We are trying to preserve the history of Stockton (Australia). If you have any photographs, written material or family story that relate to Stockton's past we would be only too pleased to copy or record the material and file it in the Societies' records and so preserve the History of Newcastle's first suburb.
The Past - Burrinbingon & the Worimi Tribe
Known to the indigenous people as Burrinbingon the territory extended from Stockton to Port Stephens. It was a land of plenty for the Worimi Tribe. Food was in abundance. Oysters, pippies, fish and native animals provided a staple diet supplemented by plants such as yams and roots.
One of the first industries to be established in the district of Newcastle was the lime kilns at Fullerton Cove. Large piles of shell or middens used by the Worimi people had accumulated over many years. The remains of these middens can still be found in the sand dunes along Stockton Beach.
The Discovery of Newcastle
The discovery of Newcastle Harbour in September 1797 by a young naval officer resulted from the loss of the colonial ship Cumberland which had been stolen by convicts in Broken Bay. Lieutenant John Shortland was sent to capture the convicts. It was while he was searching for them that he discovered the harbour. He landed at three sites on the western side of the peninsula, before spending the night on the southern side of the harbour near Nobbys. Shortland named the northern peninsula Point Kent.
The Stockton Historical Society erected a monument at the southwest point in 1997 to commemorate Shortland's discovery of the Hunter River.
Stockton was first named Pirate Point because in October 1800, convicts escaped in the colonial vessel Norfolk at Broken Bay. While making their way north the sloop was wrecked on the southern point of the Stockton Peninsula.
First Settlement in the Port of Newcastle
In June 1801 the first settlement was established at Newcastle with Corporal John Wixstead as Commandant. Surgeon Martin Mason succeeded Wixstead. Ensign F. Barrallier drew up maps of the Harbour. He wrote "There is plenty of water to be had on the northern shore by digging a little way down." The settlement was closed in February 1802. It was resettled in March 1804 by Lieutenant C. A. Menzies.
Land Grants & Stockton's First Settlement
The first land grants at Stockton were awarded to Thomas Potter McQueen, 10 acres on February 8, 1830, Alexander Walker Scott a grant of 50 acres on January 16, 1835 and 70 acres to Dr. James Mitchell on November 6, 1835. Mitchell also had a land grant of 1010 acres which took in the area from the river to the ocean from the northern boundary of the Stockton Cemetery and one mile north. This is all of the present day Fern Bay. Dr Mitchell acquired the McQueen and Scott's grants and in the course of time this land south of Clyde Street, formerly owned by Mitchell, became the "Quigley Estate" named after W. B. Quigley, Mitchell's son-in-law. It was generally known as the "Private Township of Stockton." All contracts were on a leasehold basis not freehold. The estate that occupied the southern end of the peninsula was the main industrial area. Even the Stockton coalmine land was leased from the Quigley Estate.
Early in 1887 the State government had subdivided the land to the north of the Quigley Estate. The blocks of land sold quickly and by 1889 the area became known as the "New Township". This was the beginning of Stockton as a residential suburb. In 1938 Stockton became part of the Greater Newcastle Council.
Newcastle's First Industrial Suburb
1799: Hugh Meehan was operating a sawpit on the south western shore of Stockton.
1801: Lime burning commenced on the northern part of the peninsula with convicts providing labour, for collecting and burning the oyster shells. From 1880 to circa 1900 there were two establishments producing lime.
1838-1848: Salt works were established by A. W. Scott.
1842-1850: An iron foundry was built.
1842: Dr. James Mitchell built a tweed mill on the south western point of Stockton installing the most modern machinery from England. The mill was leased to Messrs Robert Fisher and Alex Donaldson who employed about 300 people. In one year the factory produced 70,000 yards of tweed and 800 yards of flannel. Destroyed by fire in 1851, it was the largest factory in the colony.
1853: The Stockton Chemical Plant exhibited in Sydney some of its products; sulphuric acid, nitric acid, muriatic acid and later, manufactured superphosphate. The acid plant was at the corner of Hunter and South Streets. Chemical plants operated until 1867 under different owners.
1872-1876: C. T. Stephens operated a tin smelter near the coal mine site.
There were saw mills in operation until 1950. Most of the shipyards operated a mill.
Coal Mining On Stockton
1860: Jonathan Dixon bored for coal at Stockton.
1868: Lambton Coal Co. sunk a shaft at Stockton. Scottish Australian Mining Co. obtained a lease of 610 acres to mine for coal. A trial shaft was commenced in the Monmouth, Roxburgh, Clyde and Douglas Streets area in 1869. Trial shaft was abandoned in 1870.
1882: The Stockton Coal Company was formed in; the first coal was brought to grass in 1885.The mine was 376 feet deep, one of the deepest in the area at the time. Callen Bros. constructed the coal loading wharf which was completed by October 1885 when the first shipment was loaded. Their major contract being to supply the Melbourne Gas Company with coal.
1887: 365 men employed at colliery.
1893: Stockton Coal Co. sunk a shaft near Dunbar and Flint Streets. (No 3 shaft).
1896: Stockton Colliery disaster when eleven men were killed by the release of carbon monoxide from a "gob fire" in the old workings of the pit.
1897: The "Memorial Gate Piers", Lynn Oval, to perpetuate the names of those killed in the colliery disaster was opened by Sydney Smith the Minister of Mines. Coal production for the year was 146,837 tons.
1908: In January the mine ceased production after a life of 28 years. The machinery at Stockton Colliery was taken to Teralba for the Stockton Borehole Colliery.
1996: In December 1996 the centenary of the Stockton mine disaster was marked with the planting of an avenue of eleven trees at Lynn Oval. A plaque acknowledging the rescuers was also unveiled.
Another plaque was unveiled near the mine site with the names of the twenty nine men who lost their lives during the period the mine was operating.
Shipyards & Shipbuilders
Coal mining and shipbuilding were Stockton's two major industries. However while the colliery operated for a period of 28 years, shipbuilding was a major industry in Stockton for well over a century, from 1847 until the early 1960's. Today smaller vessels such as fishing boats and leisure craft are still being constructed and the Callen Brothers/ Beattie & Davis slip, the oldest working slip in Newcastle, is still used by local fishermen and boat owners.
1847: Stockton Shipbuilding Co. was founded. 1847-1850: Taylor Winship was recorded as a ship builder at Stockton when he built the schooner Pilot in 1847. A slip was laid down by Winship on the south eastern of Hunter Street, near Newcastle Street.
1857: After Winship had left Newcastle the firm of Cameron, Ritchie and Hay occupied the site. It must be remembered that the present day Wharf Road on the eastern side of Mitchell Street was until the 1960's the foreshore of Stockton. Shipyards were established along this foreshore which was then the southern side of Hunter Street. On the western side of Mitchell Street, there was a busy shopping centre on the north side of Hunter Street, while further west on the southern side was the Patent Slip.
1860: Cameron, Ritchie and Hay, owners of foreign built brig Venture.
There seems to have been a number of "partnerships" formed to build and buy vessels. For example:
1863: Wm. H. Manson, master mariner, James Gillian, Thomas Nicoll & Alex. Hay, shipwrights were the owners of the 328 tons Scottish built barque Canny Scott. In 1865, William. H Manson, James Gillian and Thomas Nicol were registered as the builders of the small 28 ton, stern wheel paddle steamship Stockton. They were also the owners until 1876 when it was sold to Thomas Adam. From 1878-1884 James Gillian & John Hay were in partnership as the owners of a number of British and American built sailing ships.
1860: Robert Cameron, (by 1864 described as "shipwright from Wickham", T. H. Urquhart master mariner & J. McLaughlan baker West Maitland, were partners in the 235 tons, brig Flying Cloud.
1862-69: Robert Cameron and David. A. Ritchie were owners of a number of ships. The Cameron, Ritchie and Hay slip was reported to be capable of handling a vessel of 200 tons.
1874-1891: Richard Lynn launched a 2 masted ketch Hunter in 1874. He was reported to have cut the timber on Stockton to build a number of his ships. The slip and shipyard were one of the several located at the southern end of Newcastle Street. Other vessels built on Stockton by Lynn included Annie C. Lynn 1876, May Jennings 1882, Grace Lynn 1884 and Condong 1891.
1875: The four Callen brothers, Peter, Michael, Austin and Harry, bought out the Hay's shipyard. They enlarged the slipways and soon made a name for themselves building tugs, ferries, lighters, wharves and bridges. In time they would dominate the shipbuilding industry in Newcastle. They were also timber merchants with a large timber yard, a steam saw-mill, a joining works and a patent slip.
1880: James Chilvers of Stockton built a small ketch of 27 tons. Chilvers' yard was in front of the old Federal Hotel in Hunter Street, on the eastern side of Mitchell Street.
1885: The Callen brothers' shipyard was closed as the Stockton Colliery was set up. Peter Callen constructed the wharf for the colliery along the foreshore. He later constructed a new slip adjacent to the Mercantile Rowing Club, which is now the site of the 16 foot Sailing Club on the western shores of Stockton.
1895: The Callen brothers' partnership was formally dissolved. Michael, Austin and Harry had leased land and established a separate ship-yard at a site near the Boatrowers Hotel. Their yard was known as M. A. & H Callen or "Callen Brothers". Peter Callen's yard and business affairs were simply "Peter Callen Shipbuilder & Timber Merchant". Austin Callen acquired the Tomago water supply and built tugs to carry fresh water from their windmills at Tomago to the waiting ships. The lease of the Callen Brothers shipyard was taken over by Edward Beattie circa 1932. Beattie formerly from the Brisbane Water district where his grandfather had been a shipbuilder had previously worked for the Callen brothers as yard foreman. Later he was joined in the partnership by shipwright Ellis Davis. The firm was known as "Beattie and Davis" and built a number of the passenger ferries operating between Newcastle and Stockton for the Stockton Ferries Pty Ltd including the Darra in 1934 and the Harrier in 1936. Edward Beattie retired circa 1940 and Ellis Davis was the proprietor until the yard was closed in the late 1950's.
1928: Peter Callen aged 80 died. His shipyard was closed. The number of vessels built by Peter Callen and his brothers M, A, & H Callen is so extensive that we will include a list of ships in this series of shipbuilders, at some future date.
1940: Following the outbreak of World War II, the firm of Slazenger, makers of tennis rackets, established a shipyard on the Parramatta River to be followed later by a second on the Hunter River at Stockton. The land on the ballast adjacent to Beattie and Davis shipyard was leased from the Lands Department for the period of the war. Wynne S. Breden was the manager.
There were three shipyards operating side by side; Stockton Ferries Pty. Ltd. owned by Thomas Walter; Beattie & Davis and the Phoenix Shipyard.
1948: Wynne Breden formed a company and purchased the shipyard from the Slazenger Construction Company. Apart from shipbuilding, the firm secured a contract for all shipwright work on the Department of Main Roads' (DMR) ferries. With the closure of the yard in the early 1960's the Carrington firm of Steel Pipe & Tank Construction purchased the machinery and buildings.
The Patent Slip
1860: James Scott established a patent slip on the south western shores of Stockton. Vessels ranging from 199 to 700 tons were slipped in the first four months. By June 1862 Scott's slip was employing fifty men.
1864: John Scott & William Henderson of Stockton built the 88 tons brigantine. Lismore. They were the owners until August 1867 when it was sold to John Wood a Newcastle businessman.
1869: Daniel Macquarie purchased the patent slip.
1876: Captain Timothy D. O'Sullivan and Burns acquired the patent slip from Macquarie.
1890: The Stockton Council rate book shows four slips and slipways in operation in Stockton.
1892: Newcastle's first floating dock arrived at O'Sullivan's patent slip.
1905: Thomas Warland now the owner of the Patent Slip.
1920: Following the death of Thomas Warland the Patent Slip was sold at auction to Albert Hough. The name was changed to Newcastle Patent Slip & Engineering Company, the manager was William Leeder. The slip was often referred to as "Leeder's Slip".
1932: The patent Slip was closed and the plant and machinery sold.
Vehicular & Passenger Ferries
Stockton is situated on the northern side of Newcastle harbour and for residents before the Stockton Bridge was constructed and opened in 1971 the vehicle and passenger ferries were the only means of transport to the southern shore unless a very long journey was undertaken to Hexham.
1853: Hugh Boyce commenced a ferry service to Stockton from Newcastle with a rowing boat.
1855: Licenses were issued to ferrymen for the first time. Hugh Boyce, Thomas Goodall and John Rinker obtained licenses.
1869: The steam ferry Lady Belmore commenced a service between Newcastle and Stockton. The owners were Captain Hugh Boyce and his son Robert who was the engineer. Fares were 6 pence and 12 pence after 8pm.
1878: Hugh Boyce added the steam ferry Saucy Jack (Built by the Callen brothers, Stockton) to his fleet for the Newcastle/ Stockton run.
1882: (June 30th) Bluebell (1) arrived in Newcastle to be operated on the Stockton to Newcastle service by Hugh Boyce.
1883: Ferry Adeline built at Callen's slip for Hugh Boyce.
1889: First vehicular and cargo ferry commenced running. This was Peter Callen's horse punt.
1894: John Limeburner established a ferry service to the Dyke End using 22 foot skiffs; the service was later extended from the Dyke End to North Stockton.
1898: Limeburner purchased the launch Trilby for the Dyke end service. His first launch driver was Tom Walters who later established Stockton Ferries Pty. Ltd
1916: The vehicular ferry Mildred was built at Walsh Island Dockyard and launched that year for the Stockton to Newcastle service. The operation of the service was taken over by the Public Service Department.
1930: The vehicular ferry was taken over by the Main Roads Board (DMR).
1932: Following the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the vehicular ferry Kooroongaba was purchased for the Stockton - Newcastle service for 7,500 pounds.
1934: Passenger ferry SS Bluebell (2nd) sunk in a collision with coaster Waraneen. Three passengers were drowned. The ferry had previously been involved in a collision with the passenger ship SS Gwydir in February 1926 in which the sponson was damaged. The master of the passenger ship was blamed for the accident.
1938: Cox Brothers ferry Unit caught fire near Walsh Island and burnt to the water line. Tom Walters takes over the passenger ferry service.
1939: The ferry service to North Stockton discontinued. Buses transported passengers to the Mitchell Street ferry wharf. The Stockton Ferry company took delivery of a new ferry the Stockton. There was a story told that the owners intended to name the new ferry after the aboriginal name for the suburb (Burrinbingon). However, after many enquiries to the local paper and historians without any results, Tom Walters decided to call his new vessel Stockton.
1942: The vehicular ferry Mildred was transferred to Peats Ferry to replace the two "Peats" vehicular ferries that had been requisitioned for war service.
1945: Mildred returned to Stockton on May 5. The 38 capacity vehicular ferry Lurgurena was purchased for the service, arriving on Christmas Eve. The Mildred was sold to Phillip Island and Westernport Shipping Co.
1950: The vehicular ferry Koondooloo (43 capacity) was purchased for the Stockton Newcastle service. The ferry went into service in 1952.
1955: Widespread flooding in February and March resulted in both vehicle and passenger ferries being cancelled on occasions leaving the suburb of Stockton isolated.
1972: Stockton Bridge was opened by the Premier of NSW Mr Askin. The Newcastle Stockton vehicular service was discontinued.
The three ferries; Koondooloo, Lurgurena and Kooroongaba were sold to Gold Fields Traders for $12,000. They left Newcastle with the Showboat Sydney Queen in tow of the tug Polaris for the Philippines in 1972. The vessels were all lost when the Kooroongaba rolled over and sank off Seal Rocks on January 9. The three remaining ferries were tied to the oil tankers mooring buoys at Trial Bay but were ordered to be removed by the oil company. They were cut loose and allowed to drift ashore where they soon went to pieces. The Polaris continued on to the Philippines. (Information Cliff Callen.)
1978: After more than 50 years of service by the Walters family, the Stockton Ferry Company was sold.
1980: The new ferry wharf on the Newcastle side at Perkins Street was completed and the service was moved from the Market Street wharf.
1982: In July the Stockton Newcastle ferry service was discontinued. Sidd Fogg Coach lines doubled services to Newcastle providing 22 return trips daily.
1983: The service recommenced with the passenger ferries Westhead and Edith Walter.
1986: The New Urban Transport ferry Shortland was launched at Carrington Slipway Tomago and placed on the Stockton Newcastle in May. In June 1986, the U.T.A. ferry Hunter was launched at Carrington Slipway for the service.
1989: The passenger ferry service commenced operating from the new Queens Wharf terminal.
2002: On December 9 the new Stockton ferry terminal with access for the disabled was opened by the Minister for Transport Mr. Carl Scully and local member Mr Bryce Gaudry MP.
The Newcastle terminal with access for the disabled is yet to be constructed. Tenders for its construction were called for an upgrade of the access on February 21, 2004.
The First Twenty Years
In a history of education at Stockton, the local public school in its centenary publication stated that: 'some private schools functioned part-time prior to 1861 when the first National School opened'.
In 1861 four local patrons, Mrs J. Scott, W. Norton, E. Blake, and T. Warland applied to the National Board of Education for the establishment of a non-vested school in Stockton.' [Terry Callen, "St Peter-In Chains Stockton".] 1861: Mrs Emma Magnay opened the first school in her cottage at the South-West of Maitland and Mitchell Streets with 12 boys and 16 girls. When the Magnays were appointed to Waratah School in 1862, Mr Greenborough served until 1865.He was followed by Mr Simpson who resigned because of ill-health in 1872. The school building was condemned as unfit and closed in 1873. A lease of St Pauls Anglican Church hall, which had been built in 1870, made possible the re-opening of the school under Mr J. Somerville as School Principal and Miss Heffernan as teacher in 1875. Mr Hunt replaced Mr Somerville as School Principal in 1880 and the present site of Stockton Public School in Clyde Street was dedicated on September 15th of that year.
1881 - 1882: the first section of the present school and school residence was completed at a cost of 2051 pounds.
1884: there were 180 school pupils enrolled. School Principal was Edwin Hunt, assistant Miss Delia O'Brien.
1886: Enrolment increased from 205 to 396 as work began on the Stockton Colliery. Mr Marchant was School Principal.
1887: the new infants' section completed. School enrolment had reached 446.
1891: the new girls department was opened at Stockton Public School. The headmaster reported underground rumblings, but the examiner of coalfields advised that the nearest mine workings from the mine were 80 yards from the school and no damaged need be feared.
1892: Mr Lane succeeded Mr Marchant as School Principal. Enrolments now 502.The District Inspector Mr McCormack was advised that the mine working were approaching the school.
1894: Mr Byrne was School Principal.
1894: Miss Kenny, for some years an assistant in the Infants' Department, was killed by a train at the Hamilton level crossing.
1896: the year of the fatality at the Stockton Colliery, Mr McLaren succeeded Mr Byrne as Headmaster. The departure of the miners for the Maitland Field following the closure of the pit caused the attendance to fall progressively to 260 during the ten years ending 1906. Boys and girls departments were amalgamated under Mr Burke as School Principal. The whole school was amalgamated into one department with a total enrolment of 241. Miss Roche Infant Mistress was transferred.
1913: A Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), was formed at Stockton Public school. Mr J. Williams Headmaster.
1916: At the suggestion of the Stockton Municipal Council, the Department of Education acquired the land along the lane, east of the residence, between Clyde and Monmouth Streets. This was dedicated on April 7 of that year. Gas was laid to the residence in the same year.
1920: School enrolments had increased to 430 with 10 teachers.
1921: Enrolments had reached 536 with 236 in the infants department. The weather sheds and staff-room were converted into class-rooms. Because of an acute shortage of water, a windmill was erected on a 20 foot tower.
1923: New Infants' department of four rooms was built facing Monmouth Street at a cost of 4580 pounds.
1926: Site plan for a school at the Garden Suburb (North Stockton) approved.
1928: Two additional rooms added to infants department. Mr Bruce School Principal.
1930: dual desks were supplied to the Girls' Department and five years later to the Boys' Department.
1939: On the outbreak of World War II the school was transformed into a National Emergency Services Aid Post. The Headmaster Mr. C. Walker assisted in manning the centre continuously.
1944-1953: Mr. R. H. Dixon was School Principal. During 1950-51 the original buildings were modernised and in 1952, two kindergarten rooms were built in the Infants Department.
1954: Mr J. B. Cox was Headmaster. Separate girls' and boys' departments re-established when school rose to first class status.
1969: Co-education was re-introduced at Stockton Primary School.
1972: Mr. M. McLuckie School Principal Stockton Primary School.
1973: Mr. W. Schumacher School Principal Stockton Primary School
1978: A pre-school for children was established in the school grounds at Stockton Public School. Mr. W. K. Williams School Principal.
1985: Stockton Public School celebrated its 125 anniversary.
1988-1998: Stockton Public School Principal was Miss Wendy Merrilees
1995: Foundations of new library were laid at Stockton Public School. The former principal's residence was also remodelled for use as an administration centre. The library was officially opened by the Member for Newcastle, Mr Bryce Gaudry MP in 1996.
1999-2004: Mr Wilson Principal of Stockton Public School.
St Peter's Catholic Church, Stockton
1887: January 30th. St Peter's Catholic Church Stockton was consecrated by the Right Rev. Doctor Murray, Bishop of Maitland. Denominational school opened with classes held in the church. Miss Pierce from Albury was the first teacher at the school.
1903: St Peter's denominational school's first building, a wooden structure was opened.
1918: There were 200 children enrolled at the denominational school. Patrick Clifford Callen started school in the old school building. The children were given Peace Medals to celebrate 'the war to end all wars'. Cliff's first teacher was Sister Theela.
1920: Norbert Callen donated ships' ballast to solidify the sand which covered the school grounds. The ballast consisted of small pebbles which the children believed must be valuable coming from such 'far away places'. It soon became a favourite pass time, 'fossicking' through the ballast looking for treasure.
1957 July 21: St Peter's Kindergarten King Street, was blessed and opened by Bishop Dr. John Toohey. The building was closed in the 1970's after attendance dwindled. A new kindergarten was incorporated in the present two-storied school building.
1971 July 25th: St Peter's Primary School's two storied brick building was blessed and opened by Bishop Dr. John Toohey.
1973 -1985: Sister Mary Bernadine School Principal St Peter's Primary School
1985: After sixty years residence in the Stockton parish the Sisters of Mercy left Stockton. Sister Mary Bernadine was the last sister to teach at St Peter's Primary School.
1986-1988: Mrs J. Skeffington was School Principal at St Peter's Primary School.
1989-1991: Mr Noel Smith was Principal, St Peter's Primary School.
1992-1996: Mr Mark Twohill Principal, St Peter's Primary School.
1996-2004: Mr Stephen Corrigan Principal St Peter's Primary School.