Tag Archives: community events

Islington Park History

Lobbying to establish public open space in the new suburb of Islington led to the dedication of Islington Park in late 1878. Originally the official park area was very small, consisting only of a narrow sliver of land adjacent to Maitland Road surrounded by steep slopes that dropped precipitously down to the flat, muddy, flood-prone, alluvial plain of Throsby Creek  which had to be navigated before crossing over the footbridge to Tighes Hill (see the 1910 map below).1

Source: provided courtesy of University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

Source: provided courtesy of University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

The original landscape design of the park was by T.W. Hogue, the Clerk of Wickham Council, of which Islington was a part at the time. The planting of trees, including extensive Moreton Bay figs, was carried out by J. T. Croft just after the park was officially established. The photo below was taken in 1906, 27 years after the fig tree avenue was planted in Islington Park. Entrance gates were located opposite Bevan Street, flanked by a pair of cannons, one reputedly from the First Fleet, both of which have subsequently been lost.2

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Regional Library

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Regional Library

A bowling green was first established in Islington Park on the low ground currently occupied by the oval, flanked to the east and west by swampy ground which was subject to flooding at high tide. Alfred Sharp proposed a revised design for the park, which may have contributed to the realignment of Throsby Creek in the 1880s.

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

By 1906 the topography of the park had changed little. The photo above shows the fenced-off park on the steep embankment with two cows grazing on the alluvial common below. Apart from recreational use, Islington Park became a focus for public meetings and debate, especially for radical and trade union speakers. Thousands of Sunday afternoon speeches have been made to large crowds with banners, parasols and top hats. ‘No brawls ensued, but the speakers of those days were noted for the very forceful manner in which they endeavoured to belittle or defeat the opposition. Over ripe fruit-tomatoes were favourites – and old eggs were most effective missiles’.

During this time the park was also the meeting place for the West Wallsend branch of the Australian Socialist League and later the Socialist Labour Party. In 1931 the park was the site of the first International Woman’s Day rally in Newcastle (second in Australia) which was organised by the Unemployed Workers Movement with around 200 people attending. 3,4

During the 1930s depression, re-chanelisation work on the creek bank provided much needed labour for workers in the area. The banks of the creek below Maitland Road were cemented and the creek was converted into a storm water drain. A Tighes Hill resident remembers Islington Park as ‘mostly scrub’ before the First World War. In the two photos below we can see that by the end of World War II the park was well cleared.5

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 010393 provided courtesy of the Newcastle Region Library

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 010393 provided courtesy of the Newcastle Region Library

 

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 001304 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 001304 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

The bowling club in Islington Park was then moved to higher ground with much public controversy over the removal of some of the fig trees on Maitland Road, which by then had become the major landscape feature that they remain today (see photo below).2

Ron Morrison Collection image no. 001003 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

Ron Morrison Collection image no. 001003 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

The playground at Islington Park remained very basic until recent redevelopment of the park. Collaboration between Newcastle City Council and the community re-imagined the park and it is now a highly popular recreational area for families from all over Newcastle.

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Sources:

  1. Dulcie Hartley, ‘Throsby Creek – a brief history’ in Turning the Tide – the Throsby Creek campaign’ produced by Throsby Land Care and the Tighes Hill, Islington and Maryville Residents Action Group
  2. Newcastle City Council (2000). Islington Park Strategic Plan and Plans of Management – Heritage Places Strategic Plan Part I.
  3. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Friday 1 January 1937
  4. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate,   Saturday 15 June 1918
  5. Tighes Hill School 100 year anniversary

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Early Origins of Islington Suburb

The original landscape around Islington was the home of the Awabakal Peoples. The area was mostly sand flat with surrounding scrubby bush land interspersed with marsh and swamp. Large and small game as well as waterfowl, plants and tubers seemed to provide plentiful resources to the Aboriginal inhabitants of the area.

In early Colonial times when white invasion began, the area was part of what was known as ‘Wallaby Flat’ – so-called because this was a place for hunting game, in close proximity to the penal colony. Excellent water was found in the area. Early white settlers remember the Aboriginal people of the area digging to a depth of four-five feet to obtain fresh water. White settlers report the heat and the flies. Coorborees were held in the region of Beaumont Street near the Broadmeadow Race course.

Source: provided courtesy of the University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

Source: provided courtesy of the University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

White settlers first started development in the area around Hamilton in the mid-1800s and Islington as a suburb began in the late 1800s when James Hubbard and Edwin Chinchen purchased land from the Australian Agricultural Company. They subdivided it and offered allotments for sale to provide housing for miners working in the proximity noting: ‘Nothing can give coal proprietors greater command over their men than having them located on the spot and rooted in the soil’. Attitudes like this would have instigated much of the strong union activity associated with the area after that time. Islington was named after a suburb in London which was the birthplace of James Hubbard.

In its early days Islington was mostly populated by families of miners and railway workers. In response, Islington Public School was established in 1887. The site for the school was purchased from a block jointly owned by James Hubbard and Edwin Chinchen in 1875. By 1893 the school’s enrollment had increased from 200 to 460 as a result of increases in the suburb’s population. In 1941 Islington Public School was one of the first schools in NSW to trial giving students free milk. The photo below shows Mr Mason (1889-1977) a student in 1894 ringing the original school bell with the present day school in the background. 3,4

Source: provided courtesy of Hunter ABC Open

Source: provided courtesy of Hunter ABC Open

Before Islington was sewered, toilets were located along back lanes and ‘nightsoil’ was emptied and taken away for disposal in carts such as the one shown in the photo below of the Eureka Sanitary company. In 1889 a new depot for nightsoil was opened in Newtown or New Town or South Islington (now Clyde Street, Hamilton North) where carts could drop off sewage collected from households in the region and where it was burned in a crematory. The ‘fumes emitted from the shaft [of the crematory] were of such an unhealthy character as to produce nausea, headache and diarrhoea’. It was also claimed that particles of soot from the crematorium escaped from the chimney-stack and was distributed over nearby houses and washed into creeks. In response to ongoing public and private complaints, including from people directly affected in Islington, the company moved its depot to Woodford in 1891.1

Snowball Collection image no. 003308 provided courtesy of the Newcastle Regional Library

Snowball Collection image no. 003308 provided courtesy of the Newcastle Regional Library

 

Sources:

1. Murray, P (2006). From Borehole to Hamilton Jubilee – 1848 – 1932
2. Newcastle Museum
3. Tighes Hill School 100 year anniversary
4. Islington Public School Centenary Book – 1887 to 1987

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The Islington Archives

Hawkins Cart - UON

Hawkins’ cart on Maitland Road Islington in 1906. Photo provided courtesy of the University of Newcastle.

The Islington Archives aims to capture the impressive, unusual, funny and esoteric happenings in the life and times of the village of Islington in Newcastle, NSW.

An exhibition, which is being launched on 10 April 2015 at The Angel Islington on Maitland Road, will be on display for two weeks in the windows of Islington businesses.

During the exhibition (and beyond) local residents of Islington past and present are being asked to tell us what they know about Islington’s history and contribute some personal stories and photos for The Islington Archives blog.

The images featured in the exhibition, and a range of other historical references, will also be available on the blog. You can tell us about the people, places and events featured by leaving your comments.

We’d also love you to get out your shoe boxes and family albums and contribute any photos or news clippings you have that feature Islington. It could be your house growing up, the general store on the corner of your street, or a community event in the park.

If you have photos or stories you’d be happy to share publicly on the blog, via Facebook and Twitter and in the print media, please email us at: islingtonvillage@ymail.com or send an old-fashioned letter to: Islington Village Community Group, PO Box 123, Islington 2296

This project has been coordinated by the Islington Village Community Group with funding from Newcastle Council’s Make Your Place program.


Scarecrows show the way to a sustainable food future

earthsgarden04

From Saturday 19 January, visitors to the inner city suburb of Islington will see a friendly mob of scarecrows on display at the intersection of Beaumont Street and Maitland Road as part of a street exhibition celebrating sustainable food in the area.

The exhibition, which will run for two weeks until 3 February, aims to showcase Islington as a hub for sustainable food production and retail in Newcastle and a thriving suburb with much to offer those who visit.

A website has been created to list details and localities of local foodies in the suburb and surrounding areas.

The project is a joint initiative of the Islington Village Community Group and the Watson Transition Street group, who have a common aim to increase the resilience of the local community by empowering residents and strengthening relationships between people.

The scarecrows were created by students of Islington Public School with the help of local community volunteers. Local business owners will take care of them throughout the exhibition.

The scarecrows have been constructed almost entirely from organic, recycled or reused materials. Many of the clothes were donated by the local Op Shops (Mission on Fern Street and Vinnies on Maitland Road). Filling was sourced from newspaper and plastic bags or from local business Remake, which recycles products for craft projects that would otherwise go to landfill.

When the exhibition ends the scarecrows will be donated or recycled to a new life elsewhere.


Cleaning up Islington Park

 
Clean Up Australia Day 2011
 
Clean Up Australia Day is Australia’s biggest community participation event. In 2011 more than 565,510 volunteers across 7,400 sites collected an estimated 16,464 tonnes of rubbish across the country.
 
This year we’re cleaning up Islington Park again. Last year we had a committed band of 14 volunteers collect 28 bags of rubbish from the park and creek, if you’d like to help us out, meet us at the picnic shelter near the Islington Park playground on Sunday 4 March from 9.00 am.
 
Please wear covered shoes, long pants and a hat and bring gardening gloves if you have them. Bags will be provided. You can register beforehand at the Clean Up Australia Day website or just turn up on the day.
 
You can also check out photos from last year’s clean up and keep up to date with news and events on the Islington Village Facebook page.
 
Hope to see you there!

It’s on again!

Throsby Long Brunch 2010

The Throsby Big Brunch is on again this month in Islington Park!

 The Throsby Big Brunch is an Islington Park Placemaking initiative and the brainchild of Melanie McKinnon, an enthusiastic Tighes Hill resident. After a successful launch in 2010 the event promises to be even bigger in 2011 thanks to a successful application for funding from the Newcastle City Council Community Assistance Program and the fabulous support of local Throsby residents.

On Sunday 30 October from 10 am onwards residents of Carrington, Islington, Maryville, Tighes Hill and Wickham are invited to the table to share food, harvest and conversation under the fig trees in Islington Park. To find out more and reserve your free seat, go to www.throsbybigbrunch.org.


Plans for Islington Park

Islington Park playground
Newcastle residents and visitors are being invited to provide their input on what they’d like to see in the future of Islington Park.

Throughout January, Newcastle City Council is working in conjunction with local residents and community groups in Islington, Tighes Hill and Maryville to gather ideas and volunteers within the local community to help inform a masterplan for rejuvenating the park.

To have your say and find out how you can be involved in shaping the future of Islington Park, go to the Newcastle City Council website and complete a short questionnaire before 11 February 2011 .