Oh look, a shiny book

Oh look, a shiny book. And my name is on the cover.

Julie Keating has continued her series of books focussing on Newcastle suburbs in the 19th and early 20th century. For the latest book on New Lambton, Julie invited me to contribute some of my blog articles on various aspects of New Lambton history.

The book is $25 and can be purchased from New Lambton Post Office, MacLeans bookshop in Beaumont Street Hamilton, and the the Marketown Newsagency in Newcastle West.

Ralph Snowball’s House and Studio

Where was Ralph Snowball’s house and studio in New Lambton?

The University of Newcastle Cultural Collections site has a number of photographs captioned as Ralph Snowball’s house or studio in Clarence Rd, New Lambton.

Ralph Snowball’s studio, New Lambton, NSW, 11 April 1902

Ralph Snowball Studio, Clarence Road, New Lambton, NSW, [n.d.]

Ralph Snowball Studio, Clarence Road, New Lambton, NSW, [n.d.]

Ralph Snowball’s house, Clarence Street, New Lambton, NSW, 11 April 1902

Chinese Market Gardener at Ralph Snowball’s residence, Clarence Road, New Lambton, NSW, September 1886

The first thing to note is that these are all of the same building. Compare the fence and the verandah in these two photos.

The NSW Land Registry Services has a historical map that shows a property owned by R.G. Snowball on the corner of Clarence Rd and Baker St (lot 1165), and for a number of years I thought that the photographs above were of that location


Recently I realised that couldn’t be right, in particular because in one of the photos of the back of the house (on the elevated side of the block) there is clearly another house to the right. So the Snowball house in this photograph cannot have been on a corner.

Also in the Cultural Collections archive is a photo taken from near the top of Collaroy Rd, looking northwards towards Lambton colliery and township.

Lambton Colliery and township, Lambton, NSW, 15 October 1900

I was able to locate Snowball’s house in this photograph, and notice that the right wall of the Mechanics’ Institute in Lambton, the top of the Lambton Park rotunda, and the chimney of Snowball’s house were in alignment. I was then able to replicate that alignment in Google Earth by drawing a straight line using the Mechanics’ Institute and rotunda as guide points.

Using this alignment in Google Earth, I then inspected the path of that line on a 1944 aerial photograph looking for a matching building – one with an expansive front yard with steps going up to the front of the house, and with the back of the house very close to the street. There was a very good match at 19 Clarence Rd.

A closer inspection of the map with the property owners names shows on lot 1149, although the name is slightly worn away, “Ralph Snowball”.

Finally, when I overlaid this map into Google Earth along with the line I had drawn earlier using the Mechanics Institute and Rotunda as a guide, the line goes straight through lot 1149!

Google Earth shows that lot 1149 (19 Clarence Rd) now has two modern buildings on the block.

Locating this block of land also explains why the Federal Directory of Newcastle and District for 1901 has a listing for “Photographer. Snowball, Ralph, Gwydir Rd”.

New Lambton Aldermen

Eighty years ago in 1938, eleven suburban councils merged to form the City of Greater Newcastle council.  New Lambton Council was incorporated on 9 January 1889, and a ballot to elect nine aldermen was held on 2 March 1889.  The first Council meeting was held five days later in Sneddon’s Hall, and Thomas Croudace, the mine manager of the Lambton Colliery, was elected as the first Mayor. Croudace had previously served as alderman and Mayor of Lambton Council. His municipal enthusiasm seemed to know no bounds, for in 1891 and 1892 Croudace was simultaneously an alderman on both Lambton and New Lambton councils, as well as Mayor of New Lambton.

Unlike Lambton’s troubled debt laden history, New Lambton Council was conservative with its spending, but was not completely untouched by financial controversy. In 1916 there was quite a stir when the Town Clerk, William Danne, was discovered to have fraudulently altered council cheques to his own name. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to four months prison.

Over the years New Lambton Council had 83 different aldermen, ten of whom served a decade or more. At the other extreme is John Leyshon, who in 1894 resigned from office just 15 days after being elected.

A total of 27 aldermen held the position of Mayor, and a number of streets in New Lambton are named in their honour, including Croudace, Dunkley, Errington and Longworth. Of particular note is George Errington, who was elected Mayor on seven occasions in his 26 years on New Lambton Council.  Errington was born in Durham, England, in 1863, and arrived in New Lambton in 1880 to work as a miner. He was first elected to council in 1891 and finished his last term in 1920. George Errington died in 1934 at his daughter’s Mayfield residence Iberia, named after the steamship that had brought George to Australia 54 years earlier.

Alderman George Errington. Truth newspaper (Sydney), 4 Jun 1911.

The New Lambton Council Chambers were destroyed by fire in April 1931. Photo by Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.


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

Additional information

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

George Errington

The “Truth” newspaper of Sydney published a short biographical article on George Errington on 4 June 1911.

Alderman Errington was born in Durham, England, in the year 1863, and came to New South Wales in the s.s. Iberia, the vessel that later on took the N.S.W. contingent to the Soudan. He went to the Illawarra district, thence to the Newcastle district, and took up his residence in New Lambton, where he has resided ever since, with the exception of a few months in Queensland. He was Miners’ Delegate for some years, also vice-president of Eight Hour Committee, and presided at the opening of the Trades Hall in Newcastle. He has been in the Council 20 years, and has been Mayor six times. He was appointed Justice of the Peace ten years ago. He is one of the municipal representatives on the Water and Sewerage Board, and occupies the position of vice-president this year. He is also a trustee of the district park. He ran as the selected Labor candidate for Wickham a few years ago, and was defeated by a small majority.

Birth place:Durham, England
Death date:24 May 1934
Death place:Mayfield
Burial site:Sandgate
Burial Long,Lat :151.707931,-32.870902 (KML File for Google Earth)
Burial date:25 May 1934
George Errington served as an alderman of New Lambton Council for 26 years.

George Errington served as an alderman of New Lambton Council for 26 years.

Headstone of George Errington.

Headstone of George Errington.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
4 Jun 1911Short biographical article on George Errington, Mayor of New Lambton.
1 Mar 1916William Charles Danne, town clerk of New Lambton, charged with cheque fraud committed on February 15th.
4 Mar 1916
1 Mar 1916
Special meeting of New Lambton council to discuss the recent fraudulent of action of the town clerk, William Charles Danne. The aldermen unanimiously carry a motion to dismiss the town clerk.
9 Mar 1916
8 Mar 1916
William Charles Danne, former town clerk of New Lambton pleads guilty to two charges of cheque fraud, and is sentenced to four months imprisonment.
31 May 1934
24 May 1934
Death of George Errington, longest serving Mayor of New Lambton.
22 Sep 2016William Charles Danne convicted of another cheque fraud and sentenced to two years hard labour.

The Hand Of Friendship Hotel

And so will disappear an ancient landmark, which unfortunately will soon be forgotten.

These closing words of a 1933 newspaper report on a building demolition proved true, for few people today passing the corner of Regent St and Russell Rd know that it was the site of one of New Lambton’s earliest hotels.

The Hand of Friendship Hotel was opened on 18 September 1869, its first publican Benjamin Lunn pledging in an advertisement the sale of ‘none but the very best wines, spirits, ales etc.’ The premises also offered ‘abundant accommodation for the requirements of a colliery township.’ It was just the second hotel to open in New Lambton, when the town was barely a year old and the streets not yet formed.

Benjamin Lunn remained the publican until his death in 1878 when the hotel passed to his wife Jane, and later to their son James in 1884. In the ensuing years, the hotel had numerous licensees. Ralph Snowball photographed the hotel in September 1895, and the group standing at the door is almost certainly the publican of the day, George Masters, with his wife and two daughters.

In the next decade, the hotel passed through numerous hands and the building gradually deteriorated. In 1905, the police opposed the renewal of the hotel’s licence ‘on the ground that the building was in bad condition, owing to the white ants.’ It survived that objection, but only for another year. Plans to demolish the building and erect a new hotel came to nothing, and in 1906 John Canning, the last publican to stand behind the bar of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, relinquished his licence.

The building stood idle for some time before it was sold, when it gained a new life as a second-hand goods shop. The weathering of the years however was relentless. In 1933 the building was finally demolished, and a tangible link with New Lambton’s infancy was lost.

The Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton. 19 September 1895. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The location of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, corner of Regent St and Russell Rd, New Lambton.


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

Additional information

Opening

Advertisement in the Newcastle Chronicle on 18 September 1869, for the opening of the Hand of Friendship Hotel.

Snowball photographs

September 1895

In the September 1895 photo the name of the publican “G. Masters” can be partially seen in a sign above the door, behind the lamp.

The diagonal writing in the three panels below the name says:

Licensed to retail
Fermented l(iquors).
Spirituous liquors

In November 1894, ten months prior to the Snowball photo, a stable in the course of erection at the hotel collapsed in a strong wind. Three children were injured, including the six year old daughter of the publican, George Masters, who had her leg badly fractured below the knee. It is probable that the little girl on the right in the photo is the child who was injured in the accident.

May 1903

Eight years later, in May 1903 Ralph Snowball took another photograph of the hotel.

Hand of Friendship Hotel, 2nd May 1903. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The publican at this time was Phillip James Byrne, having acquired the license from Edmund Butterworth three months earlier in February 1903. Note in the sign above the door there is a faint H at the end, which is probably the remnants of the name of the previous licensee.

In June 1903, just a month after this photograph was taken, the application of Phillip James Byrne for a renewal of the license was objected to on on the grounds that “the accommodation was inadequate, and the place in an insanitary condition.”

Centenary Hall

In 1906 the hotel ceased to trade, and in January 1907, the owners of the building, Tooth and Co., put the property up for sale. The sale included the land, hotel building, and the Centenary Hall adjacent to the hotel and fronting Russell Rd. The land was described as having frontage of 133ft 4in to Russell St, and 98ft 3in to Regent St.

Site of the Hand of Friendship Hotel and Centenary Hall, New Lambton.

Demolition

The 1933 report on the demolition of the building had an accompanying photograph. (The paper printed the photograph back to front as a mirror image. I have corrected the image below.)

Demolition of the former Hand Of Friendship Hotel building in 1933.

Hotel licensees

The following is a list of licensees as gleaned from various mentions in newspaper articles over the years. Some of the dates are known with certainty, as there is a report of the license being transferred from one person to another. For some licensees I have had to make an informed estimate based on the first and last reported association of the licensee with the hotel.

  1. Benjamin Lunn (15 September 1869 to November 1878)
  2. Jane Lunn (November 1878 to March 1884)
  3. James Lunn (May 1884 to 1886)
  4. John Williams (1887 to 1888)
  5. John (Jack) Hall (June 1888)
  6. Thomas (Tom) Durham (June 1888 to November 1889)
  7. John (Jack) Thomas (November 1889 to 1892)
  8. George Masters (1893 to 1895)
  9. Joseph (Joe) Garratt (1896 to 1899)
  10. Edmund (Ted) Butterworth (1900 to Feb 1903)
  11. Phillip James Byrne (Feb 1903 to 1904)
  12. John (Jack) Canning (1904 to October 1906)
  13. George Bertram Bowser (October 1906 to November 1906)

The 1933 article on the demolition of the building states that “Ben Bradley (afterwards an alderman in the New Lambton Council)” was also a licensee, but I can find no independent evidence for this. Benjamin Bradley did have a publican’s license at one stage, but it was for the Lake Macquarie Hotel in Teralba.

The article also states that Jack Canning “was the last to stand behind the bar of the old hotel”. Although this is true, he wasn’t the last licensee. George Bertram Bowser was the final licensee, for just under a month in October/November 1906. The report on the cancellation of his licence in November 1906 however, makes it clear that the building remained unoccupied during his short tenure as publican.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
16 Sep 1869
15 Sep 1869
A publican's license granted to Mr. Benjamin Lunn, of the Hand of Friendship, New Lambton.
16 Sep 1869A general article describing the beginnings of New Lambton, that notes that the Hand of Friendship Hotel is the second hotel in the township. "Both these houses afford abundant accommodation for the requirements of a colliery township."
18 Sep 1869
18 Sep 1869
Advertisement for the opening of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton.
29 Nov 1878
27 Nov 1878
Death of Mr. Benjamin Lunn, landlord of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton.
5 Apr 1884
28 Mar 1884
Death of Jane Lunn, Hand of Friendship Hotel.
24 May 1884
21 May 1884
"The license of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, was transferred from the executors in the estate of the late Mrs. Jane Lunn to James Lunn."
17 Dec 1886Reference in a court hearing to "James Lunn, hotelkeeper, at New Lambton". Although the hotel is not named, it is presumed that it the Hand of Friendship hotel.
23 Mar 1887"An inquest was held at New Lambton yesterday, at Mr. John William's Hand of Friendship Hotel."
14 Mar 1888At a court hearing where he was a witness, John Williams is described as the "late licensee of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton."
30 May 1888"FOR SALE, the Lease, License, and Good will of the HAND OF FRIENDSHIP HOTEL, New Lambton, now doing a good business."
7 Jun 1888"An application was put in for the transfer of the license of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, from John Hall to Thomas Durham.--Granted."
8 Jun 1889"FOR SALE, Lease, License, Furniture, and Goodwill of the HAND OF FRIENDSHIP HOTEL, New Lambton. Apply to THOMAS DURHAM, on the premises."
14 Nov 1889"The license of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, was transferred from Thomas Durham to John Thomas"
24 Jun 1892License renewal to "John Thomas, Hand of Friendship, New Lambton".
25 Mar 1893Charge of Sunday trading against "George Masters, of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton" was withdrawn.
13 Nov 1894
12 Nov 1894
The roof of a stable in the course of erection at the Hand of Friendship Hotel is blown off by a strong gust of wind. The building then collapsed and three children are injured, including the six year old daughter of the publican, George Masters, who had her leg badly fractured below the knee.
26 Jun 1896Renewal of license to "Joseph Garrett, Hand of Friendship, New Lambton".
27 Mar 1899At a performance by the Fire Brigades' Band, "ample seating accommodation" was provided by "Mr. Joseph Garratt, of the Hand of Friendship Hotel."
21 Jul 1900Advertisement.
"FREE Public Dance, Monday Night, Butterworth's Centenary. Hall, New Lambton. Noble and Gaggetta, Musicians."
The Centenary Hall was part of the Hand of Friendship Hotel site.
21 Aug 1902"Mr. G. C. Martin, district coroner, held a magisterial inquiry at Butterworth's Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, yesterday morning."
14 Feb 1903"Mr. Scott, S.M., granted a transfer of the license of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, from E. Butterworth to P. J. Byrne."
19 Jun 1903"The application of Phillip James Byrne for a renewal of the license of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, was objected to on a report, furnished by Sergeant G. Salter, to the effect that the accommodation was inadequate, and the place in an insanitary condition."
18 Nov 1903For Sale: "HOTEL, New Lambton, Tooth's Beer, long lease, good trade, low rent, cheap. Byrne, Hand of Friendship."
16 Sep 1904Bazaar in aid of New Lambton Mechanics' Institute to be held in "Canning's Centenary Hall."
23 Jun 1905"John Canning, Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, applied for renewal of license. The police opposed the application on the ground that the building was in a bad condition, owing to the white ants. Mr. T. A. Braye (Messrs. Braye and Cohen) appeared for the applicant and said that plans had been prepared for a new building, which would be erected. Temporary improvements would also be made. Michael Joseph Moroney, representing the owners, Tooth and Co., confirmed this statement, and the renewal was granted."
19 Jun 1906Plans to build a new hotel on the site of the Hand of Friendship Hotel … "the firm of Tooth and Co. contemplate erecting a large hotel on the present site of their hotel property, situated at the corner of Regent-street and Russell-road."
12 Oct 1906LICENSING COURT. The following transfers were approved :- From John Canning to George Bertram Bowser, Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, and from Thomas Mclntosh to John Canning, Sportsman's Arms, New Lambton.
9 Nov 1906"In the matter of the Hand of Friendship Hotel, New Lambton, Sub-Inspector Goulder applied for cancellation of the license. The hotel changed hands on October 11, and since that date had remained unoccupied. The license, which was held by W. Bowser, was formally cancelled."
23 Jan 1907For sale - "THAT PROPERTY KNOWN AS THE Hand of Friendship Hotel, Fronting Regent-street, and THE CENTENARY HALL, Fronting Russell-street."
2 Nov 1933Report on the demolition of the Hand of Friendship Hotel building.

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.