Maps – Bridges Road

A glance at any map of Lambton and New Lambton shows the area was never traced out in a grand design by a town planner. It grew haphazardly, and the strangely shaped streets abutting at odd angles forms not only a mosaic on the map but a mosaic in history. Each oddity has a story to tell.

One of the more curious stories is of Bridges Road, for in an 1893 map of the region produced by Major T. S. Parrott of the Engineer Corps Sydney, we see not a road, but a line marked “Unused Railway”. This was the rail line of the ill-fated Australasia Coal Company. Having obtained a coal lease in the Hillsborough area in 1873 they spent a vast sum of money building a railway to connect their mine to the port of Newcastle. In October 1877 the first trainload of coal was taken to the port, but within 18 months, as a result of spectacularly bad management, the company went bust and the rail line fell idle.

By 1894 it was clear that line would not be used again and the rails were removed. The rail corridor was released to New Lambton council in 1915, and by 1918 a short section of road was constructed south of Russell Road. Initially called South Greta Road, in 1919 it was renamed Bridges Road in honour of Major General William Throsby Bridges of the Australian Army, who was killed by sniper fire at Gallipoli in 1915.

Bridges Road was extended several times towards the south in the following years and revealed a surprise in 1962. When the Bridges Road-Northcott Drive underpass was excavated, workers found buried in the earthworks, still intact, the original 1887 wooden viaduct that carried the Great Northern Railway over the Australasian Coal Company’s line. An unexpected and long hidden reminder of the genesis of Bridges Road.

A portion of T.S. Parrott’s 1893 map of Newcastle, showing what is now Bridges Road as an unused colliery railway. National Library of Australia.

The article above was first published in the January 2017 edition of the Lambton & New Lambton Local.

Additional information

This 1915 real estate advertisement shows Bridges Road marked as “South Greta Road”. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Map showing the northern most section of Bridges Rd, with an annotation regarding the gazetting of the road. R13119 – 1603. Public Road. Road Dedicated Gaz 8 Mch’18

This map is from the NSW Historical Land Records Viewer.

  • Parish = Newcastle
  • Edition Year = 1912
  • Sheet reference =1
  • Edition number = 2

This 1919 real estate advertisement, shows “Greta Road”, at the time its was being renamed to “Bridges Road”. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

This locality plan from a 1925 real estate advertisement shows that Bridges Rd extended only as far as St James Rd, and that it was also known as Bridges Street. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

This locality plan from a 1927 real estate advertisement shows that Bridges Rd was extended down to Henley Street. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In 1962, when excavating under the Great Northern Railway embankment in order to extend Bridges Road into Northcott Drive Kotara, the original viaduct bridge over the old Australasian Coal Company railway was rediscovered. J.F. Weber reported on this on page 161 of the September 1964 issue of “The Australian Railway Historical Society”.

Excavations for the Eastern abutment revealed heavy bridge timbers embedded in the embankment and puzzled engineers, on searching old plans, discovered that, at this exact spot, a viaduct of seven 26-feet timber openings had previous existed, being part of the original main-line construction. It had served as a flood opening, the second span being left clear for the possible revival of the Australasia Coal Company’s railway. It had existed until 1902, when the gap was closed by burying the viaduct in
an embankment, as only a small opening was required for storm water. The old timbers, when excavated, were found to be still sound and in good condition, 61 years after burial and some 76 years after original erection.


Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
31 Oct 1874Australasia Coal Company, initial share offering closes.
2 May 1876The earthwork for the first three miles of the Australasian Coal Company's line completed.
24 Mar 1877Laying the Australasian Coal Company rail line proceeding … "about three miles of plates have been laid, locomotives being enabled to run within a short distance from the eastern mouth of the tunnels" at Stoney Pinch.
5 Aug 1878
20 Oct 1877
First trainload of coal from the Australasia Coal Company.
14 Mar 1879
12 Mar 1879
At a meeting of the shareholders of the Australasian Coal Company, it was resolved to wind up the company.
16 Aug 1887
15 Aug 1887
Opening of the Gosford to Newcastle section of the Great Northern Railway. The railway passes over the defunct Australasian Coal Company rail line at Kotara.
31 May 1892"Major Parrott of the Engineer Corps, Sydney, has been engaged preparing a military reconnaissance map of the country along the coast between Broken Bay and Newcastle."
12 Jan 1894Australasia Coal Company railway - rails being removed, discussion about the Government resuming the line.
26 Jan 1917Before being renamed "Bridges Road", it was known as "Greta-road Extended".
8 Mar 1918Bridges Road gazetted as a public road – Ref. R13119-1603
6 Feb 1919New Lambton Council honours three Australian Army generals (Birdwood, Monash, Bridges) in the naming of three streets in the municipality.
27 Sep 1924In nominating for a vacant council position, F.W. Shayler's address is stated as "Greta-road or Bridges-street", indicating there is still ambiguity over the name of the street five years after the official name change.

Occident Accident

A couple of months ago in an e-mail conversation with Mark Maclean we noted that in Hamilton North and Broadmeadow there is a “Boreas St” (North) and an “Orient St” (East) and an “Australia Rd” (South).  I jestingly wondered about the missing compass point, and the whereabouts of “Occident Rd” (West).

NSEI actually did a search on Google Maps and found that the closest was an “Occident St” in Nulkaba, which interestingly has a companion “Boreas St” and “Austral St”, but is missing an “Orient St”.

Then a few days ago when I was putting together the web page for my January 2016 article for the Lambton Local, I accidentally and serendipitously discovered on a 1906 real estate map that there was an “Occident Rd”, in neighbouring Waratah West!

WThis road was closed in 1910, and Christo/Christie Rd shortened.

OccidentRdClosedBy overlaying the old map onto Google Earth you can get a sense of where Occident Rd used to be, in the area which is now part of the Acacia Avenue Reserve.

WGESo is there any intentional connection between these streets? I have seen no direct evidence of this, but it is somewhat suggestive that when you look at a map of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (below) where the reserve boundary is marked in green, that Occident Rd is adjacent to the west boundary, Orient St is adjacent to the east boundary and Boreas St is on a north boundary of the reserve. Coincidence or not? Unfortunately Australia St is not near any boundary.


Not much of a Jewel

LambtonIn Google Maps, if you search for a suburb name, as well as the map result the page will show a photo from the suburb, which presumably is auto-selected by the Google-fairy-bots according to some secret algorithm. Mostly this works. For example for “Lambton NSW” you get a nice photo of Lambton Park and the rotunda.

But search for “Jewells NSW” and you get … a burnt out car and assorted rubbish on a beach track. The Google-fairy-bots might need a bit of help on this one.


NewJewellsUpdate 23 Jan 2016

Searching for Jewells now shows someone’s driveway. A step up from a burnt out wreck, but not exactly showcasing the suburb.

Long shadows in curious places

KahibaRd2015My latest article for the Lambton Local is out, this month exploring the topic of old maps. In the course of researching and writing this article I discovered amongst other things why this building has a kink in it, and the location of Occident Road, the counterpart to Orient Road Hamilton North.

Also I have put together a visual index to the historical real estate maps in the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections photo archive.


I love old maps. They are like a time machine allowing us glimpses of our past environment, and occasionally it is surprising to discover that something long gone has affected the shape of our present urban landscape. A good example is the area where Acacia Ave meets Griffiths Rd today.


Lambton map from 1906. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections

The map above is from a 1906 poster advertising land for sale (the shaded areas) and shows that the Waratah Coal Company railway once ran along the present day Acacia Ave and a section of present day Griffiths Rd. What is now Lambton Rd and Traise St, was originally Waratah Rd which intersected the colliery railway at a spot known as “Betty Bunn’s Crossing”. The map reveals other interesting details such as the location of the Lambton Courthouse on Dickson St, and the names of various land owners along the rail line, such as T.G. Griffith.


The same area in 2015, as shown in Google Maps. Map data © 2015 Google.

But as with much historical research, old maps can pose as many questions as they answer. Lloyd Rd is shown in a dotted outline extending across Lambton Park. Was this a road that once was and is no more, or a road that once was meant to be, but never was? Why was the railway intersection known as Betty Bunn’s Crossing? Was Griffiths Rd named after T.G. Griffith?

For all these questions, there is one answer that I find most satisfying. On the corner of Griffiths Rd and Kahibah Rd there is a building with a bend, because the block of land is bent, because it was once hemmed in by the railway. I worked in that building for 17 years, never once realising that the funny little kink in the middle owed its existence to a colliery railway that was removed over a hundred years ago. The past does indeed cast long shadows into curious places in the present.


University of Newcastle Cultural Collections


Image © 2015 Aerometrex

The article above was first published in the January 2016 edition of the Lambton Local.

Further information

  • The 1906 map of Lambton is from a real estate poster in the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections photo archive on Flickr. There are over 800 other real estate posters from this era in their collection, and to assist in locating items from particular areas, using Google Maps I have put together a visual index to the historical real estate maps.
  • Although the 1906 map shows the Waratah Colliery railway line still in place, it seems that by this time it was no longer in use. Back in November 1904 the Mayor of Lambton suggested that the Waratah Coal Company be asked to remove a length or two of rails where the old quarry rail-way crossed the Waratah-road.”
    Waratah council was also asked in December 1904 to cooperate with Lambton council in this matter. The rail corridor was officially resumed by the Government in the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (Railways) Resumption Act of 1915.
  • There are a number of newspaper articles that refer to Betty Bunns Crossing, as recently as June 1954.
  • Thomas George Griffith of Betty Bunns Crossing died 16 May 1918, aged 73.
  • The 1906 map also shows a number of other interesting things.
    • The road on the south-western border of Lambton Park (now Howe Street) was once Croudace Street.
    • Christo Road was once Christie Road.
    • There was at one time an Occident Road, running off Christie road. This is the missing compass point street name to Boreas St, Orient St, and Australia Rd in nearby Broadmeadow and Hamilton North.

The Question of Lloyd Road

In the article I mention that the 1906 map shows Lloyd Road as a dotted outline crossing Lambton Park, and ask whether this a road that once existed and was removed, or a road that was planned but never built?

LloydRd1906Although there is no conclusive evidence, my own view is that the section of Lloyd Rd across Lambton Park was never built. My reasons are …

  • Of all the old maps I have of this area, about half show this section of road, and about half omit it. Of those that show it, most of them show it in a dotted/dashed outline.
  • None of the old photographs I have seen of Lambton Park show any evidence that a road was once there.
  • In the Lambton Municipal Council meeting in September 1886, there is a reference to this section of road in a letter to the district surveyor …

To District Surveyor Allworth, respecting Reserve, pointing out that the surveyors were at work, and that the council had been informed that instructions had been given, to retain Lloyd-street as shown through the reserve on plan. The council held that this street was not required, and that it would spoil the appearance of the Reserve by cutting it into two portions and occupying a considerable amount of surface.

Although the wording is somewhat ambiguous, two things suggest to me that Lloyd Rd through the park was not a reality on the ground. Firstly the instruction to retain Lloyd Street as shown “on plan“. And secondly, the use of the future tense in saying that Lloyd St “would spoil the appearance”.

  • Another indirect reasoning that makes me think Lloyd Rd never ran across the park is by asking the question ‘Who built and paid for the road if it existed?’ Prior to its dedication as a park in 1887 this land was part of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (or Commonage), not part of Lambton Municipality. Lambton council was having enough trouble building and maintaining roads they were responsible for, so I cannot imagine the council would have built a road on land they weren’t responsible for.  Thomas Croudace in his nomination speech for New Lambton Council in 1889 even says that for a council “it would be illegal to form and make streets on that land.”  As for the State Government, the consistent picture at this time is that they are all talk and no action when it comes to doing anything with the reserve. If it took them over ten years just to do the paperwork in gazetting Lambton Park, it is inconceivable that they would have spent any effort or money in building a road there.