Newcastle from the Custom House 1895

Excerpt of an article written by John Mackenzie, F.G.S., Examiner of Coal Fields, published in “New South Wales: the mother colony of the Australias” in 1896

Newcastle, in the county of Northumberland, the trade of which is second only to that of Sydney, owes its great commercial importance to the different coal-mines which have been opened out close to and within 32 miles of the harbour.

On the south or town side of the harbour, there is a continuous line of wharf 3,607 feet long belonging to the Government, 2,130 feet of which is occupied for cargo berths for deep draught vessels, 500 feet reserved for Sydney passenger steamers; and the remaining 977 feet is used as a general cargo wharf, including a lumber berth for loading vessels with timber.  The whole length of this wharf is lit with gas.

At Bullock Island, on the western side of the harbour, a substantial timber Government wharf, 7,760 feet in length, and four ballast jetties, each 50 feet long and 200 feet apart, has been constructed along the face and round the south end of what was formerly known as the Ballast Dyke; at present 5,500 feet of the wharf is set apart chiefly for the shipment of coal.  The loading is performed by hydraulic cranes of which twelve are erected, capable of shipping 1,000 tons of coal each in twenty-four hours – six being 15-ton, four 9-ton,and two 25-ton cranes, the latter for discharging heavy machinery, &c., and three 15-ton steam cranes.  The remainder of the wharf and the ballast jetties are used by vessels discharging ballast or waiting their turn to load.  Ships of the largest class can load under the hydraulic cranes, and proceed direct to sea through deep water channels recently dredged.  It is proposed to spend immediately £150,000 to further increase the shipping facilities from Bullock Island.  This wharf is now lit by electric light, which greatly facilitates the loading of coal at night, and is one of the finest systems of electric lighting in existence consisting of fifty large arc lamps, each 5,000-candle power.

A branch double line of railway connects the wharf with the Great Northern railway, and along the back of the wharf is laid a very extensive system of sidings and standage room for working coal traffic.

A sand dredge is reclaiming foreshore in front of the hydraulic engine-house, where 2,000 feet of wharf will be erected as a commencement of a 90-acre basin inside the present wharf, which basin it is intended to dredge to a depth of 25 feet where vessels will be able to lie in slack water, and the whole will be lit up with the electric light.

At Stockton, on northern side of harbour, there is a Government wharf 600 feet long with a shoot capable of shipping 1,000 tons in twelve hours.  A sand dredge is also reclaiming foreshore at Stockton.

In addition to these Government cranes, the Australian Agricultural Company have three large private shoots capable of delivery 2,000 to 3,000 tons of coal per diem.  Vessels loading from them can discharge their ballast on to the company’s ballast wharf, lying alongside at a draft of 18 to 6 inches, and upwards.  Vessels drawing 22 feet can load at the company’s shoots.  The Waratah Company also have a shoot at Port Waratah capable of shipping about 50 tons per hour, and Messrs. J. and A. Brown have two shoots on the Hunter River, at Hexham, 10 miles from Newcastle, capable of shipping 100 tons per hour.

Provenance: “New South Wales: the mother colony of the Australias“. Frank Hutchinson, Edited by F. Hutchinson.
Author: Frank Hutchinson
Date of Publication: 1896
Publisher: C. Potter
Place of Publishing: Sydney
Copyright status: Out of copyright
Courtesy: The British Library

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.