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.

Birdwood Park

In this weekend’s article in the Newcastle Herald, Mike Scanlon writes about the restoration of the Birdwood Flag, made in 1917 for General Sir William Birdwood. In the article Mike mentions that

“The now truncated Birdwood Park in the West End is probably named after this popular WWI general.”

Searching Trove I found that the park was constructed by Newcastle Council in 1892, was originally called “West End Park” and covered three acres.

Newcastle Morning Herald, 14 Apr 1892, p4.

Newcastle Morning Herald, 17 Nov 1892, p8.

Corporal Barrett’s 1910 map of Newcastle shows the trapezoid shaped park adjacent to the brewery, with the modern King and Parry streets yet to be built.

Overlaying the 1910 map into Google Earth we can see that the park originally extended further to the south of present day King and Parry streets.

1910 map overlaid into Google Earth, showing location of West End Park.

Using Google Earth Pro’s area measurement tool, the area of the park in the 1910 map shows as 3.2 acres, which corresponds well with the three acres mentioned in the 1892 newspaper article.

Area of West End Park in 1910.

In August 1920, Newcastle Council renamed the park to “Birdwood Park”.

Newcastle Morning Herald, 1 Sep 1920, p6.

Although it is not explicitly stated that this renaming is in honour of General Birdwood, that is almost certainly the reason for the name change. In just the year before, New Lambton Council had renamed one of their streets in honour of the WW1 general.

A real estate poster from 1924 shows that the construction of Parry St (and a narrow diagonal section of King St) has truncated the park, reducing its size to about 2.6 acres.

Real Estate Poster from 1924, showing Birdwood Park.

An aerial photograph from 1944 nicely shows the shape of the park at that time.

Birdwood Park, 1944. Newcastle Region Library, Local Studies.

A later re-alignment and widening of King St resulted in a further truncation of the park, down to its present size of about 1.8 acres.

Birdwood Park in 1944, with the outline of the present day streets.

Birdwood Park 2016. Google Earth.

Resources

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 :151.70627,-32.86917 (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."
16 Jun 1917
15 Jun 1917
Death of Arthur Lydney 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 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.

The Skyline drive-in

I met up with Paul Zuljan on the weekend, who grew up in Lambton, and we went looking for some places he remembered from his youth, one of them being the old Skyline drive-in theatre.  I vaguely knew where it had been located, but in looking at the following map from 1960, the outline of the theatre is clearly marked.

Portion of Northumberland County District scheme map, 1960. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

I overlaid this map into Google Earth …

… then put an outline around the area, and now the location of the drive-in relative to the modern landscape is clearly visible.

If you have Google Earth installed, you can download the KMZ file for the overlay and outline.

The lost chambers of Lambton

My latest article for the Lambton and New Lambton Local is out, this month on the Lambton Courthouse, that was opened in 1879 and demolished in 1937.

An unexpected outcome of researching this article is that I discovered a few places I didn’t know about before, where council chambers either existed or were planned, in Waratah and in Lambton.

In Lambton, I discovered that before the council was even a year old, in January 1872, it applied to the Minister for Lands to have an area in Dickson St set aside for Council chambers. The land was never used for that purpose. The courthouse was built on the adjoining block in 1877-78, and the block originally intended for the council was resumed in 1886 for the construction of the police barracks and lockup.

The new roos

On 25th April 2017, prior to the main Anzac commemoration service at the Lambton Park Memorial Gates, there was a short ceremony to mark the return of the kangaroo statues to the top of the two main gate pillars.

When the foundation stone for the gates was laid on 19th October 1918, the newspaper in reporting the details of the impending construction noted that …

“On the top of the main piers will be bronze kangaroos, and the heading King and Country.”

The new bronze kangaroos on the Lambton Park Memorial Gates. April 2017.

The kangaroos did indeed get erected on top of the main gate pillars, as the following poor quality newspaper photograph from 1922 shows.

A photo of the memorial gate with the original kangaroos appeared in the Anzac Day edition of the Newcastle Sun, 25th April 1922.

At some unknown time later the kangaroos disappeared from the gate pillars, and there has been some suggestion that they were removed and melted down during the Second World War years as part of the war effort.

However this is unlikely, as it seems that the original kangaroos weren’t made from bronze at all, but “imitation stone”! A newspaper article from 17th May 1921 reported that some of the “thoughtless youth” of the community …

“… have made a target for stone throwing of the imitation stone kangaroos which grace the top of each gate pillar, and have succeeded in almost smashing off the tail of one figure. Another missile has chipped a piece out of the marsupial’s hip.”

Given their construction material, being prone to weathering, and an easy target for vandalism, it seems likely that the kangaroos condition deteriorated, and they were quietly removed.

Full credit to all those involved in the placing of the new bronze kangaroos atop the pillars, ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gates next year, with ornamentation as originally intended.

Lambton Courthouse

A great rivalry existed between the burgeoning colliery townships of the Newcastle area in the late 19th century. The prestige of a town was often expressed in the erection of grand public buildings such as town halls and post offices. When word got around in 1871 that Waratah was petitioning the State government for a courthouse, Lambton was quick to respond in a series of public meetings to lay claim as the rightful location. At one meeting

“Dr. Hill rose and said that he did not think there could be any doubt or difference of opinion as to Lambton being the true centre of the mining district, and therefore the proper and legitimate position for a Court-house.”

The Government surveyor William Verge agreed, and in 1873 measured out a site in Dickson Street. Tenders for construction were issued and on 19th February 1877 the foundation stone of the courthouse was laid.

However, before construction was even completed, the suitability of the building was called into question, and the plans were altered to enlarge the building. The new courthouse was formally opened on 7th January 1879, despite there being “many things yet required to make the premises complete.” The building continued to be problematic – an 1889 article reported on the “disgraceful state of the court-house” because of damp and white ants.

Over the years, the limitations of the courthouse resulted in less frequent court sittings “and as people cannot afford to wait so long to have their troubles dealt with, they prefer to go to Newcastle.” The Department of Justice vacated the courthouse in 1922, and handed it over to the Department of Education to use as woodwork and metalwork classrooms to ease congestion at Lambton Public School.

After 1930, the building was used for a variety of other purposes. With continued deterioration, it was eventually demolished in 1937, and the land was subdivided and sold for home sites a few years later.

Lambton Court House, NSW, 8 August 1898. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Portion of an 1889 map showing the location of the courthouse between Dickson St and Young St (now Newcastle Rd).


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

Additional Information

The site of the Lambton Courthouse can be visualised by overlaying the 1889 map over a Google Earth image.

Demolition of the Courthouse in progress. From the Newcastle Morning Herald, 25th August 1937.

After the courthouse was demolished in 1937 the land was sold as home sites in 1941. This 1944 aerial photograph shows that 3 years later no homes had begun construction, and the rectangular outline of the former foundations of the courthouse can clearly be seen.

1944 aerial photograph of the site of the former courthouse. Newcastle Region Library.

Manual Training Classroom

In 1922 when the Department of Justice ceased using the courthouse, the building was converted for use as “manual training” classrooms, for the Lambton Public School. An idea of what “manual training” was, can be gleaned from a 1921 newspaper article, where it lists things such as

  • “the shaping of such materials as wood, hard and soft metals, cane, cardboard”
  • “handling of proper tools”
  • lessons in “the names, parts, uses, care and manufacture of tools”
  • “Drawing plays an important part of manual training. The pupil is taught to use the simple geometrical tools with neatness and accuracy in the creation of working drawings full size and to scale.”

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
14 Nov 1871
11 Nov 1871
Public meeting calling for the government to build a court house and police station at Lambton. This was in response to hearing that "action had already been taken to get a Court of Petty Sessions established at Waratah, and there scarcely could be two opinions as to Lambton being the most suitable, as the most centrally situated place for the purpose, as it would suit the convenience of the greatest number of people."
30 Dec 1871Waratah council receives a letter from the Attorney General's office requesting that land "be set apart and a sum of money placed upon the estimates for building, a court-house and police-station." In response to this news the article writer muses ..."so I suppose the matter is now settled and the Lambton people can only lament that their application was too late, perhaps, after all it is best so, for I do think courthouses should be built in the quietest places away from all the bustle and noise of business."
16 Sep 1873
12 Sep 1873
Another public meeting calling for a courthouse and police station to be built in Lambton, after two previous petitions to the government have been not only unheeeded, but unanswered. A proposed site has already been surveyed on land "this side of John Peacock's dwelling."
18 Sep 1873Letter from William T. Verge, Government surveyor, explaining that he has chosen and surveyed a site for the courthouse in Lambton, instead of Waratah … "Knowing well the requirements of the district I rather chose, as a site, a portion of the commonage adjoining the allotment I measured for the Lambton Municipal Chambers."
11 Apr 1874
9 Apr 1874
Another public meeting calling for the new district courthouse to be built at Lambton. A fair amount of rivalry is displayed in the meeting towards Waratah, who are also seeking a court-house in their town.
25 Apr 1874
20 Apr 1874
Public meeting to hear the report from the Lambton court house committee, and approve the deputation to be sent to Sydney with a petition.
24 Feb 1875
20 Feb 1875
"Mr. Lewis, Government Architect of Newcastle, visited Lambton, on Saturday last, to examine the site for the Courthouse, which it is the intention of the Government to build here. The site is on the Commonage, near Peacock's house."
18 Dec 1876Tenders for the construction of the Lambton Court House have been advertised.
20 Feb 1877
19 Feb 1877
Foundation stone of the Lambton Court House laid.
11 Jul 1877While still under construction, alterations to the plan of the Lambton Court House are made, to enlarge the court room.
26 Oct 1878"The erection of these court houses [Wallsend and Lambton] has been completed these four or five months past, and there they stand unoccupied for want of furniture … it shows a great amount of carelessness on the part of those, whose duty it is to attend to such matters, to see buildings erected at a considerable cost for the convenience of the public, rendered useless for the mere spending of a few additional pounds to furnish them."
9 Jan 1879
7 Jan 1879
"The new Court-house was formally opened on Tuesday … but there were no cases for trial." "Though the Court has been opened, there are many things yet required to make the premises complete."
21 Apr 1879"The Lambton Court house still remains in an unfinished state, and unfit for habitation or use. It is impossible to disguise the fact that there has been gross mismanagement, and wanton neglect, on the part of the Government officials, who have been entrusted with the supervision of the erection of this building."
28 Apr 1882"Alderman GRIERSON said he had heard it was the intention of the Government to erect Police Barracks on the reserve for Council Chambers, near the Courthouse, which he thought should be prevented."
22 May 1885"Important repairs are now being effected on [the court-house]. The whole of the ceiling in the court room has been taken down, and fresh laths and plaster are to he put up. The verandah has been taken down, and a new and more substantial one is to be erected. The walls are to be painted and plastered outside to make them impervious to storm water, and one room will be added to the lookup-keeper's quarters."
3 Jun 1886Site for Council Chambers in Dickson Street has been resumed for police barracks.
6 Aug 1886Foundations of new police station and barracks have been laid.
29 May 1889Sergeant Salter drew attention to "the disgraceful state of the court-house, several panes of glass being broken, and the walls quite damp owing to the recent rains. The lobby also is taken possession of by white ants."
22 Aug 1922"Lambton Courthouse has seen the end of its days of usefulness as far as the Justice department is concerned." "This court is perhaps the oldest in suburban Newcastle, and at one time boasted three sittings a week. Since then, however, they have fallen away to one a month, and as people can not afford to wait so long to have their troubles dealt with, they prefer to go to Newcastle."
20 Sep 1922Suggestion that the former courthouse be converted into a convalescent home.
16 Oct 1922Former Lambton Courthouse being fitted up for "manual training" classes. "That portion of the school building now occupied by the manual training will be divided into classrooms to relieve congestion in other departments."
12 Feb 1923Tender "for repairs and painting at the police station and courthouse at Lambton".
13 Apr 1928Courthouse building used for a land auction.
14 Mar 1930Manual training classes still being held at the Lambton courthouse building.
1 Aug 1930A manual training classroom to be erected soon at Lambton Public School.
22 Jan 1931
21 Jan 1931
Lambton courthouse building begins to be used for distribution of the dole.
13 Mar 1934
14 Mar 1934
"The Department of Labor and Industry will issue a supply of boots at old Lambton Court-house at 9 a.m. to-morrow. The supply Is available to emergency relief workers, 200 of whom are entitled to apply."
24 Aug 1937Demolition of Lambton courthouse building.
4 Dec 1940The site of the former courthouse to be subdivided by the Department of Lands into 18 or 20 home sites.
1 Sep 1941
30 Aug 1941
Sixteen of the eighteen home sites on the former Lambton courthouse site, sold at auction.

The lost chambers of Waratah

My next article for the Lambton and New Lambton Local (coming in May) is on the Lambton Courthouse, erected 1879, and demolished in 1937. In researching the article I discovered that in neighbouring Waratah, where they had missed out on a having the courthouse constructed, that court sessions were being held in the Council chambers.

I was aware of three different council chambers/town halls in Waratah, and wondered which one was used for court sittings. It was none of the ones I knew of, and the more I looked the more places I found where Waratah Council had met. Read all the details on my Waratah Municipal Council page.

In a nice coincidence, as I finished writing that page this evening, I realised that it is 146 years to the day since the first ordinary meeting of the Waratah Municipal Council on 21st April 1871.

Waratah Courthouse, originally the Waratah Municipal Council Chambers. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.