Lake Macquarie History

Rhondda

Rhondda is a rural locality about 4 km west of Boolaroo and about 4 km south of Holmesville, in Lake Macquarie. It was once a thriving town which serviced the workers of Rhondda Colliery, but today has no permanant residents. The following article from the Newcastle Herald on Thursday 2 June 1949, gives some insight into the history of the township

Rhondda: 100 In 1870 To 17 In 1949. From a correspondent .

Rhondda, a small mining township in the hills two and a hall miles west of Teralba, is yet another "ghost" town of the Northern Coalfield.

Once a thriving community of more than 100 mineworkers and their families (housed in 28 homes and 14 batches of shanties), the population over the past 70 years or so has dwindled to 17 (in five houses and one hotel).

photo: rhondda colliery teralba

More than 80 years ago, the area was known as Rooty Flat; but its setting in the hills and valley, plus its association with coalmining, prompted some Welsh, migrants to call it Rhondda-in memory of a similar setting of the famous South Wales coalfield of Rhondda Valley.

The first selection was made more than 80 years ago by Mr. Samuel John Smith. West of the colliery there was a permanent supply of water in a chain of deep holes.In dry weather, this was the only available supply of water for miles.

Mr. James Donaldson was the first to prospect for coal. On his property the tunnel of Rhondda colliery was driven, and coal was produced in 1900. As was common in those days of mining development, a new hotel soon followed the opening of a colliery. On ground leased from Mr. J. T. Smith, the Castlemaine Brewery built the Rhondda Hotel in 1900. The property is now owned by Tooth's Ltd. The first licensee was Mr. Alexander Frew, who was "mine host" for 17 years.

The colliery was started by Wiliam Laidley and Co., with Mr. James Barr as first manager and Mr. W. Wilson first umader-manager. For several years picks wese used to win coal, but in 1907 clectric coal-cutting machines (Sullivan and Goodwin) were installed. The coonpany generated its own electricity. Some years ago the colliery was taken over by R. W. Miller and Co., and renamed it Northern colliery. The new owners introduced loading machines.

Work on driving a new tunnel to a seam below the old workings is almost complete. A new haulage system - all electric - has been in stalled.

The first post-office was at the residence of Mr. J. T. Smith 42 years ago. Today residents get their mail from Teralba. Mr. J. Bartlett opened the first shop, and later Mr. M. Hopkinson started a general store. There are no shops in the township to-day. Food is brought from West Wallsend and Teralba daily. The nearest church was at Wakefield, two miles away; but services were often held at Mr. Smith's home, which was also used as a polling booth on election days. Bricks for the colliery were made near the township by Mr. Thomas Abraham and Mr. George Ranger. Mrs. Margaret Smith, of First Street, Boolaroo, now 93, first went to Rhondda to live In 1890. She lived there until recently.