100 years of Hunter Street on show at City Library

29 Jun 2017

IT has hosted royalty, been immortalised in song and acted as the main artery leading into the heart of Newcastle since the city's early years.

And now Hunter Street's crucial role in the city's growth is being celebrated with a photographic exhibition cataloguing its first century, from the days when it was a rough, unpaved roadway leading west from Watt St.

Hunter-Street-exhibition-inside.jpg8 Hour Day Procession in Hunter Street opposite Brown Street. The eight-hour Day procession was to celebrate the eight-hour working day being enshrined in legislation. The Hunter River Hotel in the centre of the photo traded from 1878 on this corner site of Hunter and Brown Streets. The Bank of Australasia opened in 1854 on the opposite corner. Goold Collection, Newcastle Region Library.

The free exhibition, Newcastle's Hunter St - the First 100 Years, shows the street's gradual transformation throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Many of the buildings and landmarks depicted in the images survive today.

"Hunter Street will continue to see many more changes over the next few years, so the exhibition is a timely reminder of where we’ve come from," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"The buildings live to tell a story of a vibrant past even though many now serve a different purpose from their original use."
Named after the second Governor of New South Wales, John Hunter, the city's main street stretches 3.4km to the west end.

A rare photo in the exhibition depicts the days when an iron bridge spanned the road near today's Crown St to convey coal to the waterfront by steam train.

Hunter-Street-exhibition2-inside-2.jpgOpening of the Australian Agricultural Company’s new bridge, Hunter Street. The A.A. Co. bridge which once spanned Hunter Street was used to convey coal to the waterfront. The original wooden structure which was built around 1831 was replaced with an iron structure in 1865. As this photograph shows, for a short time both bridges spanned Hunter Street. The wooden bridge was not removed until the iron bridge was completed.

Another shows the day in 1901 when the Duke and Duchess of York visited Newcastle as part of their tour of Australia to mark Federation.

The exhibition is based on a book of the same name by local historian and author Julie Keating.

She noted Hunter St's long history of hosting parades and marches - a tradition that continues today with the city's annual Anzac Day march to Civic Park.

The street enjoyed newfound fame in the mid-1970s after musician and comedian Bob Hudson released The Newcastle Song, telling the story of a young man trying to pick up women on Hunter St.

The exhibition is on display in Newcastle Region Library's Local History Lounge until August 26.

See the photos at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/Library/Home