Glebe Hill Reservoir

The University of Newcastle Cultural Collections site has a Ralph Snowball photo with the caption “Construction of the water reservoir, New Lambton, NSW 1917”. In tracking down the location of this photo, thanks to Robert Watson I somewhat surprisingly ended up in a different suburb and a different year.

Construction of Glebe Hill Reservoir, 1886. Located at 65 Macquarie St, Merewether. Photo by Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Part 1: Ridgeway Road?

Given that the photo is taken from an elevated position overlooking a flat plain I had always assumed that the location was where the reservoir now is at the top of Ridgeway Road, New Lambton Heights.

Water Reservoir site, corner of Ridgeway Rd and Lookout Rd, New Lambton Heights.

A search of Trove appeared to confirm my assumption, with a 9th January 1917 newspaper article reporting that

“The construction of the New Lambton reservoir was completed on the 3rd instant, and after satisfactory tests were made the reservoir was brought into use.”
Further investigation however cast serious doubt on this being the site of the Snowball photo, for none of the other details matched up.
  • the topography of the land wasn’t right – there is a deep gully below Ridgeway Rd, but in the photo the land slopes down more gently.
  • the reservoir in the photo was of brick construction, but the New Lambton reservoir was of reinforced concrete.
  • the reservoir in the photo was large (from estimates of the dimensions in the photo I calculated the capacity to be 350,000 imperial gallons) whereas the New Lambton reservoir was only 50,000 gallons.

Visiting the site of the Ridgeway Rd reservoir revealed that the 50,000 gallon 1917 reservoir is still there, covered in ivy, beside the new 1954 steel reservoir. It is clearly not the reservoir in the Snowball photo.

The 1917 ivy covered concrete reservoir, Ridgeway Rd, New Lambton Heights.

On the horizon of the Snowball photo there is a very faint outline that appeared to me to be the outline of Shepherd’s Hill on the coast. What other reservoirs on the hills around the Newcastle would provide a view eastwards over the flatlands towards the coast?

A 1940 map of Newcastle shows reservoir locations as small blue circles. Having ruled out the Ridgeway Rd site [1], I then considered Lambton Reservoir [2], St James Rd Reservoir [3], and Lookout Reservoir [4].

1940 map of Newcastle, showing reservoir locations.

Part 2: Lambton?

Lambton Reservoir was built in 1885 and sits in the middle of Newcastle Road at the top of the hill.

Lambton Reservoir, Newcastle Road.

Interestingly, a drawing of the Lambton Reservoir shows that it is the same design as the reservoir in the Snowball photo, with a central dome and two concentric rings of arches to form the roof.

Design of Lambton Reservoir, 1885.

But despite the similarity of design, the topography of the land in the photo doesn’t match. If the photo was of Lambton Reservoir we would expect to see the township of Lambton (including the very prominent Post and Telegraph Office building) before us.

Part 3: St James Road?

The reservoir (marked 3 in the map above) in New Lambton, between St James Rd and Queens Rd was built soon after August 1926. It didn’t seem to match up too well with the shape of the land in the Snowball photo – the St James Rd reservoir appears to have a slight ridge to its right, which is absent in the old photo. Also in 1926 we would expect to see the growing suburb of New Lambton below the reservoir, instead of the large expanse of scrub land that we do see.

Reservoir, between St James Rd and Queens Rd, New Lambton.

Part 4: Lookout?

The reservoir marked 4 on the map above was known as the Lookout Reservoir. It also was constructed on 1926, and its location can still be seen in the empty circular space between the two newer above ground steel reservoirs.

Location of the “Lookout Reservoir”, corner of Grandview Rd and Lookout Rd, New Lambton Heights.

The “Lookout Reservoir” seemed to be a better candidate for the Snowball photo in terms of the shape of the land and size of the reservoir, but it led me to an impossible conclusion … the “Lookout Reservoir” was constructed in 1926, but Ralph Snowball had died in August 1925, before construction had begun!

Part 5: Merewether?

At this point, Robert Watson came to my aid, and with some inspired thinking rescued me from my impossible conclusion. He deduced that the reservoir in the Snowball photo is actually situated in Macquarie St, Merewether.

Location of Glebe Hill reservoir on the 1940 map.

I had led myself astray in too quickly assuming that the Snowball photo was looking east towards the coast. It is in fact looking north-west, across the Broadmeadow flatlands towards Waratah.

Glebe Hill Reservoir, Merewether.

Panorama from the site of the Glebe Hill reservoir.

Glebe Hill Reservoir in Macquarie St Merewether is now part of a private residence. Google Street View.

A newspaper article from May 1886 states that the construction of the reservoir began in November 1885, only three months after the Lambton reservoir was completed in August 1885. The article contains a detailed description of the design that matches the photo very closely.

The roof is formed of two concentric arched rings and a dome carried by cast-iron girders, supported by iron columns resting on stone foundations some two feet square.
A March 1887 article describing the Hunter River District Water Supply shows that the Glebe Hill reservoir was almost identical to the size to the Lambton reservoir.
The reservoir at Lambton is built on the hill above the Public school, a distance of twelve and a half miles from. Buttai. It will hold 402,600 gallons. At fifteen and a third miles from Buttai a 15-inch branch pipe, a mile and a quarter in length, is connected with a reservoir having a capacity of 403,000 gallons, to supply Hamilton, Adamstown, the Glebe, and other towns along the line.
Note that although the reservoir is located within the modern day suburb boundaries of Merewether, it is sometimes called the “Hamilton Reservoir”, as that was the principal township it served.
Some other hints that confirm that the Snowball photo is of the Glebe Hill reservoir are the faint outline of smoke stacks in the distance. At the right are two stacks of different size, close together.

Broadmeadow copper smelter stacks.

These are the stacks of the English and Australia Copper Company smelter at Broadmeadow.

To the right is a single stack of one of the A.A. Company pits in Hamilton, and the very faint outline of the roof of St Peters Church in Denison St, Hamilton.

The Glebe Hill reservoir photo is taken from a spot only about 400 metres away from another Ralph Snowball photo taken in 1897, which shows the same landmarks in the distance.

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

1886 Glebe Hill Reservoir photo (top) and 1897 Glebe Rd photo (bottom)

The Glebe Hill reservoir is marked on Corporal Barrett’s 1910 map of Newcastle, situated on Lake Macquarie Rd. Quite possibly the two buildings marked at the end of Henry St are the two buildings we see in the Snowball photograph.

Glebe Hill reservoir, on 1910 map. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.


Acknowledgements

My thanks to Robert Watson who had a substantial input into the content of this article. Thanks also to Brendan Berghout of Hunter Water, who pointed me towards some useful information on early water supply infrastructure, and who helpfully reminded me that imperial gallons (220 gallons/m3) are not the same as U.S. gallons (264 gallons/m3). It was a casual conversation with Brendan on a bicycle commute to work one morning that was the genesis of this journey of discovery.

Blackbutt Reserve

Blackbutt Reserve today owes its existence to a strange combination of business prosperity, national adversity, and private tenacity.

The current area of the Reserve lies wholly within the boundaries of a coal mining lease of the Scottish Australian Mining Company. The eighteen hundred acre lease extended from Kotara South to Jesmond. Mining commenced in 1863, and apart from occasional downturns, the colliery prospered. Therefore, above ground there was little development apart from buildings such as pumping stations, required to support underground mining operations.

However, with the depletion of coal, and rising land taxes, the S.A.M Company looked for other income, from real estate. Between 1915 and 1928 the company developed and sold a few small subdivisions in Lambton, New Lambton, and Kotara. In June 1932, they attempted to auction a large parcel of land, in what is now the southern part of Blackbutt Reserve. The nation at this time however, was suffering the adversity of economic depression. There was little appetite for land purchases, and only five of the 52 lots on offer were sold. The failure of the auction thus left open a window of opportunity for local councils to purchase the land for a nature reserve, starting with 17 acres on Lookout Road in 1938, and increasing to 144 acres by 1940.

In 1956, Newcastle Council bought another 270 acres from the S.A.M. Company, in what is now the northern part of Blackbutt Reserve. Council wanted to subdivide all this land for housing, but through the tenacious opposition of private citizens and community groups, this development was blocked. Instead, the land was added to Blackbutt Reserve. Community opposition had to swing into action again in 1966 to prevent the Department of Main Roads building an expressway through the Reserve.

Many individuals worked tirelessly for the establishment and preservation of Blackbutt Reserve. One in particular, Joe Richley, president of the Northern Parks and Playgrounds Movement for 20 years, is commemorated in the name of Richley Reserve.

Middle Pit pumping shaft, 1894. Located where the entrance to Richley Reserve is today. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The approximate site of Middle Pit in 2017, at the entrance to Richley Reserve.


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

Acknowledgement

One of my main sources in researching and writing this article was “A History of Blackbutt Nature Reserve” by John Ramsland, University of Newcastle, a manuscript written for the Blackbutt Reserve Local Committee as a contribution to the Australian Bicentennial Celebrations. A copy of this manuscript is held in Newcastle Region Library Local Studies Section, Q719.32/RAM.

Additional Photos

From the Newcastle Morning Herald, 12 Jan 1937.

Two views of Blackbutt Reserve, which is being acquired by the municipal councils of the district for retention as a public park. From the shelter shed there is a commanding view of Newcastle.

Newcastle Morning Herald. 12 Jan 1937.

Newcastle Morning Herald. 12 Jan 1937.

Development on the S.A.M. Co Mining Lease

The 1888 map below, held by the NSW Land and Property Information, shows the 1840 acres of mining lease held by the Scottish Australian Mining Company in the name of “Morehead & Young”, in the following lots:

  • Lot 23 – 320 acres
  • Lot 167 – 320 acres
  • Lot 171 – 320 acres
  • Lot 172 – 240 acres
  • Lot 173 – 320 acres
  • Lot 174 – 320 acres

1888 map showing mining leases of Scottish Australian Mining Company. NSW Land and Property Information.

Fifty years after mining commenced in 1863, a 1913 War Office map shows that the only area of the 1840 acre mining lease with residential development is the township of Lambton in the north west corner.

Portion of 1913 War Office map of Newcastle, with 1840 S.A.M. lease outlined in blue. National Library of Australia.

From 1915, the Scottish Australian Mining Company started developing and selling residential subdivisions, starting with 24 blocks of “Lambton Park Estate” fronting Howe St, in May 1915.

Twenty five blocks on Russell St New Lambton were offered for sale in June 1915. (All real estate posters are from the University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.)

Fifty seven blocks surrounding Chilcott St Lambton were offered for sale in January 1920.

Twenty eight blocks in New Lambton Heights were offered for sale in October 1920.Ten blocks on Curzon St and Carrington Pde, New Lambton were offered for sale in December 1921.

191  blocks in Kotara were offered for sale in 1925.

Twenty six blocks on Turner St Lambton were offered for sale in 1928.

In 1932, the Scottish Australian Mining Company attempted to auction 52 blocks of land, totalling 480 acres. With the country in the grip of the Depression, the auction was a failure, with just five of the 52 blocks selling.

Poster for auction of land in Blackbutt Reserve area, 1932. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

One of the blocks that sold was Lot 51, on Lookout Rd. This was bought by the Newcastle Branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Institute. It was this block that became the first officially gazetted portion of Blackbutt Reserve in March 1938.

The 17 acres and 3 roods of Lot 51 on Lookout Road, was the first portion of Blackbutt Reserve to be officially gazetted. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

By September 1940, the size of Blackbutt Reserve had been increased to 144 acres, as shown on this Parish Map of Newcastle. The 144 acres consisted of Lots 48 to 52, and part of lot 47 of the 1932 subdivision.

Parish map of Newcastlem showing the boundary of the 144 acres of Blackbutt Reserve as of 13th September 1940. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

It is interesting to see how the modern boundaries of Blackbutt Reserve fall entirely within the S.A.M. Company’s mining lease, an indication of how the underground mining activities there in the 19th century left large areas of the surface undeveloped, and available for a nature reserve in the 20th century.

Blackbutt Reserve in relation to the S.A.M. Company mining lease.

Middle Pit

The first reference in Trove to the Middle Pit is from January 1875, in relation to driving “two narrow bords four yards wide for water standage.”

It is uncertain when the Middle Pit pumping shaft ceased operation. It was still in use in June 1913, as an article refers to the damage done to Orchardtown Road in the course of carting coal to Middle Pit, presumably to fire the engine boilers. A December 1937 article reported on the attempted rescue of a dog that had purportedly fallen down the shaft. The site had obviously been unused for quite a number of years, judging by the description …

The disused shaft is known in the locality as Middle Pit, and was formerly used in connection with the workings of the Old Lambton mine. Pit top gear, including an old rusted winding wheel, is still there, but the pit itself has fallen into disuse. It is in a deep gully, and nobody would suspect its presence when more than 100 yards away. Thick lantana has grown almost to the edge; briar bushes form a barrier between the outside world and the old shaft. The only sound is the sighing of wind in the gum trees. In the interests of safety the shaft has been enclosed by a tall galvanised iron fence. The ground at the foot of portion of the fencing has worn away, and through this hole the dog probably slipped in.

In this 1944 aerial photo the location of Middle Pit can be seen in the bare area to the west of Freyberg St. Newcastle Region Library.

Google Maps. Location of Middle Pit.

Google Earth. Approximate location of Middle Pit.

State Highway 23

The Hunter Living Histories site has a scanned PDF of a booklet “Save Blackbutt – the cas against State Highway 23 violating Blackbutt Reserve”.  This booklet was published by the Blackbutt Action Committee in opposing the construction of the highway.

Figure 1 below, from the Federal Government December 1974 report, “The Impact of State Highway 23 on Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle, New South Wales” shows how much of the western part of the reserve would have been severed had the highway proposal not been blocked by staunch community opposition.

Proposed route of State Highway 23 through Blackbutt Reserve in the 1960s.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
9 Apr 1931First mention of the name "Blackbutt Reserve" in the newspapers.
12 May 1931Thirty to forty aldermen of the city and district inspect the Blackbutt area. The Mayor of Newcastle (Ald Parker said that they "were definitely impressed that if acquired for a reserve it would be an asset to the district."
11 Jun 1932Advertisement for auction of 52 blocks of land, in the area of the south part of Blackbutt Reserve.
11 Aug 1932"An area of 17¾ acres in Blackbutt Reserve imnmediately below the Look-out, has been bought by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers' Memorial Institute. The purchase will serve a dual purpose, for not only will returned men willing to work for any relief they may obtain from the Institute carry out their undertaking there, but the Institute will settle a few ex-service men there on small allotments." This block became the first official part of Blackbutt Reserve in 1938.
5 Jan 1937Convinced that Blackbutt Reserve is inappropriately named, the Mayor of Newcastle (Ald. H. Fenton), in his capacity of Chairman of the Local Govern ment Coordination Committee, is urging the adoption of a more attractive title. He suggested last night that if the reserve was dedicated as a memorial to King George V., it could be called the "King George V Memorial Park." Or there might he support, Ald. Fenton added, for a proposal that the area be known as the "Duke of Windsor Reserve."
4 Mar 1938Official resumption of 17 acres of land (Lot 51) for Blackbutt Reserve.
14 Sep 1966A public meeting will be held to protest against the Main Roads Board decision to route a six-lane highway through Blackbutt Reserve.

A few hundred metres from the site of Middle Pit, in the bush adjacent to Richley Reserve, lies this rusting coal bucket, a poignant symbol of the way in which the decline of coal mining gave rise to a nature reserve.

Rusting remains of a coal bucket, lying in the bush close to Richley Reserve.

Arthur Lydney Payne

Arthur Lydney Payne was one of Lambton and New Lambton’s most prominent citizens. This month marks 100 years since his death on 15th June 1917.

A L Payne was born at Lydney Park, a property in the Millers Forest area, around 1850.  In the 1860s his family moved to Waratah, where the teenage Arthur was employed by the butcher, D McMichael. Arthur’s skill and reliability were so evident that he was soon appointed to the management of the business. In 1870, at just 20 years of age, Arthur Payne purchased a butchering business in Regent St New Lambton, and later that year opened another shop in Elder St Lambton. Thus began a family business that maintained a continuous association with the area until 1993.

A L Payne’s efforts were not only directed towards commerce. He served as an alderman on Lambton Council for 19 years, and was four times elected Mayor. He also became renowned for his expertise in herbal medicines, and “patients came to him for advice from all parts of Australia.”

One of the enduring legacies of Arthur Payne to our district is Le Chalet, the elegant house he had built in Elder St Lambton in the early 1900s. In 1911, at the rear of this property, Arthur Payne erected stables and a buggy house, as he was an avid horseman. He maintained a lifelong interest in the sport of show jumping, and won a number of competitions across NSW with horses he had personally trained. Even a month before his death at age 67 he was active, purchasing a “well-known jumper and show horse” from the Maitland horse markets.

After a short illness, A L  Payne died at his residence in Elder St Lambton in June 1915. His funeral cortege, travelling from Lambton to Sandgate cemetery was reported as “one of the largest that ever left Lambton”, the size of the gathering being “a fine tribute of respect and esteem in which the deceased gentleman was held.”

The slaughterhouse that A L Payne established in the 1870s to supply meat to his butcher shops. Exact location uncertain. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Although not the original building, A L Payne’s former butcher shop in Elder St Lambton still displays his name, and the year he established his business in the area.

The site of A. L. Payne’s butcher shop in Regent St New Lambton.


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

Additional Information

A. L. Payne. Photo from Amy Gibbs.

A. L. Payne. Photo from Amy Gibbs.

Key facts

Name:Arthur Lydney Payne
Birth date:8 Jan 1851
Birth place:Lydney Park (near Millers Forest), NSW
Death date:15 Jun 1917
Death place:Elder St, Lambton, NSW
Burial site:Sandgate Cemetery
Burial Long,Lat :151.70626621,-32.869169368 (KML File for Google Earth)
Burial date:17 Jun 1917
Grave site of Arthur Lydney Payne, Sandgate cemetery.

Grave site of Arthur Lydney Payne, Sandgate cemetery.

Inscription on grave monument in Sandgate cemetery. (Contrast enhanced to improve readability.)

Inscription on grave monument in Sandgate cemetery. (Contrast enhanced to improve readability.) "In loving remembrance of ARTHUR LYDNEY PAYNE who departed this life JUNE 15th 1917 a Aged 67 years. At Rest Also His Dearly Beloved Wife THIRZA GRACE who departed this life July 28th 1936 Aged 81 years"

In a curious coincidence, the grave of Arthur Lydney Payne in Sandgate cemetery is adjacent to that of Donald McMichael, the man who gave Arthur his start in the butchering trade.

In a curious coincidence, the grave of Arthur Lydney Payne in Sandgate cemetery is adjacent to that of Donald McMichael, the man who gave Arthur his start in the butchering trade.

There is some uncertainty about the age of A. L. Payne at the time of his death. Page 155 of “The Story of Lambton” states his date of birth as being 8 January 1851, which would make him aged 66 at his death. However the inscription on his grave states his age as being 67. To add to the confusion, the newspaper article reporting his death states that he was born in 1852, which would make him aged 64 or 65.

Lambton Council

Arthur Lydney Payne served as an alderman on Lambton Council for nearly 19 years, in two separate periods of office:

  • February 1884 to May 1894
  • September 1903 to March 1912

Interestingly, both periods of office ended with a resignation – in May 1894 over the the failure of the electric light plant, and in March 1912 for an unspecified reason.

Alderman Payne was elected Mayor on four occasions:

Alderman A. L. Payne, Lambton Council 1890. From a collage of Ralph Snowball photographs. Newcastle Library.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
5 May 1917At the Maitland horse markets, a month before his death … "We have also to report the sale of the well-known jumper and show horse, Moonbi, at a highly satisfactory price to Mr. A. L. Payne."
19 Jun 1917
15 Jun 1917
"Mr Payne carried on a butchering business successfully for many years, but he was better and far wider known as a skilful adviser in cases of sickness and chronic complaints. He was so successful in the treatment of all kinds of human ailments and diseases that patients came to him from almost all parts of the Commonwealth, including Queensland and Tasmania."
16 Jun 1917
15 Jun 1917
Death of Arthur Lydney Payne.
16 Jun 1917Funeral notice for A. L. Payne.
18 Jun 1873
17 Jun 1917
Report on the funeral of A. L. Payne
21 Jun 1917
19 Jun 1917
Letter of condolence sent from Lambton Council to the widow and family of the late A. L. Payne.
21 Jul 1917Estate of A. L. Payne valued at £18,185, bequeathed to his wife Thirza Grace Payne.

History under our feet

The growth of our city means that former collieries are eventually obliterated by urban development, and it becomes difficult to find any trace of their former existence. Sometimes however, evidence of the old mines can be found, quite literally, under our feet.

Last year I was walking over Lewis Oval in New Lambton at dusk, when I noticed a slight dip in the level of the ground. I wondered, could this possibly be due to subsidence related to the former Lambton colliery?

A September 1944 aerial photograph held by Newcastle Library shows that the mine was located at this site. The mine closed in 1936 and much of the surface infrastructure was removed by 1944. The large double storey building in the centre of the photograph housed the colliery’s machinery workshop on the lower floor, and a sawmilling plant on the upper floor. The building got a new lease of life in 1947 when Leonora Glass Industries began operations there.

The railway also continued to be used after the mine’s closure, as noted in a 1942 newspaper article,

“Coal was being hauled by motor-trucks from Cardiff for loading onto the coal waggons near the site of the old colliery screens.”

Carting of coal from the site ceased in 1963, the area was developed for housing, and Lewis Oval constructed over the filled in railway cutting. Sixty years on, a slight subsidence of the railway in-fill causes water to collect in the depression. In the right conditions, the grass grows slightly greener, and in some of the modern Google Earth photos, the position of the old railway can still be discerned in a green horizontal line just north of the cricket pitch.

So if you ever find yourself defending the boundary at Lewis Oval, and you notice the outfield seems a little bumpy, you might just be experiencing an enduring impression of our coal mining history.

The Lambton Colliery site in September 1944. Newcastle Region Library.


The Lambton colliery site in 2016. The path of the former rail line can be faintly seen running across Lewis Oval. Google Earth.

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

Additional Photos

In this 2006 Google Earth photo, there is a quite distinct darker green line running across Lewis Oval. Google Earth.

 

Lambton Colliery. 1913-1920. The Story of Lambton. From the collection of Dorothy Jones.

The photo above can be dated by the chimney stacks in the distance. The stack of the brickworks at Waratah which was constructed in 1913 is visible, and we can also see the stack of the copper smelter at Broadmeadow, which was demolished by 1920.

Lambton colliery site, 1951. From the collection of Albert Bates

Lambton Colliery site 1959. The large double storey building where the Leonora Glass Works operated is now gone, destroyed by fire in 1957. The Story of Lambton, p. 19. Photo from Stuart Thompson

Additional information

  • My blog post from February 2016 when I first discovered subsidences in Lewis Oval, marking the path of the former rail line.
  • If you have Google Earth installed, you can view the 1944 aerial photograph as an overlay by opening this Lambton Colliery (1944 aerial).kmz file.
  • A description of the large double storey building at the Lambton colliery in 1890 can be found on page 15 of “The Coal Mines of Newcastle” by George H. Kingswell. This book has been scanned by the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

The Coal Mines Of Newcastle, p.15

You can download a PDF version of this book.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
12 Aug 1942"Coal was being hauled by motor-trucks from Cardiff for loading onto the coal waggons near the site of the old colliery screens."
7 Oct 1947Leonora Glass Industries commences operations in a disused building of the Old Lambton coalmine.

New Lambton Aldermen (1889-1938)

New Lambton Council was incorporated on 9th January 1889 and remained until March 1938 when 11 local municipal councils merged to form the City of Greater Newcastle Council. During the 49 years of its existence, New Lambton Council had 83 different aldermen, 27 of whom served as mayor.

The file linked to below contains a summary of all the aldermen that served on New Lambton Municipal Council in the years 1889 to 1938.

Click the preview image above to view the full table in a PDF document.

Entries in the table that are underlined are hyperlinks to a relevant newspaper article in Trove. To make sense of the information in the summary document, it is helpful to understand how council elections were organised, and how I have used different text and background colours to represent changes in the council membership.

New Lambton Council Chambers and Town Clerks house, Lambton Road. Photograph by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Council elections

Elections in the New Lambton Municipal Council were initially governed by the NSW Municipalities Act of 1867. The council had 9 aldermen, who served terms of three years.

Initially the municipality was incorporated in 1889 without a ward system, but prior to the 1890 election, in response to a petition from the electors, the municipality was divided into three wards, with three aldermen to represent each ward. Each February the term of three aldermen expired (one from each ward), and nominations were called to fill the expiring positions, so that over a three year cycle the terms of all nine of the aldermen expired. If only one nomination was received for a particular ward, that nominee was automatically elected to the council without the need for a ballot. If there was more than one nomination in a ward the returning officer would set a date within the next seven days at which a ballot would be held, where the ratepayers of the council area would vote for aldermen.

The position of Mayor was not voted on by ratepayers, but rather on the first council meeting after the election, the nine aldermen (including the three newly elected/returned aldermen) would vote for who they wanted to be Mayor. In contrast to the position of aldermen who were elected to a term of three years, the position of Mayor had a term of only one year.

In the event of any casual vacancies, nominations for the vacancy would be called for, and an election called if there were more nominees than vacancies. Casual vacancies in New Lambton were caused by resignation, death, or a shortage of nominees at a scheduled election.

On 26/2/1906, the Municipalities Act (1897) was replaced by the Local Government Act (1906). The system of electing 3 aldermen each year was changed to elect 9 aldermen every 3 years. The election of a Mayor was still held each February, with the Mayoral term running from the first day of March to the last day of February.

In a December 1915 referendum, electors voted to abolish the ward system in New Lambton. Over the years the ward system had produced much dispute and accusations about some aldermen favouring expenditure of money in one ward over another.

Although there are numerous pieces of legislation relevant to local government in the period 1871 to 1938, the main acts relevant to the content on this page are:

Colour coding

In the documents I have used different colours to indicate the means by which people entered and exited council positions:

  • The foreground text color indicates how a person entered a council position:
    • Blue indicates the person was elected unopposed.
    • Green indicates the person was a successful candidate in an election.
    • Black indicates a continuation in office.
  • The background colour of a table cell indicates how a person exited a council position:
    • Yellow indicates a resignation.
    • Light pink indicates expiration of a term, and the person did not seek re-election.
    • Darker pink indicates expiration of a term, and the person was defeated when seeking re-election to another term.
    • Light gray indicates that the person died while serving their term of office.
  • For entries prior to 1906, where three aldermen retired each year, the names of the retiring aldermen are shown in italics.

Each new row in the table represents a change in the makeup of the council, with the exception of the council/mayoral elections of 1918, 1920, 1932, 1933, 1935, and 1936, where the aldermen and mayor remained unchanged.

Miscellaneous Observations

In the period 1889 to 1938:

  • 27 different people served as Mayor.
    • The longest serving Mayor was George Errington, who served a total of 7 years as Mayor during the period 1895 to 1914, on five separate occasions.
    • The following Mayors have streets in New Lambton named after them – Errington, Dunkley, Croudace, Longworth. Alderman Mackie also has a street named in his honour.
    • In comparison with Lambton, New Lambton liked to share the Mayoral honours around. New Lambton council operated for 18 years less than Lambton council, but only had one fewer than Lambton’s 28 Mayors.
  • Approximately 83 different people served as aldermen.
    • The exact number is hard to be sure of. I have had to make some educated guesses as to whether aldermen with the same, similar, or variant names at different periods are the same person, or a different person.
      • There are multiple variations of the spelling for Alderman Dunkley/Dunkeley/Dunckley/Dunckrley over a period 1894-1901. I have assumed it is the same person.
      • There are two periods of office for William Coomer (1895-1896 and 1908-1913). The obituary of William Coomer in December 1931 states that he “served as an alderman for about four years”, which is suggestive that the 1895-1896 term was held by a different William Coomer. However the article also states that he had been a resident of New Lambton for 45 years, and being aged 74 years at his death in 1931, means that he was in the area and aged 38 years in 1895. So it is quite possible that he did serve the earlier term. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I have assumed it is the same person.
    • The longest serving alderman was George Errington who served a total of 26 years and 2 months in the period 1891 to 1920, on four separate occasions.
    • The shortest term of an aldermen was that of John Leyshon who was elected unopposed on 6 Feb 1894, and resigned just 15 days later on 21 Feb 1894, because he was leaving the district. The second shortest term of office was that of G. Richards who served for two months in May/June 1917. After the resignation of four aldermen had left the council without a quorum, Alderman Richards volunteered to fill one of the vacancies, and allow council to continue to operate until the scheduled election on 30 June 1917.
  • This page is titled “New Lambton Aldermen“, for they were all men. For most of the life of the council, this was by law, for while both men and women were entitled to vote, the Municipalities Act of 1867 and the Local Government Act of 1906 was explicit in restricting council service to men. e.g. section 69 of the 1906 act says:
    “Any male person whose name is on the roll of electors for an area shall, if not disqualified, be eligible to be elected and to act as alderman or councillor of the area.”
    By the time of the Local Government Act of 1919, this gender exclusion for office was no longer in place, however in the remaining 20 years no women were nominated for or elected to New Lambton Council.
  • Three people died while serving in office, George Fenwick in 1895, Richard Lay in 1903, and George K. Morison in 1927.
  • There were 24 occasions when an alderman or mayor resigned their position. In most cases the reason was that the person had left the district, or because of ill health, or because other personal matters did not allow them to attend to council business. The biggest combined resignations occurred in 1917, when three aldermen (Milligan, Edden, Lock) having served their three years objected to having their term of office extended by five months by the State Government because of changes to the electoral provisions for voter franchise. A subsequent resignation by Alderman Jordan left the New Council inoperative for a month as there were insufficient aldermen to form a quorum at council meetings.