Friday, 5 February 2016

It's time to press 'pause'...

It’s time to press the ‘pause’ button for the Hidden Hamilton blog.

In just over two and a half years, 69 stories have been written and posted here, along with hundreds of posts on the Hidden Hamilton Facebook page. A book, ‘Hidden Hamilton – Uncovering stories of Hamilton NSW’ (Hunter Press, 2014) based on the first year of the blog, is now in its second printing.

Now it is February 2016 and I am finalizing the manuscript and photographs for my next book, ‘More Hidden Hamilton – Further stories of people, place and community.’ Hunter Press will publish this in June.

Many of the new stories that have appeared in the blog over the past year will be in the book, often with fresh details and comments from you - readers of the blog and Facebook. 

In addition to the new book, I have another project drawing on my time and attention in the first half of 2016.

As a result of my research and story telling about Hamilton’s social and built history, and a proposal I put to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce last year, work has begun on an exciting heritage initiative for the suburb.

This initiative aims to make Hamilton's unique heritage more visible to everyone who walks its streets. 

Attractive and long lasting heritage plaques are to be installed on at least 20 Hamilton buildings of heritage significance and other historically significant sites. As well, a Hamilton Heritage Walking Guide will be designed and printed.

Sites included will be some of the 66 Hamilton buildings, parks and monuments that are listed in the NSW State Heritage Inventory under the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012.

Familiar examples are the former Masonic Hall, Volunteer Fire Station, and Mechanic’s Institute (Anzac House) along with Gregson Park, and several hotels and churches.

There are many other sites of historic interest where the original buildings no longer exist but where a plaque would link the present building with the past of the site. You’ve read stories on this blog about places such as Donald’s Corner, the Roxy Theatre, the Italian Centre, and Hamilton's last hardware store. This initiative will draw on both categories of sites.

My inspiration was the historic Hunter town of Dungog, where plaques were installed several years ago.

There is much work ahead, enlisting the support of building owners, writing the text for the plaques, commissioning their manufacture and writing and designing a guided walk brochure. The Chamber has set up a small working group to implement the project.

Right now, there is a wave of interest in Newcastle’s past.

This is the time to catch the wave of that interest, and leave something tangible in place so future generations can know the origins of their place.

The stories of Hamilton will be a proud part of that narrative.

In the meantime, enjoy some of the 69 posts  in the Hidden Hamilton blog archive – many are more detailed than what has been possible to reproduce in the books.

The Facebook page at will continue, so check in – ‘Like’ the page if you haven’t done so, to receive new posts in your Facebook feed.

I’ll see you there!