Homecoming

My latest article for The Local has been published, this month on the the homecoming to Lambton in 1902 of Lieutenant Albert McEwan from the Boer War.

At first glance this Ralph Snowball photograph appears to be a plain snapshot of Elder Street in Lambton, and the University Flickr site has the photo simply captioned as “E. Bell, Bootmaker”. But a little digging into the background of this photograph revealed an intriguing family history of immigration, tragedy and war, that spanned three continents and several decades.

14 April 1902 – A decorated Elder St in readiness for the torchlight parade to honour Lieutenant McEwan later that evening. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Albert Henry McEwan

It was reported as “the largest demonstration that had ever been held at Lambton” with the crowd numbered “upwards of 2000.” The occasion was the return to Lambton of Lieutenant Albert Henry McEwan from the South African Boer War.

Albert was born in Lambton around 1877 where his father John worked as a miner. In the 1890s a downturn in the coal trade induced many to leave the area and seek work elsewhere. In October 1895, John along with his eldest son Albert, still a teenager, headed to the booming gold fields of South Africa. Both father and son quickly found employment in the “Simmer and Jack” mine at Johannesburg.

Within a year John was tragically killed in a mining accident. Albert stayed on and rose to a responsible position in the mine. When war broke out in 1899 between the British and the Boers, he joined the Imperial Light Horse and was soon engaged in a number of battles. Describing these in letters home to Lambton, he wrote with patriotic bravado but also noted “the appalling sights of a battlefield are simply terrible”. In 1901 Albert was shot in the leg. He was treated in South Africa, before being taken to Netley hospital in England where his leg was amputated.

Albert returned to Australia and arrived back in Lambton in the afternoon of 14 April 1902. At 7pm a torchlight procession marched down a gaily-decorated Elder St to Bell’s Hall at the corner Morehead St. “At every corner the returned soldier was greeted with loud cheers.” He made an appearance on the balcony and addressed the crowd in the street below, before being entertained at a banquet in his honour.

Ralph Snowball’s photograph from this day is not only a snapshot of the streetscape of Lambton in 1902, but also an indication of the colonial fervour for the British Empire that would propel many more Lambton boys to the fields of the Great War in Europe 12 years later.

14 April 1902 – A decorated Elder St in readiness for the torchlight parade to honour Lieutenant McEwan later that evening. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.


The article above was first published in the August 2018 edition of The Local.

Additional Information

Mine work in South Africa

In the newspaper article on 14 February 1902 reporting his wounding, it is noted that Albert McEwan was …

“a native of Lambton, and the eldest son of the late John McEwan, and went to South Africa about six years ago. When war was declared he held a responsible position as first amalgamator for one of the largest mines in the Rand.”

A 1918 US Government publication describes the the job of an amalgamator …

The amalgamator at gold mines prepares amalgamation plates to receive the gold-bearing pulp from stamps. He regulates the flow of water and ore, and at regular intervals collects the mercury-gold amalgam from the mortar, sluices, and plates.

Military service

The National Archives( London, England), has scanned the nominal rolls for the Imperial Light Horse Brigade, which contains an entry for Albert Henry McEwan.

The entry shows …

  • Regimental No: 319
  • Name: McEwan, Albert Henry
  • Regiment: 1st
  • Rank: Cpl (Corporal)
  • Place attested, date: PMB (Pietermaritzbug), 25/09/1899
  • Discharged: Supernumerary awarded pension

His enlistment date of 25 September 1899 was some two weeks before the Boer Republics declared war on 11 October 1899.

A search for “A McEwan” on the Anglo Boer War website shows that the South African Field Force Casualty Roll recorded Corporal McEwan as “Severely wounded. Naauwpoort, 5 January 1901″

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
30 Oct 1895
28 Oct 1895
"On Monday night a large crowd of residents gathered at the tram stopping place to witness the departure of Messrs. Jos. W. Oldham and John McEwan and son for Johannesberg, South Africa."
"Other well known residents … also leave their homes this week for Western Australia, slackness of work resulting in this step."
3 Dec 1896
19 Oct 1896
"A communication was received yesterday from Mr. Joseph Oldham, of Simmer and Jack (South Africa), conveying the sad news that his friend and brother-in-law, Mr. John McEwan, had died on the 19th of October from the effects of an accident in one of the mines. It appears that the deceased was with two other men, engaged in timbering a shaft, and that in endeavouring to cross the shaft he slipped from a plank they had for a stage, and fell a distance of 60ft."
13 Dec 1899"Trooper Albert McEwan, of the Imperial Light Horse, now in active service at the front in Natal" writes to his mother at Lambton.
" … you see I can call myself a thorough soldier, having fought against the Dutch in two battles — Elands Laage and Umgaani."
"The appalling sights of a battle field are simply terrible. You read about such affairs in books, but seeing such sights is fearful."
28 May 1900Letter from Trooper Albert H. McEwan, of the Imperial Light Horse to his brother William in Lambton.
14 Feb 1901
5 Jan 1901
"Mrs. McEwan, of Lambton, has received word from Major Rodgers, the officer commanding the Imperial Light Horse depot, Johannesburg, that her son, Sergeant A. H. McEwan, had been dangerously wounded at Fredrickstand, in a severe engagement with a Boer commando under De La Rey."
15 Feb 1902
14 Apr 1902
Celebrations marking the return of Lietenant Albert McEwan to Lambton after serving in the Boer War.
15 Apr 1902
14 Apr 1902
The Daily Telegraph in Sydney reported that "Lieutenant A. H. McEwan returned to his home at Lambton yesterday, after an absence of many years, and was accorded an enthusiastic, reception both at Newcastle and in his native suburb."
5 Apr 1941
22 Mar 1941
Death of Albert Henry McEwan in Adelaide, aged 64.

Peacock’s Corner

These days ownership of property can change regularly, but in Lambton’s early days it was not uncommon for properties to be owned by the same person or family for decades. Sometimes localities within a suburb became known, not by street names, but by property owner names. One such case is “Peacock’s Corner”, with a number of newspaper articles in the 1870s referring to this location where John Peacock dwelt.

John Peacock was a miner, who was living in Lambton from at least 1869.  From various newspaper reports we know that his house was built on the Commonage (Newcastle Pasturage Reserve), between Dickson and Young Roads.

Peacock’s dwelling was located on portion 810 of the Commonage, adjacent to the courthouse. In 1890 the land court refused his application to purchase of this portion, instead granting him the right to purchase portion 759 on the opposite side of Young Rd.

In an 1873 sale advertisement, Peacock’s house is described as brick built dwelling containing six rooms, one half of which was let at 4s. per week. It seems that no sale eventuated, and Peacock remained in the house. In 1877 a new Courthouse was built on land adjacent to his dwelling, and there was some contention as to whether he would need to be removed from the site. In 1880 at the instigation of the Bench of Magistrates, the Lands Department wrote to John Peacock ordering him to remove from the site within six months.

“It appearing from the report of Mr. District Surveyor Evans that you have erected improvements upon portions of No. 13, and part of 14, of section 1, within the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, I am directed to inform you that you are in illegal occupation of the land and that it will be necessary for you to remove within six months from this date whatever improvements you may have erected thereon, as it forms part of the area recently approved of as an addition to the Court House site at Lambton.”

Section 1 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, between Young St and Dickson St.

Ninian Melville M.L.A. the local member for Northumberland intervened, making representations to the Lands Department, and John Peacock was allowed to remain on the site. In 1887 Peacock once again advertised the sale of his house. At this time it was described as a 13 room family residence with nearly a quarter acre of land. However, given the legal uncertainties of ownership of property on the Commonage, it appears that no sale eventuated.

Just two years later John Peacock’s situation was dire. The Lambton Miners’ committee heard that …

“the old gentleman was suffering from want of food. Peacock had got work at Lambton to fill small coal, but his health failed him. On being visited by the officers they found that it was a very distressing case. Mr. N Elliott, the butcher, provided him with meat, but he had not bread in the house.”

The Miners’ Committee organised a charity raffle to assist Peacock, and they reported in June 1889 that they had “secured £10 6s for the old gentleman by the raffle.”

The following year, in 1890, the Government finally resolved the question of property ownership on the Commonage.  The Government allowed people who had built upon or made improvements to land on the Commonage, to make application to purchase and obtain legal title to the land. On 30 July 1890, on the 13th sitting day of the Land Court deliberating on these applications, it was noted that …

“The application of John Peacock, for portion 810, was refused, as the land was required in the public interest; but the board found that the applicant was entitled to come under the provisions of the Act, and they accordingly recommended that he should be allowed to select some other portion.”

The Government Gazette of 30 December 1890 shows that Peacock was successful in applying for portion 759 (on the opposite side of Young Rd), with an area of 21 and half perches (about one eighth of an acre), for a purchase price of £35 8s.

Whether he ever obtained portion 759 or made use of it is unclear, as John Peacock passed away just 18 months later in June 1892, and his house and meagre remaining possessions were put up for public auction on 15 July 1892. By September 1892 the house had been pulled down and removed from the Police Reserve on portion 810.

“Peacock’s Corner” in 2018 – the area bounded by Newcastle Rd, Lloyd Rd, and Dickson St Lambton.

 

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
16 Jan 1869"John Peacock, of Lambton, appeared, on summons, to answer the complaint of Edward Keepe, for assaulting and beating him, on the 9th instant."
17 Oct 1871Lambton Council recommends that the surveyor "be instructed to continue the line of main road from Dark Creek along the line of Mr. D. Jones's property and the Lambton and Waratah Coal Company's property, through Young-street to near the back of Mr. John Peacock's dwelling, forming the junction with the lower and upper crossing. "
30 Dec 1871"One of the miners working at the Waratah new tunnels, an old man named John Peacock, was rather badly hurt by a fall of coal hitting him on Friday last, lacerating his back and right leg, and otherwise shaking him; however, no bones were broken; and under the skilful treatment of Dr. Hill and his assistant, it is hoped he will rapidly mend."
27 Jan 1872A public meeting held in Lambton "near John Peacock's dwelling" for the purpose of nominating aldermen.
7 Sep 1872
4 Sep 1872
"In pursuance of an advertisement in the local papers, a well attended public meeting was held on Wednesday night last, in the open-air, near Mr. John Peacock's dwelling, on the Commonage, between Waratah and Lambton. "
"The proceedings were orderly and well conducted, with the exception that a few, urchins of pit boys created some annoyance by throwing stones and half bricks upon the zinc roof of Mr. Peacock's dwelling, making a great noise as they rolled down."
13 Mar 1873
9 Mar 1873
A motion in Lambton Council "that Dixon-street be stumped, cleared, guttered and formed, and made passable from Morehead-street midway between Mr. Peacock's and Jefferson's."
29 Mar 1873
25 Mar 1873
In a Lambton Council meeting, reference is made to proposed "improvements in the track at the east end of Dixon street to beyond Peacock's dwelling".
24 May 1873"THE undersigned being about to leave the neighbourhood, offers FOR SALE the Brick built DWELLING, on the Pasturage Reserve, known as Peacock's, containing six rooms, one half of which is now let at 4s. per week. The property is centrally situated, and near the thriving town of Lambton. Apply to JOHN PEACOCK, Lambton Commonage."
18 Apr 1874The original route for the main road is described: "This road was to pass the Assembly Rooms, Wallssend, by the saw-mills, Dark Creek, and Broom's Hotel, leaving Peacock's corner on the right, and go straight across the neutral ground, to the termination of the Hamilton branch of the Newcastle road, near Cameron's."
2 May 1874At a public meeting discussing the proposed main road, Mr Morgan says that "The new road would not hurt the old one, and would pass near Peacock's corner."
6 May 1874Thomas Croudace describes the proposed nothern route of the main road from Newcastle to Wallsend as going "across the New Lambton and Lambton railways, between the old Dog and Rat Pit, and New Lambton Smelting Works, to the ridge whereon old Peacock lives."
5 Dec 1874
30 Nov 1874
"A meeting of persons favourable to the re-election of Mr. Hannell as member for the county, was held at Peacock's corner, on the Commonage."
25 Feb 1875"Court-house and Lockup. — The new building is to occupy a site near Peacock's corner, and facing one of the cross streets."
22 Jan 1877"The new court house and lock up is to be erected on the Commonage, near to Peacock's place, facing to the East. I am in formed that the whole of the land in front, between the two roads, is to be reserved, and planted with shrubery, &c. If this is so, it will cause the removal of the extensive buildings erected by John Peacock, which will be a serious matter to him."
10 Feb 1877"TO SELL, OR LET BY TENDER. A FOURTEEN-ROOMED BRICK HOUSE. The above premises is situated on the Commonage, adjoining the New Court-house ground, Lambton. A RARE CHANCE for a Family Hotel, or General Store. For further information, apply to JOHN PEACOCK, On the Premises."
27 Jul 1878In describing the area of the proposed Lambton recreation ground (now Lambton Park), the north-east corner is described as being at "the extension of Elder-street on the north, and the Main Road running from the railway crossing to Peacock's corner on the east." The railway crossing was where Lambton Road crossed the Waratah Coal Company's railway, and was known as "Betty Bunn's Crossing."
25 Dec 1880
30 Sep 1880
Letter from the Lands department gives John Peacock 6 months to remove his buildings from the commonage. "It appearing from the report of Mr. District Surveyor Evans that you have erected improvements upon portions of No. 13, and part of 14, of section 1, within the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, I am directed to inform you that you are in illegal occupation of the land and that it will be necessary for you to remove within six months from this date whatever improvements you may have erected thereon, as it forms part of the area recently approved of as an addition to the Court House site at Lambton."
3 Feb 1881Mr J. McWilliams, a candidate for council elections, "contended that John Peacock's house was no detriment to the Court House."
20 Jun 1881"Personal. IF this should meet the eye of JANE PEACOCK, my daughter (last heard of in Ballarat, Victoria), or of CHRISTINA PATERSON, they are requested to write to me. JOHN PEACOCK, Commonage, Lambton."
10 Mar 1885Mr. N. MELVIILLE M.L.A. "referred to the attempt that had been made to remove his very good friend Mr. John Peacock off the Commonage and which he had prevented at a cost to the country of some twenty three shillings for telegrams (Laughter)."
21 Mar 1885Thomas Griffiths arrested for being drunk and disrorderly and "shortly after placed on garrison duty in the fortress near Peacock's corner." This is a semi-humorous reference to being placed in the police lock-up behind the Lambton courthouse.
25 Jan 1887John Peacock considers running for Lambton Council, but in the end doesn't nominate.
26 Feb 1887FOR SALE: "FAMILY RESIDENCE, With nearly a quarter acre of Land, known as Peacock's Property, situated in Dixon and Young streets, Lambton, close to the Court-house, containing 13 Rooms, Outhouses, Stables, &c., with a never-failing supply of water. The property is suitable for an Hotel or Boarding-house, and plenty of room to build two or three houses more."
27 Mar 1889
25 Mar 1889
The Lambton Miners' Committee has their attention drawn to John Peacock's state… "and that it was reported that the old gentleman was suffering from want of food. Peacock had got work at Lambton to fill small coal, but his health failed him. On being visited by the officers they found that it was a very distressing case. Mr. N Elliott, the butcher, provided him with meat, but he had not bread in the house."
3 Jun 1889
29 May 1889
The Lambton Miners' committee "recommends the lodge to pay all expenses in connection with John Peacock's raffle which amounts to 13s 6d." The chairman stated that the committee secured £10 6s for the old gentleman by the raffle."
31 Jul 1890In the sitting of the land court to determine the granting of land on the Commonage: "The application of John Peacock, for portion 810, was refused, as the land was required in the public interest; but the board found that the applicant was entitled to come under the provisions of the Act, and they accordingly recommended that he should be allowed to select some other portion."
30 Dec 1890Government Gazette shows that portion 759 of the Commonage, with an area of 21 and half perches, has been granted to John Peacock, for a purchase price of £35 8s.
6 Jun 1892The funeral of "JOHN PEACOCK: To move from his late residence, near the Courthouse, Lambton, THIS (Monday) AFTERNOON, at 3 o'clock, for Wallsend Cemetery."
21 Jun 1892
20 Jun 1892
After a fire destroys the home of Mrs. Webster, on Young Rd at the rear of the courthouse, Sergeant Salter "very kindly provided shelter and bedding for the unfortunate family in the vacant house of the late John Peacock, on the police reserve."
15 Jul 1892Public auction of the estate of John Peacock. In addtion to furniture, the auction included ...
"BRICK TENEMENT, with Iron Roofing, and quantity of loose Bricks, situate at Lambton, near Courthouse; same to be removed off land at Sale."
15 Sep 1892In a Lambton Council meeting "Alderman CONN called attention to a dangerous underground tank on the Police Court Reserve, left after the late J. Peacock's house was pulled down."

Dog and Rat

The origin of the name may be uncertain and the precise location unknown, but the “Dog and Rat” pit was once a celebrated colliery of the East Lambton area. In 1862 James and Alexander Brown obtained a 280 acre mining lease south of Waratah, and in 1866 opened the unremarkably named A Pit and B Pit. By 1871 however, the southern pit was known as the “Old Dog and Rat”.

There have been several explanations offered for the name, that it is rhyming slang for “Griffiths’ Flat” or because miners took their dogs underground to hunt rats. The likely explanation is that it derives from the sport of rat coursing. The earliest report on the origin of the name notes that “although the area was a dense bush, with swampy ground on either side, quite a number of men could obtain a day’s sport with their dogs hunting the rats.” The name of the pit also attached to the road leading to it. What is now Young Rd was previously known as Dog and Rat Rd.

The pit ceased operation in 1884, although there were a few later attempts to extract remnant coal. It is last mentioned in the Department of Mines annual report of 1893, where “David Hughes gave notice that he had ceased all work at the Old Dog and Rat, and filled up all shafts.” The colliery was gone, but the name hung around. In 1925 the East Lambton Progress Association wrote to the Council requesting that the name “Dog and Rat” be discouraged. The Mayor responded that as it was not an official name, there was nothing to be altered.

Where was the pit? Three pieces of information give us a clue. An 1871 report indicates that it was within the Lambton Municipality, which places it north of Womboin Rd. An 1874 report states that it was south of Young Rd. Finally, the western boundary of the Brown’s lease means it was located somewhere in the triangular area below.

The Dog and Rat pit was located somewhere in this triangular area of East Lambton. Google Earth.

Ralph Snowball’s studio at 19 Clarence Rd, New Lambton. The colliery headframe barely visible on the horizon is probably the Dog and Rat pit. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.


The article above was first published in the May 2018 edition of the Lambton & New Lambton Local.

Location of the pit

Three pieces of information constrain the location of the “Old Dog and Rat” pit to within a triangular area of East Lambton.

1. Womboin Road

A public meeting was held in Lambton on 14 July 1871

“for the purpose of bringing forward from amongst them the most fit and proper persons to be nominated as candidates for the office of aldermen in their newly-appointed municipality.”

The electoral status of one of the participants in the meeting was questioned when …

“Mr. Hindmarsh objected to Mr. Hardy asking any questions, he not being an elector. Mr. Hardy said that he resided within the proclaimed boundary, viz , at the Old Dog and Rat Pit, of the Messrs. Brown, inside of the Lambton railway. The Chairman ruled that he (Mr. Hardy) was an elector.”

A map from a 1906 real estate poster shows that the municipal boundary ran along the Lambton colliery railway adjacent to present day Womboin Rd. Also the phrase “inside of the Lambton railway” suggests that the Dog and Rat pit was to the north of the curved section of rail line.

Portion of 1906 real estate poster, showing boundary of Lambton Municipal Council. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

2. Young Road

In the 1870s when there was a push to get a main road built from Newcastle to Wallsend, there was much dispute about the route that it should take. There were two competing proposals – a southern route that passed through New Lambton (Lambton Rd) and a more direct northern route that follows the line of Young Rd.  On 6 May 1874 Thomas Croudace, an advocate for the southern route, wrote a letter to the editor comparing and contrasting the two proposals. Compare his description of the northern road with the annotated map below.

“The route upon leaving Hamilton1 proceeds north-westerly over the BroadMeadow Swamp2, across the New Lambton3 and Lambton railways4, between the old Dog and Rat Pit5, and New Lambton Smelting Works6, to the ridge whereon old Peacock lives7, and thence to the dividing line of Lambton and Grovestown townships.”

Thomas Croudace’s description of the proposed northern route of the main road.

The “New Lambton Smelting Works” was located in present day Broadmeadow, so therefore the Dog and Rat Pit must have been to the south of Young Rd.

3. Brown’s mineral lease

An 1873 map of Waratah Coal Company leases, shows the 280 acre lease of J and A Brown.

Waratah Coal Company blocks, 1873. National Library of Australia. MAP F 82.

When overlaid into Google Earth, this establishes the western boundary of possible locations for the Dog and Rat Pit.

J and A Brown’s 280 acre lease.

The Snowball photo

The undated Ralph Snowball photo is of his house and studio at 19 Clarence Rd New Lambton, looking towards the north east. On the horizon, a colliery head frame (1) can be seen between two identifiable features – the Waratah Benevolent Asylum (2) on the left, and the chimney of the New Lambton Copper Smelting Works (3) on the right.

Replicating those angles as lines in Google Earth, we see that the middle line passes directly over the triangular area in East Lambton where we know the Dog and Rat pit was located. So although we can’t know with 100% certainty, it is highly probable that the colliery head frame in the photo is that of the old Dog and Rat pit.

Annual Mining Reports

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Resources and Geoscience section, has an online archive of historical mining documents in their Digital Imagin Geological System (DIGS) . A number of the annual reports in the archive include references to the Dog and Rat pit.

Year Notes
1879 Dog’s Rat.-Two miners getting house coal on their own account on the New Lambton Estate. No cause of complaint.
1882 Dog and Rat, Waratah Commonage.  August 11.-Messrs. D. Hughes, B. Tonks, and J. Ruttley, of Waratah, gave notice of having sunk a shaft to mine for coal on what is known as the Dog and Rat Estate, leased by Messrs. J. & A. Brown, Waratah Commonage.
1883 Page 129. Dog and Rat pit – 3 men above ground, 19 underground. Tonnage included with New Lambton and New Duckenfield.
1884 Page 127. Dog and Rat pit – 3 men above ground, 10 underground. Tonnage included with New Lambton and New Duckenfield.

Page 140. Dog and Rat. -There are about ten men employed in this mine. The ventilation is good throughout and the requirements of the Act complied with in every other respect.

1885 New Lambton, Dog and Rat, New Duckenfield mines listed together – 178 men employed.
1886 New Lambton and New Duckenfield mines listed together – Dog and Rat has disappeared from the list.
1890 Page 189. On March 29th, Mr. Ruttley notified that he had sunk a shaft at the old Dog and Rat Colliery, and intended to drive in the coal.

Page 189. On September 19th, William Metcalfe and H. L. Price notified that they had commenced mining operations on a portion of the New Lambton estate, near to the Dog and Rat. The pit is known by the name of the Enterprise.

1892 Page 95. Dog and Rat Colliery (North Lambton).-This mine has been commenced during the six months.  There are 4 men, &c., employed, and the Act complied with.
1893 Page 87. Old Dog and Rat Colliery. David Hughes notified, on 17th April, his intention of opening out a portion of the Old Dog and Rat Colliery, on the east side of Lambton line.

Page 88. On 8th August David Hughes gave notice that he had ceased all work at the Old Dog and Rat, and filled up all shafts.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
18 Jul 1871
15 Jul 1871
In a public meeting to call for the nomination of candidates for the newly proclaimed Lambton Municipality, the location of the Dog and Rat pit is clearly identified as being inside the Lambton municipal boundaries.
"Mr. Hindmarsh objected to Mr. Hardy asking any questions, he not being an elector. Mr. Hardy said that he resided within the proclaimed boundary, viz , at the Old Dog and Rat Pit, of the Messrs. Brown, inside of the Lambton railway."
6 May 1874Thomas Croudace, in a letter to the newspaper advocating the southern (New Lambton) route for the main road, describes the proposed northern route as follows - "the route upon leaving Hamilton proceeds north-westerly over the BroadMeadow Swamp, across the New Lambton and Lambton railways, between the old Dog and Rat Pit, and New Lambton Smelting Works, to the ridge whereon old Peacock lives.
18 Sep 1875
14 Sep 1875
A report of an accident and injury to John McCormack on the New Lambton Railway "near the Old Dog and Rat Tunnel".
2 Jul 1881Advertisement for rat coursing to be held at Bunn's Northumberland Hotel, Lambton.
14 Apr 1885First mention of 'Dog and Rat Rd'.
"The late rains have not improved the condition of our roads. The one known as the Dog and Rat-road is much in need of repair. There is a large amount of traffic upon it, and the council would greatly benefit owners of vehicles by expending a few pounds in repairs."
7 Dec 1889In an article on the collieries of the Newcastle district, while describing the New Lambton Pit it is noted that "the Brothers Brown obtained from the Government a mineral lease of some 300 acres in a block, which lies to the north of the present estate. It was there that the famous A, or "Dog and Rat," pit was sunk."
(The exact lease area was 280 acres.)
15 Aug 1891First mention of Young Rd, Lambton, in the newspapers.
2 Jul 1892
1 Jul 1892
At a municipal conference, the road between Hamilton and Broadmeadow is referred to as "what is now known as Young-road, but was formerly known as the 'Dog and Rat road' ".
13 Jul 1899
12 Jul 1899
Last mention of Dog and Rat road in the newspapers, where Mr. E. Bowling presented a petition to Hamilton Council "signed by about 100 people in the district, urging upon the Government to resume and form the old Dog and Rat pit road."
18 Apr 1912
16 Apr 1912
Lambton Council moves that "that Young-road east be repaired with material from the old pit heap at Dog and Rat."
21 Aug 1914Last contemporaneous mention of 'Dog and Rat' in the newspaper, in a letter to the editor about the proposed gas lighting of Lambton streets.
24 Jun 1925
23 Jun 1925
Lambton Council meeting. "Correspondence was received from the president, East Lambton Progress Association, stating that the members of the association desired the use of such names as "Dog and Rat" and "Griffith's Flat" be discouraged. They wished to have that portion of the municipality east of Karoola, Lloyd, and Waratah roads designated East Lambton, and recognised by the postal and other authorities. The Mayor stated that neither of these names appeared in the council's plans, consequently the council had nothing to alter."
24 Jun 1925"WHAT'S IN A NAME ?
Lambton 'Dog and Rat'
Many years ago when rat-coursing was popular in this district, the 'sport' was extensively carried on in what is now known to some as East Lambton. The place became designated as 'the dog and rat,' and is still so referred to by many."
25 Jun 1925"Old residents claim that the title 'Dog and Rat' originated from an old coal mine, which was situated alongside the old New Lambton railway line, which, at that time ran through what is now the New Lambton Park, and outside the boundary of the municipality of Lambton. The mine, both underground and on top, was infested with rats, and although the area was a dense bush, with swampy ground on either side, quite a number of men could obtain a day's sport with their dogs hunting the rats."
14 Sep 1938"Many years ago, Mrs. Pritchard said, rats were taken to Lambton in crates and liberated on the flat. Greyhound dogs owned by the miners chased and caught the rodents. Hundreds of men gathered from every part of the then known mining district because "ratting" was considered an exciting sport and was sometimes held twice a week. It was not known where the rats came from; but the locality where the sport was conducted was known for many years as 'Dog and Rat'."
8 Aug 1945" 'Dog and Rat' was the first pit in which Mr Gibbs worked. The odd name came from the miners' practice of taking their fox terrier to work to hunt the rats in the mine. The part of East Lambton in which the mine was situated still gets the sobriquet."
6 Mar 1953"One learned opinion why this place got the Dog and Rat title is that it was known as Griffiths Flat and the boys who played there shortened it to The Flat and then turned it into rhyming slang. This view is overborne by the opinion of many old residents that it was a place where there were coursing meetings, the 'hares' being rats."