As a recently arrived resident of Lambton with an interest in local history, I was aware that Lambton had its beginnings as a coal mining township. But where was the colliery? What, if anything, remained of it? It was only on finding some old photos in the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections that I was able to answer these questions.
This Ralph Snowball photo from 1900 looking north from Russell Rd in New Lambton shows the colliery buildings nestling in the gully between Lambton and New Lambton, with the colliery railway going down the slope heading towards Broadmeadow.
Inspired by this and other photos in the University’s collection, I set myself the challenge during a two week Christmas break, of every day visiting the location of an historical photograph, and as far as possible replicating the original image. In the modern photo here, the Lambton colliery has disappeared. After opening in 1863 it closed 74 years later in 1936 and then slowly faded away – buildings demolished, equipment removed, pits filled in, new streets laid out, housing erected, rail lines ripped up, and the final disappearing act in 1966 when the rail bridges over Howe St and Hobart Rd were torn down.
The only visible evidence I could find of the colliery were shadowy remnants – the open space of Lewis oval, the slight dip in Hobart Rd and the funny little jink in Howe St where the railway bridges once were, a drain culvert at the western end of New Lambton Park, over which the railway once ran.
In coming months I’ll share some other “Then and Now” comparisons. As a newcomer to the area and its history, I’d welcome your feedback or further information. You can do that by leaving a comment on any of the pages in this site.
The article above was first published in the February 2015 edition of the Lambton Local.
- In the original article I wrote that the colliery opened in 1862. While planning commenced and tenders for the railway were called for in 1862, the mine didn’t actually open until 1863.
|Article Date Event Date
|19 May 1863
14 May 1863
|Blasting accident at Lambton Colliery. Thomas Croudace and Mr. M'Avery suffering eye injuries.
|30 Dec 1863
26 Dec 1863
|A public dinner for 120 workmen and employees of Lambton Colliery to celebrate the completion of the railway and the opening of the mine.
|20 Jun 1936
Closure of Lambton Colliery after 74 years of operation.Note that this article has a number of factual errors. It says that the first deaths in the mine occurred in 1878, it was actually 1864, and that one of the men killed was Mr Morehead, it was actually Mr Seymour, who was acting as mine manager in Thomas Croudace's absence.