The History of Hunter Street
Hunter Street,  Information Pages  (H2)
Lost Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW Au

Theatrical and Sporting Reminiseenees (Newcastle Morning Herald  Thursday 9 September 1897)

Theatrical and Sporting Reminiseenees. BY T.D.


It was in 1854 that the first theatrical made its appearance in Newcastle in the person of a Mr. Muriel, who played Bomnbastes Furioso in the old stockade at the rear of the Custom House. Mesors, C. H. Hannell, A. A. P: Tighe, and Matthews assisted in the performance, and a distinct success was scored. The building afforded little or no comfort, and Mr. Muriel waited upon and advised Mr. J Croft (father of the present manager of the Newcastle Co's pit) who was the licensee of the Commercial Hotel, where the A.J.S. Bank now stands, to erect a theatre, which he did, the building extending from the present bank corner as far as Lashmore's in Hunter-street. Several actors who earned considerable distinction, in the colonial theatrical world years after, appeared hero, notably Messrs. J. L. Hall, J. P. West, W. Andrews, and J. L. Byors (the latter of whom performed alternately at Maitland and Newcastle), assisted by Messrs. Hannell, Abbott, Matthews, F. Ash, Tighe.o, and H. Rouse.

In the year 1857 Mr. Hannell arranged his first hospital entertainments, which extended over three nights. "Othello" was the first production, with Mr. Tighe in the name part, Mr. Hannell as lago, and Miss Olifford as Desdemona. Mr. "Johnny" Hall was also in the east. "Hamlet" was presented on the second night, and "The Lady of Lyons" on the, third. The nett proceeds were £106, which was considered a very satisfactory sum in those days. Mr. Ed. Fanning (grandfather of the inimitable Charlie Fanning of the Tivoli) also took part in the porformances. The theatre was scarcely ever without a lessee and the residents were provided with all classes of entertainment. Professor Anderson, the wizarl of the north, and Professcr Bushell, an electrobiologiet and mesmerist, were among those who appeared here.

In 1859 this building was destroyed by fire. and it was then the Theatre Royal in Watt street was founded in the premises vacated by Messrs. Broughton and Downie, grocers, with whom the present Mayor of Newcastle served his apprenticeship.) ALL THE STARS OF TODAY found their way to the Royal, and matters theatrical fairly hummed for a while. Mr. and Mrs. L. M'Gowan, Mr. Marty Jerdaon, Mr. Ohos. Matthews, Miss Julia Merton, Miss Alice Dunning Lingard, Miss Maggio' Oliver, and Messrs. Edmund 'Hollowav and Gee. Melvillo all figured here at different times. Mr. Holloway practically ran the theatre for two years, and some of the companies he introduced attracted very larges audiences.

(undertaking repairs to text below..)

All the beeoot hiotrionie talent available came to Newcastleo.; and notwith standing the opposition at the Music Hall in Market-street, run by Mr. Magnoy, the Theatre Royal held its own for many years. Those who figured on the boards in eluded W. G. Carey, ChObarles Matthews, O. H. Burford, Jas. OGrden, Lionel Harding, Miss May Gladetone, Miss 0oey Googen. bhelim, Mtss Grace Edgerton, Miss Hattio Bhepherd, Miss Rosa Cooper, and many other equally capable actors and actresses.' Mr. Carey produced "Queen Elizabeth," Miss Gladstone appearing in the name part,' and Mr. Carey s Essex. This was an ec-: ceptionally fine performance, and the seonen was a highly successful one. Madam Duray inaugurated a dramatic season, and played "East Lynno" to most satisfactory business. The Dumb Ballet was also performed by a company of accomplished Fronch artists during the time of the Franco.Prussian war. Mr. Burford also put on a burlesque on "Lucretia.Borgia," and it was in this produc tion that a rather amusing incident occurred. It mas in the poisoning scene, in which a number of collins are exposed to view. The members of the company were not overbur dened with the coin of the realm, and they found it imposeibleto purchase the necessary "props." They did the next best thing, and faked almost everything. In lieu of the coffins they had on the stage a number of small candle boxes painted black, and the ludicrousness of the scene evoked roars of laughter. The "star" was unable to pro ceed for some time, and becoming annoyed he shouted to the audience, "D- funny, isn't it4" The audience evidently thought ao, for trhey roared louder than over. Towards the finish of the performance the "star," in a most serious situation, ex claims, "At last, she.comes (meaning Mr. Melvillo, who was taking the feminine part). But she did not come the first time, nor the second, nor the third. By this time the hero was maddened with rage; he left the stage in search of the heroine, exclaiming, "Where the - is Melville?" " She" came in soon afterwards wiping "her" mouth as a proof that "ehe"' thought there was ample go to the corner hostelry before the cue was given to go on. The two incidents were gBOVYOeAwIVB OF O0NBIDERABLE ?MIIL&OITY, and the audience enjaoyed the performance immensely. At the time the Royalwaes run ding the Musio Hallin Market.equare was in fullowing. and it was here W. J. Holloway mado his first appearance as Sir Thomas Olifford in " The Kunohback," his partner (Mr. Newton) appearing as Master Walter. Mr O. H. Burford also produced " Bip Van Winkle" at this theatre, which was followed by a very sueoaesful production of "No body' OChild," by " Joesy " Googenheim and Frank Stuart. In 18til1 the courthouse was used for theatrioal purpaes. A Mr. Cole. man produced " The Seven Agesof Man,"and on several occasions the building was engaged by amateurs. The original Christy Minstrols also performed hero, tho comtany includi, g Meesrs. T. H Rainford (who is still hale and hearty in Sydney), flish, Melvin, Stuart, Norton, and Brown, with Mr. L. Nor nmaon ase pianist. It was there that Mr. Melvin sang for the first time in Newcastle the"ballad " dilver Shinilng Moon," which hoe since been rendered by Mr, O. H. HEnnell with esnsiderable sucoese times out of .num ber. The Court Minstrels soceeded the Ohrsty, and altogether tho reidenti bbd ample opportunitios of spending most enjoy. able evenings.

The Sohool of Arts buildinog was also used in 1869 for theatrical pur. poses, " Bombastee IFurioso" being about the first piece produced. The late Messrs, O. F. and H. E. Stokes took part in the performn ance, as also did Mr. Matthews, Mr. Lionel Harding, and Miss Roasa Cooper. Vhen Lyseter Opera Company, a powerful .onlbincation, with Miss Luoy lioott and MIr. hjuiresr s tlhe principals, also played to satisfaetory besr. ness. The VictoriaTheatre, in Parskn street, was built in 1870, " Little Noll," the Cali. fornian Diamond, being the filrt to, occupy thoe boeards, on the nilght of Thursday, April 17. Mr. J. A. South was the loading maon of the combination. 'ho progranmme sub. mitted woas a varied one, and the opening night (Easter Monday) being a public holi. day, lihe building was packed to the doors. In 1879 there wero no less than four places of amusement, vie., the Victoria Theatre (owned by Messrs. Joseph Oreer and Geo. Wallace), the Protestant Mall in King-street, the City Hall in Newcomnoostroeet, and the I School of Arts in unttor-∑sreeat The " Vio."


noawered all purposes until 1801, when it we?e considorably altered under the supcrvision of Mr. Jas. Henderson, architect, acting on hshalf of the directors of the company, who had just acquired the property. The opening was a very successful one, Rice's Evangeline company, under the minagemont of the Mosers. Mae?Mahon, the well-known theatri cal entropreneurs, submitting o most enjoy able programme.

THE TURF. The early racing history of Newcastle dates back to the year 1810, when races worehold at the Broadmooados. Sullicient of the wild bush was cleared to form a suit able track, and many a keenly.contested match was wsItoeosod here. The starting point was eat the smelting works, and the horses finished at the present junction of the Sydney line. The champion over nearly all distances at this time was a horse called Chaneo, which was ridden in his orincipal races by James Priest and Jas. Ranclaud.


Ohance also distiiguiehed himself by annenr ing several matches, one of which, run on the Lake-road (now Darby-street). over a course extending from St. John's Church to the White Horse Hotel, woo for the chem. pion the admiration of overybody who sew the flutter. At Broadmeadow there wan never a reoognised race meeting run, the different owners subsoribing sutlloient mhoney among them to provide bridles and saddles for competition. The insignilleanco of the prioes did not in any way intrerfere with the performance of the horses, all of whilch were fairly ridden to win every time they fgured on the track. The result wa, that exciting and interesting finishes were the order of the day, and the several owners vied with one another in their efforts to produce the best horeeflesh in the district. The surround: ings, of course, were of the most primitive character, but the horses end their owners were out for pure sport, and they got it. From 1848 to 1850 Mr. 3. Fisher, of the Stookton Tweed Factory, bseame possessed of a veritable champion in a horse salled Charlie, who was trained on a private track laid down by Mr. Fisher not fear from the !

factory. Whenover Charlio was nominated to race on this side of the water, he was brought over in a boat. For n conaidoerable time he held undisputed sway, boating ovory thing pitted against him in the easiest possible manner. 3Evootually Mr. H. Rouse came into posseosion of a horse called Tippo, whioh was trained qt the stables situated on the sito of LHope Bros.' prenent store, in Hunter. street. Tippo and Oharlio were matched in duoe course, and the race excited considerable attention. The audmirore of the two loddi?e mustered in strong force, and for tile first time in his caroeer Oharlie'e colouro were lowered, Tippo beating him rather easily. The winner was frequently heard of after wards, and he won many a decent race for hito popular owoner. By this time, 18.t, the "eportof kinge" had obtained such a firm ?old of thie populate that it was deemed advisable to establish a racecourse, and the ,nggestion was no sooner thrown out than oseveral gentlemen, with Mr. Jas. IHannell at their head, formed a track at Morowethore, just below Mr. Morowethor's present rosi lance, the tlnishin prnat being opposite thie

rudoly.constrncted grandstand, adjacent to the present Racecourse Inn. Mr. Hanneol was elected judge and president, and Mr. Peter Fleming occupied the distance chair, his duty being to see (the race being run in heats) that there was no pulling in the pro. liminary heats.; or rather to see that the horses ran on the inside of the chair. Mr. H. A. Smith was one of the moet successful nominstore at THE FIRSB TMEETING on the new course, his mare Septimus win ning for him several tidy races. About 12 months after the club was formed the entries bee-smo very numerous, and on one ocscasion no less than 29 horses competed in a Maiden Plate. Bajah and Conrad, both bred by Mr. Reynolds, at Tocal, took part in the race, but they failed to land the coveted prise, the winner turning up in Lunelle, ridden by Matt. Scott; Rajah (Sam Holmes) finiebing second, and Conrad (Dick Snell) third. The importance of the Nowcastle meeting was noted throughout the colonies, and on one oo:asion a man named Green brought the celebrated Van Tromp over from Melbourne, but failed to boeat the local champions. Paddy Ward, who owned the famous sire Now Warrior, also had a couple of good ones in Pasha and Sappho, both of which played a very prominent part in the racieg history of those days. Up to the time of his defest by Lunelle, Rajah was the champion of the now course, and his praises were sounded all over the place. Subsequentlv he was ourohbsed hv Dr.

Bowker, who never had cause to regret striking the bargain. The "sports" of those days evidently made the pace a trille too warm, and for a time there was a dearth of rneing, the last meeting ,at M'erewether tak log place in 1856. From this out until the formation of the present club, in 1862, races were held on the Old Clay-road, the course extending from the white gates (now the Hamilton railway station) to the Tighe's Hill Bridge. There was a second track erx tending from Tighe's Hill along the Mait. land road as far as the Iron Horse Hotel, then presided over by Mr. C. Thomas. There were very few first-class horses com peting at this time, one of the beet, known as Dick, being owned by Mr. Jas, Cameron. Gratis, another very fair performer, was owned by Mr. F. J. Shaw, and every time he appeared on the mark he was the cynosure of all eyes. He was a beautiful.lookilng beast, and was not only a good track horse, hut an exollent galloper. He gave evidence of this on one oooasion, when he cat out the mile and a quarter and a dietanee in 2min 4Oaeo, with W. H. Shaw in the saddle. Gratis was not kept for racing purposes

alone, as he was more frequently seeon bo tween the shafts than on the track. In 1862 the present Newcastlo course was formed by a number of gentlemen, most of whom figured prominently in the local racing world for many years after. A club was soon established, and after weeks of weary and tiresome work a track was formed, after the land had been surveyed by the A.A. Com. pany's surveyor. Subscriptions were raised for the purpose of enclosing the course with a three.railed fence, the work being pur. formed by Messrs. Dugald Cameron and W. Francis, the cost being borno by Mr. F. Shaw. Numerous holes had to be filled, and scores of other improvements effected before a race could be run; but the sportsmen stuck to their task until everything was ready for the first race meeting. Manure was effectively placed all over the ground with the most gratifying results, the course eventually becominog as green as a billiard cloth. MIr. James Hannell was chosen as the first president and judge, and the other gentlemen asnsociated with him were : Mesare. F. J. Shaw (secretary), O. B. Ran claud (judge) . H. Rouse, - Petherbridge, E. Harvey, W. H. Whyte (starter), and W. A. Sparks, members of the committee. The programmes used by the stewards for the initial meeting were printed on silk as a memento of the occasion. The grandstand, which was of a most primitive character, stood on the sits of the present one, and was occupied by the stewards and a few friends. THE P?RINCIPAL BVENcT of the meeting was over a mile and a lquarter, and was run in heats, the money tor the prizes being subscribed by the president and secretary from the residents. The winner turned up in Othello, carrying 9st .t1b, ridden by Mr. W. H. Shaw. This horse was owned by Mr. Leicester (who at this time was manager for Mr. Dangar). Faugh. a.ballach (owned by Mr. W. A. Sparke) and Lady Wildair (owned by Mr. Richard Dines) also competed in the race. Faugh-a-ballagh subsequently found his way to Meolbourne, where he distinguished himself over the sticks. Another horse to make a name for himself in Newcastle was The Spy, owned by Mr R Harvey, for whom the horse won a great number of races. On one oceasion The Spy was taken to Homebush, where he was well in thle two handicaps, and he suoe ceeded in landing both events with compara tive ease. .Mr. Ihannoll did his utmost to induce Mr. Harvey to scratch his horse for the Homobush meeting end reserve him for the M?lbourno Cup, in which he was handily weighted, but he would not hearken to the advice, and instead of landing a big coup Mr. Harvey had to be satisfied with a comparatively insignificant sum as a result of the double win at Homobush. The Spy took part in several important matches, and on April 10, 1871, he performed the fastest two miles on record, up to this time, in 3min 85lse at Homebush. At different periods in the early history of the club some

well-bred horses mado their first appearance in Newcastle, preuoratory to figuring at Homebush and elsewhere. Loup Garou, a sterling performer, was one of the number, also Maid of the Lake, Zo, Zenobia, Kildaro, Eomperor, Maritana, and many others. Tho principal nominators were :-Dr. Bowker, Miss Baldwin, Messrs. Ivory, W. A. Sparke, B..Harvey, R. Dines, J. Eales, A. Bowman, and A. Cobcroft. A mare called Rose of Australia, belonging to Mr. Eales, was regarded as a likely candidato for the Meol bourne Cup, and she was put through her facings on the Newcastle track. Wheiln taken to Meolbourno it was foured that poe. oibly the jockey would be led into tempta tion, and to guasrd against thio Mr. Eales decided to allow the lad £1000 a year so that he could give the mare his undivided atten. tion. As the Cup day approached the doings of Bose of Austr!lia on the track were duly noted along with the other equine heroes, and it came as a sort of sur. prise to the mare's many Newcastle ad ,nirers when they heard that she had gone dead lame, bThe vet, was called in, and upon making an esamination he found that a piece of silk had beoon ingeniouely, yet cruelly, drawn through one of the tendons, the pain being so sovere that the mare could scarcely bear her own weight on the iojured member. In later years Newcasltlo iatro duced to the public another crack in Sir Solomon, by Lord of the Hills out of Maid of the Lake. During his career he placrd no less than 410 handiosps to his credit, and he was recognisod all along the line as the forced handicap chamnpion It woas scarcely possible to handicap him oat of thease races, and although Mr. Hannell airked him to do what appeared to be impossibilities Sir Solomon was invariably on hand at the finish, Black Swan was another speedy performer, and her record etands out as boldy as any of them. The Neowcastlo Club in 1879 was presided over by Mr. F. .T. Shaw, as presi. dent; with Mr. O. I. Hannell, as judge; Mr. J. A. Scarr, handicappor; Mr. R. Fleming, starter; Mr. G. A. Whyte, olerk of the course! Mr. W. K. Lochhead, trea surer; Mr. Alex. Farthing, secretary. During this year liberal prizoes were offered for oompetition, and the races were attended by sportsmen from all parts of the colony. Mr, Hunnoll etill holds the position of judge, and he has beoon raeoleeted president times out of number. For many years he acted as hon. handicapper, and his adjustments at all times gavo the utmost satistaetion.

The History of Hunter Street
Hunter Street,  Information Pages  (H2)
Lost Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW Au