South Newcastle Beach stone shelter stands the test of time

22 Oct 2021

When the stones were set in the arches at South Newcastle Beach, horse and carts filled the streets of Newcastle and beach attire consisted of three-piece suits and ankle length dresses.

Fast forward more than 113 years and the historic structure still stands as one of the oldest European hand-crafted structures on the New South Wales coast.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle has embarked on work to shore up the foundations of the historic beach shelter to ensure the iconic arches are preserved for decades to come.

“The foundations of the stone shelter have deteriorated over time. This was revealed during work on the Bathers Way revitalisation project at South Newcastle Beach, so City of Newcastle has developed a solution to strengthen the structure.

“The stone shelter and its foundations have been surveyed and stabilisation works, that honour the original structure while allowing construction activities to continue safely, are underway.

“This is a fantastic outcome for the City. It’s important we prioritise this historic feature in its existing location so people can continue to enjoy the shelter along Bathers Way, as have countless beachgoers since 1907.

“Significant progress has been made on the Bathers Way revitalisation project at South Newcastle beach since August 2020, with the piling to create a strong foundation and protect the coastline now complete and the majority of the bleachers constructed. The foundations for the skate bowl are in place, with the surrounding skateable surfaces due to be constructed in the coming months.”

Image: Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust Co-chair Mark Metrikas onsite at the Bathers Way revitalisation project at South Newcastle Beach

Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust Co-chair Mark Metrikas said the stone shelter holds significant heritage value and has been an enduring feature of Newcastle Beach for more than 113 years.

“National Trust is delighted that City of Newcastle is preserving the South Newcastle stone beach shelter by integrating it with the new skatepark and Bathers Way extension.

“We appreciate that City of Newcastle reached out to the National Trust to discuss options to stabilise the shelter when recent excavation revealed some issues with the rubble stone foundations.

“The stone shelter was built in 1907 as part of beach improvement works. In that era, most of the bathing and picnicking took place at South Newcastle.

“The arched stone shelter harks back to the time when promenading was popular, and people wore their Sunday best clothes to be seen near the beach.

“The shelter is the last of several pavilions and shelters in New South Wales.”

The Bathers Way revitalisation project at South Newcastle Beach is part of City of Newcastle's Coastal Revitalisation Program and is partly funded by a $5 million grant from Round Five of the Resources for Regions program, part of the NSW Government's Restart NSW Fund.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the NSW Government is supporting mining related communities through the Resources for Regions Program with 149 projects totalling $345 million already delivered since 2012.

“Mining makes a significant contribution to the NSW economy, supporting more than 100,000 jobs across the State, and this program helps provide crucial funds to maintain community facilities and roads,” Mr Toole said.

“I’m thrilled to see this project progressing, not only is it helping create new jobs and driving economic growth, but it’s also delivering lifestyle improvements that will enrich the wellbeing of the Newcastle community for generations to come.”

The project is scheduled for completion in Spring 2022 and will feature a shared path from Shortland Esplanade to King Edward Park, improved access to South Newcastle Beach and King Edward Park, new skatepark and bowl, parking, landscaping, lighting and accessibility improvements, new fitness equipment, shade, seating, viewing areas, and a new café/kiosk and accessible amenities.