Newcastle and the Hunter
©2012 Greg and Sylvia Ray
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic
or mechanical, and including photocopying, recording or by information storage and retrieval systems,
without the written permission of the copyright owner.
Printed by Newcastle Camera Print, Arnott Street, Newcastle West
Published by Greg and Sylvia Ray with the support of the Newcastle Herald
Concept and design by Greg and Sylvia Ray
Research and captions by Greg Ray
National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-publication entry
Ray, Greg and Sylvia Changing Places, Newcastle and the Hunter Region
Front cover photo: A view, in the early 1960s, of the former Rural Bank building on the corner of Hunter
and Bolton streets, opposite the Post Office.
Title page vignette: The David Jones store, inheritor of Scotts Corner, Newcastle, in the 1960s.
Newcastle and the Hunter
Selected, arranged and interpreted by Greg Ray
Layout and image restoration by Sylvia Ray
Introduction: the view from Bolton Street
Many readers of our first two books of historical photographs, Newcastle, the Missing Years and Recovered
Memories, have urged us to publish another volume. Some readers have asked for more photos from
the 1930s and 1940s - understandable given that period’s previous under-representation in the published
But others have asked to be shown some older photographs, especially some of those that came to us with
the Ken Magor collection of glass and film negatives we bought in 2010.
Still more have requested photographs from more recent decades.
This book is an attempt to offer something to please all those people. Changing Places is therefore a
miscellany, loosely built around the idea of illustrating examples of change in our city and region over time.
Some of the photographs in the book have been drawn from the Magor collection, but many have come
to us from a variety of other sources and we are indebted to many generous donors for particular images and
complete small collections of pictures that we believe deserve to be widely circulated.
Some of the photos have previously been published elsewhere, but we present them again in what we hope
is a sufficiently new context to give them a new or different relevance. In a few cases we have found ourselves
in possession of the actual negatives of familiar images and have chosen to reproduce them again, simply to
take advantage of the opportunity to show them to better advantage using modern scanning technology.
It would not be practical, unfortunately, to list by name every person who has helped us with information
or photographs. Many are acknowledged on the last page of this book. But the contributions of some people
have been so significant that they must be mentioned here.
Pete Smith, in particular, helped define the course of this publication when he contacted us to offer the use
of his grandfather’s negatives. Not only did he loan us those valuable items, he also brought us, unexpectedly,
a large box of negatives salvaged some years ago during refurbishment work at the Hexham headquarters of
the former Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd, where he once worked.
For a journalist who spends part of every working day in Bolton Street, this view, circa 1905, from a Charleston
Studios souvenir booklet, is fascinating. So much has changed, yet the streetscape is still recognisable.
This rare photo shows the corner of King and Bolton Streets, looking to the north-west, showing the old
dental hospital that once stood a couple doors up the hill from the offices of The Newcastle Morning Herald.
This intriguing collection, dating from the early 1960s, was chiefly the work of noted photographer and
film-maker Douglass Baglin, and Mr Smith informed us that these photos were “stills” taken during the
making of a documentary for the dairy company, entitled We Live in this Valley.
When we expressed interest in seeing this documentary, Mr Smith undertook to search for a print
and ultimately located a 600m reel of 16mm film comprising the entire movie. We sought, and obtained,
permission to digitize and reproduce this documentary in DVD form. We are grateful for this permission from
the late Mr Baglin’s niece, Mrs Yvonne Austin and for approval from Lion Australia, the present owner of
the former Hexham-based dairy operation. Mrs Austin also kindly permitted us to publish some of Douglass
Baglin’s Hunter photographs.
We have also negotiated permission from Film Australia to include a second documentary of which we had
been previously aware, entitled Story of a City, a 1945 film about Newcastle produced by the Commonwealth
Department of Information. Both documentaries are included on the DVD that accompanies this book.
These colour films show, perhaps at times somewhat soberingly, the extraordinary extent of change in
Newcastle and the Hunter Region in the decades since they were produced. It is extraordinary to consider,
for example, the loss of industrial capacity and the loss of regional decision-making autonomy. We Live in
this Valley, especially, encourages consideration of the Hunter’s future capacity - in a world that seems set to
become more hungry for clean and plentiful food supplies - to become, once again, a major foodbowl.
It is interesting to note that We Live in this Valley screened on television for the first time in 1963, making
next year the 50th anniversary of its original unveiling.
Other people to whom we owe special thanks include Barry Magor, Daphne Barney, Lyn Merrilees, John
and Pam Le Messurier, Greg Harland, Margaret Hughes, Ray Rowe, Gionni di Gravio, Col Walker, the late
Doug Brown, Ron Jones, Ed Tonks, Penny Furner, Graham Marjoribanks and Paul Partridge.
We are grateful, again, to the Newcastle Herald for supporting the publication and distribution of our books.
To the many, many other people who have contributed in a myriad ways we offer our sincere thanks.
Greg and Sylvia Ray
Changes around town
The Market Street gates have long been a favourite spot for trainspotters and transport photographers. In
the photograph below - taken from a glass-plate negative - a steam tram trundles along Scott Street, next to
the railway line, while horse-drawn vehicles wait by the kerb near the distinctive Hall and Son warehouses.
Above: a steam locomotive hauls passenger wagons across the Market Street gates. Photo below shows the
same gates, from a similar viewpoint, in the 1960s. The landmark Hall and Son buildings remain in both.
Watt Street was originally Newcastle’s main street. It was the axis down which coal from the early mines was
carried, by convicts, to the harbour. It was no longer the main road at the time these photos were taken, but
they show changes in the street as city gradually evolved. Note the post office building in the photo below.
An early view of the city, showing the Great Northern Hotel, a truncated version of that seen in the photo below.
Above, the Great Northern in its heyday, circa 1880s, and a 1980s view (below) of the version that remains today.
Note the original hospital and nurses home in the photo above, and the later Royal Newcastle buildings below.
Hunter Street, looking east, in the early years of the 20th century (above) before the street was extended. The
photo below shows a similar view in 1946, on the occasion of the funeral of the Reverend Andrew McVittie.
Hunter Street looking west. The photo above was taken in about the 1880s, before the grand post office was
built, while the photo below dates from August 1946. The police station can be seen at right in both photos,
though it has gained an extra storey in the more recent picture. In the background of the photo above can
be seen the distinctive twin turrets of the old municipal markets, where Market Square was later to be built.
The Chinese community celebrates with its signature dragon on Hunter Street around the turn of last century.
In the late 19th century Newcastle residents - like those in many other parts of Australia - held heated meetings
in protest at Chinese immigration and the alleged threat posed by “cheap” Chinese labour. Despite the
tensions, the Chinese community has played a notable role in the Hunter’s history over the past 200 years.
Another procession in the same spot, this time marking May Day, 1943, a day of international Labor solidarity.
People and vehicles on busy Hunter Street as part of
Newcastle’s first “Mattara” festival in 1961. Mattara
means “hand of friendship” and the home-grown festival,
which recently passed its 50th year, has struggled to
maintain official support for its continuing survival.
Above: a military procession at the corner of Hunter and Bolton Streets, about the time of the Boer War early
last century. The photo below, from a similar position, was taken on August 15, 1945, at the end of World War II.
At the corner of Hunter and
Bolton Streets, circa 1910.