Newcastle East - Bond Street retaining wall renewal

Page hero image We're restoring the historic stairs and adjacent retaining wall on Bond Street, Newcastle East, which are in poor condition and continuing to deteriorate. Work started in January 2019 and is expected to be completed by the end of March 2019, weather permitting.
The stairway has moved away from the wall of the neighbouring residential dwelling and is cracked. The rendered retaining wall and low brick wall at the base have both rotated to the north, and poor drainage at the top of the stairs is affecting the walls of the neighbouring property. The wrought iron fence is also damaged and the landscaping is in poor condition and not suitable for its setting.

The work includes:

  • Excavating behind the existing retaining wall and installing a series of bored concrete piers to provide structural support.
  • Installing paving at the top of the wall to direct stormwater away from the wall of the adjacent dwelling.
  • New landscaping to allow views to the harbour, enhance the connections to the foreshore, and reduce erosion by moderating the slope of the bank.
  • Restoring the wrought iron balustrade and replace missing sections with new material to match the existing.
This work is part of City of Newcastle's city-wide retaining wall renewal program.

HistoryView of Bond Street post 1890. The Earp Gillam and Stanton Catchlove buildings are visible in the foreground to the right of the image, and the stair can be seen in front forming a path down to the rail corridor and sheds. Source: Newcastle Local History Library.

The stairs and wall are listed on the State Heritage Register as part of the Earp Gillam Bond Store Precinct (SHR No. 00762). This precinct includes the Stanton Catchlove Bond Store Building (also known as the Russell Offices), and associated items such as remnant railway tracks and stone walls.
In the late 1800s, Bond Street was cut through the northern part of the garden frontage of the Coutts Sailors' Home (opposite the existing stairs) to provide direct access from Customs House to the navigation headquarters at Fort Scratchley.
The Earp Gillam Bond Store was constructed by prominent businessman James Russell in 1888. In 1890 he constructed the Stanton Catchlove Bond Store Building, a private office building directly to the west.

It is assumed that the Bond Street stairs and retaining wall were constructed at the same time to provide access from a street level office in the Stanton Catchlove Bond Store Building to a basement store, and on to the railway yards in what is now Foreshore Park. They can be seen fully formed in an 1896 survey of the area.