Lake Macquarie History

West Wallsend

Name Origin:

After Wallsend on the River Tyne in Northumberland, in the United Kingdom. Also, Wallsend coal was the best, so it was considered desirable to have some part of the name.

Early Land Grants:

Portions 98, 99 and 100 (Teralba Parish) encompass the present area of the town. The portions were applied for by George Henry and Mary Lane and gazetted to them on 11/4/1888. These portions passed into the hands of the West Wallsend Coal Co. on 8/1/1889.

Early Subdivisions:

The first, was D.P.2252, declared on 17/4/1886 and included Wilson, Brown, Carrington, Withers, Hyndes, Robertson and Brooks Streets. Related to portion 99. D.P.2253, includes South, Wallace, Carrington, Laidley, Brown and Bridge Streets and Teralba Road. Related to parts of portions 98, 99 and 100. D.P.3805, declared 1901 was an extension of West Wallsend related to portions 99 and 100. It included Fegan, Edden, Price, South and Watkins Streets. Fegan, Edden and Watkins Streets are named after local members of Parliament

Early Settlers:

In the 1860's settlement in the district was mainly in the fringe areas and no real progress took place until the mid to late 1880's, when the first colliery was being developed. In 1887 William Johnston and family moved to West Wallsend and built the present Museum Hotel. Most of the settlers from the period 1886 onwards were miners and their families.

In 1891 22 local people were foundation members of the towns' Co-operative Society, their names appear under the subheading titled Organisations. Blanche Clinton was postmistress in 1888 and later the same year Alexander McKinnon followed by Millicent and Henry Woods in 1889. James Lowe came to the town in 1895 and obtained employment in Seaham No. 1 colliery.

Early Industries:

West Wallsend was founded on coal mining. In July 1888 the West Wallsend Coal Co. colliery commenced production after some years of lead up work. The Monkwearmouth Coal Co. colliery also began producing in the area in March 1890 after 4 years of preparation. It became Seaham Colliery in 1891-92. West Wallsend Extended (Killingworth) opened in 1892. Seaham No. 2 was opened in 1905. These four mines formed the economic basis of the town. West Wallsend Colliery closed in the mid-1920's; West Wallsend Extended (Killingworth) ceased production for 4 years in December 1910 after an explosion, and was closed indefinitely in 1930, but is now in operation again. Seaham No. 1 closed in 1932; and Seaham No. 2 in 1945.

Early Transport:

A double-decker, open-topped horse bus, drawn by four horses carried passengers between Wallsend and West Wallsend. The colliery railway could also carry passengers on occasion. In 1910 a steam tram service replaced the horse bus to Wallsend, a distance of 7 miles. There was a junction to Speers Point at Brush Creek (Edgeworth).

Railway:

The early coal companies constructed their own private railways from West Wallsend to a junction with the main line near Cockle Creek. This line was used for passengers as well and was in service from September 1888 until 31st January 1930. A steam tramway was inaugurated between West Wallsend and Wallsend in November 1910.

First Post Office:

Opened 1 July 1888. The first postmistress, Miss Blanche Clinton, was appointed in July 1888, followed by Alexander McKinnon in August 1888 and Millicent Woods on 1st January, 1889. Henry Woods became her assistant on 8 January 1889. In 1891 a Telegraph Station and Money Order office was opened.

First School:

Public School opened in November 1889. It became a school with both primary and secondary departments in April 1913. Its status changed to a public school in 1932; to a district rural school in 1934; a public school in 1938; a central school in 1944; and a public school in 1964. Mr. W. Jarvie was the headmaster from 1892-1899. In 1892 the school had 153 pupils, and by 1899 this number had risen to 355. West Wallsend Evening operated as an evening public school from 1891-1892, and from 1905-1911. It operated as an evening continuation school from 1911-1931, and from 1933-1934. West Wallsend High School opened in January 1964.

Organisations:

In 1891 a few workers who were residents of West Wallsend formed a local Co-operative Society. The first meeting was held in William Harden's home and the West Wallsend Co-operative Society Ltd was formed with 22 shareholders. Foundation members were:- J. Stenhouse, A. Leckie, D. McNeil, J.L. Gray, J. Snedden, A. Anderson, W. Campbell, R. Snedden, W. Harden, J. Oakes, J. Swan, T. Wilkinson, J. Donnelly, T. Robertson, R. Blakeley, J. Rees, M. Fleming, J. Hughes, A. Henderson, D. Wilkinson, R. Wilkinson and E. Lewis., J. Stenhouse later became the first President of the Lake Macquarie Shire Council (1906).

Town:

During 1886-88 some 40 workers were employed on shaft sinking and foundation work for the start of the coal mines. They were housed in huts clustered around the two mines. The first house built in the area was sited in Teralba Road. West Wallsend was at its peak just after the turn of the century when all four mines were operating and some 6000 people were resident in the district. An explosion in 1979 wrecked West Wallsend Colliery but there was no loss of life.

In 1933 a mile of stone curb and guttering was laid by the unemployed on the dole. It was called "The Golden Mile"

Population:

  • 1887 40 persons (estimated).
  • 1900/05 6000 persons (estimated).
  • 1911 567 homes and 2723 persons. Occupied homes only
  • 1921 574 homes and 2752 persons. in all cases.
  • 1933 517 homes and 2023 persons.
  • 1947 475 homes and 1683 persons.
  • 1961 742 homes and 2687 persons.

Workforce:

West Wallsend Colliery used strikebreakers during the 1888 General Strike. It was the first time on record that inexperienced men had worked a coal face in the Newcastle district. They were protected from the miners on strike by a detachment of 50 red-coated artillery men with a Gatling field gun, and some 80 state police. The troopers and police arrived in the town on the first passenger train on the newly completed railway from Cockle Creek. The employment of the strikebearers was terminated at the conclusion of the strike which lasted for several weeks.

Water Supply:

1902.

Sewerage:

1963.

Further Reading:

Back to "Westy".West Wallsend, Centenary Committee, 1963.

Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin:Vol. XXVI no. 450, April 1975 pages 78-98, and Vol. XXVI no. 45 1, May 1975 pages 109-123: "The Railways and Collieries of the West Wallsend District" by B.R Andrews.

Streets in West Wallsend