Where does Lambton stop and New Lambton start? Now it’s hard to tell, but the gap between them was once more open.
The photo below is of New Lambton, taken from Lambton near the present day junction of Womboin Rd and Wallarah Rd, probably in 1906. In the foreground is the Lambton colliery railway, and on the flat beyond can be seen the remains of a curved embankment, where the New Lambton colliery railway once ran. These rail lines were not only a division in the physical landscape, but also emblematic of the divide between competing coal interests.
The Scottish Australian Mining Company opened the Lambton colliery in 1863, but due to an oversight in failing to pay rent to the government, their rivals, James & Alexander Brown snapped up the rights to mine coal to the south of Lambton. To add insult to injury, the Brown’s called their operation “New Lambton” colliery, and the owners of the original mine were even less impressed when the public started referring to them as “Old Lambton”.
This rivalry of course meant that there was no question of co-operating in the matter of railway lines, the Lambton mine owners refused to give permission for the New Lambton railway to cross or join their railway and as a result multiple rail lines snaked across Newcastle, carving up the landscape. The site of Lambton High School was once surrounded by three separate colliery railways!
The New Lambton line was removed in 1891, the Lambton line remained until the 1960s. The modern photo (right) is taken a little further west than Ralph Snowball’s, and shows the last visible remnant of the Lambton colliery line in this culvert over Lambton Ker-rai Creek, behind the Allambie Court retirement units.
The article above was first published in the April 2015 edition of the Lambton Local.
My thanks to Robert Watson for his assistance and inspiration and contribution to this article.
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|21 Nov 1862||Tender advertised for construction of the Lambton colliery railway.|
|20 Feb 1863||"The Contractors for the Lambton Colliery Railway, having failed to complete their contract, TENDERS are required for the completion of the works."|
|4 Jan 1868||James and Alexander Brown obtain the mineral lease for what would become the New Lambton mine, after Messrs. Morehead and Young of the Scottish Australian Mining Company indavertently fail to keep up payments on the mineral lease.|
|22 Aug 1868||Threat from Lambton mine of fining New Lambton miners crossing the Lambton colliery line.|
|5 Dec 1871||Mr Morehead publicly declaring that the use of the name "Lambton" for the new mine is unsanctioned.|
|16 Dec 1871||Apologies from a newspaper reporter for using the term “Old Lambton”.|
|1 Aug 1890||New Lambton council prepares "specifications for the work of pulling down the New Lambton Railway Bridge, on the main road, and filling up the road."|
|10 May 1935||Humorous article on New Lambton considering changing its name.|