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Newcastle in 1857


The following article is from the Historical Records of Newcastle 1797 - 1897.......

Notwithstanding the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the Hunter River - Newcastle in the year 1857, still but resembled a bush township, and very little of the surrounding land had then been cleared of the scrub.

A resident of Newcastle, who arrived in that year, has supplied the following description:

"I reached Newcastle in 1857 from South Australia, the passage to Sydney occupying 9 days. The landing place from vessels was at the foot of Watt street, where we had to pick our steps along rows of stones. The first thing that struck me was the absence of large buildings, and the wretched thoroughfares.

I stoppd at Mr. Croft's hotel, which stood on the site now occupied by the A.J.S. Bank at the corner of Watt and Hunter streets. At the back of the hotel there was a theatre (the first one, I believe opened in Newcastle), where I was present at an entertainment in which Mr. Clarence Hannell took the part of Hamlet, and other local men also appeared.

In walking round I visited Broughton and Downey's store in Watt street, called in at the Ship Inn (kept by the late Mr. James Hannell), which was on the site of the Union Bank at the corner of Bolton and Hunter Street. The Rouse Hotel in Hunter street where Pearson's furniture shop now stands, was the principal hotel, and kept by Mrs. Rouse. The Albion Hotel kept by a man named Magney was in Watt street.

At the other side of the A.A. Coy's Bridge, the Black Diamond Hotel was erected in 1857 by the late Mr. James Brown, whose residence stood alongside. The Black Diamond was put up to meet the requirements of railway passengers and it was thought that the terminus would remain at Honeysuckle, which it did for years till the line was extended to the present railway station in Scott street. The Flemming family had  a residence at Honeysuckle Point, which was pulled down to give place to the terrace of houses now standing opposite Carrington Bridge in Hunter Street West.

The Union Inn, Cameron's Inn, and the hotel now known as the Empire, were also doing business at that time; the latter was the last building to be seen in that direction for many miles.

From Watt street right along was but a bush track made by bullock teams. Where the High level bridge now stands, crossing from Hamilton to Islington, there was a level crossing which went by the name of the "White Gate".

The hill at the back of the gas works was then covered with honeysuckle, and was used by the aboriginal tribes as a camping ground. In that year, "King Bully"  the last of the kings of the Newcastle tribes of aboriginals, died, and was buried close to the camp. "King Bully" left a piccaninie named "Kitty" who subsequently became a notorious character. In the following year I was present at Mr. Rodger's foundry when the 'Monkey' was cast to drive the first piles for the construction of the Queen's Wharf which runs along the southern shore of the harbour. There was a considerable fleet of vessels then trading to Newcastle, which, however, were of small tonnage."

Windross, John, & Ralston, J.P., Historical Records of Newcastle 1797 - 1897, Newcastle, Federal Printing and Bookbinding Works,  p. 32




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