Late 19th and early 20th century subdivision plans of Hunter suburbs feature in a new Newcastle Library exhibition that offers a fascinating look at our early neighbourhoods.
Around 70 hand-drawn plans used to promote land sales will be displayed from the archives of auctioneers Creer and Berkeley, the surveyor Alfred Francis Hall and the Merewether Estate.
“Subdivision plans are a very visual and colourful way to explore the history of our suburbs,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who will open Streets of Our Town tonight, said.
“This exhibition offers the chance to take a look at early Cooks Hill, Merewether, Hamilton and other suburbs across greater Newcastle.
“The plans were designed to advertise the sale of land to home buyers and help them select their special block on which to build the lives that would ultimately form modern-day Newcastle as we know it. The plans reveal the early evolution of our residential suburbs across the greater Newcastle area."
Some 2,500 subdivision plans from the library’s collection will be digitised this year, making them searchable online at the Library’s Newcastle Collections Online
The subdivisions were created on land owned by the Crown, coal companies, private interests and individuals. Some were designed for the convenience of workers, close to industries and other employment, while others offered a seaside or lakeside lifestyle.
“All offered the buyers the opportunity to build their dream home,” Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said. “Auctioneers offered incentives to prospective buyers to attract people to the sales, such as free trams, coaches and trains. This ensured that buyers were at the right place at the right time to purchase their preferred block of land.”
Another exhibition, Ten Years of Newcastle Productions: the art of Trevor Dickinson, is being launched Friday evening.
The exhibition includes drawings, murals and zines of Newcastle’s iconic buildings, houses and places, some of which have now disappeared.
Dickinson’s murals hold a special place in the heart of many Novocastrians. The murals at the tunnel at Merewether and the Newcastle Museum have featured in thousands of wedding, Instagram and family photos.
The exhibitions will be launched at Newcastle Library on Friday 10 May at 6pm and be open until 20 July.