Tudor St, Then and Now

While browsing the University of Newcastle’s collection of Ralph Snowball photos, I came across a picture of construction work, with the inscription of “Hamilton Park – 13.10.1911”. It wasn’t immediately clear from the photo what work was being done, but after some searching of Trove I established that it was the construction of sewer mains in the streets of Hamilton. A newspaper article from 3rd August 1911 reports

“Out at Hamilton West the main sewer is being put down at a depth of 16ft. The ground there is a sort of bluish clay, and although it has to be cut out like so much putty, it does not present anything like the same trouble that the sand at the eastern end of the municipality does. Here, as in Denison street, centrifugal pumps, electrically driven, deal with the water, and the current is supplied from the city council’s power-house.

There are 130 men at work in Hamilton East and 61 in Hamilton West. About half of these were coal-miners, and they are doing very well at the new class of work.”

Construction of sewer main, Tudor St Hamilton, 13th October 1911. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Tudor St Hamilton. January 2018.

The approximate location of the 1911 photo can be established by taking note of the distinctive façade of the building at 5 Belford St Hamilton. From this it would appear that the photo is taken in Tudor St, somewhere between Blackall St and Samdon St, looking towards the east.

The 1911 photo is inscribed with “Hamilton Park”, which was the name of a new subdivision of building allotments to the west of Hamilton Park, now Gregson Park.

Hamilton Park Estate sale poster. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Thin on thins

Shopping is not one of my favourite things, but after putting off a number of needed purchases for some time, today I spent more hours in shopping centres than I would normally endure. Here are some things I learnt.

  1. Size labels on clothing are meaningless. In the course of purchasing shirts I tried on many size L shirts, some of which were too small, some too big, and some the right size.
  2. A depressing number of retail outlets ask you to join their ‘loyalty’ programs so that they can track your purchases and send you junk e-mail.
  3. There are a number of perfumery outlets emanating such a stink that I wonder whether they ought to be reported to the EPA?
  4. Thin glasses cords are very thin in stock at the moment. There’s no problem acquiring a thick glasses cord (one that is visually distracting and reminiscent of rope for lashing down loads of freight) but it seems that the thin cords are in short supply. I had to visit 11 stores/chemists/optometrists before finally being able to purchase two thin glasses cord at Bupa Optical Kotara. It turns out they were the last two in their stock. So now there’s at least 12 places across Newcastle that doesn’t stock them.

Map month

The publication of my January 2018 article for the Lambton and New Lambton marks three years of writing the That was then, This is now column. When I started three years ago I thought I might have enough material for 6 months, but 36 months later there seems to be no end in sight of things to write about.

I’ve made myself a little bit of a tradition in having January as ‘map month’. This January’s article is on Lance Corporal Barrett’s valuable 1910 Map of the Country around Newcastle N.S.W.

Railway Street, Merewether

A relative of mine lives in Railway Street, Merewether, and that got me digging in to the origin of the name.

Presumably it was so named  because of a colliery railway running along or near the street. A 1920s map shows the tram line running along Railway Street, and a colliery railway running along a different route further to the south.

1920s map showing both the Glebe tramway and Glebe Hill Colliery railway. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

So why is it called Railway St when it was a tramway running along the street? Some further digging revealed that the tramway to Glebe was opened on 19th April 1894. Originally called the Merewether line, it was later renamed to the Glebe line to avoid confusion when the Merewether Beach tram line was opened in October 1903. The name “Railway street” pre-dates the tram line, with the name being used as early as 1886. So what is the railway that it refers to?

A. P. Pulver in 1976 compiled a plan showing early coal company railways, which shows that in this area there were two rail lines going to the Glebe Pit – the solid line following the path of Railway Street, and the dashed line further to the south.

Both these rail routes are still visible in a 1954 aerial photograph.These rail lines went to a number of collieries, including the Glebe Pit pictured below.

A Pit Colliery, Newcastle, NSW, 24 February 1899. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

So why were there two rail lines going to the same location? Two newspaper reports from 1881 throw some light on the matter. From 3 Aug 1881

“The railway from Newcastle to the Glebe pit is now nearly completed with the big rails which the company are having laid down in order that the Government engine can haul from the pit, instead of the company’s engine taking the coal from the pit to the siding in town.”

And a month later on 10 Sep 1881

“We have had the pleasure of witnessing the Government locomotive coming direct from Newcastle to the Glebe pit to take away our coals. In connection with the past history of the coal trade in this locality much might be written, for in primitive times we remember when the black diamonds were conveyed to Newcastle by bullock teams. Then we so far advanced as to get a line of wooden rails laid down, along which the coal was taken in waggons drawn by horses. Then came the iron rails and “the puffer,” who for many years screamed and tugged in the performance of her duty as if the coal trade of the port was alone depending upon her efforts. Next came the splendid locomotive, the property of the N.C.M. Co.; and now fine steel rails, a good track, Government engine, break van, &c.”

The best sense I can make of this is that the original railway route with wooden rails and horse drawn wagons (and later upgraded to iron rails) was along the path of Railway Street. Then in 1881 a new railway with “fine steel rails” was constructed on a different route further to the south. With the original railway no longer needed its path became Railway Street, and was subsequently used also used for the tramway in 1894.