Local Treasures: Plan of Morpeth 22nd June 1849

Morpeth, June 22nd 1849. (Elkin Papers, A6022(iv) University of Newcastle's Cultural Collections)

Morpeth, June 22nd 1849. (Elkin Papers, A6022(iv) University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections)

Day Shift – 19/11/2013 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle discusses a mysterious rare plan of the Township of Morpeth drawn on June 22nd 1849 held in the papers of the late Emeritus Professor A.P. Elkin C.M.G., M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt. We know next to nothing about its author or the circumstances regarding it creation.

Broadcast Notes:

Within the papers of the late Emeritus Professor A.P. Elkin lies an early plan of the township of Morpeth. It is clearly dated 22nd June 1849, but bears no markings of authorship. The plan measures approx. 36cm x 27.5cm, marked in pencil and ink, with a light watercolour wash.  The construction materials of the extant buildings are identified as Red for brick, Yellow for stone, and Green for wood. At the bottom right hand side is an embossed seal “DE LA RUE & Co BRISTOL BOARD” which indicates that the paper stock came from London based stationer founded by Thomas De La Rue, which appears to have been advertised as available in Australia (according to TROVE) since at least 1846. There is no indication of an author.

Stamp located on bottom right hand side of Morpeth Plan.

Stamp located on bottom right hand side of Morpeth Plan.

The overlay below provides a rough idea of the boundaries of the plan. It is very difficult to line up the line of the river against where is runs today. We can see the original course of the river has changed, and sections are now with dried up billabongs and hardly discernible today.

Morpeth 1849 superimposed on Google Earth 2013 Landscape (Thanks Russell Rigby)

Morpeth 1849 superimposed on Google Earth 2013 Landscape (Thanks Russell Rigby)

In his book Morpeth and I (1937, facs. reprint 1979), A.P. Elkin quotes from the surveyor W.H. Wells, who published a description of Morpeth in A Geographical Dictionary or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies on the 1 January 1848. Wells says:

Morpeth. A town in N.S.W., in the county of Northumberland, and parish of Maitland, originally called the Green hills: it is situated at the head of the navigable part of the Hunter River, 20 miles by water from Newcastle; it at present contains about 635 inhabitants, viz. : 334 males and 301 females, an Episcopalian church and parsonage, a Wesleyan chapel, a ladies’ school, and two day schools; fine inns, one steam flour mill, a soap and candle manufactory, five large stores, some excellent shops, 37 stone and brick buildings, and about 117 wooden buildings; steamers constantly ply between this place and Sydney; coal promises to be abundant at a very short distance from this river. The land is the property of E.C. Close, Esq. , who has from time to time disposed of portions of it on building leases. The extensive wharf of the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company is here, and throughout the greater part of the year there is a daily communication to and from the metropolis by the steam vessels of the Company; a considerable number of sailing vessels also trade between this place and Sydney. There is a pretty church erected dedicated to St James. A coal mine is in actual operation under the direction of Mr Close, jun. , also the extensive steam flour mill of Mr John Portus. About two acres on the bank of the river are used as a Government wharf; an officer of the Custom house from Newcastle is stationed here.

Wells mentions the type of buildings in some detail, which leads us to conjecture whether he either had some knowledge relating to the plan following the publishing of the article.

The township of Morpeth is inextricably linked with its original colonial settler, Edward Charles Close, who was born in Bengal, India, in 1790. He arrived in the area, then known as “Green Hills” in 1821, and was set to work as Engineer Of Public Works  at Newcastle, constructing a fort with seven guns on the site of present day Fort Scratchley, (recorded by Henry Dangar in his 1822 survey as “Fort Thomson”).  He also constructed a pagoda house for the signalman, upon which was erected a signal fire, which consumed around a ton of coal per night. (Ref: NMH 30 Dec 1927 p.4) This was the precursor to the Nobbys Lighthouse.

The land that he settled on was called “Illulaung” (also spelt “Illulung”, “Illalung”) and was an Aboriginal name denoting the whole area south of the river including the East Maitland hills (Elkin, Morpeth and I, 44). Close built his house Closebourne, which he later sold to Bishop Tyrrell in 1848. He then built another house very close by, which he called “Morpeth House”.

The first mention of the name “Morpeth” in both the New South Wales Government Gazette, and the Sydney Herald that we managed to check appears in 1833 . The “Morpeth” that appears in use in the 1820s actually denotes the site of the proposed township of Maitland, or Wallis Plains.

Thanks to Andy Carr, Librarian for Professional Researchers, Access and Information at the State Library of NSW, who drew our attention to an 1834 survey of Morpeth located online here: http://library.sl.nsw.gov.au/record=b1512633

The actual plan is here: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/ItemViewer.aspx?itemid=975159&suppress=N&imgindex=1

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung, 1834 (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung, 1834 (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung (1834) Overlay 2013 (Thanks Russell Rigby)

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung (1834) Overlay 2013 (Thanks Russell Rigby)

The State Library of NSW also hold two further digitised plans of relevance. The first is a drawing (supposedly) drawn by Edward Charles Close circa 1840 showing  the property as well as the landholdings in the Morpeth district. Permanent Link to the record is here: http://library.sl.nsw.gov.au/record=b2952674~S2 The digital image is here: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?itemID=865428&ACMSID=0

Edward Charles Close (?) Drawing circa 1840 showing  the property as well as the landholdings in the Morpeth district (Courtesy State Library of NSW)

Edward Charles Close (?) Drawing circa 1840 showing the property as well as the landholdings in the Morpeth district (Courtesy State Library of NSW)

The other is a “Plan of fourteen building allotments in the Town of Morpeth, Hunter’s River: for sale on the 19th January 1841 by Hunter’s River Auction Company” Permanent link to the record is here: http://library.sl.nsw.gov.au/record=b2432011~S2

The digital image is here: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?itemID=861826&acmsid=0

Plan of fourteen building allotments in the Town of Morpeth, Hunter's River: 19th January 1841(Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Plan of fourteen building allotments in the Town of Morpeth, Hunter’s River: 19th January 1841(Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

We don’t know who drafted our plan, but it may have had something to do with the clergyman who administered St James Church.  The plan is located with a number of Diocesan documents that had been presumably provided to Elkin for his work on the Diocescan history. The man in charge of the parish was the Reverend Josiah Rodwell, who was made Minister of Butterwick, Seaham and Morpeth on the 16th December 1848, and was raised to the priesthood on June 3 1849. (Elkin, Morpeth and I, 99), and served from 1848-1851. The date of the plan as June 22nd 1849 might be significant as a preliminary work towards a census of the parish.

For a view of Morpeth in 1865 from the Illustrated Sydney News see the article on the University’s Coal River Working Party site here: http://coalriver.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/the-town-of-morpeth-in-1865/

Gionni Di Gravio
Archivist, UoN

Report on Unidentified Plan M2660A

Unidentified Plan - M2660A [undated]

Unidentified Map – M2660A [undated]

Back in June and July 2011 when we were ensconced scanning two and a half kilometres of our plan collection, we came across this one. It appeared to be used as a linen backing for another plan M2660 in the Collection of The Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society. In any case we scanned it as well, and assigned it a number M2660A, as the place names were unfamiliar to us and might prove of interest to researchers.

Thanks to Peter L. Johnson, historian, who in recent days not only identified our mystery linen plan as being a “cadastral-styled map showing the colonial partitioning of surveyed runs among the system of rivers and plains to the south and south-west of the present-day regional centre of St George, in the Shire of Balonne, southern Queensland, through to the NSW border”, but also wrote a report on its identification for us.

Peter has provided a copy for free download here:

Report on Unidentified M2660A QLD Map – Prepared by P. L. Johnson 4th June 2013 (539 KB PDF File)

Thanks Peter.

Gionni Di Gravio
4th June 2013

ICAM Australasia Meeting Melbourne 2011 – Report

Dome of the State Library of Victoria

On the 28 October 2011 we attended the Annual Meeting of Icam Australiasia in Melbourne. The University of Newcastle was represented by Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist and Chair of the Coal River Working Party and Ms Ann Hardy, Secretary of the Hunter Branch of the National Trust, post graduate scholar at the University studying the historic  James Fletcher Hospital Site and member of the Coal River Working Party.

What is Icam?

icam is the international confederation of architectural museums and an organisation of architectural museums, centres and collections. It is dedicated to fostering links between all those interested in promoting the better understanding of architecture. In 2010 the Architecture Museum University of South Australia became the inaugural Australian institution to participate in a conference of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums (ICAM).  At the invitation of the ICAM Board, the Museum hosted a seminar at UniSA for colleagues from Australasian institutions holding collections of architectural records. This was the first time representatives of these collections had met as a group and engaged in formal discussions. We agreed to continue the collaboration, and to form ICAM Australasia.

Why were we invited to attend?

Our University holds significant holdings of architectural plans, of particular importance is the Pender Archive representing three generations of architects, one of the largest and most comprehensive architectural collections in the country.

What was discussed?

Morning Session was held at RMIT University. Welcome from Harriet Edquist, Officer in charge of the University Design Archives.

Update from Christine Garnaut, Convenor of icamAustralasia

What do we want to achieve and what are we are able to achieve as a group bearing in mind the charter for ICAM is:

• Preserve the architectural record
• Raise the quality and protection of the built environment
• Foster the study of architectural history in the interest of future practice
• Stimulate the public appreciation of architecture
• Promote the exchange of information and professional expertise

– resourcing issues, community engagement, getting collections out there – exhibitions,

– interesting to learn of the archives of Mervyn Ashmore Smith (11/12/1904–14/3/1994), a Collection held in the Museum in SA. Melvyn Smith was an architect and town planner here in Newcastle up until 1953.

– Viewing of the RMIT Design Archives with Harriet Edquist, Building 15. Highlights included the Romberg Archives – designer of the Administration building at Newcastle, and lecturer at the University of Newcastle.

ACTIONS:

1) Collate our architectural related collections, research output and community contacts – such as Pender, Morton, University, subdivision plans, various architectural projects and mapping across the plan collections, South Maitland Railways (SMR), Les Reedman’s work, Professor Barry Maitland, Bob Donaldson, Ross Deamer, Snowball and other photographic Collections with emphasis on built environment, Architectural firms, involve Architecture staff and students, papers, theses etc.

2) Provide a historic context grid for these collections, e.g. Google Earth mapping of information, utilising subdivisions, photographs to provide context of plan with the historic landscape of the time, Russell Rigby’s overlays.

3) Pull together this architectural related archive into a single portal, incorporating links with our local community networks in the Hunter Heritage Network and National Trust, to provide a Hunter Branch chapter to link in with icam Australasia. Such items include the following:

We have also begun the scanning of the Pender Archive, they will be included here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627165745889/

Other digitised map/plan/built environment related collections of possible interest include:

Mahlshedt and Gee Surveyors – Newcastle – Jan 1886
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627126833932/

The Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627009132400/

Map Treasures (General scans of interest from across the collections)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627003398259/

The Athel D’Ombrain Collection
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627892125061/

4) Promote ongoing activities such as National Trust walks AAA walks http://www.thelockup.info/architecture-walks/ , collaborations between Coal River Working Party and Faculty of Architecture and other areas of the University relating to built environment, adaptive reuse, artistic collaborations e.g. http://www.thenovocastrianfiles.com/2010/07/aa-co-mine-managers-house-1849.html

Following lunch we made our way to the afternoon venue which was the Rare Printed Collections Meeting Room in the State Library of Victoria.

– Welcome from Mary Lewis followed by a session of short presentations followed by discussions convened by Helen McLaughlin

T & G Building Plans

– Professor Miles Lewis, Faculty of Architecture Building & Planning, University of Melbourne.  “Proposal for a short course for Curators: Collecting and interpreting architectural drawings”.

– Peter Johnson, Architect & Heritage Consultant, member of the AIA National Heritage Taskforce. “Proposal to establish a process for Institute State and Territory Chapters to more effectively assist cultural institutions to collect and archive documents of notable Australian architects”.

Topics for further discussion:

Promote the exchange of information and professional expertise:

e.g. Brainstorm ways in which we could engage more actively with each other and also engage researchers with the collections that we hold.

e.g. Discuss whether or not to link to established groups like Museums Australia or the Australian Society of Archivists through their special interest groups.

Foster the study of architectural history in the interest of future practice:

e.g. Discuss whether or not it is worth organising a special session/track of papers at a SAHANZ conference. (The 2012 conference is at University of Tasmania, Launceston, 5-8 July; abstracts are due by Monday 14 November)

Preserve the architectural record

e.g. Discuss implications of digital records and evolving platforms.

Raise the quality and protection of the built environment

e.g. How might we engage with this issue?

Stimulate the public appreciation of architecture

e.g. through our websites and collective activities such as exhibitions

Mary Lewis with participants

Mayfield and Waratah Plans

M3495

[Subdivision Poster] This Delightful Suburb, Tiverland, Close to the Botanical Gardens, North Waratah, The Centre of an Important Manufacturing Locality. 21st January 1886.

MAYFIELD’ Folder of Subdivision Plans (c. 1862 – 1937)

Containing over 152 subdivision plans of the Mayfield suburb (Mayfield, 2304 New South Wales), including those of Waratah and North Waratah localities that later became part of the present Mayfield area. The folder was privately purchased by Mr Gionni Di Gravio from David McLean (Cook Hill Books) in the late 1990s and donated to the University of Newcastle’s Archives in June 2011. The original folder was dis-bound to enable the plans to be separated and accessioned.

The images can be used for study and personal research purposes. If you wish to reproduce this image for any other purpose you must obtain permission by contacting the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections.

The digitisation of these images was made possible by the kind generosity of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627126349915/

Local Treasures: Subdivision Plans

M62 - Cooks Hill Subdivision NewcastleM63 - Hamilton Cameron's HillM60 - KotaraM61 - The Highlands North Waratah (now Mayfield)M1590 - Pindimar City, Port Stephens, New South Wales. [1919?]M1590A - Pindimar City, Port Stephens, New South Wales [1919?]

M1591 - Mount Pleasant Estate, Adamstown, 1913.M1592 - Mowbray’s estate, Adamstown [n.d.]M1593 - Bingle’s Hill Estate Tighes Hill, Newcastle, Saturday August 9th, 1902. M1594 - Birdwood Estate, New Lambton, n.d. M1595 - Plan of Homesville, West Wallsend.M1596 - Newcastle City Property, Wednesday July 5th 1882.

M1597 - Ocean Park, Merewether Beach, Merewether Estate, Saturday 26 March 1927.M1598 - Newcastle Extension  - Beresford, “Newcastle’s New Model Suburb” [June 1921].M1599r - Newcastle Extension – Beresford, “Newcastle’s New Model Suburb”  [June 1921] M1599v - Newcastle Extension – Beresford, “Newcastle’s New Model Suburb”  [June 1921] M1600 - Mayfield Hill Estate, Waratah [ 1920s]. M1601 - Panorama Estate, New Lambton [ c.1920s]

M1602 - Kenibea Estate [Township of Kahibah], May 15, 1920. M1603 - Hobart Park Estate, New Lambton, [n.d.]M1604 - New Lambton, Saturday December 17, [1921]. M1605 - Newcastle Heights, Saturday November 30, 1929. M1606 - Newcastle Heights, Saturday November 2, 1929.M1607 - Bar Beach Subdivision, Newcastle. Satuday 9 February, 1929

Day Shift – 21/06/2011 – 02:10 PM

Presenter: Carol Duncan

Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

University of Newcastle Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the University’s recent foray into the art of plan scanning presenting the first fruits from a collection of land sale subdivision plans formerly in the custody The Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society (est 1876).

The beautiful building that once housed these plans, erected in 1886, originally stood on what is now the corner of Blane (now Hunter) and Burwood Streets Newcastle.

The Northumberland Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society (est. 1876)

Mayfield Plan M3162 and Paxton Plan M3160

Mayfield Great Northern Estate 15 October 1927

We are proud to announce the very first sample scans from our new plan scanner installed this afternoon. It will open up a new portalfor the wider research community  to our large format archival collections. They look absolutely beautiful.

Paxton Auction Sale 21 April 1923

 

What to look for in a Mayor?

Morris Light
Morris Light


The Life and Legacy of Morris Light (1859- 1929)

Day Shift -16/09/2008 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: John Clarke
Producer: Jeanette McMahon
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the life and legacy of Alderman Morris Light. Morris Light (1859 – 1929), served as Mayor of Newcastle during the period from 1924-25 and had initiated the creation of historic Town Hall building. In February 2007 rare plans of the Town Hall were deposited in the University’s Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library. On the eve of our own Council elections, he is an inspiring figure to all budding future Lord Mayors and an example of what to look for in an individual aspiring to such a position of civic duty.

Broadcast Notes:

How did the University Archives come to hold the papers of Alderman Morris Light?

We hold the personal papers of the Auchmuty Library’s first and greatest benefactor Miss Reta Light (1898 – 1989), who upon her death in September 1989 left the Library $1.5 million. The Light Memorial Trust was formed to administer the endowment. According to her will, the money was to be used to purchase books, periodicals, microfilms and musical scores. From 1991 to 1999 the Trust financed over half a million dollars worth of acquisitions including a fine collection of Australian poetry , rare first editions of works by James Joyce and Thomas Hardy and impressive editions of Le Corbusier and titles related to the history of theatre. As part of her papers we also acquired those of her father, Morris Light (1859-1929).

The Town Hall

A set of rare plans of the Town Hall were donated in February 2007. Morris Light served as Mayor until December 10th 1925, and besides setting in motion the construction of the city hall, his achievements also included the electrification of the tram service, the creation of a children’s park at Centennial Park, an art gallery and museum.

He considered his greatest achievement the construction of the City hall and Civic Theatre complex, although he never lived to see his dream finally completed.

From our enquiries, these appear to be the only original plans of this building from the period that are known to exist. All extant plans are photocopies, probably due to the nature of the acidic paper upon which these originals were printed which becomes very brittle over time and therefore difficult to preserve.

The plans of this building also hold great sentimental importance for us, as we hold the records of Morris Light (1859 – 1929), who was Mayor during the period from 1924-25 that initiated the creation of this building.We also hold his Diary book where his inspiration for the Town Hall came after a visit to Durban in South Africa. In the vein of Emperor Hadrian he saw Durban’s Town Hall and other impressive public works, and decided that the City of Newcastle deserved better.

The following plans were received (All Photography thanks to Associate Professor Allan Chawner):

1. Title: City of Newcastle New Town Hall.
Scale 1/8” = 1’00”
Approx Sheet Size: 76cm x 66.3cm
Detail: Front Elevation
Date: 8.[10]. 1925
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by E.F.H
Traced by E.F.H
Checked by W.C.R.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water damage and brittle tears along right hand end, lower right hand corner broken off.

2. Title: [City of Newcastle New Town Hall.]
[Scale 1/8” = 1’00”]
Approx Sheet Size: 61cm x 65.5cm
Detail: Side Elevation
Date: n.d.
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by E.F.H
Traced by E.F.H
Checked by E.W.M.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water Damage along right hand side, some brittle tears.

3. Title: [City of Newcastle New Town Hall]
[Scale 1/8” = 1’00”]
Approx Sheet Size: 62.3cm x 31.3cm
Detail: Section A-A
Date: n.d.
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by G.C & W.C.R.
Traced by G.C & W.C.R.
Checked by W.C.R.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water damage lower right hand corner.

4. Title: City of Newcastle New Town Hall.
Scale 1/8” = 1’00”
Approx Sheet Size: 61cm x 65.6cm
Detail: Section B-B, Tower Room “B”, Upper Part of Tower Room “A”, Bell Chamber and Tower Room “D”
Date: n.d.
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by G.C & W.C.R.
Traced by G.C
Checked by W.C.R.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water damage lower right hand corner.

The Inspiration for the City of Newcastle Town Hall

Morris Light’s Travel Diary from 10th February 1923 – 1st May 1923 holds the clues to where he got his inspiration for the Town Hall building after visiting Durban in South Africa. The Diary was later recycled as Newsclipping Book, containing clippings from 24th December 1924 – August 1929. University of Newcastle Archives Rare Books & Special Collections Unit. Shelf Location A7143.

Here is his report in 1923 to his fellow Aldermen and Mayor:

Report to His Worship the Mayor and Aldermen
Report to ‘His Worship the Mayor and Aldermen’ 1923

The following clipping is also of relevance describing the newly elected Mayor Light as a light that shine down across the city, as the Town Hall building itself was modeled on the Pharos Lighthouse of Ancient Alexandria, one of the seven ancient wonders of the World. How fitting that Newcastle received its own wonder.

Morris Light newclippings 1925
Morris Light new clippings c.1925

The Life of Morris Light

Morris Light

Morris Light

Morris Light was born in Kovno, Western Russia in 1859, but left there in 1879 escaping the persecution of the Jews that was gaining momentum during the period. During the period from 1879 to 1884, he moved to Scotland and operated a draper’s business in Glasgow. He later emigrated to New South Wales, Australia in 1884 landing in Sydney with 200 pounds sterling in his pockets. From Sydney he travelled to Mittagong, then Moss Vale before coming to Newcastle in 1886.

In Newcastle, he settled in Carrington and operated a business selling household wares in a horse drawn cart. In 1887 he married Sarah Jacobs, a 32 year-old English woman, and the couple had four children, Hilda (1888), Bertram (1889), Myra (1892) and Reta, who was born on the 15th March 1898. During the opening years of the new century Morris Light opened his first furniture store in Cowper Street, and then moved to Hunter Street West where it became known as the ‘House of Lights’. The enterprise expanded with a new emporium which was later built and a second store opened at Vincent Street Cessnock. His son, Bertram, was groomed to take over the management of the business which became M. Light & Son Ltd.

M. Light & Son

M. Light & Son

Morris Light was proud to acknowledge his successful achievement of the introduction of consumer credit to Newcastle, which offered finance to customers under his own interest free terms. The success of the system was reinforced by the claim that they had never found occasion to repossess any of their goods. His commitment and service to his local community was also a feature of his cumulative 35 years of public life as alderman for the Carrington and Newcastle Councils. He served two terms as Mayor of Carrington in 1902 and 1903, being credited as being a catalyst for the early electrical illumination of Carrington Streets.

On the evening of December 10th 1924, while a band outside the Council chambers played “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, Morris Light was elected Mayor of Newcastle, an event that was not without controversy. For the outgoing Mayor, Alderman R.G. Kilgour, refused to invest the new Mayor with the robes of office. Apparently upset at not being able to secure a seventh year as Mayor, he resigned as a protest against what he termed the “deceit and intrigue” of his colleagues. Morris Light served as Mayor until December 10th 1925. His achievements included the electrification of the tram service, he was also an advocate of the electrification of the Newcastle to Sydney rail link, the creation of a children’s park at Centennial Park, and he set in motion the construction of the city hall, offices, art gallery and museum.

He considered his greatest achievement the construction of a self-funded City hall and Civic Theatre complex, a task which involved a battle between Council and the illustrious coal baron Mr John Brown. Mayor Light wanted the coal baron to reliquish possession of the old Black Diamond Hotel site as a ‘gift’ to the people of Newcastle so as “to have a Town Hall befitting the prestige of the city”. The coal baron didn’t agree, and suggested they site the Town Hall at the congested eastern end of the City, as well as affirming that he would resist every move to resume the site proposed by Mayor Light.

Funeral of Morris Light

Funeral of Morris Light

As history would have it, Morris Light died of Pneumonia at 7.10 am on the 26th July 1929, aged 74 years. His funeral at Sandgate cemetery was attended by 300 people and involved a joint Jewish and Masonic ceremony. He never lived to see his dream of the City Hall and Civic Theatre finally completed.

Opening of the New Town Hall

Bertram Light at the opening of the new Town Hall

Bertram Light at the opening of the new Town Hall

At the opening of the new Town Hall Alderman Wheeler gave credit to his predecessor for the new building, the lights outside bear a commemorative plaque to honour Morris Light’s contribution. These buildings stand as treasures to the city of Newcastle and highlight the magnificent achievement that people of vision can have on a place.

Gionni Di Gravio
September 11, 2008