A Panoramic Peep Over Lambton and New Lambton

This year marks 120 years since George Henry Dawkins captured a remarkable snapshot of our locality in 1904. Dawkins was born in Lambton around 1874. His interest in photography is first noted in 1900 when he demonstrated lantern slide making to the recently formed but short-lived Newcastle Amateur Camera Club. A few years later he was instrumental in the formation of a new camera club and served as a committee member for many years.

In 1904 Dawkins purchased a block of land on the heights above Lambton. From that property on the west side of First St (later renamed to Noble St) he photographed a four-frame panorama looking southwards. He then mounted the prints on foldout panels with an ornate burgundy coloured front cover with the title “A Peep at Old and New Lambton, NSW, from Lambton Heights.”

The panorama is striking in the detail it contains. We can observe prominent landmarks that remain to this day including the park rotunda, council building (now the library), Mechanics’ Institute building, and the stone church in Dickson St.

The photo also highlights how much has changed. Many of the houses in 1904 are basic wooden structures. While the Lambton mine pithead is hidden behind a hill, the colliery rail line and bridges can be seen running over Hobart Rd. In panels 3 and 4, we see large swathes of open land south of Howe St and wooded land on the hill, yet to be developed as it was mining company land.

While Dawkins’ paying job was as a printer, he also volunteered with many local organisations such as the Mechanics’ Institute, Bowling club, and the Wallsend hospital board. In 1907 he contributed photos to a Newcastle Tourist Guide, and during World War 1 he offered to take photos free of charge, of any men in Lambton enlisting as soldiers. George Dawkins died in Lambton in 1922 aged just 48, leaving us the legacy of a wonderfully fascinating panoramic peep into our past.

Panoramic view over Lambton and New Lambton, 1904. Photo by George Henry Dawkins. Newcastle University, Living Histories.

The article above was first published in the February 2024 edition of The Local.


Additional Information

Purchase of land in 1st Street (Noble St) by George Henry Dawkins, printer, in December 1904. The panorama over Lambton was photographed from this property. Vol-Fol 890-235.
1939 Gregory’s map showing location of First Street (now Noble St) in Lambton.
Photographic items for sale from George Dawkins. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 15 June 1918.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
15 Aug 1900"A meeting of amateur photographers was held at Kettley's rooms, Hunter-street West, last night, when it was decided to form the Newcastle Amateur Camera Club."
12 Oct 1900"At the last monthly meeting of the Newcastle Amateur Camera Club, lantern slide making by reduction was fully illustrated by Mr. Geo. Dawkins."
10 Dec 1900
5 Dec 1900
"Newcastle Amateur Camera Club held their monthly meeting and had for their subject Flashlight Photography. The members met at Lambton at 7.45 p.m., and proceeded to Lambton Colliery, where they were met by Mr. Noble, the underground manager, and his staff, who zealously looked after the comfort of the visitors, and explained every thing of interest."
15 Apr 1902
14 Apr 1902
At the celebration in Lambton of the return of Lieutenant Albert McEwan from the Boer war … "Mr. Geo. Dawkins took a flashlight photograph of the gathering."
31 Aug 1905
29 Aug 1905
Formation of camera club in Newcastle - George Dawkins elected to the committee.
16 Oct 1907"... the guide to Newcastle and its neighbourhood has been issued by the Newcastle and District Tourist Association. The work, which comprises 180 pages, 8½, inches by 5½ inches, is copiously illustrated ... The photo-engravings are principally from negatives taken by Mr. Charleston, of Hunter-street, Mr. G. H. Dawkins, of Lambton, ..."
15 Feb 1908Letter to the editor from George Dawkins, disputing claims about the time required to print Wallsend Hospital reports.
28 Oct 1908The half-yearly competition and exhibition of pictures in connection with the Newcastle and District Photographic Society - George Dawkins awarded second place in "Best enlargement" section.
2 Mar 1912George Dawkins to supply photographs for the "presentation" being prepared to honour J. W. Oldham.
11 Mar 1912
9 Mar 1912
"A concert, in aid of the Lambton Public School fund was held in the Coronation Hall … The coloured lights for stage purposes was under the direction of Mr. G. H. Dawkins …"
19 Aug 1916"A meeting for the purpose of forming a branch of the Y.M.C.A. Snapshot From Home League was held at Mr. A. J. Plumridge's rooms on Thursday evening. Mr. G. Dawkins presided. The object of the league is to provide snapshot photographs of the homes and families of soldiers who have gone away into service, and give copies of these to the relatives for forwarding to soldiers at the front. It was decided to form a branch. Mr. G. Dawkins was appointed president."
30 Jan 1917"A meeting was held in Lambton council chambers to devise ways and means to erect a suitable memorial to those who had given their services in fighting for their country ... Mr. George Dawkins, a member of the Camera Club, had agreed to take photos, free of charge of any soldier enlisting …"
26 Sep 1922
23 Sep 1922
"Mr. George Dawkins died at his residence, First-street, on Saturday, after a lengthy illness. He was in his 49th year, and was born in Lambton, where he resided the whole of his life. He was a printer by occupation."
25 Sep 1922
25 Sep 1922
Funeral of George Dawkins
4 Nov 1955First Street in Lambton is renamed to Noble Street.

New Lambton’s Super Sentinel Steam Lorry

When you’re in a time of technological change, it’s hard to know which innovations will last, and which will fade away. That’s a problem New Lambton council faced 100 years ago, when they moved to mechanised transport.

In August 1923 the council decided to sell their horses and drays and purchase a steam powered “Super Sentinel” lorry. Manufactured in Shrewsbury, England, the lorry was sent by ship to Sydney for final assembly. The council advertised for a driver, and with the economy still suffering a high rate of post-war unemployment, received 96 applications for the position. 

With the truck’s arrival early in the new year, council arranged a public demonstration on 19 January 1924. The Newcastle Morning Herald reported “The Super Sentinel steam lorry purchased by the council for £1400 was given a very successful trial on Saturday afternoon, in the presence of the aldermen of the municipality and several visiting aldermen. The machine was driven by Mr. C. J. Robinson, and the various steep grades were easily negotiated with a 6-ton load of gravel.”

Despite the glowing appraisal of this new technology, reality did not measure up to expectation. The following year breakdowns regularly kept the lorry out of action. At a fiery council meeting in October 1925, some blamed the driver for operating the truck inappropriately.  With continuing breakdowns, a motion was tabled in March 1926 to dispose of the lorry. The motion was defeated, but soon afterwards council decided to supplement the troubled steam machine by purchasing a petrol lorry, the first of many more to come. The “Super Sentinel” continued to be used until the amalgamation of suburban councils into Greater Newcastle Council in 1938. In June 1941 Newcastle council briefly brought the steam lorry back into service to assist the effort to conserve petrol supplies during the war. When war-time rationing ended, the age of steam powered road transport was soon over, and petrol and diesel power has dominated to this day.

The “Super Sentinel” steam lorry with a capacity of 6 tons, on Russell Road New Lambton, 19 January 1924.
The same location on Russell Road in 2023. Note that the bullnose verandah roof of the house on the right has been replaced at some time.
A Terex TA400 diesel powered truck with a capacity of 38 tons, at the Rankin Park to Jesmond bypass construction site.

The article above was first published in the January 2024 edition of The Local.


Additional Information

Advertisement for driver for New Lambton’s steam lorry. Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 1923.

In the article I wrote that the Super Sentinel was “manufactured in Shrewsbury, England” which seems to contradict a 17 October 1923 report on the imminent arrival of the “steam lorry which was ordered by the New Lambton Council from the makers in Scotland.” The apparent discrepancy is explained by the fact that the steam waggons were originally manufactured by the Allen and MacLellan company in Glasgow, Scotland, but with growing demand for their vehicles, in 1915 they opened a new factory in Shrewsbury, England, dedicated to the manufacture of steam powered vehicles.

Greg and Silvia Ray’s Photo Time Tunnel website has a couple of photographs of the Sentinel steam lorry from 1941, when Newcastle Council brought it back into service to assist with the conservation of petrol supplies during World War 2.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
24 Jul 1908
22 Jul 1908
After many years of relying on contractors for the carting of material, New Lambton council "decided to purchase a horse and tip dray for general carting, and the Mayor, along with Alderman Mitchell and the council clerk, were appointed a sub-committee to purchase material for the erection of stables and sheds in the yard of the council chambers."
5 Oct 1921Detailed description of the Sentinel Steam Waggon, manufactured in Shrewsbury, England.
31 Aug 1922Another detailed description of the Sentinel Steam Waggon.
3 Aug 1923
1 Aug 1923
New Lambton Council - "At a special meeting held during the week, to consider the transport, it was decided to purchase a Sentinel steam lorry at cost of £1160, and the existing plant (horses and drays) be sold, and, further, that applications be called for driver under conditions fixed at a wage of £6 per week."
17 Aug 1923
15 Aug 1923
New Lambton Council meeting - "M. Whylie, asking council's opinion re applications to be called for driver for proposed Sentinel steam lorry. As driver of the present plant, he claimed preference to the position, if proficient, and able to pass necessary test. This he would be prepared to do at his own expense."
25 Aug 1923Advertisement for the position of Steam Lorry Driver at New Lambton.
14 Sep 1923
12 Sep 1923
"Ninety-six applications were received for the position of driver for the steam lorry ... it was decided to hold a special meeting to finalise the position of driver on Monday night week."
28 Sep 1923
26 Sep 1923
"Alderman Cameron moved that as the motion in connection with the appointment of driver for steam lorry was for consideration of local applicants firstly, and seeing that Mr. Scowcroft was not a resident, the resolution passed at the special meeting of the council held on 24th September appointing him to the position, be rescinded, and that a fresh ballot be taken at the next ordinary meeting of the council. He contended that the method adopted was not fair, as it allowed a minority to exclude any applicant. The motion was carried."
12 Oct 1923
10 Oct 1923
After having his appointment as steam lorry driver rescinded, a fresh vote by the aldermen results in Scowcroft appointed again.
17 Oct 1923"The Super Sentinel steam lorry, which was ordered by the New Lambton Council from the makers in Scotland, at a cost of £140, is expected to arrive next month. The machine is fitted with a three way tipping waggon, allowing of the material to be deposited on either side or from the back. It will have a capacity of from five to six tons. The steam lorry will replace the council's present plant of three horses and three drays, and it is anticipated will effect a material saving in time and expense."
10 Dec 1923"New Lambton Council has accepted a tender of £190 for the erection of a garage to house the council's Sentinel steam waggon. The Mayor (Alderman Brown) will supervise the erection of the building."
3 Jan 1924"W. Adams and Company, Limited, advised New Lambton Council that the Sentinel steam waggon would be delivered in the second week in January. The council decided that the driver be sent to Sydney for instruction on the waggon, and that the test of the machine be made from Greta-road to Evescourt-road, via Russell-road, then up Rugby-road to Brett-street and Carrington parade."
11 Jan 1924The Sentinel steam lorry which was ordered by New Lambton Council some time ago arrived at Sydney by the steamer Tairora on January 3, and it is being assembled. It is expected that the lorry will be handed over to the council on Saturday, January 19, when it will undergo a test, to which representatives of the various Newcastle district councils are being invited.
15 Jan 1924"We are advised by the local house of Wm. Adams and Co., Ltd., that the first super-Sentinel model to arrive in Newcastle will be delivered to the New Lambton Council on Saturday afternoon next, 19th, at 3 p.m., when official trials by the council will take place. After the official trials, the waggon will be on view at the park, where the fireman's gala is being held."
21 Jan 1924
19 Jan 1924
"The super Sentinel steam lorry purchased by the council for £1400 was given a very successful trial on Saturday afternoon, in the presence of the aldermen of the municipality and several visiting aldermen. The machine was driven by Mr. C. J. Robinson, and the various steep grades were easily negotiated with a steam pressure of 190lb, the machine being gauged to 230lb, and carried a 6 ton load of gravel. On reaching the highest point an exhibition of the machine's three-way trip was given. It ran very smoothly, silently on route of trial, and was driven to the sports, where the general criticism passed was more rates'." - Newcastle Morning Herald
21 Jan 1924
19 Jan 1924
" 'Jump on the waggon, boys, and we'll all have a ride.' This was the Mayor's injunction on Saturday to the aldermen and visitors who assembled to witness the trial of the new Super-Sentinel waggon purchased by New Lambton Council. The test was a severe one, and fully demonstrated the capabilities of the 'super.' With a load of six tons of gravel (irrespective of the human contingent) the Sentinel climbed Russell road and then backed down, demonstrating the brake control. Then it went along Regent street and up to Evescourt road, a test good enough for anything in New Lambton. Afterwards it proceeded to Rugby-road, where the unloading facilities of the waggon were demonstrated. Either side may be tilted, also the back. All present were satisfied with the demonstration." - The Newcastle Sun
22 Oct 1925
21 Oct 1925
"New Lambton Council possesses a motor lorry. It is used for carrying road-making material about the municipality; but it is out of action at present. This was tho subject of a long, and at times angry, discussion at last night's council meeting. The council must try to prevent the constant stoppages of the lorry for repairs, because these were a drain on the funds."
30 Nov 1925"At the beginning of 1924 the old system of carting by horse and dray was changed and mechanical transport by a steam waggon substituted. This has proved an economical method of traction, hauling quarry metal over a distance of three miles, and enabling a road to be completed at less cost than the metal could be purchased either at Broadmeadow or at Adamstown. Carrying out the same work under old conditions would have been prohibitive."
3 Dec 1925
2 Dec 1925
"A report on the lorry was placed before the council, and created considerable discussion. Alderman Brown gave a verbal report of his interview with Mr. Parsons, which substantiated the written document. It referred to several matters of repairs, which could have been done by the driver."
17 Dec 1925
16 Dec 1925
"The detailed report of an engineer on the lorry was then considered. The Mayor reported the synopsis of the whole question, and the resignation of the driver, with its subsequent withdrawal. The driver was given an opportunity of making a statement. The assistant driver was also given the opportunity of stating his case, in which he said that both drivers had been made scapegoats, which was an unfair proposition. No action was taken."
25 Mar 1926"New Lambton Council some time ago purchased a steam lorry for traction work on the streets. Great things were expected, but expectations have not been fulfilled. At last night’s meeting of the council Alderman Auckett tabled a motion to dispose of the lorry by tender.” Alderman Auckett: "The lorry has not been satisfactory to any one. It has cost a considerable sum for repairs, and as it has not given satisfaction we should get rid of it."
8 Apr 1926
7 Apr 1926
"In a report submitted to the council, the engineer (Mr. Williams) recommended that a light type of motor lorry, from two to two and a half tons, be purchased for street and gravel work, and that the present steam lorry be retained for a further period. During the winter months, the engineer stated, to carry on satisfactorily, the council would be compelled either to employ drays continually or purchase some lighter vehicle to carry gravel to places where the heavy steam lorry could not go."
6 May 1926
5 May 1926
"Why is the steam lorry not giving satisfactory work, and what is the cause? These questions were put to the New Lambton engineer, Mr. Williams, at the local council meeting last night. In reply, the engineer said that the driver was the cause. He said he was old, and his nerves were not good, and he could not do the work. He recommended getting another driver to do the work for a month. The recommendation was adopted."
17 Jun 1926"The council has added to its road making plant by the purchase of a 2½ ton motor lorry. The council possesses a 6-ton steam lorry. The lighter machine has been acquired for maintenance work, and it will do away entirely with horses and drays."
22 Jul 1926
21 Jul 1926
New Lambton Council - Mr. R. Lathlean was appointed motor lorry driver. There were 102 applicants for the position.
14 Jul 1927
13 Jul 1927
"The acting foreman reported that the steam lorry was again in commission after the overhaul, and, according to the driver was giving satisfaction."
9 May 1936New Lambton council "has the most modern and comprehensive plant of any municipal council in the district. The plant comprises four motor-lorries, a steam lorry, two steam rollers, a footpath roller, a road grader, four concrete mixers, and scores of subsidiary roadmaking tools."
10 Feb 1938
9 Feb 1938
"A resident of Mackie-avenue complained that the council's steam lorry damaged a water-pipe leading to his property."
20 Jun 1941"An old steam waggon which has been lying idle in Corlette-street depot for several years is to be brought back into service again by Greater Newcastle Council to haul metal and gravel. This is one step in the council's programme to assist the Government in conserving supplies of petrol."

New Lambton Quarry Tramways

“There are at present no streets that can lay any claim to the name – they are simply cart tracks and foot tracks and when one of these becomes too bad to travel on owners of vehicles simply go and pick out another.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 29 March 1886.

Such was the state of roads in New Lambton in 1886 some 18 years after the town began. The need to improve the streets was a major impetus for formation of New Lambton council and was extensively discussed in their very first general meeting in March 1889. To turn rutted dirt tracks to solid roadways the council needed gravel, and as they owned no land, they sought assistance from the local collieries.

For the roads in the southern half of the town, the New Lambton Land and Coal Company allowed the council to obtain material from their quarry at the top of Addison Road. To transport the gravel down the hill, in 1890 the council constructed a 400-yard tramway down to Evescourt Road.

For the roads in the northern half of town, Thomas Croudace, manager of Lambton colliery and mayor of New Lambton, agreed in 1891 for the council to use the company’s quarry in the pit paddock hillside. As before, a tramway was constructed to get material down to the streets. Unsurprisingly, the combination of skips, rails, and a steep incline proved irresistible to local lads. In October 1891 a 13-year-old boy was severely injured when the skip he was riding down the hill left the rails.

After the initial construction of roads, the council does not appear to have used the Lambton colliery quarry again. The company sold the land to developers in 1956 and the location of the former quarry is now hidden by housing. In Addison Road the council purchased the quarry in 1896 and continued using it until the 1920s. The land is vacant today, but still has a few reminders of its past use lying amongst the undergrowth.

A 1906 view over New Lambton, with the Lambton colliery quarry in the hillside above. Photo by Ralph Snowball. Newcastle University, Living Histories.
The Lambton colliery quarry is now obscured by housing.
At the top of Addison Road a drill hole in a fallen rock is a reminder of the site’s past use as a quarry..
Portion of Barrett’s 1910 map showing the Lambton colliery quarry, and the New Lambton Council quarry at the top of Addison Road. Newcastle University, Living Histories.

The article above was first published in the December 2023 edition of The Local.


Additional Information

New Lambton colliery began operations in June 1868 and a township soon formed around it. The following year The Newcastle Chronicle reported on the progress of the town, including the state of the roads …

As yet no streets have been formed, and, with the exception of a kind of a main road, leading through the mostly inhabited part of the township, there is no other thoroughfare, and from the multiplicity of the stumps that are still visible, even in close proximity to the houses, perambulating the village in a dark night must be a difficult undertaking. It would be most advisable for the residents to take early steps for making one or two tolerably passable streets, for the lack of this convenience in any township is a serious drawback.

The Newcastle Chronicle, 16 September 1869.

Despite this advice for better roads, seven years later the roads were still in need of much attention.

Bad roads are now the order of the day, and between Old and New Lambton they are in a very bad and almost impassable state, owing chiefly to the recent heavy rain.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 5 August 1876

Twelve years on, the lack of decent roads was a leading inspiration for the residents of New Lambton to press for the creation of a municipal council.

It is rumoured that an effort is to be made to have this town incorporated and proclaimed a municipality. There are at present no roads or streets other than the main road to Newcastle that can lay any claim to the name. They are simply cart tracks and foot tracks and when one of these becomes too bad to travel on owners of vehicles simply go and pick out another, which for a time suits them, and so on. If the place was incorporated, this state of things would soon become a thing of the past, because regular streets would be laid out, made, and maintained, and every traveller and resident would enjoy the benefit – a benefit which would far more than recoup the few shillings per year the inhabitants would pay in rates.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 29 March 1886.

Addison Road Quarry

Within a year of the council being formed in 1889, the Improvement Committee was seeking permission from Alexander Brown (managing director of the New Lambton colliery) to use their quarry for road making materials. At the council meeting of 12 March 1890 the committee recommended …

That a deputation wait upon Mr. A. Brown to see what terms he would allow the council to open out quarries upon lots 36 and 37, near Mr. Hincks’ house; also to see upon what terms he would allow the council the use of 400yds of rails and sleepers. 2. That a tramway be laid from the proposed quarries down to near Mr. Hilton’s place, a distance of about 400yds; also that a tip and shoot be erected.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 14 March 1890.
Lots 36 and 37, Section R, DP1949 – the location of the quarry referred to in the 12 March 1890 meeting of New Lambton council. SIX maps.

The 12 March 1890 meeting of New Lambton council refers to the quarry being “near Mr Hincks” house. Land title Vol-Fol 1468-110 shows that Richard Hincks’ property was at the top of Addison Rd, opposite the quarry. Sometimes the newspapers referred to the quarry as “Hincks quarry”, simply because it was near his house.

Property of Richard Hincks. Vol-Fol 1468-110.

The improvement committee’s report recommended that a tramway be laid “down to near Mr. Hilton’s place, a distance of about 400yds”. Land title Vol-Fol 992-68 shows that Matthew Hilton owned lots 22 and 23 near the bottom of Addison Rd.

Matthew Hilton’s property, Addison Rd, New Lambton. Vol-Fol 992-68.

We have no information on the exact route of the tramway, but a straight line of 400 yards in length (shown in yellow below) matches the distance between the quarry and Hilton’s property.

The quarry (left) and Hilton’s property (right), with the distance between them being approximately 400 yards.

The council’s request to use the colliery’s quarry proved successful. The council meeting of 26 March 1890 reported …

From the Mayor and Alderman Gray, who had interviewed Mr. A. Brown, when that gentleman offered to allow the council to work the gravel quarry on lots 36 and 37 on the New Lambton estate at the rate of 4d per yard, and the use of rails and sleepers for a tramway free of charge

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 28 March 1890.

The council then called for tenders to construct the tramway.

Four tenders were received, resulting in the tender of Hinton & Co., being accepted for the sum of £23 18s 6d. The tender of Hinton and Co. was also accepted for the construction of a tramway hopper, for the sum of £79 18s.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 16 May 1890.

Hinton completed the tramway, but being more work than he anticipated he asked the council for extra payment. The curt response was that …

… the contractors to be informed of the previous decision of the council to the effect that they cannot feel justified in paying extras, as the work for which extras are claimed was provided for in the specifications.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 16 August 1890.

In February 1896 the council resolved to “negotiate with the New Lambton Company for the purchase of lots 36 and 37, section S, near Hinck’s, for a quarry” and also “to place the tramline in order.” The Company agree to sell the the two lots for £15 each, but after a further inspection of the site the Mayor reported that …

… he was of opinion that the council would act wisely in purchasing four allotments from the New Lambton Co., as it was clear the gravel extended with a much larger face in the two allotments through from the present quarry. Alderman Williams moved, “That £50 be offered to the company for the four lots.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 21 February 1896.

The sale of 4 lots of land totalling 1.2 acres was completed in September 1896.

Sale of land from “The New Lambton Land and Coal Company” to “The Borough of New Lambton”, September 1896. Vol-Fol 1203-130.

In October 1896, the newspaper reported that

A boy named Benjamin Taite met with a painful accident yesterday morning. He was walking along the rails of the Quarry line, and somehow or other slipped and fell on his arm, breaking both bones near the wrist.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 26 October 1896.

It is not absolutely certain which “Quarry line” is referred to, but I strongly suspect that it is the Addison Road quarry line, as this is the quarry recently purchased by the council and which they had expressed their intention earlier in the year “to place the tramline in order.”

There are various references to the quarry in the ensuing years. At a 1924 council meeting, correspondence was received from “S.A. Mining Company, granting permission to council to remove gravel from Hincks’ quarry.” At first glance, this appears a little odd, as the council owned Hincks’ quarry, so why would they need permission from the Scottish Australian Mining Company? This can be explained by viewing the extent of the quarry in a 1944 aerial photograph, and overlaying land boundaries, and noting that the quarry extended into Scottish Australian Mining Company land holdings. Presumably this extension westwards was because that was where good gravel could be obtained.

A 1944 aerial photograph overlaid with council’s 1896 purchase of land for a quarry (white) and the extension purchased in 1925 (purple), which shows that the quarry also extended westwards into the land holding of the Scottish Australian Mining Company.

In October 1924 New Lambton Council …

… on the recommendation of the Mayor, decided to increase its quarry property. The council will acquire two blocks of land at a cost of £25 each. This land adjoins Hinks’s quarry, and includes another block. The land contains gravel for street construction and repairs.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 9 October 1924.

This land purchase (lots 3 and 25 of Section S of DP1949) was completed in April 1925. Vol-Fol 3735-122.) There is a brief mention of Hincks’ Quarry in 1926.

The steam lorry had been engaged for the fortnight in street patching with gravel from Fern Quarry. The motor lorry arrived on July 8, and was being used in carting gravel from Hincks’ quarry, and was doing good work.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 15 July 1926.

After this date there are no more mentions of this quarry being actively used, presumably because the council was now sourcing its gravel requirements from the larger Fern Quarry (located on Peatties Road Kotara) that they purchased in August 1926. (Vol-Fol 3808-23)

Lambton Colliery Quarry

A note on street names: The Lambton colliery quarry was used for the construction of streets in the northern part of New Lambton, on the Commonage. Due to a mix up many of these streets were given one name by the council, and a different name by the Lands Department in Sydney. Eventually the council had to give way to the Lands Department names. Hence a number of street names mentioned below in council reports are now known by a different name. See the article “Sadly Bungled Street Names” for further details.

In June 1890, Thomas Croudace, alderman on the New Lambton council and also manager of the Lambton Colliery …

… offered on behalf of the company, to allow the council to quarry chatrock on the Lambton Company’s estate at a price to be fixed at a future date.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 7 June 1890.

Chatrock is gravel smaller than pea gravel, but larger than sand. In April 1891 the council made formal moves to request use of the Lambton colliery quarry.

Alderman THOMAS moved, that a deputation, consisting of Aldermen Capewell, Lonsdale, and Hitchcock, wait upon Mr. Croudace, and ask his permission to use the colliery quarry for Dent and Gibson streets contracts.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 24 April 1891.

The Mayor (Thomas Croudace) intimated that he would do his utmost as regards letting the council have gravel to make Dent and Gibson-streets.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 8 May 1891.

The request was granted and the council then called for tenders for the extracting gravel from the quarry. In July 1891 the contractors, Messrs Friel and Curran, wrote to the council …

… stating that the gravel in the colliery quarry was much heavier than in Russell-street, and asking for consideration; the means of conveying it would also be inconvenient and costly.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 3 July 1891.

Although no formal resolution of the council regarding the transportation of gravel is recorded in newspaper reports, the council decided that a tramway down the hill was required, and sought the co-operation of the Lambton Colliery in its construction. In October 1891 the council resolved …

… That Aldermen Lonsdale and Capewell wait upon Mr. F. Croudace in regard to the speedy completion of the quarry tramway … The MAYOR and Alderman DEAN reported that Mr. F. Croudace had promised to provide rails and sleepers for the tramway in Dent-street.”

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 23 October 1891.

With a lack of worksite security combined with the lure of adventures, soon afterwards the paper reported that

ON Tuesday evening a serious accident happened to a boy, aged 13 year, son of Mr. Simeon Davies, New Lambton. It appears the boy, with a companion, was riding on some full skips, which were being brought down a steep incline from the quarry in the Lambton Colliery paddock. The skips left the rails and threw the boys off, injuring the boy Davies severely. He was at once conveyed home and medical assistance procured, when it was found that his arm had suffered a compound fracture, and his leg was fractured above the ankle. It is feared the injuries to the arm will necessitate amputation. The boy at present is in a critical condition.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 29 October 1891.

It is unclear when the council ceased using the Lambton colliery quarry as a source of gravel. The last mention in the newspapers is in June 1892 where the Mayor is permitted to engage men “in quarrying gravel in Russell-street, also in the colliery quarry.” Presumably after the council purchased the Addison Road quarry in 1896, there would have been little need to use the Lambton colliery quarry.

Portion of Parrott’s 1893 map, that shows the Lambton colliery quarry, the tramway leading down to Wickham Road, with the words “Tram” and “Quarry” colourised for emphasis. National Library of Australia.
Close up view from 1906 of the Lambton colliery quarry and the path of the former tramway down to the streets of New Lambton. Newcastle University, Living Histories.
In a 1938 aerial photograph the path of the quarry tramway can be clearly seen leading from the former quarry near the intersection of Croudace St and Russell Rd, down to Wickham Rd. Newcastle University, Living Histories.

The land on which the quarry was located was sold by the Scottish Australian Mining Company in July 1956 (Vol-Fol 7114-143) and by the mid 1960s suburban development of the area was well underway.

Aerial photography from 1966 shows ongoing suburban development in the former Lambton colliery pit paddock and quarry area. NSW Historical Imagery.

Other New Lambton quarries

The reports of the meetings of New Lambton council mention numerous other local quarries in the period 1899 to 1938. Some of these are named by location. Some are named after a person, although it is often not clear whether the person is the owner of the quarry, the main worker in the quarry, or just someone who lived nearby as was the case with Hincks’ quarry.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
16 Sep 1869Report on the first year of New Lambton's development, including the state of the roads.
5 Aug 1876Bad roads between Lambton and New Lambton.
29 Mar 1886Report on the state of New Lambton, and the desire for a municipal council to improve the roads.
14 Mar 1890
12 Mar 1890
Council requests use of the New Lambton colliery quarry, and the erection of a tramway down the hill.
28 Mar 1890
12 Mar 1890
Council's request to use the New Lambton colliery quarry granted by A. Brown.
11 Apr 1890
9 Apr 1890
New Lambton Council decides that "tenders be invited for the formation and laying of about 400 yards of a tramway."
16 May 1890
14 May 1890
New Lambton Council - tender for construction of quarry tramway and hopper awarded to Hinton and Co.
7 Jun 1890
4 Jun 1890
"Alderman CROUDACE offered, on behalf of the company, to supply the ashes and to allow the council to quarry chatrock on the Lambton Company's estate at per yard; the price to be fixed at a future date."
16 Aug 1890
14 Aug 1890
“From Messrs. Hinton and Co., contractors for the quarry tramway and hopper, asking for extras”
4 Jul 1890
2 Sep 1890
"the matter of obtaining eight skips for the tramway connected with the quarry be left in the hands of the supervising committee and Alderman Thomas"
24 Apr 1891
22 Apr 1891
"The foreman reported verbally that the Mayor had promised to allow the council to obtain gravel from the colliery quarry. Alderman THOMAS moved, that a deputation, consisting of Aldermen Capewell, Lonsdale, and Hitchcock, wait upon Mr. Croudace, and ask his permission to use the colliery quarry for Dent and Gibson streets contracts."
8 May 1891
6 May 1891
The Mayor (Thomas Croudace) "intimated that he would do his utmost as regards letting the council have gravel to make Dent and Gibson-streets."
5 Jun 1891
3 Jun 1891
New Lambton council resolution that "the matter of calling tenders for quarrying gravel in the Lambton Colliery quarry be left with the Mayor."
3 Jul 1891
1 Jul 1891
"From Messrs. Friel and Curran, stating that the gravel in the colliery quarry was much heavier than in Russell-street, and asking for consideration; the means of conveying it would also be inconvenient and costly."
23 Oct 1891
21 Oct 1891
New Lambton council, seeking co-operation from "Mr. F. Croudace in regard to the speedy completion of the quarry tramway."
29 Oct 1891A 13 year old boy is injured while riding the skips down the tramline from the Lambton Colliery quarry.
17 Jun 1892
15 Jun 1892
"That 1s 4d per cubic yard be paid to any men the Mayor may engage in quarrying gravel in Russell-street, also in the colliery quarry."
7 Feb 1896
5 Feb 1896
New Lambton council seeks to purchase the Addison Road quarry.
21 Feb 1896
19 Feb 1896
"From Mr. Alexander Brown, managing director of the New Lambton Company, offering lots 36 and 37, section R, for £15 each as a quarry, the council to pay cost of transfer."
19 Mar 1896
17 Mar 1896
Motiona at New Lambton Council "That the managing director of the New Lambton Land and Coal Co. (Mr. A. Brown) be requested to dedicate and align Carrington Parade and Addison-road for the purpose of enabling the council to form and make the roadway to the quarry in a proper manner."
26 Oct 1896
25 Oct 1896
"A boy named Benjamin Taite met with a painful accident yesterday morning. He was walking along the rails of the Quarry line, and somehow or other slipped and fell on his arm, breaking both bones near the wrist."
22 May 1913
21 May 1913
"The recent rains had caused the hill on the Addison-road to slip away, and blocked the road to the gravel quarry."
11 Sep 1924
10 Sep 1924
Correspondence from "S.A. Mining Company, granting permission to council to remove gravel from Hinck's quarry, at the same royalty and conditions applicable to Fern quarry, until such time as the latter quarry was again available."
9 Oct 1924
8 Oct 1924
Decision by New Lambton council to extend the Addision Rd quarry by purchasing two adjoining blocks of land.
15 Jul 1926
14 Jul 1926
"The steam lorry had been engaged for the fortnight in street patching with gravel from Fern Quarry. The motor lorry arrived on July 8, and was being used in carting gravel from Hincks' quarry, and was doing good work."
24 Aug 1950"A landslide in Addison-road, New Lambton, was not due to mine subsidence, according to an expert's report. An inspection of a nearby disused gravel quarry indicated the underlying strata consisted of about four feet of clay shale sub-soils lying on a bed of hard conglomerates."

Herbert’s Theatre De Luxe, Broadmeadow

William Herbert was a pioneer of the cinema scene in Newcastle. Born in the United States, he moved to Newcastle in 1907 and began showing the new ‘moving pictures’ at various locations in Newcastle. In October 1910 Herbert announced plans to screen films in the open air at the Hamilton Rugby League ground on the north side of Belford St. The first night was a disaster. “Owing to the boisterous nature of the weather the moving pictures could not be held as the screen was blown down in the afternoon.”

Despite the initial setback, Herbert persevered and regularly screened movies at the ground until 1912 when he opened a permanent theatre at the Nineways Broadmeadow. Seating 2000 people, the grandiosely named “No. 1 Picture Palace” was a basic structure with asphalt floor and canvas roof.

During 1923 and 1924, Herbert ingeniously managed the complete reconstruction of the building “without temporarily shutting down the theatre or seriously inconveniencing his patrons.” Corrugated iron walls were removed gradually and replaced with brick, steel girders installed, and the canvas roof replaced over a three-week period. “There were times when parts of the theatre had two coverings, but at every screening the audience was protected from the weather.”

A photograph of the new “Herbert’s Theatre De Luxe” can be dated by close inspection of the poster on the right-hand side. It advertises Gladys Walton in the silent film “The Girl Who Ran Wild” that screened in September 1923. Herbert sold the theatre in 1933 and in 1941 the new owners announced plans for its demolition and erection of a new building. At a cost of £40,000 and a seating capacity of 1600, the new “Century Theatre” opened in April 1942 and had its final screening in September 1973. The building lay derelict for a while and was then variously used as a truck repair workshop, gaming arcade, and finally as a church. Badly damaged in the 1989 earthquake the Century Theatre was demolished soon afterwards.

Herbert’s Theatre De Luxe, Broadmeadow, September 1923. Newcastle University, Living Histories.
Nineways, Broadmeadow in 2023.

The article above was first published in the November 2023 edition of The Local.


Acknowledgements

Two useful sources of information for this article were Mike Scanlon’s 2019 newspaper article on Will Herbert, and the 1993 book “Front Stalls or Back? The History and Heritage of the Newcastle Theatres” by K J Cork and L R Tod.

Additional Information

Will Herbert – Early life and Career

According to a 1918 biographical article, Will Herbert was born in the town of Manchester, New Hampshire in the USA. Confusingly, an obituary in 1947 states that he “was born in New Hampshire, England, and was taken to America at the age of three” while another obituary states that he “was born in Lancashire”.

The kind of person he was is perhaps best illustrated in that he was an actual example of the cliche of running away from home to join the circus …

Mr. Herbert seems to have had a penchant for travelling, for at 16 – without his parents’ consent – he attached himself to Forepaw’s Circus, which at the time was second only in size and importance to the great Barnum and Bailey’s Circus.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5 April 1918.

After touring with the circus for a couple of seasons, Herbert started a bakery business in Boston, bought into a French cafe in New York, went to San Francisco and became chief steward on a steam ship trading with the eastern Pacific. He then served as a commissariat officer on the troopship Naomi in the war between the United States and Spain, and then subsequently on a trans-Atlantic liner the General Grant, sent to the Philippines to quell an uprising.

It was while in the Philippines that Mr. Herbert conceived the idea of taking up motion pictures.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5 April 1918

In 1905, Will Herbert was part of a syndicate that secured the rights to film and screen the Lightweight Championship boxing match between Jimmy Britt and Oscar “Battling’ Nelson, held at San Francisco on 9 September 1905.

Britt-Nelson boxing match in San Francisco, 9 September 1905. Library of Congress.

Soon afterwards, Herbert headed to Australia to exhibit the film of the fight.

Mr. Herbert, of the syndicate which secured the moving pictures of the Britt-Nelson fight in America for the world’s light-weight championship, arrived from America by the Sierra for the purpose of exhibiting the pictures throughout Australasia. He will open the Queen’s-hall, Pitt-street, on Monday next for a season, and a holiday matinee will also be given. Popular prices will be charged. Over 18,000 people witnessed this contest, which was very exciting; and the film representing it is over a mile in length.

The Daily Telegraph, 11 November 1905

Over the next two years Herbert toured all parts of Australia and New Zealand, showing the film in rented halls and theatres. He made at least two visits to Newcastle, in November 1905 and again in February 1906.

Mr. Herbert said that on his first visit to Newcastle he had noticed the possibilities for the establishment of permanent pictures.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5 April 1918

Herbert appears to have settled permanently in Newcastle sometime in late 1907 or early 1908. By February 1908 he is mentioned as the manager of “Kings American Picturescope”, screening films at the Victoria Theatre in Perkins Street. He then rented the “Central Hall” in May 1908 for a period of 18 weeks, and also screened films at the Newcastle Sports Ground.

Hamilton Rugby League Ground

Will Herbert first screened moving pictures in the Broadmeadow area in the open air at the Hamilton Rugby League Football Ground. The first scheduled show on 22 October 1910 was cancelled due to inclement weather, however within a few weeks the paper reported …

The fine picture entertainment given by Mr. Will Herbert at the Rugby League Ground, Hamilton, is apparently growing rapidly in popularity, judging from the increasingly large audiences. Last night the new programme was witnessed by a very large attendance.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 10 November 1910.
Excerpt of an 1884 map of Newcastle, showing the location of the Hamilton Rugby League Ground between Tudor and Belford Streets. Newcastle University, Living Histories.
A Google Earth image showing the approximate location of the Hamilton Rugby League Football Ground. The location of Herbert’s Theatre De Luxe is outlined in red.

Will Herbert continued to regularly screen pictures at the ground until the final screening on Saturday 4 May 1912. The land occupied by the Rugby League Ground was later subdivided into 41 lots by the A. A. Company and sold in April 1918.

No. 1 Picture Palace

In August 1912, Will Herbert announced in a public advertisement his intention to open an “up-to-date Picture Palace” in Broadmeadow, capable of seating 2000 persons.

Herbert’s “No. 1 Picture Palace” at Broadmeadow opened on Saturday 2 November 1912, screening “Sweet Nell of Old Drury” starring Miss Nellie Stewart. A report on the opening noted that …

The attendance numbered just on 2000, and many were unable to gain admission. Extra seats were brought in, but these were not sufficient to accommodate those anxious to get in. The structure is a very commodious one, and commands an excellent position at the junction of the tram lines. The building measures 187ft by 85ft, and is admirably adapted for picture entertainment. The exterior was brilliantly illuminated for the opening performance. Three large stars and a Maltese cross formed of different coloured electric lights gave the outside a most picturesque appearance. The vestibule is attractively laid out, and the whole of the floor space of the building will shortly be asphalted. Patent spring back chairs are to be used for the higher-priced seats. The chairs already in use are very comfortable, and in every other respect patrons are well catered for.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 4 November 1912

By May 1913 further improvements to the theatre had been completed.

Herbert’s Picture Palace at Broadmeadow has now been completely roofed in with waterproof canvas, which will render it cosy and warm for the winter months.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 6 May 1913

Herbert’s Theatre De Luxe

Originally the photograph of Herbert’s Theatre De Luxe was loaded into the Living Histories site with no attributed date. Noting from the article of June 1924 that the construction/renovation of the theatre was “spread over fourteen months”, and also noting from the photo that the tramline to Adamstown up Brunker Road is not yet electrified (which was completed in January 1925), indicates that the photo was taken sometime in 1923 or 1924.

 Getting a more exact date on the photo relies on identifying the movie being exhibited at the time of the photo, by carefully examining the poster on the right hand side of the entrance.

Taking a snip of the photo and enhancing the contrast, you can just make out the name “Gladys Walton” and the name of the film as “The Girl Who Ran Wild”. Additionally, a faint outline of a seated girl can be made out that matches the profile of the movie poster below.

Searching newspaper advertisements in 1923 and 1924 reveals that the film was screening at Herbert’s Broadmeadow Theatre in the week beginning Monday 17 September 1923.

Movie poster for Gladys Walton in the 1922 silent film “The Girl Who Ran Wild”.
Advertisement for screening of “The Girl Who Ran Wild” at Herbert’s Theatre, Broadmeadow. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 17 September 1923.

According to Cork and Tod’s book “Front Stalls or Back?”, Herbert divested control of his theatres to Newcastle Theatres Pty Ltd in 1933. Herbert retired in 1935 and visited the United States. A year later in January 1936 the directors of the Newcastle Theatres induced Herbert to take on the supervision of their theatres, including the De Luxe at Broadmeadow, Roxy at Hamilton, and Regent at Islington.

William Herbert retired again in 1941, and died on 11 November 1947 in Hamilton, at the age of 80.

Century Theatre

A start will be made on Monday on the new modern theatre at Broadmeadow. With equipment and furnishings the expenditure will exceed £30,000. The contract is the biggest announced in northern New South Wales this year. The building will occupy a splendid central site, with frontages to Chatham road and the Pacific Highway. To enable operations to proceed, it will be necessary to demolish the present theatre and other buildings erected by Mr. W. Herbert, founder of Herbert’s Theatres, 25 years ago.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 19 April 1941

The new Century Theatre opened on Friday 17 April 1942 with a screening of the Technicolor film “Aloma of the South Seas” starring Dorothy Lamour.

The Century Theatre, erected on the site of Herbert’s theatre in Broadmeadow, opened in April 1942. Photo from Cinema Treasures.
Alterations to to roads at Nineways, Broadmeadow, with the Century Theatre in the background. 27 April 1953. Photo by Len Webber. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank. Accession Number 515 000075
The Century Theatre, Broadmeadow, in the process of demolition after damage from the 1989 earthquake. Photo by Ron Morrison. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank. Accession Number 004 001134
The severely damaged Century Theatre, Broadmeadow, being demolished. Photo by Ron Morrison. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank. Accession Number 004 001135

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
11 Nov 1905"Mr. Herbert, of the syndicate which secured the moving pictures of the Britt-Nelson fight in America for the world's light-weight championship, arrived from America by the Sierra for the purpose of exhibiting the pictures throughout Australasia."
27 Nov 1905
25 Nov 1905
"At the King's Hall on Saturday evening, Mr. Will Herbert introduced to Newcastle the celebrated motion pictures of the Britt-Nelson contest for the lightweight boxing championship of the world."
23 Feb 1906"Under the direction of Mr. W. Herbert" … return showing in Newcastle of the Britt-Nelson fight.
20 Feb 1908Will Herbert, manager of King’s American Picturescope Company.
4 Jul 1908Mr Herbert mentioned as the manager of Kings Picturescope Palace, in Newcomen Street, Newcastle.
11 Jul 1908"The attendances at the Picturescope Palace, Newcomen-street, during the week, have been well up to the average, and Mr. Herbert, the manager, expresses himself well satisfied with the support that has so far been accorded his efforts to establish a permanent picture show in Newcastle."
22 Oct 1910"Mr. Will Herbert, formerly of the Picturescope Palace, Newcastle, announces that the first of a series of a continentals will be given under his direction at the Rugby League Ground, Hamilton, this evening."
24 Oct 1910
22 Oct 1910
"Owing to the boisterous nature of the weather on Saturday, the continental and moving pictures, promoted by Mr. Will Herbert, on the League Football Ground, at Hamilton, could not be held. The screen was blown down in the afternoon, and at night there was no attendance of the public."
10 Nov 1910"The fine picture entertainment given by Mr. Will Herbert at the Rugby League Ground, Hamilton, is apparently growing rapidly in popularity, judging from the increasingly large audiences."
4 May 1912Herbert's final screening at the Rugby League Ground at Hamilton.
2 Nov 1912"Mr. W. W. Herbert announces that he will open his No. 1 Picture Palace at Broadmeadow this evening."
6 May 1913Herbert's Picture Palace at Broadmeadow has now been completely roofed in with waterproof canvas, which will render it cosy and warm for the winter months.
5 Apr 1918Detailed biographical article on Will Herbert.
15 Sep 1923"The Girl Who Ran Wild, the Universal attraction starring Gladys Walton, which will be screened at the Lyric and Herbert's Theatres, Broadmeadow and Islington, on Monday next, is the latest and most appealing screen version of Bret Hart's story M'liss."
19 Sep 1923At the Lyric and Herbert's Pictures to-day there will be shown for the last time the Paramount special entitled "The Rustle of Silk," with Betty Compson in the lead. Gladys Walton is also seen in "The Girl who Ran Wild."
11 Jun 1924Long article detailing "the conversion of Herbert's Broadmeadow Theatre from an unprepossesssing building to one of the most modern picture exhibition houses in Australia."
4 Jan 1936"At the request of the Directors of Newcastle Theatres Ltd., Mr. William Herbert has resumed the supervision of the circuit embracing the De Luxe (Broadmeadow), Roxy (Hamilton), and Regent (Islington), Theatres."
19 Apr 1941"A start will be made on Monday on the new modern theatre at Broadmeadow. With equipment and furnishings the expenditure will exceed £30,000. To enable operations to proceed, it will be necessary to demolish the present theatre and other buildings erected by Mr. W. Herbert, founder of Herbert's Theatres, 25 years ago. "
16 Apr 1942
17 Apr 1942
"Another fine addition to the architectural grandeur of the Newcastle district is the new Century Theatre at Broadmeadow. Erected at a cost of over £40,000, and with a seating accommodation of over 1600, the theatre will-be opened officially on Friday night, at 7.45 o'clock"
18 Apr 1942
17 Apr 1942
Opening of the Century Theatre, Broadmeadow.
11 Nov 1947Death of Will Herbert, aged 80 years and 11 months. (Newcastle Sun)
11 Nov 1947Death of Will Herbert (Newcastle Morning Herald, but some of the details contradict the Newcastle Sun obituary.)

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow

In March 1891, Thomas Williams purchased land near Broadmeadow station, and submitted an application for a a conditional publican’s licence “for premises proposed to be erected at the intersection of the Adamstown and Newcastle-Wallsend roads to be known by the sign of the Jersey Hotel.” Williams engaged James Henderson, the eminent architect of the ornate Victoria Theatre in Perkins Street Newcastle, to design a three storey, 15-room brick hotel.

With the building completed in early 1892 and after a change of mind on the name, Williams applied for the publican’s license he needed for his Premier Hotel to commence trading. On Thursday 17 March 1892 the Licensing Bench approved his application, but instead of downing drinks in celebration, Williams found his hotel in the drink due to inundation.  That very night the heavens opened and Newcastle was drenched with torrential rain, with flooding reported at Wallsend, Waratah, Lambton, and New Lambton.  At Broadmeadow “the flat between Adamstown and New Lambton and down to Lambton-road was one sheet of water on Friday morning.” Ralph Snowball photographed the newly licensed hotel, an island of refuge in an expanse of water.

The deluge had tragic consequences when “an elderly man named Edward Atkinson fell into a waterhole while looking for cows in a paddock near Adamstown and was drowned.” Once again, citizens called on the government to get on with its long-promised drainage scheme for the area.  The main stormwater drain through the Broadmeadow flats was completed in 1895, but the area around the Premier Hotel continued to be impacted by flooding until the completion of the Adamstown branch of the drain in 1899. In 1939 the hotel was rebuilt as an attractive two storey structure in the art deco style. Having survived a natural disaster in 1892, the hotel suffered damage in the 1989 earthquake and was repaired as a smaller, simpler building. Plans for a $34 million redevelopment of the site are now before Newcastle Council, for a nine-storey apartment building with ground floor pub.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, NSW, 18 March 1892. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
The Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 2023.

The article above was first published in the October 2023 edition of The Local.


Acknowledgements

Ed Tonk’s book “No Bar to Time, The current Hotels of the Newcastle Local Government Area” was a useful source for some of the details in this article.

Additional Information

Details from Land title Vol-Fol 1021-71, showing purchase of portion 2101 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve by Thomas Williams on 11 March 1891.

Pages 227-229 of “Early Architects of the Hunter Region” by Les Reedman shows three drawings by James Henderson of “New brick hotel, Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, near Broadmeadow Station, 1891”. The inscription on the top of the facade shows the originally proposed name of “Jersey Hotel”.

Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 18 March 1892 – looking westwards along Denison St. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
Denison St Hamilton, August 2023. (The present day Premier Hotel is hidden behind the building with the blue awnings at the end of the street.)
Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 13 September 1902. Photo by Ralph Snowball. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank, Accession Number 001 001055.
Nineways, Broadmeadow, with Premier Hotel in the background, September 1923. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.
Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, 1959. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank. Accession Number 460 000055.
The Nineways, Broadmeadow, NSW, Australia [c.1960’s]. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.

2023 Development Application

In a curious coincidence, just a week after I had completed writing this article for “The Local”, news emerged that the owners of the Premier Hotel have submitted a Development Application (DA2023/00886) to Newcastle Council for a $34 million development to demolish the existing structure and erect an nine-story building with hotel on the lower floors, and 48 apartment units on the upper floors.

Proposed re-development of the Premier Hotel at the intersection of Brunker Road and Chatham Street. Image from the architectural plans for DA2023/00886.

Update 20 Feb 2024: The Hunter Central Coast Regional Planning Panel has rejected the proposed development, stating that “The proposed development does not respond to its current context and is out of scale with surrounding development.”

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
20 Mar 1891"I, THOMAS WILLIAMS, of Carrington, Landholder, do hereby give notice that I desire to obtain, and will, at the next Quarterly Licensing Court, to be holden at Newcastle on the ninth day of April next, apply for a Certificate, authorising the issue of a Conditional Publican's License, for pre mises proposed to be erected at the Junction of the Adamstown-road with the Newcastle- Wallsend-road, to be known by the sign of "Jersey Hotel," and to contain fifteen rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family."
10 Apr 1891Licensing court … "Thos. Williams applied for a conditional publican's license for premises proposed to be erected at the intersection of the Adamstown and Newcastle-Wallsend roads to be known by the sign of the Jersey Hotel." Despite objections from the police "the Bench said the plans showed that the house would be a good one; and, as there was nothing against the character of Mr. Williams, the application was granted."
6 Jun 1891James Henderson, architect, tenders invited for “the Erection and Completion of extensive BRICK HOTEL PREMISES at Adamstown, near Broadmeadow Railway Station, for Mr. Williams.” Tenders close 20 June.
29 Jan 1892"The Premier Hotel, the property of Mr. T. Williams, situated at the intersection of Adamstown. Lambton, and Waratah roads, is near completion.” [This is the first mention of “Premier Hotel” in the newspapers.]
18 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Thomas Williams was granted a license for premises situated at the junction of the Adamstown and Wallsend roads."
18 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
At "he Licensing Bench yesterday … an application for a license for new premises situated at the junction of the Adamstown and Wallsend roads was also granted."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Waratah. The heavy rain which fell during Thursday night again caused a considerable overflow in the streets, and particularly in the vicinity of the station."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"New Lambton. THE HEAVY RAIN. The heavy rain, which fell during Thursday night, flooded the properties on the Lambton Road, adjoining the tramline. The large drains overflowed, and across both the road and the tramline was one sheet of water. Some of the residents had to leave their houses to take care of themselves, and seek shelter in the tramwaiting shed at the Raspberry Gully line crossing."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Plattsburg. STORM WATERS. The exceptional downpour of rain early on Friday morning very soon flooded all the low-lying land, and the result was that the residents of Nelson-street, from John-street to the bridge, were again flooded. On this occasion the water rose some 9in higher than the former floods."
19 Mar 1892
17 Mar 1892
"Lambton. During Thursday night the heavy rains caused a good deal of damage to the streets of the municipality by washing gravel and other road material away. Pearson and Howe streets were flooded, but fortunately not high enough to enter the houses. A thorough system of drainage at the lower end of the district from New Lambton downwards, through Hamilton, is necessary to prevent these periodical floods, as the water then would have an opportunity of free access to the main channels to the sea. But at present it is a source of trouble and expense to the whole of these municipalities, and the sooner the proposed scheme of the Hamilton, New Lambton, and other councils is carried out the better for everybody concerned."
19 Mar 1892
18 Mar 1892
"It was reported yesterday morning that an elderly resident named Edward Atkinson was missing, and supposed to be drowned in Yates' paddock, between Adamstown and New Lambton … which proved to be correct, for after some time the body was brought to the surface, at about 10.30 am. The deceased was 72 years of age."
19 Mar 1892
18 Mar 1892
"An elderly man named Edward Atkinson fell into a waterhole while looking for cows in a paddock near Adamstown yesterday morning and was drowned."
21 Mar 1892"In common with other parts of the district the rain has done a deal of damage to the roads in the municipality. The low lands have suffered considerably. The flat between Adamstown and New Lambton and down to Lambton-road was one sheet of water on Friday morning. Numerous dwellings were flooded. People who have lived on the Lambton-road for 17 years say that they never knew the water to be so high as it was on Friday. The proposed high drain will be a blessing to the district, and till it is completed the low lands between Adamstown, New Lambton, and Broadmeadow will continue to be under water in wet weather."
10 Aug 1895"One of the finest pieces of work done in this district is the much-spoken-of Commonage drain. The other day we visited the work and were greatly surprised at the proportions of the huge drain. In fact it is— or will be in rainy seasons — a regular canal. It begins half way between New Lambton and Hamilton, and runs in a fairly straight line towards a creek flowing into the Hunter. The drain will easily carry off the storm waters from the large area of country comprising the Commonage."
25 Jan 1898
24 Jan 1898
"BROADMEADOW. Last night at 9 o'clock the flood waters were over Brunker-road, and people from Adamstown who wished to got to the tram were forced to wade through a foot deep of water on the road. A large number of dwellings in the locality, including the Premier Hotel, were surrounded by water."
30 Nov 1898"The construction of the Adamstown branch of the Commonage drainage work has been delayed while the culvert under the Government railway was in course of construction. With the exception of a small portion near the railway culvert, the drain is completed to near the Adamstown-New Lambton road."
29 Apr 1899"The Adamstown branch of the Commonage drain has stopped within a few chains of the Adamstown-New Lambton road near the railway station. The cause of the drain stopping at that point is in consequence of it being found necessary to carry it through private property, and as the authorities have not come to terms with the Waratah Company and other property holders work is suspended and the municipality suffers."
26 Aug 1899Report on how the flooding in the Broadmead area was not as bad as former times “which is directly due to the Adamstown branch of the Commonage drainage works being opened cross the Lambton-road, and the Adamstown water thus being given straight course to the main drain.”
28 Sep 1900
27 Sep 1900
"Mr. M. S. Love, Acting S.M., yesterday granted Thomas Williams permission to transfer his license of the Premier Hotel, Broadmeadow, to Henry Joseph Denney."
5 Nov 1938"The Premier Hotel at Broadmeadow, is to be demolished. On the site will be erected a modern hotel, in two storeys, the cost of which will be £20,000. The architect is Mr. C. Ruwald, of Sydney."
5 Oct 1939"To-morrow an official opening ceremony will be held at noon at the Premier Hotel at Broadmeadow to mark the completion of a most attractive and modernly designed addition to the hotels of the district. The new building has a frontage to two main roads and a striking architectural treatment coupled with most up-to-date interior facilities and furnishings provide an outstanding example of a modern trend in hotel design"

Lambton Ker-rai, Then and Now

Today I stumbled across this photo of the Lambton Ker-rai Creek that runs through Lambton Park. The photo is from the naming ceremony that took place back in 2003.

The Lambton Ker-rai Creek naming ceremony, Lambton Park 2003. Page 128 of the City of Newcastle Stormwater Management Plan, 2004.

Twenty years on, the growth of trees and vegetation along the creek has made a stark and improved change to the scene.

Lambton Ker-rai Creek, September 2023.

Cycling Century Run

Some things change, some things stay the same. When we look at Ralph Snowball’s photograph of Morehead St Lambton from 125 years ago, the most striking difference is a complete absence of cars. Occupying the street instead is something very familiar to us, people enjoying an outdoor activity on a public holiday. The photo, from the morning of 13 October 1898, shows a group of cyclists at Lambton about to set off on the next leg of a “cycling century run”, a 100-mile ride to Stroud and back.

The event was held as part of the Eight-Hour Day celebrations, the forerunner of our Labour Day public holiday. The ride was a test of endurance rather than speed. There were no trophies for the fastest, but a badge for everyone who finished within the allotted time. The ride was intended for fun, but within limits. At a planning meeting for the ride the committee noted that “any exhibition of larrikinism will lead to disqualification.”

The ride was divided into several legs, with predefined stops where participants would have a paper ticket punched by an official. At 6:30am, 46 cyclists set off from Newcastle Post Office, with the first leg detouring through Adamstown to Lambton to make the total distance up to 100 miles. With the next leg to Raymond Terrace the cyclists enjoyed a short break as they crossed the Hunter River on the Hexham punt. The group reached Stroud at 12.26pm and after an appetising snack commenced the return journey at 1.09pm.  Despite darkness falling, and the necessity of walking their bikes up the Sandgate hill due to road repairs, 38 participants arrived back at Newcastle Post Office by 7:30pm, having completed the 100 miles in under 13 hours. Special mention must be made of the three women who completed the course, not only keeping up with the men, but doing so while wearing highly impractical ankle length skirts!

Participants in the Cycling Century, Morehead St Lambton, 13 October 1898. Photo by Ralph Snowball. Newcastle Library. Newcastle Library, Hunter Photobank, Accession Number 163 003938.
The same view in Morehead St in 2023.

The article above was first published in the September 2023 edition of The Local.


Additional Information

The full text of the newspaper report on the cycling century run is reproduced below.

The Cycling Century Run. This event came off yesterday, and proved a thorough success. The route was to Stroud and back, a deviation being made in the morning through Hamilton and Lambton and across to Waratah to make up a deficiency in the mileage. The start, was made very nearly sharp to time, 6.30, though there were several laggards, who came on late. Forty-six started, including four ladies, with the intention of trying to get right though, and there were two others who went as far as the Twelve Mile only. Mr. J. D. Smith set the pace to Hexham Punt, 14 miles, which was reached at 7.57, three minutes late, some delay occurring at Lambton, where the second puncturing of tickets was made, because the secretary had hung behind with the puncturing instrument to puncture the tickets of the idle starters. The punt was left at 8.10. From this point Mr. W. T. Gibb, jun., set the pace. The Terrace, six miles, was reached at 8.40, about 6 min being made up, loss 1 min, and after 15min spell, another start was made for McNiven’s, Derlang, or the Twelve Mile, Mr. Gibb still pacing. The Twelve Mile was reached at 10.3, time table time exactly. Here a most excellent breakfast was provided. Sharp to time. 10.33, another start was made, Mr. H. A. Graham setting the pace to Stroud, F. Woods’ hotel (21 miles). On this section the pacemaker being as a matter of fact paced pace was broken, and despite an unprogrammed halt of 10 minutes being called halfway, the arrival at Stroud was made at 12.26, 13 minutes ahead of schedule time. A most appetising snack was here provided, a rest being taken of 30 minutes for those who ran to time, the scorchers, and among them the pacer and his hustlers, and those who allowed themselves to be bustled with him, getting 43 minutes. Nevertheless there was some complaining. Mr. Flood provided a very appetising snack. Sharp at 1.9-the schedule time-the return, journey was commenced, Mr. Brett setting the pace back to Witt’s Half-way House at Limeburner’s Creek for dinner, the bustled pacemaker on his last century closing up the rear. Witt’s was reached (16 miles) at 2.50, five minutes behind schedule time a five-minute spell (uncatalogued) being taken half-way. The three nasty hills, up and down, up and down in sharp succession, going into and coming out of Stroud, proved very trying. Mr. Witt provided a very excellent dinner. Leaving Witts’ to time, 3.45, the run to Raymond Terrace (16 miles) was made with Mr. Krempin setting the pace, inside schedule time, the arrival being made at 5.15 instead of 5.21. Leaving here at 5.36, after 21 minutes’ spell, Hexham punt was made, in schedule time, and the departure thence, with plenty in hand for completing the journey in schedule time, despite the darkness and the necessity for walking the Sandgate Hill, now under repair. From Hexham punt to Waratah Mr. D. Gordon set the pace, and thence home, Mr. H. Warr. Thirty-eight tickets were handed in at the Newcastle Post-office, which was reached at 7.28, two minutes inside schedule time, the distance proving fully the 100 miles, cyclometers saying 101 to 102. It is reasonably believed that one name may have to be added to the list, that of a rider who had to inflate his tyres every three quarters of a mile or so, and who is believed, to have arrived home at about 10 minutes to 8, and to have been unable to find the secretary to hand in his ticket, though that functionary was standing at the Criterion Hotel corner till 7.45 on the lookout for stragglers. It was a very pleasant day, and although the heat was pretty severe, and the dust rather bad in places, it must necessarily be called a pleasant ride of its kind, no wind of any moment interfering either way; and regarding these century runs it has always to be remembered that there are scores of young athletic men about to whom they are by no means a severe trial. All the same, they are a very fair average test of one’s capabilities of enduring physical fatigue; and, for instance, those able to perform such a feat are fit, without, much preliminary hardening, for active military service in emergency. Skill, however, is of course no small item in the programme. The names of those who handed in their tickets at the post office are given hereunder: – Ladies: Mesdames Snow (North Sydney Bicycle Club), Greenwood, and Harry. Men: Messrs. W. T. Gibb, jun., T. Snow (North Sydney Bicycle Club), – Patey, T. S. Everett, F. Hughes, F. W. Krempin, H. Warr, Albert Hopkins, E. Barnes, George Proctor, A. W. Judd, W. J Greenwood, Percy Taylor, – Hawthorne, Walter Taylor, D. Meldrum, J. H. Parker, – Garrett, D. Gordon, C. Sanders (pumping for an obscure puncture every five miles), T. Lee, D. Murray, W. Brett, J. Quinn, E. Bruderlin, R. Gordon, H. A. Graham, J. T. Smith, James Blanch, W. Welford, A. Quinn, D. Powell, W. H. Bartrop (Singleton), D. J. Young, and J. D. Smith.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 14 October 1988.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
3 Sep 1898"Matters in connection with the proposed century run on Eight Hour Day are in active progress, and in the hands of a reliable committee. Newcastle to Singleton and return will probably be the chosen route, in consequence of the immediate proximity of the road to the railway line, which would give exhausted wheelers a chance to take the services of the train if so desired."
10 Sep 1898
9 Sep 1898
A meeting of the committee organising the cycling century run. Decision to ride to Stroud and back. "Any riders passing the pace-makers will be disqualified, and any exhibition of larrikinism will also lead to disqualification. Those successfully completing the journey will receive a badge."
7 Oct 1898
5 Oct 1898
A meeting of the committee organising the cycling century run.
14 Oct 1898
13 Oct 1898
A report on the cycling century run, a 100 mile ride from Newcastle Post Office to Stroud and return.
14 Oct 1898
13 Oct 1898
Report on the Eight Hours Day procession.