Lambton Council


Lambton Council was incorporated on 24 June 1871, and the incorporation notice published in the Government Gazette of 26 June 1871. In the period June 1871 to March 1938, Lambton Council met at the following locations.

Dates Location
8 Aug 1871 Mechanics’ Institute, Howe St
15 Aug 1871 Mr Stoker’s long room, Gold Miners’ Arms Hotel, corner of Elder and Grainger St.
25 Aug 1871 – Nov 1873 Joseph Phippin’s residence, corner of Dickson and Grainger St.
20 Nov 1873 – 27 Jun 1876 Mr Richard Jones’ premises, Elder St
11 Jul 1876 – 1887 Mr William Maddock’s building, above the Telegraph office, Elder St.
21 Jul 1887 – 29 Mar 1938 Council chambers in Lambton Park, corner of Morehead and Elder St.

Mechanics’ Institute Building

The ballot to elect the first aldermen took place on 7 August 1871, in the Mechanics’ Institute building on Howe St.

Mechanics' Institute building. Howe St, Lambton.

The long six windowed building in the foreground is the first Mechanics’ Institute building, in Howe St, Lambton. circa 1884. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The official declaration of the poll took place in the Mechanics’ Institute building on 8th August 1871, and was immediately followed by the first council meeting, whose sole business was electing Uriah Broom as Mayor. Immediately following the first meeting an inaugural supper was held …

At 7 o’clock a large number of gentlemen, consisting of the amalgamated successful and unsuccessful candidates and their guests, sat down in the long room of the Gold Miners’ Home Hotel, to a substantial supper provided by host Stoker.

The original Mechanics’ Institute building was located on Lots 5 and 6 of Section L, which correspond to 70 and 72 Howe St today.

Site of the original Lambton Mechanics’ Institute, Lots 5 and 6 of Section L in Howe Street. Vol-Fol 149-124.

Stoker’s Hotel, August 1871

Mr Stoker’s “long room” was a large hall on the upper floor of the “Gold Miners’ Arms” hotel, on the north east corner of Elder and Grainger Streets. The second council meeting was held in this location on 15 August 1871.

Stoker's Hotel. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Stoker’s Hotel. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

Joseph Phippin’s residence, August 1871 to November 1873

Soon afterwards the council …

… succeeded in renting a room in Dixon-street, Lambton, from Mr. Joseph Piper, 34 x 12½ feet, at a rental of 5s. per week.

Council meetings were held in that location from 25 August 1871. The mention of Joseph Piper is probably an erroneous reference to Joseph Phippin (sometimes spelled Phippins, Phippen, Phiphen), as a later article reported that the council met in a variety of locations including,

… in Mr. Joseph Phippen’s dwelling-house, and subsequently in two other dwelling houses, and for years in a room over the dwelling of the late Mr. W. Maddock, in Elder-street.

Phippen’s house was on the north-east corner of Dickson and Grainger Streets. An article from 2 August 1873 reporting on street formation by the council reported that

The Corporation have finished Grainger-street up to Mr. Stoker’s hotel. It is to be hoped they will finish it up as far as the Council Chambers.

The location of Phippin’s residence being on the corner of Dickson and Grainger streets is confirmed in advertisements in 1879 when Phippin opened a Temperance Hotel on the site. Patronage of his temperance establishment must have been meagre, for just six months later, on 13 March 1880 Phippin announced the opening of the Northern Star Hotel on the site “with a choice stock of the best brands of Liquors, Ales, etc.”.

The former Northern Star Hotel building in a 1944 aerial photograph.

The building was used as a corner store from 1902 until about 1989, when it was sold and demolished, and a residential house built on the block.

The former Northern Star Hotel building in 1989.

The site in May 2017.

Ricahrd Jones’ premises, November 1873 to June 1876

On 26 August 1873, Lambton Council received a letter from “Mr. Phiphen, landlord of the Council Chambers, giving the Council notice to quit the premises now occupied. Three months later Mayor William Lightfoot announced in the newspaper on 8 November 1873 that …

“NOTICE is hereby given, that after the 20th of November next ensuing, the Municipal Council Chambers will be REMOVED from Dixon-street to Mr. R. Jones’s premises, in Elder-street.”

Land Title records show that Richard Jones owned Lot 3 of Section E in Lambton township between 1871 and 1879.

Richard Jones premises in Elder St Lambton, Lot 3 of Section E. Vol-Fol 127-214

This block of land corresponds to 110 and 112 Elder St today.

110-112 Elder St Lambton, site of Richard Jones’ premises in 1873.

In the council meeting of 30 November 1875 it was noted that …

The Mayor was of opinion that it was time the Council was looking out for more suitable premises, as the present building was nothing but a pile of old paper and rags, and totally unfit for their purposes.

Mr Maddock’s premises, June 1876 to July 1887

At the Lambton Council meeting on 13 June 1876 a motion was put and carried …

“That Aldermen Hindmarsh and Maddison be empowered to rent a place in Elder-street from Mr. Watkin Jenkins, for two years at 5s. per week, for the purpose of Council Chambers.”

Two weeks on 29 June 1876 later the newspaper reported that

“Our Municipal Council have shifted their quarters from the old premises to Mr. Maddock’s new building above the Telegraph Office. The office furniture, &c., were removed on Wednesday evening.”

In the previous council meeting on 27 June 1876 the Mayor had

“read a memorandum of agreement between the Council and Mr. W. Jenkins, for the renting of premises in Elder street, for Council Chambers, for a term of two years.”

Land Title records show that William Maddock owned Lot 3 of Section H in Elder St at the time, and there is no record of Watkin Jenkins owning land in Elder St. It would appear that the land and building was owned by William Maddock who leased it to Mr Jenkins, who then sub-leased the upper floor to the Council for use as chambers.

William Maddock’s premises, Elder St Lambton, Lot 3 of Section H. Vol-Fol 149-138.

Lot 3 of Section H corresponds to 109-113 Elder St today.

109-113 Elder St Lambton, location of William Maddock’s building in 1876.

The fact that the council chambers were located in the upper floor of Maddock’ building is indicated in the report on the council meeting on 14 November 1876, when a motion on public support for the Fire Brigade was being discussed …

“The debate grew rather hot, and just in the middle of it a commotion was caused by a child of Alderman Maddocks (who is foreman of the Fire Brigade), singing out at the the foot of the Council Chambers stairs, “Daddy there’s a fire.” The whole of the aldermen, reporters, &c., rushed down the stairs, and found a stump burning out on the Commonage.”

The council was still meeting in Maddock’s builing in March 1881, and in the absence of any evidence of a subsequent move, it can only be presumed that council continued to meet there until they erected their own chambers in 1887.

The proposed Dickson St chambers

In January 1872 the Council had applied to the Minister for Lands for a parcel of land at the eastern end of Dickson Street to erect municipal chambers. The request was granted and the Council estimated the probable cost of the chambers to be £200. Limited finances however meant that construction did not proceed, and the council continued to meet in rented premises. The Dickson Street site was eventually resumed by the government in 1884 to be used for the police barracks and lockup. This site corresponds with 22 Dickson St today.

22 Dickson St Lambton, the proposed location of Lambton Council Chambers in 1872.

Lambton Park, 1887-1938

The push for new council chambers was renewed in 1887, when in a Lambton Council meeting on 8 March 1887 Alderman Kerr moved

“That plan and specification be prepared for a wooden building suitable for council-chambers, cost not to exceed £200.” He thought the time had arrived when they should have a better place of meeting. The present one was unsuitable and uncomfortable, and for the sake of the ratepayers and themselves they should have a better one. Alderman DENT seconded, and supported Alderman Kerr. The present building was a beastly place. When they looked around they saw the very walls in mourning, whether for the sins of the aldermen he knew not. He was favourable to a new building, and erecting it on the corner of the reserve facing Morehead street.

There was some debate in the ensuing weeks about the site for the new council chambers, and a special meeting was held on Thursday 24 March 1887 to decide the matter.

Lambton Municipal District. Minutes of Special Meeting held March 24 1887. Present: The Mayor, Aldermen Kerr, Dent, Higgs, Thornton, McFadyen, & Robinson. Business. The Selection of site for erection of Council Chambers.

Alderman KERR moved that the site be selected on the North West corner of the Reserve, fronting Morehead Street and the extension of Elder Street. The area taken not to exceed 1 rood. Seconded by Alderman DENT and carried.

It was resolved that the Plan & Specification be left with Bennett & Yeomans who has undertaken to supervise the work 3% of cost of building. Thomas Grierson, Mayor.

Minutes of special meeting of Lambton Council 24 March 1887, to select site for council chambers.

In a few short months a weatherboard building for the council chambers was constructed in the corner of Lambton Park. The building cost £270 and was formally opened on 21 July 1887.

Lambton Council Chambers

Lambton Council Chambers. 9th September 1890. Photo by Ralph Snowball, University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

With the creation of the Greater Newcastle Council in 1938, the final meeting of Lambton Council took place in this building on 29 March 1938.

Lambton Council Chambers. Newcastle Morning Herald, 21 May 1938.

The proposed Elder St Town Hall

In 1892 the government gazetted a parcel of land as a site for a town hall. The site was a block of land on the north side of Elder St, which was split – the western half reserved for a town hall, and the new Mechanics’ Institute was built on the eastern half in 1894. The map below from 1906 shows the “Town Hall” site on the left on block 856, and the Mechanics’ Institute on the right on block 330. Note how the non-consecutive numbering gives a clue that the block was subdivided.

Unsurprisingly, given the bankruptcy of the council over the electric lighting scheme and its continuing financial indebtedness, there was never any possibility of building a new town hall. In 1910 there was some discussion in council about using the Elder St block of land for a public pound. In 1926 the town hall site was re-gazetted as a council depot and storage area.


70 Elder St Lambton, adjacent to the Mechanics Institute was the proposed site of the Lambton Town Hall in 1892.

Post 1938

The council depot on the north side of Elder Street was sold off in 1940. In May 1942, the president of the Lambton Patriotic Committee (Mr. M. R. Blackwell) advised members …

… that permission had been granted for the use of Lambton Council Chambers as a recreation hall for soldiers. It was decided to name the hall as “The Lambton Citizens All Services Recreation Hall.”

The building became the Lambton branch library in February 1950, and continues to be used for this purpose to the present day.

Library. Lambton Park

Lambton Branch Library, in the former council chambers. December 2014.

In 2021, Newcastle Council made renovations to the library building, including the erection of a bullnose verandah at the front, similar to the original verandah on the Council Chambers.

Lambton Library, January 2022.

Timeline of events

Article Date Event DateNotes
26 Jun 1871Lambton Council incorporated. (Government Gazette)
1 Jul 1871
26 Jun 1871
Incorporation of Lambton Municipality.
A supplement to the Gazette, issued on the 26th June, notifies the constitution of a municipality under the name and style of the "Municipal District of Lambton," and defines the area included therein.
29 Jul 1871Nomination of candidates for the first Lambton council election. Thomas Croudace at the top of the list.
3 Aug 1871
2 Aug 1871
Nominees for the first election of alderman in Lambton address a public meeting. Thomas Croudace appears to have withdrawn as a candidate by this date.
8 Aug 1871
7 Aug 1871
First election of aldermen for Lambton Council, held in the Mechanics' Institute building on Howe St.
10 Aug 1871
8 Aug 1871
Official declaration of the poll of the first election.
10 Aug 1871
8 Aug 1871
First meeting of Lambton Council, immediately following the declaration of the poll, where Uriah Broom is elected by the alderman as Mayor.
10 Aug 1871
8 Aug 1871
Inaugural supper of Lambton Council, following the declaration of successful candidates and election of the first Mayor.
22 Aug 1871
15 Aug 1871
Second meeting of Lambton Council, held in Mr. Stoker's long room.
29 Aug 1871
25 Aug 1871
Lambton Council's third meeting, now in "the new Council chambers, Dixon-street, Lambton."
26 Aug 1871"The aldermen have succeeded in renting a room in Dixon-street, Lambton, from Mr. Joseph Piper, 34 x 12½ feet, at a rental of 5s. per week."
30 Jan 1872
26 Jan 1872
Lambton Council sends a Letter to the Minister for Lands, "applying for land near the proposed extension of Dixon street, for Municipal Council Chambers."
26 Mar 1872Council estimates £200 for cost of constructing council chambers.
30 Aug 1873Correspondence tabled at Lambton Council meeting … "Letter from Mr. Phiphen, landlord of the Council Chambers, giving the Council notice to quit the premises now occupied."
8 Nov 1873After 20th November 1873, "the Municipal Council Chambers will be REMOVED from Dixon-street to Mr. R. Jones's premises, in Elder-street."
26 Feb 1874
24 Feb 1874
At a Lambton Council meeting ... "Alderman Grant moved, 'That the sum of £150 be placed on the estimates for the erection of a building to be used as Council Chambers.' Alderman Screen seconded, and the motion was put and carried. "
13 Aug 1874
11 Aug 1874
At Lambton Council meeting … "Letter read from the Lands Department advising the Council that they had been made trustees for the land at Lambton, dedicated as a site for the Municipal Chambers."
4 Dec 1875
30 Nov 1875
"The Council Chambers were composed of such inflamable material that in the event of a fire taking place it would be impossible to save any of the property."
"The Mayor was of opinion that it was time the Council was looking out for more suitable premises, as the present building was nothing but a pile of old paper and rags, and totally unfit for their purposes."
29 Jun 1876Lambton Council have shifted their quarters to Mr Maddock's new building above the Telegraph Office.
22 Sep 1876
19 Sep 1876
Letter from Mr. R Jones, "claiming the sum of £3 10s. as rent for the premises lately used as the Council Chambers."
23 Jul 1887
21 Jul 1887
New council chambers on the corner of Morehead and Elder streets formally opened.
9 Jun 1892Reference to the "allotment granted as a site for council chambers, but afterwards resumed for police barracks." (Is this the site in Dickson St?)
7 Jul 1892Council offers half the block of land set aside for a town hall on Elder St, for the Mechanics' Institute to erect a new building.
7 Jul 1926Council to ask Lands Department to "re-gazette the the land vested in the council in Elder-street, so that same could be used as a depot for metal, and to erect a building for storage purposes. "
30 Mar 1938
29 Mar 1938
Final council meeting.
21 Nov 1940Regarding the council depot in Elder St adjacent to the Mechanics' Institute, "permission is being given by the department for the removal of an iron garage and a weatherboard storeroom. The land will then be made available to the department for disposal in two blocks."
2 Feb 1950
1 Feb 1950
Former Lambton council chambers opened as a branch of Newcastle library.

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