Saturday, January 8, 2011

Summer Holidays In Carrington

The Christmas/New Year breaks are pretty special, they give you time to relax, unwind and practice some photography in exotic locations .... such as Carrington. Now I will admit that Carrington doesn't have wonderful beaches where you can kick back to relax in the sun, neither does it have rolling acres of lush vineyards with fattened grapes that are ready for picking or wonderful cellar doors dispensing some of Australia's best vintage. Nope, Carrington is Carrington, an often much neglected industrial suburb on Newcastle Harbour, located on a narrow piece of land between the Hunter River and the shores of Throsby Creek.

When Newcastle was first settled, Carrington, as we know it  today, didn't exist. It was a low lying tidal island that was known to the local Aboriginals as "wuna - r tee" and was known to be abundant with fish, mud crabs and oysters. Originally named Chapmans Island during the convict era, then later Bullock Island, it rose from the mud from 1859 when extensive dredging commenced in Newcastle Harbour to help alleviate flooding (probably following the 1857 floods) with the spoil spread over the tidal flats gradually raising the island above the tidal influence. Then during the 1860's Bullock Island became a ballast dumping ground for the visiting coal ships and as the demand for coal continued to grow, more expedient methods were sought on the loading of the colliers with Mr. E O Moriarty, the Chief Engineer of the NSW Steam Navigation Board, expanding Bullock Island to accommodate the growing coal trade. In 1874 Mr Moriarty commissioned the British based  Armstrong Hydraulic Machinery Factory to design  a hydraulic crane delivery system for the Bullock Island site. James Barnet was commissioned to design  the Power Station to accommodate the new fangled  equipment and so in 1878 Newcastle led Australia when the £20,000 ($16 million) Carrington Hydraulic Power Station began operations with the first load of coal dispatched using this new system on the 18th March 1878. It wasn't until 1916 -17 that electricity replaced the steam pumps and in 1964 the last of the internal machinery were removed from building for scrap. Recently the building has been purchased by the NSW State Government which intends to restore this excellent example of 19th century industrial architecture to its former glory after nearly 50 years of disgraceful neglect.   

It was also during the 1860's that families first began to settle on the former mud flats and a town quickly established itself around the growing community, so much so, that the Municipality of Carrington was proclaimed in1887, with a brand new council chambers being completed one year later in 1888. The town continued to grow with over 2,000 residents by 1900 and when BHP opened, Carrington's future seemed assured. However, the 1930's depression proved disastrous for Carrington with 58% unemployment or those lucky enough to be working were on  reduced wages, so much so that a shanty town called 'Texas'  sprung up to provide struggling families with rudimentary accommodation

Carrington survived the Great Depression and continued to grow as a tough, no nonsense, Newcastle working class suburb with its proximity to the railway, wharves and associated industries providing workers with stable employment. This is also evident in the amount of pubs in Carrington, with nearly a pub on every corner! Even with the closure of BHP in 1999 and the relocation of many supporting business, Carrington, once again proved resilient and has since then become more gentrified as young families take advantage of the towns proximity to Newcastle.

Today Carrington is still an industrial suburb, dominated by the Hunter Port Corporation, however, it is still dotted with many historic buildings that are over 100 years old, including the Hydraulic Power House, Public School, Post Office, Council Chambers, hotels and numerous private houses that give the suburb it's unique rough diamond character. 

So if you are looking for something to do during your next summer holidays, grab your camera and take a stroll back through time in Carrington.   

1 comment:

Geniaus said...

I've driven through Carringotn many times and not given it much thought.
Thanks for this encouragement to stop and learn.