Waratah Gas Works – Historical Timeline

Circa 1897 Water Board Plan of Waratah Gas Works Site, traced and reexamined, October-November 1902.
Circa 1897 Water Board Plan of Waratah Gas Works Site, traced and reexamined, October-November 1902.

 

Waratah Gas Works Site overlay in Google Earth 2017
Waratah Gas Works Site overlay in Google Earth 2017

To assist the Waratah residents we have compiled a historical timeline of news reports from TROVE, that detail the evolution of the creation of the Waratah Gas Works that officially opened in 1st August 1889 to the time they were sold to the City of Newcastle Gas and Coke Company Limited  on 30 April 1922. Links to the articles are all provided, with transcriptions provided to some.

1887-01-20 “THE GAS QUESTION.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 20 January 1887: 6. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138814381>.  Waratah Council in October 1885 asked Newcastle Gas Company for a quote. Too high, so Council is now considering establishing gas works for themselves.

1887-02-09 “Waratah.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 9 February 1887: 6. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138815391 >. Mayor elect Scholey believes most of the public in favour of establishment of municipal gas works.

1887-11-16 “DISTRICT NEWS.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 16 November 1887: 7. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135987881 >.

“The MAYOR moved, ” That tenders be called for a loan of £7000, for the purpose of erecting municipal gas works in the municipal district of Waratah, the debenture to have a currency of 10 years, and tenders to close on the 1st January, 1888.” Seconded by Alderman Watson, and carried.”

1888-04-06 “WARATAH MUNICIPAL COUNCIL.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 6 April 1888: 7. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134052755 >.

“From Mr. J. C. Alexander, engineer, to the effect that he had forwarded copy of plans and specification for gas-works to his London firm, and he expected a cable reply in about four weeks. In the meantime, he advised that tenders be called for gas holder, tank, and excavations. -Received.
From the Under Secretary for Lands, to Mr. Joseph Creer, M..L.A., re land for gas works and addition to the reserve, pointing out that the consent of the Waratah Coal Company being accompanied with a stipulation for reduction of rent, it could not be accepted.”

1888-04-14 “Waratah Gas Works.” The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 – 1909) 14 April 1888: 5. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229944328 >.
Waratah Gas Works. Newcastle, This Day. — It is stated that the Waratah Council have at length succeeded in obtaining from the Government a site for the gas works they are desirous or erecting.

1888-04-18 “Waratah.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 18 April 1888: 3. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134046554 >.

From Department of Lands of date 9th April:-” Sir, With reference to your letter of 27th ultimo, addressed to Mr. Creer, M.L.A., referring to the portion of land on Commonage reserve that the Waratah Council require for municipality for gas works, I am directed by the Minister for Lands to inform you that, so far as the department is concerned, there is no objection to the land being occupied for the purpose, subject to the right of the Waratah Coal Company under their mining lease. – I am, yours, &c., O. OLIVER; Under Secretary.”–Received.

1888-05-03 “Waratah.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 3 May 1888: 6. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135921529 >.

The tenders for gas-holder, tank, &c., were then considered, and, after considerable discussion, lasting fully two hours, it was decided, on the casting vote of the Mayor, to accept the tender of Messrs. Barlow and Perry, of Teralba, viz., £750.

1888-05-09 “Waratah.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 9 May 1888: 6. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135916594 >.

A letter was read from Messrs. Barlow and Parry, stating that they had handed over their interest in the contract for gas holder tank to Mr. W. F. Oakes, of Fassifern, who would carry out the work. Mr. Oakes was present, and expressed his .willingness to carry on the work, and submitted the names of substantial bondsmen, which were approved of. The letter was received, end it was carried “That Mr. Oakes be accepted as contractor for the work in lieu of Barlow and Perry.”

1889-04-06 “Waratah.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 6 April 1889: 7. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138834948 >.

Waratah. GAS-WORKS. ‘The municipal gas-works plant is being rapidly carted on to the ground, and the pipes on to the streets in every direction, so that, before another term of three months have passed, it is fully expected by the Mayor and aldermen that the streets will be lit up, which beyond doubt is “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

1889-05-23 “Waratah.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 23 May 1889: 3. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138929311 >.

MUNICIPAL GAS WORKS. The Gas Works are on a fair way to completion, and Messrs. M’Gill and Sons the contractors are losing no time in the erection of the plant and the laying of the pipes, so that before many weeks the lighting of the streets will be an accomplished fact.

1889-08-01 “Opening of the Waratah Municipal Gas Works.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 1 August 1889: 5. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138929638 >.

 

Opening of the Waratah Municipal
Gas Works.
A Red Letter Day.
THE residents of  Waratah are anticipating a genuine gala day today in order that the opening of the gan works may be celebrated in a fitting manner. Great preparations have been made, and it would well repay visitors to witness the intended illuminations which are arranged for. A grand evergreen arch was in course of erection yesterday, which will be illuminated, along with various other fancy work, including stars, initials, crowns, &c., and everything that the ingenuity of Mr. Kempster, the gas manager, can devise is being done to make this part of the programme a success. In the afternoon a bullock will be roasted on the reserve, and afterwards distributed with bread to the public. The children will in addition to this be treated to cakes, lollies, oranges, &c. So that it will be seen the Mayor and aldermen, assisted by several ratepayers, are sparing no pains to make this event a red-letter day in the history of the town. A 6 o’clock the Mayoress (Mrs. T. Cox) will light the first lamp from a platform erected by Mr. N. Hewison voluntarily for that purpose. This is to be followed by the banquet.

1889-08-02 “Waratah en Fete.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 2 August 1889: 8. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138921997 >.    Report of the Opening of Gas Works and detailed description of the Works.

1901-04-05 “PRESENTATION TO MR. G. J. KEMPSTER.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 5 April 1901: 5. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138469175>.

1922-01-07 “WARATAH IMPROVEMENTS” The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954) 7 January 1922: 7. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162788734 >.

WARATAH IMPROVEMENTS
‘Black Drain’ To Go
One ot Waratah’s ‘beauty spots’ is destined to see the light for the last time within a few days. That is what is known to residents of Young-road as ‘the black drain.’ It is a wide open channel that runs down that thoroughfare directly in front of a couple of dozen modern cottages, and gives off a most offensive odor, being always half full of tar and other waste products from the municipal gas works.

The people will be glad to see the last of It, for it is one of the most unsightly objects in the suburb and detracts considerably from the value of the houses in that street.

NEW CHANNEL
It Is to be filled in and a new channel dug along Dawson-street and thence through the park, to connect up with the storm water scheme now under way near the Nomus subdivision.
This will have the effect of relieving the Station-street – waterways of a large portion of their work during storms, and so prevent (the railway station entrance from being flooded, which usually happens on these occasions.

See Water Board (1897) Plans 177 and 157

Water Board Plan (177) circa 1897 showing extent of drain along Young Street Waratah
Water Board Plan (177) circa 1897 showing extent of drain along Young Street Waratah

 

Water Board Plan (157) circa 1897 showing extent of drain along Young Street Waratah
Water Board Plan (157) circa 1897 showing extent of drain along Young Street Waratah

 

1922-01-13 “”VERY FOUL”” The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954) 13 January 1922: 7. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162794470>.

‘VERY FOUL’
Waratah Watercourse
The process of removing a Waratah ‘beauty spot’ in the form of the Black Drain, in Young-road, is causing the employees engaged upon the work some concern.
The heath inspector reported to the council the other night that portion of the gutter towards Young-road was very foul. He recommended serving notices upon three of the residents of that street to prohibit them from running waste waters into the street, failing compliance on their part, summonses to be Issued.
The recommendations were adopted.

1922-02-28 “SALE OF GAS WORKS” The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954) 28 January 1922: 6. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162798054&gt;.

SALE OF GAS WORKS
Waratah Proposal

Waratah Council is trying to sell its municipal gas works to the Newcastle Gas and Coke Company, and the price being asked is £13,040. The aldermen at a special meeting decided upon this course, and fixed the price.

It is over 12 months since the council sought to have a special Act passed to allow of this being done, and there have been a great many delays, caused by political disturbances, which effectually blocked the passage of the Bill for a long time.

It is 32 years ago since the gas works were officially opened, the ceremony being celebrated by the roasting of a bullock on the reserve near the council chambers. The Mayor (Alderman Cox) cut the first slice, and the Mayoress put a lighted taper to the first gas Jet.

1922-04-11 “WARATAH GAS WORKS.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 11 April 1922: 4. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140992378>.  Fate of the Gas Works and history of its opening.

1922-11-15 “PROGRESS OF WARATAH.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 15 November 1922: 9. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140011396>.

The council’s gas works undertaking plant was disposed of on the 30th April 1922 to the City of Newcastle Gas and Coke Company Limited for the £13,040. The council retained possession of the land and buildings thereon, the value of such assets being £1060

1928-08-03 “WARATAH COUNCIL” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 15 August 1928: 7. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137679287>.  Old Gas Works – demolishing structures

1929-04-25 “WARATAH COUNCIL” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 25 April 1929: 9. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134712637>.

THE GAS WORKS WELL
Ald. Ellis asked if any definite plan for the filling-in of the old well on the gas works site had been adopted. The Mayor stated that more attention would be given to the work, which up to the present had been carried out intermittently when filling material became available

1931-02-11 “MR. G. J. KEMPSTER.” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 11 February 1931: 3. Web. 3 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137696204>.   Obituary February 2, 1931

It has been very difficult to locate any images or even illustrations of the Waratah Gas Works. There may be clues in a number of Waratah images held in the University’s Archives.

If we examine the Map of the Country around Newcastle NSW, 1910. (M4631 ) (See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6019950140 or larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6019950140/sizes/o/ , you can see that at the end of Station Street there is St Phillip’s Church marked. See overlay below:

Waratah portion of the 1910 Newcastle plan showing St Phillips at the end of Station Street Waratah (click for a larger version)
Waratah portion of the 1910 Newcastle plan showing St Phillips at the end of Station Street Waratah (click for a larger version)

Compare this map with a couple of images taken by photographer Ralph Snowball, that appear to be from the orientation behind St Phillips and looking towards East to Turton Road. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/3237510397/  or larger original size here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/3237510397/sizes/o/  and another here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/3238350994/ or larger original size here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/3238350994/sizes/o/  The only other panorama of Waratah that we have been able to locate is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/3238350804/

If these photographs were taken prior to 1889, and they look they have might have been, then there is little chance that they contain any trace of the Waratah Gas Works, but we would be very interested in anyone can locate anything in the images that may be the location.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
Chair, Hunter (Living) Histories Initiative


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