William Thomas Dent

William Thomas Dent was born in Durham UK in 1844, the same year his father Mark was a key leader in the Miners’ Union in a bitter industrial dispute with colliery owners over working conditions. Having gained a reputation as a troublemaker, mine managers were reluctant to employ him, and Mark was forced to leave his native land to seek work in Australia.

He arrived alone in the early 1860s, and was joined in 1866 by his family, including 22-year-old William. They settled in Lambton, both father and son working in Lambton colliery. Like his father, William was active in the miners’ union, pressing for better conditions. In June 1874 he became a newspaper reporter and was the Lambton correspondent for “The Newcastle Herald and Miners’ Advocate” until 1880.

William also used his skill with words to address local concerns. In 1873 he penned “Lambton Bleatings”, a poem in which he satirized the local aldermen for their failure to maintain the streets of the town. His discontent with local governance did not stop there, and in 1877 he became an alderman himself, on the receiving end of complaints.

In 1882 his father died, and when a new road on the North Lambton hill was created the following year, the name Dent St was probably bestowed in honour of Mark Dent the famed mining unionist, rather than William the junior alderman.

He went on to serve on the council for 17 years, many of them alongside Thomas Croudace the mine manager. He was elected Mayor five times, and in 1890 oversaw two significant events in Lambton’s history – the electric light scheme and the park rotunda. After working many years as Secretary of the Northumberland Permanent Building Society, ill-health forced him into retirement. He died at his home in October 1901, aged just 56. Today, 120 years later, the handsome rotunda built at his suggestion still stands as Lambton’s most iconic structure, with his name justly honoured in the column ornamentation.

William Thomas Dent and family in front of their Pearson St home, January 1897. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
William Thomas Dent was the instigator of the Lambton Park rotunda, erected in 1890.

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

Arrival in Australia

The passenger ship Racehorse arrived in Sydney from Liverpool on 22 September 1866., The immigration list shows that William Thomas Dent, miner aged 22, his wife Isabella aged 21, and two children, Elizabeth and Sarah. In the column “Relations in the Colony” the list shows “Father, Miner in New South Wales.”

Immigration list of the ship Racehorse, September 1866.
William Thomas Dent and family in the immigration list.

The Hartley Vale question

As I was researching this story, a number of sources (Ancestry web site, Story of Lambton page 288) stated that when William Thomas Dent arrived in Australia he first settled in Hartley Vale in the Blue Mountains and worked in the kerosene shale mines there before relocating to the Newcastle area. But I wonder if this is correct? Another possibility is that Dent came straight to Newcastle where his father was, and started work at James and Alexander Brown’s Hartley Vale colliery, located in Broadmeadow.

The only historical source I could find for the idea that Dent lived in the Blue Mountains, is in his obituary in 1901, some 35 years after his arrival.

He first settled at Hartley in the Blue Mountains, but as the work at the mine was erratic and irregular, he left and came to this district in 1867, working in the mine for a time both at Minmi and Wallsend. He came to Lambton in 1869, where he has since resided.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 15 Oct 1901.

We know that his father Mark Dent emigrated to Australia earlier in the decade, and there is a brief mention of a Mark Dent working at the Minmi colliery in August 1863. If this was his father, then it would be natural that William would come to the same district to seek work when he arrived in Australia in 1866. James and Alexander Brown had commenced development in 1863 of a 310 acre mining lease in the Broadmeadow area that they named Hartley Vale colliery. It proved to be an unprofitable venture and was abandoned around 1868.

So the timing is certainly valid for William Thomas Dent to have worked at the Hartley Vale colliery in Newcastle, rather than the Hartley Vale locality in the Blue Mountains.

Lambton Bleatings

Dent penned his poem Lambton Bleatings in 1873, at the height of the debate on which route the main road from Lambton to Newcastle should take. He recited the poem at a dinner at Waratah on 1 August 1873. Two years later in November 1875 he recited the poem again at a dinner to celebrate the “opening” of the northern route of the main road. (The celebration was somewhat premature, as it was the alternate southern route that eventually won the day.)

The chamber door is open wide
And fast the people pass inside,
Pull off their hats and take a seat,
Smooth down their beards, keep still their feet,
And wait to hear the Lambkins bleat.
At table top there sat the Mayor ;
The clerk was on his right,
And Mr. Simmons taking notes,
With specs to help his sight.
Fast and fleet the pencil goes,
Anon he makes a stop,
Settles his specs upon his nose
And rubs his slippery top.
The business of the night began
And all looked very wise,
Determined was each alderman
To ope the natives’ eyes.
One alderman rose on his feet
He said, to move a motion,
That they should start to make a street,
But how, he had no notion !
As then they had no funds in hand
And none was like to come
As the people would not pay the rates
(The mayor said that was rum !)
But he thought that they should borrow some
The rates would surely free it ;
But the others all looked very glum
And said they could not see it !
Up rose one with little head
Although called light of foot
He’d been and made a speech, he said,
Which would the question suit.
The township folks had spragg’d the car
And made the civic wheels to jar ;
Had tried to blast their future fames,
And called them all most ugly names.
What ! borrow without security,
And without the least assurity
That they would pay the rates !
No ; not for a principality,
Much more a municipality,
Or yet for Alderman Yates.
To pay the rates they did refuse,
In Elder-street they made a noose
To fit his little head ;
But they would find him wide awake,
And then he gave his head a shake,
And nothing more he said.
An alderman of burly size
Was seen from off his chair to rise
About an inch a minute.
He said they might think it rather funny,
But if they meant to borrow money,
They would not catch him in it.
But as he then was on his feet,
And by degrees had left his seat,
He’d let them plainly see
He would go and leave them to their fate,
And then where would they be ?
At this the lambs all looked like sheep,
The Council Clerk looked blue ;
They all cried out with one accord,
” Whatever will we do !”
Oh ! Davy, do not leave us yet,”
They cried, in deep despair.
He gave a sigh of deep regret ;
And then, while every eye was wet,
Dave dropp’d into his chair.
They all began to rub their eyes,
And nudge each other’s ribs.
I was waiting for the next to rise,
Expecting Alderman Gibbs ;
But a Dark Creek alderman arose
And spoke with feeble voice.
He said, if they could meet his views
He’d very much rejoice.
He thought ‘twould save a great expense
If they could make a quarry,
They could then got stones to make the streets
Independent of Big Harry.
Some did not think it worth their while ;
Them he would soon convince.
Patterson then began to smile.
Order ! bawled out Vince ;
‘ Silence that dreadful bell !’
‘ Bobby,’ just stop your caper,
Mr. Clerk, you know full well,
That business isn’t on my paper.
There’s the motion by Alderman Yates,
To bring the road through the White Gates,
With the separate branch that runs
Across the creek at Betty Bunns’,
And forms a junction as they are telling
Upon the hill near Peacock’s dwelling.
There ; what more do you want ?
Then the speaker looked like Stone.
The mayor he gave another grunt,
And the clerk tried to atone.
But the mayor said, hold ! stop your bleating,
I postpone the business till the next meeting !
Go forth, my lambs, he kindly said,
Seek your homes and go to bed ;
But as you go pray mind your feet,
Don’t break your necks in Grainger-street.

Dent’s house

William Thomas Dent’s house, photographed by Ralph Snowball in January 1897, was located in Pearson St. Dent purchased Lot 12 of Section J in October 1876 (Vol-Fol 262-127) and Lot 11 of Section J in October 1882 (Vol-Fol 61-240) . He subdivided and sold the north part of lot 11 (on Kendall St) to Henry James Noble in August 1887.

Vol-Fol 262-127
Vol-Fol 61-240
W T Dent and family, Pearson St Lambton, January 1897. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
The location of Dent’s house, 18-20 Pearson St, Lambton.
W.T. Dent [and family], Lambton, NSW, January 1897. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.

Newspaper reporter

After working as a miner in Lambton, Dent was appointed in June 1874 to be the local reporter and agent for the Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder. (This paper merged with The Newcastle Chronicle in 1876 to become The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate.)

Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder, 17 June 1874.
W T Dent’s occupation is listed as “Newspaper Reporter” in a land title document from October 1876. Vol-Fol 262-127.

Dent resigned as a reporter in August 1880, with the editor of the paper glowing in his praise.

Mr. W. T. Dent, our Lambton correspondent and agent, one of the oldest and most efficient of our literary staff, has resigned his position. In accepting his resignation, we may say that we do so with regret, having for some years experienced almost daily proofs of his unflagging energy and zeal in the interests of this journal. In parting with Mr. Dent’s services, however, we cannot refrain from wishing him every success in the new line of duties he has undertaken, and we have no doubt but that the same steady determination to advance the interests of the Northumberland Permanent Building and Investment Society, of which he is Secretary, will characterise his future as it did his past connection with the Herald and Advocate. Mr. Dent has attained his present position by honesty of purpose and steady perseverance, having followed the occupation of a coal miner for many years.

Northumberland Permanent Building Society

The report of W T Dent’s funeral notes that the funeral cortege passed through Waratah where he “commenced his commercial career in that town twenty-five years ago.” William Thomas Dent was elected as one of the directors of the Northumberland Permanent Building Society on 24 June 1876. At that time the society did not have its own building, but rented space in the council chambers on Georgetown Rd.

Waratah Municipal Council Chambers 1873-1882. The Northumberland Permanent Building Society rented space in this building for their office. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In January 1877 Dent became Secretary of the society when the previous secretary, John Wood, could not continue his duties due to illness.

When the government decided to purchase the council chambers building to use a courthouse, the Northumberland Building Society decided in 1878 to erect their own building in Turton St, giving it the name Northumberland Hall. The building was formally opened with a celebratory banquet on 9 January 1879. In a strange coincidence, when the building society no longer needed the building, it became the Waratah Town Hall from 1898 to 1926.

Waratah Town Hall in Turton St. Prior to its use by the council it was Northumberland Hall, built for the Northumberland Permanent Building Society. Newcastle Region Library.
Northumberland Permanent Building and Investment Land and Loan Society Building, corner of Blane (now Hunter) and Burwood Streets, Newcastle, NSW, [1887]. WT Dent worked as Secretary to the society in this building until his retirement due to ill health. University of Newcastle, Special Collections.

Illness and death

On 14 September 1896, while working in the Northumberland Building Society office in Hunter St Newcastle, Dent suffered a “severe stroke of apoplexy”, with a partial loss of use of his right limbs. He was returned to his home in Lambton to convalesce. His son William Thomas Dent junior carried on the work of father at the building society. Dent senior recovered sufficiently to make a trip with his wife back to England in February 1897, returning in October 1897. Although the paper optimistically described him as “looking all the better after his eight months travelling in the mother country”, his health continued to decline, and by August 1898 he was described as “unable to get about, having lost the use of his arms and lower portions of his legs.”

He continued to deteriorate and in February 1899 he was confined to bed … “his condition is considered very serious by his medical attendant (Dr. Stapleton), who does not now entertain any hope of his ultimate recovery.” WT Dent died two and half years later on 14 October 1901, aged just 56. He was buried in Sandgate Cemetery on 16 October 1901.

“At the grave, which is in the Primitive Methodist section of the cemetery, the Revs. S. Kessell and W. Atkinson conducted an impressive service, the latter in a brief address paying a high tribute to the deceased as an open hearted brother and citizen. He referred with expressions of regret to the five years of suffering Mr. Dent had endured before God was pleased to take his soul, and concluded with the kindest expression of sympathy for the bereaved widow and family.”

Portrait of William Thomas Dent that appeared in the newspaper report of his death in the Newcastle Morning Herald.

After the death of William Thomas Dent junior continued as secretary of the Northumberland Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society for a total of 43 years.

The name of W.T. Dent on the engraved foundation stone of the Lambton Mechanics’ Institute in Elder Street.

Birth and death details

Name:William Thomas Dent
Birth year:1844
Birth place:Durham (UK)
Death date:14 Oct 1901
Death place:Lambton
Burial site:Sandgate Cemetery
Burial Long,Lat :151.70575,-32.86934 (KML File for Google Earth)
Burial date:16 Oct 1901
Grave of William Thomas Dent in 1902. Hunter Photobank

Grave of William Thomas Dent in 1902. Hunter Photobank

Grave of William Thomas Dent in 2022

Grave of William Thomas Dent in 2022

Insciption on grave of William Thomas Dent

Insciption on grave of William Thomas Dent

Mark Dent

Although my article for the October 2021 issue of The Local started out being on William Thomas Dent, Lambton Mayor, it turned out to be as much about his father Mark Dent, internationally famed union activist. In particular I found it fascinating how in the space of one generation we go from Mark Dent the father, in relative poverty in the UK unable to work as a miner because of his union activism, to William Thomas Dent the son, in Lambton Australia, a relatively wealthy man working as the head of a major financial institution, and serving as an alderman on Lambton Council alongside the manager of the Lambton colliery.

Mark Dent was born in Durham UK in 1816. He worked as a miner and married Sarah Hann in 1839. In 1844 he played a key role in an industrial dispute between the miners and the masters, and suffered much as a result. The key details can be gleaned from a testimonial given to Mark Dent 32 years later in Lambton on 19 February 1876.

“Mr. Dent took a very prominent part in connection with the Miners’ Union in the county of Durham, England, during the memorable struggle of 1844, when the miners of Northumberland and Durham succeeded in breaking up one of the most tyrannical combinations of capital for the oppression of the working man that has ever existed in the world’s history.

We desire, in a special manner, to acknowledge your noble and manly efforts in defence of your own and fellowmen’s rights during the long and arduous struggles in which you were engaged on behalf of the miners of England. Through these you have won an unquestionable title to our respect and regard; and although far removed from the scenes where you assailed so vigorously the many abuses which have grown us with the coal trade, still we cannot forget that to you and your noble colleagues we owe a deep and lasting debt of gratitude.”

In responding to the testimonial, Mark Dent gave some details about his involvement and the cost that he bore

“I happened to be one of the half-dozen men who went to London to collect subscriptions and enlighten the coal consumers and Parliament as to the effect of the coal-owners combinations. We held public meetings in most of the large halls, and presented petitions to Parliament, when the discussion of the abolition of the 4s export duty on coal came before the House. We primed the Liberal members, and the discussion resulted adversely to the reputation of the coal-owners.

The action of the unionists resulted in the breaking up of the coal owners monopoly and …

“The trade was placed upon its natural and normal basis, and the history of the last 30 years amply proves the advantages accruing to every-one connected, when we consider that no serious conflict has taken place except in isolated cases in that time.”

But Mark Dent bore a personal cost for his efforts, with false accusations made against him that he was profiting from his union endeavours …

Mr. Chairman, it might be interesting to you to know in what light the labours of this London deputation was regarded by those we went to serve. They got it into their heads that we had made fortunes by appropriating the monies collected. I was six weeks in London, and was either speaking at public meetings, or attending trades meetings every night, and walking about in the day time, seeking out places where trades societies were held, without spending a single penny of the money collected, I never had a drink at any man’s expense; my board and lodgings were all that the funds were charged with on my account.”

It was two years before I got the chance of a job, and when one short week had expired my notice was handed to me. On applying to the Viewer to know the reason of my discharge he said, – “We dinnet want nee looterers amang wor men; we canna manish them as it is” I then went to his master, who’s reply to my question as to the reason of my dismissal was characteristic: “We give no reasons here for what we dee, thoo may be a decent man, likely; but we dinnet want thou here.”

The inability to get work put Mark and his family into poverty, and he describes how

“many a time I might have been seen exhuming a turnip from the snow for a Sunday’s dinner for my wife and two children.”

The chairman at his testimonial in 1876 alluded to these circumstances as …

“… the many hardships you have undergone in being driven from your native land, to seek a home for yourself and family [in Australia]”

The exact date of Mark’s arrival in Australia is uncertain. The 1861 census of England shows that Mark’s wife and five children are residing with his wife Sarah’s parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Hann. Presumably Mark’s absence from this census is an indication that he had already left for Australia.

1861 Census of England, showing Sarah Dent residing with her parents.

Some pages in the Ancestry website suggest that Mark first moved to Hartley Vale in the Blue Mountains to work in the kerosene shale mines. This is unlikely to be the case as coal was only discovered there in 1865, some four or five years after Mark arrived in Australia. There is a very brief mention of Mark Dent working in the Minmi colliery in 1863 …

On Wednesday, 5th instant, Mark Dent received severe injury whilst in the act of filling his wagon in one of the pits at Minmi. He was standing at the time near some coal, ready for taking down, which fell, jamming him between it and the wagon, whereby he received severe injuries. Medical aid being procured, he was found not to be dangerously though seriously injured.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 13 August 1863.

Mark’s wife Sarah died in August 1873, and it seems that it was about this time that Mark’s health failed, to the point that he was no longer able to work. One of the reasons for his testimonial in 1876 was to present him with a financial gift as he had been “unfit to follow his employment for the last three years, through failing health.” The substantial sum of £102 presented to him, donated from a wide variety of sources, was a glowing testament to the high regard in which he was held.

The miners of this district have long wished to show in a substantial manner their appreciation of the achievements of Mr Dent and his colleagues, and about three months ago a movement was set on foot to rise funds for the purpose of presenting him with a testimonial. The Lambton Miners’ Committee went into the matter with a determination which does them infinite credit. The other collieries were asked to assist, and many of them have responded nobly. The ironworkers of Sydney, feeling that they were somewhat indebted to the miners of the Newcastle district for pecuniary assistance rendered during their late struggle, have also contributed liberally. The business people of Lambton and others totally unconnected with the miners have also added considerably to the amount. Independent of Mr Dent’s past career in connection with the Miners’ Union, he is universally respected by all who know him, and his many services for the benefit and advancement of the public institutions of this district deserved some recognition at the hands of the public.

Mark Dent died on 27 October 1882 in Lambton, his achievements in advocating workers’ rights warmly remembered.

To those acquainted with the history of the miners of the counties of Durham and Northumberland, in England, Mr. Dent’s name will be familiar. In a book, written by Mr. Richard Fynes, containing a history of their social and political progress, the great strike of 1844 is referred to, and Mr. Dent’s name frequently appears as having taken an active part as an earnest advocate of their rights, and as one of those reformers, the result of whose zealous and patriotic labours the miners of the present day are enjoying.

His death was also reported back in his native land in the UK newspaper the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle of 23 December 1882.

The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, published in New South Wales, reports the death of Mark Dent. Mr. Fynes says of him no man was better known in the two counties of Northumberland and Durham, and no one took a more active part in the great strike of 1844. At all the largest meetings he was always chairman.

Dent Street

In my local history research, very rarely do I find documentary evidence for the reason behind street names. Mostly we are left to make educated guesses at the reason, and sometimes we guess wrong. I had always assumed that Dent St in North Lambton was named after William Thomas Dent, alderman of Lambton for 17 years and Mayor for 5 years. But having looked at the timing of the origins of Dent St, I believe that it is much more likely that it was named in honour of his father Mark Dent.

Mark Dent died in October 1882. Just four months later in February 1883, Lambton Council resolved …

“That the Mayor be instructed to write to the Waratah [Coal] Company, asking them to dedicate a street at the west end of High-street, 66 feet wide.”

The Waratah Company obliged with the request in April 1883, and in October 1883 Lambton Council resolved …

“That the Mayor procure plans and specifications for forming, metalling, and blinding the western half of the street recently dedicated by the Waratah Coal Company, from Young to High streets, Grovetown.”

The following year, in May 1884, the name of the new street is first mentioned when council resolved …

“That Dent-street, from High-street to the main road, be cleared and formed twenty-three feet wide, and metalled and blinded with quarry chips.”

In 1884 William Dent had been an alderman for 7 years, so it is possible that the street was named after him, but unlikely. There are no other examples of Lambton streets being named after sitting aldermen, and it is improbable that William Dent would get a street named after him without arousing the jealousies of the other sitting aldermen, particularly as one of them, Thomas Grierson, had served as an aldermen for a longer period than William Dent.

Much more likely is that Dent Street is named in honour of Mark Dent, famed union activist, who died just a few months before the street came into existence.

The Waratah Coal Company held a large sale of blocks of land in the area around Dent Street on 24 October 1885. The first appearance of Dent St on maps is on land title certificates arising from that sale, such as Vol-Fol 771-98.

Dent St marked on Land Title Certificate Vol-Fol 771-98 in December 1885.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
13 Aug 1863
5 Aug 1863
Injury to Mark Dent at Minmi colliery.
31 Dec 1870First mention of W T Dent in the newspaper, as Secretrary of the Lambton Mechanics' and Miners' Institute.
7 Aug 1873W T Dent recites his poem "Lambton Bleatings".
16 Aug 1873
14 Aug 1873
Death of Sarah Dent aged 50, wife of Mark, mother of William.
21 Feb 1874
20 Feb 1874
Meeting of Miners at Lambton. W T Dent is secretary.
17 Jun 1874W T Dent appointed as the Lambton reporter and agent for The Miners' Advocate and Northumberland Recorder newspaper.
29 Aug 1874"REGISTRY OFFICE OPEN DAILY, near the English Church, for the registration of births, deaths, and marriages. W. T. DENT, Asistant District Registrar."
12 Dec 1874First reference to W T Dent being a reporter for the Miners' Advocate.
4 Sep 1875"Mr. [Mark] DENT has resided for many years in this district, and his labours for the improvement of the social condition of the miners are too well known to be repeated. It was in the North of England, however, and at an earlier period of his life, when his energies were unimpaired, that he did his greatest work, and for doing which he was driven from his country, to seek a home in Australia. Mr. DENT has for several years been unable to work, and we regret to state that of late his health has become impaired to a greater extent, and he is in that position where help, if tendered at all, would be doubly needful just now."
26 Feb 1876
19 Feb 1876
Testimonial to Mr. Mark Dent.
10 Jul 1877W T Dent the only nominee for the council seat left vacant by the resignation of Alderman Abel.
6 Feb 1879W T Dent nominates for re-election to Lambton Council.
13 Aug 1880W T Dent resignes his position as Lambton correspondent and agend for the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate.
31 Oct 1882
27 Oct 1882
Death of Mark Dent.
13 Feb 1883The death of Mark Dent is reported back in his native land, in The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle of 23 December 1882.
15 Sep 1896
14 Sep 1896
"SERIOUS ILLNESS OF MR. W. T. DENT. About 12 o'clock yesterday Mr. W. T. Dent, secretary of the Northumberland Building Society, Newcastle, while busily engaged with his correspondence, unfortunnately sustained a severe stroke of apoplexy."
15 Oct 1901
14 Oct 1901
Death of William Thomas Dent.
17 Oct 1901
16 Oct 1901
Funeral of W T Dent.

Darkness into Light

The sudden postponement of the final day of the Love Lambton 150 event in June due to Covid-19 restrictions, meant that Lambton was unable to fully celebrate the anniversary in the correct month. One hundred years ago the anniversary also slipped, but for a different reason.

In 1921 there was an optimistic mood. The great war of 1914-18 was over and the troops had returned. The influenza pandemic of 1919 that claimed 494 lives in Newcastle had subsided, and Lambton Municipality was ready to celebrate 50 years since its incorporation in June 1871.  

But it was not just a metaphorical darkness the town was emerging from. For 22 years after the financial failure of the council’s first electric lighting scheme, Lambton’s streets were to be lit again. Council decided to delay the jubilee festivities to coincide with switching on the new electric lights.

A week of events was held in the beginning of August 1921 under the banner “Darkness into Light”, with concerts, banquets and sporting competitions. The highlight was on Thursday night in the park, with the ceremonial switching on of the electric lights, followed by an impressive display of fireworks liberally supplied by the Chinese residents of Jesmond.

The abundance of enthusiastic donations from the community meant that when the partying was over the Jubilee organising committee was left with a considerable surplus of funds. In recognition of the past, they donated £30 for a bed at Wallsend Hospital where many influenza patients were cared for. For the present health of the community they spent £36 installing a drinking fountain at the corner of Lambton Park. Looking to the future, they gave the remainder to Lambton and Jesmond school libraries for the education of students.

We don’t know when the darkness of our Covid-19 pandemic will recede, but when it does and we are in a festive mood again, we would do well to emulate the thankfulness and generosity of Lambton’s jubilee committee 100 years ago.

Lambton Park after a hail storm circa 1940. The Jubilee drinking fountain can be seen outside the park fence on the right. From the collection of Maree Cook.
One hundred years on the Jubilee drinking fountain still stands at the entrance to Lambton Park.

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

Additional Information

The date of “August 6th” on the inscribed plaque of the jubilee drinking fountain is a bit of a conundrum. For this isn’t the date Lambton’s incorporation (26 June) nor can it be the date the fountain was installed, as the location of the fountain wasn’t even voted on until three weeks later in September, and nor is it the day of the main ceremonial event of the jubilee celebrations, which was the switching on of the electric lights on Thursday 4th August.

Inscribed plaque on the Lambton Jubilee drinking fountain.
“Darkness Into Light”, Advertisement for Lambton Jubilee celebrations, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 23 July 1921.

A Jubilee Poem

LET THERE BE LIGHT. Thirty years ago Lambton streets were lit by electricity. Since then they have not been lit even with candles. But Lambton will soon see the light, for the Newcastle Council will in July supply the dark suburb with electricity.— News Item.

To wander through your dismal streets, your dark highways to plod,
Your gutters, drains and rutted roads give many hearts a prod.
I stumble over sleeping forms— the crocks long strayed from home.
And make a solemn kind of oath, “I never more will roam.”
In Lambton, darkest Lambton.”

But now farewell, ye laneways black; farewell each winding street.
Those stones that bruised my tired shins and jarred my aching feet,
Shall of their power yet be robbed, and night shall be as day,
In July next the new light comes, when jubilee holds sway.
Oh, Lambton, brightest Lambton!

Published in The Newcastle Sun, 28 May 1921.

Newspaper articles – Jubilee

Article Date Event DateNotes
16 Oct 1919Influenza pandemic report from Dr. R. Dick. "In the whole district there were 494 deaths registered as due to influenza or its complications during the period from March 2nd to September 10th, 1919.
10 Feb 1921"Alderman E. J. Thomas referred to the Jubilee of the municipality, the incorporation of hich took place in June, 1871. He hoped that the council would not allow the occasion to pass without some form of celebration. Other aldermen endorsed the remarks of Alderman Thomas, and, stated that it would be a good idea to couple the celebration of the Jubilee and the installation of the lighting of the town at the same time. There would be no harm in delaying the jubilee celebration until the switching on of the lights, which the council were assured would be ready about July or August."
27 May 1921"The jubilee of Lambton's establishment as a municipality falls on June 26, and a celebration in honor of the occasion has been arranged to take place on the first Thursday following the switching on of the electric light. It has not been possible to put forward the lighting of the municipality so that it could synchronise with the date of tho Jubilee, so it has been necessary to defer the celebrations till the light is available. The city electrician has promised that the installation will be complete by July 30."

"To finance the undertaking, a dozen collectors were appointed to canvass the town for subscriptions."

20 Jun 1921"The lighting of Lambton's streets and business houses by electricity is proceeding so well that there is every hope of the job being completed before August 4, the day selected for the Jubilee celebrations, and for the switching on of the current. Altogether 110 street lights are to be provided, but the council thinks that this number will not be nearly enough when people begin to observe what a boon the electric light is."
16 Jul 1921Offer of donation from a vaudeville show is refused. "The canvass of the town for funds for the children's treat will be completed in the next fortnight. For the fireworks display, fixed for the opening night, a liberal supply of fireworks has been assured by the Chinese residents of Jesmond."
5 Aug 1921
4 Aug 1921
Lambton Municipality Jubilee Celebrations - electric light switching on ceremony.
8 Aug 1921
6 Aug 1921
Lambton Municipality Jubilee Celebrations - children's day in Lambton Park on Saturday, and a combined religious service in the Coronation Hall on Sunday.
19 Aug 1921"LAMBTON JUBILEE DISPOSAL OF FUNDS. With the balance of the funds, it was agreed to erect a drinking fountain near the park, at a cost of £30, and to make the gift of a cot, costing the same amount, to the Wallsend Hospital. The remainder will be evenly divided between the Lambton and Jesmond public schools, to be used preferably for the upkeep of their respective libraries."
24 Aug 1921
23 Aug 1921
Lambton Council meeting: "Correspondence was read from the jubilee committee, asking the council to accept the sum of £30 from the surplus for the erection of a public drinking fountain, The offer was accepted with thanks."
12 Sep 1921
9 Sep 1921
At Lambton Council meeting, Alderman A. Hardy moved, "That the Jubilee Memorial fountain be erected out side the entrance gates of the park in Howe-street." The motion was carried.
28 Sep 1921Water Board meeting: "The town clerk, Lambton, wrote making application for free supply of water to a public drinking fountain to be erected on the footpath at the intersection of Howe and Morehead streets as a jubilee memorial. The engineer's and assessor's reports were read, and the board decided to grant a free supply of water under the usual conditions, provided that approved fittings are used."
16 Dec 1921"At the last meeting of Lambton Council the town clerk submitted a statement showing the disposal of the funds in hand from the jubilee celebrations. The balance was £68 12s 7d, and the main disbursements were: Purchase and erection of drinking fountain £36 11s 4d, donation of cot to the Wallsend Hospital £30."
19 Dec 1921
16 Dec 1921
"Prior to the breaking up for the Christmas vacation at the Lambton and Jesmond Schools, on Friday. Alderman G. Bell attended each school, and handed over the surplus from the jubilee celebrations which was given as a donation to the school libraries or to be utilised for the benefit of the school as may be decided upon by the teachers."
19 Dec 1921
17 Dec 1921
Presentation of donated cot (bed) to Wallsend Hospital, funded from the surplus from the Lambton Jubilee celebrations.

The return of electric light to Lambton

Lambton’s first electric light scheme that commenced in 1890 was a financial disaster that sent the council broke. From December 1899 the council ceased to exist as a functioning entity, as no-one was willing to nominate to serve on a financially crippled council. In July 1903 a scheme was adopted to settle the debts over a period of 20 years, and an election for nine new aldermen was held in September 1903.

With the prospect of 20 years debt ahead of them, even as the new council formed there was still a desire to light the streets again one day.

The old debt is to be wiped off, less the accumulated interest; so it will be some time ere the streets and park are again illuminated, but the sooner the better.

Bowral Free Press, 12 September 1903.

But in the ensuing years any enthusiasm for bringing back the lighting was quickly curbed by the memory of the previous failed scheme and its legacy of debt. By 1914 there was sufficient interest in a proposal to illuminate Lambton’s streets by gaslight, that it was put to a municipal vote in August 1914, but the referendum was soundly defeated with 84 votes for and 199 votes against.

A key moment in the return of lighting to Lambton municipality occurred just a few months later, in a decision of another municipality. Newcastle Council, which at that time only covered the area east of National Park, had been operating an electric light system since January 1891. The council obtained electricity from two sources – by bulk purchase from the Zaara St power station owned by the Railway Commissioners, and from their own power station in Sydney Street.

1894 map showing location of Newcastle Electric Light Station in Sydney Street, now the western end of Tyrrell Street. University of Newcastle, Special Collections.
1930s map showing location of the Zaara St power station. National Library of Australia.

With this power station Newcastle Council had been primarily supplying electricity to consumers within its municipal boundary, but occasionally to users and businesses in neighbouring areas. By 1914 there was a need to increase the generating capacity of the power station, and at the Newcastle Council meeting of 9 November 1914, aldermen voted to accept the tender of the Australian General Electric Light Company at £5219 for the supply and installation of a new 500kw turbo-alternator and associated pipe work.

The installation was completed in 1915, and with the investment cost to pay off and considerable spare generating capacity, it was argued that “no opportunity should be lost for obtaining new clients, and every chance availed of for extending the service into the suburban municipalities.” At their meeting on 16 August 1915, Newcastle Council voted on the terms on which they would supply electricity to other councils.

“It was decided, on the recommendation of the city electrician, that in future all agreements with municipalities must provide for 21 years, sole rights with right of renewal … or an agreement for ten years, with sole rights of supply, terminable also by purchase of the council’s property within any such area …”

Negotiations were immediately begun to supply Wickham and Adamstown Councils with electricity. Supply to New Lambton was switched on in September 1916, and other council areas followed in quick succession.

While other suburbs queued up to sign on to an electrical supply from Newcastle Council, Lambton’s reticence continued. At a public meeting held in the council chambers on 8 June 1917, discussion on the question of a new electric lighting schemes was amiable, but views were divided. Aldermen Hardy and Polak were supportive, stating that “The borough would advance if lighting were installed.” Mr J Jones in opposing the motion said “Any man bringing up the scheme should be examined by a medical man.” When put to the vote, the motion was rejected.

However by 1918 the tide of opinion towards another go at street lighting was in the balance. At a council meeting in August 1918 the aldermen were evenly divided on the matter. Eighteen months later, when Louis Polak was elected as Mayor on 3 February 1920, he immediately declared his intention “to advocate a street lighting system.” He wasted no time in writing to Newcastle Council, who replied on 24 February 1920 that they

“would be pleased to confer and assist the council, with a view of expediting the proposal to instal street lighting in the municipality.”

At their meeting on 4 May 1920, Lambton Council voted to approve the proposal from Newcastle Council for the supply of electric street lighting.

“The agreement with the Newcastle Council specified £3 15s per lamp of 60 candle-power, with an increase of 2s 6d per lamp for every 1s increase in the selling price of coal over 11s per ton, the terms of the agreement to be for 10 years, and the minimum number of lamps to be 100.”

Being late to the party, Lambton had to wait until other councils had been connected. In July 1920 it was reported that …

“Preparations are being made for the erection of the poles for the electric lighting of the municipality. The council has been assured that there will be no undue delay so far as the Newcastle Council is concerned, and upon completion of the Waratah service, which is now well advanced, the electrical construction staff will be transferred to Lambton.”

Despite the assurance of “no undue delay”, six months later Lambton Mayor, Louis Polak, was complaining to Newcastle Council that …

“Although an agreement had been signed, nothing had been done. The [Newcastle Council] electrical engineer stated that the delay was due to the impossibility of getting poles and the plant necessary.”

Installation eventually commenced on 7 February 1921, with erection of poles in the section of Lambton east of Karoola Rd, followed by De Vitre and Elder Streets in March 1921. But progress was slowed again with the Newcastle City electrical engineer reporting delays …

“… owing to the difficulty in getting large quantities of bare copper cable for quick delivery, and of having received no advices of the transformer for the street lighting. The position was that 150 poles had been erected in six weeks, and as there were 391 poles to be erected they would take at the same rate of progress a further ten weeks to complete. The work had been slower than anticipated owing to a large number of poles being erected in rock, necessitating drilling and blasting.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 22 March 1921.

Construction progressed in the following months and was finally completed on 1 August 1921.

“The finishing touches in connection with the installation of the electric light will be completed to-day. The workmen were engaged on Saturday fixing the globes, and the remaining few will receive attention, and will be ready for the trial lighting which will take place to-morrow.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 1 August 1921.

The official switching on ceremony took place a few days later in Lambton Park on Thursday 4 August 1921.

“Punctually at seven o’clock in the evening Mrs. Polak, the Mayoress, switched on the electric light from the rotunda, in the vicinity of which a large gathering of citizens had assembled. Alderman Polak, the Mayor expressed his pleasure at the manner in which all the arrangements had been carried out. He hoped that the town would go ahead. It was a healthy suburb, and he saw no reason why it should not progress under the new conditions. Following the Mayor’s remarks, a display of fireworks was given.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5 August 1921.
Newcastle Electric Light Station, Sydney St Newcastle, 1908. This was the generating station that supplied power to Lambton’s electric street lights in 1921. University of Newcastle, Special Collections.

The inscription on the facade of the building in the photo above reads
M. J. Moroney Mayor * Electric Light Station * Erected 1905

Although a generating station had been on the site since 1891, an enlargement of the building and generating capacity, was instigated in August 1905 when Michael Joseph Moroney was Mayor of Newcastle. The extensions were nearing completion in May 1906.

“Material additions and improvements are being made to the electric lighting station of the borough of Newcastle, and the prospects for the future are highly promising. In the front of the station there has been erected a brick structure, with a frontage of 60ft x 18ft, which contains an entrance hall, an electrical engineer’s office, fitting and testing room, and storeroom. An addition has also been made alongside of the original building, running the full length, and 37ft wide, which will give room for future extensions, in addition to those already decided upon.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 4 May 1906
An undated view of the Sydney St power station, taken from Darby St. University of Newcastle, Special Collections.
1930s map showing location of Newcastle City Electric Power House in Tyrrell St (formerly Sydney St). National Library of Australia.

Newspaper articles – electric light

Article Date Event DateNotes
2 Jan 1891
1 Jan 1891
Official opening of the Newcastle Council electric light scheme.
12 Sep 1903"Nine aldermen (out of 15 candidates) are being elected to-day. The old debt is to be wiped off, less the accumulated interest; so it will be some time ere the streets and park are again illuminated, but the sooner the better."
29 Jul 1914Letter from a resident urging the community to vote in favour of the gas powered lighting scheme.

"Lambton is naturally so situated that if only reasonable conveniences prevail, it will take its place in the future as one of the most desirable suburbs in the district to reside in, and I hope that the ratepayers will be alive to their own interests, and help the council in their efforts to bring about this much needed improvement."
24 Aug 1914
22 Aug 1914
"A poll of the ratepayers on the street-lighting question was taken on Saturday, and the number of ratepayers that voted was much larger than for some years, and very keen interest taken in the matter. The result was as follows :--For gas, 84 ; against, 199 ; informal, 3."
1 Oct 1914"During the last two or three years there has been a largely increased demand for electric current from the Newcastle City Council's plant … The council has been informed by its expert advisers that it is now urgently necessary that another generating unit should be installed."
10 Nov 1914Newcastle Council meeting: "On the recommendation of the finance committee it was decided to accept the tender of the Australian General Electric Light Company, at £4007 10s, for one 500 k.w. turbo-alternator, of British manufacture. The company's tender at £1212 was also accepted for the supply of pipework, making a total of £5219 10s."
4 Aug 1915
3 Aug 1915
At a Newcastle Council meeting, the aldermen discuss proposed extensions of the electric lighting into Wickham and Adamstown municipalities.
7 Aug 1915Letter regarding Newcastle Council electricity generation: "The actual units in commission now total about 950 kilowatts, with a new Turbo set erected, and which will be ready for work by the end of September. This will give 1450 k.w. The peak load is about 700 k.w., which occurs on Friday evenings, and this therefore shows a margin of about 700 k.w. No opportunity should be lost for obtaining new clients, and every chance availed of for extending the service into the suburban municipalities."
17 Aug 1915
16 Aug 1915
Newcastle Council decide on the terms under which they will suplply elecrtricity to other municipalities.
20 Sep 1916
18 Sep 1916
Formal switching on ceremony of New Lambton electric lighting.
9 Jun 1917
8 Jun 1917
"In response to a requisition of ratepayers Alderman E. Charlton, the Mayor of Lambton, convened a meeting, which was held at the council chambers last evening, to discuss the proposed lighting of the municipality."

Views for and against the proposed electric light scheme were put forward, but when put to the vote the motion was rejected.
2 Sep 1918"During the discussion which took place at the last municipal meeting upon the lighting of the municipality, the aldermen appear to be evenly divided. [Those] supporting the motion, contended that until some move was made in the direction indicated that the municipality would not make progress in keeping with adjoining centres, where a lighting system was installed. [Those] opposing the motion, argued that the council should first consider some scheme with a view of reducing the present indebtedness which they contended was the reason of keeping the town from progressing."
4 Feb 1920
3 Feb 1920
Newly elected Mayor of Lambton, Louis Polak, states his intention to advocate a street lighting system.
25 Feb 1920
24 Feb 1920
At Lambton Council meeting, correspondence received from "The Newcastle electrical engineer, intimating that the Newcastle Council would be pleased to confer and assist the council, with a view of expediting the proposal to instal street lighting in the municipality."
5 May 1920
4 May 1920
Lambton council votes to approve an agreement with Newcastle Council for the installation and supply of electric light.
26 Jul 1920"Preparations are being made for the erection of the poles for the electric lighting of the municipality. The council has been assured that there will be no undue delay so far as the Newcastle Council is concerned, and upon completion of the Waratah service, which is now well advanced, the electrical construction staff will be transferred to Lambton. It is expected that the lighting of the muni icipality will be installed by February or March of next year. With the switching on of the light the council will also have an opportunity of making the combined celebration of the jubilee, as the municipality will have been 50 years incorporated on the 26th June, 1921."
11 Jan 1921At the Newcastle Council meeting, the electricity committee reports on the delays to Lambton's electtic light installation.
8 Feb 1921
7 Feb 1921
"Employees of the electrical department of the Newcastle Council commenced yesterday the erection of the poles for the street lighting of the municipality. The first section to be undertaken is from Karoola-road to the eastern boundary."
23 Jul 1921Newcastle Electricity, conference of councils. Contains a short history of the supply of electricity from Newcastle Council.
1 Aug 1921"The finishing touches in connection with the installation of the electric light will be completed to-day."

Charles Noble

This month marks 100 years since the death of Charles Noble, whose immense contributions to Lambton colliery and Lambton township spanned more than 50 years.

Charles Noble was born in Nailsea near Bristol on 9 June 1856, and arrived in Australia the following year with his parents Mark and Elizabeth. They lived in the Merewether area for a few years before moving to Lambton.

Charles was just 10 years old when he first worked at Lambton Colliery for a brief three-week stint. He started at the colliery again in 1868, but on 17 June 1871, having just turned 15, misfortune struck.  While uncoupling a set of coal trains on an incline in the mine, his right arm was crushed between two wagons. The injury was severe and required the amputation of the arm.

As painful as it was, the accident, proved to be a positive turning point in Charles’ career. The mine manager Thomas Croudace, “recommended the company to give him a two years’ free schooling and then re-employ him as an apprentice for an under-manager’s position.” Charles attended Lambton Public School and went on to receive the “first prize of the school for good behaviour and general proficiency.” After schooling, he returned to Lambton colliery working at many jobs, eventually becoming underground manager.

Above ground Noble served the town in many capacities. He was elected as auditor for the Lambton council sixteen times. At various times he held positions at the Mechanics Institute, Lambton Park Trust, and assisted with local choirs, the Methodist Church, friendly societies and sporting clubs. On Sunday 10 July 1921, aged 65 Charles Noble died very suddenly of heart disease. He was at work just the day before, at Lambton colliery where he had been employed for a record 53 years. Such was the respect he was held in, the colliery ceased work for a day so that employees could attend his funeral. He was survived by his wife Annie, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mildred.

Lambton Colliery staff, 27 May 1897. Charles Noble is sitting on the ground at the right.
Living Histories @ UoN.
Year 4 students at Lambton Public School (L to R) Brisan Archer, Riley Brooker, Jackson
Horvat and Harry Rayner with the historic coal hopper on campus. These students are the same
age as Charles Noble when he commenced working at Lambton colliery. Photo provided courtesy of Lambton Public School.

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

Additional Information

Arrival in Australia

The List of Immigrants for the ship “Alfred” which arrived on 23 July 1857 shows Charles Noble arrived with his youthful parents Mark aged 22 and Elizabeth aged 19. Charles is listed as an infant under 1 year, although he would have had his first birthday the month before the ship’s arrival date.

Immigrant List of the ship “Alfred”,showing the Noble family. NSW State Archives, NRS5316/4_4794/Alfred_23 Jul 1857

The Noble family’s safe arrival in the ship Alfred was fortuitous occasion, as reported at Charles’ funeral some 64 years later …

A full passenger list prevented the late Mr. Noble and his parents from sailing in the Dunbar, which was wrecked outside Sydney Heads, with almost a total loss of life. They came to Australia by the next ship, the Prince Alfred.

The Newcastle SUn, 11 July 1921

The Dunbar was shipwrecked on 21 August 1857 with the loss of 120 lives, and just one survivor.

The accident

The accident and injury to Charles Noble was reported in the The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser on 22 June 1871. Note that Charles’ age is reported as “about seventeen”, however he had just turned 15.

I am sorry to have to report that an accident of a very painful nature occurred to a young man about seventeen [sic] years of age, named Noble, at the Lambton Colliery, on Saturday night last It appears the boy was uncoupling a set of coal trains at the incline bank in the pit, and by some means got his arm fast between the bumpers. The arm was so dreadfully lacerated as to create great fears that it will be necessary to amputate it. The bone was not broken, but the flesh, muscles, and bloodveins fearfully torn. Dr Hill and his assistant, Mr James, were fortunately at hand, and did what was necessary, and it is to be hoped they will succeed in saving the poor boy’s limb.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 22 June 1871.

The following week, the Newcastle Chronicle reported on his recovery …

I am glad to be able to state that young Noble, the boy who lost his arm by the late accident at the Lambton Colliery, is progressing most favourably under the skilful treatment of Dr. Hill. Your contemporary the Pilot is in error in stating that it was through carelessness on the boy’s part that the accident happened, although, in the majority of cases, such is the case ; but in this instance it was anything but that, and under similar circumstances the most careful person might have been caught in a like manner.

THE Newcastle Chronicle, 27 June 1871.

Unfortunately the Chronicle reporter’s observation that the accident could happen to even the most careful person, proved to be tragically prescient. Just five months later a similar accident, at the same place, resulted in a youth of seventeen also requiring the amputation of his right arm.

Another of those serious and painful accidents which are of such frequent, occurrence, and present to the view of strangers coming among us so many fine healthy young men either maimed or crippled, occurred yesterday, at the Lambton colliery. A One smart young fellow, named Andrew Blimm, son of German parents, and about 17 years of age, while employed at his work, coupling and uncoupling the trams on the incline bank within the Lambton colliery, had his right arm so severely torn and lacerated from the hand to elbow joint as to leave no hopes of saving the limb. It was about this same, incline bank and this same rope that the young man, Charles Noble, not long ago lost his arm.

The Newcastle Chronicle, 25 November 1871.

Lambton Council

Charles Noble was elected as auditor to Lambton Council for 16 consecutive years in the period 1883 to 1898. The following year, with the council in the throes of the electric light scheme financial disaster, he was appointed as auditor by the Lieutenant Governor of NSW, when no-one was willing to nominate for positions in a bankrupt municipality.

Lambton council ceased to exist for a few years, but when it commenced again, Charles Noble was elected as an alderman at the election in September 1903. Being one of the three successful candidates who secured the lowest number of votes, his term as alderman only lasted until the next scheduled election in February 1904. He did not re-contest his position as alderman, but put himself forward for auditor again, but was unsuccessful.

Civic service ran in the Noble family. Charles’ brother Henry James Noble was town clerk of Lambton Council for many years, and brother George Noble was an alderman in Lambton for seven years and elected Mayor in 1905.

A short street in North Lambton with the prosaic name of “1st Street” was renamed to “Noble Street” in 1955, presumably in recognition of the service of the Noble brothers to Lambton.



In 1902 a short report on the eighteenth birthday of Lydia Noble indicates that the family were living in Summerhill, which is the hilly area of Lambton east of the park, where Fitzroy and Illalung Roads run. It would seem they were renting there initially, for the first record of a land sale to the Nobles occurs in 1906, with Annie Noble purchasing Lot 1009 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, in Fitzroy Rd. The block of land was subdivided into two parts in 1941 and is now 20 and 22 Fitzroy Rd.

Vol-Fol 1027-40. HLRV

Other photos

Newcastle library has another Ralph Snowball photo of the same group of colliery officials, minus one person. The photo was almost certainly taken on the same day, but at a different location at the colliery.

Noting that Charles Noble had lost his right arm, we can see that on the library site the photo is incorrectly displayed as a mirror image. I have corrected the mirroring in the photo below.

Colliery officials, Lambton mine, 1897. Ralph Snowball. Hunter Photobank
Charles Noble. Photo from ancestry.com supplied by Amy Gibbs.
Elizabeth Lydia, Annie, Charles and Mildred Noble. Photo from ancestry.com supplied by Amy Gibbs.
Grave site in Sandgate cemetery of Charles and Annie Noble , and other members of the Noble family.
The inscription on the headstone for Charles and Annie Noble is hidden by vegetation.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
22 Jun 1871
17 Jun 1871
Accident at Lambton colliery in which fifteen year old Charles Noble has his arm so severely crushed that it required amputation.
27 Jun 1871"I am glad to be able to state that young Noble, the boy who lost his arm by the late accident at the Lambton Colliery, is progressing most favourably under the skilful treatment of Dr. Hill."
25 Nov 1871
24 Nov 1871
Andrew Blimm (aged 17) loses an arm in an accident at Lambton Colliery, in very similar circumstances to Charles Noble five months earlier.
11 Jan 1873"Master Charles Noble was called up to receive the first prize of the school for good behaviour and general proficiency ; he proved to be one of the two young men who unfortunately lost one of their arms at the Lambton Colliery."
2 Sep 1874"The Lambton miners presented Andrew Blim, a young man who lost his arm some three years ago on the Lambton colliery, with the sum of £10 on Saturday last. They also intend giving a like sum to Charles Noble, who lost his arm about the same time, and while working at the same place as Blim."
12 Dec 1876
10 Dec 1876
"At the camp meeting on Sunday, a young man named Charles Noble, sat down on a glass bottle, and cut one of his fingers to the bone. As he has only one hand this accident is very unfortunate."
28 Dec 1878Charles Noble, secretary of the "Morning Star Band of Hope" lodge in Lambton.
2 Apr 1879
31 Mar 1879
"On Monday last Mr. Charles Noble, one of the officials of Lambton Colliery, happened a rather nasty accident. Whilst endeavouring to get out of the way of a skip, he ran his head up against a piece of iron, and inflicted a severe scalp wound, which caused the loss of much blood."
17 Nov 1883Charles Noble, marriage to Annie Robson, at Wallsend.
9 Apr 1891In testimony at a court case, Charles Noble states his occupation … "I am underground boss in Lambton pit."
23 May 1894Charles Noble elected as one of the Trustees of Lambton Mechanics' Institute.
24 Jul 1902Charles Noble elected as treasurer of Lambton Park Trust.
5 Oct 1904"The Scottish-Australian Mining Company has leased the old Lambton colliery to Mr. Charles Noble on tribute, and it is intimated that there is room for about 30 miners in the pit on district rates of pay."
5 Dec 1904
3 Dec 1904
Death of Mark Noble, father of Charles Noble.
9 Apr 1910
8 Apr 1910
Death of Elizabeth Noble, mother of Charles Noble.
30 May 1921"Mr. Charles Noble, the present undermanager has been employed with the company for over 52 years, which can be regarded as almost a record of service. He commenced work in the pit after leaving school as a set boy, and about two years afterwards he met with an accident while taking off the rope, necessitating the amputation of one of his arms. Work of a light nature was subsequently found him. He became studious, and had no difficulty in passing the examination qualifying for an underground manager."
11 Jul 1921
10 Jul 1921
Obituary on the death of Charles Noble.
11 Jul 1921
10 Jul 1921
"The death took place at Lambton yesterday morning of Mr. Chas. Noble, brother of the town clerk (Mr. H. J. Noble) at the age of 66, from heart failure. Deceased, who was a native of Somersetshire, England, lived at Lambton for 56 years, and was associated with the Lambton Colliery (during the greater portion of the time as under-manager), for 53 years."
12 Jul 1921
11 Jul 1921
"Lambton colliery was idle yesterday, so that its employees might attend the funeral of the under-manager, Mr. Charles Noble, who died on Sunday morning."
12 Jul 1921
11 Jul 1921
Funeral of Charles Noble.
17 Aug 1921
14 Aug 1921
Memorial service for Charles Noble at Lambton Methodist Church - "Mr. Noble had been associated with the church since childhood, and was a trustee for many years. "
20 Jun 1934Death of Ann Noble (widow of Charles), aged 71.
4 Nov 1955"First Street" in North Lambton renamed to "Noble Street".

The plaque is found

Back in September 2015 I wrote about the power station built in Lambton in 1890 to supply the electric light scheme. In a follow-up article in August 2017 I wrote about the commemorative plaque that had been placed on the power station at its opening, and that its last known location was Nesca House in 1975. Ed Tonks subsequently provided to me a photo showing the plaque on display in 1985, but that its current whereabouts was unknown. 

A few weeks, thanks to keen work from Robert Watson, the plaque was located in storage at Ausgrid’s Wallsend depot. This weekend the plaque is on display for the Love Lambton 150 celebrations, in the Lambton library, which is the former Lambton council chambers where all the decisions about the electric light scheme were made by the aldermen and mayor.

The Lambton Electric Light Station plaque, on display in Lambton library. 26 June 2021.

George Bell, Grocer

This month’s photograph of George Bell and Sons grocery store in Elder St Lambton was taken exactly 125 years ago in May 1896. It is not only a reminder of how our visual landscape has changed, but also how our way of life has changed, as seen in the two themes of Tea and Transport.

A riddle published a century ago asks: Why is a grocer a heavy person? Because his business always makes him weigh tea (weighty). Although not side-splittingly funny, it’s a reminder that while we now purchase tea in mass produced robotically dispensed plastic wrapped packages, grocers like Bell bought commodities such as flour, sugar and tea in bulk then sold it to their customers by weighing out the requested quantity for each individual purchase.

From about 1880 tea began to be distributed and sold in small packets of set weight. There were two reasons for the change. The weighing and packing of each purchase took considerable time, incurring great expense to every grocer doing even an ordinary trade. Pre-packaged tea also benefited the customer, preventing grocers making a bit of sly profit by wrapping the tea in extra heavy paper before weighing, or by adulterating it with other substances.

Not that George Bell would have practised such deceits. He was held in high respect, as evidenced by the hundreds who attended his funeral in November 1887. A few weeks earlier while travelling in a horse and buggy near Sandgate Cemetery, the horse was startled and then bolted, capsizing the buggy. George suffered serious head injuries from which he never recovered and he died aged just 58.

It is tempting to imagine travel by horse and cart as a serene and idyllic experience. In truth it was dangerous, and newspapers regularly reported on serious injuries and fatalities related to horse drawn transport. Although tragically, serious accidents still occur now on our roads today, travelling today is considerably safer than in the times of George Bell.

Bell’s grocery store in May 1896. The shop was erected 1875 and the residence on the left in 1882. Photograph by Ralph Snowball. Living Histories @ UoN.
A new brick building for Bell’s grocery business was constructed in 1907 by George’s son, John Reavely Bell. The building is still in use today by Elder Street Practice.

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

Additional Information

Packet Tea

Some of the information in my article relating to the sale of tea, came from a University of Sydney Bachelor of Arts (Honours) dissertation by Jessica Knight from 2011, entitled “A Poisonous Cup? Afternoon Tea in Australian Society, 1870-1914.”

In particular, the paragraph commencing at the bottom of page 16 was insightful.

The introduction of pre-packaged teas, as opposed to bulk tea which was usually packaged in large tea chests, marked a shift in both sales and consumption of tea. For example, the Asiatic Tea Company opened in 26 May 1881 in Pitt Street to sell their packet teas. The justification they provided for packet tea was that “tea being so universally used in Australia, the consumption consequently is very great, the weighing and packing of which takes considerable time meaning additional expense to every grocer doing even an ordinary trade, while in country towns where experienced grocers’ assistants are difficult to be obtained, the weighing and packing of tea became a source of annoyance to the storekeeper – hence the great advantage to them in the use and general sale of packet teas”. The Company’s success was so great that they soon needed to move to larger premises, and they grew to include supplying packet tea to storekeepers across the city of Sydney and in wider New South Wales. Mirroring the increasing commodification of tea in Britain, these tea shops indicated the success of tea commercial enterprise within Australia, and thus provide tangible support to the interconnectedness of the Empire.

page 16 of Jessica Knight’s dissertation.

The extent of the problem of inferior tea being sold by the illicit mixing in of other substances can be gleaned by searching Trove for the phrase “tea adulteration”. The Argus of 9 April 1881 reported that …

The various methods of adulteration of tea may be defined as the addition of leaves other than those of tea except those used for scenting exhausted tea leaves and damaged tea; an undue proportion of stalks or vegetable matter foreign to tea of any kind whatever; foreign mineral matter especially sand, quartz, soapstone, China clay, magnetic oxide of iron. Lastly the substances used for artificially colouring or painting the teas as ferrocyanide of iron, or Prussian blue indigo, turmeric &c.

An example of adulteration can be seen in this 15 February 1898 report, where a grocer was charged for selling tea “of very inferior quality” that had been adulterated with plumbago (a garden shrub). The grocer blamed the merchants he had bought the tea from.

Elder Street store

Vol-Fol 99-214 shows that “George Bell of Lambton, Miner” purchased Lot 8 of Section E of Lambton township in 1870.

Lot 8 Section E of Lambton. Vol-Fol 99-214.

Ownership of the land remained in the Bell family until 1965.

  • 1889 – George Edward Bell
  • 1899 – Ann Bell (widow of George Edward Bell)
  • 1904 – George Reavely Bell
  • 1909 – Elizabeth Bell (Widow of George Reavely Bell)
  • 1952 – Sydney Raymond Bell
  • 1965 – Doris Lila Janssen and Myra May Edwards

Although from the exterior it appears that the George Bell’s residence (to the left of the store) no longer remains, there is in fact a few rooms at the rear of the building that were retained, one of which is used as a lunch room by the Elder Street Practice. This room has an ornate fireplace, timber floor, wood panelled skirting boards, and pressed metal ceiling.

Cash only for George Bell from April 1877. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 31 March 1877.

Hunter Street stores

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 7 July 1894.

The Western Arcade was located at 684 Hunter St, It was originally erected in 1888 as the The Elite Skating Rink. The site later became the Palais Royale, and was eventually demolished to make way for KFC.

City Arcade and Western Markets, Hunter Street, Newcastle West, 8 February 1892 (2 years before Bell and Sons opened a store here). Living Histories @ UON.

In 1897, the firm erected their own premises on in Hunter Street West.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 17 December 1897.

This new store was located at 545 Hunter Street, and the building remains today.

Note the bell sculpture at the top of the building façade, alluded to in their advertisement.

Bell sculpture on Hunter Street store.

In a similar fashion, their Elder St Lambton store in 1896 had a picture of a bell painted on the side wall.

Bell picture on Lambton store.

An advertisement for Bell’s store from 1902, shows how ingredients such as sugar, tea and flour were sold by the pound. Note also that the address of “261 Hunter-Street West” is the old number, before Hunter street was re-numbered

Death of George Bell

SERIOUS ACCIDENT.–We regret to learn that a serious accident occurred yesterday to Mr. George Bell, storekeeper, Lambton. It appears that Mr. Bell, with two of his sons, was driving in a sociable. When in the neighbourhood of Sandgate Cemetery the king-bolt of the vehicle gave way, and the shaft fell, frightening the horse, which immediately bolted. The vehicle was capsized, and the occupants were thrown out with much force, the result being that Mr. Bell was severely injured about the head, while one of his sons was much injured about the face. Assistance was lent by some passers by, and Dr. Nash, of Wallsend, having been sent for, applied the usual remedies in order to bring Mr. Bell to consciousness. It was, however, about an hour and a half before the patient rallied. A cart was obtained from Hexham, and he was conveyed from the scene of the accident. Concussion of the brain is feared, and Mr. Bell lies in a critical condition.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 31 October 1887

The LATE Mr. GEORGE BELL.–The deep regret felt for the death of the above gentleman, and the general respect in which he was held, was very evident yesterday, Monday, seeing the large number that came to pay their last tribute of respect by attending the funeral. The Lambton residents were present in hundreds, and others from Newcastle, Wallsend, Waratah, and other places, a good many being business people, and amongst whom were representatives of some of the leading business houses in Newcastle. Altogether the funeral cortege was one of the largest that left Lambton, and made up as it was of hundreds of foot passengers, numerous buggies, ‘buses, and other vehicles, and horsemen, the length covered was little short of a mile. Prior to leaving the deceased’s late residence, the Rev. Mr. Walters, of the Primitive Methodist, conducted a short service, the remains were then placed in the hearse, following which came the sons of deceased, then a mourning coach with other relatives and intimate friends, and then the long procession. The members of the now defunct Lambton band, with some of the Volunteer Band, to show their respect, mustered fourteen players, and marched in precedence of the hearse, playing the solemn strains of the ” Dead March in Saul.” The funeral went through Waratah to the North Waratah Cemetery, where the Rev. J. P. Ollis conducted the impressive service of the Church of England, and thus the last act to one who in life was respected for his uprightness of character, and deeply lamented and truly honoured in death.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 22 November 1887.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
12 Sep 1870First mention of George Bell in the newspaper - signatory in a petition for the formation of Lambton Municipality.
18 Jul 1871
15 Jul 1871
At a public meeting, George Bell is nominated for the first Lambton council election. His name does not appear on official list of nominees on 29 Jul 1871 - either his nomination proved to be invalid, or he withdrew.
9 Dec 1875In Elder-street, a couple of commodious two-storied buildings, that have been in course of erection for some time, are now completed. The shops are owned by Messrs. Bell and Wilson, the former of which has now opened as a grocer.
17 Jul 1879
13 Jul 1879
"As Mr. and Mrs George Bell and Mr. E. Reavely were driving down Turton Road, they had a narrow escape from serious injury. When near Thompson's Hotel the winkers became loose, and the horse at once bolted, keeping straight on until near Merchant's Hotel, where the vehicle capsized, throwing the whole of the occupants out on the street. They, however, strange to say, escaped with out much injury beside a severe shaking."
19 Apr 1882"Mr. George Bell, one of the most enterprising of our local business men, is having a new residence erected adjoining his stores in Elder-street. The building, is of a substantial character, and judging from the plan will be one of imposing appearance when completed."
31 Oct 1887
30 Oct 1887
Serious horse and buggy accident in which George Bell suffers critical injuries.
26 Nov 1887
19 Nov 1887
"Death. BELL. — At Lambton, on the 19th instant, Mr. Mr. George Bell, storekeeper, aged 58 years, leaving a widow, three sons, and two daughters to mourn their loss."
22 Nov 1887
21 Nov 1887
Funeral of George Bell.
2 Dec 1887Estate of George Bell to go to his eldest son, George Edward Bell.
16 Nov 1888Yet another horse related accident associated with the Bell family - a young man making deliveries to the store is run over by a cart.
7 Jul 1894G. Bell & Sons have opened a branch store in the Western Arcade, Hunter Street West, Newcastle.
17 Dec 1897"G. BELL & SONS (ESTABLISHED 1870) beg to intimate that they have THIS DAY OPENED IN THEIR NEW PREMISES, IN HUNTER-STREET WEST, Next the West End Post Office. LOOK FOR THE SIGN OF 'THE BELL' OVER G. Bell and Sons."
17 Dec 1897"MESSRS. G. BELL & SONS. This old established firm of grocers, drapers, and general provision dealers has been among the leading houses in the trade since 1870. Three years ago they opened a branch of their Lambton business at the Western markets. Recently to meet their increasing trade a more central site was purchased, next to the Post Office, Hunter street West, upon which they have just erected imposing business premises."
7 Mar 1928In 1928 the grocery business in Elder Street was being run by Elizabeth Bell, but not in a very hygienic manner, with the Health Inspector even finding spiders and cobwebs in the cheese safe!

Thomas Bevan, Undertaker and more

Thomas Bevan was a man of many pursuits. Born in Camarthenshire in Wales, Bevan emigrated to Australia with an older brother and younger sister in 1884 when he was just 22 years of age. They settled in Lambton and soon afterwards their father, mother and nine other siblings, including 13 year old brother Jonah, joined them.

Thomas’ immigration document lists him as a “builder and wheelwright”, but by the following year in a legal document his occupational description had expanded to “furniture dealer, upholsterer, and undertaker.” In 1887 he married Jennet Davies in Lambton and two years later they purchased a block of land in Pearson Street, for the family home and undertaker’s business. 

However, with three undertakers in Lambton at that time, and a population of just three thousand, the task of tending to the dead was not sufficient to make a living. Bevan had to diversify, as the sign on his house attests. He was also a “cabinet maker, carpenter, joiner” and could be engaged to have “saws set and sharpened” and “glass cut to order”.

After living and working in Lambton for 25 years, Bevan made a complete change in occupation. In 1910 he sold his house and property, and moved to the Richmond River area near Casino to become a dairy farmer. He lived on a number of properties in the area and retired in 1927. He and Jennet celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in Lismore in 1937 and later moved to Sydney where Thomas died in 1941 and Jennet in 1953.

Although Thomas left Lambton in 1910, the Bevan name remained in Newcastle. His younger brother Jonah had become an undertaker in Stockton in a business that continues to this day. One difference to note though – because of the large increase in our city’s population, funeral providers today can have a singular focus that is in marked contrast to the multi-tasking of Thomas Bevan.

Thomas Bevan and family, Pearson St Lambton, 1890s. Photo by Ralph Snowball, Living Histories @ UON.
Jonah Bevan Funerals, Stockton, 2021.

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

Additional Information

Thomas, William and Serviah Bevan travelled from Wales to Australia on the steamship Texas, in 1884 as assisted emigrants. The passenger list shows Thomas’ aged 22, occupation “builder and wheelwright”, and native place and county as “Carmarthen”.

Emigration list 1884, showing William and Thomas Bevan. Assisted Emigrant records, FamilySearch.org
Emigration list 1886, showing Jonah Bevan aged 13, with two older brothers. Assisted Emigrant records, FamilySearch.org

Newcastle Properties

Page 93 of the Federal Directory of Newcastle and District 1901, lists “T. Bevan” as an undertaker in Pearson St. Vol-Fol 796-107 shows that Thomas Bevan purchased the north half of Lot 6 Section K in July 1889.

Purchase by Thomas Bevan, Vol-Fol 796-107.

Lot 6 corresponds to current day address 41 Pearson St.

In the 1904 photographic panorama of Lambton, taken from the North Lambton hill, Bevan’s house and shed can be seen in Pearson St.

Thomas Bevan’s house and shed, seen in a 1904 photograph. Living Histories @ UON
41 Pearson St Lambton, March 2021.

In May 1910, the following advertisement appeared in Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate.

Property No 1 was the double storey house formerly owned by W T Dent, located at 18 Pearson St. Thomas and Jennet Bevan purchased the property in June 1908. (See Vol-Fol 262-127.) Although advertised for sale in 1910, the property was not sold until October 1919.

W T Dent’s house at 18 Pearson Street Lambton, in 1897. Thomas and Jennet Bevan purchased the house in June 1908. Living Histories @ UON

Property No 2 in the advertisement was the house and undertaker’s business at 41 Pearson St Lambton. The property sold to William James Hanlon, a blacksmith’s assistant, in July 1910.

Property No 3 was at 127 Michael Street Jesmond. Thomas Bevan purchased this property in October 1905. (See Vol-Fol 816-189.) Although advertised for sale in 1910, the property was not sold until October 1919.

Life in the Casino Area

On leaving Newcastle in May 1910, Thomas Bevan moved to the Casino area and lived and worked on a number of properties.

  • “Nunga” homestead, Fairy Hill, north-west of Casino.
  • “Carmarthen” property, McKees Hill, east of Casino
  • “Brynteg” property, Spring Grove, east of Casino

Bevan was a tenant of the “Nunga” property at Fairy Hill from 1910 until August 1914.

“Nunga” homestead, Fairy Hill, NSW. Google Maps. Imagery (c) 2021, CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies.

The exact location of Bevan’s property “Carmarthen” at McKees Hill is unknown. It would seem that he only rented this property as there is no record of a purchase, and the advertisement in April 1919 only mentions livestock and farm implements for sale, not the land or house.

In September 1919, Thomas Bevan purchased a property of about 280 acres at Spring Grove. (See Vol-Fol 2689-249) Presumably this purchase was funded by the sale of his Lambton and Jesmond properties in the same year.

Purchase of land by “Thomas Bevan of near Casino, Dairy Farmer.” Vol-Fol 2689-249.
Thomas Bevan’s property purchase in 1919 at Spring Grove.
Location of Thomas Bevan’s property “Brynweg”, to the east of the village of Spring Grove. SIX maps.

Bevan subsequently sold this property in July 1931.

Thomas and Jennet Bevan’s Golden wedding anniversary in Lismore. Western Mail, 23 Dec 1937.

Undertaker ratios

In the article I make the contrast between Thomas Bevan who had to diversify into a myriad of other activities beyond undertaking to make a living, compared to modern day undertakers who are focused solely on the funeral business. A rough comparison of the ratio of undertakers to population is revealing. The Federal Directory of Newcastle and District 1901, lists three undertakers in Lambton:

  • T Bevan, Pearson St
  • R Thomas, Dixon St
  • R and C Evans, Pearson St

With the population of Lambton shown as 3434 in the 1891 census, this equates to about one undertaker per 1000 people. Compare this with the modern day by looking at the area covered by the Newcastle federal electorate. The 2016 census shows a population of 152,948, and a Google search for funeral directors and undertakers in this area reveals eleven businesses. This equates to one undertaker per 14000 population, a fourteen-fold difference from the ratio that Thomas Bevan had to deal with in 1901.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
28 Aug 1885Indenture of assignment notification for "William Bevan, of Wallsend, in the Colony of New South Wales, furniture dealer, upholsterer, and undertaker, and Thomas Bevan, of the same place, furniture dealer, upholsterer, and undertaker, trading at Wallsend and Lambton, in the Colony aforesaid, under the style and firm of 'Bevan Brothers'."
29 Dec 1885Advertisement inserted by "THOMAS H. BEVAN, Undertaker, Elder-street, Lambton."
3 Jan 1887"H. BEVAN & SON, UNDERTAKERS, Elder and Kendall Streets, LAMBTON, BEG to announce to the inhabitants of Lambton and surrounding districts that they are now in a position to CONDUCT FUNERALS in the most respectable manner, and CHEAPER than any other place in the district. N.B.- Hearses and Mourning Coaches supplied on the shortest notice."
21 Jan 1887Funeral of Thomas Bevan's mother Catherine.
29 Oct 1887
27 Oct 1887
"Marriage. BEVAN-DAVIES.- October 27th, 1887, at the bride's father's house, Lambton, by the Rev. Richard Erwyd Davies, Thomas Bevan, contractor, Lambton, eldest son of Hopkin Bevan, contractor, Stockton, to Janet [sic], daughter of William Davies, merchant, Lambton."
7 Nov 1887First mention of "H. Bevan & Sons, Undertakers" in Stockton.
3 Jan 1891First mention of "Thomas Bevan, Undertaker" in Lambton, after some years being advertised as "H. Bevan and Sons".
5 May 1900
15 Apr 1900
Death of Thomas Bevan's father Hopkin, aged 66, at Stockton.
14 May 1910Thomas Bevan advertises the sale of three properties, two in Lambton and one in Jesmond.
26 May 1910
24 May 1910
"A social evening, promoted by the members of the Lambton Choral Society, was held in the Empire Hall on Tuesday night … to bid farewell to the conductor, Mr. Thomas Bevan."
26 May 1910"The members of the Lambton Congregation Church entertained Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bevan and family at a social on Monday evening in the schoolroom, on the eve of their departure from Lambton … Mr. and Mrs. Bevan and family leave Newcastle this morning by boat for their new home on the Richmond River."
1 Nov 1913
28 Oct 1913
Marriage of William Hopkin Bevan, "eldest son of Thomas Bevan, Fairy Hill, Casino (late of Lambton)."
19 Jun 1914"On Wednesday last at 'Nunga,' Fairy Hill, the residence, of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bevan, a quiet but pretty wedding was celebrated between Miss Catherine Bevan and Mr. W. H. Winslow Bassan."
17 Apr 1915In a court case over the dealing with noxious weeds on the "Nunga" property at Fairy Hill, "Thomas Bevan said he took possession in 1910 and remained a tenant till August, 1914."
28 Apr 1919On account of MR. THOS. BEVAN, 'CARMARTHEN,' McKEE'S HILL. VTIRTUE, NOBLE and CO., LTD., under instructions from Mr. Thomas Bevan, of McKee's Hill, will submit to public auction the whole of his Choice Little Dairy Herd, Plant, Horses, Pigs, Farm Implements, Galvanised Iron, Piping, Timber, etc."
27 Jan 1932After the death of Hopkin Bevan in 1900, the undertaking business at Stockton contined to trade for many years (up to at least 1932) as "H. Bevan & Sons."
23 Dec 1937
22 Nov 1937
Golden wedding anniversary celebration of Thomas and Jennet Bevan in Lismore.
13 Feb 1941Death of Thomas Bevan, aged 80, at Arncliffe.
11 Jan 1945
9 Jan 1945
Death of Jonah Bevan, aged 71, brother of Thomas.
26 Dec 1953
23 Dec 1953
Death of Jennet Bevan, aged 86, widow of Thomas.

Thomas Bevan, Undertaker

[Note: I have expanded the content from this blog post into an article for the April 2021 edition of The Local.]

The Historical Lands Record Viewer is proving to be quite a useful tool in identifying the location of various old photographs. I have managed to confirm the location of this Ralph Snowball photograph of Thomas Bevan, Undertaker, as being at 41 Pearson St Lambton

Thomas Bevan, Undertaker, Lambton. Not dated. Living Histories @ UON.

Page 93 of the Federal Directory of Newcastle and District 1901, lists “T. Bevan” as an undertaker in Pearson St. Vol-Fol 796-107 shows that Thomas Bevan purchased the north half of Lot 6 Section K in July 1889.

Purchase by Thomas Bevan, Vol-Fol 796-107.

Lot 6 corresponds to current day address 41 Pearson St.

In the 1904 photographic panorama of Lambton, taken from the North Lambton hill, Bevan’s house and shed can be seen in Pearson St.

Thomas Bevan’s house and shed, seen in a 1904 photograph. Living Histories @ UON

In May 1910, the following advertisement appeared in Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate.

Property No 1 was the double storey house formerly owned by W T Dent, located at 18 Pearson St. Thomas and Jennet Bevan purchased the property in June 1908. (See Vol-Fol 262-127.) Although advertised for sale in 1910, the property was not sold until October 1919.

W T Dent’s house at 18 Pearson Street Lambton, in 1897. Thomas and Jennet Bevan purchased the house in June 1908. Living Histories @ UON

Property No 2 in the advertisement was the house and undertaker’s business at 41 Pearson St Lambton. The property sold to William James Hanlon, a blacksmith’s assistant, in July 1910.

Property No 3 was at 127 Michael Street Jesmond. Thomas Bevan purchased this property in October 1905. (See Vol-Fol 816-189.) Although advertised for sale in 1910, the property was not sold until October 1919.

Lambton Hotels

This page aims to provide a comprehensive reference of hotels in Lambton from 1864.

  1. Lambton Arms Hotel
  2. Gold Miners’ Arms Hotel
  3. Northumberland Hotel
  4. The Rose, Thistle, & Shamrock Inn
  5. Rose and Crown Inn
  6. Prince of Wales Hotel
  7. Red Lion Inn
  8. Lancashire Arms Hotel/Welcome Home Inn
  9. Marquis of Lorne Hotel
  10. Pine Apple Hotel
  11. Jesmond Hotel
  12. Royal Hotel
  13. Coal Miners’ Home Hotel
  14. Miners’ Arms Hotel
  15. Royal Oak Hotel
  16. Race Horse Inn
  17. Northern Star Hotel
  18. Commercial Hotel (1)
  19. Exchange Hotel
  20. Marquis of Midlothian
  21. Commercial Hotel (2)
  22. Reservoir Hotel

This list covers hotels that were located in the area of Lambton Municipal Council (1871-1938), which included parts of North Lambton and Jesmond.

Area of Lambton Municipality (1871-1938)

The map below shows the location of Lambton Hotels. The three hotels that are still operating are shown in green, historical hotels are shown in red. I have used the ‘drinking glass’ icon, where the location of a hotel is known, and a generic placemarker icon if the location is uncertain or unconfirmed.

Timeline of Lambton Hotels, showing a peak of 16 hotels in 1881.

In documenting the history of hotels it is important to understand the roles of owners, lessees and licensees. The hotel owner is the person (or company) that owns the land and buildings upon the land. The owner may then lease the buildings to another person (or company) for the purpose of running a business such as a hotel. The hotel licensee is the person who is granted a liquor license by the government and is responsible for adhering to the liquor regulations. Sometimes the owner and licensee are the same person, but sometimes the owner, lessee and licensee are three different entities. For example, in 1893 the Reservoir Hotel was owned by John Cox, leased to John and James Toohey, and the licensee was William Rutherford.

The history of hotels can also be confusing in that not only can the same hotel can different names over time, but sometimes different hotels can have the same name. For example, there were two different hotels in Lambton called the Commercial Hotel, one operating from 1880 to 1882, and a different hotel operating from 1888 to 2018. Sometimes a hotel name and license can be transferred to a different geographical location. For example, the Miners’ Arms Hotel first opened on Howe Street in 1887, but then moved to the adjacent block of land in Howe Street in 1881.

In the list below I have an entry for each hotel operating at a specific location. The hotels appear in order of the year they were first opened. Where a hotel has had multiple names, I have used in the heading the name that the hotel was known by for the majority of its operation.

A further complication is that the variant spellings of the names of licensees. Where there are multiple spellings of a name and the correct spelling is uncertain, I have included all the variant spellings, separated by a slash character. e.g. “Lackey/Leckey”. Note that in the lists of licensees I have only included names up to about 1970, as published information about licensees after this date becomes sparse.

A helpful resource in my research for this article was Appendix 2 of “The Story of Lambton” from the Newcastle Family History Society. However I did find a number of errors, omissions and confusions in their list of hotels and licensees. My intent for this page is to build on the work of that Appendix and provide a more accurate and comprehensive reference for the hotels and hotel licensees of Lambton.

Having said that, I am conscious that this list probably contains errors, omissions and confusions of my own, and so I would welcome any feedback or additional information that would improve this page.

A note about Colonial Wine Licenses:

Appendix 2 of “The Story of Lambton” includes an entry for “Lambton Hotel”, and then lists a number of holders of a Colonial Wine License. I have not included these in the list below, as a colonial wine license was not a hotel in the commonly recognised sense of a place to buy and consume alcohol, and provide accommodation. A Colonial Wine License merely provided for the retail sale of locally produced wines and ciders, under very limited circumstances, with the holder of a license able to …

… sell and dispose of on the premises in such license specified wine cider or perry the produce of fruit grown within any Australasian colony in quantities not exceeding two gallons and not containing a greater proportion than twenty-six per cent, of proof spirits but only between the hours of seven in the morning and eleven at night.

Sec 26 of Licensing Act of 1882.

Lambton Arms Hotel (1864-1920)

Located on the south west corner of Pearson and Grainger Streets.

Lambton Arms Hotel circa 1914-1918. From “The Story of Lambton”, page 177.
Lambton Arms Hotel 1904. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Robert Cairns purchased lots 13 and 14 of Section K in the Lambton township in June 1864. (See Vol-Fol 5-115). This was the very first block of land to be sold in the town.

A hotel building must have been quickly erected, for on 29 October 1864, the Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News reported that …

A ball and supper was given at the “Lambton Arms,” by the landlord, Mr. Cairns, on Tuesday evening, at which a great number of persons were present, and enjoyed themselves.

The hotel was badly damaged by a fire in January 1888, but quickly replaced by a new wooden building by April 1888.

The hotel traded until 1920 when it was closed, and the license transferred to the Hotel Mayfield in January 1921. A newspaper article in 1938 refers to the Lambton Arms hotel building as having been “recently demolished”.

The location of the former Lambton Arms Hotel, January 2021.


  1. Robert Cairns (1864 to 1879)
  2. Joseph Garrett/Garratt (1880 to July 1883)
  3. Andrew Wilson (July 1883 to 1884)
  4. Henry Frost (1885 to 1887)
  5. J Tennyson (1887? to 1888)
  6. John Sample (1888 to July 1889)
  7. Dorothy Cairns (July 1889 to 1892)
  8. J R Lackey/Leckey (1893)
  9. Thomas Weaver (1893 to 1901)
  10. William George King (1902 to 1910)
  11. James J Hayes (August 1911 to December 1911)
  12. John Sample (1912 to 1913)
  13. Edwin Cox (1914 to May 1919)
  14. George Hudson (May 1919 to December 1920)
  15. Maurice Sussman (December 1920 to January 1921)

Gold Miners’ Arms Hotel (1865-1921)

More information can be found in my article on Stoker’s Hotel.

The hotel was located on the north east corner of Elder and Grainger Streets and had a number of names in its history. From 1865 to 1915 it was variously known as …

  • Gold Miners’ Arms
  • Gold Miners’ Home
  • Gold Diggers’ Arms
  • Gold Miners’ Home Hotel
  • Miners’ Home Hotel
  • Gold Miners’ Hotel

Trying to put dates to these names has proved to quite tricky as it seems the names were used interchangeably and inconsistently. Sometimes the hotel name as it appears in the Government Gazette doesn’t match what appears in newspaper articles. It’s possible that the proliferation of names was a contributing factor to the hotel often being simply referred to as “Stoker’s Hotel”, even long after the first licensee John Stoker ceased to run the hotel in 1885.

In 1915 the name was changed to the “Central Hotel”.

Stoker’s Hotel 1884-1885. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

John Stoker purchased Lot 1 of Section E of Lambton township in September 1865 (Vol-Fol 19-190), and was granted a publican’s license in November 1865.

Lot 1 of Section E, Lambton township, purchased by John Stoker. Vol-Fol 19-190.
1890s Hunter Water Board map showing the location of the Gold Miners Arms Hotel.

In 1921 the hotel, at that time operating as the Central Hotel, was closed when its licence was revoked by the Licenses Reduction Board. The hotel building was demolished in 1926.

The location of the former Gold Miners’ Arms Hotel, January 2021.


  1. John Stoker (1865 to November 1885)
  2. William Ralph (November 1885 to 1889)
  3. Mary Ann Ralph (1890 to 1891?)
  4. William Baker (1891 to 1894)
  5. Edward J Stoker (1895 to 1897?)
  6. James Jamieson (1898 to 1899)
  7. Cornelius O’Hea (1899 to 1902)
  8. Arthur S Eastmuir (1903)
  9. John Edward Ring (1903 to July 1905)
  10. William A McMichael (July 1905 to July 1907)
  11. William Wood (July 1907 to 1912?)
  12. Charles Nelson (1913? to July 1914)
  13. George Malbon (July 1914 to 1921)

Northumberland Hotel (1866-present)

The Northumberland Hotel is located on the south west corner of Elder and Morehead Streets. It is the oldest of the hotels that is still operating, and has retained the same name since it opened in 1866.

Northumberland Hotel Lambton. Unknown date and photographer. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank 163 000779.

John Dent purchased Lot 10 of Section H in Lambton township in November 1865 (Vol-Fol 25-26), and opened the Northumberland Hotel in July 1866.

1890s Hunter Water Board map showing the location of the Northumberland Hotel.
The Northumberland Hotel, January 2021.

See also

  • Northumberland Hotel page at ANU Open Research Library, which contains some photographs of the hotel from the 1920s to 1970s.


  1. John Dent (1866 to September 1873)
  2. Michael Avery (October 1873 to March 1877)
  3. George Bunn (March 1877 to 1884)
  4. Joseph Tranter (1885 to 1890)
  5. Eli Chadwick (1890 to 1898)
  6. William Griffiths (1899 to August 1907)
  7. Andrew Dougal Watson (August 1907 to July 1912)
  8. Thomas Brown (July 1912 to February 1913)
  9. George Smith (February 1913 to 1921)
  10. George Cowan (1921 to 1921)
  11. Bert Nordsvan/Nordvan (1922)
  12. A Ward (August 1922 to February 1923)
  13. Albert Louis Jordan (February 1923 to 1923)
  14. Victor G Elsely (1923 to March 1924)
  15. Frederick Stephen Rouhan/Ranhan (March 1924 to November 1924)
  16. Edward Percy Dixon (November 1924 to October 1925)
  17. Richard Francis Hamilton (October 1925 to May 1941)
  18. Hilder Hamilton (May 1941 to August 1941)
  19. Leslie Philip Higgs (August 1941 to December 1941)
  20. Duncan Forbes McGeachie (December 1941 to December 1942)
  21. William James Green (December 1942 to July 1943)
  22. John Andrew Joseph George Eason (July 1943 to July 1944)
  23. William Henry Cowcher (July 1944 to June 1946)
  24. Percival Ludington (June 1946 to October 1952)
  25. Reginald Darell Honey (October 1952 to March 1956)
  26. John Percival Arthur Smith (March 1956 to July 1958)
  27. Henry Morton Lumby (July 1958 to May 1963, died)
  28. David Alfred James Blanch (May 1963 to March 1965)
  29. John Alderson and Jeanette Marie Gay (March 1965 to October 1965)
  30. Charles John Wilson and Margaret Josephine Wilson (October 1965 to February 1968)
  31. Archibald Anthony McLusky (February 1968 to February 1970)
  32. William Raymond Burnage (February 1970 to February 1971)
  33. Percy Raymond York (February 1971 to March 1972)
  34. Ronald Padgett (March 1972 to June 1976)
  35. Warren Ewart Cake (June 1976 to July 1977)
  36. Robert William Rusden and Barbara Lee Rusden (July 1977 to January 1979)
  37. Janice Marlene Perrington and George Alexander Perrington (January 1979 to ????)
  38. ?

Rose, Thistle and Shamrock Inn (1868-1896)

Located on the south east corner of Elder and Grainger Streets. Also known as

  • Rose and Shamrock Inn
  • Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Hotel
  • Federal Hotel (July 1895 to 1896)

Michael Doyle purchased Lot 1 of Section H in Lambton township in August 1867. (Transfer noted on Vol-Fol 36-203, Title Certificate on Vol-Fol 54-38)

Michael Doyle was granted a publican’s in March 1868 for the “Rose and Shamrock Inn”. In June 1868 he began advertising his hotel as “The Rose, Thistle, & Shamrock Inn.”

From July 1882, Guiseppe Turri owned the hotel land and building while a variety of licensees operated the hotel. In July 1895 Turri became the licensee and changed the name to the “Federal Hotel”. In April 1896 a fire at the hotel caused considerable damage. The fire must have placed Guiseppe Turri in dire financial straits, for in August 1896 he was forced to sell off a “large quantity of household furniture”, and the hotel never re-opened.

The location (but not the original building) of the former Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Inn, January 2021.


  1. Michael Doyle (1868 to 1870)
  2. Alexander Smith (1871 to July 1873)
  3. Thomas James (July 1873 to May 1874)
  4. John Beveridge (May 1874 to June 1875)
  5. James Parker (July 1875 to July 1877)
  6. John Wills (August 1877 to October 1877)
  7. Michael Doyle (October 1877 to July 1878)
  8. Mary Doyle (July 1878 to May 1879)
  9. Martin Durham (May 1879 to 1880)
  10. Henry/James Sheedy (1881 to March 1883)
  11. Michael Lorraine (March 1883 to 1886)
  12. John Champion (February 1887 to November 1887)
  13. William Griffiths (November 1887 to March 1891)
  14. Thomas Vipon (March 1891 to August 1892)
  15. John Ward (August 1892 to 1893)
  16. William Kelly (1894 to July 1895)
  17. Guiseppe Turri (July 1895 to April 1896)

Rose and Crown Inn (1869-1871)

Located at 103 Elder St. John Platt purchased Lot 5 of Section H in Lambton township in October 1866 (Vol-Fol 39-245), and erected a building on the land. In 1869 George Lonsdale took a three year lease on the building and applied for a publican’s license. At the license hearing in April 1869 the building was described as follows …

“A portion of the house is two-storey, built of stone and brick ; the wooden portion contain four rooms, two on the ground floor and two upstairs. The brick building is attached to a four room cottage, which house contains two front rooms of moderate size, and two small back rooms, one used as a kitchen.”

The building of the former Rose and Crown Inn in Elder Street. Date unknown. G Hubbuck collection, courtesy of Craig Simpson

Despite police objections, a publican’s license was granted to George Lonsdale, however his tenure was short lived. By 1870 John Platt had become licensee as well as owner of the hotel. In June 1871 Platt sold the land and building to James Horton/Haughton (Vol-Fol 122-233). After the sale Platt continued as licensee, but Haughton immediately advertised the hotel as being available to let.

William B Richardson was granted the license in August 1871, but whether he ever operated the hotel is unclear, as there are no further mentions of the hotel in the papers and the “Rose and Crown” is absent from the 1872 gazetted list of publican licenses.


  1. George Lonsdale (1869)
  2. John Platt (1870 to June 1871)
  3. William B Richardson (1871)

Prince of Wales (1870-1908)

Located on the south west corner of Dickson and Morehead Streets.

1890s Hunter Water Board map showing location of Prince of Wales Hotel on Dickson St. (This image is comprised of two separate original images joined together.)

John Martin Sawyer purchased Lot 10 of Section D of Lambton township in November 1868. (Vol-Fol 78-28). In January 1870, David Jenkyn obtained a publicans’ licence and opened the Prince of Wales Hotel. (Note in the advertisement below that the location is described as being “on the main road from Newcastle to Wallsend, as Dickson St was originally planned to be the main road.)

Newcastle Chronicle, 20 January 1870.

Lot 10 was subdivided into two halves in 1874, and in 1889 John Sheedy purchased the northern half where the hotel was situated. Sheedy subsequently became the licensee of the hotel in 1895. After he ceased to be licensee, he sold the property to Tooth and Co in 1900, but purchased the property back again nine years later in January 1909.

Vol-Fol 192-190.

At the Licensing Court hearing in August 1909, “Inspector Goulder reported that the license of the Prince of Wales Hotel, Lambton, had not been renewed, and that the premises were closed on August 18.”and after the hotel was delicensed in 1909, Sheedy purchased the property back from Tooth and Co.

Location of the former Prince of Wales Hotel, January 2021.


  1. David Jenkyn/Jenkins (1870 to July 1883)
  2. John Mawkes (July 1883 to 1884)
  3. John West (1885)
  4. Edward Thorley (1886 to April 1889)
  5. Squire Smith (April 1889 to April 1890)
  6. Catherine E Smith (April 1890 to 1894)
  7. John Sheedy (1895 to February 1900)
  8. Charles A Howard (1900 to November 1901)
  9. William C St Leger Gordon (November 1901 to August 1909)

Red Lion Inn (1871-1896)

The hotel was located on the north west corner of Morehead Street and Young Street (now Newcastle Road). The hotel building still stands today, and is a private residence.

1890s Hunter Water Board map showing the location of the Red Lion Inn.

In February 1871 William Densley purchased Lot 1 in the new subdivision of Grovetown (DP54), just to the north of the Lambton township. (Vol-Fol 116-154). It seems he acted quickly in erecting a hotel building for within a few months in May 1871 the licensing court “granted permission to Dinah Williams to remove her license from the Red Lion Hotel, Waratah, to a new house to be known by the same sign at Lambton.” By September 1871 the hotel was operational, with a committee meeting of residents of the Commonage being held on the premises.

In January 1872, Dinah Williams was advertising “To Let, The Red Lion Hotel, Old Lambton, now doing a steady business.” By the beginning of 1872 Uriah Broom, the newly elected Mayor of the newly formed Lambton Municipal Council was the licensee of the Red Lion Inn.

In June 1896 at the Wallsend Licensing Court, the license for the Red Lion Inn was withdrawn.

The former Red Lion Inn, January 2021.


  1. Dinah Williams (1871 to January 1872)
  2. Uriah Broom (February 1872 to June 1874)
  3. William Densley (1874 to September 1878)
  4. Joseph Lidbury (October 1878 to August 1879 (died))
  5. Thomas James (January 1880 to June 1881)
  6. James James (June 1881 to January 1893 (died))
  7. Harriett James (January 1893 to 1894)
  8. Henry Grant (1895 to June 1896)

Lancashire Arms Hotel (1874-1881)

The hotel was located on the south east corner of Pearson and Grainger Streets. The hotel opened as the “Lancashire Arms” in 1874, and changed to the “Welcome Home Hotel” in December 1875. It was also sometimes referred to as the “Welcome Home Inn”.

Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder, 8 December 1875.

Peter and Thomas Young purchased Lot 1 of Section L in Lambton township in September 1865. (Vol-Fol 19-22 and 19-23) and retained ownership of the land and buildings for the life of the hotel.

In May 1880 the current licensee, Samuel Dawson, was charged with “committing a breach of the Publicans’ Act by abandoning his licensed house, the Welcome Home Hotel, Lambton, between the 17th and 30th April.” He was found guilty and his publican’s license was voided. The owner of the hotel, Peter Young applied at that time to have the license transferred to himself. The request was initially denied, but granted the following month in June 1880. Whether Peter Young opened the hotel for business or for how long, is uncertain. There is no further mention of the Welcome Home Hotel after the notification of the granting of the license in June 1880, and the hotel does not appear in the list of publican’s licenses in 1881.

In June 1889 the property and building was advertised for sale, promoted as …

That splendid Corner Block of Land, reaching from Howe-street along Grainger street to Pearson-street, Lambton, upon which is erected an Eight-roomed W.B. House, with Kitchen, large Yard, Stable,Washhouse, formerly known as the Welcome Home Hotel.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 18 June 1889.
Location (not the original building) of the former Lancashire Arms/Welcome Home Hotel, January 2021.


  1. Christopher Halpin (April 1874 to December 1875)
  2. John Gordon (December 1875 to June 1879)
  3. Samuel Dawson (June 1879 to April 1880)
  4. Peter Young (June 1880 to 1881?)

Marquis of Lorne Hotel (1874 to present)

Located on the north west corner of Morehead and Dickson Streets. The hotel was sometimes spelled as “Marquis of Lorn” or shortened to “Marquis O’Lorne”. In 2008, after a major renovation, the name changed to “The Mark Hotel” .

Marquis O’Lorne Hotel, 1959. Newcastle Library Hunter Photobank 460 000046

Alexander Smith had been the licensee of the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Hotel in Elder Street until July 1873. In October 1873 he purchased the east half of Lot 10 of Section A in Lambton township. (Vol-Fol 177-187), and immediately made plans to erect a hotel. Construction was underway in January 1874, and the hotel opened on 20 June 1874.

Vol-Fol 177-187

The hotel was sold in June 1876 to Joseph Thomas Morris who also became the licensee. In August 1876 to hotel was sold to John and Joseph Woods (wine and spirit merchants of Newcastle) and Richard Ward became licensee.

In November 1880, Richard Ward applied to move the license of the Marquis of Lorne hotel to premises in Elder Street, however the Wood brother (owners of the hotel) objected and the licensing court refused the application. The following month in December 1880, the license of the Marquis of Lorne Hotel was transferred to Benjamin Tonks, and Richard Ward was granted a license for the (first) Commercial Hotel in Elder Street.

In 1929 another attempt was made to move the location of the Marquis of Lorne Hotel. In September 1929, the new licensee John Thomas Quinlivan applied to move the license of the hotel “to premises to be erected on Part of Lot 2, Section A, having a frontage of 112.5 links (22.6m) to Robert Street Jesmond.”

Location in Robert Street, Jesmond, that John Quinlivan applied to move the Marquis of Lorne hotel license. Vol-Fol 181-94.

At the licensing board hearing on 25 September 1929, the application for transfer was opposed by many. After hearing arguments and inspecting the proposed site, on 26 September 1929 the board refused the application for the license transfer “on the ground that the reasonable requirements of the district did not justify the removal.” Quinlivan stayed on as licenseee of the Marquis of Lorne Hotel in Lambton for another year, when the license was transferred to John Baptist Beisler in November 1930.

In 1960, the original hotel building was demolished and a new building erected by Tooth and Co at a cost of £67508.

The Mark Hotel, Lambton, January 2021.

See also:


  1. Alexander Smith (June 1874 to May 1876)
  2. Joseph Thomas Morris (June 1876 to September 1878)
  3. Richard Ward (September 1878 to December 1880)
  4. Benjamin Tonks (December 1880 to February 1883)
  5. James Lunn (February 1883 to May 1884)
  6. Noah Davis (May 1884 to 1886)
  7. Alexander Sneddon (1887 to March 1883)
  8. John Williams (July 1888 to August 1889)
  9. Thomas Pryde (August 1889 to December 1897)
  10. John Donnelly (December 1897 to 1903)
  11. John Thomas (1904 to October 1907 – cancelled)
  12. Matthew Ernest McFarlane (October 1907 to 1910)
  13. James J Fitzpatrick (November 1910 to February 1914)
  14. Mathew Wilson (1914 to December 1915)
  15. Robert Lionel Robinson (December 1915 to August 1923)
  16. John Thomas Kay (August 1923 to July 1926)
  17. Robert Jackson (1927 to July 1928)
  18. John R Healey (July 1928 to November 1928)
  19. John Thomas Quinlivan/Quinlevan (November 1928 to November 1930)
  20. John Baptist Beisler (November 1930 to April 1936)
  21. Ada Annie Beisler (April 1936 to May 1941)
  22. Peter William Beisler (May 1941 to April 1948)
  23. Henry Pitz Beisler (April 1948 to ????)
  24. ?

Page 180 of “The Story of Lambton” indicates that the Marquis Of Lorne Hotel remained in the Beisler family until 1976, an impressively long stint of 46 years!

Pine Apple Hotel (1874-1881)

The hotel was sometimes spelled as “Pineapple”, and in the Government Gazette lists of publican licenses it is recorded as “Pine Apple Inn”. It was also referred to as “Bunn’s Hotel”.

Old newspapers report the hotel as being in North Lambton, or in Dark Creek, which is the original name of Jesmond. To confuse things further, some of the Government Gazette lists note the hotel as being in “Duck Creek”, a phonetically erroneous reference to “Dark Creek”. There are no known photographs of the hotel.

Although there is some uncertainty about the exact location, I believe the hotel was situated on one of the original allotments outlined below, which today corresponds to 300-304 Newcastle Road. (See the following section for the reasoning.)

Probable location of the Pine Apple Hotel, 300-304 Newcastle Rd, North Lambton.
Probable location of the former Pine Apple Hotel, photographed in January 2021.

The time that the hotel ceased trading is not known with certainty. After Charles Bunn, the last licensee, was granted the license in April 1881, mentions of the Pine Apple Hotel in the newspaper disappear. Charles Bunn entered into insolvency in June 1881, just two months after being granted the license. Presumably this marked the end of the Pine Apple Hotel.

The probable location

Almost all the contemporaneous newspaper reports (1874-1881) of the hotel state that the hotel was in “North Lambton”, which in this period refers to a very specific square block of 50 acres granted to Daniel Jones. Some reports refer to the hotel being in Dark Creek, which referred to the overall locality. (Note that the watercourse named Dark Creek flows diagonally through the “North Lambton” land grant.)

“North Lambton”, 50 acre land grant to Daniel Jones. Historical Land Records Viewer.

A number of articles state that the hotel was on the main road, or Hartley St, which places the hotel somewhere between Henry Street and George Street.

The first licensee of the hotel in 1874 was Thomas Bunn and the last licensee in 1881 was his son Charles, which suggests that Thomas may have been the owner of the hotel. This is corroborated by a May 1879 advertisement … “TO LET, the PINE APPLE HOTEL North Lambton. Apply to Thomas Bunn.”

Searching the Land Titles at the Historical Land Records Viewer site, reveals that in September 1873, Thomas and his wife Elizabeth purchased Lot 13 (See Vol-Fol 169-220) and Lot 14 (see Vol-Fol 169-219) of Section D of North Lambton. The timing of these purchases fits with the opening of a hotel the following year.

The final clue is from the Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder of 11 August 1875 where Edwin Griffiths advertised the commencement of his business as an undertaker “in North Lambton, near Bunn’s Hotel.”

Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder, 11 August 1875.

The Historical Land Records Viewer in Vol-Fol 236-94 shows that Edwin Griffiths purchased Lot 15 of Section D of North Lambton, adjacent to the Bunn’s two allotments. As the Deposited Plan of the subdivision of Section D is not available online, I have created an overall map showing the lots between Arthur and Albert Streets by splicing together the lot boundary maps from each individual Title Certificate.

Lots 12-15 and Lot 1 of Section D. Spliced together from the individual Title Certificates.

The improbable location

A September 1929 newspaper article states that “Bunn’s Hotel was situated in Hartley-street, at the intersection of Steel and Robert Streets.” The article is reporting the reminiscences of local residents nearly 50 years after the Pine Apple Hotel closed. I am almost certain that they were confusing the Pine Apple Hotel with the Coal Miners’ Home Hotel, which was located at that intersection during the same period that the Pine Apple Hotel was operating.

There is no other evidence I could find, in newspaper reports or government gazettes or land sale information, either before or afterwards that corroborates the 1929 suggestion that the Pine Apple Hotel was in Steel/Robert Street.


  1. Thomas Bunn (1874 to 1877)
  2. Henry Simpson (July 1877 to ????)
  3. Samuel Dawson (1878 to June 1879)
  4. Patrick Kelly (June 1879 to July 1879)
  5. Henry Forrester (July 1879 to March 1881)
  6. George Shoesmith (March 1881 to April 1881)
  7. Charles Bunn (April 1881 to June 1881)

Jesmond Hotel (1875-1911)

The hotel was located at 52 Robert St Jesmond. Because Richard, Isabella and John Sneddon were licensees for over 20 years, it was also known as “Sneddon’s Hotel”.

William Hellier purchased a block of land between Robert and Michael Streets in Jesmond in March 1875. (Vol-Fol 206-27) In August 1875 he was granted a publican’s license for “The Jesmond Hotel”.

Purchase of land by William Hellier, Vol-Fol 206-27.

In July 1887, Hellier sold the property to Richard Sneddon who also became licensee of the hotel. In Februray 1900, Sneddon sold the hotel to Castlemaine Brewery and Wood Brothers, but remained as licensee.

The growing influence of the temperance movement led to the “Local Option Vote” in NSW in September 1907, a referendum where people could vote whether to continue, reduce, or eliminate licensed premises in their electorate.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 9 September 1907.

When the result had been tallied, of the 90 electorates in NSW, 25 voted for a continuance of licenses, while 65 voted for a reduction in licenses, including Kahibah electorate which contained Lambton township. A special licensing court in July 1908 decided to reduce the number of hotels in the Kahibah electorate by 7, some to be closed immediately, and some given a few years notice. The Jesmond Hotel was one of the hotels selected for closure, and given three years notice.

One interesting side notes, is that some months prior to this decision, in May 1908 an advertisement had appeared in the paper, calling for tenders for the rebuilding of the hotel in brick. This may have been a pre-emptive move by the hotel owners to ward off possible closure by demonstrating the go-ahead nature of their enterprise. Needless to say, with the licensing board’s decision to close the hotel in three years time, the brick re-build never eventuated.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 21 May 1908.

The Jesmond Hotel continued to trade until July 1911. Two years later in July 1913 the hotel land and buildings were put up for sale and purchased by James Stevenson, a miner from Jesmond.

The location of the former Jesmond Hotel in Robert Street, photographed in January 2021. No trace of the hotel remains, not even in lot boundaries which have been significantly altered by later subdivisions of land.


  1. William Hellier/Heiller/Hilliar (1875 to 1879)
  2. William Fenwick (1880 to 1883)
  3. Edmond Tiplady (1884 to July 1887)
  4. Richard Sneddon (July 1887 to February 1902)
  5. Isabella Sneddon (March 1902 to 1903)
  6. John Robertson Sneddon (1904 to 1911)

Royal Hotel (1875-1882)

The Royal Hotel was situated on the north west corner of Elder and Grainger Streets. Joseph Hunter purchased Lot 14 of Section F in Lambton township in November 1865. (Vol-Fol 25-7) Ten years later in July 1875, Hunter was granted a publican’s license and opened a hotel on the site. After Joseph Hunter died in May 1880, his widow Ann ran the hotel for a year until Martin Durham became licensee in 1881. The hotel seems to have lasted not very long after this, with the last mention in the papers being a brief reference to “Durham’s Hotel” in June 1882.

There are no known photographs of this hotel


  1. Joseph Hunter (July 1875 to May 1880, died)
  2. Annie Hunter to (June 1880 to July 1881)
  3. Martin Durham (July 1881 to 1882)

Coal Miners’ Home Hotel (1876-1879)

Also known as the “Coal Miners’ Arms”, there is very scant information and no photographs available for this short-lived and unsuccessful hotel.

Lewis Haines, a miner from Lambton, purchased Lot 1 of Section B on the corner of Robert St in the township of Jesmond in December 1873. In June 1876 he was granted a publican’s license for “The Coal Miners’ Home Hotel” in Jesmond.

Within a few months, in September 1876 Haines was advertising the hotel for sale or to let.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 21 September 1876.

A sale did not eventuate at this time, the land records showing that Haines retained ownership of the land until 1883. There was another attempt to sell in June 1877, the agent describing the hotel and property as …

…. being nearly a new house,and doing a large business. This stands upon one acre of fine cultivating land; has six chains frontage to the main road, with kitchen, stable, outhouses, and a splendid orchard. This is the most compact place, on the main road to Wallsend.

The “six chains” (=120 metres) frontage to the main road matches the dimensions of Lewis Haines block, with 60 metres frontage on each side of the corner block. No sale occurred, with the agent withdrawing the property from sale “as there was no bid covering the reserve price.”

Sometime before October 1878, it appears that the licensee was Robert McBain (or possibly McBlain) who advertised the hotel and attached orchard for let. The last licensee was Young Bedford, who for reasons unknown abandoned the hotel in March 1879, resulting in the cancellation of the license. The hotel never re-opened. The following month in April 1879 the property was put up for auction, but like the previous two attempts, no sale eventuated.

The location (but not the original building) of the former Coal Miners’ Home Hotel, corner of Robert and Steel Streets. Photographed in January 2021.


  1. Lewis Haines/Haynes (June 1876 to ????)
  2. Robert McBlain/McBain (1878)
  3. Young Bedford (???? to March 1879)

Miners’ Arms Hotel (1877-1910)

Henry Johnson, a miner from Lambton, purchased Lot 8 of Section L of Lambton township in March 1873. (Vol-Fol 164-25)

Lot 8 of Section L in Lambton township, purchased by Henry Johnson. Vol-Fol 164-25

By July 1874 Johnson was operating a boarding house on the site. In January 1877 the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate reported that …

Mr. James Bradley has opened the premises lately occupied by Mr. Johnson as a boarding house, in Howe-street, as an hotel, under the sign of the Miners’ Arms. Mr. Bradley has been employed at the Lambton Colliery for many years, and is held in the greatest respect by his fellow workman, and for that reason alone, no doubt, will receive to [sic] share of support.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 15 January 1877.

By August 1878 Thomas Stokes had become the licensee, and ran the Miners’ Arms in Henry Johnson’s premises for the next three years. This situation with Stokes as licensee and Johnson as owner was one that suited neither of them, and each had their own plans to be both owner and licensee of a hotel on Howe Street!

In January 1876 Henry Johnson had purchased Lot 10 of Section L, on the corner of Howe and Morehead Streets, and in January 1880 Thomas Stokes purchased Lot 9, the block of land between Johnson’s two properties. On 15 February 1881 at the Lambton Police Court, Stokes “applied for a transfer of his license for the Miners’ Arms Hotel, Howe-street, to another house in the same street.” Johnson’s legal representative Mr Dart objected to the application …

“… on the grounds that the applicant [Stokes] taking the license from the [Johnson’s] house and closing it would reduce the capital value of the same, and also that the house to which he [Stokes] applied to have the license transferred was not fitted for a licensed house.”

Stokes’ legal representative Mr G Wallace countered the objection by pointing out …

“… that his client had, as the lease had expired, a perfect right to transfer the license to another house. Mr. Johnson was about to apply for a license for a new house in Howe-street, and had it in his power to eject Mr, Stokes at any time if he wished, and in the event of his doing so Mr. Stokes had no redress.”

It is a little difficult to ascertain the exact motivations here, but it seems that with Henry Johnson about to set himself up as both owner and licensee of a hotel, he was keen to prevent Stokes doing the same. Johnson had a win on this occasion, for after inspecting the Stokes’ premises the Bench “refused the application on the ground that the house was too small to be licensed.”

Henry Johnson then proceeded with his plan of setting himself up as a licensed publican in his premises on Lot 10 (corner of Morehead and Howe Streets). On 8 March 1881 at Lambton Police Court …

“A license was granted to Henry Johnson for a house in Morehead-street, Lambton, to be known by the sign of the Exchange Hotel.”

Not to be outdone, the very next week on 18 March 1881 Thomas Stokes again made application to transfer the Miners’ Arms license to his own premises. Again, Henry Johnson objected, but this time in vain, his objection …

“… was ruled informal as he had not given the applicant the usual seven day’s notice of his intention to object.”

Stokes’ application was granted, and he moved the Miners’ Arms from Johnson’s house on Lot 8 into his own property on Lot 9, right next door to Johnson’s new Exchange Hotel on Lot 10!

Howe Street Lambton in 1890. Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
1890s Water Board map showing location of Miners’ Arms Hotel.
Miners’ Arms Hotel in 1908. The hotel name can just be seen in the veranda fascia. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

In July 1908, the Local Option Court for the Kahibah electorate handed down their decision on seven hotels to be closed. The Miners’ Arms Hotel at Lambton (Thomas O’Malley, licensee) was given three years notification to close. With no long term future for the hotel, O’Malley almost immediately had his license transferred to William Harney. The hotel only traded for another two years, at the Newcastle Licensing Court in July 1910 …

Inspector Goulder reported that the license of the Miners’ Arms Hotel, Lambton, had not been renewed, the premises having closed on June 30th.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 8 July 1910.


  1. James Bradley (January 1877 to ????)
  2. Thomas Stokes (1878 to April 1889)
  3. Mark Wood/Woods (May 1889 to 1891)
  4. Thomas Stokes (1892 to 1899)
  5. George E Mansfield (June 1900 to April 1901)
  6. Samuel Dunstan (April 1901 to August 1901)
  7. Edwin Maddison (September 1901 to 1904)
  8. Thomas Weaver (1905 to 1906)
  9. James Lyons (1907 to ????)
  10. Thomas O’Malley (???? to August 1908)
  11. William Harney (August 1908 to June 1910)

Royal Oak Hotel (1878-1881)

This very short lived hotel was located somewhere in Dickson St, with John Edwards being the one and only licensee. Edwards’ wife Hannah purchased a block of land in Dickson St in 1872, and it is possible the hotel was located on this site, which is now 59 Dickson St. There are no known photographs of the hotel.

Purchase of land in Dickson St by John Edwards’ wife Hannah, in 1872. Vol-Fol 137-94

In January 1881 John Edwards advertised a six-roomed dwelling house to let, with instructions to apply at the Royal Oak Hotel. After the license renewal listed in the Government Gazette in September 1881, there are no further mentions of the hotel.

Possible location of the former Royal Oak Hotel in Dickson Street, Lambton. Photographed in January 2021.


  1. John Edwards (July 1878 to 1881)

Race Horse Inn (1878-1882)

Opened in Elder St in July 1878 as the Race Horse Inn, in premises owned by William Reay, and Henry Doherty as the first licensee. The name changed to Reay’s Hotel in June 1881 when William Reay acquired the hotel’s license.

William Reay purchased the western half of Lot 8 Section H in Lambton township in April 1876. (Vol-Fol 260-76) This is 91 Elder Street today.

Purchase of land in Elder St by William Reay in 1876. Vol-Fol 260-76

In March 1882 an attempt by George Shaw to transfer the license to Richard Dainty was unsuccessful. The hotel does not appear in the list of license renewals for the years commencing 1 July 1882.

Location of the Race Horse Inn, 91 Elder Street Lambton. Photographed in 2021.


  1. Henry Doherty (July 1878 to June 1879)
  2. John Donnison (June 1879 to June 1881)
  3. William Reay (June 1881 to October 1881)
  4. George Shaw (October 1881 to June 1882)

Northern Star Hotel (1879-1881)

Joseph Phippen purchase Lot 1 of Section A of Lambton township in May 1868. (Vol-Fol 90-68)

Purchase of land by Joseph Phippen in 1868. Vol-Fol 90-68

In September 1879 he opened a Temperance Hotel on the site located on the north east corner of Dickson and Grainger Streets.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 13 September 1879.
The former Northern Star Hotel building, photographed in 1989.
The Northern Star Hotel site, photographed in January 2021.

In August 1881, just a few months after John Hutchinson had become the licensee, Joseph Phippen advertised the land and buildings of the Northern Star Hotel for sale. Although the sale never eventuated, there are no more mentions of the Northern Star Hotel after this date.


Phippen initially opened the hotel in 1879 as a Temperance Hotel, but the following year acquired a publican’s license.

  1. Joseph Phippen/Phippins (March 1880 to June 1881)
  2. John Hutchinson (June 1881 to ????)

Commercial Hotel #1 (1880-1882)

This short lived hotel is not to be confused with the long lived Commercial Hotel that opened in 1888.

In November 1880 Richard Ward, the licensee of the Marquis of Lorne hotel, made application to move his license to premises in Elder Street. The owners of the Marquis of Lorne Hotel (Wood Brothers) objected and the licensing court refused the application. In December 1880 Ward then successfully “applied for a license for a house in Elder-street, to be known as the Commercial Hotel.”

There is very little further information available on the hotel and by April 1882, the Commercial Hotel premises occupied by Ward was advertised for sale, and there is no further mention of the hotel operating after this time. Interestingly, it is the subsequent property sales that allow us to identify the probable location of Ward’s hotel.

Commercial Hotel premises for sale, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 6 April 1882.

From this advertisement we know that the hotel was on the north side of Elder Street as it was …

“… erected upon a quarter of an acre of land, fronting Elder-street, and running through to De-Vitre-street, thus having two frontages to the principal streets.”

In August 1882 the Newcastle Morning Herald reported that …

“Messrs. W. Lightfoot and Son have removed to Lambton, and commenced business in the premises in Elder-street, lately known as the Commercial Hotel, as grocers, drapers, ironmongers, dealers in colonial produce, etc.”

A few years later, in January 1885, the property was again advertised for sale, split into two allotments.

The first allotment is described as having a frontage to Elder St of 33 feet. Note however that the second allotment has a frontage to Elder St of 18 feet but a frontage to De Vitre St of 35 feet. The difference in frontages can only occur if the block is either wedge shaped, or has an irregular shape. Searching through the chain of land sales on the north side of Elder St shows that there is only one allotment of land sold in this period that has an irregular shape with a frontage to Elder St as described, that being the west half of Lot 5. (The actual frontage is 32 feet 5 inches, not 33 feet – but we all know that real estate agents like to talk things up.)

This site is at address 102-104 Elder St, where Raine & Horne Real Estate was formerly located, and Williams Artisan Bread & Espresso is currently located.

102 and 104 Elder St Lambton. Site of the first “Commercial Hotel” in Lambton.


  1. Richard Ward (December 1880 to 1882)

Exchange Hotel (1881-present)

The Exchange Hotel opened in 1881 and was located on the north west corner of Howe and Morehead Streets. Some time around 1986 the hotel was renamed to the “Lambton Park Hotel”.

Henry Johnson purchased the southern half of Lot 10 in Section L of Lambton township in January 1876 (Vol-Fol 249-28).

Purchase of half of Lot 10 in Section L of Lambton township by Henry Johnson in 1876. Vol-Fol 249-28

Johnson erected a small double storey brick hotel building on the site, and in March 1881 was granted a publican’s license. Eli Chadwick subsequently became licensee in 1884.

Exchange Hotel when Eli Chadwick was licensee, 1884-1889. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
By 1890 the hotel had been extended along Howe Street. Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
1890s Water Board map showing location of Exchange Hotel.

In January 1930 the original hotel building was demolished, and a new building erected, which still stands today.

Lambton Park Hotel, January 2021.

See also

  • Exchange Hotel page at ANU Open Research Library, which contains some photographs of the hotel from the 1920s to 1970s.
Repairs to the awnings in November 2019 temporarily revealed 1940s era advertising for Tooths XXX Ale.
Exchange Hotel in 1949, showing the Tooths XXX Ale advertisement. Noel Butlin Archive, Australian National University.


  1. Henry Johnson (March 1881 to September 1884)
  2. Eli Chadwick (September 1884 to September 1889)
  3. Henry Johnson (September 1889 to 1890)
  4. Joseph Tranter (1890 to April 1896)
  5. Henry Johnson (April 1896 to October 1897)
  6. Quinton Hendry (October 1897 to December 1897)
  7. William (John?) Rutherford (December 1897 to January 1900)
  8. Isaac Rothery (January 1900 to October 1900)
  9. Thomas Watson (November 1900 to August 1903)
  10. William Dent (August 1903 to December 1906, died)
  11. Mary Dent (1907)
  12. George O’Donnell (1908 to July 1910)
  13. John S McNaughton (July 1910 to March 1913)
  14. Robert Forbes (March 1913 to January 1915)
  15. Thomas William Bowie (January 1915 to April 1915, died)
  16. Agnes Bowie (April 1915 to July 1920)
  17. William Mulcahy (July 1920 to October 1920)
  18. Bernard Grimes (October 1920 to March 1925)
  19. Edward Hill (March 1925 to December 1925, died)
  20. Sarah Caroline Hill (December 1925 to March 1926)
  21. John Donald Curran (March 1926 to December 1926)
  22. Jeremiah John Dwyer (December 1926 to January 1928)
  23. William Eugene McCarthy (January 1928 to September 1929)
  24. William Charles Keighran (September 1929 to November 1936)
  25. Harry B Carroll (November 1936 to June 1945, died)
  26. Mrs A E Carroll (June 1945 to February 1955)
  27. Claude Henry Wright (February 1955 to July 1962)
  28. Geoffrey Liddiard Newton ((July 1962 to September 1964)
  29. Brian Palmer Jones (September 1964 to November 1967)
  30. Allan James Reay (November 1967 to March 1968)
  31. Athol Francis Lewis (March 1968 to June 1971)
  32. Mrs Melba May Morris (June 1971 to May 1976)
  33. Mrs Patricia Abraham (May 1976 to October 1978)
  34. Robert George Jenkins (October 1980 to August 1983)
  35. John Brown (August 1983 to May 1984)
  36. Geoffrey Alexander Stewart (May 1984 to ????)
  37. ?

Marquis of Midlothian (1885-1892)

The hotel was located on the north east corner of Ralph and Robert Streets in Jesmond. The hotel building still exists today, and is a private residence.

The former Marquis of Midlothian Hotel in Robert Street, Jesmond. Photographed in January 2021.

In May 1876 George Smith purchased Lot 10 of Section C in the private township of Jesmond. (Vol-Fol 266-98)

Purchase of Lot 10 of Section C in Jesmond by George Smith in May 1876. Vol-Fol 266-98

Within a few months, the newspaper reported that …

“Mr. George Smith is erecting a splendid store and dwelling-house. The building is two stories, and composed of brick, containing about ten rooms in all. It is now nearly completed, excepting the doors and windows and inside fittings. When finished, it will be one of the most imposing buildings in the district.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 11 August 1876.

However it seems that Smith (or his building contractor) wasn’t careful about where the Lot boundary was, and part of the building encroached into the then vacant and unsold adjoining Lot 9. In 1883 when James Mitchell purchased Lot 10 from George Smith, he also needed to purchase a little triangular wedge of Lot 9.

The encroachment of the building over the original Lot boundary can be graphically seen in the Title Certificate of a later sale of Lot 9.

Purchase of adjoining Lot 9 in 1942, that shows the encroachment of the hotel building on Lot 10 into Lot 9. Vol-Fol 5616-112

James Mitchell having acquired the land and building in 1883 “expended a large amount of money on the house” and applied for a publican’s license in April 1885. Mr Perrott, the magistrate at the licensing court refused the application “on the ground that the reasonable requirements of the place did not justify the granting of it”, adding “the spending of a lot of money on a house did not entitle it to be licensed.”

It is not clear what (if anything) changed, but six months later in October 1885, Mitchell submitted the application again before the same licensing magistrate, but this time the application was granted, and the Marquis of Midlothian hotel was opened.

James Mitchell remained as publican until November 1891, when the license was transferred to Bartholomew Davison. Davison renewed the license in November 1892, but there is no mention of the hotel operating after this time. It is probable that it had ceased trading by February 1893 when the property was advertised for sale. This was but one of many unsuccessful attempts by Mitchell to sell his property in June 1888, April 1891, February 1893 and January 1900.

In April 1902, Thomas Henry Armstrong applied to re-open the hotel under the new name of the “Sportsmans’ Arms”. After hearing arguments for and against the granting of a license, the Newcastle Licensing Court reached their decision …

“The application was refused on the grounds that the requirements of the place did not justify a license.”

The property was sold later that year on 23 August 1902 to John Henry Mitchell. In 1929 when there was a proposal for a new hotel in Jesmond, residents opposed to the application recalled Jesmond hotels of bygone days …

“The building which was known as Mitchell’s Hotel is still intact, and is occupied as a private dwelling. Mitchell’s Hotel was regarded as a sporting place, and could boast having one of the best ball alleys in the district. A large crowd usually assembled on what was recognised as the miners’ pay-Saturdays, and witnessed many exciting handball matches and handicaps, which were commenced early in the morning and continued until nightfall.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 17 September 1929.


  1. James Mitchell (October 1885 to November 1891)
  2. Bartholomew Davison/Davidson (November 1891 to 1892)

Commercial Hotel #2 (1888-2018)

The Commercial Hotel was located on the south west corner of Elder and Grainger Streets. At various times it was also known as Snake Gully Hotel, Amos Hotel, and Bar 121.

John Sample’s Commercial Hotel in 1893. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.
Snake Gully Hotel in July 2018, a few months prior to its closure.
New apartments on site of Commercial Hotel, September 2020.

For further details see my December 2018 article on the Commercial Hotel.

See also


  1. William Brown (July 1888 to July 1889)
  2. John Sample (July 1889 to 1893)
  3. Joseph Oldham (1894 to October 1895)
  4. John W Buckley (October 1895 to 1896)
  5. Ann Jane Buckley (1897 to April 1898)
  6. Thomas Liddle (April 1898 to March 1899)
  7. David Clement Harvey (March 1899 to February 1900)
  8. William Rutherford (1900)
  9. George Smith (1901 to December 1912)
  10. Thomas J Byrne (January 1913 to May 1914)
  11. Michael Ambrose Lowry (May 1914 to September 1916)
  12. James Thompson (October 1916 to September 1918)
  13. Patrick Joseph Waldron (September 1918 to November 1918)
  14. John Peel (November 1918 to February 1919)
  15. Emma Ashman (February 1919 to July 1919)
  16. James M Britt (1919)
  17. Walter James Barrington (September 1919 to December 1920)
  18. Stephen Thomas Shipley (December 1920 to 1921)
  19. S Bryant (July 1922 to November 1922)
  20. E R Bennett (November 1922 to March 1923)
  21. G Fuller (March 1923 to September 1924)
  22. Eva Shaw-Smith (September 1924 to August 1925)
  23. Horace James Pick (August 1925 to December 1928)
  24. Edward Henry Naughten/Naughton (December 1928 to April 1936)
  25. Edward Thomas Shipley (April 1936 to February 1937)
  26. James Alexander Johnston (February 1937 to August 1937)
  27. Leslie Alvan Radnidge (August 1937 to December 1937)
  28. Sidney John Bookless (December 1937 to August 1938)
  29. Frederick Hector (August 1938 to December 1941)
  30. Roy Townshend (December 1941 to July 1943)
  31. Leslie Errol Doohan (July 1943 to October 1943)
  32. Louise May Egan (October 1943 to December 1946)
  33. Herbert Walter Harris (December 1946 to September 1960)
  34. David John Amos (September 1960 to ????)
  35. ??

Reservoir Hotel (1888-1921)

The Reservoir Hotel was located on the north east corner of Newcastle Rd and George St. The hotel building still exists, and is now a private residence.

The former Reservoir Hotel building. Date and photographer unknown.
The former Reservoir Hotel building in 2020.

For further details, see my January 2021 article on the Reservoir Hotel.


  1. Jacob Dent (1888 to 1892)
  2. William Rutherford (1893 to 1897)
  3. John Cox (1898 to 1900)
  4. Ellen Jane Cox, widow of John Cox (1900 to June 1902)
  5. William Newell (June 1902 to June 1903)
  6. Thomas Weaver (June 1903 to May 1904)
  7. Joseph Brindley (May 1904 to 1905)
  8. William H North (1906 to 1910)
  9. Thomas Owens (1911 to 1912)
  10. B D Holloway (1913)
  11. Thomas Mordue (1913 to March 1917)
  12. John McKenzie (March 1917 to 1918)
  13. Mary Etta Graham (1919 to 1920)
  14. John Baptist Beisler (1921)