Another photo from the Merv and Janet Copley collection at the Living Histories site that caught my eye was one with the somewhat vague title of “Newcastle old coal track, NSW, 1964.” It took me a while to identify the location of the photo, the key being a search in Trove for “W Brett sails tarpaulins”. This returned an advertisement from 1921 identifying the location of W Brett’s business as being “Bond St, Newcastle (near Customs House).”
I recently found in the Living Histories site of the University of Newcastle, a photo of the Lambton Park rotunda from 1973. The rotunda was looking so sad and disheveled, and so different from current day appearances that my initial reaction on seeing the photo was that it was mis-labeled and was a rotunda somewhere else.
Constructed in 1890, the rotunda initially had iron palisade railings. By 1925 the rotunda had fallen into a bad condition. Extensive repairs were undertaken, including replacing the iron railings with arched brickwork, and replacing the wooden floor with reinforced concrete.
Newcastle Council later renovated the rotunda, reinstating the look of the original, including iron railings, a wooden floor, and the dome and spire above the main roof.
In 1868 the New Lambton Coal Company struck a payable seam in their mining lease adjacent to Lambton, and a new township began. Unlike Lambton where private ownership of land was promoted, the New Lambton proprietors did not offer their land for sale. With no ownership, there was no incentive for townspeople to construct anything but the most basic of buildings. In 1890 when land was first sold in the town, New Lambton had just three hotels, all of them hastily erected wooden structures.
In 1898 Frederick George Roberts purchased land on the corner of Lambton and Tauranga Roads, and built a weatherboard store, selling groceries, draperies, ironware and clothing. In July 1902 he applied for a publican’s license to open a hotel on the site of his store. Despite police objections the licensing court granted the application, in part swayed by Roberts’ plans to erect a substantial brick hotel, in contrast to the other hotels nearby that were described at the time as “a very disappointing lot indeed”.
By September 1902, the store was demolished, and the builder William Knight was constructing a new brick hotel designed by the notable local architect Ernest George Yeomans. On 18 April 1903 120 years ago this month, Roberts announced by advertisement that his “new hotel will be opened for business today, containing 20 spacious and well ventilated rooms.” He named it the General Roberts Hotel, after Frederick Sleigh Roberts, recently commander of the British forces in the Second Boer War. Within a year Phillip Byrne had become licensee, and Ralph Snowball photographed the hotel soon afterwards. Looking west along Lambton Rd and Alma Rd, the photo shows the General Roberts Hotel on the right, and beside it the remnants of a cutting where the New Lambton colliery railway once ran.
The article above was first published in the April 2023 edition of The Local.
At the corner of the main road and Tauranga-street another brick hotel of 18 rooms, to be known as “The General Roberts,” has just been completed. This is built with red, pressed, tuck-pointed fronts and ornamental parapets. The fronts have those useful adjuncts, spacious colonnades. The building is tastefully finished both inside and out, and standing on a prominent site is a landmark in the municipality. Formerly on this site stood Mr. Roberts’ w.b. store, which has been demolished to make place for this hotel. The architect was Mr. E. G. Yeomans. and the builder Mr. W. Knight.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 17 April 1903.
Within six months of opening the hotel, F G Roberts was looking to sell the hotel business, but retain ownership of the land and buildings.
Variant spelling of names is shown in square brackets
- Frederick George Roberts (April 1903 to April 1904)
- Phillip James Byrne (April 1904 to June 1905)
- John Keim [Kiem, Kilm, Kien, Kiern, Kierns] (June 1905 to April 1913)
- Edward Butterworth (April 1913 to April 1916)
- John Drummond (April 1916 to May 1919)
- Oliver O Woods (May 1919 to September 1919)
- Frank Burden (September 1919 to July 1927)
- George James Embleton (July 1927 to April 1928)
- Leonard P Damerell [Damerill] (April 1928 to January 1929)
- Joseph Patrick Quinn (January 1929 to November 1945)
- William Thomas Garaty (November 1945 to June 1957)
- James Robert Rose & Mary Rose (June 1957 to January 1961)
- Albert Frederick Seales (January 1961 to April 1966)
- David Alfred James Blanch & Ann Blanch (April 1966 to March 1968)
- Joseph Moody & Ellen McReadie (March 1968 to ????)
Names and dates of licensees from 1919 onwards are taken from the General Roberts Hotel cards in the Noel Butlin archive.
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|2 Jan 1899||"A large general store, and residence for Mr. Roberts is in course of erection at the corner of Lambton and Taurangua roads."|
|11 Jan 1899||"Mr. E. G. Yeomans was found to be up to his eyes in architectural work … A shop and dwelling for a Mr. Roberts, at New Lambton, is half completed."|
|18 Nov 1899|
7 Nov 1899
|Roof damage to F G Roberts store in New Lambton due to cyclonic wind storm.|
|21 Sep 1901||"TENDERS are invited for the ERECTION of WEATHERBOARD COTTAGE in New Lambton for Mr. F. G. Roberts."|
|10 Feb 1902||"I FREDERICK GEORGE ROBERTS give notice that I desire at the next Quarterly Licensing Court, to apply for a CONDITIONAL PUBLICAN'S LICENSE for Premises situate at New Lambton already erected at the corner of Lambton-road, but requiring additions and alterations to make them suitable to be licensed. These premises, if a license be granted, are to be known as the GENERAL ROBERTS HOTEL, and will contain when completed, eight rooms exclusive of those required for the use of my family."|
|11 Apr 1902||"At the Licensing Court to-day an application was made by Frederick George Roberts for a conditional publican's license for premises situated on the main Newcastle Cardiff road at New Lambton, proposed to be used as an hotel." Decision reserved pending the hearing of two other applications for hotels in the vicinity.|
|4 Jul 1902||"At Newcastle Licensing Court, Frederick George Roberts applied for a publican's conditional license for premises to be erected on the Lambton-road, New Lambton … Ernest George Yeomans. architect, deposed that he prepared the plans before the court. The house would have brick walls."|
|16 Jul 1902|
15 Jul 1902
|"Frederick George Roberts applied for a conditional publican's license for premises to be erected at New Lambton." The Bench had inspected the current hotels "and found them a very disappointing lot indeed, and the existing accommodation was not sufficient." Application of F G Roberts was granted.|
|23 Aug 1902||"TENDERS are invited for the Erection and Completion of a BRICK HOTEL, for F. G..Roberts, Esq., at New Lambton."|
|27 Sep 1902||"The work of excavating for the foundations of the new hotel which is to be built at the corner of Taurangua and Lambton roads, is well forward. The building, which is to be commodious and substantial, will, it is estimated, cost between £1600 and £1700. Mr. William Knight is the contractor and Mr. Yeomans the architect."|
|17 Apr 1903|
16 Apr 1903
|"Frederick G. Roberts applied for a certificate for a publican's license for premises at New Lambton, to be known as the General Roberts Hotel. The application was granted."|
|17 Apr 1903||"At the corner of the main road and Tauranga-street another brick hotel of 18 rooms, to be known as 'The General Roberts,' has just been completed."|
|18 Apr 1903|
18 Apr 1903
|Advertisement for the opening of the General Roberts Hotel.|
|19 Jun 1903||Phillip James Byrnes applies for the renewal of his licensee for the Hand of Friendship Hotel. The renewal is objected to due to unsanitary premises and inadequate accommodation. By April 1904 Byrnes is licensee of the General Roberts Hotel.|
|23 Oct 1903||"TO Hotelkeepers and Brewers.- For Sale by tender, Free House, Lease, License, Furniture, and Goodwill. Tenders to close 12th Nov.; 1903. -Apply F. G. ROBERTS, Proprietor, New Lambton."|
|20 May 1904|
1 Apr 1904
|Phillip J Byrne issued a publican's license for the General Roberts Hotel.|
|20 Jun 1905||"NOTICE.-Having taken over the license of the General Roberts' Hotel, New Lambton, where I hope to see all my old friends and acquaintances. JOHN KEIM, Late of Tighe's Hill."|
|22 Sep 1927||Throughout its history, the "General Roberts Hotel" has often been erroneously referred to as the "Lord Roberts Hotel."|
|5 Jul 1946|
4 Jul 1946
|"Considerable damage was done yesterday to the balcony of the General Roberts Hotel at the corner of Lambton and Taranga Roads, New Lambton. A coal-laden lorry knocked out two of the posts on the gutter alignment and the balcony flooring sagged."|
|15 Oct 1947||Applications for the demolition and rebuilding of 12 hotels, including the General Roberts Hotel in New Lambton.|
Lambton Park has been used for many events in both tranquil and troubled times. This month’s photograph from 1896 captures a key moment in a turbulent year for miners and their families.
Steadily rising demand for coal had caused the selling price to reach a peak of 10 shillings per ton in 1890. However, economic depression in 1892-93 combined with increasing production, nearly halved the price by 1896. In February, the proprietors of Lambton mine announced the pit would close unless wages were cut. The miners, believing the company was using this as an excuse to increase profits at their expense, downed tools and called for a district wide meeting.
Nearly 2000 miners gathered at Lambton Park on 29 February 1896, and resolved that unless wages were increased, they would hold a ballot for a general strike. No increase was granted, and in March a majority voted to cease work. Negotiations continued into April, but …
Easter dawns upon us with anything but a happy outlook. The district is threatened with a great industrial strike, which is calculated to bring privation upon many poor families. Already the shopkeepers are complaining about a falling off in business, the housewives evidently buying only the bare necessaries of life.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 2 April 1896.
With no settlement reached, on 27 April 1896 …
… the strike began in real earnest, no less than 3500 miners and others refusing to continue working under the existing conditions.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 28 April 1896.
The economy suffered …
The grocers cannot give credit, and the housewives have little or no ready cash to spend.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate
Families were displaced …
Men who have managed to save a little money are leaving the district for Western Australia, New Zealand, Victoria, and Wollongong.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate
After 11 weeks it was clear that the coal prices would not increase, and wages could not be raised. On 16 July 1896 the men returned to work, at a lower hewing rate than before. Summing up the futility of the strike, a newspaper editorial stated …
Undoubtedly, when the history of this miserable struggle has to be more fully written, the best feature of it will be declaring it ‘off’.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 13 July 1896.
The article above was first published in the February 2023 edition of The Local.
In the article I talk about ‘the selling price’ of coal. This is a simplification as there was no single value, but the selling price differed between large and small coal, it differed from one colliery to another depending on quality, and it could differ according to contracts agreed between collieries and buyers.
To track the trend in coal prices, I extracted from the Department of Mines annual reports, the quantity and value of coal sold by the Lambton Colliery for each year from 1875 to 1903. From this the average price of coal per ton for each year can be calculated. The trend shows that the price remained close to 10s per ton from 1885 to 1890. However, the following years saw a steady decline to a low of 6.24 shillings per ton in 1896, the year of the miners’ general strike.
Avg per ton
From 1904 the Department of Mines annual reports do not contain data on coal output and value from individual mines.
The “Farishes Flat” portion of Lambton colliery was leased to Charles Noble on 3 November 1904, and
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|14 Jun 1890||"The Associated Colliery Proprietors are considering the advisability of reducing the selling price of coal … from 11s to 9s per ton … Under their mutual agreement the coal from the associated mines is sold at 11s per ton, and each mine has a stipulated output or vend for the year. No such agreement, however, exists among the other companies, many of which are now selling their coal at a price in some instances as low as 9s per ton. That this is the main reason why a reduction is mooted there can be no doubt. The majority of the larger collieries, and nearly all the older ones, belong to the association, and at present they raise about 70 per cent. of the total district output, but new mines are opening constantly, and, so far, none of them have shown any inclination to become parties to the Associated Proprietors agreement. "|
|22 Feb 1896|
21 Feb 1896
|"A special meeting of the delegate board of the Miners' Association was held at the Trades Hall for the purpose of considering principally the position of the Lambton miners. It was also decided to hold an aggregate meeting on pay-Saturday, the 29th instant, at the Lambton Park, at 11 a.m. , to discuss the whole situation as it affects the miners."|
|22 Feb 1896||"Mr. Thomas Croudace, the general manager of the Scottish-Australian Mining Company, says it will be impossible for him to re-open the Lambton pit while he has to paying a hewing rate altogether out of proportion to the selling price of the coal … the miners hold a very different view from Mr. Croudace. They contend that the action has been decided upon solely for the purpose of reducing wages"|
|28 Feb 1896||Letter from Amalgamated Miners' Association to miners … " it has been resolved to hold an aggregate meeting of miners in the Lambton Park on Saturday, 29th instant, to consider the advisability of seeking an advance in the hewing rates. It is needless to remind you of the successive reductions in wages during a period extending over two years, and the imposition of the most exacting and degrading conditions it has been possible to impose at many collieries."|
|28 Feb 1896||"There is no movement with regard to the Lambton Colliery and no apparent prospect of work being resumed. Of the 182 miners who cameout against the reduction in the yardage rates 96 have either succeeded in obtain work at neighbouring collieries, or have left for Western Australia, some 20 having sailed for that colony, leaving 86 still without employment, although some of those remaining are also making preparations for going west. This pleasing result, after barely two weeks' idleness, is hailed with satisfaction in the town, not unmixed, however, with regret that the bone and sinew of the place should be driven from their homes to seek scope for their energies elsewhere."|
|29 Feb 1896||"The result of the aggregate meeting of miners at Lambton Park is anxiously looked forward to by all in the coal trade. It is anticipated that the principal resolutions will be in favour of a ballot being taken as to whether a general strike shall take place or not. Very unpleasant rumours now fill the air.”|
|1 Mar 1896|
29 Feb 1896
|Report on the aggregate meeting, where about 2000 persons were present. Two resolutions were moved and passed unanimously.
|2 Mar 1896|
29 Feb 1896
|Detailed report on the miners' aggregate meeting in Lambton Park.|
|2 Mar 1896||Lengthy editorial report on the miners’ aggregate meeting. "Every representation that can be made will not restore a nearly-worked-out mine to its pristine condition, neither will it raise the price of coal in the markets of the world, in which we are now competitors. While we admit the ruinous undercutting of the selling price which has been going on for some time past, the broad fact stares us in the face that any attempt to remedy that state of affairs by the mutual action of the proprietors or their co-operation with the miners has proved ineffectual."|
|14 Mar 1896||"The [Lambton] mine still remains closed down, with no apparent signs of a resumption of work. Consequently, matters are very gloomy in the town. It is, however, gratifying to learn that out of a total of 182 miners thrown out of employment 120 have succeeded in securing work elsewhere in the district, or have left for Western Australia."|
|16 Mar 1896||"The members of the Miners' Association will be asked to ballot for or against a strike, and on this point even the non-unionist miners in the district are to be invited to express an opinion. The history of past struggles of a like kind is of so depressing a character that it is hoped men will not commit themselves to another of a similar nature without giving ample consideration to all the surroundings of the case."|
|18 Mar 1896||"The time having expired for the colliery proprietors to reply to the demand made upon them by the miners for a hewing rate of 3s 6d per ton … the situation is, therefore, now before the miners themselves, who are to be asked to decide by ballot whether there should be a general strike. To bring about this end it will be necessary to have a two-thirds majority of the votes of every miner, whether unionist or non-unionist. Ballot papers are now being distributed throughout the whole of the district."|
|25 Mar 1896||"The question of a general strike, will be placed before the delegate board of the Miners' Association today. In deciding upon this great and serious question they will have before them not only the result of the ballot, but also all the letters sent by the proprietors ... Mr. Thomas Croudace, for instance, suggests an eleventh hour attempt at a conference."|
|26 Mar 1896|
25 Mar 1896
|Result of the ballot: 2624 for a strike; 587 against a strike. Miners called to hand in their 14 days notice on 6 April. An invitiation is extended to the mine proprietors to meet the miners in conference before 2 April, in order to avert a strike.|
|2 Apr 1896||"Easter dawns upon us with, unfortunately, anything but a happy outlook. The district is threatened with a great industrial strike, which is calculated to bring privation upon many poor families. Already the shopkeepers are complaining about a falling off in business, the housewives evidently buying only the bare necessaries of life."|
|4 Apr 1896|
2 Apr 1896
|Conference between the miners assoication and the colliery proprietors, in an effort to avert a general strike. The conference was relatively amicable, but in the end of little consequence, owing to the absence of proprietors from three of the large coal companies.|
|8 Apr 1896||Miners at 15 collieries have now handed in their 14 days notice to cease work. "If the notices sent in should be carried into effect after Saturday week, there will be something like 4000 miners on strike."|
|11 Apr 1896||"From all the information procurable on the local mining situation every thing points to the strong likelihood of a cessation of work at many collieries in this district on Saturday, 18th inst."|
|14 Apr 1896||"The proposal unanimously adopted was that the members of the [municipal] conference, accompanied by the members for the district, meet the Premier to-night on his arrival at Newcastle en route from Queensland for the purpose of representing to him the advisableness of appointing without delay a court of arbitration in relation to the matters now in dispute."|
|15 Apr 1896||"The miners had given in 14 days' notice on a ballot of a five to one majority to strike." The Premier (George Reid) is asked by alderman of Newcastle Council to intervene to avert the strike.|
|15 Apr 1896||"The fervent hope expressed by many is that at this late hour a strike may be averted; but to suggest means to that end is a difficult matter, as so many of the proprietors refuse to meet the miners' representatives in conference as requested by them."|
|28 Apr 1896|
27 Apr 1896
|"The strike began in real earnest yesterday, no less than 3500 miners and others refusing to continue working under the existing conditions. "|
|16 May 1896||"With the exception of some Sea Pit miners, the majority of the strikers seem more than ever determined to stand out. Old residents who have grown weary of strikes in this district declare that they have seldom, if ever, witnessed a more stubborn resistance between capital and labour."|
|13 Jul 1896||"A moderate estimate of the loss of wages alone is £100,000, without taking into consideration the indirect effects of the stoppage to the general community, which is therefore poorer by the above amount than it would have been if there had been no strike … Undoubtedly, when the history of this miserable struggle has to be more fully written, the best feature of it will be declaring it 'off'."|
|17 Jul 1896||Lengthy editorial reflecting on the lessons of the strike … "The principal lesson taught by the result of the strike is one which is not a personal matter between employer and employed. It is the fact that if consumers cannot give a higher price to those having coal to sell, the latter are unable to increase the earnings of those who have the work of winning it."|
Broadmeadow has been in the news recently, with the Department of Planning and Environment releasing their “Hunter Regional Plan 2041”. The document flags Broadmeadow as a “regionally significant growth area” and promises to make it “a destination of choice for entertainment, housing, recreation and discovery.”
This is not the first time the area has been subject to great change, as the photos this month demonstrate. A 2016 aerial photo shows the area bounded by Griffith Rd, Turton Rd, Broadmeadow Rd and the stormwater drain, filled with sporting grounds, trotting track, entertainment facilities, commercial and residential buildings. In contrast, seven decades years earlier it was an empty paddock, the site of District Park Aerodrome.
Originally a swampy lowland, the completion of a large concrete stormwater channel in 1899 allowed the surrounding area to be developed for recreation. The government reserved a portion for aviation purposes in 1923 and in 1928 the Newcastle Aero Club formed and began using the aerodrome. However, the combination of increasing aircraft movements and residential development posed a very real danger to the public.
On 20 January 1953, 70 years ago this month, newly qualified solo pilot Alan Kerle was practicing landings in an aero club Tiger Moth. As he landed, the plane bounced, was caught by a cross wind and carried across Turton-road where it brushed a rooftop, plunged into the back yard of Cedric Jenkins and burst into flames. Just minutes beforehand four children had been playing in the yard. Despite the damage the pilot walked away uninjured. Between 1931 and 1954 the newspapers reported 13 plane crashes at or near the aerodrome. The suitability of the site was increasingly questioned. In 1961 the Department of Civil Aviation gave notice to the Aero Club to vacate the Broadmeadow airfield, and they soon relocated to Rutherford. The government’s grand plans for aviation in District Park had proved unworkable. Let’s hope their grand plans for Broadmeadow in 2041 prove to be of long-lasting value.
The article above was first published in the January 2023 edition of The Local.
Further information about the history of the Broadmeadow Aerodrome can be found in my August 2019 article on the crash of a C47 aircraft in 1944.
The 1953 Tiger Moth crash
The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate report of the January 1953 Tiger Moth crash states that the plane crashed into the backyard of Mr C Jenkins, in Turton Road New Lambton. It also states that the Goodbun family lived in the neighbouring property. Title deeds in the Historical Land Records Viewer site show that in 1953 the Goodbun’s owned Lot A of DP19321 (Vol-Fol 5630-190), and Cedric Jenkins owned Lot 5 of DP19321 (Vol-Fol 5230-223). This corresponds to 267 and 269 Turton Road, New Lambton.
Other Broadmeadow aeorodrome crashes
The following table summarises airplane accidents that occurred at or near the Broadmeadow (District Park) aerodrome that were reported in the newspapers. This is not a comprehensive list of all incidents that occurred. For example, the report on 12 August 1944 notes that the stormwater drain has caused “7 crashes in 2 years”, however only two of those crashed seem to have been reported in the papers.
|8/3/1931||De Havilland Moth, “Sky Hawk”||The plane fell into a spin at an altitude of 2000 feet and crashed into a paddock adjoining the aerodrome. Pilot (E Buck) and passenger (G Lynch) uninjured.|
|18/8/1935||Tiger Moth, “Halcyon”||The propeller caught in street lighting wires while the machine was making a forced landing. The pilot, Captain H. S. Preston, was uninjured, but the machine was severely damaged.|
|26/9/1935||Westland Widgeon||Two accidents in 2 days! Damage to the undercarriage in 26/9/1935, and then the following day “the ‘plane struck some rough ground at the south-eastern end and pitched forward on to its nose. The fuselage, undercarriage, and propeller were damaged, and Mr. Hall received lacerations to an ankle.”|
|28/11/1935||Monospar, “City of Grafton”||Wheel collapsed on landing.|
|7/9/1936||High wing monoplane, “Sky Baby”||Forced down with engine trouble. Crashed in Lindsay Street Hamilton after hitting an electric light pole. Pilot Frank Cook pulled unconscious from the wreckage, and treated at hospital for abrasions and contusions to the face, lacerations, slight concussion, and shock.|
|11/9/1943||Beaufort bomber||Engine trouble, with white smoke issuing from the|
Beaufort bomber. The plane made a right hand turn, to land at Broadmeadow aerodrome, hit some trees in District Park and immediately burst into flames. The plane then hit the side of a deep stormwater drain, skidded on to the tramline, and came to rest in Lambton-road, Broadmeadow. Flight Sergeant William Milton Trengove, 34, navigator, of Spalding, South Australia, died later in Newcastle Hospital.
|?/?/1944||Boomerang fighter||“An R.A.A.F, man was injured when a Boomerang fighter struck the channel early this year”|
|10/8/1944||C47 Douglas||A U.S. Army transport plane, making a forced landing in a storm at Newcastle, crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome. In the past 10 months two other planes have crashed into the stormwater drain while trying to land at Broadmeadow. Two U.S. airmen were injured in the crash. The pilot suffered a broken nose and abrasions, and the radio operator head injuries.|
|4/8/1947||Wackett trainer||A Wackett trainer belonging to the Newcastle Aero Club,|
took off from the Broadmeadow aerodrome.The engine cut out at 150 to 200 feet, and the pilot brought it down in a paddock, narrowly missing two people walking along a track. The pilot (Dick Gilford, 22, of Carrington Parade, New Lambton), and passenger (Mr. A. Gilford) were uninjured.
|16/4/1950||Wackett trainer||After engine failure, the pilot Jack Stone crash landed the Wackett trainer on rough, undulating ground off Turton-road near District Park aerodrome. The plane was damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.|
|8/12/1951||Ryan monoplane||Two men scrambled unhurt from the cockpit of a Ryan|
monoplane which crashed on a narrow vacant allotment near Broadmeadow aerodrome. They are Louis Plumstead of Beresfield, an instructor employed at the Newcastle Aero Club, and his pupil, Victor Boyce, of Maitland.
|20/1/1953||Tiger Moth||A Tiger Moth plane partly unroofed a house, crashed into a fence, and burst into flames. The pilot, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce Street, Taree. climbed from the wreckage unhurt.|
|27/7/1954||De Havilland Hornet bi-plane||The undercarriage of the aircraft collapsed when the plane was landing. The plane slewed wildly across the runway and|
its port wings ploughed into the ground.
|1960||Cessna 172||“badly damaged soon after arrival in an unfortunate accident”|
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|25 Mar 1923||Portion of District Park gazetted "for public recreation and aviation purposes."|
|9 Mar 1931|
8 Mar 1931
|Mr. E. Buck's "Sky Hawk," a De Havilland Moth 'plane, at District Park, yesterday with one passenger aboard (Mr. G. Lynch, of Waratah) fell into a spin at an altitude of 2000 feet and crashed into a paddock adjoining the aerodrome."|
|19 Aug 1935|
18 Aug 1935
|"Newcastle Aero Club's new Tiger Moth biplane, the Halcyon, crashed at District Park late yesterday afternoon. The pilot, Captain H. S. Preston, was uninjured, but the machine was severely damaged."|
|27 Sep 1935|
26 Sep 1935
|"THE Westland-Widgeon 'plane, which was involved in a sensational crash at the District Park Aerodrome last evening, wrecking the undercarriage, figured in another accident this afternoon. AFTER repairs had been effected to the landing gear, the owner, Mr. Hall, made a preliminary flight prior to leaving for Sydney. When returning to the 'drome, however, the 'plane struck some rough ground at the south-eastern end and pitched forward on to its nose. The fuselage, undercarriage, and propeller were damaged, and Mr. Hall received lacerations to an ankle."|
|28 Nov 1935||"Five passengers in the airliner 'City of Grafton' had remarkable escapes this morning when a wheel collapsed after the big 'plane had landed at District Park aerodrome, throwing the 'plane on to its side."|
|13 Dec 1935||"The discovery of four slashes in the fabric underneath the wing of an aeroplane shortly before it was due to take off caused a stir at District Park Aerodrome this morning. Mr. Henry said that the incident illustrated the need for public hangars at all important aerodromes."|
|8 Sep 1936|
7 Sep 1936
|"The small high wing monoplane Sky Baby crashed in one of Newcastle's most thickly populated suburban thoroughfares, Lindsay-street, Hamilton, shortly after 5 p.m. to-day. The right wing struck an electric light pole and was torn off. The machine finished partly on the footpath."|
|6 Oct 1943|
11 Sep 1943
|Inquest into the death of Flight Sergeant William Milton Trengove, who died in a plane crash at Broadmeadow on 11 September 1943.|
|2 Jun 1944||Calls to improve Broadmeadow aerodrome … "The present aerodrome is entirely inadequate for the future needs of a city the size of Newcastle,' said Mr. Cavalier, "Further, it is in its present size a danger to certain types of aircraft."|
|11 Aug 1944|
10 Aug 1944
|"A U.S. Army transport plane, making a forced landing in a storm at Newcastle yesterday, crashed into a stormwater channel at Broadmeadow aerodrome. Two U.S. airmen were injured."|
|4 Aug 1947||"A pilot, with his father as passenger, crashed in an emergency landing at East Lambton today. Neither was injured. The pilot is Dick Gilford, 22, of Carrington Parade, New Lambton, the passenger is Mr. A. Gilford, of the same address. The plane, a Wackett trainer belonging to the Newcastle Aero Club, had taken off from the Broadmeadow aerodrome. The engine cut out at 150 to 200 feet, and the pilot brought it down in a paddock, narrowly missing two people walking along a track."|
|17 Apr 1950|
16 Apr 1950
|"The pilot of a Wackett trainer plane escaped injury when he crash landed on rough, undulating ground off Turton-road near District Park aerodrome yesterday afternoon."|
|9 Dec 1951|
8 Dec 1951
|"Two men scrambled unhurt from the cockpit of a Ryan monoplane which crashed on a narrow vacant allotment near Broadmeadow aerodrome this afternoon. The engine cut out soon after the plane took off from the aerodrome."|
|21 Jan 1953|
20 Jan 1953
|"When a Tiger Moth plane crashed today it partly unroofed a house, crashed into a fence, and burst into flames. The pilot climbed from the wreckage unhurt. As flames reached the petrol tank a bus driver put them out with an extinguisher from his bus. The pilot of the plane is Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce Street, Taree. He is a student pilot of Newcastle Aero Club. The crash occurred as he was landing the plane on Newcastle aerodrome." (The Daily Telegraph)|
|21 Jan 1953|
20 Jan 1953
|"When a Tiger Moth aircraft crashed into the backyard of a home in Turton Road, Waratah, a suburb of Newcastle, shortly before 5.30 p.m. to-day it missed a woman and four children by four feet. The sole occupant, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Boyce-Street, Taree, was not injured." (The Sydney Morning Herald.)|
|21 Jan 1953|
20 Jan 1953
|"A Tiger Moth plane owned by Newcastle Aero Club crashed in the backyard of Mr. C. Jenkins's property in Turton road, New Lambton, late yesterday afternoon. The plane was extensively damaged but the pilot, Alan Roger Kerle, 24, of Taree, who had made his first solo flight on Sunday, climbed uninjured from the cockpit. A wing hits the edge of a fernery in a house adjoining and caught fire. The plane dropped on to its nose, pivoted, and then landed on its wheels." (Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate.)|
|28 Jul 1954|
27 Jul 1954
|"A De Havilland Hornet bi-plane, crashed on landing at Broadmeadow about 5 p.m. today. Crew of the plane, Mr. J. Neal, of Tamworth (pilot) and Capt. R. Hall, of East. West Airlines (navigator) were uninjured in the crash. The undercarriage of the air craft collapsed when the plane was landing. The plane slewed wildly across the runway and its port wings ploughed into the ground."|
Prior to 1860, communication between Newcastle and Sydney required either a sea voyage or an arduous road journey. It could take days or weeks to receive a reply to a message. That situation changed radically in January 1860 when the electric telegraph service to Newcastle was inaugurated. The telegraph line was erected along the Great North Road, running through Wisemans Ferry, Wollombi and Maitland, and enabled short messages to be instantly transmitted using Morse code.
In 1883 Newcastle’s first telephone exchange opened with 25 private and commercial subscribers. The local telephone network gradually expanded and in 1896 the government allocated funds to provide a trunk connection between Newcastle and Sydney. Arthur Espley of Hamilton won the tender to supply 3000 ironbark poles, and John Elder was contracted to install the poles and wiring along the rail line from Milson’s Point to Newcastle. Construction commenced in March 1897 and by September had reached Gosford.
While constructing the northern part of the line, Elder’s workmen set up camp for four months at Adamstown near the railway level crossing. Ralph Snowball photographed the camp on 30 December 1897, four days before the service commenced on 3 January 1898. The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate reported that “Mr. Arthur Fenwick was the first person to use the new telephone line … the gentleman spoken to in Sydney could not at first believe that a resident of Newcastle was speaking to him.” Calls to Sydney could only be made by attending the telegraph office in Hunter Street Newcastle, and just one person could use the line at any time. At a cost of 3 shillings for a 3 minute conversation, and with miners earning 6 shillings a day at that time, it is somewhat astonishing to consider that a phone call to Sydney cost half a day’s wages! Amid our current inflationary pressures, it’s worth remembering how ridiculously cheap phone calls are today compared to 125 years ago.
The article above was first published in the December 2022 edition of The Local.
The cost of phone calls
In the article I wrote that a three minute phone call from Newcastle to Sydney 125 years ago cost half a day’s wages, and that today the same phone call is 125,000 times cheaper.
In considering the average wage in Newcastle 125 years ago I chose the occupation of miner, as this was the dominant employment at the time. The average wage of miners could differ considerably depending on the mine being worked, the various kinds of mining jobs, and the productivity of the individual miner, as noted in this article from 1896 showing daily earnings of a miner as low as 3s 10d per day, and up to 13s per day. Despite this spread of earnings, report on strike action by miners during 1896 consistently mention a push for earnings around the 6s per day mark. Thus a 3s phone call to Sydney would have been half a day’s wages.
- 12 Mar 1896 – Glebe colliery wheelers asking for an increase of 6d on their current rate of 5s 6d per day
- 19 March 1896 – Borehole wheelers asking for an increase to 6s per day.
When it comes to the cost of phone calls today, the comparison is somewhat muddied in that basic phone plans today are fixed cost per month and include unlimited and untimed phone calls within Australia. Notwithstanding that difficulty, let’s do some maths …
If we take an average wage today to be $92000 per annum, that translates to $353 per working day. If we assume that a person is awake for a maximum of 18 hours in a day, then there about 32400 minutes in a month they could be making a phone call. Thus a 3 minute phone call is 0.0000926 of the usable phone minutes in a month. As a basic phone plan can be obtained for $15 a month, a 3 minute phone call evaluates to just 0.14 cents $15 x 0.0000926). This correlates to 0.0000039251 of the average daily wage (0.14 cents / $353).
Comparing the relative costs of a 3 minute phone call (0.5 of daily wage in 1898, and 0.0000039251 of daily wage in 2022) we arrive at a ratio of 127384 times cheaper in 2022, which rounds out to 125 thousand to nicely match the 125 year time span!
Now I realise that some of the assumptions I made above are a bit arbitrary (and I may have even chosen some assumptions to get me to a nice round figure), however the point is still clear – phone calls today are vastly and almost unimaginably cheaper today than 125 years ago. Are there any other consumer services whose price has decreased so dramatically in the same time?
Newcastle telegraph office
In Newcastle, the trunk telephone line from Sydney was connected to the Telegraph Office in Hunter Street, near the intersection of Watt Street.
Evolution of the telephone service
The original telephone service installed between Sydney and Newcastle in 1897 and inaugurated on 3 January 1898, consisted of 4 wires, allowing for two complete circuits. The reports at the time do not explicitly say so, but I get the impression that one circuit was used for phone calls initiated from Newcastle to Sydney, and the other circuit for the opposite direction. The advertisement for the service on 1 January 1898 speaks of “the line” (singular) and says …
In cases where the line may be engaged applications will be registered and connection will be made in the order of priority of application.
This queuing of applicants would be more easily managed with one circuit dedicated to each direction.
By 1907 the limitations of the initial service were being felt.
Numerous complaints have been made by business houses in the city of the frequent congestion which occurs on the telephone trunk lines between Newcastle and Sydney. There are at present only two direct lines connecting Newcastle with the metropolis … tenders have been called for the supply of material for the construction of another line.Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 1907.
Four more lines were added, but their capacity was soon used up. In 1919 it was noted that …
There are six lines at present in use, but the congestion that occurs in the business almost every day of the week is becoming intolerable. The Postal Department hopes to begin immediately the erection of two new telephone trunk lines.The Newcastle Sun, 17 May 1919.
In 1924 the Postal Department expressed their intention to “put all telephone and telegraph cables between Sydney and Newcastle underground”. However like a number of other Newcastle infrastructure projects in the last century, this was the first of a series of announcements followed by nothing being finshed.
In October 1928 bushfires exposed the vulnerability of the overhead telephone wiring system …
The raging inferno, along the Sydney railway line played havoc with the Sydney-Newcastle telephone lines. Suddenly, late yesterday afternoon, 15 trunk lines between Newcastle and Sydney went out, and Newcastle was completely isolated. This morning subscribers were told that there was no possibility of communication with Sydney by phone.The Newcastle Sun, 8 October 1928.
In June 1929 the Deputy Postmaster-General announced that work had commenced on the laying of underground cable between Sydney and Newcastle, at a cost of £500,000. The length of the cable required was 117 miles, and the first cable to be laid would provide more than 120 pairs of wires, with each circuit allowing telephone conversations and telegraphic messages simultaneously.
Very little was done and by 1935 it was time for another announcement that …
Preliminary work has begun on the laying of an underground telephone cable between Sydney and Newcastle. Conduit to carry the cable has already been laid between Sydney and Peat’s Ferry, it was stated this morning, and survey work along the main Newcastle-Sydney highway is in progress.The Newcastle Sun, 10 January 1935.
Progress must have been slow, because four years later there was opportunity for yet another announcement when …
The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs Mr Butler at Gosford yesterday afternoon turned the first sod for the laying of the underground telephone and telegraph cables which will link Sydney, Newcastle and West Maitland.Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 1939.
By mid 1941 the underground cabling had been completed, and ancillary equipment was being installed at the exchanges. Mr. E. S. Butler, senior mechanic attached to the Taree Post Office, in addressing the Taree Rotary Club on the development of telephone communication, stated that …
The [underground] cabling from Sydney to Newcastle has been completed, and the equipment is being installed. To date the test results have exceeded the requirements of the contract. The completion of this work will be a boon, especially in summer, when storms and bushfires will no longer work havoc on the overhead wiring system, with the consequent interruption to traffic. There is provision in this cable for 28 systems of 17 channels — a total of 470 plus 4 programme relay lines, but equipment is only being provided for a portion of this, and can be added to us required. Both systems are based on frequency or tuned circuits, as we know it on our radio, the difference being that the radio is transmitted at a much higher frequency and with a high power. The frequencies used on the telephone systems are much, lower, and do not radiate from the wires unless excessive current is used. Even then it could not be picked up by the commercial radio.The Northern Champion, 26 July 1941.
Although the cables installed between Sydney and Newcastle potentially allowed for up to 470 channels, war conditions delayed the delivery of the carrier wave equipment needed to make use of that potential. In May 1945 there were only 42 channels available on the intercity trunk line. After the war, additional modern carrier wave equipment was installed as telephony needs increased.
One of the most significant advances in inter-city telephony occurred in 1967, when Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD) became available in Newcastle. This allowed users at home to dial direct to a destination number in another city without having to get a telephone operator to manually connect them.
Brunker Road Buildings
In Snowball’s photograph of the workmen’s camp, there is double story shop and a church on the horizon at the right hand side.
These buildings are on Brunker Rd. The church is the original wooden building of St Stephens Church of England located at 191 Brunker Rd.
The shop in the photo is the tailoring business of Anthony Shaw, whose premises were located opposite the Post Office, at 208 Brunker Road. (See also Vol-Fol 1051-29 for Portion 1651 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve.)
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|8 Mar 1859||Tenders invited "for the supply of material (wire excepted), and for the workmanship necessary for the erection of line of Electric Telegraph from a point upon or near the Blacktown Road to Windsor, and thence via Wiseman's Ferry, Wollombi, West Maitland, and Maitland to Newcastle."|
|5 Dec 1859||"The [telegraph] line to the Hunter was commenced on the 6th June last ; starting from the Blacktown road it passes through Windsor and Richmond via Wiseman's Ferry to Wollombi and West Maitland, and thence to Morpeth, and along the railway line to Newcastle."|
|11 Jan 1860||"The electric circuit between Maitland and Newcastle was tested yesterday. Mr E. C. Cracknell came hither to effect the experimental process, and a message was successfully transmitted through the Northern telegraph line. We believe the working of the line will not come into active operation until some slight arrangements have been considered relative to the general telegraphic line from Newcastle to Sydney from each intermediate station. In the course of the week we believe all will be prepared for the sending of telegrams."|
|26 Jan 1860|
22 Jan 1860
|"On Monday last communication with Sydney by electric telegraph was opened to the public of Maitland." This article has some interesting details on the technical implementation of the telegraph service.|
|24 Jan 1860||"On Tuesday last, a ball took place at the Caledonia Hotel in this city, in commemoration of the establishment and the opening of telegraphic communication between Sydney and the Hunter River district."|
|18 Sep 1877||"The Contractor for the Newcastle Telegraph Office additions having completed his work, the building now presents a very neat and creditable appearance, and will, we understand, be occupied in the early part of next week."|
|26 Oct 1883||"Operations in connection with the Newcastle Telephone Exchange are now, we are glad to learn, on the eve of completion. Yesterday the contractor (Mr. Kinshela, of Parramatta) commenced the operation of "wireing," and has so far made very satisfactory progress with his work. Half a dozen large ironbark poles, forty feet high, have been set up; and when finished, there will be upwards of fifty wires in use, connected with the various subscribing offices and private residences."|
|6 Dec 1883|
5 Dec 1883
|"The new Telephone Exchange of Newcastle was formally opened at noon yesterday in the presence of a few influential citizens ... There are at present twenty five subscribers, and the system of working is an excellent one."|
|5 Aug 1896||"During the past few weeks Messrs. Dick and Fegan, Ms.P., have had several interviews with the Postmaster-General concerning the advisableness of providing immediate telephonic communication between Newcastle and Sydney. As a result of their representations the Minister has instructed his officers to prepare specifications at once."|
|19 Nov 1896||"Since Parliament voted £20,000 for connecting Newcastle, Maitland, and Bathurst by telephone with Sydney an advertisement is said to have appeared in the Government Gazette calling for tenders for 3000 poles, to be laid between here and Sydney. This looks as if the proposal is to become an assured fact sooner or later."|
|27 Nov 1896||Tender accepted : "Mr. A. B. Espley, Hamilton. 3,000 Wooden Telegraph Poles (ironbark), 30 feet long (to be delivered along the railway line from Milson's Point to Newcastle), 6s. 8d. each."|
|1 Dec 1896||"A little time ago the Postmaster-General decided to establish certain trunk lines for telephonic purposes between Sydney and some of the larger inland towns. Already the department has accepted a tender for the 3000 wooden poles necessary to carry the wire between the metropolis and Newcastle, and the work is to be put in hand at once."|
|8 Mar 1897||"The work of establishing telephonic communication between Sydney and Newcastle is being rapidly proceeded with, and will be completed within the course of a few months."|
|12 Apr 1897||"In connection with the construction of a telephone line between Sydney and Newcastle, Mr. W. T. Dick, M.L.A., has been advised by the Postmaster-General that the poles, as far as Hornsby, are up, and ready for the wires, and on arrival of the latter the work will be pushed on expeditiously."|
|19 Jun 1897||"The Newcastle telephone line, which is under construction, has reached Peat's Ferry. Some trouble has been experienced with the cumbersome wooden posts being used."|
|7 Sep 1897||"The Sydney to Newcastle telephone line is now completed to the Gosford Post-offioe. Overseer Elder and men are now camped at Ourimbah, and the poles have been erected past Narara."|
|30 Sep 1897||"The work of connecting Newcastle by telephone with Sydney is now being pushed on with, the poles having been erected some distance beyond Gosford."|
|20 Oct 1897||"By the end of next month telephonic communication between Sydney and Newcastle will have been established. The work is now well on, and the question of what the charge shall be for its use is engaging the attention of the Postmaster-General."|
|25 Dec 1897||"In order to avoid the influences of the earth, the wires are being so arranged as to form a complete circuit. To do this, it has been necessary to have a double wire right through ... The communication has been found to be most complete, Mr. John Elder, the constructing overseer at this end, hearing distinctly the voice at the Sydney Telephone Exchange … Those who are not subscribers will be provided with a little room, at the end of the general room at the telegraph office, in which to carry on their limited conversation."|
|29 Dec 1897||"A gang of men under Mr. John Elder, constructing overseer, were engaged yesterday fixing up the aerial cable which is to carry the Sydney telephone wires through the city from the rear of Ireland's bond … Mr. Elder spoke to Sydney yesterday from the rear of Ireland's bond, and he says he could hear the replies to his questions just as distinctly as if the conversation was being held with a person only a few yards off."|
|30 Dec 1897|
3 Jan 1898
|"The Sydney-Newcastle telephone will be open to the public on Monday next. The charge will be 3s for the first three minutes, and 1s for each subsequent minute."|
|4 Jan 1898|
3 Jan 1898
|"Mr. Arthur Fenwick was the first person to use the new telephone line between Sydney and Newcastle. The gentleman spoken to in Sydney was surprised, and could not at first believe that a resident of Newcastle was speaking to him."|
|1 Mar 1898|
3 Mar 1898
|Advertisement for the opening of the Newcastle to Sydney telpehone service.|
|5 Mar 1898||"The gang of men who were employed laying the telephone line from Sydney to Newcastle have been camped at Adamstown for the past four months. During their residence in Adamstown they proved themselves a genial, well-conducted body of men and, consequently, gained the respect of the trades men and all they came in contact with. They broke up camp yesterday, and removed to Morrisett."|
|26 Aug 1907||"Numerous complaints have been made by business houses in the city of the frequent congestion which occurs on the telephone trunk lines between Newcastle and Sydney. There are at present only two direct lines connecting Newcastle with the metropolis ... tenders have been called for the supply of material for the construction of another line."|
|17 May 1919||"The commercial community of Newcastle, as well as many Sydney business firms, will learn with relief that the Postal Department 'hopes to begin immediately the erection of two new telephone trunk lines.' There are six lines at present in use, but the congestion that occurs in the business almost every day of the week is becoming intolerable."|
|26 Jun 1924||"It is the intention of the Postal Department to put all telephone and telegraph cables between Sydney and Newcastle underground. Conduits will be run along the railway line, and it is stated that the mid-way testing station will be at a point near Lisarow."|
|8 Oct 1928||Bushfires cut the Sydney-Newcastle telephone line.|
|12 Jun 1929||The Deputy Postmaster-General, Mr. Kitto, said to-day that work was commenced at the beginning of this week of laying the underground cable between Sydney and Newcastle. This will improve the telephone and telegraphic service. Mr. Kitto said the new 'system would cost approximately £500,000.' "|
|13 Jun 1929||"Preliminary work has been commenced in connection with the laying of underground telegraph and telephone cables between Sydney and Newcastle. It is anticipated that the estimated cost will be £500,000, and the length of the cable will be 117 miles. The first cable will provide for more than 120 pairs of wire, and there will be a circuit by each for telephone conversations and telegraphic messages simultaneously."|
|10 Jan 1935||"Preliminary work has begun on the laying of an underground telephone cable between Sydney and Newcastle. Conduit to carry the cable has already been laid between Sydney and Peat's Ferry, it was stated this morning, and survey work along the main Newcastle-Sydney highway is in progress."|
|1 Apr 1939||"The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs Mr Butler at Gosford yesterday afternoon turned the first sod for the laying of the underground telephone and telegraph cables which will link Sydney, Newcastle and West Maitland. Two cables will be laid and although each will contain only 24 pairs of comparatively small gauge copper wires, special apparatus will enable more than 200 channels of communication to be provided. Repeater stations will be established at intervals of from 14 to 20 miles."|
|4 Dec 1939||"Already a cable was being laid between Sydney and Newcastle, and 408 people in Newcastle could talk simultaneously with the same number of people in Sydney."|
|26 Jul 1941||Mr. E. S. Butler, senior mechanic attached to the Taree Post Office, gave a speech to the Taree Rotary Club on the development of telephone communication, over the past two decades. There is a brief mention of the upgrade of the Sydney to Newcastle trunk line, including a few technical details.|
|3 Dec 1953||"Seven extra trunk channels will be available between Sydney and Newcastle from next Wednesday. The improved telephone service will follow the installation of a modern carrier-wave telephone system which shortly will undergo tests. When the carrier telephone equipment was connected to a trunkline two or more calls could be completed simultanously over one pair of wires without the callers overhearing other conversations. According to the type of equipment installed, up to 17 extra circuits could be provided on each pair of wires."|
|18 Nov 1967||Subscriber Trunk Dialling - Newcastle Exhange already upgraded and ready for the service.|
The building featured in this month’s article was constructed in 1922 as Adamstown’s upgraded fire station. Although 100 years old now, it was used as a fire station for less than a quarter of that time.
In 1891 Adamstown’s first fire station was erected at 67 Narara Rd near the public school. A simple wood and corrugated iron shed, with a tall lookout and bell tower alongside, it served the needs of the local firefighters for the next 30 years. But when NSW fire brigades began introducing motorised fire engines a larger station was needed. Adamstown Council considered several alternate locations for a new station but found none better than the current site.
So, in 1922 the existing wooden building was picked up and moved to the adjacent block of land to allow for the erection of a larger brick fire station in its place. The new building was officially opened on 17 November 1922. In October 1925 Adamstown brigade received their first motorised fire engine, a Garford-Hale type 15 pumper, assembled at the Fire Brigade workshops in Sydney.
The station closed in July 1946, as part of the fire service’s transition to having fewer and bigger stations. Within months of the closure the Education Department stated their intention to use the site to extend the playground of the nearby public school. The land was officially gazetted for education use in April 1950, but if it was ever used by the school is unclear. We do know that in 1951 Newcastle Council was leasing the building, to store crates of library books as they waited for the construction of the public library in Laman Street, Newcastle. In 1970 the use of the site changed yet again, when the land was reserved for police purposes. Adamstown Police Station operated there until the mid-1990s when the station closed, and the property sold off. The building is now a private residence, albeit one with a very unusual past.
The article above was first published in the November 2022 edition of The Local.
Additional Information – Fire Station
The Garford-Hale motor fire engine that Adamstown received in 1925 was a big advance on the horse drawn fire engine previously used. The features of the new engine are well described in the Glen Innes Examiner when that town received their new engine.
The new motor is a Garford-Hale, of 20 horsepower, with three speeds and reverse, electric light, and self starter. A large warning bell is fitted in a convenient position for the driver to operate. The pumps have a capacity of 300 gallons a minute and are fitted with a safety valve that blows off with 1501b. pressure, and which can be adjusted to increased pressure if necessary. One of the greatest advantages which the Garford-Hale has over other makes is the expeditious way in which the pumps can be brought into action. From the pump it is possible to get four hoses to work, two on either side. The pump is fitted so that it can be operated by the three speeds, in the same way as the motor itself is operated, according to the power required. It is not possible for the pumping operations to be hung up owing to clogging, as the gear can be thrown into reverse, and any obstruction removed. Accommodation is provided for eight men, and a scaling ladder is carried on either side. The hose box is situated at the back of the engine, and accommodates 1500 feet of hose, together with all the necessary tools.Glen Innes Examiner, 8 September 1924
Further details of the Garford-Hale engine are described when the Windsor brigade received their unit.
The new motor fire engine is known as the Garford-Hale pump, and is capable of pumping 300 gallons of water per minute. It is similar to the one just installed at Richmond, and they were both assembled in the Fire Brigades’ workshop in Sydney. The engine can attain a speed of 35 miles an hour when travelling to a fire. The engine is 21 h.p. A.S.E rating, with self starter and electric flight- system. There is a large hose box capable of carrying 1500 feet of hose, and a first aid kit is carried, together with all other appurtenances. The whole thing complete cost approximately £900.Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 7 August 1925
Just a few months before Adamstown fire station was closed, Captain Francis Elson Kimber at age 83 retired from the brigade after 45 years of voluntary service.
He joined the Adamstown Fire Brigade as a volunteer in June, 1901, and was elected as Captain engine keeper in 1906, a position he retained until January 1, 1944, when his son, Mr. William G. Kimber, was apppointed Captain and Fireman A. Ure as engine-keeper. Mr. Kimber still recalls the hard work the volunteers had to do when it was mostly necessary for them to run with the fire reel to the fires. He says that in the early days they attended a large number of house fires, but their greatest worry was the large number of bush fires. The first engine provided at Adamstown was a turbine motor that had to be drawn by horses and it was while, this engine was in use that they assisted at Cohen’s fire under District Officer Hillier. The turbine was replaced by a motor-driven engine on September 28, 1925, and Mr. Kimber secured a driving licence for the vehicle. He drove this engine to a fire at Jones’s bakery on December 18, 1944, when he was 81 years of age. Although he had been relieved as captain of the district, he continued to do the clerical work. He was on duty at the station when the alarm was given and as no drivers were available, he drove the engine. This was the last fire Mr. Kimber attended.The Newcastle Sun, 30 May 1946
Newspaper articles – Fire Station
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|31 Jan 1891|
29 Jan 1891
|Adamstown Council meeting: "From Mr. W. Brown, secretary of the Fire Brigade, requesting the council to endeavour to secure a portion of the proposed reserve for the purpose of erecting a fire station."|
|28 Feb 1891|
26 Feb 1891
|Adamstown Council meeting: Alderman FAIRFULL moved, "That the Mayor and one of the firemen meet the district surveyor when convenient, and select a piece of land on the Commonage for a fire station."|
|29 Jun 1891||"Tender of Mr. G. Turner, of Waratah, for £93 10s was accepted, for the erection of the new fire-station. It was resolved to allow the contractor six weeks to complete the building. The building will be 30ft by 18ft, and, when completed, will be somewhat similar to the Honeysuckle fire-station. It is to be erected on a piece of land near the public school, from where a good view of Newcastle, Lambton, and other parts of the district may be obtained."|
|29 Aug 1891||Government Gazette - portion 2395 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve at Adamstown, reserved for fire brigade station.|
|3 Sep 1891||"The new fire brigade station is almost completed, and the brigade committee are devising means to pay the cost. They have suficient in hand to meet the contractor, but to pay for the bell which is ordered, 266lb weight, and other necessary things, they have to appeal to the public."|
|5 Oct 1891|
3 Oct 1891
|Official opening of Adamstown's first fire station.|
|12 Oct 1891|
11 Oct 1891
|First fire attended by Adamstown fire brigade. " Too much credit cannot be given to Messrs. J. Bullerwell and W. Dixon, captain and lieutenant respectively, and all the members of the Adamstown Fire Brigade, for the prompt and efficient way in which they extinguished the fire."|
|23 Sep 1920||Adamstown council is not in favour of the idea of closing small local fire stations and establishing a large central fire station. "Mr. Shepherd, municipal representative on the Fire Board, wrote that a new fire station is absolutely necessary before a motor engine can be placed in the town, as the under structure of the present building is not strong enough to hold a motor, and there is danger of fire if a motor is placed in a wooden building."|
|18 Nov 1920||"Adamstown Council have been notified by the secretary of the Board of Fire Commissioners that the board will be pleased to receive suggestions from the council as to suitable sites for the proposed new fire station. The council decided that information be obtained in regard to a site opposite the local police station, and that it be forwarded to the board for consideration."|
|21 Apr 1921||"Adamstown Council has been notified by the Board of Fire Commissioners that it has considered the site brought under notice in Brunker road, owned by Mrs. Smith. Up to the present none of the sites available is as suitable as that upon which the fire station at present stands."|
|3 Sep 1921||"The Mayor stated that Adamstown was rapidly progressing, and that the need for a new station was urgent. The council had for some considerable time been agitating for one, and he hoped that the members of the board would favorably consider the request."|
|19 Jun 1922||"The secretary of the Board of Fire Commissioners has informed Adamstown Council that the board has accepted the tender of Mr. William Southon, of Waratah, for the erection of the new fire station at Adamstown."|
|23 Jun 1922||"A commencement will shortly be made with the erection of a new fire brigade station at Adamstown, on the site of the old building, which has done duty for a number of years, adjoining the council chambers. It will be a brick building, containing an engine-room, a recreation room, single men's quarters, and watch, bath, and store rooms. The contract has been let to Mr W. Southon, and the cost will be about £1300. The present structure will be removed to the Adamstown Council's adjoining land, and do service until the new building is completed, in three or four months' time."|
|20 Nov 1922|
17 Nov 1922
|"The new fire station erected in Narara road was officially opened on Friday night by Mr. F. Jackson, Chief Officer of the New South Wales Fire Brigades, in the presence of a large and representative gathering, over which the Mayor, Alderman J. Arthur, presided."|
|6 Mar 1924||"The secretary of the Board of Fire Commissioners intimated to Adamstown Council that the board cannot give, a definite date when a motor fire engine will be installed at Adamstown. The board was doing all it could to supply motors, but the output was limited."|
|8 Sep 1924||A good description of the Garford-Hale motor fire engine received by the Glen Innes brigade. Adamstown received the same model of fire engine the following year.|
|7 Aug 1925||Further details of the Garford-Hale engine. (This one received by Windsor brigade.)|
|12 Oct 1925|
10 Oct 1925
|"The installation of a motor fire engine was celebrated at the Adamstown Fire Station on Saturday night."|
|12 Oct 1925|
10 Oct 1925
|"A social, to celebrate the installation of a new motor fire engine, took place in Adamstown Fire Station on Saturday night. The Mayor said Adamstown had been agitating for a motor fire engine for a considerable time, and they were glad their hopes had been realised."|
|30 May 1946||Retirement of volunteer Francis Elson Kimber aged 83 years, after 45 years service with Adamstown fire brigade. He drove the fire engine to a fire in 1944, at age 81!|
|13 Jul 1946|
12 Jul 1946
|Closure of Adamstown and Lambton fire stations .|
|23 Jul 1946||Protest against the closure of Adamstown and Lambton fire station: The board closed down the two fire stations on July 12. Mr. Smith claimed that fast and powerful fire engines and good roads had "annihilated" distance, making it no longer, necessary for each suburb to have its own fire-fighting service. Centrally placed stations could cover the area efficiently. Mr. A. Ure said this suggestion was ridiculous. "On the afternoon the stations were closed, there was a fire in Adamstown," he said. "It took Cook's Hill brigade 14 minutes to get there. The Adamstown brigade could have been there in four."|
|16 Sep 1946||"The Greater Newcastle Council has made a reasonable proposal in requesting that the Adamstown and Lambton fire stations should be reopened until the new services are in operation. No doubt the reorganisation planned by the Board of Fire Commissioners is sound. It envisages bigger stations, additional and more highly-trained officers, and high-powered equipment at central points. But until these safeguards have been provided, it is premature to say that the day of the single-engine station has passed."|
|31 Oct 1946||"To relieve congestion at Adamstown School, the Education Department intends to extend the playground to include the land now occupied by the disused Adamstown Fire Station."|
|2 Nov 1951||"About 20,000 books, catalogued ready for issue to the public, are stored in the clock tower of the Newcastle City Hall. Because the clock tower is full, the books are now being taken in crates to the former Adamstown fire station, which Newcastle City Council holds on lease."|
Additional Information – Police Station
Constable John Anderson was Adamstown’s first police officer. According to his remininscences at celebrations of Adamstown’s jubilee in 1936, he arrived in the town in August 1885. No permanent police station was built at that time, but a house was rented for Constable Anderson in Victoria St, and in 1886 the police authorities erected a temporary lock-up at the rear of the house.
As early as November 1886, two acres of land near the public school had been reserved for police purposes, and for the erection of a permanent police station. In the ensuing years portions of that land was set aside for the Post Office and the council chambers. In 1902, portion 2499 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (65 Narara Rd) was reserved for the erection of a police station, and in 1910 the government awarded L Saunders the contract for the construction of a new police residence and lockup, for a sum of £1450. The building was completed and occupied in July 1911.
Curiously, the new building had no office space, Like the ‘temporary’ quarters in Victoria St used for the past 26 years, it was just a residence and a lockup.
The new building is constructed on the same lines as Hunter-street West, Newcastle, police station, with the exception that it has no official quarters in the front of the building. There are two large cells for the accommodation of prisoners, and the residential quarters of the constable in charge are up-to-date.Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 18 July 1911.
In 1970, the former fire station (67 Narara Rd) adjacent to the police residence and lockup was dedicated for police purposes. I assume that both 65 and 67 Narara Rd were being used by for police purposes at that time, that the acquisition of the neighbouring 67 Narara Rd was an extension of facilities rather than a relocation.
I have not found exact dates for when 65 and 67 Narara Rd ceased to be used by the police, however the Land values and property sales map indicates that the Deposited Plan for these sites (which is required for the land to be sold into private hands) was created in 1996. Presumably the police station was closed around that time.
Newspaper articles – Police Station
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|24 Jan 1885||"Sir, Allow me a space in your valuable columns to comment on the injustice done to Adamstown by the authorities not complying with a petition sent some time ago, with reference to having a policeman stationed in this township. There is not a township in the district in so much need of police protection as Adamstown, for it is not safe for respectable people, especially females, to go out of their own houses, and it is quite dangerous for children to be away from their homes."|
|15 May 1886||Adamston council "met in their new council chambers on Thursday evening. The building is situated in Victoria street, near the Post-office, and directly opposite the police station."|
|20 Jul 1886||"There is a piece of land on the commonage, near the Public school, resumed by the Government for a police station, but nothing has yet been done by the townspeople towards having the police station secured."|
|1 Nov 1886||"The police authorities have decided to erect a temporary lock-up at the rear of our local constable's residence. In whatever spirit the residents will hail it, there is one thing certain, that Constable Anderson will receive it with joy. There are two acres of land reserved for a police station near the Public School."|
|15 Nov 1886||"The municipal council have resolved to apply for half an acre of land on the commonage, near the Public School, for the purpose of erecting a council chamber and post and telegraph office. The land referred to is a portion of the two acres reserved by the Government for police barracks, and is a capital site, having a full view of the city. I fail to comprehend why they are applying for this land for council chambers and post and telegraphic office, and making no mention of the police barracks-a building for which the land was solely reserved."|
|22 Nov 1902||Government Gazette: Portion 2499 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (65 Narara Rd) reserved from sale for police purposes.|
|10 Mar 1910||"Some months back the Adamstown Council was notified that the sum of £1450 had been placed on the estimates for the erection of a new police station in Adamstown. It is now learned that plans are being prepared for the same."|
|16 Aug 1910||Tender of L Saunders received for erection of Adamstown police station.|
|14 Mar 1911||"It is six months ago since a start was made with the erection of the Adamstown police station, on a site adjacent to the first station. The work has been progressing slowly ever since, and by the present rate of progress Constable Robertson will be able to remove to his new quarters some time approaching Christmas."|
|18 Jul 1911||"For 26 years the Government paid rent for premises in Victoria-street for a police station. A new building has now been erected, and on Thursday last Constable Robertson received notice to move to the new premises, which he at once did. The new building is constructed on the same lines as Hunter-street West, Newcastle, police station, with the exception that it has no official quarters in the front of the building. There are two large cells for the accommodation of prisoners, and the residential quarters of the constable in charge are up-to-date. The station is situated in Narara-road, adjoining the fire brigade station and council chambers."|
|20 Mar 1936||Reminiscences from Adamstown's jubilee celebrations … "Mr. J. Anderson, now of Sydney, who was the first policeman in Adamstown, said it would be 51 years next August since he arrived there. He found it then much different from what it was to-day. The police station which he had first entered when he arrived was still standing. The municipality was incorporated about six months after his arrival."|
|4 Dec 1970||Government Gazette: Portion 2395 of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (67 Narara Rd) reserved for police purposes.|
When the old Lambton colliery ceased operation, the pit paddock with its offices and buildings lay idle for a decade. Then 75 years ago, in 1947, a new enterprise began on the site with the opening of Leonora Glass Industries, founded by David Marr and three highly skilled Czechoslovakian glass workers.
Joseph and Henry Vecera and Josef Tvrdik came to Australia from Europe in 1934 to teach glass making at a Sydney factory. They later moved to Newcastle to work in the Electric Lamp Manufacturers Australia factory at Hamilton North. In 1946 the three men and their families became Australian citizens. The following year, along with David Marr (manager) and Alan Little (engineer), they set out to create their own glass making business, renting a portion of the Lambton colliery and setting up furnaces in the former colliery workshop.
In August 1947 they registered their enterprise as “Leonora Glass Industries”, possibly inspired by the town of Lenora in the Czech Republic, just 30km from Josef Tvrdik’s birthplace, where a famous glassworks had operated since 1834. Manufacturing commenced the following month and by December 1948 the works employed 23 people including several young apprentices. At this time they were making 2000 lamp shades a week. In the following years they produced many items such as wine glasses, dishes, ash trays, and car headlight lenses.
While the bulk of Leonora’s output was utilitarian in nature, they also handcrafted fine glassware such as jugs, vases, and decorative ornaments. Museums across Australia hold examples of these works in their collections. In July 1957 glassmaking in Lambton came to an abrupt halt when a fire destroyed the Leonora works. The company quickly recovered, purchasing 14 acres of land on Douglas St Wallsend to set up a new factory. In 1960 the multinational firm Philips Industries took over the glassworks to focus on the manufacture of light fittings. Although business expanded in the 1960s, increasing pressure from low cost overseas competitors in the 1970s led to the eventual closure of the works in 1982
The article above was first published in the October 2022 edition of The Local.
The following personal details of the three Czechoslovakian founders of Leonora Glass were extracted from National Archives of Australia records searches.
|Name||Henry Vecera||Josef Vecera||Josef Tvrdik|
|Birth||15 Aug 1901, Uhrovec, Slovakia||19 Mar 1899, Uhrovec, Slovakia||12 Jan 1904, Nova Hut, Czechia|
|Arrival in Australia||11 Nov 1934||9 Nov 1934|
|Naturalised||30 Aug 1946||9 Dec 1946||3 Dec 1946|
|Family||Wife, Julia; daughter, Henrietta Julia, born 1928||Wife, Cecile; twin sons, Milon Edward and Joseph Henry, born 1931||Wife, Coralie Violet Mary|
A search of the ASIC Registers shows that Leonora Glass Industries Pty Ltd was registered as a company on 11 August 1947.
Origin of the Name Leonora
I have no direct evidence for the naming of “Leonora Glass Industries”, and what follows is just a reasoned guess.
We know from the notification of intention to apply for naturalisation, that Josef Tvrdik was born in “Nova Hut” in Czechoslovakia. This is the village of Nové Hute in the Czech Republic today.
Just 17km away (28km by road) from Nove Hute is the village of Lenora. The tourism website for the Šumava region describes the origin of the town.
The village of Lenora was founded as a settlement around one of the last glass- works established in the Šumava mountains by Jan Meyer in 1834. Later on the glass-works were taken over by Meyer’s nephew Vilém Kralik. The village was named Eleonorenhain after the Princess Eleonora (1812-1873), the wife of the lord of the estates John Adolf of Schwarzenberg. Czech translation of the name is “Eleonora’s Paradise”. Later on the village adopted Czech version of the name, Lenora.Sumavanet tourism website
Note that while there is Leonora Parade in Waratah West, it appears to have no connection to the Leonora glassworks. The street was formerly a section of Platt Street, and was renamed to Leonora Parade in 1968.
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|6 Apr 1946||Notice of intention by Henry Vecera, Josef Vecera, and Josef Trvdik to apply for naturalisation. Josef Tvrdik, born at Nova Hut, Czechoslovakia, resident over 11 yers. Josef Vecera, Born at Uhrovec, resident over 11 years, living in Adamstown. Henry Vecera, Born at Uhrovec, resident over 11 years, living in Pearson St Lambton.|
|7 Oct 1947||"A GLASS factory, now operating in a disused building which once was part of the Old Lambton coalmine, aims to produce the finest glass and crystal ware. The company--Leonora Glass Industries Pty. Ltd.- comprises Messrs. Jospeh and Henry Vecera, Mr. Jospeh Tvrdik. Mr. David Marr (manager) and Mr. Alan Little (engineer). Messrs Vecera and Tvrdik are Czech-Australians, who came to Australia in 1934 to teach glass-making at a Sydney factory."|
|23 Nov 1948||“The strange bulbous Dali-like shapes, coloured in streaky and marbled patterns, which yesterday made an appearance as part of the Christmas dressing of a Hunter-street store are not painted marrows or solid-seeming balloons ... they are made of glass. The result of a brain-wave on the part of the window dresser (Miss E. Ritchie), they were specially blown at the Leonora Glass Works at New Lambton.”|
|3 Dec 1948||The development of the fine glass industry in Newcastle by two Newcastle engineers and three Czechoslovakian glassworkers in a factory at Lambton is giving Newcastle boys an opportunity to learn the trade. The factory, which employs 23 after 12 months of operation, turns out 2000 lamp shades a week and some 400 water sets. Production of fine glass-wine glasses and ground glass-is starting.|
|11 Dec 1948||Photo of twins Joseph and Milon Vecera, on the steps of the old Lambton Colliery office, near to where they work in the Leonora Glassworks.|
|11 Dec 1948||Story on Ernest Sandgren, immigrant from Sweden, and Australian weight-lifting champion for 7 years, working as a cutter of fine crystal at Leonora Glassworks.|
|3 Feb 1949||"It was planned with the Leonora glass factory at Lambton to make Newcastle a centre of the fine glass industry in Australia, the Managing Director (Mr. D. Marr) told Newcastle Business Men's Club yesterday. The factory was still in its initial development. It had been operating for 18 months. In the factory there were three Czechs of world-wide experience in the manufacture of hollow blown ware, including the art of stemware. They came from generations of art craftsmen."|
|8 Mar 1950||“The factory is now producing heat-resistant glass in large quantities. About 100,000 such articles have been produced for distribution throughout Australia, in the past 12 months. The Manager (Mr. David Marr) said he believed this was the first time pyrex-type glass had been made in Newcastle.”|
|4 Jan 1952||"MILON and Joseph Vecera, twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. J. Vecera, of Croudace street, Lambton, celebrated their 21st birthday, which was on New Year's Day,' with a party, on New Year's Eve. About 40 people attended the party. Milon and Joseph, who were born in Lausanne, Switzerland, came to Australia when they were four. They are both glass craftsmen at Leonora Glass Works, Lambton, and both play the piano, violin and piano-accordion."|
|26 May 1953||The factory is turning to a new type of glass manufacture for Newcastle. This is the manufacture of pressed glass. A glass moulding press has been installed to manufacture pressed glass dishes, car headlight lenses, ash trays and other goods. The machine is in trial production. When producing fully, it will turn out 1500 articles a day.”|