This wonderful photograph by Ralph Snowball, taken in 1897, looks back to the original mining settlements along the track that would become Beaumont Street (eventually Hamilton's main street) from the vantage point of Glebe Hill.
The best historical account I have found of the development of Hamilton is self published by Peter Murray – From Borehole to Hamilton Jubilee 1848 – 1921 (2006). It is meticulously researched, with careful documentation of primary and secondary sources. From this work I have been able to gain an appreciation of how Hamilton might have looked in its early days.
Typical Slab Hut
(Photograph by Ralph Snowball, probably taken in the late 1800s. It is part of the Norm Barney Photographic Collection, reproduced courtesy of Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle).
AA Company's Mine Manager's Residence, Hamilton
(NSW Government Enrironment & Heritage, Statement of Significance)
The E Pit was located between Everton and Dumaresq Streets. The imaginatively named A, B and C Pits were in Newcastle – coal mining had begun there in 1804. The F Pit was sunk by Frank Beaumont, the Company’s new Mine Manager. It’s obvious where Beaumont Street and Lindsay Streets got their names.
The flats were great for horse racing, and it didn’t take long for the residents to get organised. I learned from the Newcastle Jockey Club web site that the first race meeting was held in 1848 on a track cleared through bush and scrub in an area known as Wallaby Flat. Early accounts by the settlers reported that Wallaby Flat, which took in most of Hamilton, as well as part of Broadmeadow and Merewether, was good for hunting wildlife such as kangaroos.
In 1871, the population of Hamilton was 854 people.
There were at least three wells used by the miners’ families. I read a poignant account of women taking their washing to a well in Steel Street, then hanging clothes on makeshift lines or tree branches nearby. A second well was in Chaucer Street.
The third well was just around the corner from where I live, at the intersection of Denison and Lawson Streets. Apparently it served the Happy Flat community, thought to be located near present day Turner Street. So, it transpires that my street was once part of Happy Flat!
A few enterprising miners were able to make good and purchase land from the AA Company to build their own homes. James Webster purchased a corner block on what was to become Webster Street in 1858, where he opened a general store and post office. These early miners gave their names to several of the streets near where I live, including one which runs parallel - mine .
This blog is my journey to discover my suburb's past. I'm not a historian, just an ordinary person doing some research.
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