Thanks to Ralph Snowball’s extensive archive of glass plate negatives, we have thousands of clear views into our city’s past. But Snowball also dabbled in one of the photographic crazes of the 19th century, stereoscopy.
Our perception of a three-dimensional world comes from having two eyes, each seeing the same scene from a slightly different point. Our brain combines the images to give us sense of how close or far away objects are. Stereoscopic photography mimics this by using a camera with two horizontally separated lenses, that capture two images of a scene. Prints can then be mounted on a stereoscopic viewer, a goggle like apparatus that uses lens to combine the two images to give us the impression of a three-dimensional view.
Newcastle University’s Living Histories collection contains eight stereoscopic images by Snowball, including views of New Lambton, Newcastle harbour and the beach. The negatives have varying degrees of damage, with the best-preserved example being of a Chinese market garden vendor at the foot of the steps of Snowball’s home in Clarence Road, New Lambton.
Not many people have an antique stereoscopic viewer lying around the house, but YouTube, that modern purveyor of DIY solutions has an alternative. A video (https://youtu.be/jIh8zetHB9E) demonstrates how to create your own viewer using a few tools, cheap plastic reading glasses from a bargain store, and a small threaded bolt.
I achieved best viewing results when photos were printed with each image 7cm wide. I placed the images on a well-lit horizontal surface with a gap of a few centimetres between them. With the connecting bolt of the glasses against my nose, and at a viewing distance of about 40cm, I used my left eye to focus on the left-hand image and slowly moved the right image inwards until the two images merged. It can take a while to master the technique, but when you do, the effect is both startling and enchanting to suddenly see history in 3D.
The article above was first published in the August 2023 edition of The Local.
We tend to think of street names as unchanging. But curiously in New Lambton, there was a time when the streets in half the town got renamed.
After the coal mine opened in 1868, the streets of New Lambton went un-named for the next 20 years. In the south, land was owned by the colliery, more interested in digging coal than developing a town. In the north was the Commonage, government land reserved for cattle pasturage, but on which many miners settled anyway.
Three factors then contributed to a rapid change in the streets. Firstly, with the passing of legislation in 1889, occupants of the Commonage began buying the land they lived on. Secondly, as coal production declined, mine owner Alexander Brown transitioned to selling land for residential development. Thirdly, New Lambton Council formed in 1889, and with the power to levy rates on landowners began to make and improve the streets.
South of Russell Road, the streets appear to have been named by Brown’s “New Lambton Land & Coal Company.” North of Russell Road, streets were named by the new council, mostly after aldermen and employees. But in 1891 the council was dismayed to learn that the Lands Department in Sydney had drawn up a new plan with new street names. The council objected to the expense and inconvenience of having to update their records. At an 1892 council meeting, the clerk reported “having met with the Under-Secretary for Lands, on the subject of the alteration of names of Commonage streets, when it was found that the matter had been sadly bungled by the department, and could not be remedied now, and that the council must adopt the names as they appeared on the departmental plans.” Probably the only maps marked with the 1889-1892 street names were destroyed when the New Lambton council chambers burned down in 1931. However, reports from early council meetings contain enough information to match them to the department’s ‘bungled’ street names we know today.
The article above was first published in the June 2023 edition of The Local.
I have not seen any maps that show the 1889-1892 street names, and as mentioned in the article it is probable that all such maps were destroyed when New Lambton Council Chambers burned to the ground on 16 April 1931. Identifying which streets had which names is a matter of trawling through all mentions of the street name in contemporary newspaper reports in Trove.
Some streets can be matched by reference to buildings or infrastructure. e.g. Church St, Tramway Rd
Some streets are clearly identified when named by the council e.g. “That the street commencing at the road near the Primitive Methodist Church, bearing north west to the street following the Lambton Company’s fence be called Dean street.” NMH 16 August 1889
Some streets can only be identified by a process of logical reasoning. e.g. the council resolution from 15 July 1891 “that Capewell-street be formed, from Gray street to Baker-street” tells us how these streets intersect. With enough references like this, the map can eventually be reconstructed.
A summary of the references to the old street names can be viewed in this spreadsheet. Cells with a yellow background show the first time a street name is referenced. The spreadsheet shows that the transition from the 1889-1892 names to the current names mostly happened in a three month period from July 1892 to October 1892. This lines up with the August 1892 report of the edict from the Under-Secretary of Land that the council must adopt the new names.
Of the 13 old street names annotated in the map accompanying this article, the probable inspiration for the name can be reasonably guessed for most of them.
Probable source of name
Thomas Bourke, valuer for New Lambton Council, 1890
William Capewell, New Lambton alderman 1890-1892.
The Primitive Methodist Church and Lay Methodist Church were located on opposite sides of this street.
Thomas Croudace, New Lambton alderman 1889-1894.
John Dean, New Lambton alderman 1889-1891.
William Dent, auditor for New Lambton Council.
Samuel Gibson, New Lambton alderman 1889.
Michael Gray, New Lambton alderman 1889-1890.
William Johnson, New Lambton alderman 1889-1892.
Joseph William Oldham, New Lambton alderman 1889-1890, works foreman 1891-1893.
Adjacent to New Lambton colliery railway.
Newcastle to Wallsend tramway ran along this road.
To add to the confusion of street names in New Lambton, the Historical Records Land Viewer site has a parish map from 1884 with a yet another set of names for the streets north of Russell Rd. The street names listed on this map are
"The Government had altered the names of the streets upon the new plan, and he recommended that they be asked to reconsider the question, as it would necessitate the council's books and plans all being altered."
Many readers will have memories of the iconic corner shop, selling groceries and daily necessities in the midst of suburban housing. But it was not only the mixed businesses that set up on the prominent and prized corner blocks.
In 1892 the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate in a feature article on the “rapidly-rising mining suburb of New Lambton” noted “a hairdressing saloon is kept by Mr. T. Griffiths.” In 1903 Ralph Snowball photographed Thomas Griffiths’ hairdresser and tobacconist shop, situated on the corner of Lambton Road and Rugby Road. The subsequent history of the business is somewhat difficult to determine, there being at least four different Thomas Griffiths in early New Lambton, two of whom lived on Lambton Road. Aerial photographs from the NSW Historical Imagery website show that the shop building was demolished sometime between 1966 and 1974.
The other end of Lambton Road, at the intersection with Railway Street, was another location of corner commerce. William Oldham originally intended to open a hotel there, and in 1876 he applied three times for a publican’s license, without success. Advertisements indicate that by 1878 he was running a butcher shop there, and when William died in 1889 his son Joseph took over.
The article above was first published in the May 2023 edition of The Local.
Thomas Griffiths, hairdresser
Identifying the location of Thomas Griffiths hairdressing salon photographed by Snowball in 1903, was a tricky process, due to scant information, and there being more than one person named Thomas Griffiths in New Lambton at the time.
Personal notices in the newspaper on 5 February 1885 and 7 February 1885 show that Thomas and Mary Griffiths had a house “opposite the public school”, and that Mary, not Thomas, was the owner of the house. This area was part of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, also known as the Commonage. After the government had passed legislation to allow residents of the Commonage to purchase the land they were living on, an application by Mary Griffiths to to purchase portion 1306 for £78 16s was accepted by the Land Board on 14 August 1890. On 13 September1892 there is a brief mention in a newspaper article on the progress of New Lambton that “a hairdressing saloon is kept by Mr. T. Griffiths.”
Mary’s purchase of land portion 1306 was later registered on 20 June 1901 in Vol-Fol 1365-3, with the purchaser shown as “Mary Griffiths, a married woman of New Lambton.”
In October 1901, portion 1306 was subdivided into two halves, with the western half (on the corner with Lambton Lane) sold to “Thomas Griffiths of New Lambton, Hairdresser” in Vol-Fol 1377-2.
The northern half was retained by Mary Griffiths, however the land title Vol-Fol 1377-14 on 16 October 1901 now lists her as “Mary Griffiths of New Lambton, Widow“. This suggests that her husband Thomas had died sometime prior to October 1901, and that she had a son. also named Thomas, who was the hairdresser.
The Federal Directory of Newcastle and Districts in 1901, lists Thomas Griffiths as a barber in Lambton Road.
I have not been able to determine how long Thomas Griffiths operated as a hairdresser at the Rugby Road site. Griffiths retained ownership of the land until 1955, when it was sold to “Glen Maloney of New Lambton, hairdresser.”
Although there’s no indication of where exactly in New Lambton the following photo of Glen Maloney was taken, as I hated having my hair cut as a kid I couldn’t resist including this photo.
Thomas Griffiths, Miner
Also living on Lambton Road, was another Thomas Griffiths, who was a miner. On 14 August 1890, Griffiths’ application for portion 1300 on the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve was accepted, and the purchase later registered on land title Vol-Fol 2141-172., when the land ownership was transferred to his wife Mary after his death on 7 March 1910.
Mr. Thomas Griffiths, an old and respected resident of New Lambton, died very suddenly yesterday … He followed the occupation of a miner, and worked in the old Borehole mine in its early stages and afterwards at the Lambton Colliery when first opening out. He continued at this mine until it temporarily suspended operations, some few years ago, after which he retired from active work.
The first mention of William Oldham as a butcher in New Lambton is on 14 September 1878, in a public notice advising that Oldham was taking sole control of the butchering business formerly conducted in partnership with Michael Fenwick. The exact location of the business is not stated in the notice, nor in subsequent advertisements.
The first time the location of Oldham’s butcher shop is revealed, is in an advertisement on 5 June 1886 where the premises are described as being “near New Lambton Bridge.” An 1887 article on tramway stops makes it clear that the bridge referred to was the Lambton Colliery bridge.
If the traffic manager would appoint a stopping place on the New Lambton side of the railway bridge near Mr. Oldham’s butcher’s shop, he would confer a boon on the large number of people living around.
On 19 August 1890, the application by Joseph W. Oldham to purchase portion 1890 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve was granted by the Land Board, and the ownership subsequently registered on land title Vol-Fol 1061-30.
Joseph Oldham died on 15 January 1929, with his obituary outlining a very varied career …
Born at Lambton in 1861, Mr. Oldham had a varied career. At one period he was a master butcher at New Lambton, but sold out, and was appointed works foreman of New Lambton Council. In addition, he was an alderman and was the second Mayor to occupy the chair of New Lambton Council. He occupied the position of works foreman for five years, and then became the licensee of the Commercial Hotel. The South African diamond mines next claimed Mr. Oldham’s attention, and he was away from Australia for nearly two years. Returning, he was engaged at the West Wallsend and Lambton collieries as a miner and check inspector. Mr. Oldham next accepted the position of town clerk of Lambton. He remained there seven years, and 18 years ago was appointed town clerk at Stockton. He occupied this position for 11 years, and resigned to again enter into business on his own account. Real estate claimed his attention, and he also assisted his sons with their butchery business.Mr. Oldham is survived by his wife, four sons (Messrs. Joseph, Leslie, Eric and Hiram Oldham), and six daughters (Mesdames J. Collinson, J. Webster, E. M. Hughes, H. Hutton, C. L. Sutton and Miss Jean Oldham). One son was killed at the war.
The first modern shopping centre to open in Australia, was a Chermside in the suburbs of Brisbane, in May 1957. In Newcastle the first shopping centre was opened by Woolworths at Jesmond in 1964. Named the Jesmond Regional Shopping Centre, the 12 acre site on Bluegum Road Jesmond had 25 shops including a Big W store.
In October 1965 Woolworths opened “Kotara Fair” shopping centre on a 17 acre site, with a supermarket, Big W, and 27 smaller shops for lease.
"NOTICE TO BUTCHERS, STOREKEEPERS, AND OTHERS. I WILL not be responsible for any debts contracted by my wife Mary Griffiths, on and after this date. THOMAS GRIFFITHS, Opposite Public School, New Lambton."
"CAUTION. THE public are hereby cautioned not to PURCHASE the HOUSE opposite the Public School, New Lambton, which was advertised for sale by Thomas Griffiths, as the house belongs to me. MARY GRIFFITHS."
"A meeting of the friends Mrs. Parson, of Lambton-road, whose husband died a few weeks ago leaving her and 11 children in destitute circumstances, was held at Mr. Thos. Griffiths' hairdresser, last night."
Woolworths report on operations in 1964 ..."During the year , 63 new stores were opened in Australia, many of which were relocation of existing stores.. The most notable development was the establishment of the 25-unit Jesmond Regional Shopping Centre."
"Woolworths Ltd would open a £2 million shopping centre at Kotara, Newcastle, in October, Mr Theo Kelly, chairman and managing director of the company, said today. It would be known as Kotara Fair and would be
the firm's second drive-in shopping centre in the Newcastle district. "The Kotara Fair will provide one-stop shopping for a wide circle of suburbs, being readily accessible from all parts of Newcastle," Mr Kelly said.
The shopping block covers 17 acres and has 170,000 square feet of trading space, comprising an air-conditioned 67,000 sq ft "Big W" department store, a 28,000 sq ft Woolworths supermarket and 27 smaller
shops, available for leasing."
"Mr. W. Oldham, who three times applied for a publican's license, and each time was refused, chiefly through the opposition of Mr. Croudace, has now, I understand, applied for a colonial wine license. Mr. Croudace, determined not to be beaten, has commenced to erect a fence round Oldham's house, so
that if he gets the wine no one shall go near to drink it. They seem determined to fight it out."
"If the traffic manager would appoint a stopping place on the New Lambton side of the railway bridge near
Mr. Oldham's butcher's shop, he would confer a boon on the large number of people living around."
"CLEARING-OUT SALE. Butchers' Plant, shop to be removed, &c., at New Lambton. To Butchers, Dealers, and Others. GEO. T. EDWARDS has been instructed by Mr. Oldham to sell by auction at his shop, near the bridge, Lambton … the W.B. Building now used as shop, … Sausage Machine and Filler; Scales and Weights, Shop Bars and Hooks."
In 1868 the New Lambton Coal Company struck a payable seam in their mining lease adjacent to Lambton, and a new township began. Unlike Lambton where private ownership of land was promoted, the New Lambton proprietors did not offer their land for sale. With no ownership, there was no incentive for townspeople to construct anything but the most basic of buildings. In 1890 when land was first sold in the town, New Lambton had just three hotels, all of them hastily erected wooden structures.
In 1898 Frederick George Roberts purchased land on the corner of Lambton and Tauranga Roads, and built a weatherboard store, selling groceries, draperies, ironware and clothing. In July 1902 he applied for a publican’s license to open a hotel on the site of his store. Despite police objections the licensing court granted the application, in part swayed by Roberts’ plans to erect a substantial brick hotel, in contrast to the other hotels nearby that were described at the time as “a very disappointing lot indeed”.
By September 1902, the store was demolished, and the builder William Knight was constructing a new brick hotel designed by the notable local architect Ernest George Yeomans. On 18 April 1903 120 years ago this month, Roberts announced by advertisement that his “new hotel will be opened for business today, containing 20 spacious and well ventilated rooms.” He named it the General Roberts Hotel, after Frederick Sleigh Roberts, recently commander of the British forces in the Second Boer War. Within a year Phillip Byrne had become licensee, and Ralph Snowball photographed the hotel soon afterwards. Looking west along Lambton Rd and Alma Rd, the photo shows the General Roberts Hotel on the right, and beside it the remnants of a cutting where the New Lambton colliery railway once ran.
The article above was first published in the April 2023 edition of The Local.
At the corner of the main road and Tauranga-street another brick hotel of 18 rooms, to be known as “The General Roberts,” has just been completed. This is built with red, pressed, tuck-pointed fronts and ornamental parapets. The fronts have those useful adjuncts, spacious colonnades. The building is tastefully finished both inside and out, and standing on a prominent site is a landmark in the municipality. Formerly on this site stood Mr. Roberts’ w.b. store, which has been demolished to make place for this hotel. The architect was Mr. E. G. Yeomans. and the builder Mr. W. Knight.
"I FREDERICK GEORGE ROBERTS give notice that I desire at the next Quarterly Licensing Court, to apply for a CONDITIONAL PUBLICAN'S LICENSE for Premises situate at New Lambton already erected at the corner of Lambton-road, but requiring additions and alterations to make them suitable to be licensed. These premises, if a license be granted, are to be known as the GENERAL ROBERTS HOTEL, and will contain when completed, eight rooms exclusive of those required for the use of my family."
"At the Licensing Court to-day an application was made by Frederick George Roberts for a conditional publican's license for premises situated on the main Newcastle Cardiff road at New Lambton, proposed to be used as an hotel." Decision reserved pending the hearing of two other applications for hotels in the vicinity.
"At Newcastle Licensing Court, Frederick George Roberts applied for a publican's conditional license for premises to be erected on the Lambton-road, New Lambton … Ernest George Yeomans. architect, deposed that he prepared the plans before the court. The house would have brick walls."
"Frederick George Roberts applied for a conditional publican's license for premises to be erected at New Lambton." The Bench had inspected the current hotels "and found them a very disappointing lot indeed, and the existing accommodation was not sufficient." Application of F G Roberts was granted.
"The work of excavating for the foundations of the new hotel which is to be built at the corner of Taurangua and Lambton roads, is well forward. The building, which is to be commodious and substantial,
will, it is estimated, cost between £1600 and £1700. Mr. William Knight is the contractor and Mr. Yeomans the architect."
Phillip James Byrnes applies for the renewal of his licensee for the Hand of Friendship Hotel. The renewal is objected to due to unsanitary premises and inadequate accommodation. By April 1904 Byrnes is licensee of the General Roberts Hotel.
"Considerable damage was done yesterday to the balcony of the General Roberts Hotel at the corner of
Lambton and Taranga Roads, New Lambton. A coal-laden lorry knocked out two of the posts on the gutter
alignment and the balcony flooring sagged."
Broadmeadow has been in the news recently, with the Department of Planning and Environment releasing their “Hunter Regional Plan 2041”. The document flags Broadmeadow as a “regionally significant growth area” and promises to make it “a destination of choice for entertainment, housing, recreation and discovery.”
This is not the first time the area has been subject to great change, as the photos this month demonstrate. A 2016 aerial photo shows the area bounded by Griffith Rd, Turton Rd, Broadmeadow Rd and the stormwater drain, filled with sporting grounds, trotting track, entertainment facilities, commercial and residential buildings. In contrast, seven decades years earlier it was an empty paddock, the site of District Park Aerodrome.
Originally a swampy lowland, the completion of a large concrete stormwater channel in 1899 allowed the surrounding area to be developed for recreation. The government reserved a portion for aviation purposes in 1923 and in 1928 the Newcastle Aero Club formed and began using the aerodrome. However, the combination of increasing aircraft movements and residential development posed a very real danger to the public.
On 20 January 1953, 70 years ago this month, newly qualified solo pilot Alan Kerle was practicing landings in an aero club Tiger Moth. As he landed, the plane bounced, was caught by a cross wind and carried across Turton-road where it brushed a rooftop, plunged into the back yard of Cedric Jenkins and burst into flames. Just minutes beforehand four children had been playing in the yard. Despite the damage the pilot walked away uninjured. Between 1931 and 1954 the newspapers reported 13 plane crashes at or near the aerodrome. The suitability of the site was increasingly questioned. In 1961 the Department of Civil Aviation gave notice to the Aero Club to vacate the Broadmeadow airfield, and they soon relocated to Rutherford. The government’s grand plans for aviation in District Park had proved unworkable. Let’s hope their grand plans for Broadmeadow in 2041 prove to be of long-lasting value.
The article above was first published in the January 2023 edition of The Local.
Further information about the history of the Broadmeadow Aerodrome can be found in my August 2019 article on the crash of a C47 aircraft in 1944.
The following table summarises airplane accidents that occurred at or near the Broadmeadow (District Park) aerodrome that were reported in the newspapers. This is not a comprehensive list of all incidents that occurred. For example, the report on 12 August 1944 notes that the stormwater drain has caused “7 crashes in 2 years”, however only two of those crashed seem to have been reported in the papers.
Two accidents in 2 days! Damage to the undercarriage in 26/9/1935, and then the following day “the ‘plane struck some rough ground at the south-eastern end and pitched forward on to its nose. The fuselage, undercarriage, and propeller were damaged, and Mr. Hall received lacerations to an ankle.”
Forced down with engine trouble. Crashed in Lindsay Street Hamilton after hitting an electric light pole. Pilot Frank Cook pulled unconscious from the wreckage, and treated at hospital for abrasions and contusions to the face, lacerations, slight concussion, and shock.
Engine trouble, with white smoke issuing from the Beaufort bomber. The plane made a right hand turn, to land at Broadmeadow aerodrome, hit some trees in District Park and immediately burst into flames. The plane then hit the side of a deep stormwater drain, skidded on to the tramline, and came to rest in Lambton-road, Broadmeadow. Flight Sergeant William Milton Trengove, 34, navigator, of Spalding, South Australia, died later in Newcastle Hospital.
A U.S. Army transport plane, making a forced landing in a storm at Newcastle, crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome. In the past 10 months two other planes have crashed into the stormwater drain while trying to land at Broadmeadow. Two U.S. airmen were injured in the crash. The pilot suffered a broken nose and abrasions, and the radio operator head injuries.
A Wackett trainer belonging to the Newcastle Aero Club, took off from the Broadmeadow aerodrome.The engine cut out at 150 to 200 feet, and the pilot brought it down in a paddock, narrowly missing two people walking along a track. The pilot (Dick Gilford, 22, of Carrington Parade, New Lambton), and passenger (Mr. A. Gilford) were uninjured.
After engine failure, the pilot Jack Stone crash landed the Wackett trainer on rough, undulating ground off Turton-road near District Park aerodrome. The plane was damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.
Two men scrambled unhurt from the cockpit of a Ryan monoplane which crashed on a narrow vacant allotment near Broadmeadow aerodrome. They are Louis Plumstead of Beresfield, an instructor employed at the Newcastle Aero Club, and his pupil, Victor Boyce, of Maitland.
Mr. E. Buck's "Sky Hawk," a De Havilland Moth 'plane, at District Park, yesterday with one passenger
aboard (Mr. G. Lynch, of Waratah) fell into a spin at an altitude of 2000 feet and crashed into a paddock adjoining the aerodrome."
"THE Westland-Widgeon 'plane, which was involved in a sensational crash at the District Park Aerodrome last evening, wrecking the undercarriage, figured in another accident this afternoon. AFTER repairs had been effected to the landing gear, the owner, Mr. Hall, made a preliminary flight prior to leaving for Sydney.
When returning to the 'drome, however, the 'plane struck some rough ground at the south-eastern
end and pitched forward on to its nose. The fuselage, undercarriage, and propeller were damaged, and Mr.
Hall received lacerations to an ankle."
"Five passengers in the airliner 'City of Grafton' had remarkable escapes this morning when a wheel collapsed after the big 'plane had landed at District Park aerodrome, throwing the 'plane on to its side."
"The discovery of four slashes in the fabric underneath the wing of an aeroplane shortly before it was due
to take off caused a stir at District Park Aerodrome this morning. Mr. Henry said that the incident illustrated the need for public hangars at all important aerodromes."
"The small high wing monoplane Sky Baby crashed in one of Newcastle's most thickly populated suburban thoroughfares, Lindsay-street, Hamilton, shortly after 5 p.m. to-day. The right wing struck an electric light pole and was torn off. The machine finished partly on the footpath."
Calls to improve Broadmeadow aerodrome … "The present aerodrome is entirely inadequate for the future
needs of a city the size of Newcastle,' said Mr. Cavalier, "Further, it is in its present size a danger to certain types of aircraft."
"A pilot, with his father as passenger, crashed in an emergency landing at East Lambton today. Neither was injured. The pilot is Dick Gilford, 22, of Carrington Parade, New Lambton, the passenger is Mr. A. Gilford, of the same address. The plane, a Wackett trainer belonging to the Newcastle Aero Club, had taken off from the Broadmeadow aerodrome. The engine cut out at 150 to 200 feet, and the pilot brought it down in a
paddock, narrowly missing two people walking along a track."
"Two men scrambled unhurt from the cockpit of a Ryan monoplane which crashed on a narrow vacant allotment near Broadmeadow aerodrome this afternoon. The engine cut out soon after the plane took off
from the aerodrome."
"When a Tiger Moth plane crashed today it partly unroofed a house, crashed into a fence, and burst into flames. The pilot climbed from the wreckage unhurt. As flames reached the petrol tank a bus driver
put them out with an extinguisher from his bus. The pilot of the plane is Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce Street, Taree. He is a student pilot of Newcastle Aero Club. The crash occurred as he was landing the plane on Newcastle aerodrome." (The Daily Telegraph)
"When a Tiger Moth aircraft crashed into the backyard of a home in Turton Road, Waratah, a suburb of Newcastle, shortly before 5.30 p.m. to-day it missed a woman and four children by four feet. The sole occupant, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce-Street, Taree, was not injured." (The Sydney Morning Herald.)
"A Tiger Moth plane owned by Newcastle Aero Club crashed in the backyard of Mr. C. Jenkins's property in Turton road, New Lambton, late yesterday afternoon. The plane was extensively damaged but the pilot, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Taree, who had made his first solo flight on Sunday, climbed uninjured from the cockpit. A wing hits the edge of a fernery in a house adjoining and caught fire. The plane dropped on to its nose, pivoted, and then landed on its wheels." (Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate.)
"A De Havilland Hornet bi-plane, crashed on landing at Broadmeadow about 5 p.m. today. Crew of the plane, Mr. J. Neal, of Tamworth (pilot) and Capt. R. Hall, of East. West Airlines (navigator) were uninjured in the crash. The undercarriage of the air craft collapsed when the plane was landing. The plane slewed wildly across the runway and its port wings ploughed into the ground."
During World War 2, New Lambton Public School was commandeered by the RAAF. But not just men served there, but also a large contingent from the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
Previously the role of women in the armed services was restricted to mainly nursing and kitchen work. With the outbreak of war in 1939 there were many discussions, but no decisions, about enlisting women. In February 1941 a severe shortage of signals personnel prompted the air force to form the WAAAF, with an enrolment of 250 women to be trained as wireless and teleprinter operators. This was intended as a temporary arrangement, but when Japan entered the war in December 1941 the role of air defence increased, as did the need for the WAAAF.
In March 1942, No. 2 Fighter Sector headquarters commenced at New Lambton with 134 personnel, including 69 WAAAF servicewomen performing roles in telecommunications and plotting aircraft movements.
To assist the WAAAF, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), aided by volunteers and donations from the public, opened a hostel in a shop and residence at the corner of Hobart and Rugby Roads. The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate report of the opening ceremony on 5 May 1942 noted that “The hostel has sleeping accommodation for nine, an attractive bathroom, a lounge-room where the girls can entertain their friends or write letters home, a piano, sewing machine, and a cheery kitchen where they can cook a meal.” In the first four months, 351 WAAAFs were accommodated at nights.
In December 1942 the YWCA closed the hostel when they opened a larger facility in Hunter Street Newcastle. This proved unsatisfactory for the WAAAF in New Lambton, and on 24 July 1943 the Church Army re-opened the Hobart Road site. The hostel finally closed in September 1944, when the RAAF transferred their operations at the school to new headquarters on Ash Island. After the war, the WAAAF was disbanded, having had 27000 women serve in 72 different trades.
The article above was first published in the September 2022 edition of The Local.
The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate reported on the opening of the WAAAF Hostel at New Lambton on 5 May 1942.
“REAL SHEETS on the bed … and mattresses, too,” cried members of the W.A.A.A.F. excitedly when they inspected the service women’s hostel yesterday for the first time. “Can’t we have a bath now?” suggested another. The hostel was officially opened yesterday by the Mayor of Greater Newcastle (Ald. Young). Members of the W.A.A.A.F. formed a guard of honour. The Australian army nursing service was also represented. The hostel, which is at New Lambton, has many facilities that will be appreciated by service women. It has sleeping accommodation for nine, an attractive bathroom, a lounge-room where the girls can entertain their friends or write letters home, a piano, sewing machine, and a cheery kitchen where they can cook a meal. The hostel has been opened by the Y.W.C.A. to serve all women in uniform.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 6 May 1942
Three upper floors of the Hunter street building once occupied by John’s Silk Store are being converted into a leave-house for women of the services. The room will be equipped with 50 beds, bathrooms with hot and cold water, a dance-floor and recreation rooms where the girls can entertain friends. A resident fully trained Y.W.C.A. matron will be in attendance to look after the girls’ needs.
The opening of the City hostel in December 1942, led to the closure of the New Lambton W.A.A.A.F. Hostel, the YWCA explaining that …
New Lambton hostel was closed because, with the opening of the leave house in the city, it was felt that the needs of service women in the district would be adequately met.
"Members of the public who are interested in the establishment of the leave hostel for uniformed women, which will be opened shortly at New Lambton, are invited by the Y.W.C.A. Board of Directors to attend a meeting in the Y.W.C.A. lounge next Tuesday ... It was decided at a meeting yesterday to appeal for gifts of linen, such as sheets, tea towels and tablecloths. Gifts of china would also be appreciated. Uniformed women will be able to sleep at the hostel, also to do laundry and ironing there. Baths, which have been a problem for the W.A.A.A.F. will be available."
"Property at the corner of Hobart and Rugby Roads, New Lambton (a shop and residence), has been selected
for the establishment of a leave hostel for the convenience of W.A.A.A.Fs and other service women. The scheme is in the hands of the Y.W.C.A. Board of Directors. There are hopes that the hostel will be officially opened on May 5."
"The hostel for servicewomen, controlled by the Y.W.C.A., will be opened at New Lambton at 3 o'clock this afternoon by the Mayor (Ald. Young). The building has been transformed into a cheery and comfortable centre where servicewomen can sleep, eat and do their laundry. A lounge room has been provided."
The Australian Comforts Fund last night decided to finance the establishment of an hostel for women of the Services. The hostel, which is estimated to cost £1500, will be on the upper floors of John's store.
A request to the A.C.F. to advance the £1500 was made by Mrs. Cockburn and Mrs. Penny on behalf of the Y.W.C.A.
Mrs. W Neve said that as hundreds of uniformed girls were expected to be sent to the district, a leave centre was urgently needed.
The Mayor (Ald. Young) said this was a wonderful opportunity for the A.C.F. to show its appreciation of the patriotic efforts of hundreds of women war workers in Newcastle.
Report on the first four months of operation of the hostel. "It was reported that some of the
service girls had particularly expressed their appreciation of the amenities provided by the hostel, and their anxiety that it should not he closed when the larger leave house in the city is opened. The committee decided that unless the hostel should prove definitely not to be needed every effort should be made to
continue it. Since the opening of the hostel, 351 W.A.A.A.F.S. had been accommodated for nights, and many more had used it for rest and recreation during the day."
"Three upper floors of the Hunter street building once occupied by John's Silk Store are being converted into a leave-house for women of the services. The room will be equipped with 50 beds, bathrooms with hot and cold water, a dance-floor and recreation rooms where the girls can entertain friends. A resident fully trained Y.W.C.A. matron will be in attendance to look after the girls' needs."
"With the tremendous increase in women's service, the Leave House, maintained jointly by the Y.W.C.A. and A.C.F,. was established over John's Building in Hunter-street. The whole place is delightfully furnished, and shows how much work went into it. Mrs. Douglas is in charge at the hostel."
"Referring yesterday to the closing of the hostel formerly conducted by the Y.W.C.A. at New Lambton, Captain J. S. Cowland, of the Church Army, said that the Church Army took the view, and for that it had official support, that a women's hostel at New Lambton was necessary. It was prepared to reopen the hostel without delay if arrangements could be made."
A PUBLIC MEETING will be held in ALL SAINTS' CHURCH HALL, CROMWELL-ROAD, NEW LAMBTON, on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30th, at 2.30 p.m. All those interested in the establishment of a SERVICE WOMEN'S
HOSTEL in NEW LAMBTON are heartily invited to attend.
"THE CHURCH ARMY has opened a hostel for service women at 92 Hobart-road, New Lambton. It provides sleeping accommodation and light meals, following the custom of the parent society, which has several hostels in England."
"A successful meeting and screening of film strips on the progress of Soviet Russia was held in the New Lambton Parish Hall. Half the proceeds were given to the Church Army to assist in setting up a service women's hostel at New Lambton."
"Mrs. F. de Witt Batty, wife of the Bishop of Newcastle, will open the Church Army Service Women's Hostel,
at 92 Hobart-road, New Lambton, on July 24, at 3 p.m. This hostel will cater for service women during their recreation periods. At present the hostel has sleeping accommodation for 10 nightly, but it is hoped to enlarge the building as finances permit."
"An appeal for a radio set for the servicewomen's hostel at New Lambton has been made by the
Church Army Women's Auxiliary. The hostel was proving a 'home away from home' for women in
uniform. Girls were able to go in and out of the hostel at any time. Washing and ironing facilities were provided as well as free writing paper and a good library service."
"The small hostel in New Lambton for girls stationed at New Lambton R.A.A.F. centre would close at the end of the month. The school has been handed back to the Education Department. This hostel was originally run by the Y.W.C.A. Later. It was taken over by the Church Army."
This month marks 125 years since New Lambton Fire Station was opened in 1897. The formation of a fire brigade, nearly thirty years after the suburb was established, was prompted in part by suburban rivalry. When Lambton fire brigade asked New Lambton council in 1896 to install a hydrant for their use, the council politely declined, deciding instead to form their own brigade.
The brigade was first called out in October 1897, to assist at a chimney fire in Adamstown. The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate praised their response noting that “in connection with the alarm the newly inaugurated New Lambton Fire Brigade did a smart run. Ten minutes after the alarm was given at Adamstown station the New Lambton firemen had their fire extinguishing appliances upon the scene.” Thankfully the early days of the brigade were mostly uneventful. In 1898 the fire bell rang on only eight occasions, five of those a false alarm. A telephone service was connected to the station in 1912, and in 1925 the brigade received its first motorised fire engine. In 1934 a new brick fire station was erected in place of the original wooden building. This building still stands today but ceased to be an operating station when the new fire station in Young Road Lambton opened in 2016.
The article above was first published in the July 2022 edition of The Local.
The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser on 31 July 1897 published two Ralph Snowball photographs of the opening of New Lambton fire station earlier that month. The second of these photographs was taken from the bell tower, looking over the crowd gathered on Alma Rd. The vacant block behind the crowd (where the solitary figure is standing) is where the General Roberts Hotel is now. The hilly peak on the horizon at the left is Braye Park, Waratah.
On 13 October 1898, in connection with the procession for the Eight Hour Day public holiday …
The New Lambton Volunteer Fire Brigade secured the prize for the best decorated fire reel, there being no other competitors.
George Anderson was one of the longest serving members of the New Lambton Fire Brigade. In 1953 the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate reported that ….
George Anderson, of New Lambton, better known as “The Captain,” will complete 50 years in the service of the New South Wales Fire Brigade on Monday. Three times Mr. Anderson tendered his resignation to the Board of Fire Commissioners, but each time the board refused to accept it. Mr. Anderson, who is 75, was elected a member of New Lambton Fire Brigade at a meeting on October 12, 1903.
“On Saturday evening last the chimney of Mr. Jarvis' [New Lambton] house was discovered by the children of Constable Robinson to be on fire. The youngsters promptly got into the house, and with a few buckets of water extinguished the flames, and prevented the whole building from being destroyed.”
At New Lambton Council meeting “Alderman DAGWELL said he favoured an application being made to the Water and Sewerage Board for a standpipe that would be their own, and the establishment of a fire brigade in the municipality. Alderman COOMER moved, "That the Lambton Brigade be informed that the council could not accept the offer, as they contemplated organising a brigade of their own."
"The situation of the [fire station] site is fronting the Lambton main road, close the old New Lambton line crossing, and with a small tower erected at the shed will command a good view of the surrounding district.
Building operations will be proceeded with almost immediately, and an order has been given to Gilbert Bros., of Newcastle, for the building of a first-class reel."
"The contractor (Mr. H. Burg) has now completed the shed and handed it over to the brigade. The site chosen for the station is a most suitable one, having a frontage to Alma-road, and at the junction of the Lambton main road. The shed is large and roomy, being 18ft wide by 35ft long. A room is partitioned off for meetings at the rear of the shed. The front is of rusticated boards, and the main entrance has two large sliding doors. The lookout and bell tower are reached by stairs from the outside of the shed, a good view being obtained from the lookout landing, the height of such being 26ft."
"New Lambton Fire Brigade. The formal opening of the newly erected engine-shed and the christening of the reel in connection with this brigade took place on Saturday afternoon before a large audience."
“In connection with the alarm the newly inaugurated New Lambton Fire Brigade did a smart run. Ten minutes after the alarm was given at Adamstown station the New Lambton firemen, under Captain Brogden, had their fire extinguishing appliances upon the scene. Though their services fortunately were not required, Captain Brogden and his men are to be commended for their remarkable promptitude in turning out when the alarm was given.”
"Extensive improvements have just been completed at the fire brigade station. The land has been enclosed by a strong and substantial fence, and a neat and uniform picket fence has been erected at the front part of the building. The belfry has been strengthened, and the shed has been painted both inside and out, which gives a bright and tidy appearance to the building."
“On Monday evening an alarm of fire was raised by the sounding of the fire bell. The alarm caused some excitement, and a crowd quickly gathered. The members of the brigade turned out with their usual promptness but, luckily, their services were not required. The cause of the scare was the burning of some inflammable material in the yard of the Sportsman's Arms Hotel.”
“Considerable excitement was caused about noon yesterday by the ringing of a fire alarm. A crowd quickly gathered, and no time was lost in getting the reel to the scene of the fire which was located at Lyshon's property in Lambton-road.”
“Shortly before nine o'clock yesterday morning a fire occurred in an old unoccupied building at the corner of Regent street and Portland Place. The building, which was owned by Marshall's Brewery Co. was formerly known as the Sportsman's Arms Hotel ... The fire was first observed by the inmates of the Duke of Wellington Hotel, on the opposite side of the road, smoke being seen to issue from the roof. The alarm was immediately given and in a very short space of time the local firemen, with their reel and appliances, were on the scene.”
“The bell now in use was about worn out and as it was purchased second-hand, it had done about 25 years' service having been at one time the property of the Newcastle City Brigade. It was damaged to the extent that it was almost impossible to be heard even by the firemen who lived in close proximity to the shed.”
"The ceremony in connection with the trial ring of the new alarm bell recently purchased by the New Lambton Fire Brigade took place at the fire station on Saturday afternoon, there being a large attendance of the public."
"Active steps are being taken for linking-up all the Newcastle district fire brigade stations with telephones and establishing street fire alarms. There are sixteen fire stations, in Newcastle and district, and each of these is to be connected with a telephone exchange at the headquarters, Newcastle West. So far, Newcastle West, City, Hamilton, Wickham, and Waratah are connected.”
“In Newcastle, a complete system of telephone communication to link all the suburban stations with headquarters was designed considerably over twelve months ago. The circuit linking up the suburban stations and headquarters is practically complete, but the gaps render the work done not nearly as effective as it should be. For instance, there is no direct line to Hamilton. To get in touch with a station beyond Hamilton, headquarters has first to ring up Newcastle exchange and then ring up Hamilton exchange, and thence through Hamilton station to the station required.”
"The news of the end of the war was received in New Lambton with demonstrations of joyfulness. The bell at the fire station was continuously rung until the early hours of yesterday morning. At the first clanging of the bell the people thronged to the fire station. The National Anthem was sung."
A four roomed cottage in Orchardtown, owned by Mrs J Robinson burns down. “The firemen were somewhat delayed in consequence of the person engaged to provide a horse to draw the reel being away from home with the horse, and the reel had to be hand-drawn, which in this case was a serious handicap, as the fire was over a mile away from the fire station.”
“The Fire Commissioners have installed 65 street fire alarms, and placed all fire stations in communication with local telephone lines, enabling the stations to be immediately notified of an outbreak of fire.”
“Where motor lorries are available contracts are arranged for transit of the men and appliances to fires, and horse transit at Boolaroo and Lambton has been replaced by motor lorries, also at New Lambton.”
“Building application granted by New Lambton Council for "a new fire station and dwelling, to be erected in Alma-street, at a cost of £1460. The new building, which will be of brick, will have a roof of asbestos slates. Provision has been made for two bedrooms, a living-room, kitchen, recreation-room, watch-house, store-room, engine-room, and a laundry.”
"A new fire station, costing in the vicinity of £1600, was officially opened at New Lambton, on Saturday. At the same time, a new Dennis motor was installed, and long service medals were presented. Constructed of brick, with a roomy engine apartment, and living quarters, the station fills a long-felt want at New Lambton."
Dairy farms, market gardens, orchards and vineyards are scattered throughout the Hunter Valley today. But at one time, all these agricultural activities were also taking place in New Lambton, on farms such as that run by the Robinson family.
John Robinson was born 1846 in the north of England. His father was a coal miner, and at age 16 John was working as a pony driver at a colliery. He married in 1872 and emigrated to Australia in 1879 with his wife Dorothy and their children. After arriving in New Lambton the Robinsons lived in Alma Rd adjacent to the fire station, with John probably working in the local collieries.
The New Lambton Coal Company, after extracting the payable coal from their lease, looked to profit from selling and leasing their land above ground. In October 1892 the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate reported that “a large extent of splendidly-sheltered and good land in New Lambton has lately been surveyed and laid out in five-acre allotments for fruit orchards or market gardens.” The twenty allotments, to the south of Queens Rd, were offered for lease on a 21 year term with an option to purchase.
John Robinson took this opportunity for a change in occupation. He obtained a lease on four of the allotments on the hillside to the west of Orchardtown Road, and pursued a number of farming endeavours such as dairy cows, bee keeping, vegetable gardens, an orchard, and even a small vineyard. In 1913, when the original 21 years leases expired, the Orchardtown allotments began to be sold off. From 1919 housing subdivisions commenced, and then accelerated particularly in the 1940s. By 1951 all of the original twenty allotments had been replaced with houses, shops, parks and sporting fields. Today there is but one remnant of Orchardtown’s agricultural past, that being the name of the main road that traverses the former farmland.
The article above was first published in the May 2022 edition of The Local.
There is some uncertainty about the birthplace of John Robinson. His obituary from 1920 states that he “was born at Seaton (England) in 1846.” Seaton is a village in county Durham on the east coast of England. In contradiction to this location, the 1851 census of England shows John, aged 5, as having been born at Workington in county Cumberland, a village on the west coast of England. In 1851 John is living at Maryport UK, with his widower father Barwise, older sisters Frances and Elizabeth and older brother Barwise. His father’s occupation is listed as “Coal Miner”
In 1861 England Census shows John Robinson aged 16, living at Hetton-le-Hole in county Durham, with his widower father Barwise, older sister Elizabeth and older brother Barwise. His father’s occupation is listed as “Coal Miner”, and John is listed as “Pony Driver at a colliery.”
I’m not sure how to resolve the discrepancy in birth places for John Robinson. It is possible that the John Robinson mentioned in these census records is not the same John Robinson who lived in New Lambton. However, the 1851 and 1861 census entries show the Robinson family lived in various places on both the east and west coast. The 1861 census location is Hetton-le-Hole, which is just 5km from Seaton, so it is possible that John Robinson’s 1920 obituary confuses a childhood residence with his place of birth.
John Robinson married Dorothy Maughan on 31 December 1872, in East Rainton in county Durham. East Rainton is less than 2km from Hetton-le-Hole. The Robinson’s had three children (Barwise, Mary Ann, Elizabeth) before moving to Australia in 1879. The list of immigrants for the ship “Blair Athol” that arrived in Sydney on 4 March 1879 shows the Robinson family as follows …
John, age 28, labourer [The listed age of 28 is probably an error – other sources indicate that John was born in 1846, which would make him 32 or 33 on his arrival in Australia.]
Dorothy, age 26
Barwise, age 5
Mary A(nn), age 3
Elizabeth, age 1, died during voyage
John Robinson’s obituary in 1920 states that he lived in Alma Road New Lambton for 41 years, which indicates that they moved to New Lambton very soon after arriving in Australia in 1879.
Of John’s occupation when he arrived in New Lambton, we have no definite evidence, and we can only presume that he worked in coal mining as he had done back in England. In August 1883 the newspaper reported an accident in Lambton Mine causing injury to two miners, John Robinson and Robert Young. The article contains no information to definitively identify this person as the John Robinson of New Lambton, but it is a reasonable conclusion to draw.
At New Lambton, John and Dorothy had several more children born to them.
William died at age 12 in October 1899 due to a “tumor on the brain.”
John Robinson’s main residence for the 41 years he lived in New Lambton, was on Alma Rd. Up until 1890 this was part of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (Commonage), and so Robinson did not have freehold title on this land. In August 1890 a sitting of the Commonage allotments Land Board granted Robinson’s application for lot 1320. It is somewhat confusing that the land title record (Vol-Fol 1363-20) for the grant of lot 1320 to John Robinson is dated 11 years later on 2 May 1901. I suspect that this is just due to a delay in the paperwork – that while the purchase took place around 1890, the registration of land title wasn’t submitted to the Lands Department until many years later.
My initial research into John Robinson of New Lambton proved to be quite confusing, as there were references to John Robinson both in Orchardtown and in Alma Rd. As these locations are one kilometre apart, I initially thought that these were two different people with the same. However as progressed I kept finding that the details (wife, children, occupation) associated with the “Orchardtown” John Robinson kept matching the “Alma Rd” John Robinson. The seeming discrepancy of the two distinct locations can be explained by noting that John Robinson only ever leased the land at Orchardtown, he never purchased it. While there are some newspaper references to Robinson’s residence in Orchardtown, being on leased land it would probably have been only a small secondary house to enable living on the farm land, and that the Alma Rd land was the Robinson’s primary residence, noting that they purchased the Alma Rd land in 1890.
John Robinson died on 4 July 1920, aged 74 years, and was buried in Sandgate cemetery. His wife Dorothy died 6 November 1947, aged 94 years, and was buried beside her husband at Sandgate.
On 25 October 1892, the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate reported …
“There are a good many people in this district who are going, or intending to go, into fruit farming, and an impetus will be given to the business by the throwing open of a large extent of splendidly-sheltered and good land in New Lambton, which has lately been surveyed and laid out in five-acre allotments for fruit orchards or market gardens.”
Four years after the land was first leased, the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate described the progress of Orchardtown in an article on 29 January 1896.
“Orchardtown is situated on the New Lambton Company’s estate, adjacent to the New Lambton township. The inhabitants are working men, who within the last four years have taken up blocks of land of from three to five acres. The land is leased to them by the company at a nominal fee, subject to certain conditions. The land is cleared more or less, and under cultivation, but there is still a great quantity of timber, and much labour will need to be applied before the plough can be used advantageously. The object of the settlers is to make a living on the ground. The crops, so far, have yielded fairly, and the people appear satisfied that when they have the whole of their land in working order they will be able to supply the local market with vegetables of European growth, that are somewhat scarce at present. A road a chain wide runs through the land, the blocks (20 in number) being on the east and west of it. The road is in its natural state, and therefore does not afford the facilities demanded.”
A report from 22 March 1902 on the possible resumption by the government of portions of Orchardtown states that …
“This land is at present held by tenants of the New Lambton Company, on a twenty-one years’ lease, with a purchasing covenant.”
The first mention of John Robinson in connection with farming leaseholds at New Lambton, is at the Municipal Appeal Court in May 1893 …
“John Robinson, leased land, New Lambton Estate, annual value £3 3s, rate 2s 10d; confirmed.”
In August 1894, the Hunter River Vine Diseases Board cancelled the fees of a number of vine growers, including John Robinson of New Lambton, as those growers were “occupying less than half an acre.” In September 1894, New Lambton Council granted John Robinson application to be registered as a milk vendor.
At the Municipal Appeal Court in May 1896 “it was announced that the New Lambton Company and the council had arranged for a reduced assessment on their properties” including “21½ acres let to John Robinson.” This gives a clue to the probable location of Robinson’s lease. Snowball’s photo clearly shows the farm being on a hillside, which means that it must have been on the west side of Orchardtown Road. In the background of the photo behind the fence the land is still uncleared because this area was the Scottish Australian Mining Company lease. The 21½ acres leased by Robinson indicate that he leased four of the 20 allotments, each approximately 5 acres in size. If he leased four adjacent blocks, the most likely area of his farm was blocks 12 to 15 as shown below.
In the Deposited Plan 3365 where the blocks are surveyed, lots 12-15 have a total area of only 20.9 acres, which seems to contradict the appeals court figure of 21.5 acres. Note however that the Deposited Plan surveyed blocks do not include the area of Orchardtown Road. If we extend blocks 12-15 to the centreline of Orchardtown Rd, the area comes to exactly 21.5 acres. I suspect that the blocks were originally leased out before the road through the middle of the allotments was officially dedicated, and this accounts for the apparent discrepancy in areas.
After the initial 21 year leases expired, the land was available for purchase. The first sale was Lot 11 in 1913 to John Oliver. The final blocks were sold in 1942 to William Henry Hudson the Younger, who purchased lots 9 and 10.
Some remnants of agriculture in Orchardtown persisted into the 1940s with a dairy still operating there in 1943. However the post World War 2 years saw a rapid expansion of housing in the area, and by 1951 a story on the history of Orchardtown noted that …
To-day the orchards and most of the farms-like the market garden at Jean-street-have given way to modern suburban houses.
“Realising the growth of the place the inhabitants have determined to make an effort to have a representative in the New Lambton Council. Mr. C. H. Dagwell was unanimously nominated to go forward in the interests of the new township. Mr. Dagwell thanked the meeting for nominating him, and promised if he was successful in getting a seat in the council to have an eye to the interests of the New Lambton squatters.”
Wedding of Barwise Robinson, eldest son of Mr. John Robinson, of Orchardtown, New Lambton, to Adeline Patterson. "After the ceremony the party left the church amid showers of rice and best wishes, and drove to Robinson's Farm, in the Orchard Blocks (residence of the bridegroom's parents), where a large circle of friends sat down to a sumptuous breakfast."
"On Wednesday a quiet though pretty wedding was solemnised at the residence of Mr. John Robinson, the contracting parties being Maggie, the youngest daughter of John Robinson and William, fifth son of Robert Atkinson, both of Orchard Town."
"A proposal was made to the Minister for Lands yesterday that he should resume certain areas at Orchardtown. This land is at present held by tenants of the New Lambton Company, on a twenty-one years' lease, with a purchasing covenant."
New Lambton Council meeting, correspondence. "From the manager, New Lambton Coal Company, stating, in reply to a request made by the council that, they were prepared to dedicate to the council the
Orchard Town-road from Queen's-road to Mr. J. Robinson's lease."
New Lambton Municipal appeals court … "The appellants were residents of Orchardtown, who occupy land under lease from the New Lambton Company." J. Robinson appears to be leasing only 3 acres at this time.
"The wet weather had made the sanitary road almost impassable, and Mr. Robinson had allowed the council the use of his paddock for a month as a temporary depot, at a rental of £1. The manager of the New Lambton Company had consented to the Council taking any material they required from the old pumping shaft for repairing the Orchardtown-road."
"The funeral of the late Mr. John Robinson, of Alma-road, took place on Monday afternoon ... The interment took place in the general cemetery, Sandgate. The deceased, who had been suffering for a
lengthy period, died early on Sunday morning. He was 74 years old, and was born at Seaton (England) in 1846. He was married in the year 1872 at East Renton, West Durham, and came to New Lambton 41 years ago, living in Alma-road during that period. He was highly respected. He leaves a widow and three daughters,
one son, 20 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren."
"At midnight on Saturday a four-roomed cottage at Orchardtown, owned by Mrs. J. Robinson, of Alma-road, was burned to the ground. The occupiers, Mr. Bratz and family, were away from home at the time. The premises were not insured, and had been lately renovated by Mr. Robinson, who died a month ago, leaving the property to his widow."
"Mrs. Dorothy Robinson was given a party at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. W. Atkinson, Portland-place, New Lambton, in celebration of her 80th birthday. For more than half a century Mrs. Robinson has been a resident of New Lambton, having arrived from England in 1879. The Robinsons were among the earliest settlers of Orchard town, where they had an orchard and bee farm."