Lake Macquarie History

Thompson Noble: Pulbah Island's poet

Thompson Noble was born in Felling, Durham in 1887.He was one of 11 children born to Margaret (nee Foster) and Thompson Noble.

photo: pulbah island

He spent three and a half years of an apprenticeship as a patternmaker at an engineering shop in the vecinity of the Cheviot Mountains. He ran off to sea for a short period before he was seventeen years of age, but came back to finish his trade qualifications. The natural beauty of the mountains were a constant draw for him and he longed for an outdoor life. In a letter to a fellow naturalist in 1932 he wrote of his apprenticeship

"Sounds like prison, doesn't it, and prison it was in reality to one who always longed for the open spaces. The vicinity of the Cheviots was a magnet that I could not resist, and almost every chartered holiday and many days that were strictly working days were stolen to ease the craving of this desire."

Some time before 1928, he emigrated to Australia, and the 1930 electoral roll lists him as a patternmaker living in Raymond Street, Speers Point. This was at the time of the great depression, and Noble like everyone else found himself unemployed for long periods of time.

By 1932 Thompson - or Tommy as he was known to the family - held the position of caretaker on Pulbah Island. To a nature lover like Noble, this was an idylic experience and he thrived in the relative isolation of the bushland on Pulbah and the companionship of the native animals of the island. He left quite a few lyrical accounts in verse and prose of his time there. Some of this work was printed in "The Voice of the North" a patriotic newpaper published in Newcastle. His brief tenure on the island ended in 1934.

While Thompson never married, and thus had no family of his own, he sponsored his younger sister Jessie to emigrate to Australia in 1929. Jessie made frequent visits to Pulbah when he was caretaker, and, in correspondance after his death, describes her "dear brother" as a "really wonderful person" who was "respected by his many friends".

On the 1936 electoral roll Thompson Noble is listed as being employed as a gardener and is living at Heatherview House, Spence Street Cairns, Queensland.

In 1941 Thompson is recorded as buying land in English Street Cairns at auction for the sum of 80 pounds. He called his property there 'Langleeford' after a villiage at the foot of his beloved Cheviots. In the 1943 - 1958 electoral rolls he is shown living at this property, and his occupation was given as gardener.

Thompson Noble died on 2nd March 1958 in Cairns.

Resources held in the library:

Documents and letters held in the Library's ephemera collection

Hartley, Dulcie, Lake Macquarie memories. Toronto, N.S.W. : Dulcie Hartley, 1998.