Lake Macquarie History

Stockrington 1950-1959

The Stockrington I knew was a lonely place. I moved there with my parents and two younger sisters when my father was made Undermanager at the small Duckenfield Colliery. I was just 14. We lived at Stockrington No. 1 Colliery nearby, just the five houses occupied by the Mine Manager and other mine staff. The Mines Office and a few other buildings connected to the mine were across the way as were the Screens where the coal was taken up from the mine to be loaded into coal wagons below and so the occasional coal train would pass by as well.

There was no transport from West Wallsend, some three to four miles away. Children from the houses attending school were taken to and from school in a hired car paid for by the Colliery. You needed your own transport living there. The hired car would bring mail and the daily paper, a van from West Wallsend delivered bread and a greengrocer would come once a week with fruit and vegetables on the back of his truck. A local farmer delivered milk straight from the cow daily,and our water came from rain filled tanks. It seemed to me like it was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by bush, freezing cold in winter and stifling hot in summer (no air conditioning in those days). At the end of the day and at weekends when the mine closed and the occasional coal train stopped running by, it was so quiet, not a soul about.

I had to change schools in my final year, no way could I get from "the valley" as we called it in time to reach my former High School, so I did my third and final year at West Wallsend. On leaving school I was very fortunate to be employed as a shop assistant at Bentley's Gift Shop in West Wallsend. I loved working there and would ride my bicycle to and from work, a VERY lonely stretch of road. Many times I would have to stop and wait till a goanna walked off the road into the bush. In the nine years I lived at Stockrington if I wanted to go out at weekends to movies or some social function, I had to have dad drive me, ride my bicycle or else stay with very kind friends at Seahampton.

I worked at Bentley's for more than seven years till I left to sail to England and be married. My husband to be was a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. I met him when the submarine he was on, was based in Sydney, and I hadn't seen him for nearly two years. But that's another story. My husband and I returned to Australia in 1960 and just a few weeks later my father was critically injured in a mining accident at Stockrington Colliery. He was nearly a year in hospital and never worked again. When he recovered he moved to West Wallsend and so I never returned to live at Stockrington.

A few years ago a friend drove me out to Stockrington. It was still the lonely place I remembered from fifty years ago, the lonely bush road after leaving Seahampton. The mine closed long ago and surrounding buildings, screens and of course occasional train long gone. Only four houses remain, surrounded by even more bushland and apart from the sound of birds everything so still. So many memories are there, it's like it was yesterday, my nine years at Stockrington.

Mrs Anne Barnes nee Miss Anne Bailey.

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