A Panoramic Peep Over Lambton and New Lambton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Information

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

The 1907 Tourist Guide

Dawkins contributed some photographs to a 1907 “Tourist’s Guide to Newcastle”. The National Library of Australia has a copy of this publication on microfiche (Bib ID 3542657), which I viewed during a visit to the Library in April 2024. Unfortunately the quality of the scanning/reproduction is poor and the photographs appear as little more than high contrast splodges of black and white. For what it’s worth, here are the photographs that Dawkins contributed. One minor note of interest is that the photograph of Nelly’s Glen on page 81 enabled me to identifier the creator of the image in the Newcastle University Living Histories site, which previously unattributed.

A Bend in the Creek. Wallsend, near Newcastle. (Page 75)
Nelly’s Glen, Lambton, near Newcastle. (Page 81)
Tram Terminus, Wallsend, near Newcastle. (Page 167)
Along the Newcastle Beach. 1. Men’s Dressing Sheds. 2. Untitled. 3. Shelter Shed. 4. Shelter Shed. (Page 177)
Along the Newcastle Beach. 1. ?. 2. Tram Terminus. 3. Ladies Dressing Shed & Bathing Place. (Page 181)
The Beaches29
The Reserves42
The Climate48
Health of Newcastle and District49
Newcastle from Without49
Coal Mining53
The Dyke58
Other Industries59
Literary, Scientific and Educational Institutions63
Technical College67
Theatres etc78
Musical and Kindred Societies79
Debating Societies79
Sports and Amusements82
The Turf90
Agricultural, H & I Association92
Charitable Institutions96
Public Buildings100
Pleasant Bush Drives and Picnic Places105
Accommodation for Visitors112
Discovery of Newcastle112
Spiers’ [sic] Point120
Warner’s Bay120
Cockle Creek121
Nelson’s Bay121
Salt Ash121
Anna Bay121
Tea Gardens121
Sawyer’s Point121
Bulladelah [sic]125
West Maitland128
East Maitland133
Maitland Coalfields133
General Index to the 1907 Tourist Guide
Newcastle from Railway Station7
Holiday Time on Newcastle Beach11
Tennis Court and Bowling Green15
The Two “Redheads”19
Nobby’s from Fort Scratchley23
Surf Bathing27
Newcastle Beach31
Newcastle Beach from Tram Terminus33
Shelter Sheds37
James’ Retreat41
The Rotunda45
Entrance Gates, Upper Reserve47
Lower Reserve51
A Typical Newcastle Colliery53
Shephard’s [sic] Hill53
The Lagoon57
Loading Coal at the Dyke61
Ships Discharging Ballast65
Technical College67
Shipping at the Dyke69
King’s Wharf71
A Forest of Masts73
A Bend in the Creek, Wallsend Creek75
Newcastle Harbour77
Nelly’s Glen, Lambton81
The Tunnel, Merewether Beach83
E. & A. Coy.’s Smelting Works85
Newcastle from Upper Reserve89
Soldiers’ Baths and Nobby’s91
View of Newcastle showing Entrance to Harbour93
Post Office95
Newcastle Hospital96
Newcastle from the Beach99
Post Office100
The Bogey Hole103
Upper Reaches, Cockle Creek107
Spier’s [sic] Point111
Newcastle Harbour116
Port Stephens from Inner Light123
Salt Ash127
Port Stephens, looking towards Middle Island129
High Street, West Maitland131
Pitnacree Bridge, East Maitland135
Movable Cranes, Inner Basin, Newcastle147
Glimpses around Dungog149
Warner’s Bay159
Newcastle School of Arts163
Tram Terminus, Wallsend167
Lake Macquarie171
Along the Newcastle Beach177
Along the Newcastle Beach181
Index to Views (photographs) in the 1907 Tourist Guide

Newspaper articles

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

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