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 Lambton to Hamilton road. 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.

Update, January 2019: In the originally published article I stated that the pit was located south of Young Rd. After more research, I am of the opinion that it was located just to the north of the present day Young Rd. See below for further details.

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 approximately followed 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 proposed northern route.

I originally believed that the northern route that Thomas Croudace described was identical to the line of present day Young Rd, but I no longer think so. A 1944 aerial photograph of the site shows not much evidence of a former pit head to the south of Young Rd, but reveals a more likely site to the north of Young Rd, near Norah Rd.

A 1944 aerial photograph of the site of the Dog and Rat Pit.

There is suggestive evidence that the proposed line of road described by Croudace in 1874 is not the exactly the same as Young Rd. In 1876, two years after the road had been gazetted in May 1874 it appears that there was still confusion about where the road would run. In a Lambton Council meeting on 22 Feb 1876 it was moved

“that a letter be sent to the District Surveyor, asking him to point out the line of road from the Lambton township to the Lambton Company’s railway crossing  … as there seemed to be some doubt as to where the road would cross.”

Also in 1893, Major Parrott’s map of the area shows the road crossing the Broadmeadow swamp from Lambton to Hamilton at a slightly different angle and just to the north of the present day Young Rd. (Note that on Parrott’s map, the dashed line marked as “Water Pipes” is the line the road eventually took.)

1893 Parrott map showing Lambton to Hamilton road.

Overlaying the Parrott map and the 1944 aerial photograph into Google Earth shows that the possible site of the Dog and Rat pit near the intersection of Young and Norah Rds is to the south of the road marked on Parrot’s map.

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 Imaging 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".
15 Jun 1876
13 Jun 1876
First mention of Dog and Rat Road in the newspapers. At a Lambton Council meeting - "Letter read from C. J. Stevens, Esq. M.L.A., informing the Council that at present he had no prospect of getting the £600 asked by the Council for the construction of the Dog and Rat Road."
2 Jul 1881Advertisement for rat coursing to be held at Bunn's Northumberland Hotel, Lambton.
14 Apr 1885Mention of 'Dog and Rat Road'.
"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."

Lambton Aldermen

Eighty years ago in March 1938, eleven suburban councils merged to form the City of Greater Newcastle council.  Lambton Council was incorporated on 26 June 1871, and a ballot to elect nine aldermen was held on 7 August 1871.  The first Council meeting was held the following day in the original Mechanics’ Institute building in Howe St, and Uriah Broom elected as the first Mayor.

Over the years Lambton Council had 99 different aldermen, and they were all men. For most of the life of the Council this was by law. Women were only allowed to nominate with the passing of the Local Government Act of 1919, but even then, no women ever stood for election in Lambton.

The Council’s biggest crisis was the failure of the electric light scheme. Switched on in 1890, by the end of the decade it had sent the Council bankrupt. As no one wanted to serve on a financially crippled body, by 1899 the Council effectively ceased, with insufficient aldermen to form a quorum at meetings. In the elections scheduled for February 1902, not a single person nominated. Due to a quirk in the rules of local government, the last man left sitting in the Mayoral chair, Matthew Thornton, retained his position, and for the next two years was the Mayor of a council with no aldermen, not even himself!

A total of 28 aldermen held the position of Mayor, and a number of streets in Lambton are named in their honour, including Johnson, Charlton, Dent, Croudace, Notley and Noble. Of particular note is J T Johnson, who was elected Mayor on eight occasions in his 24 years on Lambton Council. He was the final Mayor of Lambton, but his municipal honours did not end there. For J T Johnson was elected to the inaugural City of Greater Newcastle council in 1938. He remained as a representative of the Lambton area until 1950, clocking up a remarkable total of 37 years of aldermanic service.

Photo from Newcastle Morning Herald, 20 Feb 1943. The original caption reads “Two of the oldest pupils, Mr. M. Charlton and Ald. J. T. Johnson, inspect Lambton School. Now called “the barn,” the school’s condition has caused concern to the pupils’ parents.” (Ald Johnson is on the right.)

The final meeting of Lambton Council was held in the council chambers (corner of Lambton Park) on 29 March 1938.


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

Additional information

Much of the information in this article was sourced from material I have previously published on this website. See my articles on

Street names

In the article I mention six streets named after Mayors of Lambton. I have no documentary proof that they were named after the Mayor’s, but I believe it is a reasonable conclusion. I have omitted Hill St from the list as I have doubts that it was named after Dr J. J. Hill. In any case, Hill St was known by that name as early as 1872, while Dr Hill first became Mayor in 1877.

J T Johnson

Aldermen of the the Greater Newcastle Council after their first meeting on 28 Mar 1938. J T Johnson, the former Mayor of Lambton is on the extreme right in the back row. The Newcastle Sun, 18 Mar 1938.

J T Johnson, standing for re-election to Greater Newcastle Council in 1941.

In a newspaper article on 28 Nov 1941 reporting on candidates standing for re-election to Greater Newcastle Council, it is stated of Alderman J. T. Johnson that “he was for 28 years with Lambton Council and was Mayor 10 terms.” This is slightly erroneous. He was an alderman of Lambton Council for 25 years during the period 1911 to 1938, with a break of 3 years in 1920-22. He was elected Mayor on 8 occasions. Whether the rounding up to 10 was due to the candidate or the newspaper is unknown. Three years later in the election of 1944, Alderman Johnson’s municipal service to Lambton has been inflated even further, with a report stating that he had “30 years as an alderman of the council.” The correct figure is 25 years.

J T Johnson. Newcastle Morning Herald, 23 Feb 1950.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
16 Feb 1938"The Johnsons have had an almost unbroken association with Lambton Council for almost 60 years, Mr. H. Johnson was Town Clerk from 1879 to 1905, and a grandson, the present Mayor (Ald. T. Johnson), has been an alderman since 1909. Before that he was municipal auditor there."
18 Mar 1938
18 Mar 1938
Photographs from the first sitting of the newly elected 21 aldermen of the Greater Newcastle City Council
30 Mar 1938
29 Mar 1938
Final meeting of Lambton Council.
20 Feb 1943Two of Lambton's former aldermen, visit Lambton Public School. "Two of the oldest pupils, Mr. M. Charlton and Ald. J. T. Johnson, inspect Lambton School. Now called "the barn," the school's condition has caused concern to the pupils' parents."
17 Mar 1948Greater Newcastle Council rejects a move to rename nine district parks, including the proposed renaming of "Jesmond Park to Johnson Park, after Ald. J. T. Johnson for his long service in local government, first with Lambton Council and then with Greater Newcastle Council since its inception."
23 Feb 1950Ink caricature of Alderman J T Johnson.
9 May 1951"Messrs. H. Scott-Daisley and J. T. Johnson. former aldermen of Newcastle City Council, have been presented with the Local Government Association long-service certificate."

Welsh Congregational Church

In Minmi in 1864, after a period of torrential rain, a fissure opened beside Back Creek. The contents of the creek poured in, and the colliery below flooded. All the miners managed to escape, but the pit was closed for months afterwards.

Forced to look elsewhere for employment, a group of Welsh miners moved from Minmi to work the newly opened colliery in Lambton. The men belonged to the Welsh Congregational Church, under the leadership of Rev Evan Lewis. They soon erected a simple wood slab church on De Vitre St. The uncertainty of mining meant that most buildings in Lambton at that time were of a similar primitive and temporary character.

In 1868 however, the Welsh miners expressed a confidence in Lambton below, to match their assurance in God above. They decided that a new building, worthy of its great purpose, should be built of stone. They were granted permission to use a quarry on Newcastle Rd nearby, and the men bound themselves “one to another” in an oath, that they would erect a new building in Dickson St, by their own hands, free of charge.

At the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1918 it was remembered that “Some of the men quarried the stone, others wheeled it to the site, and many, after their shift ended at the pit for the day, put in several hours in building the edifice. One of the workers was Mr. J. Parry, who, though then a coalminer, had originally been a stonemason.”

Above the front porch, an engraving in Welsh reads “Bethel capel annibynol adeiladwyd, A.D. 1868” which translates to “Bethel Independent Chapel, built A.D. 1868” The building ceased to be used as a place of worship in 1977, when the Congregationalists merged with the Uniting Church.

Next year will be the 150th anniversary of the stone building, which stands today as an enduring legacy of the faith of those Welsh miners, even in troubled times past.

An undated photo by Ralph Snowball of the Welsh Congregational Church in Dickson St, Lambton. Newcastle Region Library, image 001 004276.

The church building at 43A Dickson St in 2017, now used as a hair and beauty studio.


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

Additional information

Acknowledgements

An important source of information for this article was pages 84-85 of “The Story of Lambton”, published by the Newcastle Family Historical Society. In particular, it has details of the binding oath that the men of the church made regarding the construction of the stone church. A handwritten account by Deacon Richard Thomas details the genesis of the oath, as the men considered the future while maintaining the property of the earlier wooden building.

“One day about seven of us were fencing this ground, it was a warm day and we were taking a spell in the shade of the building. One of the party said ‘to see whether we are in earnest or not let us prove it. I am prepared to give five pounds towards it and one pound each for my three sons.’ At once each of the party promised five pounds. That same day Mr David Williams said he knew of a quarry, not more than a hundred yards away, where there were plenty of stones, if we could get permission to open it. That was in Young Road (now a section of Newcastle Road) between Grainger and Hill Streets on the Waratah Coal Company’s ground. A deputation interviewed the Manager, asking permission to open the quarry. Permission was freely granted, and it was decided to have a stone structure. We decided that in order to save expense we would bind ourselves one to another and that we would quarry the stones and bring them to the place free of charge. We worked hard and remained true to each other, without a hitch. I need not mention that it was a big contract for about seven or eight men.”

Clarifications

When dealing with the history of churches in Lambton, it is important not to confuse churches with similar names. For instance the Welsh Baptist Church was different to the Welsh Congregational Church, even though the the minister of the Welsh Congregationalist Church, the Rev Evan Lewis often also preached at the Welsh Baptist Church. Also the Welsh Congregationalists were different to the English Congregationalists, although they later merged in 1904.

Date of Opening

One aspect of the story of the stone Congregational church in Lambton that is slightly frustrating, is pinning down the date of opening. “The Story of Lambton” p. 84 states that “the chapel was completed and opened for worship in June 1868.” However I cannot find any evidence for this date. I have found three newspaper articles in Trove that give a bit of a timeline …

  • 24 Jun 1868 – After noting that the Primitive Methodist are enlarging their building, the report notes that “the Congregationalists are about to make a similar movement, as their chapel is found to be not sufficiently commodious for the hearers.”
  • 12 Nov 1868 – “The erection of the Primitive Methodist and Welsh Chapels are being proceeded with, and the work has already made considerable progress.”
  • 25 Feb 1869 – “The new Welsh Church is on the eve of being completed, and will be opened for public worship ere long.”

Whereas most churches in that era, on the completion of their building held a formal opening service that was well reported in the newspaper, the Welsh Congregationalists don’t appear to have had a formal opening of their small but impressive stone building.

One thought I had in trying to pin down an opening date, was to look in Trove for reports of anniversary services in subsequent years. There were many such reports, but it turns out that the Welsh Congregationalists managed to hold anniversary services variously in the months of June, July, August, September, October, and November. To make matters even more confusing, an eighth anniversary was celebrated in 1877 implying an opening year of 1869, but a 76th anniversary was celebrated in 1944 implying an opening year of 1868.

The best sense I can make of all this is that the church construction took place mostly in 1868 (hence the stone inscription on the front of the church), but that it only began to be used in 1869, and that there was no formal or official opening ceremony.

The quarry

The stone for the church in Dickson St was obtained from a nearby quarry on Young St, now Newcastle Rd. We know that the power station for the electric light scheme instituted in 1890 was built in a disused quarry. There is no definite proof, but it seems highly likely that this was the quarry used for the church. A 1904 panorama of the Lambton taken from the top of Noble St shows the both the quarry and the church in close proximity.

A portion of a 1904 photograph that shows both the Bethel Chapel in Dickson St, and the quarry on Newcastle Rd where the stone was probably quarried from.

Rev Evan Lewis

The grave site in Sandgate Cemetery of Rev Evan Lewis, who started, and then led the Welsh Congregational Church in Lambton for 38 years, until his death in 1902.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
8 Jun 1864
3 Jun 1864
Inundation of the workings of the Melbourne and Newcastle Minmi Colliery Company, after a period of torrential rain.
"No cloud is, however, without a silver lining, and in this case there is a pleasing relief to the dark side of the picture, in the employment afforded by the other coal associations to the men left without work by the Minmi inundation." … "We may say that, beyond a change of residence, but little inconvenience will result to the men so suddenly deprived of their former scene of labour."
11 Jun 1864Further details on the flooding of the Minmi colliery: "It appears that it was not the bed of the creek which yielded, but a fissure was created six yards distant from it. This gap is now being filled up, and a breastwork composed of logs and clay has been built up in front, to guard against a similar occurrence."
27 Aug 1864“It will be twelve weeks on Friday next since the mine was filled with water by the creek breaking in during a heavy rain storm, and what was previously a flourishing busy community, has, by this long period of inactivity, been brought to a very low state in its prosperity ; for with the exception of a few men who remained to assist in clearing the water out of the pit, the great bulk of the colliers found employment at the neighbouring collieries, and in many instances removed their wives and families.”
24 Jun 1868After noting that the Primitive Methodist are enlarging their building, the report notes that "the Congregationalists are about to make a similar movement, as their chapel is found to be not sufficiently commodious for the hearers."
26 Sep 1877
23 Sep 1877
Eighth anniversary celebrations of the Lambton Welsh Congregational Church.
21 Aug 1944
17 Aug 1944
The 76th anniversary celebrations of the Lambton Congregationalists, held in their "spacious hall, recently renovated."

Lambton Reservoir

Every day thousands of people drive along Newcastle Road, paying little or no attention to an historic water reservoir nestling under the Lambton hilltop. This year being the 125th anniversary of Hunter Water, it is timely to reveal some of its hidden details.

Part of the Hunter River District Water Supply Scheme, that piped water from Maitland, the 400,000 gallon reservoir was completed in August 1885. At that time, the Newcastle Morning Herald reported:

“The reservoir is 65 feet in diameter, and depth at circumference 20 feet. This excavation has been made in solid rock. A massive brick wall, running from 5½ bricks thick at foundation to 3 bricks thick at the surface has been erected, about 200,000 bricks having been used in its construction. The floor of the reservoir is of concrete and cement. Then there are two arches and a central dome. These arches are supported by several cast iron girders. The girders rest on massive stone blocks, and are placed in the form of two circles in the reservoir, in order to meet the arch work and dome at top. The second arch and centre dome being of Portland cement and coke was first spread on temporary wooden frames and allowed a reasonable time to set; this it has done admirably, and has since borne the weight of horses and drays on top of it. An embankment of rubble stone and earth has been made over the whole of the work. Several inches of approved soil has been placed over this, and the whole has been sown with grass seed, so that in a few months we may expect the reservoir to present the appearance of a huge grassy mound, and those unacquainted with it will hardly credit that it hides such a wonderful amount of skilled work from sight.”

The Merewether reservoir on Glebe Hill (65 Macquarie St), nearing completion in 1886, was the same size and design as Lambton reservoir. Photo by Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Although taken out of service many decades ago, the Lambton reservoir remains hidden under the grassy mound. The adjacent pumping station is still in use.


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

Additional information

The Ralph Snowball photo on the University Cultural Collections site was originally mis-labelled as being New Lambton Reservoir, 1917.  Working with Robert Watson, we were able to establish that the photo was actually of Merewether reservoir on Glebe Hill in 1886.

Design of Lambton Reservoir, 1885.

A March 1887 article describing the Hunter River District Water Supply shows that the Glebe Hill reservoir was almost identical to the size to the Lambton reservoir.
The reservoir at Lambton is built on the hill above the Public school, a distance of twelve and a half miles from. Buttai. It will hold 402,600 gallons. At fifteen and a third miles from Buttai a 15-inch branch pipe, a mile and a quarter in length, is connected with a reservoir having a capacity of 403,000 gallons, to supply Hamilton, Adamstown, the Glebe, and other towns along the line.

Newspaper articles – reservoir

For reasons of limited space in the original printed version of my article in the Lambton and New Lambton Local, I had to condense the quotation from the Newcastle Morning Herald report from 20 August 1885. The full text of the original newspaper report is as follows:

THE LAMBTON RESERVOIR. (FROM OUR OWN, CORRESPONDENT.) The reservoir at Lambton in connection with the Hunter River District Water Supply Scheme is now completed, and ready for its intended purpose. The reservoir is situated on a piece of land purchased from the Lambton Company, close to the main road on the hill, commonly called Hartley’s Hill. The work has been in progress during the past eight or nine months. Several hands have been employed at it, and a fair amount of money circulated through the district as a consequence. To describe fully the work under the different headings in the contract would occupy columns of space, but the following details will give some idea of its magnitude :-The reservoir is 65 feet in diameter, and depth at circumference 20 feet. This excavation has been made in solid rock, and out of distance of all underground coal works. A massive brick wall, running from 5½ bricks thick at foundation to 3 bricks thick at the surface has been erected, about 200,000 bricks having been used in its construction. This wall is well packed, with stone concrete all round, and cemented in a workmanlike manner on the face. The floor of the reservoir is of concrete and cement. Then there are two arches and a central dome ; the first arch is of substantial brickwork, the second and central dome being of Portland cement and coke. These arches are supported by several cast iron girders, each of which has been submitted to, and is capable of sustaining, a test weight of 28 cwt. The girders rest on massive stone blocks, and are placed in the form of two circles in the reservoir, in order to meet the arch work and dome at top. There are also pipes connecting with the mains under the roadway to fill the reservoir, outflow pipes for the supply of the town, and waste pipe to carry off surplus water. In the second arch there is a cast iron ventilator, and in the centre of the dome there is another heavy piece of cast iron machinery, the top of which is moveable, and leaves an aperture generally termed a manhole, immediately below which is an iron ladder several feet in width. This is securely fixed, and will serve as a means to inspect the interior of the reservoir from time to time. I may mention that all the interior ironwork has received a painting that will prevent rusting. The most difficult work was that of the arches, but this the contractor appears to have surmounted with success and credit. The first arch being of brick, and 7ft. 6in. in the span, is merely a continuation of the main wall of the reservoir to the first set of iron girders. It is a substantial piece of work, and is well backed up with concrete and rubble stone. The second arch and centre dome being of Portland cement and coke, a great deal of care had to be exercised in the mixing, in order to secure a proper state of firmness in the setting. This mixture, which is some twelve inches in thickness, was first spread on temporary wooden frames and allowed a reason able time to set; this it has done admirably, and has since borne the weight of horses and drays on top of it. An embankment of rubble stone and earth has been made over the whole of the work. Several inches of approved soil has been placed over this, and the whole has been sown with grass seed, so that in a few months we may expect the reservoir to present the appearance of a huge grassy mound, and those unacquainted with it will hardly credit that it hides such a wonderful amount of skilled work from sight. The block of land is fenced with a substantial sawn timber and paling fence, 9ft 6in in height, and painted white. The trees have been fallen within the enclosure, and if the Government would only now have the stumps grubbed out, it would give the land a much improved appearance. I understand that a caretaker’s house is to be erected, and doubtless the stumping will be done then, if not before. The contractor for the work is Mr. J. G. Gatty, and that gentleman has shown a spirit of energy and determination throughout to make it a credit to his workmen, himself, and the Government, and now that the contract is approved and passed by the officials, is a satisfactory proof that he has succeeded. Mr. Davis, the Government Inspector, has been present during the progress of the work, and to him all material has been submitted before used, therefore between the contractor and the inspector, each doing their best, the Government can rely upon having a work that is well done.

Article Date Event DateNotes
14 Jan 1873"When the town of Lambton was sold ten years ago, a block of land was reserved as a water site, but, when Grainger-street was extended, this reserve had necessarily to be appropriated. It is suggested that another piece of land should be devoted to the purpose instead of the one appropriated. A spacious reservoir on any of the heights surrounding the town would furnish abundance of water either in case of fire or to supply the inhabitants during the hot and parching summer months."
16 Feb 1875As part of the formation of a Fire Brigade, the supply of water is considered. "A reservoir on the heights overlooking the town westward could be excavated without any very great expense or difficulty, and thus an ample supply of water would be always at command, not only in case of fire, but in the event of any lengthened drought."
12 Aug 1880"Rain is wanted badIy, as water is very scarce. Crowds of people flock around the colliery locomotives daily, both here and at New Lambton, to beg buckets of water from the drivers, who supply the want as far as possible."
19 May 1882Due to scarcity of water, Lambton residents have to carry water from the Waratah Colliery reservoir, and the council is arranging to have water sent up in tanks along the Lambton colliery railway.
19 Mar 1885Excavation of the reservoir has been completed, and bricklaying is in progress.
25 May 1885"Work at the reservoir is still being pushed ahead vigorously. The iron girders are all erected, and the arch brickwork commenced."
20 Aug 1885Report on the construction of the Lambton reservoir on Hartley's Hill, as it nears completion.
15 Dec 1885The water has reached Lambton and the reservoir is almost filled.
22 Dec 1885Leakages from pipes, causes water from the Lambton reservoir to gush through the streets, much to the delight of the youth of the town who "soon found it out, and, to use their own words, went in for a real good plodge in the water."

Reservoir Hotel

Three years after the reservoir was constructed, Mr J Cox had a two storey, sixteen room hotel erected on the opposite side of the road. The first landlord, Mr J Dent at the suggestion of Mr Cox, named it “Dent’s Reservoir Hotel”. The building still survives today and is now a private residence.

The former “Reservoir Hotel”, Newcastle Road, Lambton.

The former “Reservoir Hotel” on the corner of Newcastle Road and George Street, North Lambton. November 2017.

Newspaper articles – Reservoir Hotel

Article Date Event DateNotes
31 May 1888
30 May 1888
Opening of "Dent's Reservoir Hotel", on the corner of George and Young streets, opposite the reservoir.
18 Jan 1921License renewal hearing for the Reservoir Hotel. "Sergeant Harrison said the hotel was an old weatherboard building in a fair state of repair. Four bedrooms were available to the public. The conduct was good. Travellers did not use it a great deal, but it served a population of about 1000."

Croudace’s Paddock (Jesmond Park)

The Scottish Australian Mining Company, owner of the Lambton colliery, was pivotal in the establishment of three of Newcastle’s finest recreation reserves – Lambton Park, Blackbutt Reserve, and Jesmond Park.

Although not officially dedicated until 1924, the Jesmond Park site had a long history of recreational use. From Lambton’s earliest days, this low-lying area at the northern extremity of the company’s mining lease, with Dark Creek running through it, was used for competitive pigeon shooting. It soon also became a popular picnic site, known as “Croudace’s Paddock” presumably because the permission of Thomas Croudace, the colliery manager, was needed to use the area.

Churches, schools, and community groups regularly held picnics there, sometimes with hundreds of attendees. The site was within easy walking distance from Lambton, North Lambton and Jesmond. It became even more accessible when the Newcastle to Wallsend tramway was constructed in 1887. Around this time, the idyllic bushland nature of the picnic site was altered somewhat with the establishment of Campion’s soap and tallow works adjacent to Dark Creek.

As early as 1908, Lambton Council and local residents began petitioning the Lands Department to have the area formally set aside as a public park. Their efforts were rewarded in 1923, when Frederick Croudace (son of Thomas) as manager of the colliery, gifted to the council the 22 acres of land that become Jesmond Park.

Even before the park was officially acquired, the Jesmond Cricket Club was asking permission to lay a wicket, and the park soon became a popular venue for other sports such as football and soccer. A tennis court was constructed in the north-east corner of the park in 1925, and a new Jesmond Park tram stop, in line with Steel St, was opened in 1926.

In 1938, control of Jesmond Park passed from Lambton Council to the newly formed Greater Newcastle Council, who maintain the park to this day.

Jesmond Park in 1934, overlooking a dam on Dark Creek that provided water to Campion’s soap and tallow works.

The same location in Jesmond Park, 2017.


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

Additional information

  • When the Newcastle to Wallsend tramway was first constructed, there was no tram stop at Croudace’s Paddock, however by request, trams would stop there on special occasions. By 1905 residents were petitioning to have a permanent stopping-place at the site. A new tram stopping place in line with Steel Street was opened in 1926.
  • The area known as Croudace’s Paddock was larger than just the Jesmond park site, but encompassed much of the flat area adjacent to Dark Creek. A 1904 article describes the seven acre sanitary depot as being in Croudace’s Paddock. The sanitary depot was located where the Skyline drive-in theatre would later be constructed, and where Drysdale Drive and Rees Way is today.
  • A November 1938 article on the park noted that the “portion of the park now used as a recreation area was once a cultivation paddock. On it fodder was grown for the mine horses. The land flattened out with the passing years; signs of plough furrows disappeared and a cricket oval was formed.”
  • The Tennis Court opened in 1925 was situated in the north east corner of the park.

    Location of Jesmond Park Tennis Court. 1944 aerial photograph superimposed on Google Earth.

  • Croudace’s Paddock was occasionally used for purposes other than recreation, such as first aid classes, or military encampments.

“Jesmond Park, showing the trees in profuse foliage and forming a delightful rural scene – approximately four miles from the ocean beaches.” Newcastle Morning Herald, 16 Dec 1933.

Campion’s Soap and Tallow Works

According to the Jesmond Public School 1887-1987 Centenary booklet, John Campion arrived in Australia from England c1880. Around 1887 Campion began refining tallow for miner’s lamps, in partnership with his brother-in-law Ben Cunnington. The photo below, from the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections, shows Campion & Cunnington’s Soap and Tallow Works in 1892.

Campion and Cunnington’s Soap and Tallow Works, Jesmond, NSW, February 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

The nature of soap manufacture meant that the works were susceptible to fire, and a number of incidents of destructive fires were recorded over the years.

A 1944 aerial photograph shows the soap works building sitting astride the remnants of Dark Creek, just to the north of the concrete storm water drain. Just to the east of the building is the dam that appears in the 1934 newspaper photograph.

Campion’s Soap and Tallow Works in 1944.

1944 aerial photograph overlay in Google Earth, showing location of Campion’s Soap Works, Jesmond NSW.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
13 Jun 1871
10 Jun 1871
First mention of "Croudace's Paddock" in the newspaper. Inquest into the accidental shooting death of a young lad, Charles Blim, after a pigeon shooting match.
23 Sep 1871"A grand pigeon shooting match is to come off between two old knights of the trigger, in Mr. Croudace's paddock, at Dark Creek, on Saturday (three weeks) between Blacket Richardson and John Ferguson, for £10 aside."
11 Nov 1871Picnic in "Croudace's Paddock" of the Lambton Band of Hope, with 300 attendees.
20 Sep 1873Remarks on the naming of Dark Creek … "Jesmond is the correct, and more suitable name of this locality. It derives its title of Dark Creek from the men and days of thirty years ago, when the place was remarkable for its thickly, woody, and consequently shaded appearance."
6 Jun 1879Incident of cruelty by youths towards a "native bear" (koala) at "Croudace's Paddock.
19 Oct 1895Advertisement for the Lambton Primitive Methodist Sunday School picnic in Croudace's Paddock, advising that "the Traffic Manager having been written to, the trams will probably stop at the paddock."
26 Oct 1897
23 Oct 1897
"The members of the Wallsend and Lambton Government ambulance classes assembled in Croudace's Paddock, Lambton, on Saturday, and were examined in squads by Drs. Nash and Stapleton as to their knowledge of the principles of rendering first aid to the injured."
5 May 1900"The Newcastle, Lambton, and Wallsend companies of the 4th Infantry Regiment went into camp at Croudace's Paddock, Jesmond, last night, while it was raining heavily. It is intended to "take" Charlestown this morning."
3 Aug 1900
1 Aug 1900
A fire at Mr. J. Campion's tallow refinery.
23 Oct 1902
22 Oct 1902
"Croudace paddock is fast getting into favour as a holiday resort. There were no less than five parties of picnicers on the ground and the immediate vicinity yesterday."
1 Feb 1905Residents petitioning for a tram stopping-place in Croudace's Paddock.
23 Apr 1908
21 Apr 1908
The Minister for Lands rejects Lambton Council's application to have Croudace's Paddock dedicated as a public park.
5 May 1909
4 May 1909
Jesmond Progress Committee asks Lambton Council "to approach the general manager of the S.A.M. Company, with a view of getting a grant of the land known as Croudace's paddock as a public park for Jesmond."
15 Jul 1910
14 Jul 1910
Fire in Campion's Soap Works, Jesmond.
23 May 1917The tramways department asks Lambton Council to suggest a name for the stopping place near Croudace's paddock. The Council recommends the name "Charlton", however there is no evidence that this name was ever adopted.
23 May 1917"The Council decided to suggest that the stopping place be named Carlton Place, and recommended that the stopping be shifted a few chains easterly."
1 Aug 1919Lambton Council asks the Lands Department to resume Croudace's paddock, Jesmond, for a recreation reserve. Alderman Bell said that "for many years the area, by permission of the S.A.M. Company, had been largely availed of for picnic purposes, and as a ground for cricket and football. The situation was on ideal one, and with very little expense it could be converted into one of the best parks in the district."
5 Oct 1920Alderman Hardy, Mayor of Lambton, raises with the Minister of Lands the question of resuming an area of land at Jesmond, known as Croudace's paddock, for a park. "The Minister assured the Mayor that this matter had not been overlooked. The papers had been referred to the district surveyor."
23 Mar 1921
22 Mar 1921
Frederick Croudace, meets with the district surveyor and a representative of the council to inspect the land known as Croudace's Paddock, for the proposed park at Jesmond.
25 Jul 1923"The matter of the acquisition of an area approximating 22 acres of land at Jesmond had been brought to a successful conclusion by an interview with Mr. Robinson, general manager of the Scottish Australian Mining Company, who agreed to grant the land to the council for park purposes, the only obligation on the part of the council will be the survey transfer and fencing costs. The thanks of the council were due to Mr. Robinson and Mr. Croudace for the fairness and courtesy shown during the negotiations and to the company for its generous gift."
22 Aug 1923
21 Aug 1923
"A. Barrie, on behalf of Jesmond Cricket Club, asked Lambton council last night for permission to lay a wicket on Jesmond park. The Mayor said that the application was premature, as the council did not yet have control of the park. It was resolved to refer the matter to the Scottish Australian Mining Com pany."
20 Feb 1924
19 Feb 1924
"The S.A.M. Company had dedicated to the municipality Croudace's paddock as a public park. Efforts were made to obtain a grant from the Government to improve the area, but so far without any good result."
30 Apr 1924
29 Apr 1924
Various mentions of Jesmond Park at Lambton Council meeting, including that a site for a tennis court had been decided on.
14 Sep 1925
12 Sep 1925
Opening of tennis court in north east corner of Jesmond Park.
17 Feb 1926
16 Feb 1926
Lambton Council to ask the tramways department to have the "tram stopping place at Jesmond Park extended in a line with Steel-street."
9 Jun 1926
8 Jun 1926
"A petition was received from the residents of Jesmond, bearing 42 signatures, asking that the Jesmond loop be retained as a tram stopping place in addition to the new stop at Steel-street."
22 May 1934Photograph of Jesmond Park, 1934.
25 Nov 1938"Within a four-penny-tram ride of the city is Jesmond Park - a natural playground which has been saved for posterity by a council now extinct. Practically unknown by many people, the park provides ample facilities for sporting activities amid the quiet surroundings of the silent bush."
17 Mar 1948A motion is defeated in Newcastle Council that would have seen Jesmond Park renamed to Johnson Park, in honour of Alderman J.T. Johnson, who served on Lambton Council for many years.