Travelling Through Time by sea, road and rail in Newcastle and the Hunter

SteveWilko

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Introduction

THIS, our tenth book – and the ninth in our series of volumes of collected photographs – is a miscellany

with an emphasis on transport. It’s about travelling, on sea and land, in Newcastle and the Hunter from the

days of sail to the 1970s.

Included between these covers are some favourite images fortuitously obtained, along with many more

from the original collection of material we acquired from the estate of the late Ken Magor in 2010.

Since our first book, Newcastle, The Missing Years, appeared, we have collected many more photographs

from many sources, always with the idea in mind of producing more books.

It’s often the case that a collection of hundreds of photos or negatives will contain one or two real gems,

and some of the images in this book are rarities of that kind, rescued from packages destined for the garbage,

or resurrected from musty old boxes of mementoes. Like the photo on page 27 of Newcastle Ocean Baths, a

standout among modest family snaps in a box of vintage negatives. And the pictures of Watt Street on pages

23 and 24-25, one of which was scanned from a magic lantern slide and the other saved from an ice cream

container full of negatives on the verge of being thrown in a rubbish bin.

Many people have helped us put together this collection. Barry Magor – Ken Magor’s son – has been

extremely helpful. Our dear friend Daphne Barney has been kind and generous in providing access to the

collection she amassed with her husband, the late Norm Barney.

Former photographers like Ron Bell, and our mentors Ron and Liz Morrison, have entrusted us with

important negatives and prints. Our friends from Maitland and District Historical Society, Keith Cockburn

and Peter Smith in particular, have surprised us more than once with wonderful material.

Book and memorabilia dealers Mark and Tony Burgess have supplied some rarities too, like the image

on page 26 of the effigy of the Kaiser in Newcastle East during World War I, a standout print from a small

collection otherwise undistinguished.

The rare image of Samuel Dark on page 27 was an exciting find, kindly loaned by Wilf and Judy Redden.

Other friends and helpers for this book include Anne Hudson – grand-daughter of the remarkable William

Fraser – and Roberta Johnson, Peggy Paton and Bill Pitt. Mr Pitt provided us with Harold Boultwood’s

negatives documenting the construction of Newcastle City Council’s “Roundhouse” administrative centre.

Also thanks to our friend John Tipper, who created

the Facebook group Rediscovered Newcastle

to assist us in discussing our books and also

discovering more about various photographs. This

has proved more successful than we had anticipated

and, as a consequence, we must also thank our

numerous friendly helpers in that group who have

solved many mysteries and corrected many errors

through their cleverness and patience. Leon Garde,

Robert Watson, Kevin Parsons, Margaret Bee, Ray

Cross, Steve Shotton, Ian Wright, John Clarke,

Ricky Walters and Steven Ward are just some of

those whose sleuthing and background knowledge

has saved me many hours of research.

Again, we thank Alan Neader at NCP Printing for

helping us have our books printed in Newcastle. It’s

our ambition to support local businesses and jobs as

much as we can, and NCP has helped us achieve this

goal by providing professional high-quality service

at a price that maintains the viability of our projects.

Newcastle was a last great refuge for sail

WHEN steamships were perfected, they inevitably put an end to the long era of sail as a means of trading

commodities across the globe. But sailing ships lingered for decades, and circumstances made Newcastle

one of the last of the great sailing ship ports. In the early years of the 20th century, the city often hosted as

many as 80 sailing ships at once, almost all of them taking coal to the west coast ports of the Americas.

Prevailing winds across the Pacific Ocean meant the sailing ships could catch the trades to Australia in

the tropical latitudes, then fly back east on the wings of the strong winds in the lower latitudes. This free

energy, coupled with the fact that the west coast American ports were hungry for coal to run their railroads

and mines, gave sailing ships one last profitable niche. Unfortunately, waiting times for cargoes at Newcastle

were very long, and that fact helped put more of a squeeze on the trade.

During those golden sunset years of sail, Nobbys was a landmark known to many thousands of deepwater

sailors to whom rounding that clumpy little headland was synonymous with reaching safety.

Many sailors wrote about their travels, and numerous books contain interesting references to Newcastle

during the years of the “west-coast coal trade”. One particularly good description is contained in the book

Gipsy of the Horn, by Rex Clements, who arrived in Newcastle in 1903 in the Arethusa:

The harbour was a wonderful sight by reason of the great number of deep-sea sailing-ships then in port.

There were no less than a hundred and sixteen of them when we arrived, not counting steamers or coasters,

and a grand show they made. Right away from Queen’s Wharf, just inside the Bluff, up past the Dyke they

lay in an unbroken line as far as Waratah, or “Siberia,” as it was called, from its remoteness to everywhere

else. In the Dyke, where we were lying, the ships lay three deep and there was a double row of them over on

the other side at Stockton. Masts and yards were packed as thick as bristles on a hedgehog. During the day

there was as much activity afloat as ashore, in consequence of the tremendous number of steam-launches,

ferry-steamers, chandlers’ boats and ships’ gigs dodging about among the shipping.

We only stayed at the Dyke a few days, then shifted down to Queen’s Wharf to discharge our cargo. Queen’s

Wharf was the best berth in port and only a couple of minutes’ walk from Hunter Street, Newcastle’s

principal thoroughfare.

We found Newcastle a very lively and pleasant little town, with so many ships in harbour the atmosphere of

the place was of the sea salty. There was one hotel, the Carrington, which was common property. It was the

best-known hostelry in town, chiefly in consequence of the popularity of a bar-maid there – Nell, by name –

who was often known to present half a sovereign to a hard-up customer.

Two girls clowning in front of the Glebe bus, c1920

Greg Ray

Newcastle Harbour as it was in the early 1900s: “during the day there was as much activity afloat as ashore”.

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