Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow

In March 1891, Thomas Williams purchased land near Broadmeadow station, and submitted an application for a a conditional publican’s licence “for premises proposed to be erected at the intersection of the Adamstown and Newcastle-Wallsend roads to be known by the sign of the Jersey Hotel.” Williams engaged James Henderson, the eminent architect of the ornate Victoria Theatre in Perkins Street Newcastle, to design a three storey, 15-room brick hotel.

With the building completed in early 1892 and after a change of mind on the name, Williams applied for the publican’s license he needed for his Premier Hotel to commence trading. On Thursday 17 March 1892 the Licensing Bench approved his application, but instead of downing drinks in celebration, Williams found his hotel in the drink due to inundation.  That very night the heavens opened and Newcastle was drenched with torrential rain, with flooding reported at Wallsend, Waratah, Lambton, and New Lambton.  At Broadmeadow “the flat between Adamstown and New Lambton and down to Lambton-road was one sheet of water on Friday morning.” Ralph Snowball photographed the newly licensed hotel, an island of refuge in an expanse of water.

The deluge had tragic consequences when “an elderly man named Edward Atkinson fell into a waterhole while looking for cows in a paddock near Adamstown and was drowned.” Once again, citizens called on the government to get on with its long-promised drainage scheme for the area.  The main stormwater drain through the Broadmeadow flats was completed in 1895, but the area around the Premier Hotel continued to be impacted by flooding until the completion of the Adamstown branch of the drain in 1899. In 1939 the hotel was rebuilt as an attractive two storey structure in the art deco style. Having survived a natural disaster in 1892, the hotel suffered damage in the 1989 earthquake and was repaired as a smaller, simpler building. Plans for a $34 million redevelopment of the site are now before Newcastle Council, for a nine-storey apartment building with ground floor pub.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, NSW, 18 March 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
The Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 2023.

The article above was first published in the October 2023 edition of The Local.


Ed Tonk’s book “No Bar to Time, The current Hotels of the Newcastle Local Government Area” was a useful source for some of the details in this article.

Additional Information

Details from Land title Vol-Fol 1021-71, showing purchase of portion 2101 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve by Thomas Williams on 11 March 1891.

Pages 227-229 of “Early Architects of the Hunter Region” by Les Reedman shows three drawings by James Henderson of “New brick hotel, Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, near Broadmeadow Station, 1891”. The inscription on the top of the facade shows the originally proposed name of “Jersey Hotel”.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 18 March 1892 – looking westwards along Denison St. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
Denison St Hamilton, August 2023. (The present day Premier Hotel is hidden behind the building with the blue awnings at the end of the street.)
Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 13 September 1902. Photo by Ralph Snowball. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank, Accession Number 001 001055.

An undated photograph from the Living Histories site shows the Premier Hotel in the background. The image pre-dates electrification of the Adamstown tram line in January 1925, and is after the redevelopment of the Herbert’s Theatre as a brick building, which happened during 1923-1924.

Nineways, Broadmeadow, with Premier Hotel in the background, 1923-1924. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 1959. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank. Accession Number 460 000055.
The Nineways, Broadmeadow, NSW, Australia [c.1960’s]. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.

2023 Development Application

In a curious coincidence, just a week after I had completed writing this article for “The Local”, news emerged that the owners of the Premier Hotel have submitted a Development Application (DA2023/00886) to Newcastle Council for a $34 million development to demolish the existing structure and erect an nine-story building with hotel on the lower floors, and 48 apartment units on the upper floors.

Proposed re-development of the Premier Hotel at the intersection of Brunker Road and Chatham Street. Image from the architectural plans for DA2023/00886.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
20 Mar 1891"I, THOMAS WILLIAMS, of Carrington, Landholder, do hereby give notice that I desire to obtain, and will, at the next Quarterly Licensing Court, to be holden at Newcastle on the ninth day of April next, apply for a Certificate, authorising the issue of a Conditional Publican's License, for pre mises proposed to be erected at the Junction of the Adamstown-road with the Newcastle- Wallsend-road, to be known by the sign of "Jersey Hotel," and to contain fifteen rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family."
10 Apr 1891Licensing court … "Thos. Williams applied for a conditional publican's license for premises proposed to be erected at the intersection of the Adamstown and Newcastle-Wallsend roads to be known by the sign of the Jersey Hotel." Despite objections from the police "the Bench said the plans showed that the house would be a good one; and, as there was nothing against the character of Mr. Williams, the application was granted."
6 Jun 1891James Henderson, architect, tenders invited for “the Erection and Completion of extensive BRICK HOTEL PREMISES at Adamstown, near Broadmeadow Railway Station, for Mr. Williams.” Tenders close 20 June.
29 Jan 1892"The Premier Hotel, the property of Mr. T. Williams, situated at the intersection of Adamstown. Lambton, and Waratah roads, is near completion.” [This is the first mention of “Premier Hotel” in the newspapers.]
18 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Thomas Williams was granted a license for premises situated at the junction of the Adamstown and Wallsend roads."
18 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
At "he Licensing Bench yesterday … an application for a license for new premises situated at the junction of the Adamstown and Wallsend roads was also granted."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Waratah. The heavy rain which fell during Thursday night again caused a considerable overflow in the streets, and particularly in the vicinity of the station."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"New Lambton. THE HEAVY RAIN. The heavy rain, which fell during Thursday night, flooded the properties on the Lambton Road, adjoining the tramline. The large drains overflowed, and across both the road and the tramline was one sheet of water. Some of the residents had to leave their houses to take care of themselves, and seek shelter in the tramwaiting shed at the Raspberry Gully line crossing."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Plattsburg. STORM WATERS. The exceptional downpour of rain early on Friday morning very soon flooded all the low-lying land, and the result was that the residents of Nelson-street, from John-street to the bridge, were again flooded. On this occasion the water rose some 9in higher than the former floods."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Lambton. During Thursday night the heavy rains caused a good deal of damage to the streets of the municipality by washing gravel and other road material away. Pearson and Howe streets were flooded, but fortunately not high enough to enter the houses. A thorough system of drainage at the lower end of the district from New Lambton downwards, through Hamilton, is necessary to prevent these periodical floods, as the water then would have an opportunity of free access to the main channels to the sea. But at present it is a source of trouble and expense to the whole of these municipalities, and the sooner the proposed scheme of the Hamilton, New Lambton, and other councils is carried out the better for everybody concerned."
19 Mar 1892
18 Mar 1892
"It was reported yesterday morning that an elderly resident named Edward Atkinson was missing, and supposed to be drowned in Yates' paddock, between Adamstown and New Lambton … which proved to be correct, for after some time the body was brought to the surface, at about 10.30 am. The deceased was 72 years of age."
19 Mar 1892
18 Mar 1892
"An elderly man named Edward Atkinson fell into a waterhole while looking for cows in a paddock near Adamstown yesterday morning and was drowned."
21 Mar 1892"In common with other parts of the district the rain has done a deal of damage to the roads in the municipality. The low lands have suffered considerably. The flat between Adamstown and New Lambton and down to Lambton-road was one sheet of water on Friday morning. Numerous dwellings were flooded. People who have lived on the Lambton-road for 17 years say that they never knew the water to be so high as it was on Friday. The proposed high drain will be a blessing to the district, and till it is completed the low lands between Adamstown, New Lambton, and Broadmeadow will continue to be under water in wet weather."
10 Aug 1895"One of the finest pieces of work done in this district is the much-spoken-of Commonage drain. The other day we visited the work and were greatly surprised at the proportions of the huge drain. In fact it is— or will be in rainy seasons — a regular canal. It begins half way between New Lambton and Hamilton, and runs in a fairly straight line towards a creek flowing into the Hunter. The drain will easily carry off the storm waters from the large area of country comprising the Commonage."
25 Jan 1898
24 Jan 1898
"BROADMEADOW. Last night at 9 o'clock the flood waters were over Brunker-road, and people from Adamstown who wished to got to the tram were forced to wade through a foot deep of water on the road. A large number of dwellings in the locality, including the Premier Hotel, were surrounded by water."
30 Nov 1898"The construction of the Adamstown branch of the Commonage drainage work has been delayed while the culvert under the Government railway was in course of construction. With the exception of a small portion near the railway culvert, the drain is completed to near the Adamstown-New Lambton road."
29 Apr 1899"The Adamstown branch of the Commonage drain has stopped within a few chains of the Adamstown-New Lambton road near the railway station. The cause of the drain stopping at that point is in consequence of it being found necessary to carry it through private property, and as the authorities have not come to terms with the Waratah Company and other property holders work is suspended and the municipality suffers."
26 Aug 1899Report on how the flooding in the Broadmead area was not as bad as former times “which is directly due to the Adamstown branch of the Commonage drainage works being opened cross the Lambton-road, and the Adamstown water thus being given straight course to the main drain.”
28 Sep 1900
27 Sep 1900
"Mr. M. S. Love, Acting S.M., yesterday granted Thomas Williams permission to transfer his license of the Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, to Henry Joseph Denney."
5 Nov 1938"The Premier Hotel at Broadmeadow, is to be demolished. On the site will be erected a modern hotel, in two storeys, the cost of which will be £20,000. The architect is Mr. C. Ruwald, of Sydney."
5 Oct 1939"To-morrow an official opening ceremony will be held at noon at the Premier Hotel at Broadmeadow to mark the completion of a most attractive and modernly designed addition to the hotels of the district. The new building has a frontage to two main roads and a striking architectural treatment coupled with most up-to-date interior facilities and furnishings provide an outstanding example of a modern trend in hotel design"

Broadmeadow planes and plans

Broadmeadow has been in the news recently, with the Department of Planning and Environment releasing their “Hunter Regional Plan 2041”.  The document flags Broadmeadow as a “regionally significant growth area” and promises to make it “a destination of choice for entertainment, housing, recreation and discovery.”

This is not the first time the area has been subject to great change, as the photos this month demonstrate. A 2016 aerial photo shows the area bounded by Griffith Rd, Turton Rd, Broadmeadow Rd and the stormwater drain, filled with sporting grounds, trotting track, entertainment facilities, commercial and residential buildings. In contrast, seven decades years earlier it was an empty paddock, the site of District Park Aerodrome.

Originally a swampy lowland, the completion of a large concrete stormwater channel in 1899 allowed the surrounding area to be developed for recreation. The government reserved a portion for aviation purposes in 1923 and in 1928 the Newcastle Aero Club formed and began using the aerodrome.  However, the combination of increasing aircraft movements and residential development posed a very real danger to the public.

On 20 January 1953, 70 years ago this month, newly qualified solo pilot Alan Kerle was practicing landings in an aero club Tiger Moth. As he landed, the plane bounced, was caught by a cross wind and carried across Turton-road where it brushed a rooftop, plunged into the back yard of Cedric Jenkins and burst into flames. Just minutes beforehand four children had been playing in the yard. Despite the damage the pilot walked away uninjured. Between 1931 and 1954 the newspapers reported 13 plane crashes at or near the aerodrome. The suitability of the site was increasingly questioned.  In 1961 the Department of Civil Aviation gave notice to the Aero Club to vacate the Broadmeadow airfield, and they soon relocated to Rutherford. The government’s grand plans for aviation in District Park had proved unworkable. Let’s hope their grand plans for Broadmeadow in 2041 prove to be of long-lasting value.

District Park aerodrome, 1954. The site of the 20 January 1953 Tiger Moth crash is circled in red. NSW Historical Imagery
The same area of Broadmeadow in 2016. NSW Historical Imagery
Excerpt from page 105 of the “Hunter Regional Plan 2041”, stating some of the state government’s plans for “Hunter Park” in Broadmeadow.

The article above was first published in the January 2023 edition of The Local.

Broadmeadow Aerodrome

Further information about the history of the Broadmeadow Aerodrome can be found in my August 2019 article on the crash of a C47 aircraft in 1944.

Map showing the aerodrome area, gazetted for aviation purposes 25 May 1923. Historical Land Records Viewer.
Grouped about the Aero Club, ‘planes at District Park this afternoon, parties of school children have the theory of aviation explained to them. The inspection was part of the club’s programme this week to mark its tenth anniversary. The Newcastle Sun 12 October 1938.

The 1953 Tiger Moth crash

The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate report of the January 1953 Tiger Moth crash states that the plane crashed into the backyard of Mr C Jenkins, in Turton Road New Lambton. It also states that the Goodbun family lived in the neighbouring property. Title deeds in the Historical Land Records Viewer site show that in 1953 the Goodbun’s owned Lot A of DP19321 (Vol-Fol 5630-190), and Cedric Jenkins owned Lot 5 of DP19321 (Vol-Fol 5230-223). This corresponds to 267 and 269 Turton Road, New Lambton.

Wreckage of the Tiger Moth that crashed near Broadmeadow Aerodrome on 20 January 1956. The Daily Telegraph.
The wreckage of a Tiger Moth aircraft which crashed into the backyard of a home at Newcastle on 20 Juanuary 1953. The Sydney Morning Herald.
The scene in the backyard of a house in Turton road, New Lambton, after an Aero Club plane had crashed last evening. The fowlyard of the home in the foreground, with the plane lying across the back garden. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate.

Other Broadmeadow aeorodrome crashes

The following table summarises airplane accidents that occurred at or near the Broadmeadow (District Park) aerodrome that were reported in the newspapers. This is not a comprehensive list of all incidents that occurred. For example, the report on 12 August 1944 notes that the stormwater drain has caused “7 crashes in 2 years”, however only two of those crashed seem to have been reported in the papers.

8/3/1931De Havilland Moth, “Sky Hawk”The plane fell into a spin at an altitude of 2000 feet and crashed into a paddock adjoining the aerodrome. Pilot (E Buck) and passenger (G Lynch) uninjured.
18/8/1935Tiger Moth, “Halcyon”The propeller caught in street lighting wires while the machine was making a forced landing. The pilot, Captain H. S. Preston, was uninjured, but the machine was severely damaged.
26/9/1935Westland WidgeonTwo accidents in 2 days! Damage to the undercarriage in 26/9/1935, and then the following day “the ‘plane struck some rough ground at the south-eastern end and pitched forward on to its nose. The fuselage, undercarriage, and propeller were damaged, and Mr. Hall received lacerations to an ankle.”
28/11/1935Monospar, “City of Grafton”Wheel collapsed on landing.
7/9/1936High wing monoplane, “Sky Baby”Forced down with engine trouble. Crashed in Lindsay Street Hamilton after hitting an electric light pole. Pilot Frank Cook pulled unconscious from the wreckage, and treated at hospital for abrasions and contusions to the face, lacerations, slight concussion, and shock.
11/9/1943Beaufort bomberEngine trouble, with white smoke issuing from the
Beaufort bomber. The plane made a right hand turn, to land at Broadmeadow aerodrome, hit some trees in District Park and immediately burst into flames. The plane then hit the side of a deep stormwater drain, skidded on to the tramline, and came to rest in Lambton-road, Broadmeadow. Flight Sergeant William Milton Trengove, 34, navigator, of Spalding, South Australia, died later in Newcastle Hospital.
?/?/1944Boomerang fighter“An R.A.A.F, man was injured when a Boomerang fighter struck the channel early this year”
10/8/1944C47 DouglasA U.S. Army transport plane, making a forced landing in a storm at Newcastle, crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome. In the past 10 months two other planes have crashed into the stormwater drain while trying to land at Broadmeadow. Two U.S. airmen were injured in the crash. The pilot suffered a broken nose and abrasions, and the radio operator head injuries.
4/8/1947Wackett trainerA Wackett trainer belonging to the Newcastle Aero Club,
took off from the Broadmeadow aerodrome.The engine cut out at 150 to 200 feet, and the pilot brought it down in a paddock, narrowly missing two people walking along a track. The pilot (Dick Gilford, 22, of Carrington Parade, New Lambton), and passenger (Mr. A. Gilford) were uninjured.
16/4/1950Wackett trainerAfter engine failure, the pilot Jack Stone crash landed the Wackett trainer on rough, undulating ground off Turton-road near District Park aerodrome. The plane was damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.
8/12/1951Ryan monoplaneTwo men scrambled unhurt from the cockpit of a Ryan
monoplane which crashed on a narrow vacant allotment near Broadmeadow aerodrome. They are Louis Plumstead of Beresfield, an instructor employed at the Newcastle Aero Club, and his pupil, Victor Boyce, of Maitland.
20/1/1953Tiger MothA Tiger Moth plane partly unroofed a house, crashed into a fence, and burst into flames. The pilot, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce Street, Taree. climbed from the wreckage unhurt.
27/7/1954De Havilland Hornet bi-planeThe undercarriage of the aircraft collapsed when the plane was landing. The plane slewed wildly across the runway and
its port wings ploughed into the ground.
1960Cessna 172“badly damaged soon after arrival in an unfortunate accident”
Crash of a Wackett trainer aircraft near Broadmeadow aerodrome.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 16 April 1950.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
25 Mar 1923Portion of District Park gazetted "for public recreation and aviation purposes."
9 Mar 1931
8 Mar 1931
Mr. E. Buck's "Sky Hawk," a De Havilland Moth 'plane, at District Park, yesterday with one passenger aboard (Mr. G. Lynch, of Waratah) fell into a spin at an altitude of 2000 feet and crashed into a paddock adjoining the aerodrome."
19 Aug 1935
18 Aug 1935
"Newcastle Aero Club's new Tiger Moth biplane, the Halcyon, crashed at District Park late yesterday afternoon. The pilot, Captain H. S. Preston, was uninjured, but the machine was severely damaged."
27 Sep 1935
26 Sep 1935
"THE Westland-Widgeon 'plane, which was involved in a sensational crash at the District Park Aerodrome last evening, wrecking the undercarriage, figured in another accident this afternoon. AFTER repairs had been effected to the landing gear, the owner, Mr. Hall, made a preliminary flight prior to leaving for Sydney. When returning to the 'drome, however, the 'plane struck some rough ground at the south-eastern end and pitched forward on to its nose. The fuselage, undercarriage, and propeller were damaged, and Mr. Hall received lacerations to an ankle."
28 Nov 1935"Five passengers in the airliner 'City of Grafton' had remarkable escapes this morning when a wheel collapsed after the big 'plane had landed at District Park aerodrome, throwing the 'plane on to its side."
13 Dec 1935"The discovery of four slashes in the fabric underneath the wing of an aeroplane shortly before it was due to take off caused a stir at District Park Aerodrome this morning. Mr. Henry said that the incident illustrated the need for public hangars at all important aerodromes."
8 Sep 1936
7 Sep 1936
"The small high wing monoplane Sky Baby crashed in one of Newcastle's most thickly populated suburban thoroughfares, Lindsay-street, Hamilton, shortly after 5 p.m. to-day. The right wing struck an electric light pole and was torn off. The machine finished partly on the footpath."
6 Oct 1943
11 Sep 1943
Inquest into the death of Flight Sergeant William Milton Trengove, who died in a plane crash at Broadmeadow on 11 September 1943.
2 Jun 1944Calls to improve Broadmeadow aerodrome … "The present aerodrome is entirely inadequate for the future needs of a city the size of Newcastle,' said Mr. Cavalier, "Further, it is in its present size a danger to certain types of aircraft."
11 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
"A U.S. Army transport plane, making a forced landing in a storm at Newcastle yesterday, crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome. Two U.S. airmen were injured."
4 Aug 1947"A pilot, with his father as passenger, crashed in an emergency landing at East Lambton today. Neither was injured. The pilot is Dick Gilford, 22, of Carrington Parade, New Lambton, the passenger is Mr. A. Gilford, of the same address. The plane, a Wackett trainer belonging to the Newcastle Aero Club, had taken off from the Broadmeadow aerodrome. The engine cut out at 150 to 200 feet, and the pilot brought it down in a paddock, narrowly missing two people walking along a track."
17 Apr 1950
16 Apr 1950
"The pilot of a Wackett trainer plane escaped injury when he crash landed on rough, undulating ground off Turton-road near District Park aerodrome yesterday afternoon."
9 Dec 1951
8 Dec 1951
"Two men scrambled unhurt from the cockpit of a Ryan monoplane which crashed on a narrow vacant allotment near Broadmeadow aerodrome this afternoon. The engine cut out soon after the plane took off from the aerodrome."
21 Jan 1953
20 Jan 1953
"When a Tiger Moth plane crashed today it partly unroofed a house, crashed into a fence, and burst into flames. The pilot climbed from the wreckage unhurt. As flames reached the petrol tank a bus driver put them out with an extinguisher from his bus. The pilot of the plane is Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce Street, Taree. He is a student pilot of Newcastle Aero Club. The crash occurred as he was landing the plane on Newcastle aerodrome." (The Daily Telegraph)
21 Jan 1953
20 Jan 1953
"When a Tiger Moth aircraft crashed into the backyard of a home in Turton Road, Waratah, a suburb of Newcastle, shortly before 5.30 p.m. to-day it missed a woman and four children by four feet. The sole occupant, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce-Street, Taree, was not injured." (The Sydney Morning Herald.)
21 Jan 1953
20 Jan 1953
"A Tiger Moth plane owned by Newcastle Aero Club crashed in the backyard of Mr. C. Jenkins's property in Turton road, New Lambton, late yesterday afternoon. The plane was extensively damaged but the pilot, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Taree, who had made his first solo flight on Sunday, climbed uninjured from the cockpit. A wing hits the edge of a fernery in a house adjoining and caught fire. The plane dropped on to its nose, pivoted, and then landed on its wheels." (Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate.)
28 Jul 1954
27 Jul 1954
"A De Havilland Hornet bi-plane, crashed on landing at Broadmeadow about 5 p.m. today. Crew of the plane, Mr. J. Neal, of Tamworth (pilot) and Capt. R. Hall, of East. West Airlines (navigator) were uninjured in the crash. The undercarriage of the air craft collapsed when the plane was landing. The plane slewed wildly across the runway and its port wings ploughed into the ground."

Gittins and Eastham Store

Broadmeadow Co-Operative Society

The 19th century saw the birth of a new mode of grocery retailing – the Cooperative Society movement. Begun in the UK and brought to Australia by immigrants, the core idea was for consumers to own, control and benefit from their local store. Membership was open to all through the purchase of shares, controlled through democratically elected officers and regular meetings, and profits returned to members as dividends.

In April 1887 the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society formed with 17 initial members, and rented a four-room house in Lambton Rd to operate a store. At the second quarterly meeting in November 1887, the society reported the business to be “in a flourishing and prosperous condition.” In 1889 the society purchased their own premises (the small wooden building in Snowball’s photo) in Brunker Road adjacent to the Premier Hotel. Membership had increased to over 170, and a bakery department was soon added.

However, in the 1890s a prolonged economic depression put the society under financial strain. With many miners out of work, trade fell dramatically. The working capital of the society slowly eroded with over-optimistic dividend payments in the face of declining profits, and members withdrawing from the cooperative. By April 1897 the financial position was untenable, and the society closed. Only the largest cooperative societies, with many members and multiple stores, survived the downturn.

In May 1897 the Broadmeadow store was taken over by Robert Gittins and George Eastham, who soon erected a large brick building adjacent to the original building. Gittins and Eastham had emigrated from the UK to Australia around 1887, and after a brief stint working as pit mates at the Bullock Island colliery, opened grocery stores in Wickham and Carrington. They traded at Broadmeadow for 10 years until selling to Thomas Hughes, who then ran the store for the next quarter century.

Independent, locally owned stores such as this were the norm until the 1960s, when the big supermarket chains rapidly rose to a dominance in grocery retailing they maintain to this day.

Gittins and Eastham Store, Broadmeadow, September 1897. Photo by Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Living Histories,
The store was located at 3 Brunker Rd Broadmeadow, where the Premier Hotel carpark is today.

The article above was first published in the March 2021 edition of The Local.

Additional Information

The Broadmeadow Co-operative Society

The Broadmeadow Co-operative Society got off to a good start. After six months of operation, at their second quarterly meeting pm 31 October 1887, the secretary Mr W Roe presented a report and balance-sheet …

… which showed the society to be in a flourishing and prosperous condition, both with regard to members and financially. The shareholders number 69; paid-up shares, 104; unpaid-up shares, 22. The weekly takings at the store average over £50 per week. There is also a large number of non-members who purchase their goods at the store. The balance-sheet also showed that a large sum had been spent during the quarter in procuring a horse and cart and other necessaries required in the business; but despite this expense the society was enabled to declare a dividend of ten per cent. The report and balance-sheet were unanimously adopted, and the shareholders were very jubilant over the progressiveness of the society.

Location of Broadmeadow Co-operative Society Store. 10 Lambton Rd (April 1887 to April 1889) and 3 Brunker Rd (May 1889 to April 1897).

At the district Co-operative Conference held at Burwood on Saturday 13 July 1889, Mr R Gray, manager of the Pioneer Society at Burwood delivered a speech on “The rise and progress of cooperation in this district.” In the speech Mr Gray described the essence of the Co-operative movement as being …

“… that the profits of an undertaking do not go into the pocket of an employer, be that employer an individual, or several individuals united in partnership; but that they should be shared by the largest possible number of those who engage in the undertaking, either as consumers or workers. In our distributive co-operative societies the net profits on sales, after paying working expenses, interest on capital etc, go to the consumer.”

Mr Gray gave detailed statistics on each of the district societies, including the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society, which …

“… started business on April 17th, 1887, with 17 members, and a share capital of £14, and a loan of £50, making in all £94. They have paid away in dividends to members on their purchases alone, since they commenced, £1037 6s. Their share capital at the end of this quarter is £685 11s 10d, and the number of members on their books is 173. These facts speak for themselves. Then there is the fact of their having purchased the premises which they now occupy, their fixed stock account amounting to £200.”

The premises purchased by the society was on the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (Commonage). The location can therefore be identified from the Land Court Sittings in July 1890, when people of the Commonage were finally able to apply for legal title to the land they were residing on. From the sitting of the court on 28 July 1890

“Portion 2102; applicants, the Broadmeadow Cooperative Society, Limited. The district surveyor reported that the land was valued at £103 4s, and he submitted that the applicants should prove ownership of the improvements. James Raine stated that he was president of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society, Limited, and he appeared in support of an application made by John A. Davidson, the then secretary of the society, for portion 2102. The society owned the improvements on the portion, which consisted of a shop and outbuildings. The land had been purchased from Charles Heath, who had been in occupation prior to 1888, and the purchase was completed on the 25th May of that year. Witness claimed that the society had a perfect right under the Act to make application for the portion, as they had been in continued occupation since purchasing. Heath had not, to witness’s knowledge, made application for the land. After a short discussion, the board stated that they would adjourn the further consideration of the appraisement until they were dealing with other portions in the same vicinity. In the meantime, they would recommend that the application be accepted.”

Subsequently on 4 September 1890, the Land Court formally accepted the application of …

“Broadmeadow Co-operative Society, Limited, lot 2102, £163 4s”

The Co-operative’s store is just visible on the right hand side of Snowballs 1892 photograph of the Premier Hotel surrounded by floodwaters.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, NSW, 18 March 1892. Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
Broadmeadow Cooperative Store, 1892.

The rise of the Supermarkets

The Australian food history timeline website indicates that Farr’s of Newcastle may have been the first Australian supermarket. In 1957 the Chermside Drive-in Shopping Centre opened in Brisbane, including a supermarket that was soon afterwards bought by Woolworths. Coles then opened their first Australian supermarket in North Balwyn in Victoria in 1960.

By the early 1970s the big supermarket chains (Woolworths, Coles, Supa Value, Foodland, Franklins, FAL) had 50% share of the grocery retail market, and by 2020, the two major chains (Woolworths/Coles) had a 67% market share.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
4 Apr 1887
4 Apr 1887
"A public meeting will be held at the junction of Adamstown and Broadmeadow Roads on MONDAY, 4th inst., at 7 p.m. All in favour of establishing a Co-operative Society are requested to attend."
6 Apr 1887"The meeting advertised to be held on the Commonage for the establishment of a co-operative society was, on account of the wet weather, adjourned to Mr. Raine's residence, where a very successful meeting was held. About 21 persons enrolled themselves as members, and gave the newly-formed society the name of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society. "
9 Apr 1887
8 Apr 1887
Meeting of the newly-formed Broadmeadow Co-operative Society … "A letter was read from a Mrs. Dickford, offering a four-roomed house, with outhouse and stable, facing the Lambton-road … it was agreed to take the building from Wednesday next, which would allow ample time to commence business by next pay."
2 Nov 1887
31 Oct 1887
Second quarterly meeting of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society reported "the society to be in a flourishing and prosperous condition."
12 Nov 1887William Roe, secretary of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society authorised to sell postage stamps.
8 May 1889
4 May 1889
Broadmeadow Co-operative Society annual meeting. The co-operative now had 174 members and was in a good financial position, attributed to the fact that "the society has now premises of its own, which is a great saving in rent."
17 Jul 1889An essay on "The rise and progress of cooperation in this district" read by Mr. R. Gray, manager of the Pioneer Society, Burwood, at the Co-operative Conference. It has some good insights into the history and goals of the Co-operative movement, as well as detailed statistics on the current state of the Co-operative movement in Newcastle.
29 Jul 1890Commonage Allotments land court sitting, where the application by the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society for portion 2102 was considered. The application was adjourned, but with an intimation that it would be approved.
6 Sep 1890
4 Sep 1890
Sitting of the Land Court formally accepts the application of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society for lot 2102.
14 Jan 1892At the quarterly general meeting … "The report showed the number of members on the books to be 217" and "special attention was drawn to the bakery department, which is now in full working order."
28 Oct 1893Tensions at the Quarterly meeting of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society regarding: withdrawal of members, lack of support from members, paying of dividends, bakery accounts.
31 Jan 1896
29 Jan 1896
Correspondence to Hamilton Council: "From Mr. A. Sharp, manager of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Store, complaining of the bad state of the road in front of the store, and asking council to effect the necessary repairs. It was resolved that the request be complied with."
20 Apr 1897"A special meeting of the Broadmeadow Co-operative Society will be held this evening for the purpose of considering the financial position of the society."
6 May 1897"The Assigned Estate Broadmeadow Co-operative Society. WE have This Day DISPOSED of the BOOK DEBTS of this Estate to Messrs. Gettins (sic) and Eastham, Grocers, Broadmeadow, whose receipt will be a sufficient discharge."
9 Aug 1897"Messrs. Gittens and Eastham, who have secured the property and business of the now defunct Broadmeadow Co-operative Society, have made good progress since they opened a branch store at Broadmeadow. The experience of the firm has been such that they have near completion a large brick building that is to be used for a store. The building adjoins the old store on the Brunker-road frontage, and is a splendid site from a business standpoint. Mr John Francis is managing the business on behalf of the firm."
25 Oct 1897"By the opening of the large branch store by Messrs Gittans (sic) and Eastham on the site of the old Co-operative Store the thoroughfare has been given a brighter aspect and the surroundings more enticing."
5 Nov 1907"PUBLIC NOTICE, TOM HUGHES WISHES to announce to the General Public of Broadmeadow and Surrounding Districts that he has Purchased the Business lately carried on by GITTENS & EASTHAM, at Broadmeadow."
29 Apr 1919
29 Apr 1919
"Mr. Robert Gittins, of Hannell-street, Wickham, the principal partner in the firm of Messrs. Gittins and Eastham, died at an early hour this morning at Waratah Hospital. Mr. Gittins was 65 years of age, and a well known and highly respected resident of Wickham for upwards of 30 years. His son is Alderman Reece Gittins, of the Wickham Council."
29 Apr 1919"PUBLIC NOTICES. GITTINS & EASTHAM. THE BUSINESS PREMISES of the above Firm at Wickham, Carrington, and Steel-street, Newcastle will be CLOSED ALL DAY TO-MORROW (WEDNESDAY), on account of the death of Mr. Robert Gittins"
30 Apr 1919Obituary of Robert Gittins.
5 Oct 1931Obituary of George Eastham.
23 Jan 1937Obituary of Thomas Hughes.

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.

New Lambton Copper Smelter

Mike Scanlon in today’s Newcastle Herald has an article about the naming of Christo Road in Waratah. In the article he quotes from a letter from a reader, Greg Archbold, who says of John Penrose Christoe

“He arrived in Newcastle about 1869 to establish a smelting works at New Lambton where I believe (the old) Goninans is now located. “

This location is indeed correct, although the various suburbs and names mentioned in connection with the smelter makes things a little confusing.  The smelter was the English and Australian Copper Smelting Company, which operated until about 1917.

Photograph of Waratah copper smelter by Ralph Snowball, 1906. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The location of the smelter is now in the modern suburb of Broadmeadow, but at the time the smelter was built, Broadmeadow wasn’t a suburb or town – it was a swamp. So the smelter was variously described as being “within a mile of New Lambton” or “near Waratah”, those being the closest townships.  The association of the smelter with New Lambton was reinforced by the fact that the land the smelter was built on was the leasehold property of Messrs. J. and A. Brown, who owned the New Lambton colliery, and who had an exclusive agreement to supply coal to the smelter. For this reason the works were often referred to as “The New Lambton Copper Smelting Works”.

Corporal Barrett’s 1910 map of Newcastle shows the location of the smelter, and also shows that Christo Road was originally called Newtown Road. (Newtown was the original name for Hamilton North.)

1910 Barrett map overlaid on Google Earth, showing the location of the copper smelter near Waratah.

A 1906 real estate poster shows Christo Road mis-spelled as both “Christie Road” and “Christie St”.

1906 map showing Christo Road as “Christie Road”. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Real estate advertising that doesn’t align with reality is nothing new. The 1906 poster above shows the promise of neatly laid out roads and residential blocks in the Waratah West region near Christo, Creer and Morpeth roads.  However a 1944 aerial photograph of the area I recently obtained from Newcastle Library, shows that 38 years later, there was only Christo Rd and a tiny smattering of houses in the area.

Christo Road Waratah West in September 1944. Newcastle Region Library, Local Studies.

Christo Road Waratah West, 2016.

Update, November 2018

Chris Weeks suggested that the smelter smoke stack can be seen in a 1906 photo from the obelisk.

Smelter smoke stack as seen from Newcastle Obelisk, 1906. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

This is confirmed by drawing a line in Google Earth from the obelisk to the peak of the North Lambton hill (seen in the upper left corner of the photo portion above) and noting that the smelter stack is slightly to the right.


Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
6 Nov 1869"The English and Australian Copper Company, who carry on extensive smelting works in South Australia, are about to establish similar works within a mile of New Lambton.
12 Feb 1870Construction of the English and Australian copper smelting works at Broadmeadow has been in progress for three months, and smelting "will be commenced in about two months." (This was a wildly optimistic estimate, as smelting eventually commenced in June 1872, more than two years later.)
The manager is "Mr. Christoe, a gentleman of great experience in copper-smelting."
15 Sep 1870The weather has significantly delayed the opening of the smelter.
"For upwards of two months there was such an accumulation of water at the establishment as to defy the possibility of the works being proceeded with, and thus the company were unexpectedly debarred from carrying out their design in the contemplated time as regards the inauguration of the process of smelting."

The manager of the smelter is Mr. Christoe.
15 Jul 1871Advertisement for a General Manager for the New Lambton Smelting works.
9 Sep 1871250 tons of copper ore have arrived in Newcastle Harbour destined for the New Lambton Copper-smelting Works so "now there is a reasonable hope that this fine and valuable property created here at a great expense, will very shortly become utilised."
6 Feb 1872Mr Christoe supervising operations at the Burwood Copper Smelter, Glenrock lagoon.
18 May 1872Copper ore has been received, but smelting has not yet begun.
18 Jun 1872Lighting the first fires in two of the coppersmelting furnaces of the English and Australian Copper Smelting Company's works near Waratah.
19 Oct 1872"There appears to be an anomaly existing between our copper- smelting establishments, which time only can set at rest ; for while at this establishment five furnaces are idle for want of ore, at the Hunter River Works, five furnaces are idle here from the want of men acquainted with smelting operations to work them."
2 Oct 1917Smelting of ore has ceased.
"The business of the company during the past year had to be conducted under conditions of great risk and anxiety, which finally forced the board reluctantly to instruct the manager in Australia to cease making purchases of ore, to smelt out all copper available, and to close the smelting works, a process that has been carried through."
6 Nov 1919"The long connection of the English and Australian Copper Company, Limited, with the Newcastle district has been finally severed through its having recently sold the land that was the site of the works, known as the Waratah works."
8 May 1920"The chimney stack of the old copper works, which was felled some time ago, gave about 150,000 bricks."

Drain Plane Again

A couple of years ago I posted an article and some photos of a Douglas C47 transport aircraft that ended up in the storm water drain beside the Broadmeadow aerodrome during World War 2.

Last year I was examining an old black and white aerial photograph of the Broadmeadow area, and spotted something interesting …

… could that be the crashed C47 in the drain?

The aerial photograph has an information panel along the bottom, and in the  white shape next to “RUN 5” there is some very faint writing.

The writing is too faint to decipher with any certainty in this “RUN 5”  photograph, but in a similar photograph from “RUN 7” the date of the photograph is clearly 3rd September 1944.

This is just three weeks after the 10th August 1944 crash of the aircraft, and confirms that it is indeed the C47 plane we can see in the aerial photograph.

Photograph of the crashed Douglas C47 transport plane, from the Newcastle Morning Herald, 12/8/1944. New Lambton can be seen in the background.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
11 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
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.
12 Aug 1944
10 Aug 1944
Photo. The Douglas C47 transport plane in the stormwater channel at District Park aerodrome, Broadmeadow, where it landed in bad weather on Thursday.