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History of Merewether

The Ridge or HillcrestIn 1835 Dr James Mitchell made application to purchase land of about 900 acres south of Newcastle. later additions to this grant was made by purchase A. W. Scott's grant to the east. The area was named Burwood estate.

Dr Mitchell's eldest daughter married Edward Christopher Merewether who had arrived in Newcastle as the General Superintendent of the A.A. Co.. They built and lived in The Ridge and the area changed names from Burwood, to Merewether.

Burwood estate was divided into a number of townships. East of Watkins street was "The Pottery", The Junction remains, to the west was Burwood then further west was the Glebe. Another area, The Racecourse was adjacent to Frederick street near Dixon Park.

View from The Ridge 1908Merewether Council was incorporated in 1885. The first mayor was F. Kempster. By the 1930's Merewether had an area of 1,114 acres and a population of 8,653. Council chambers were located in Llewellyn street.

Building in the area was held up by bank lending restrictions as a result of possible mine subsidence. Consequently development in the suburb did not take off until the passing of the Mine Subsidence act in 1929 which gave assurances as to incidents involving damage caused through mine subsidence.

Hughes Pottery MerewetherEarly industries were few, the area was almost exclusively devoted to coal mining, but there were a number of potteries notably those belonging to Hughes and Drury, Welhams and Bowtell. Bowtell's pit was bounded by Hickson, Margaret and Morgan streets and was 90 feet (30m) deep. By 1877 there were seven brickworks operating in area and nearly One hundred years later only one survived nearby to Junction School. A copper smelting works operated at Burwood (Glenrock lagoon) during the 1830's and closed down in 1862. The Newcastle Coal Mining Co amongst many others were large coal miners in the area. The Scottish Australain Mining Company later took over the burwood mines.

The early water supply was provided through wells or springs. Offen during dry weather the many creeks in the area would dry up and those without wells would travel to the Wallaby Well (near Beaumont St and Glebe Rd). Washing was often done there too.

Burwood beach was known as the Gulf.

Merewether Beach 1908View from The Ridge 1973The first ocean baths at Merewether were built in 1926, partly in reaction to the sewerage coming from the gulf. In 1928 construction work on the existing baths was begun. The remains of the first small baths are still used slightly to the north. Dixon Park was named after Jonathon Dixon who bored for coal in murdering gulley in 1863.

Compared to other municipalities the development of Merewether was very slow. The first gas streetlights did not appear until 1911 and electricity wasn't introduced until November 1928.



(This history was originally on a page on the Local Studies area of the NCC website - but is no longer there)




The Ridge or Hillcrest as it is sometimes known was the home of the Merewether family. By the standards of the time, it was a fantastic house, with extensive grounds. Hughes' pottery was steam powered and had enormous output. The clay soils in the area produced excellent bricks and other products. Another photograph of Merewether, this time taken in 1973. The rapid growth in the area is evident. This photograph dates from 1906 when Merewether was undeveloped.Note the fence in the background built to stop sand drift.