The other Hill street

In my article on Doctor John James Hill in March 2017, I wrote that while Hill St in Lambton was possibly named after Doctor Hill, given the timing of the road naming I was sceptical that was the case. However I have since found that there was another Hill Street in North Lambton, that almost certainly was named after John James Hill, because it was in a subdivision of land owned by Doctor Hill. This Hill St had its name changed to Percy St in 1920.

Alderman Lightfoot … moved that the necessary procedure be taken to have the name of Hill-street, North Lambton, changed to Percy-street. It was most confusing to have two streets in the municipality bearing the same name.

Lambton Council Meeting, 18 May 1920.
Official change of name of Hill St to Percy St in Government Gazette, September 1920.

Background

As I was searching through various land titles in the Historical Lands Records Viewer, I found Vol-Fol 1122-48 from 1894, that showed blocks of land between Hill St and William St in North Lambton. This was curious because today, Hill St in North Lambton is nowhere near William St in Jesmond?

The mysterious Hill and William streets on Vol-Fol 1122-48 from 1894.

The solution to the mystery is that the Hill St in this map is actually Percy St today, and the William St in the map is the east end of Michael St today.

In 1867, Daniel Jones purchased 50 acres of land between Jesmond and Lambton which he named “North Lambton” (not to be confused with the modern suburb of North Lambton).

In July 1871 Jones sold a large portion (about 16 acres) of the North Lambton subdivision to Doctor John James Hill, who then began reselling individual blocks of land.

Vol-Fol 123-202.

Notice that in this map that “Frederick St” is below section E, and “William St” is below section C. Today this is Michael Street, and whereas the map from Vol-Fol 123-202 shows William St joining on to George St, this part of the street does not exist today and probably never did. This is a good reminder of the care needed to interpret old maps, particularly in land titles and deposited plans. A street marked in an old map can either be an indication of a street that has been built, or a street that is planned to be built. You have to use other evidence to decide which.

Map from Vol-Fol 123-202 overlaid into Google Earth.
Historical parish map showing the one street with three differently named sections – Michael St, Frederick St, and William St.

In 1873 Doctor Hill lodged Deposited Plan 96, which was a re-subdivision of the land he had bought in Sections C and E of North Lambton.

96 | Hill, J.J. | County of Northumberland | North Lambton, Lambton, Newcastle, re-subdivision of part of Sections C & E on Deposited Plan 40.

Deposited Plan 96 in the Plan Lodgement Book.

There is no map I can find of the DP96 subdivision, but presumably the purpose was to subdivide into a greater number of smaller blocks in order to maximise profit. In the new subdivision, Doctor Hill added an extra street running east-west through the middle of Section C and named it Hill St.

Hill, William, and Arthur Streets on Vol-Fol 512-82 from 1880.

This “Hill St” was then renamed to Percy St in September 1920 to avoid confusion with the original Hill St above High St in Lambton. As if to graphically and ironically underline the need to reduce the confusion caused by having two Hill Streets, in one of the historical parish maps someone has added an annotation renaming the wrong Hill St! Oops.

The wrong Hill!

But wait – there’s more …

The other other Hill Street

In Hill’s subdivision of Section E in North Lambton, a narrow east-west lane was also added above Hill St. It seems that when Hill St became Percy St in 1920, that this laneway running behind the houses on the north side of Percy St came to be known as Hill St, and is marked as such on some maps.

Another “Hill St” – between Percy St and Fifth St. University of Newcastle, Special Collections.

This lane was a private road in the subdivision until Newcastle Council passed a resolution in 1991 to dedicate it as a public road, and noting that it was “also previously known as Hill Street.”

Dedication of Wall Lane (also known as Hill St) as a public road. NSW Government Gazette, 22 May 1992.

The name “Wall Lane” was in honour of the Wall family who ran the shop on the south-east corner of Arthur and Percy Streets for many years.

Vol-Fol 690-71. Purchase of land in August 1941 by George and Julia Wall of land on the corner of Hill (now Percy) and Arthur Streets.

But wait – there’s even more …

The many monikers of Michael

Earlier in this article I mentioned that what is Michael St today, originally was three differently named sections – Michael, Frederick, William. But that was just in the stretch of road that lay in Lambton municipality – the section of road in the Wallsend municipality had yet another name – Robroy St.

Robroy St (now Michael St) shown on Vol-Fol 4928-170 in 1938,

A newspaper article from 1945 titled “Postman’s Headache at Jesmond”, notes that

The street in question, before the advent of Greater Newcastle was Frederick-street from the North Lambton area to Steel-street, Jesmond, Michael-street outwards to the old Lambton-Wallsend boundary, and Rob Roy-street thence to Blue Gum road in the Jesmond area. It is stated that, although it is now all Michael-street, officially, the three names still persist with the uninitiated, and piecemeal house numbering adds to the confusion.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5 December 1945.

Adamstown Tram, 1900-1950

Tram services in Newcastle began in July 1887 with the opening of the Newcastle to Wallsend line. Other areas wanted a piece of the action and immediately began agitating for extensions to the tram line. In October 1887, Adamstown Council sent a deputation to Sydney asking for a line to their municipality, but it took another decade of lobbying before the Government finally approved the Adamstown line.

Construction began on 22 January 1900 of a one-mile single track that branched from the Wallsend line at the Nine Ways in Broadmeadow and ran along Brunker Rd. A steam tram service commenced on 13 August 1900, and the line was subsequently electrified in 1925.

Originally the tram terminated at the Public School, and this was a source of much contention. The tram whistle disrupted meetings of the Methodist (now Uniting) Church, and the shunting of engines back and forth across the Glebe Rd intersection to couple up with carriages for the return journey to Newcastle caused much traffic congestion.

In 1927 as part of the tram line duplication, the terminus was moved to just south of Glebe Rd, but this caused as many problems as it solved. With the terminus now in the centre of the narrow main shopping street, in an era when car and bus traffic was increasing, congestion was even worse. In 1929 a widening of the street by 18 feet failed to fix the problem, so in 1938 the tram line was extended south a further 100 yards to place the terminus past Victoria St.

As competition from bus services increased, some advocated that the tram system should be closed, while others argued that it should be extended. Eventually, with falling patronage and rising costs, the service proved unsustainable, and at 11:41pm on Sunday 16 April 1950 the last tram from Adamstown returned to the city.

Seventy years on, with passenger numbers on Newcastle’s light rail exceeding forecasts in its first year of operation, who knows, maybe we will one day see a return of trams to our suburbs?

The Victoria St terminus on the last day of the Adamstown tram service, 16 April 1950. Photo courtesy of Greg and Sylvia Ray from their book “Destination Newcastle”.
The same location in Brunker Rd Adamstown in 2020.

The article above was first published in the April 2020 edition of The Local.


Additional Information

Union St

One piece of information that I deliberately excluded from the published article, to keep it simple, was that the main shopping street of Adamstown that we now know as Brunker Rd, was originally called Union St. A real estate poster from 1921 shows the tram line running along Brunker Rd to the terminus at the Public School. South of Glebe Rd, the roadway narrows and becomes Union St.

Portion of real estate poster from 1921 showing Union St Adamstown. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In 1925-1926, Adamstown Council negotiated with the Main Roads Board, and reached an agreement to widen Union St. The work progressed during 1927-1929 and an official opening of the newly widened street was held in November 1929, where it was noted that …

“Prior to its being widened, Union street, with a roadway of only 30ft, was long regarded as dangerous for traffic … The roadway [now] is 42ft wide and the footpaths 12ft, the total width being 66ft. To widen the street, it was necessary to resume a strip of land 18ft deep on the western side, and the buildings were either demolished, and new ones erected, or they were moved back to the new alignment.”

I haven’t been able to confirm when exactly Union St was changed to be an extension of Brunker Rd, however a search of Trove reveals that the Union St name seems to disappear around 1949.

The end of trams

The view that it was competition from the motor buses that killed off the tram system is starkly presented in a commemorative postcard from 1950 which stated …

Born 5 July 1887. Died 10 June 1950. 63 years old. R.I.P.
In rememberance of Newcastle’s trams, which were finally suffocated by the deisel ‘buses.

(Note that the dates in the postcard are slightly off – the Wallsend line opened for public traffic on 19 July 1887, and the last tram ran on the Waratah line on 11 June 1950.)

A commemorative postcard from 1950 lamenting the ‘death’ of Newcastle’s trams. From the Arthur Perry collection, Living Histories, University of Newcastle.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
7 Oct 1887"The agitation for an extension of the tram line, which has been going the rounds of the district, has at length reached Adamstown."
18 Sep 1893"On Thursday an officer from the Department of Public Works met the Mayor and aldermen on the matter of the extension of the tramway from Broadmeadow to Adamstown."
24 Oct 1898Municipal conference calls for tramway service to Adamstown.
1 Nov 1899
31 Oct 1899
"The Cabinet decided to-day to construct the tramway extensions from Broadmeadow to Adamstown and from Tighe's Hill to Mayfield."
2 Nov 1899"The announcement in yesterday's 'Herald' that the Government had agreed to construct the tramway from Broadmeadow to Adamstown has given great satisfaction to residents and the public generally. The survey for the tramline was made five years ago."
6 Jan 1900"The plans and book of reference are now open for inspection at the office of the Minister for Public Works for the line of tramway authorised to be constructed from Newcastle to Adamstown. All persons who may be interested in the lands through which the line will run are required to lodge any objections on or before the 26th inst."
20 Jan 1900"The amount of work that the tramway extension from Broadmeadow to Adamstown will provide has caused considerable disappointment to be felt by the local unemployed, many of whom were more than hoping that the work would be sufficient to enable them to relieve families dependent on them. But there should not have been disappointment, as it was not at any time officially represented that the extension, the length of which is only a mile, covering an easy route, and requiring only simple work, would provide employment for a large number of men."
19 Jan 1900
22 Jan 1900
Construction of Adamstown tramway to be "begun on Monday by the selected men, who will apply pick and shoved to several small hills. At noon to-day Mr. Creer will meet the men at the Broadmeadow waiting shed. About 10 capable men will meet present requirements,."
22 Jan 1900"General satisfaction is expressed at a start being made with the tram extension, but there is a deal of dissatisfaction at the way the men for the work were selected."
30 Apr 1900"The tram extension is proceeding slowly, and now the rails are laid to the municipal boundary of Hamilton and Adamstown. Now that the tramway is nearing completion there are people who argue that the tram terminus will not be in the proper place at the Public School, and that the terminus should be at the Carrington Hall, or down the Glebe-road, near the reserve."
14 Aug 1900
13 Aug 1900
Opening of the Adamstown Tramway.
16 Dec 1901"Many of the local aldermen say that the tram terminus is in the wrong place. The principal objections are that the tram stands in the centre of the road and starting as it does from a point directly opposite the Primitive Methodist Church door, the whistling annoys the congregation."
31 Jan 1925
2 Feb 1925
"Slowly but surely the antiquated steam tram is disappearing from the streets of Newcastle. The latest section of tramline to have electric overhead wires strung above it is that between Broadmeadow and Adamstown."
8 Jan 1927"The duplication of the tram line from Melville-road to Adamstown tram terminus has been completed and put into use. Delays which were unavoidable are now overcome, and a faster service established. While the public will appreciate the duplication of the line, the making of the terminal in front of two main business premises, at the intersection of Union-street and Glebe-road, is regretted; in fact, some of the trams make the stop right across the intersection of Union-street and Glebe-road, which at times is dangerous, carrying traffic four ways, and being the main road to Sydney, with an every day increase of traffic. "
19 Mar 1931"Newcastle Transport Trust, by allowing the trams to terminate in the middle of Union-street, has defeated the council's aims, and has created one of the most dangerous spots in the district. Before the street was widened, and before the trams were electrified the terminus was at the public school stop. The steam trams stopped here while the engine shunted across the Glebe-road intersection and back again to couple up with the front portion of the trams for the return to Newcastle. In August, 1925, Alderman Wiggins commenced an agitation to have the bottle-neck eliminated. The work was started in 1928 and the new widened street opened for traffic at the end of 1929. In the meantime the trams were electrified and the Tramway Department made the terminus right at the intersection. Council agitation caused it to move the terminus further along to the middle of Union-street, which was very unsatisfactory to the council. At present the tram loiters here, in the middle of the council's' parking area. If vehicles park at shops on either side of the tram and stay there for any length of time, traffic is completely held up."
7 Apr 1932 Council debates having "the tram terminus fixed at its original position in front of the school, pending the extension of the tramline."
19 May 1938"The suggested abolition of Adamstown tram service was not received very favourably in that suburb yesterday, though in some quarters it was thought that an adequate omnibus service might meet demands, particularly during the slack hours. While the people of Adamstown, particularly those in the western portion, seek improved transport facilities, any suggestion to abolish the tramway service was criticised."
6 Sep 1938"Adamstown tram terminus has been extended, not to Rifle-street, but to a point opposite the Mechanics' Institute, just beyond Victoria-street. For many years the terminus was near the intersection of Glebe road and Union-street, but the growing traffic problem and public agitation caused its removal recently to the locality mentioned."
10 Oct 1946"The State's tram, bus and railway services are, generally, in a grave position, the Auditor General (Mr. Swift) warns the State Government in his annual report … The disconcerting feature is the disproportionate increase of working expenses relative to earnings through the years … the number of passengers carried on buses increased, but there was a decrease in tramway travellers.”
17 Apr 1950
16 Apr 1950
"After 50 years and 8 months' service, the Adamstown tramway closed last night when tram No. 252 left the terminus at 11.41 o'clock bound for Gordon avenue depot."
17 Apr 1950
16 Apr 1950
"MR. T. H. GRICE, of Brunker - road, Broadmeadow, 70-year-old former ganger for the Tramways Department, last night fulfilled an ambition when he travelled on the last tram to run from Adamstown to Newcastle before buses took over the route. Mr. Grice retired from the department almost 10 years ago. He was on the first electric tram to operate on this route, on January 2, 1925."

History in our streets

Chilcott St, Lambton

There’s often a story lurking behind street names. While many of our streets owe their existence to the rise of mines, some have their origin in the demise of mines. The Scottish Australian Mining Company opened Lambton colliery in 1863. Adjacent to the pit they established a small township bounded by Young, Morehead, Croudace and Howe Streets, these being named after managers and directors of the company.

For the next 50 years the company made their fortune underground, but when the coal seam was depleted, they looked instead to make money above ground, in real estate. They began in August 1914 with a modest subdivision of 24 blocks on the south side of Howe St. On 17 January 1920, one hundred years ago this month, the company auctioned a bigger subdivision with 61 building sites. As was the custom at the time the sale was publicised using large coloured poster prints.

The subdivision included two newly constructed streets. Turner St was named after Frederick William Turner, the London based secretary of the Scottish Australian Mining Company. Chilcott St was named after Henry Frederick Chilcott, the Sydney based General Manager.

Chilcott was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1844 and was brought by his family to Australia when he was three. At age 14 he joined the Scottish Australian Mining Company in a junior capacity, and was progressively promoted, eventually becoming General Manager in 1892. Chilcott was also a long-time member of the Colonial Volunteer Forces, a forerunner of today’s Army Reserve, enlisting in 1860 and rising to the rank of Captain by the time of his retirement in 1894.

In a strange coincidence, Henry Chilcott died on 21 January 1920, just four days after the auction of land in the street named in his honour. He was aged 76, still holding the position of General Manager in the company that he had served for an impressive 62 years.

Poster advertising the Scottish Australian Mining Company’s subdivision of land in January 1920. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
Captain Chilcott on his retirement from the Colonial Volunteer Force in 1894. The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 21 April 1894.

The article above was first published in the January 2020 edition of The Local.


Acknowledgements

My thanks this month go to Greg Manning, whose research into Chilcott St alerted me to Henry Chilcott’s birthplace being in Ceylon, and led me to the photograph of Chilcott in his military uniform.

Additional Information

EmPloyment Start

There is some slight ambiguity as to the exact year that Chilcott joined the Scottish Australian Company. An article from 1894 states that Chilcott “was born on January 5, 1844” and that “he has been connected [to the company] since he was 15 years of age. This implies that Chilcott joined the company in 1859. However the article reporting his death in 1920 states that he joined the company in 1858, implying that he was aged 14 at the time.

Lambton Streets

The streets in the the early Lambton township were mainly named after managers and directors of the Scottish Australian Mining and Investment Companies, owners of the Lambton colliery.

Street Notes
Young St Named after Matthew Young or Adolphus William Young MP, or possibly both. Matthew Young along with Robert Morehead was an early manager of the Scottish Australian Mining Company in Sydney. The mineral leases of the Lambton colliery were original held by “Morehead and Young”, and then subsequently taken over by the S.A.M. Co soon after the company’s registration. Adolphus William Young was a director of the Scottish Australian Investment Company in England.
Croudace St Named after Thomas Croudace (b. 1838, d. 15 Jun 1906), manager of Lambton Colliery and subsequently General Manager of the Scottish Australian Mining Company in Australia.
Grainger St Named after Charles Garston Grainger, director and secretary in London of the Scottish Australian Investment and Scottish Australian Mining Companies. Resigned 1885.
Morehead St Named after Robert Archibald Alison Morehead (b. 1812? d. 9 Jan 1885), General Manager of the Scottish Australian Mining Company in Australia.
Dickson St Probably named after William Henry Dickson, one of the proprietors of the Scottish Australian Investment Company.
De Vitre St Named after James Denis De Vitre, director of the Scottish Australian Mining Company. Retired February 1872.
Elder St Named after Alexander Lang Elder (d. 5 Sep 1885), director of the Scottish Australian Investment and Scottish Australian Mining Companies. Although Elder died in September 1885, he continued to be listed as a director of the company in Australian newspapers until 13 Mar 1886. An updated list of directors appeared on 20 Mar 1886.
Kendall St Named after Charles Holland Kendall, a director of the Scottish Australian Investment Company.
Pearson St Named after Sir Edwin Pearson (d. 1883), director of the Scottish Australian Investment Company.
Howe St The original spelling was “How” St”. The street is almost certainly named after Robert How, an investor in the Scottish Australian Mining Company.
Chilcott St Named after Henry Frederick Chilcott (b. 5 Jan 1844, d. 21 Jan 1920), General Manager in Australia of the Scottish Australian Investment and Scottish Australian Mining Companies.
Turner St Named after Frederick William Turner (d. September 1928) director of the Scottish Australian Investment Company, and secretary of the company in London.

Howe Street

The original plan of the Lambton township from 1864 shows the road on the southern boundary road as “How Street”,

Plan of Lambton Township, from the 1864 Certificate of Title (Volume 3, Folio 156), showing “How Street” as the original name for the southern boundary road.

The street is almost certainly named after Robert How, who in 1864 was a director of the Cadiangallong copper mine near Orange. This mine was worked by the Scottish Australian Mining Company, and given the overlap of directors between the two companies it is quite likely that How was also a director or investor in the Scottish Australian Mining Company. The Government Gazette of 14 Oct 1873, shows “How-street” in the list of Lambton streets. As early as April 1872, the spelling starts appearing with a trailing “e”.

[Note that the Lambton Primary School centenary booklet in 1965 stated that Howe St was “named either in honour of the Earl of Howe (prominent Englishman of the day) or John Howe a well known explorer and pastoralist in the Hunter Valley.” Both these suggestions are almost certainly wrong, and arise because of not knowing the original spelling of the street name.]

Croudace Street

One curious anomaly in the early Lambton street names is that at one time there were two Croudace Streets. As well as the north-south road we know today, for some period of time the section of road along the south side of Lambton Park (now Howe St) was called Croudace St. See for example the map on a real estate poster from 1906. (For information on the section of LLoyd Rd running across Lambton Park, see my January 2016 article.)

Real estate poster from 1906, showing Croudace St on the south side of Lambton Park. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

At first I thought this was an error by the map maker, but I found many other maps of the era also had the street labelled as Croudace St. I then found a proclamation in the Government Gazette of 22 Nov 1878 that names the road between Church St and Lambton Coal Company’s railway as being Croudace St – so the map makers were correct in their labels.

In the period 1916 to 1935 the road south of Lambton Park gets referred to as “Howe Street East” and afterwards simply as “Howe Street”.

So why was there two Croudace Streets? It seems that in the 1860s and 1870s street names were still in a bit of flux. When you look at the Government Gazette proclamation of roads there are many names that don’t match what we have today.

  • 14 Oct 1873 – mentions a “Reservoir-street”, which the 1864 Lambton Township map shows to be the section of Grainger St north of Dickson St.
  • 22 Nov 1878 – mentions a West Street and a Crozier St that do not exist today.
  • 27 Aug 1880 – mentions “Swamp-street”

The naming of the road to the south side of Lambton Park as Croudace St was possibly done by some bureaucrat based in Sydney, unaware of the Lambton locality, and unaware that there was already another street known by the locals as Croudace St.

Map showing both Croudace Streets, with Howe St in between.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
25 Nov 1846
21 Nov 1846
Captain Frederick Biggar Chilcott, his wife, daughter, and infant son Henry Frederick Chilcott arrive in Sydney from Calcutta on the brig Phantom.
15 Jan 1885
1 Jan 1885
On the retirement of R A A Morehead as General Manager of the Scottish Australian Investment Company, Mr. Archibald Shannon the sub-manager becomes General Manager, and "Mr. Henry F. Chilcott, the accountant, who has been twenty-six years in the service of the company, will succeed to the post to be vacated by Mr. Shannon."
17 Jan 1885
9 Jan 1885
Death of R A A Morehead, manager of the Scottish Australian Investment Company.
30 Jul 1892Archibald Shannon, General Manager of Scottish Australian Investment Company and Scottish Australian Mining Company, returns to England. Thomas Croudace becomes General Manager of the Scottish Australian Mining Company, and although not stated in this article, Henry Chilcott becomes General Manger of the Scottish Australian Investment Company. (See article reporting his death in 1920, that states that Chilcott became General Manager in 1892.)
21 Apr 1894Captain Chilcott retires from the Colonial Volunteer Forces.
4 Aug 1894Details of The Scottish Australian Investment Company, listing Henry Frederick Chilcott as "Manager in Australia" and Frederick William Turner as "Secretary to the Company in London."
28 Dec 1895
16 Dec 1895
The "long and meritorious" decoration bestowed on H F Chilcott of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Colonial Volunteer Forces, recognising 26 years of service.
14 Jul 1919Last mention in Trove of H F Chilcott, General Manager of Scottish Australian Mining, prior to his death.
16 Jan 1920
17 Jan 1920
"Messrs. Creer and Berkeley will offer at auction to-morrow afternoon 61 elevated building sites at Lambton. These sites form a portion of the Scottish-Australian Mining Company's estate, and are within two minutes of the tram. With bold frontages they face Chilcott, Turner, Croudace and Grainger streets."
23 Jan 1920
21 Jan 1920
"Mr. Henry Frederick Chilcott, general manager of the Scottish-Australian Investment Company, Ltd., and the Scottish-Australian Mining Company, Ltd. died at his residence, Forest Road, Arnclilffe, on Wednesday. He joined the Investment Company in 1858 in a junior capacity, and in 1892 succeeded to the management upon the death* of the late Mr. Archibald Shannon. In 1904 he succceeded the late Mr. Thomas Croudace in the management of the mining company."
* It was actually on Shannon's return to England, not his death, that Chilcott became general manager. Shannnon died in Torquay in 1898.
22 Jan 1920Funeral of H F Chilcott.
6 Sep 1928"The death is announced of Mr. Frederick William Turner, a director of the Scottish Australian Investment Company, at the age of 96 years."

Doctor John James Hill

In my last two articles, I have mentioned the short-lived Australasia Coal Company (1874-1879), and how their colliery railway was repurposed to build the storm water drain in Broadmeadow, and Bridges Rd in New Lambton. Lambton had an even greater connection with this company, through Doctor John James Hill.

Dr Hill was Lambton’s first resident doctor. He came to the district in 1868 and soon after constructed a residence and surgery in Elder St. At various times he was the appointed medical officer for Lambton, New Lambton and Waratah collieries, and he was an honorary surgeon at the Newcastle Hospital.

But it was not just medical matters that occupied the doctor’s time, he was also a real estate developer, and coal mining investor. In 1874 he was one of the instigators of the Australasian Coal Company, whose mining lease was in the Winding Creek area near Cardiff. He was a major shareholder and served as a founding director of the company.  He also privately purchased 40 acres of land adjacent to the mine, to develop as a township with 340 residential allotments.

This side investment brought Dr Hill into conflict with the other company directors, and as the colliery spiralled into bankruptcy, a bitter war of words was ranged against Dr Hill, culminating in a policy in October 1877 “that the Australasia Company will not employ any man who is residing at Hillsborough (Dr. Hill’s township.)”

Dr Hill was actively involved in many aspects of the local community. He served as an alderman on Lambton council for six years, and was three times elected Mayor. While still serving as Mayor in late 1882, after an illness that had confined him to his house for three weeks, Dr. Hill died on 19 December 1882 aged just 39.  His name is perpetuated in the suburb of Hillsborough.

An advertisement in the Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder, 2nd October 1875, spruiking the benefits of Doctor Hill’s township.

An advertisement in The Newcastle Chronicle, 15th September 1874, showing that Doctor Hill’s surgery was used for mining matters as well as medical.


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

Portrait of Doctor John James Hill, from Scott McEwan family tree on ancestry.com.au. Used with permission.

Hillsborough

The map below from the Historical Land Records Viewer shows the suburb of Hillsborough in portion 44, labeled with the name of “J. J. Hill” and with an area of “40 ac. ex rd.” (40 acres excluding roads.)

The suburb of Hillsborough marked on old map.

Hillsborough. Google Maps.

Catherine Bradley, a great grand daughter of J.J. Hill provided me with information about various street names in Hillsborough:

  • Royton St is named after the town where Doctor Hill grew up in Lancashire UK. His father was Rev Richard Percy Hill, the Vicar of St Paul’s Anglican Church.
  • Percy Street is named after his father (see middle name above).
  • King St is named after Doctor Hill’s wife’s maiden name, Jane King.
  • Higham Road is after Doctor Hill’s mother’s maiden name – she was Martha Higham.

The naming of Hill Street

In the originally published article I stated that Dr Hill’s name was possibly perpetuated in the name of Hill Street in North Lambton. With subsequent research I now believe that the present day Hill St wasn’t named after Dr Hill – but there was another Hill St in North Lambton that was named after him in 1873, for it was in a subdivision of land owned by Dr Hill. I have written a separate blog article on this other Hill St.

Regarding the present day Hill St, the earliest written source I have found for its naming is page 17 of the Lambton Public School centenary booklet in 1965. This is 92 years after the first mention of Hill Street (in 1872) that I have found in Trove. Dr Hill only arrived in Lambton in 1868, so it would be highly unusual that he would have a street named in his honour after just four years in the community.

An explanation (probably wrong) of the naming of Hill St, from page 17 of the Lambton Public School centenary booklet in 1965.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
23 Jan 1867
5 Dec 1866
Marriage of John James Hill M.D. to Jane King, at the residence of the Rev. Kerr Johnston, Sandridge Victoria.
6 May 1869Dr J.J. Hill gives evidence at an inquest at Lambton. This is the first mention in the newspaper of Dr Hill being in Lambton.
29 Aug 1872First mention of Hill Street in the newspaper.
12 Jul 1873Dr Hill offering land allotments for sale in North Lambton.
16 Aug 1873Dr. Hill and Mr. Stoker purchase three acres of land at Dark Creek (Jesmond) for the purpose of mining for coal.
23 Jul 1874Advertisement for tender to sink a shaft at the Australasian Coal Company. Apply to Dr. Hill, Lambton.
14 Sep 1874Prospectus of the Australasia Coal Company, in which Dr Hill is named as a provisional director.
15 Sep 1874Tender for sinking a shaft for the Australasia Coal Company. Specifications on display at Dr. Hill's surgery.
28 Oct 1874
27 Oct 1874
Operations have been commenced at the Australasia Coal Company works at Winding Creek.
"The first sod of the shaft was turned by Mrs. Dr. Hill, at 8 a.m., on last Tuesday."
3 Apr 1875The plan of a township at Winding Creek, known as Dr. Hill's Township is on display. The town is on 40 acres of land and is divided into quarter acre allotments.
21 Jul 1875First mention of the township of "Hillsborough" in the Winding Creek area.
2 Oct 1875Advertisement for allotments in the township of Hillsborough.
16 Feb 1876Dr Hill travelling to Melbourne for the shareholders' meeting of the Australasia Coal Company. He has been nominated as director.
6 Jun 1876Letter from Doctor Hill to the Melbourne shareholders of the Australasia Coal Company.
8 Jul 1876
7 Jul 1876
The adjourned meeting of the New South Wales shareholders of the Australasia Coal Company was held at Dr. Hill's residence, Lambton.
14 Jul 1876
12 Jul 1876
The adjourned meeting of the shareholders of the AUSTRALASIAN COAL COMPANY was held at Dr. Hill's residence, on Wednesday evening last.
17 Jul 1876 Mr W. A. Zeal in a letter to the newspaper attacks Dr Hill's statements at the recent shareholders' meeting, which he asserts were "a tissue of malicious falsehoods."
21 Jul 1876Dr Hill responds to Mr Zeal's attacking letter in the newspaper.
27 Oct 1877"I hear a rumour that the Australasia Company will not employ any man who is residing at Hillsborough (Dr. Hill's township.) The company have land in their township for sale, but whether that is the cause, or vindictiveness against Dr. Hill, I cannot tell."
20 Dec 1882
19 Dec 1882
Death of Doctor John James Hill, after an illness of three weeks. The funeral will take place in the North Waratah cemetery.
20 Dec 1882
19 Dec 1882
DEATH.
HILL. — At his residence, Lambton, on the 19th inst., Dr. John James Hill, aged 38 years.
20 Dec 1882Funeral notice for Doctor John James Hill.
11 Feb 1886
3 Feb 1886
Dr Hills widow Jane, marries Frederic Mansfield Mills, at Burwood.

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.

Links

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.