Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Newsletter #1 - Dec 2013

Stockton Historical Society Newsletter - Dec 2013We are launching a newsletter for the group. This will help keep members informed of what's happening between issues of the Journal, especially time sensitive items like upcoming events. The newsletter will also contain updates to the Library, research requests, guest speaker round ups etc. It will be published as and when required.

If you would like to have an electronic copy emailed to you when it becomes available, please email me at:

Monday, 9 December 2013

Members Interest Directory

Are you researching a family with links to Stockton or perhaps interested in shipping, coal or other topic which relates to Stockton?

We are currently developing a Members Interest Directory. This will be in two parts - one for those researching family histories and one for those researching more general topics or non-family history related topics.

If you are interesting in having the details of your researching interest shared with other members, please download, complete and return the following forms:

Please note, you don't have to be a member to have your interests listed.

We hope to have the first edition of the Directory available on our website in March 2014.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Trove Tuesday - SY Aurora - Antarctic Exploration Ship

As would be expected with a place like Stockton, sailing vessels have played an important role in its history. Over the years many famous vessels have visited and played host to Stocktons' people.

On 16 April 1917, the SY Aurora was moored off Stockton.

"STOCKTON." Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 
 16 Apr 1917: 6. Web. 15 Nov 2013
STOCKTON. The Shackleton exploration vessel Aurora, which is lying at Stockton, was open for inspection yesterday, and large numbers of visitors took the opportunity of going aboard the vessel. A silver coin was charged for admission, and the proceeds were devoted to the Red Cross and Field Force Funds.

The Aurora started her life as a whaler in the northern seas around Canada. In 1910, she was purchased to be part of Douglas Mawsons' Australiasian Antarctic Expedition, helping in 1911 to establish a base on Macquarie Island. Her association with Antarctic exploration continued when in 1914 he became part of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. One of her final Antarctic adventures was being the ship used to rescue the Ross Sea Party.

The fo'c'stle head of the "Aurora" sheathed with ice after a blizzard in Commonwealth Bay [Australasian Antarctic Expedition,  1911-1914] [1]
The fo'c'stle head of the "Aurora" sheathed with ice after a blizzard in Commonwealth Bay
[Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914] - National Library of Australia - Creative Commons

After these adventures, she began to run coal between the east coast of Australia (from Newcastle and Sydney) to Chile. This run proved her downfall when in early 1918 she was listed as missing after leaving port at Newcastle. It was believed she was the victim of a U-boat attack, in the last year of World War One.

"THE MISSING AURORA." The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
4 Jan 1918: 5. Web. 25 Nov 2013

Sir Douglas Mawson, interviewed yester day with regard to the mising vessel Au rora, said that if she were lost it must have been due to a submarine attack. She had proved her seaworthiness by navigating 30,000 miles in the foulest weather during the Australasian Antarctic expedition. She had been the fnest boat engaged in polar exploration work. A Sydney telegram of Nov. 26 last said: "'The Aurora sailed from Sydney on June 1 and from Newcastle two days later with a cargo of coal for Iquique. Before her departure she had been overhauled and equipped with wireless apparatus. Shortly after the vessel sailed for South America stormy weather was experienced, but if disaster overtook ,the vessel the wireless plant should have been sufficiently strong to send messages to either Australia or New Zealand. On the eve of his depart ure Captain Beeves informed the Sydney agents that if the weather were favourable he would put in at Wellington, but the vessel apparently did not touch at New Zealand. As many of the crew belonged to Sydney, it is considered that if the Aurora had arrived at Iquique some mes sage would have been received in Welling ton or Sydney. The Aurora was fitted with auxiliary engines.'' Three other ships were announced to be missing, name ly, the Peruvian sailing ship Mario, 'which left Newcastle (New South Wales) five days after the Aurora with a cargo of coal for Callao; the barque Beluga, which left San Francisco with a cargo of oil for Sydney on May 16; and the barque Enoore, which sailed from Prescott, Oregon, on May 3 with a timber cargo for Sydney.

"AURORA MISSING." The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) 
20 Mar 1918: 6. Web. 25 Nov 2013
More Information

Monday, 18 November 2013

Guest Speaker - Kel Grabham - The Mysterious Story of Ruth Emilie Kaye

At our most recent meeting we had guest speaker Kel Grabham from Newcastle Historical Society who told us of the mysterious story of Ruth Emilie Kaye, upon whose death in the 1940s, at 100 years of age, was found to be non-existent. We heard of her troubled childhood years and her later time in Australia as a nurse.

In addition to Kel, we had a number of visitors from Merewether Historical Society. It was great to have a large audience for Kel's very interesting talk.

For more information of Ruth Emilie Kaye, please check the following sites:

Friday, 8 November 2013

Upcoming Guest Speaker: Kel Grabham on Ruth Emilie Kaye

The next General meeting will be held at 7.30 pm on 18 November 2013 with guest speaker Kel Grabham from Newcastle Historical Society who will tell the mysterious story of Ruth Emilie Kaye, upon whose death in the 1940s, at 100 years of age, was found to be non-existent.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

With Thanks to Guest Speaker Aubrey Brooks

At our 21 Oct 2013 meeting we were given a powerful and moving presentation by Aubrey Brooks on the history of BHP, the impact of the closure on the men and women who worked there, their communities and future plans to ensure that this iconic employer and industry is not forgotten.

Aubrey presented in concert with a DVD which showed included fascinating images from the earliest history of BHP and ended with the "tear down" on the buildings after the closure of the plant. Along the way many stories of the dangers of working in such a plant were touched on and many people in the audience remembered many of the events, often because of personal connections to there events. 

As Aubrey himself pointed out, he gives the presentation often all over Newcastle and it is very rare for people in the audience not to have some sort of connection to someone associated with the BHP.

We'd like to thank Aubrey for his fascinating talk and recommend his presentation and Muster Point tours to anyone interested in the history of the BHP and Newcastle (so often intertwined!).

Friday, 27 September 2013

Upcoming Guest Speaker: Aubrey Brooks - 21 Oct 2013

At our 21 Oct 2013 meeting we will have a guest speaker, Aubrey Brooks. Like his grandfather and father before him, Aubrey started his thirty-eight-year working life at BHP at the age of fifteen, and worked there until the last whistle blew thirteen years ago. Together the four Brooks men gave a total 125 years of service to BHP.

Aubrey is passionate about making the general public aware of the personal side of the men and women who gave service and created a unique bond of mateship which has continued, as evidenced by the many who attend the annual “Men and Women of Steel” reunions he organises.

At the time of writing, Aubrey has conducted more than thirty talks to countless members of visiting Service Clubs - Lions, Apex, Probus, Lodges, Rotary, sporting, historical, seniors groups, retirement villages and overseas visitors, who have soaked up some of the emotion of life at the steelworks.

He also conducts tours of the Muster Point. The one and a half hour tours are free; however, voluntary donations are welcome to aid the Memorial Project Fund. 

50 Years of NBN - The History and Closure of the BHP in Newcastle

The Muster Point is a 70 tonne steel sculpture with bronze cast figures, objects, and components from the Steelworks, the building is 8m x 12m x 8m,with associated pathways (railways sleepers and ballast), located near entrance to steelworks site, George St & Selwyn St off Industrial Drive, Mayfield. . (at McDonald's on Industrial Drive turn left going to Newcastle) 
Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association is pleased to offer personalized guided tours of the iconic sculpture "The Muster Point".

This house-size industrial artwork was constructed as a collaboration by famous Newcastle sculptor Julie Squires and steelworkers in 1999, to mark the closure of the steelworks. T
he whole structure, inside and out, has many stories to tell about the history of steelmaking in Newcastle.

If you know any small group that would like to soak up some of the emotion of life at the steelworks, contact Aubrey to make a booking. TOURS ARE FREE and Wheel Chair friendly, and take about

Email: obisan@bigpond.com or Mobile 0407452714.

A number of books and DVD's relating to the history of BHP will be available for purchase on the night.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Soup and Damper Night A Success

The wonderful cooks who supplied the tasty soups!!
The recent Soup and Damper Night held to raise funds for the Society was a great success.

We had 40 people in attendance, both members and visitors, who by all comments enjoyed both the food and company.

The menu included:
1) Spicy Pumpkin
2) Sweet Potato &  Ginger
3) Cauliflower, Leek &  Bacon
4) Chestnut &  Bacon Crumbles
5) Potato & Leek
6) Dutch Pea & Ham

Many stories of the history of Stockton and surrounds were shared on the night and much interest shown in the World War One Photo Frame owned by the Society. Information on the ranks of some men was gathered and recorded.

Soup and conversation!!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Welcome to the Stockton Historical Society!

Thorn Tree Dedication
The aims of the society are to research, study and generally inquire into the history and past of Stockton and its adjoining areas. We have a number of publications, including a quarterly journal and papers on areas of research undertaken by the society.

We are trying to preserve the history of Stockton. 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.