Tudor St, Then and Now

While browsing the University of Newcastle’s collection of Ralph Snowball photos, I came across a picture of construction work, with the inscription of “Hamilton Park – 13.10.1911”. It wasn’t immediately clear from the photo what work was being done, but after some searching of Trove I established that it was the construction of sewer mains in the streets of Hamilton. A newspaper article from 3rd August 1911 reports

“Out at Hamilton West the main sewer is being put down at a depth of 16ft. The ground there is a sort of bluish clay, and although it has to be cut out like so much putty, it does not present anything like the same trouble that the sand at the eastern end of the municipality does. Here, as in Denison street, centrifugal pumps, electrically driven, deal with the water, and the current is supplied from the city council’s power-house.

There are 130 men at work in Hamilton East and 61 in Hamilton West. About half of these were coal-miners, and they are doing very well at the new class of work.”

Construction of sewer main, Tudor St Hamilton, 13th October 1911. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Tudor St Hamilton. January 2018.

The approximate location of the 1911 photo can be established by taking note of the distinctive fa├žade of the building at 5 Belford St Hamilton. From this it would appear that the photo is taken in Tudor St, somewhere between Blackall St and Samdon St, looking towards the east.

The 1911 photo is inscribed with “Hamilton Park”, which was the name of a new subdivision of building allotments to the west of Hamilton Park, now Gregson Park.

Hamilton Park Estate sale poster. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Hamilton Mechanics’ Institute

A few months ago when I was doing research for my article on the Lambton Mechanics’ Institute, I came across this old photo of the Hamilton Mechanics’ Institute.

Hamilton Mechanics' Institute, 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Hamilton Mechanics’ Institute, Tudor and Milton Streets, 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

On driving down Tudor St I was somewhat saddened to find that this marvellous building was almost unrecognisable in its current drab utilitarian state, with the beautiful verandahs gone, and the symmetry of the building mutilated by uninspired additions. I wished that someone would restore it to its former glory.

The former Hamilton Mechanics' Institute transformed into drabness. Image from Google StreetView.Then last week as I was driving down Tudor St I noticed some scaffolding up around the building, and wondered what was happening. My question was answered in the Newcastle Herald yesterday where I was very excited to learn that local firm DJB Developments are renovating the buildings there into a 33 apartment complex. This looks fantastic, with the Mechanics Institute building restored to its former symmetry and beauty, and with a clear separation of old and new. I sincerely hope that the restoration turns out to be as good as it looks in the plans.

atriumThe DJB Developments website has a little bit about the history of the old building, and the architect Frederick Menkens, which is worth a read. It turns out there is a slight connection with Lambton, in that the electrical contractor Harry Hyde Kingsbury who sued Menkens in1895 and caused him to be sent to jail for 12 months, was the contractor who installed the electric lighting plant in Lambton in 1890.

Hamilton Council

Ruth Cotton, in her Hidden Hamilton blog has a good summary of the history of Hamilton Council.

Hamilton Council was incorporated on 11th December 1871. The first meeting of the council was held on 13th February 1871, in the building known as the Mechanics’ Institute. Over the years Hamilton had a number of municipal council buildings.

Hamilton Council Chambers 1880. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Hamilton Council Chambers 1880. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In the photo below from the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections, the building has two different dates

  • “Municipal Chambers – 1880”
  • “Enlarged – Prepared For Town Hall – 1892”
Hamilton Council Chambers. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Hamilton Council Chambers. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Hamilton Council Chambers. Newcastle Morning Herald, 21 May 1938.

The new building at the former location of the Hamilton Municipal Council building. March 2016.

The new building at the former location of the Hamilton Municipal Council building. A replica of the clock tower was incorporated into the new building. March 2016.

Questions yet to be answered

  • Where was the the┬áMechanic’s Institute building where the 17 Feb 1872 newspaper article says the first council meeting was held?
  • The photo of 70 James Street Hamilton (in the Hunter Photobank) is where early council meetings were held. Is this the same site as the current 70 James St? (Bearing in mind that renumbering of streets is not an uncommon event.)
  • Where exactly was the 1880 council chambers located?
  • Is the 1892 council chambers in the same spot? If so, why does it look so different from the 1880 chambers?

Then drain, again drain

Although I didn’t intend it when I set out, a bike ride with my son around town today ended up visiting various sites in Newcastle matching the old photos in my previous drain blog post. Here’s the “Then and Now” comparisons.

Broadmeadow drain

Drain construction workers at Broadmeadow, NSW, 6 April 1900

Drain construction workers at Broadmeadow, NSW, 6 April 1900

Broadmeadow drain, 5th February 2016.

Broadmeadow drain, 6th February 2016.

The stormwater drain at Hamilton North, March 2017.

Update, March 2017: With subsequent research I have found that the location of the 1900 Snowball photo was Hamilton North, not Broadmeadow.

 

The Premier Hotel

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Premier Hotel, 6th February 2016.

Premier Hotel, 6th February 2016.

View of the lowlands from Glebe Road

The Newcastle lowlands. 1897. Photo taken from intersection of Beaumont St and Glebe Rd looking north towards Hamilton. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

The Newcastle lowlands. 1897. Photo taken from intersection of Beaumont St and Glebe Rd looking north towards Hamilton. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

IMG_3852

Looking north from Glebe Rd towards Hamilton. 6th February 2016.

This modern view bears almost no resemblance to the 1897 photo, with the previously deserted lowlands now covered with trees, suburbia and industry. The only visible match (apart from Beaumont St sloping down the hill) is a spire of St Peter’s Anglican church in Denison St Hamilton.

St Peters Anglican Church Hamilton

St Peters Anglican Church Hamilton

St Peter's Anglican Church Hamilton.

St Peter’s Anglican Church Hamilton.

It seems that at some time the church has lost one of its spires.