butcher, provided him with meat, but he had not bread in the house."|
|3 Jun 1889|
29 May 1889
|The Lambton Miners' committee "recommends the lodge to pay all expenses in connection with John Peacock's raffle which amounts to 13s 6d." The chairman stated that the committee secured £10 6s for the old gentleman by the raffle."|
|31 Jul 1890||In the sitting of the land court to determine the granting of land on the Commonage: "The application of John Peacock, for portion 810, was refused, as the land was required in the public interest; but the board found that the applicant was entitled to come under the provisions of the Act, and they accordingly recommended that he should be allowed to select some other portion."|
|30 Dec 1890||Government Gazette shows that portion 759 of the Commonage, with an area of 21 and half perches, has been granted to John Peacock, for a purchase price of £35 8s.|
|6 Jun 1892||The funeral of "JOHN PEACOCK: To move from his late residence, near the Courthouse, Lambton, THIS (Monday) AFTERNOON, at 3 o'clock, for Wallsend Cemetery."|
|21 Jun 1892|
20 Jun 1892
|After a fire destroys the home of Mrs. Webster, on Young Rd at the rear of the courthouse, Sergeant Salter "very kindly provided shelter and bedding for the unfortunate family in the vacant house of the late John Peacock, on the police reserve."|
|15 Jul 1892||Public auction of the estate of John Peacock. In addtion to furniture, the auction included ...|
"BRICK TENEMENT, with Iron Roofing, and quantity of loose Bricks, situate at Lambton, near Courthouse; same to be removed off land at Sale."
|15 Sep 1892||In a Lambton Council meeting "Alderman CONN called attention to a dangerous underground tank on the Police Court Reserve, left after the late J. Peacock's house was pulled down."|