Adamstown Aldermen (1886-1938)

Adamstown Council was incorporated on 31 December 1885 and remained until March 1938 when 11 local municipal councils merged to form the City of Greater Newcastle Council. During its 52 years of its existence, Adamstown Council had 84 different aldermen, 32 of whom served as mayor.

The file linked to below contains a summary of all the aldermen that served on New Lambton Municipal Council in the years 1889 to 1938.

Entries in the table that are underlined are hyperlinks to a relevant newspaper article in Trove. To make sense of the information in the summary document, it is helpful to understand how council elections were organised, and how I have used different text and background colours to represent changes in the council membership.

Adamstown Council Chambers on the opening day, 22 August 1892. Photo courtesy of Newcastle Region Library.

Council elections

Elections in the Adamstown Municipal Council were initially governed by the NSW Municipalities Act of 1867. The council had 9 aldermen, who served terms of three years.

Initially the municipality was incorporated in 1886 without a ward system, but prior to the 1891 election, the municipality was divided into three wards (North/South/East), with three aldermen to represent each ward. Each February the term of three aldermen expired (one from each ward), and nominations were called to fill the expiring positions, so that over a three year cycle the terms of all nine of the aldermen expired. If only one nomination was received for a particular ward, that nominee was automatically elected to the council without the need for a ballot. If there was more than one nomination in a ward the returning officer would set a date within the next seven days at which a ballot would be held, where the ratepayers of the council area would vote for aldermen.

The position of Mayor was not voted on by ratepayers, but rather on the first council meeting after the election, the nine aldermen (including the three newly elected/returned aldermen) would vote for who they wanted to be Mayor. In contrast to the position of aldermen who were elected to a term of three years, the position of Mayor had a term of only one year.

In the event of any casual vacancies, nominations for the vacancy would be called for, and an election called if there were more nominees than vacancies. Casual vacancies in Adamstown were caused by resignation, death, or in the case of the 1920 election, there being a shortage of nominees.

On 26/2/1906, the Municipalities Act (1897) was replaced by the Local Government Act (1906). The system of electing 3 aldermen each year was changed to elect 9 aldermen every 3 years. The election of a Mayor was still held each February, with the Mayoral term running from the first day of March to the last day of February. At a council meeting on 12 March 1919, the aldermen voted to abolish the ward system in Adamstown.

Although there are numerous pieces of legislation relevant to local government in the period 1871 to 1938, the main acts relevant to the content on this page are:

Colour coding

In the documents I have used different colours to indicate the means by which people entered and exited council positions:

  • The foreground text color indicates how a person entered a council position:
    • Blue indicates the person was elected unopposed.
    • Green indicates the person was a successful candidate in an election.
    • Black indicates a continuation in office.
  • The background colour of a table cell indicates how a person exited a council position:
    • Yellow indicates a resignation.
    • Light pink indicates expiration of a term, and the person did not seek re-election.
    • Darker pink indicates expiration of a term, and the person was defeated when seeking re-election to another term.
    • Light gray indicates that the person died while serving their term of office.
  • For entries prior to 1906, where three aldermen retired each year, the names of the retiring aldermen are shown in italics.

Each new row in the table represents a change in the makeup of the council, with the exception of the council/mayoral elections of February 1919, December 1920, December 1921 and December 1935 where the aldermen and mayor remained unchanged.

Miscellaneous Observations

In the period 1886 to 1938:

  • 32 different people served as Mayor.
    • The longest serving Mayor was Theophilus Robin, who served a total of 5 years as Mayor during the period 1908 to 1917, on three separate occasions.
    • Edden St is named after Alfred Edden, who served as Mayor in 1889 and 1891.
    • In comparison with Lambton, Adamstown liked to share the Mayoral honours around. Adamstown council operated for 15 years less than Lambton council, but had four more than Lambton’s 28 Mayors.
  • 84 different people served as aldermen.
    • Often there are variant spellings for the same aldermen. In the spreadsheet I have used a consistent spelling of names, based on the variant that seems to be used the most, and on a separate worksheet listed the variant spellings. The most curious case is that of Matthew Loyden/Lydon, who prior to 12 February 1900 is consistently spelled “Loyden” and after 12 February 1900 is consistently spelled “Lydon”.  And on that exact date he is spelled “Loyden” in the Newcastle Morning Herald, and “Lydon” in the Daily Telegraph!
    • The longest serving alderman was Matthew Lydon who served a total of 22 years and 6 months in the period 1888 to 1917, on two separate occasions.
    • The shortest term of an aldermen was that of R Keogh who filled a casual vacancy for 8 months in 1925.
  • This page is titled “Adamstown Aldermen“, for they were all men. For most of the life of the council, this was by law, for while both men and women were entitled to vote, the Municipalities Act of 1867 and the Local Government Act of 1906 was explicit in restricting council service to men. e.g. section 69 of the 1906 act says:
    “Any male person whose name is on the roll of electors for an area shall, if not disqualified, be eligible to be elected and to act as alderman or councillor of the area.”
    By the time of the Local Government Act of 1919, this gender exclusion for office was no longer in place, however in the remaining 20 years no women were nominated for or elected to Adamstown Council.
  • Four people died while serving in office, James Gray in 1916, Thomas Rutherford and Matthew Lydon in 1917, and Allan Randolph Cameron in 1936.
  • There were 22 occasions when an alderman or mayor resigned their position. In most cases the reason was that the person had left the district, or because of ill health.

James Gray, Undertaker

James Gray of Adamstown, was a leading businessman, citizen, and alderman who died on 30 May 1916 while holidaying in Blackheath, just a few days before his 73rd birthday.

Gray arrived in Australia from the north of England around 1878, and lived in Brunker Rd Hamilton West (now Broadmeadow) working as an undertaker. In 1885 he moved to Adamstown, and while continuing as an undertaker he also worked as a carpenter, ran a hardware and furniture shop and accumulated a substantial property portfolio.

Gray was one of the early proponents for the establishment of Adamstown Council in 1885. His desire to serve as an alderman was a model of perseverance, with multiple unsuccessful attempts to be elected. Conceding defeat on the fourth occasion in 1894 he was undaunted, stating that he “would again make an effort to get in to the council.” The following year he finally gained a place when elected to fill a casual vacancy. He went on to serve as an alderman for 15 years and was elected Mayor on three occasions.

Ralph Snowball’s photograph of 8 December 1910 shows James Gray in front of his business premises in Glebe Rd. Dressed in black, standing with his hand on the wheel of his Beeston Humber motor car, Gray is at work as an undertaker for the funeral of Jane Gilpin. Her son Edward is presumably the man standing at the front of the car.

This is one of Snowball’s finest carefully composed photographs, and in the dead centre is a very curious detail. In the glass windshield beside the reflection of Edward Gilpin, there is a slightly blurred image of a woman in a hat. But there is no woman standing next to Gilpin. Is this a ghostly apparition? Is it an accidental double exposure?  Or are we witnessing a clever piece of photographic artistry performed by Snowball, paying homage to Edward Gilpin’s beloved mother?

James Gray, undertaker, 8 December 1910. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
The mysterious reflection of a woman in the car windshield.

The article above was first published in the November 2019 edition of The Local.


Location of the photo

Although I am not 100% certain of the location of James Gray’s premises in Snowball’s photograph, my best guess is that it was on the south-east corner of Glebe Road and Teralba Road.

Probable location of James Gray’s business.
The corner of Glebe and Teralba Roads, Adamstown. September 2019.
Old street directory of Adamstown showing the location of Crown St and Thomas St.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
30 Mar 1880First mention of James Gray as an undertaker. His address is given as “Commonage, Hamilton”.
26 Jan 1884James Gray is one of the 153 petitioners calling for the establishment of Adamstown Council.
21 Oct 1884For Sale: A four-roomed house and shop. Commonage, Hamilton.
5 Dec 1884Last advertisment for JAMES GRAY, Undertaker, with the address given as "Commonage, Hamilton."
26 Jan 1885First advertisement for JAMES GRAY, Undertaker, with the address given as "Adamstown".
13 Feb 1888
11 Feb 1888
James Gray's first unsuccessful attempt to be elected to Adamstown Council.
10 Feb 1890
8 Feb 1890
James Gray's second unsuccessful attempt to be elected to Adamstown Council.
5 Jul 1890James Gray leading a movement to have Adamstown Council divided into wards.
5 Jan 1891James Gray is instrumental in submitting a petition to the government to have the Municipality of Adamstown divided into 3 wards. Interestingly the name before Gray’s in the petition is “Jane Gilpin”, the woman whose funeral he would organise as undertaker nearly 20 years later, and be the subject of Ralph Snowball's photograph.
30 May 1891At an appeals court, the property of James Gray described as a "carpenter's shop and residence, Glebe-road."
24 Oct 1891Further evidence of James Gray's subsantial property holdings - an advertisement to let a butcher's shop in Crown-street. (Crown St was the short section of Teralba Rd to the south of Glebe Rd.)
14 May 1892In municipal appeal court, James Gray's property portfolio is described as consisting of "six four-roomed cottages assessed at an annual value of £16 5s each."
13 Feb 1893
11 Feb 1893
James Gray's third unsuccessful attempt to be elected to Adamstown Council. In giving thanks to those who voted for him, Gray stated that "it was improbable that he would again offer his services to the ratepayers." That was a short-lived sentiment, as he stood as a candidate again the following year.
30 Dec 1893At an inquest concerning a fire in one of James Gray's rental cottages, his occupation is stated as "undertaker and carpenter". Gray "had an overdraft at the A.J.S. Bank for £150 … for seven or eight years, and had built five houses."
12 Feb 1894
10 Feb 1894
James Gray's fourth unsuccessful attempt to be elected to Adamstown Council. "Mr. GRAY said he had contested for a seat in the council and been defeated four times. He had a large interest in the municipality, and would again make an effort to get in to the council."
21 Jan 1895
19 Jan 1895
Mrs Gray, the wife of James Gray, accidentally kills her niece, Eleanor Turner, aged 13.
22 Jan 1895
21 Jan 1895
The inquest into the death of Eleanor Turner hears that she died from injuries inflicted by a knife thrown in anger at her by Mrs Anne Gray, after a dispute with her niece. The jury hands down a decision of manslaughter and Mrs Gray was released on bail to await trial.
21 Feb 1895
20 Feb 1895
Anne Gray sentenced to six months in Maitland Gaol for the manslaughter of Eleanor Turner.
15 Jun 1895"Mrs. Anne Gray, the woman who, on February 21 last, was sentenced to six months in Maitland Gaol for the manslaughter of Eleanor Turner, has been released by order of the Department of Justice. She arrived at her home in Adamstown on Thursday, having served four months of her sentence."
29 Sep 1908
28 Sep 1908
Death of James Gray's first wife.
13 Apr 1910James Gray advertises his Beeston-Humber motor car for sale for £450.
8 Dec 1910"Relatives and friends of Mr. EDWARD GILPIN are invited to attend the Funeral of his beloved Mother, JANE GILPIN. To move from her late residence, Thomas-street, Adamstown, THIS AFTERNOON, at a quarter to 3 o'clock, for Methodist Cemetery, Sandgate, JAMES GRAY, Undertaker."
(Thomas St is now the northern end of Date St in Adamstown.)
14 Jan 1915David Lloyd acquires Gray’s undertaking business.
21 Apr 1915First mention of James Gray's second wife.
2 Jun 1916
30 May 1916
Death of James Gray.
1 Jun 1916Funeral of James Gray.

Bile Beans Bull****

My September article for “The Local” is now out, this month on Lawson Crichton, manager of the Lambton Cooperative Society Store.

One interesting side discovery from researching this article came from Ralph Snowball’s 1898 photo of the Cooperative Store, where I noticed that one of the advertisements on the front wall of the store was for a product called “Bile Beans For Biliousness”.

Bile Beans was a completely fraudulent product created by Charles Edward Fulford and Ernest Albert Gilbert, and first sold in Australia in 1897. The product was a relatively harmless concoction of plant and vegetable matter, but was heavily marketed with pseudo-scientific attestations as a cure for all kinds of maladies, including constipation, indigestion, rheumatism, influenza, and anaemia.

By the 1930s the product was being marketed as a weight loss pill for women with advertisements proclaiming that …

“Slenderness can be yours without dieting or fatiguing exercise if you just take Bile Beans. Just a couple nightly and you’ll slim while you sleep.”

Thankfully the marketing of ineffective weight loss solutions using pseudo-scientific claims of efficacy, gushing about the natural origins of the ingredients, and targeting women with insecurities about their body image – that could never happen in our modern day and age, could it?

Lawson Crichton

Lawson Crichton was born in Coatbridge near Glasgow in Scotland in 1854. He ended his days in Lambton in 1906, as one of the town’s most prominent citizens.

Crichton arrived in Australia in 1875 and soon gained a position as assistant at the Hamilton Co?operative Store. In 1879 he married Agnes Logan Cherry, daughter of Robert Cherry of the Hamilton Hotel. In 1882 Crichton was appointed manager of the Lambton Co-operative store, situated on the north east corner of Pearson and Grainger Streets. In 1889 he resigned after purchasing a bakery business, but returned in 1896 as manager of the Hamilton and Lambton Co?operative Society.

Ralph Snowball’s September 1898 photograph shows Lawson and Agnes Crichton with several of their five children, and various employees in front of the Lambton store. For an interesting contrast in how some things change while other things stay the same, a close look at the signs on the store is instructive. One advertises “Cadburys Chocolate”, still widely enjoyed today, while another promotes “Bile Beans for Biliousness”, a product thankfully lost in history!

Lawson Crichton was active in many local institutions including the fire brigade, cricket club, football club, and several friendly societies and lodges. From 1899 to 1902 he was also a key member of the Lambton Citizens’ Committee. These were years when Lambton Council ceased to operate having been bankrupted by the failed electric lighting scheme. The Citizens’ Committee under the leadership of Crichton became the de facto local government, looking after sanitation, drainage and street repairs until the Council was reinstated in 1903.

Lawson Crichton died at his residence in Pearson St on 2 July 1906, aged just 52 years. The following day a funeral procession left his home and wound through the streets of Lambton. The impressively large attendance from the many groups he was associated a fitting testament to the high regard he was held in the community.

Lambton Co-operative Store, with Lawson Crichton (manager) and family. September 1898. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
Lawson Crichton. Photo from “The Story of Lambton”, Newcastle Family History Society.

The article above was first published in the September 2019 edition of The Local.


Bile Beans for Biliousness

In Ralph Snowball’s 1898 photo, just to the right hand side of the main door is a sign that proclaims “Bile Beans for Biliousness Sold Here”.

Bile Beans were a completely fraudulent product created by Charles Edward Fulford and Ernest Albert Gilbert, and first sold in Australia in 1897. The product was a relatively harmless concoction of plant and vegetable matter, but was heavily marketed with pseudo-scientific attestations as a cure for all kinds of maladies.

Bile Beans marketing brochure c.1905. Archives New Zealand

A court in Edinburgh on 20 July 1906, ruling on a complaint from the manufacturers of Bile Beans about another company using the name, makes it pretty clear that Bile Beans were an elaborate scam. The British Medical Journal of 28 July 1906, reporting on the court’s judgement noted that the Bile Beans …

… were said to be made of Australian vegetable substances discovered by a Charles Forde. The place of the discovery, the mode of it, and the instrument of it were all deliberate inventions, without any foundation in fact.

The truth was that the complainers [the Bile Bean Manufacturing Company] had formed a scheme to palm off onto the public a medicine obtained from America, and they created a demand by flooding the country with advertisements, placards, pamphlets, and imaginary pictures. The complainers desired protection for the name “Bile Beans,” but being themselves engaged in perpetrating a fraud upon the public, they were not entitled to any such protection.

Despite the clearly articulated fraudulent nature of the product, it continued to be marketed aggressively and sold throughout the world, with its supposed benefits morphing over time. At various times Bile Beans were claimed to cure an astonishing number of ailments, including …

  • Biliousness
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Dyspepsia
  • Headache
  • Piles
  • Female Weakness
  • Pale faced girls
  • Irregularities
  • Bad Breath
  • Pimples
  • Blotches
  • Dizziness
  • Liver and Kidney Troubles
  • Heart Palpitation
  • Pain in Back and Side
  • Lack of Physical Tone
  • Heartburn
  • Tired Feeling
  • Debility
  • Anaemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bad blood
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Rheumatism
  • Flatulence
  • Influenza

By the 1930s the product was being marketed as a weight loss pill for women, with advertisements proclaiming that …

“Slenderness can be yours without dieting or fatiguing exercise if you just take Bile Beans. Just a couple nightly and you’ll slim while you sleep.”

Advertisement, Launceston Examiner, 21 Oct 1938.

Thankfully the marketing of ineffective dietary supplements using pseudo-scientific claims of efficacy, targeting women with insecurities about their body image, could never happen in our modern age.

Lambton Citizens’ Committee

The following is a brief timeline of Lawson Crichton’s involvement in the Lambton Citizens’ Committee.

  • 3 Mar 1900 – appointed to the committee
  • 2 Jun 1900 – appointed as chairman of the committee
  • 21 Sep 1901 – retired as chairman, but stays on committee
  • 5 Apr 1902 – last mention in the newspaper as being on the committee

Community involvement

In the article I mention that Lawson Crichton was active in many local institutions. A search of Trove shows that he was very busy indeed, being involved in the following activities

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
5 Jun 1879
3 Jun 1879
Marriage of Lawson Crichton to Agnes Logan Cherry.
3 Jul 1906
2 Jul 1906
Death of Lawson Crichton.
3 Jul 1906Funeral notices for Lawson Crichton.
3 Jul 1906"HAMILTON & LAMBTON CO-OP. SOCIETY. LAMBTON & HAMILTON STORES CLOSED TO-DAY on account of the death of the General Manager, Mr. Lawson Crichton."
4 Jul 1906
3 Jul 1906
Lawson Crichton's funeral.

Walsh Island Aerodrome

My August 2019 article for “The Local” is now out, this month on the crash of a DC47 aircraft at the District Park aerodrome in August 1944. In researching the article I was intrigued to discover that for a brief period in the 1930s there was an aerodrome on Walsh Island, in the northern part of Newcastle Harbour.

Walsh Island no longer exists as a separate island. With extensive land reclamation over the years, it is now part of Kooragang Island. The name however is retained in Walsh Point at the southern tip of Kooragang Island.

The outline of Walsh Island as it was in 1913, superimposed over a Google Earth image.

The location of Walsh Island was originally a collection of small low islands amidst shallow sand and mud banks in the north arm of the Hunter River. Major T. S. Parrot’s 1893 map shows Goat Island and a pair of adjacent islands evocatively named the Spectacle Islands. The future shape of Walsh Island can be seen in this map in the outline of the mud flats around these small islands.

Parrott’s 1893 map shows the Spectacle Islands where Walsh Island will later be created. National Library of Australia.

In 1898 a number of harbour improvements were instigated in Newcastle by the Harbours and Rivers Department. The Daily Telegraph on 17 March 1898 reported that construction of the northern break-wall at Stockton had commenced under the direction of Mr. H. D. Walsh the resident engineer, and that …

Another work which will be put in hand almost immediately is the erection of the training wall round the mud flat in the north harbor, euphoniously called — in anticipation — Walsh’s Island.

On 28 June 1898 the Newcastle Morning Herald noted that …

The reclamation of the sand-flat known as Walsh’s Island, in the upper portion of the north harbour, is being proceeded with, and a wall is now being built up around the edges by tipping stone, at the rate of 100 tons daily.

After the formation of Walsh Island was completed, nothing was done with it. In 1906 some were arguing that it had been a mistake to put the island there, and in 1907 the J and A Brown Company were suggesting that “the best thing to do with Walsh Island was to remove it altogether.

Walsh Island and the dredge “Castor” Newcastle, NSW, 5 May 1901. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Corporal Barrett’s map of Newcastle shows that in 1910 the southern part of Walsh Island had been constructed, but was devoid of any buildings or industry. The island is marked as being “8 feet above high water mark” and bounded on the left and right by a “low stone wall”.

Walsh Island on Barrett’s 1910 map. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In September 1912, Mr Griffiths, the State Minister for Works, announced that a new Government Dockyards and Engineering Works would be constructed on Walsh Island. The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the new works was performed on 14 June 1913, and the official opening took place on Friday 27 November 1914. At that time the Dockyards and Workshops employed a 1000 men. By 1920 the workforce had expanded to 2500 skilled artisans.

The first recorded use of Walsh Island for aviation occurred on 21 August 1920, when the island had an unexpected visitor from the skies. Lieutenant Raymond Parer and Lieutenant John McIntosh were flying from Brisbane to Sydney, on one of the last legs in their epic seven month problem plagued journey from England to Australia. Facing an unexpected headwind for most of their flight down the coast, they ran low on fuel and needed to land in Newcastle. After making three attempts to land at the old Newcastle racecourse, they determined that it looked to be too bumpy, and after scouting around for other landing sites, eventually touched down on the sands of Walsh Island. They spent the night on the island resting in the home of Mr Cutler (manager of the dockyards), and resumed their journey to Sydney’s Mascot airport the next afternoon.

The impromptu landing of Parer and McIntosh directed attention to the need for “an acceptable aerodrome in this city.” Opinions were divided as to whether a new aerodrome should be situated on Walsh Island or in Broadmeadow. In October 1923 the Government gazetted 52 acres of District Park in Broadmeadow for aviation purposes. Despite the official gazetting, little was done to develop the Broadmeadow site.

On 29 January 1929, Squadron-Leader Charles Kingsford Smith landed his Southern Cross plane at District Park and spent the day inspecting areas in Newcastle suggested as aerodrome sites.

Interviewed a few minutes before his departure, the famous aviator had no hesitation in saying that he favoured Walsh Island as an aerodrome site in preference to those he had inspected at Hexham and Redhead. If an aerodrome were constructed there, a fleet of fast motor launches could be commissioned to run in conjunction with the proposed air service, and would cover the distance separating Walsh Island from the mainland in about seven minutes.

Kingsford-Smith’s endorsement carried weight, for by May 1929 an aerodrome was being constructed on the island.

Levelling dredged sand on Walsh Island, 17 May 1929. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

On 23 May 1929, Captain E. C. Johnson, superintendent of aerodromes for the Civil Aviation Department inspected the construction site, and declared that “Walsh Island is an ideal site and will make an excellent aerodrome” and “that judging by the progress made by the Works Department, in levelling the site, it would be ready within six months.” Flight Lieutenant Ulm of Australian National Airways visited Newcastle on 14 June 1929 and landed his DeHaviland Moth aircraft on Walsh Island to inspect the aerodrome preparations. The Daily Telegraph reported that ….

Lieutenant Ulm spoke in terms of the highest praise of the work already done at the aerodrome. When the service is in full operation the Australian National Airways proposes to erect a hangar at Walsh Island.

Captain Ulm after landing on Walsh Island, 14 June 1929. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In August 1929 the Newcastle Morning Herald reported that …

The work of making ready the site for Newcastle’s aerodrome at Walsh Island is progressing satisfactorily. Three dredges are being kept busy at Walsh Island, and the material they are lifting from the river bed is being deposited on the aerodrome site. It should not be long now before the ground is ready.

A photograph in the National Library of Australia captioned as circa 1930 shows that the area planned for the Civil Aviation airfield is still under construction, with reclamation of the land from river dredging still in progress. On the middle right hand side of the photo there is wide dark straight line which I suspect may be one of the aerodrome runways under construction.

Aerial view of Walsh Island state dockyard and engineering works, Newcastle, New South Wales, ca. 1930. National Library of Australia

Two separate but adjacent airfields were proposed for the island – a smaller airfield to be used by the recently formed Newcastle Aero Club, and a larger airfield to be used for civil aviation.

Illustration from the Newcastle Sun, 15 August 1929, showing the location of the two proposed airfields on Walsh Island – the Aero Club field and the Civil Aviation field.

Although the land reclamation and levelling was performed by the Department of Works, the construction of the aerodrome was also enthusiastically and financially supported by the Government Dockyard. In August 1929, the Newcastle Aero Club in a letter to Colonel Brinsmead, Comptroller of Civil Aviation, wrote …

Dockyard authorities have been engaged assiduously in the preparation of the proposed aerodrome … Arrangements have been made for the construction by the dockyard authorities, of suitable hangar accommodation, and the dockyard is in a position to do so, and is most anxious to carry out all necessary repairs and will cooperate with the club in every way possible.

Construction of the aerodrome runways proceeded during 1929, and by late August it was reported that “one run-way has been practically completed.” A 30 November 1929 report noted that …

An aerodrome has been established on Walsh Island, embracing three runways, each 160ft wide and approximately 2500ft long, situated in the direction of the prevailing winds, enabling ‘planes to land in any direction on the site

With completion of the aerodrome imminent, Australian National Airways announced in September 1929 that …

Before 1929 has run its course, giant triple-engined ‘planes will be roaring over the aerial highway in a regular passenger service between Sydney and Brisbane, with Newcastle as an important port of call en route. Boarding the air liner at Walsh Island, Newcastle passengers booked for Sydney will land at Mascot aerodrome after an hour’s flight. The fare, probably, will be £2.

The airline’s dreams of a passenger service from Walsh Island proved to be premature. Just three months later in December 1929, their plans to use the aerodrome were in doubt …

Mr. M. C. Reid, of Newcastle, who is a director of the company [Australian National Airways], said that the area which would be available when the air service was commenced in January might not be considered sufficient to permit the giant air liners to alight and take off in perfect safety.

Despite the setback with regard to passenger traffic, the Newcastle Aero Club persisted with their plans. In March 1930, at a meeting to present their first annual report to members, the club’s committee noted that the aerodrome “is now fit to be licensed as a training ground” and that they had “asked the Civil Aviation Department to send an inspector to examine the Walsh Island Aerodrome.” Captain Burgess, NSW District Superintendent of the Civil Aviation Department, inspected both the District Park (Broadmeadow) and the Walsh Island aerodromes on 11 July 1930.

When interviewed, Captain Burgess would not commit himself, but is understood to have been of the opinion that the District Park site could be made suitable for an aerodrome if £3000 or £4000 were spent on improving it, but not otherwise; nor would the Walsh Island site be licensed unless improvements, costing at least as much, were made.

For the next two years, arguments were made for and against establishing Newcastle’s aerodrome at Walsh Island or District Park. Despite the fact that “some thousands of pounds were spent on preparatory work at Walsh Island”, the expenditure “was wasted, the site being abandoned”. The location of an aerodrome for Newcastle was effectively settled in August 1932 when the Department of Lands ruled in favour of the District Park site. The Department wrote to the chairman of the District Park Trust (Alderman Jenner) …

The matter of the establishment of an aerodrome at District Park has been given further consideration, and in view or the heavy costs to establish an aerodrome at Walsh Island as an alternative to the District Park site, it has been decided to allow the reservation [in District Park] for the joint purposes of public recreation and aviation.

The other factor in 1932 that doomed the Walsh Island aerodrome was the fate of the Government Dockyard. From the very beginning in 1929, the dockyard had been an avid supporter of the aerodrome project. Unfortunately the dockyard’s enthusiasm was not matched by the NSW Auditor-General, who in his report in December 1930 “found fault with the aerodrome expenditure without authority”, stating that …

… in my opinion, the surplus on the year’s trading was understated, by reason of certain capital expenditure, estimated by the General Manager at £5000, incurred in the preparation of an aerodrome site, having been incorrectly charged as “workshop expenses.”

This creative accounting led to personal consequences for the manager. In January 1932, with the dockyard’s profitability plummeting and a general dissatisfaction with the manager’s performance, the Government announced that …

… Mr. A. C. Waters (general manager of the State Government Dockyards at Newcastle) had received notice that his services would not be required after January 8 … Little has been made public concerning the inquiry into the administration of Walsh Island. It is understood, however, that the expenditure incurred in the attempt to create a Walsh Island aerodrome is one basis of the criticisms offered against Mr. Waters.

In the midst of the economic depression, the dockyard’s financial position became dire, and on 18 January 1933, the NSW Minister for Works (Mr Weaver) announced that the dockyards would be closed. The workforce was then progressively laid off as the remaining orders were completed. On 4 Jul 1933 it was reported that ..

The Government Dockyard at Walsh Island is at present working on its last job, and the workshop will then be closed down. Engineers who have had a look at the place recently state that it is being completely dismantled, and there is not much valuable machinery there now.

With the closure of the dockyard and engineering workshops, the island was once again practically deserted. The once grand plans of a Walsh Island aerodrome were now dead in the water. In the ensuing years there were occasional suggestions (March 1936, December 1940, May 1950) that the Walsh Island aerodrome could be be completed, but no action was taken.

In 1950 the industrial future of Walsh Island was re-launched by the State Government, with the Newcastle Morning Herald reporting on 30 March 1950 that …

The exchange of land between the Crown and the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., proposed in the bill before State Parliament, is regarded by industrialists as the first major step in the reclamation of 6500 acres of Hunter River delta islands for industrial expansion.

The reclamation of land, “requiring more than 750,000 tons of harbour silt” commenced in January 1951. Eastern Nitrogen (now Incitec) subsequently established a fertiliser production plant on the site of Walsh Island in 1968.

The re-touched photograph

An undated aerial photograph on the Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association website shows the two adjacent airfields, each with three runways arranged in a triangular pattern. Don Phillips who worked on Walsh Island in the 1940s, in an interview in the Newcastle Herald on 14 September 2018 thinks this is a ‘re-touched’ photo. I agree with him, as the runways here are too crisp and clean in comparison with the rest of the photo, and there is no evidence of any adjoining infrastructure such as roads or hangars. Also the pale colour of the runways and their perfect symmetry is in contradiction to the 1 August 1936 newspaper report that the runways had a “tarred surface” and that “the work was never completed.”

The Aero Club and Civil Aviation airfields to the north of the Government Dockyard facilities on Walsh Island. Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
17 Mar 1898"Another work which will be put in hand almost immediately is the erection of the training wall round the mud flat in the north harbor, euphoniously called - in anticipation - Walsh's Island."
28 Jun 1898"The reclamation of the sand-flat known as Walsh's Island, in the upper portion of the north harbour, is being proceeded with, and a wall is now being built up around the edges by tipping stone, at the rate of 100 tons daily."
18 Jun 1906"Ten years ago an island was built up in the North Harbour, and its usefulness has ever since been a source of discussion. There are many who hold that it was a mistake to put the island there, claiming, as they do, that there is not sufficient water accommodation."
12 Jun 1907"Mr. R. B. Hogue, manager for Messrs. J. and A, Brown, said he thought the best thing to do with Walsh Island was to remove it altogether."
21 Sep 1912Mr. Griffiith, the State Minister for Works informs the local M.P. Mr Grahame "that it had been definitely decided to establish the new Government works at Newcastle on Walsh Island."
16 Jun 1913
14 Jun 1913
"The laying of the foundation stone of the new workshops of the State Government … took place on Saturday last.
28 Nov 1914
27 Nov 1914
The official opening of the State Government Dockyards at Walsh Island.
25 Jun 1920The Prince of Wales launches the "Enoggera" at the Walsh Island dockyards, which now employs 2500 workmen.
23 Aug 1920
21 Aug 1920
Lieutenants Parer and McIntosh while on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney, elect to land on Walsh Island, after running low on fuel.
23 Aug 1920Lieutenant Parer and Lieutenant McIntosh, on one of their last legs in a seven month flight from England, are forced to land on Walsh Island. They originally made three attempts to land at the old racecourse "but no landing was effected, the reason, as Lieutenant Parer afterwards explained, being that the ground looked too bumpy, and there was risk from the fences."
23 Aug 1920"The landing of Lieutenants Parer and McIntosh at Walsh Island on Saturday directs fresh attention to the failure to provide an acceptable aerodrome site in this city. Almost every week, one or more airmen visit Newcastle, and have accustomed themselves to the inadequate accommodation to be found on the old racecourse. The City Council may reasonably be asked to seriously consider, the selection of a site which will not have to be passed over by world-famed airmen; because it Is 'too small and too bumpy.' "
30 Jan 1929
29 Jan 1929
Charles Kingsford Smoth inspects areas in Newcastle suggested as aerodrome sites. "Interviewed a few minutes before his departure, the famous aviator had no hesitation in saying that he favoured Walsh Island as an aerodrome site in preference to those he had inspected at Hexham and Redhead."
8 May 1929"Newcastle's aerodrome, under construction at Walsh Island, will be inspected next week by the supervisor of aerodromes (Captain E. C. Johnston) of the Civil Aviation Department."
23 May 1929"'Walsh Island is an ideal site and will make an excellent aerodrome,' said the superintendent of aerodromes (Captain Johnston) this afternoon, after an inspection of the 'drome there. He added that judging by the progress made by the Works Department, in levelling the site, it would be ready within six months."
14 Jun 1929"Flight-Lieutenant Ulm, accompanied by Mrs Ulm, flew from Sydney to Newcastle to-day to inspect the site of the aerodrome at Walsh Island, which is to be used in the Sydney-Brisbane air mail service."
6 Sep 1929Mr. Mark Reid, Director of Australian National Airways, Ltd announces that "before 1929 has run its course, giant triple-engined 'planes will be roaring over the aerial highway in a regular passenger service between Sydney and Brisbane, with Newcastle [Walsh Island] as an important port of call en route."
5 Dec 1929"Doubt has arisen as to whether Newcastle will be a port of call for the big triple-engined 'planes of the air mail line between Sydney and Brisbane, as was originally intended."
"Australian National Airways Ltd had planned to use the Walsh Island aerodrome as their Newcastle base ... the area which would be available when the air service was commenced in January might not be considered sufficient to permit the giant air liners to alight and take off in perfect safety."
29 Aug 1930"After months of investigation only two sites were found in Newcastle [for an aerodrome]. One was at Walsh Island and the other at District Park. The Walsh Island area has everything in its favor except that it is difficult of access. It takes only about 45 minutes to fly from Sydney to Newcastle, but it would take more than the flying time to get by launch and road from Walsh island to the city."
9 Dec 1930"The Auditor-General has some interesting observations to make concerning the Government Dockyard, Newcastle. He finds fault with the aerodrome expenditure without authority … estimated by the General Manager at £5000, incurred in the preparation of an aerodrome site, having been incorrectly charged as 'workshop expenses'."
21 Mar 1931"Several efforts have been made to establish an aerodrome at Newcastle, and there has been just as many set-backs. Some thousands of pounds were spent on preparatory work at Walsh Island, but it was wasted, the site being abandoned."
7 Jan 1932The General Manager of the Government Dockyards (Mr. A. C. Waters) dismissed. One factor in his dismissal was the unauthorised expenditure on the Walsh Island aerodrome.
18 Jan 1933The Minister for Works (Mr Weaver) announces that "when present orders are completed, within a few months time, the Government Dockyard, at Walsh Island, Newcastle, will be closed down."
19 Jan 1933"The Minister for Works (Mr. R. W. D. Weaver) stated to-night that on account of the continued financial loss in the operation of Walsh Island … that, with the exception of a small staff, which will be retained to carry out Government work, the services of all other employees will be dispensed with."
4 Jul 1933"The Government Dockyard at Walsh Island is at present working on its last job, and the workshop will then be closed down."
5 Aug 1933"The big dockyard at Walsh Island, which closed down some time ago, is being sold piecemeal. Only a workshop will be retained to handle minor repairs."
1 Aug 1936On Walsh Island … "before the engineering shops were closed, a considerable sum was spent on laying down a large area of tarred surface, which was intended for use as an aeroplane runway. The work was never completed, but it was carried so far that some time later several aeroplanes were able to make use of what surfacing had been carried out."

Drain Plane – District Park Aerodrome

Over the years, I have seen some strange things in the concrete stormwater drains that traverse our suburbs, but nothing compared to what the residents of Broadmeadow witnessed 75 years ago.

At that time, the area now occupied by Hunter Stadium and the Harness Racing Club was an aerodrome. The government had reserved the land for aviation purposes in 1923, but it was little used until the formation of the Newcastle Aero Club in 1928. In 1939, with the outbreak of world, the club’s aircraft were used by the R.A.A.F for training purposes, while a new military airfield was being constructed at Williamtown.

On 10 August 1944 Broadmeadow received an unscheduled military visitor, as the newspaper reported the following day …

Forced down in a storm, a D.C. 47 Army transport plane, with 25 men on board, skidded 200 yards on a wet runway, hurtled through a fence and then crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome. The pilot (broken nose) and radio operator (head injuries) were the only people hurt, although all the others sustained a severe shaking.
In addition to the crew of four, the transport carried 21 members of United States bombing crews coming to Sydney on furlough. North of Newcastle the transport ran into the storm, and the pilot decided to attempt a landing at Broadmeadow. When he put down he was unable to control the plane on the wet runway. As it neared the channel, the plane slewed and it went in, nose first.

The accident was the seventh in two years involving the storm water channel, and this highlighted the unsuitability of the site as an airfield. After the war, commercial aviation commenced at Williamtown in 1947, and in 1961, the Aero Club moved to Rutherford. District Park reverted to its original purpose of public recreation, and the roar of aeroplane engines was replaced by the roar of sports fans.

The article above was first published in the August 2019 edition of The Local.

Sightseers crowd around the Douglas 47 aircraft crashed in the stormwater drain at Broadmeadow in August 1944. From the archives of the Royal Newcastle Aero Cub.
The same location, August 2019

Additional information

I have previously written two blog posts on this air accident.

Although the area on the Broadmeadow flats wasn’t officially reserved for aviation purposes until 1923, pilots were using the ground well before that time. In April 1914 the Newcastle Morning Herald reported on the aviation display of Frenchman Monsieur Guillaux …

M. Guillaux’s aeroplane arrived at Broadmeadow yesterday, and is now safely housed in the pavilion on the Show Ground, ready for to-morrow’s performance. A great many people are under the impression that a full view of this world-renowned airman’s feats will be visible from the outside, but it is announced that all the daring somersaults, upsidedown turning, looping the loop, gliding, posing, as the great eagle in mid air, will be done within the enclosure, and not high enough for outsiders to see. Monsieur Guillaux is determined to give a greater and more daring exhibition than has been his lot to perform, and more so in honour of the fact that Newcastle is the first city In Australia that he is giving a public performance in.

An area for aviation in District Park was officially gazetted on 25 May 1923. A map of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve retrieved the Historical Lands Record Viewer, shows that the aerodrome area was officially gazetted or notified on 25 May 1923.

A map of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve retrieved the Historical Lands Record Viewer, shows that the aerodrome area to the north of the storm water drain.

A map from a land sale poster in 1923 shows an area of the Broadmeadow flat marked as “Public Recreation & Aviation Grounds”. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Although it was officially reserved for aviation in 1923, the ground seems to have been little developed and little used until October 1928 when the local councils began to discuss definite proposals for the development of an aerodrome. In October 1928 the Newcastle Aero Club was formed. Initially they used an aerodrome constructed on Walsh Island in 1929, and the club spent “thousands of pounds” constructing facilities at Walsh Island. However in October 1933, the club obtained a 14 year lease of the District Park aerodrome in Broadmeadow, and the Walsh Island aerodrome appears to have fallen into disuse.

Just weeks after the outbreak of World War 2, the Minister for Civil Aviation announced on 13 Sep 1939 that Williamtown had been decided as the site for a new military aerodrome, and that construction “would begin next week or the following week, and would be carried out as rapidly as possible.”

While the Williamtown airport was being constructed, the R.A.A.F. used the Newcastle Aero Clubs planes at the Broadmeadow aerodrome for training. The R.A.A.F. air base at Williamtown commenced operations on 15 February 1941.

R.A.A.F. Training planes at the Broadmeadow aerodrome, Newcastle Morning Herald, 28 June 1940.

During the war, the Broadmeadow aerodrome continued to be used and a number of accidents occurred during this time.

Photograph of the crashed Douglas C47 transport plane, from the Newcastle Morning Herald, 12 September 1944. New Lambton can be seen in the background.

One humorous side note to the August 1994 crash of the C47 Douglas plane, is that a life size painting of a nude girl on the plane attracted thousands of sightseers. Candice Campbell posting on her Flickr account wrote …

While looking in the store room [of the Royal Newcastle Aero Club] I found a poster with these images and a little bit of amusing info. Apparently on the nose, she had a naked pin up girl painted. After she crashed, the police came along and painted pants on the girl because they thought the public would be offended. I had a look at the image I found of the nose art after the police “attacked” it and it looks pretty funny. You have this beautiful woman, with these horrid pants on…

Towards the end of the war there were discussions whether the aerodrome at Broadmeadow should be expanded or a new aerodrome constructed at Sandgate. Neither of these eventuated, instead in 1947 the military airport at Williamtown opened to civilian traffic for charter flights. Scheduled commercial flights at Williamtown commenced on 20 February 1948.

In 1961 the Royal Newcastle Aero Club was given notice by the Department of Civil Aviation to cease operations at the field at Broadmeadow, and the club moved to Rutherford near Maitland.

In 1969 a sports ground and grandstand was constructed on the Broadmeadow aerodrome site. What is now McDonald Jones Stadium (or Hunter Stadium) was originally known as the International Sports Centre, and was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 10 April 1970.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
24 Apr 1914"M. Guillaux's aeroplane arrived at Broadmeadow yesterday, and is now safely housed in the pavilion on the Show Ground, ready for to-morrow's performance."
23 Feb 1921"One of the pilots of the Orva Aviation Company will to-day and each day this week make flights from a ground opposite the Showground at Broadmeadow."
7 Feb 1922"The corner of District Park, where the Wallsend and Waratah tram lines junction, has been decided on as a suitable site for the aerodrome for Newcastle." (Note that this describes the south eastern corner of District Park, however the eventual site chosen was the north western corner.)
19 Apr 1922"Negotiations have been continued for the establishment of an aerodrome at Newcastle. The Department of Defence, Melbourne, has requested the trustees of the District Park at Broadmeadow to grant a lease of the park at the earliest possible date."
25 May 1923Gazetting of 52 acres of District Park "for public recreation and aviation purposes."
6 Jun 1925Airways Ltd advertising flights "from the Govt aerodrome, District Park, Broadmeadow."
2 Oct 1928"To discuss definite proposals for making part of District Park suitable for an aeroplane landing ground, a conference of district councils and the park's trustees is to be called by the Acting Mayor of Newcastle."
12 Oct 1928
11 Oct 1928
Inaugural meeting of the Newcastle Aero Club, held in the Newcastle Council chambers.
30 Jan 1929
29 Jan 1929
Charles Kingsford Smith, in his Southern Cross airplane, lands at the District Park aerodrome, on his visit to Newcastle to inspect potential aerodrome sites for his airline.
10 Aug 1929Construction of an aerodrome on Walsh Island is progressing. Newcastle Aero club asking permission to use the aerordrome.
25 Oct 1933Fifty two acres of District Park leased to the Newcastle Aero Club for a period of 14 years.
15 Sep 1939Military aerodrome to be sited at Williamtown, with construction work to start immediately.
28 Jun 1940"TRAINING PLANES for the R.A.A.F. Newcastle Aero Club's training planes shown assembled at the Newcastle Aerodrome. The 13 planes were photographed in front of the hangar."
11 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
Crash of a Douglas C47 transport plane at Broadmeadow, reported in the Newcastle Morning Herald.
11 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
Crash of a Douglas C47 transport plane at Broadmeadow, reported in the "News" of Adelaide.
11 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
"The crashing yesterday at District Park aerodrome of an American Army Douglas transport plane has given impetus to the agitation to have the aerodrome improved. In the last two years, seven planes have crashed, either on the aerodrome or through unsuccessful attempts to land there - five of them within the last nine months."
22 Aug 1944"A life-size study in color of a nude girl painted on a crashed plane at Broadmeadow aerodrome is attracting thousands of sightseers every day."
23 Apr 1945Discussion on whether the aerodrome at Broadmeadow should be enlarged, or a new aerodrome constructed at Sandgate.

Hutton Printing & Paper Co

Elder Street Lambton in the 19th century contained many businesses you would expect in a mining town, including butchers, bakers and undertakers. One business you might not expect is a printery.

Printing began in Lambton in 1887 when George Buckley borrowed money from his brother John to set up the Paragon Printing Works in a small building behind the Commercial Hotel in Grainger St. George was a colourful character, but not always astute. In 1894 he became bankrupt after a bad investment in a failed copper mine in Queensland, as well as losing considerable money gambling on horses.

Ownership of the business passed back to John Buckley, who also became licensee of the Commercial Hotel in 1895. George continued working as an employee until his sudden death in September 1896 while under investigation for fraud in his role of secretary of a local lodge. Just a few weeks before George’s death, John Buckley sold the business to James Moodie Hutton, the foreman of the printing works for many years.

A February 1897 photo showcases the business in new spacious premises on the north-west corner of Grainger and Elder Streets opposite the Commercial Hotel. The front wall spruiks “steam printing” – their modern press was speedily powered by a steam engine, not operated by hand. The side wall promoted “account books of every description kept in stock and made to order”. The accounting we do today in computer software, back then had to be laboriously handwritten on large pages printed with rows and columns, the original spreadsheets.

Hutton’s business prospered, and in 1901 he opened new premises in Hunter St, Newcastle West. The Hutton name continued to be associated with printing for much of the 20th century, with Harold Moodie Hutton operating a printery in Regent Street New Lambton for many years.

Today our streets still contain butchers, bakers and undertakers, and with the advent of computer technology, also shops to sell us equipment and supplies for printing in our homes.

George Buckley’s Paragon Printing Works, behind the Commercial Hotel in 1893. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
Hutton’s Printing and Paper Company, Elder St, Lambton, NSW, February 1897. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
Hutton’s printing company was on the north west corner of Elder and Grainger Streets. June 2019.
Today the site of Hutton’s printery is occupied by undertakers, and home printing solutions are sold two doors down Elder St.

The article above was first published in the July 2019 edition of The Local.


Additional information

A page from a wages account book on display at Richmond Vale Railway museum. This is an example of the kind of custom print job that Hutton’s Company would have done.

George Buckley

Although its difficult to get a handle on all the details, its reasonably clear that George Buckley’s financial management navigated murky waters.

One example is his investment in the failed Texas Copper Mining and Smelting Company in Queensland. In 1892 George and his co-investors sought to evade their liabilities by dissolving the indebted company, and the very next week formed a new debt free company with the same directors to work the same mine. The Bank of New South Wales sued over the matter, and the court found in their favour.

Another example is before becoming bankrupt, George apparently sold his business to James Moodie Hutton in September 1893. This sales appears to be a sham transaction designed to avoid his debts. The sale was concluded after being advertised just once. Despite the ‘sale’ the business continued to operate under George’s name, with George supposedly an employee. In an 1895 court hearing John William Buckley “agreed to hand over the printing and stationery business (to the receiver) as it stood, without any admission as to the bona-fides of the bill of sale.” (George’s brother John appears to be not much better in financial integrity, having to be taken to court for unpaid debts in 1896. )

The most damning indication of George’s financial irregularities comes from the report of his death on 3 September 1896.

For upwards of 20 years held the position of district secretary of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows – a position he held at the time of his death. For some time past, however, the officers of the lodge noticed that the secretary was conducting his business in rather a loose manner, and about six weeks ago it was decided that his accounts should be professionally audited. This audit has been going on for the past six weeks, two professional accountants from Sydney having been engaged in the work the whole time. On Saturday last Buckley was approached by these gentlemen and asked to produce certain documents, to wit, the receipts from the relatives of those who were supposed to have received funeral donations, and the certificates of burials in connection with the same. Buckley explained that he did not have any of these documents in his possession, as it was customary as soon as the quarterly audits were completed to destroy the papers, the district lodge not having any more use of them. This reply astonished the accountants, and they renewed their efforts to sift the matter of the funeral donations to the very bottom. The result of their inspection of the secretary’s accounts was, it is understood, that irregularities running into four figures were discovered. It is also understood, from official statements made, that Buckley within the past two years had drawn from the lodge funds funeral donations, amounting to £30 each, for men who had never been connected with any lodge. The accountants reported their discovery to the head of the lodge, and a special meeting of the different lodges had been convened for Saturday evening next, at which the Grand Lodge officers from Sydney intended to be present for the purpose, of hearing what Buckley had to say regarding his accounts, he having been specially summoned to attend. It is understood that the audit has not yet been completed, and the leading officials are afraid that unpleasant discoveries will be made before, the work of the auditors is completed.

Despite his obvious failings, in a case of either not being aware of the facts, or not wishing to speak ill of the dead, the report still manages to describe George as “one who was esteemed and respected by everybody who had the pleasure of his acquaintance”!

Hutton Printing

Although the sale of the printing business to James Moodie Hutton in September 1893 appears to have been a sham, the sale in July 1896 was genuine. Within a few months after George Buckley’s death, Hutton had the building housing his printing press freshly painted with his name and advertising his wares. In December 1896 he was advertising Christmas cards, and in March 1897 looking to hire more employees.

The front wall of Hutton’s premises in February 1897, advertising “Steam Printing”.

At some stage James Hutton’s wife Emily (sometimes spelled Emilie) opened a “Stationery and Fancy Goods” shop further down Elder St. Its not clear why this business was opened under her name rather than her husband’s name.

James Hutton’s wife Emilie operated a Stationery and Fancy Goods shop in Elder St Lambton. Photo by Ralph Snowball. Newcastle Region Library.

I have no definite evidence as to when Hutton’s printing press ceased in Lambton. My guess is that it was 1901. The first mention I can find of his new premises in Hunter St Newcastle is from May 1901, just one month after he advertised the sale of a “Vertical Tangye Engine and Boiler” from his Lambton establishment in April 1901. Presumably this was the engine and boiler that powered his “steam printing”, and that the sale was due to moving his business from Lambton to Hunter St Newcastle.

Premises of James Hutton, Stationer and Printer, 1903. Newcastle Region Library.

Although I haven’t found any definitive corroboration, I assume that Harold Moodie Hutton who was a printer in Regent St New Lambton, was the son of James Moodie Hutton.

As recently as 2015, the name of H. M. Hutton was visible on premises in Regent St New Lambton. Google Street View historical images.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
22 Aug 1887James Moodie Hutton was no stranger to banckrupty. His company of "Hamilton and Hutton Printers", a partnership with Alfred George Hamilton, was decared insolvent in 1887.
8 Mar 1889
5 Mar 1889
At a Lambton Council meeting, "the tender of Mr. G. Buckley for printing was accepted". This is the first mention in the newspaper of George Buckley operating as a printer in Lambton.
9 Feb 1891George Buckley unsuccessfully stands for election to Lambton Council.
24 Feb 1891George Buckley divorces his wife.
18 May 1891Advertisement - "WANTED, a BOY, to learn the printing business; one used to the trade preferred. GEO. BUCKLEY, Paragon Printing Works, Lambton."
19 Sep 1893Auction on the premises in Grainger St - "HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE & EFFECTS, Stock-in-Trade of a Printer, including Printing Machines, &c."
11 Jan 1894Auction sale of Commercial Hotel and "W.B. Building, used as a Printing Office; also, W.B. Building, used as a dwellinghouse, erected upon land having a frontage of 57ft to Grainger-street, and a depth of 50ft, now in the occupation of Mr. Geo. Buckley."
5 Apr 1894Court case - Bank of New South Wales v directors/guarantors (including George Buckley) of the Texas Copper Mining and Smelting Company.
12 Oct 1894"The Bankruptcy of a Printer. A Special Examination." Reporting from the court regarding the bankruptcy of George Buckley's printing company.
28 Feb 1895At a Lambton Council meeting, a tender for printing was accepted from "G. Buckley and Co."
30 Jul 1895Bankruptcy court ..."Mr. Lamb informed the Court that his client, John William Buckley, had agreed to hand over the printing and stationery business as it stood, without any admission as to the bona-fides of the bill of sale. "
26 Sep 1895Supreme Court of NSW, Bankruptcy notice to creditors - "GEORGE BUCKLEY, of Lambton (No. 8499), a second account and first plan of distribution showing payment of a dividend of 4s 11 15-16d in the £ on proved concurrent debt."
29 Oct 1895"TRANSFER Of the Commercial Hotel, Lambton, from Joseph W Oldham to John W Buckley."
4 Sep 1896
3 Sep 1896
George Buckley dies in the Commercial Hotel after shooting himself with a revolver. Its highly probable that the shooting was intentional and related to an investigation into George's handling of finances in his role of secretary of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. He was due to appear before a special meeting of the Lodge the following Saturday.
5 Sep 1896
4 Sep 1896
Inquest into the death of George Buckley.
21 Oct 1896Lambton Petty Debts Court. "T. S. Jones summoned John W. Buckley and Jane Rutley for the sum of £7, being 2 per cent. Commission for the selling of their printing business in July last."
5 Dec 1896Advertisement: "CHRISTMAS Presents.-- Christmas and Birthday Cards, splendid assortment. Hutton Printing and Paper Co., Lambton."
23 Mar 1897Advertisement: "WANTED, LAD, accustomed to Book-binding and Paper-ruling. Hutton Printing and Paper Co., Lambton"
10 Apr 1897Jane Buckley (widow of George) is now the licensee of the Commercial Hotel.
26 Dec 1898
24 Dec 1898
Death of Clarissa, infant daughter of James and Emily Hutton.
11 Apr 1901"FOR Sale, cheap, 3 h.p. Vertical Tangye Engine and Boiler, good order, Hutton Printing Coy, Lambton."
18 May 1901Job vacancy for "2 Smart Boys" at Hutton Printing Company, 102 Hunter Street West. (Note that Hunter Street has been re-numbered since this time.)
6 Feb 1907For Sale: "A LARGE Corner Allotment of Land, Regent-st. and Portland-place, New Lambton. Splendid business site. Apply J. M. HUTTON, Printer, Newcastle, or Lambton."
9 Mar 1916"James L. Hutton, manager for Mrs. E. Hutton, printer, of Lambton"
31 Oct 1922Advertisement: "WANT, smart Girl, one used to trade preferred. H. Hutton, Printer, New Lambton."
24 Feb 1923
8 Feb 1923
Marriage of Emilie (Topsy), second daughter of James M Hutton of Newcastle.
2 Jul 1925
1 Jul 1925
At a New Lambton council meeting, a letter received from "J. Hutton, printer, Regent-street, complaining of not having a fair share of the printing needed by the council." "The clerk stated that the writer was, and had been, receiving a fair deal for the last four years, and quoted figures to prove that such was the case."
24 Aug 1939 For the Children's Hospital appea', "Mr. H. M. Hutton, printer, of New Lambton, has agreed to do all printing required in the campaign, free of charge."
27 Jan 1945"Harold Moodie Hutton, 54, printer, was charged with having, at New Lambton on Thursday, published a document purporting to contain a list of horses nominated for the Australia Day Handicap, Anniversary Handicap and Phillip Handicap, to be run at Randwick racecourse, such list not having been approved by the Australian Jockey Club.
23 Jan 1951"Printers outside the city area said they were losing up to four hours a day because of power failures. Mr. H. M. Hutton, printer, of New Lambton, said he lost up to three hours a day when blackouts allowed the metal in the pots of his linotypes to grow cold."

Common People

My June article for The Local is out now, this month on the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, also known as the Commonage. Coinciding with this article, I’ve finally completed a task that I’ve been working on for some time, which is to compile a list of all the people who applied to purchase allotments after the passing of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve Act in 1889. The list of names comes from the 41 days of Land Court hearings held in 1890 to adjudicate on the applications. The list of names is available either in Excel Online or as a PDF.

There is a two part map that shows the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve with the lot numbers as mentioned in the land court hearings. Click on the thumbnail images below to view the map.

Sheet 1

Sheet 2