Home » Towns » New South Wales » Hunter Valley » Maitland, NSW

Maitland, NSW

Major historic service centre in the Hunter Valley.

Maitland is, realistically, two townships. There is Central Maitland, with its impressive High Street and charming mall known as The Levee, and there is East Maitland. Both townships have an excess of impressive buildings and visitors, keen to see how gracious these towns, should allow time to explore their rich heritage. It is also worth remembering that Maitland, perhaps more than any other city in Australia, has been wracked by floods. The Hunter River, so close to the city and so prone to flooding, has broken its banks 15 times since European settlement and in 1955 it was so bad that it killed 14 people, prompting the construction of levees, spillways and flood channels to mitigate the effects. Maitland has always been the principal town of the Hunter Valley (although Newcastle would dispute this claim) and consequently it has many historic buildings as well as a local brickworks, light industry, tourism and an open-cut mine. Many residents commute to the mines further north up the Hunter Valley and south to the Newcastle area although it is likely that coal will become increasingly unimportant in the next decade. It will be totally replaced by vineyards and boutique food production. 


Maitland is located on the Hunter River 10 metres above sea level, 166 km north of Sydney via the Pacific and New England Highways and 33 km north-west of Newcastle.


Origin of Name

When the Hunter Valley was first explored by Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson in 1801 he named the future site of Maitland, Schanck's Forest Plains. Somehow the original name was lost. By 1833, when the government town was proclaimed, it has become known as Maitland. The government town is currently known as East Maitland.


Things to See and Do

Maitland Visitor Information Centre
The obvious, and important, starting point for any serious visit to Maitland is the excellent Visitor Centre which is strategically placed between Central Maitland and East Maitland at the bottom of the High Street, just off the Les Darcy Drive. 

The Heritage Walks
It is probably impossible to inspect all the historic buildings in the two Maitlands. There are entire streets that have rows of significant buildings. However there is a sensible solution: get copies of the Maitland Heritage Walk (Central Precinct) and East Maitland Heritage Walk from the Visitor Information Centre and, by the time you have finished, you will have seen most of the prominent structures in the two centres.

Maitland Heritage Walk (Central Precinct)
There are a total of 35 buildings and places of interest on the Maitland Heritage Walk. There is a clearly marked route around the town which starts at the Maitland Railway Station, goes up Church Street, down The Levee and High Street, and winds its way back to the station.
Of particular interest are the following buildings (many of which are private and not open to the public):

1. Railway Station
The railway from Newcastle and Sydney reached East Maitland in 1857 and Central Maitland in 1858 but this railway station was not built until the 1880s. It is a fine example of the Italianate style of railway station which was all the rage towards the end of the 19th century.

2. Grand Junction Hotel
Built in 1916, this unusual hotel with its arches, keystones, bay verandas and pediments is an example of what is known as Federation Free Classical architecture.

3. Sherbourne
Located at 80 Church Street and built for local businessman, W.G. Luscombe, this is an elaborate brick and stucco Victorian Italianate building. Note the impressive, intricate ironwork on the verandas and the detailed plasterwork around the windows.

6 & 7. Grossman House and Brough House
It is remarkable, so close to the main street of the town, to find two such elegant Victorian Regency houses. They were both built in 1870-1871 as mirror images of each other. "They are two storied with set back wings. Cast iron adorns the upper balustrades and columns, with slender Doric columns to the ground floor. The houses were built for business partners Samuel Owens (Brough House) and Isaac Beckett (Grossman House). Both feature cedar joinery, marble fireplaces, sandstone quoins, two-storey verandas with Doric columns below and, above, intricate cast-iron lacework, shuttered windows and French doors. They are now owned by the National Trust and are open 10.00 am - 3.00 pm on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month, tel: (02) 4933 6452. Check out https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/grossmann-brough-house. The National Trust website notes: "In recent years the National Trust has restored the house to reflect the status and era of its Victorian owners. Gas lighting has been re-installed, and wallpapers recreated from surviving fragments. Servants’ bells and a Butler’s Pantry are reminiscent of the daily workings of a prosperous Victorian household. Characteristic furnishings, sourced as far as possible from the region, complete the experience. Study and explore Grossmann House’s extensive collection of 19th century costumes and textiles, linked to lifestyles and industry in the region."

8. St Mary's Rectory
Set back from the footpath in spacious church grounds this building - a Victorian Italianate style with cast iron columns, balustrade and frieze - was built for George Browne in 1880 at a cost of £1,441.

9. St Mary's Church
St Mary's is a Gothic Revival sandstone church which was designed by noted architect, Edmund Blacket, and its construction (1860-67) was overseen by J. Horbury Hunt. Note that the stone tracery is different on each of the windows. Blacket also designed the furnishings such as the complementary tracery panels of the pulpit and reading desk. The bell is from Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral. The quite remarkable tower and spire were added in 1885-86 and dominate the city skyline.

10. Former Synagogue
Located immediately adjacent to the Woolworths car park, this attractive and simple Victorian Romanesque building was designed by John W. Pender and built in 1879. It was the first rural Jewish synagogue in Australia but ceased being a place of worship in 1898.

Maitland Court House
At the corner of High Street and Sempill Street (it is not listed on the brochure but is only a short distance further along High Street)  is the town's elegant Victorian courthouse and police station, built of dressed sandstone with a large clock tower topped by a copper-clad dome and an impressive courtyard. It was designed by W.L. Vernon, who at the time was the first New South Wales Government Architect. It was completed in 1895.

12. Blackboy Statue
In High Street, at the corner of Church and High Streets, is a relic from the past, a 'Blackboy' horse hitching post from the United States, made in the 1880s and initially erected outside the post office in 1886. It has been on the present site since 1892.

13. Bank of Australasia
The ANZ Bank building on High Street at the beginning of The Levee is one of the town's architectural highlights. A rare colonial example of a Byzantine design it was built in 1869 and features round-headed windows and a two-storey arcaded veranda which bends around the corner into Elgin Street. It is particularly notable for its skilful use of curves which make it stand out from the other buildings on the street.

The Levee
This is really an experiment in turning an historic area (previously known as High Street) into "a unique lifestyle precinct ... with handcut stone footpaths, new furniture installed and heritage facades ... with a mix of dining and entertainment options." Check out http://www.theleveemaitland.com.au.

18. Post Office
On the corner of High Street (at the eastern end of The Levee) and Bourke Street is the town's handsome post office, a two-storey rendered brick building designed by James Barnet with arcaded verandas and a bell-clock tower. The first section was completed 1881 and additions were made in 1900. It is a very fine example of a Victorian Italianate design of stucco on brick.

21. St John's Pro Cathedral
From High Street walk around the corner into Cathedral Street. On the corner St John's which was built in 1922 (it is in a Federation Classical style) as a Catholic Hall. It became a Pro Cathedral in 1933 but has been closed since being severely damaged by the 1989 Newcastle earthquake. 

22 & 23. Bishop's Residence and St John's Cathedral
Along Cathedral Street, just off High Street, is the imposing Italianate Bishop's residence designed by J.W. Pender and built in 1883. "The two storey residence features a slate roof, brick with stucco quoins and two storey, asymmetrical bay windows and cast iron verandas. Next door is St John's, a Gothic Revival design by Colonial Architect, Mortimer Lewis. Initially a humble church it was built between 1844 and 1846 but was extended and upgraded to cathedral status in 1866 as the town grew. It closed when the Pro Cathedral opened in 1933, became the parish hall then, after the earthquake, became, once again, the cathedral. Its most distinctive feature is the tower capped with merlons and finials."

24. Methodist Church
The very substantial Methodist (now Uniting) Church was designed by John Wright and built in 1858 to a Victorian Gothic style which was remarkably free from ornamentation. It reflects the austere style of the Methodist Church at the time. 

High Street Continued
There are a number of interesting buildings further down the High Street, beyond the Heritage Walk

Former CBC Bank
The triple-storey former CBC Bank, designed by G.A. Mansfield, is an Italianate Classical Revival building which dates from 1887. It is located at 315 High Street.

Maitland Cultural Centre
Located at  250 High Street is the highly ornamental facade of the Maitland Cultural Centre, one of J. W. Pender's most impressive works it has impressive Doric design features of both the arch and keystone. 

Congregational Church
Located at 232 High Street is Maitland's first Congregational Church, built to a Victorian Gothic design between 1854 and 1857. It became a drama theatre in 1964. 

Town Hall
At 281 High Street is the impressive Italianate Town Hall built in 1888-90 to a symmetrical design consisting of a central tower flanked by two wings with ornamental columns supporting pediments over the ground-floor windows. 

Maitland Regional Gallery
Located at 230 High Street is the Maitland Regional Art Gallery which is open from 10.00 am - 5.00 Tuesday to Sunday. The building dates from around 1850 and until 1892 it was used as a bulk warehouse before being the local centre for the Northumberland Coach and Buggy Factory. In 1892 the site was acquired by the NSW government for the Maitland Technical College which moved there following adaptations to the existing buildings on the site. Today the gallery specialises in exhibitions and changes these exhibitions every 6-8 weeks and "since 2005 MRAG has developed its collection according to a strategic focus to collect works on paper. Within the collection are artworks by renowned Australian artists including Margaret Olley, Brett Whiteley, Sidney Nolan, Lloyd Rees, Euan Macleod, Suzanne Archer, Fiona Hall, Adrian Lockhart, Judy Watson, Gloria Petyarre and John Olsen." For more information tel: (02) 4934 9859 or check out http://mrag.org.au for exhibitions and additional information.

Walli House and Bridge House
On the western banks of Wallis Creek near the Wallis Creek bridge, and at the very beginning of the High Street, are Walli House (at 3 High Street) and Bridge House (at 1 High St). Bridge House, one of Maitland's oldest buildings, is a small Georgian stuccoed stone-and-brick farmhouse with cedar columns, flagged veranda, paned windows and panelled door, built c.1830 by ex-convict Samuel Clift who purchased the property in 1826 and became a noted landholder. The tiny timber cottage is thought to be Clift's original homestead. The stone rubble hut to one side was probably the residence of the bridge's toll keeper. 
Next door is Walli House (c.1850) which was built either as Clift's third house or for a son. It is a large two-storey stone-and-brick building. Although the rear of the house is in original condition, poorly chosen alterations and additions were made in the 20th century (notably the front pillars). The fittings are of cedar from the banks of Wallis Creek. There are several outbuildings to the rear of the house (servants' quarters, store and kitchen).

Regent Street and Cintra
Regent Street is well worth exploring. It is a classified urban conservation area with a large number of impressive houses, the most striking of which are the monumental mansions 'Benhome' at 30 Regent Street and 'Cintra' at 34 Regent Street. Cintra is a beautiful and imposing two-storey Classical Revival house set in spacious grounds with fine gardens. It was designed by William Pender and built in the 1880s, Maitland's boom period. The second wing was added in 1887, making 31 rooms. The house has extensive and intricate cast-iron lacework and Corinthian columns and a tower capped with cast-iron decoration. The tall gates open onto a gravelled carriage loop driveway which leads to gabled sandstock brick stables. It is classified by the National Trust and, although not open to the public, can be viewed from the roadside. 

Family Hotel
The Family Hotel, which is located at 605 High Street, is the oldest hotel in West Maitland. It was erected c.1860 as a coaching inn and is a building of considerable character.


Other Attractions in the Area

East Maitland Heritage Walk
The East Maitland Heritage Walk brochure lists a total of 28 places of historic interest in East Maitland. There is a walking route around all the places but, for those who want to simply savour the history of the area, a walk down Banks Street from the New England Highway and on to Maitland Gaol and the Court House will cover 12 of those places.
The highlights of the area include:

1. HEW Cottage and Les Darcy Memorial
The park on the corner of Banks Street and the New England Highway has two fascinating reminders of local history: a slab hut, more than a century old and known as HEW Cottage which was once used as the local Visitor Information Centre, and an impressive sculpture of Les Darcy who was born in East Maitland. At the time his father was working as a share farmer on what was the Stradbroke property. Darcy attained considerable local notoriety as an outstanding boxer. He had a remarkable early record and was idolised in Maitland. The issue of joining up for military service in the First World War ruined his career. He came under considerable fire from the Australian press and from politicians when he did not initially volunteer. Darcy was a Catholic and the church opposed conscription. He left Australia for the United States without a passport in 1916, as a conscription referendum approached. He found himself banned from fighting in the USA for political reasons as that country was on the cusp of entering the war itself. He died of pneumonia in May 1917, one month after enlisting in Memphis. The bronze statue was unveiled in 2000.

Les Darcy Museum
Located next door at the East Maitland Bowling Club is a large collection of Darcy memorabilia including historic photos, posters, newspaper articles and boxing gear.

9. Maitland Gaol
Located at 6-18 John Street, East Maitland, the Maitland Gaol was designed by Mortimer Lewis and completed in 1848. The foundation stone was laid in 1844. The design was modelled on London's Pentonville Gaol.  It operated continuously as a gaol until 1998. The gaol consists of a pair of two-storey buildings with gatehouse, cells and outer wall. This was the site of the state's last official flogging in 1905 when an inmate named Henry Clark received ten lashes. It was also the site of 16 hangings between 1843 and 1897. There are a range of tours of the gaol available from self-guided tours (Maitland Gaol Revealed takes around 90 minutes - and is available as an audio tour) to themed tours including 150 Years under Lock and Key, Ex-Warder Tours, Crimes of Passion tours, Escapes and Ghost Hunting. There is also a guided torchlight tour on Saturday nights. For detailed information tel: (02) 4936 6482 or check out http://www.maitlandgaol.com.au

10. East Maitland Court House
Located next door to the Gaol is the impressive brick-and-stone Neo-Classical courthouse which was built in 1860 on a design by Colonial Architect, Alexander Dawson. The facade of the central courtroom features a gable with a clock in the pediment. There are two flanking wings, a triple arched portico and terracotta roofing. Its prominent position on the top of the hill was designed to emphasise its importance. 

11. Old Post Office
This impressive and handsome building, now disconnected from the centre of East Maitland, is located at 18 Day Street. It was erected in 1875-1876 by Henry Noad, a local builder, based on plans drawn up at the Colonial Architect's office. At the time the main East Maitland business centre was in Melbourne and Newcastle Streets.

12. Roseneath
Located in Day Street, 'Roseneath', a two-storey brick building, was opened in 1845 as the Victoria Inn. It features large timber columns made from whole logs, marble fireplaces and cedar joinery. The windows are twelve paned and it has two front doors with square fanlights. In the 1850s it was owned by Samuel Clift's son George who established an impressive rose garden, hence its name.

15. Goonoobah
In King Street near Lawes Street is the enormous 'Goonoobah' built in 1841 for George Furber who owned two local inns, the George and Dragon and the Golden Fleece. A hall once ran the length of the building with about 20 adjoining rooms. 

19. Lands Office
The Maitland Lands Office first opened in 1885 in St Peter's Parish Hall, which is located a little further along Banks Street. St Peter's Parish Hall was built in the early 1840s of sandstock brick. A single-storey building it has three dormer windows and a cedar ceiling in a herringbone pattern. The current building, located diagonally opposite the Les Darcy statue, was designed by the Government Architect, W.L. Vernon and built in 1895.

20 & 21. St Peter's Complex
It is possible to walk through the church grounds to St Peter's Church which sits with a fine view along William Street to the courthouse in the distance. The church was designed by Edmund Blacket in 1875 but executed and altered by his son Cyril. A Gothic Revival church it was built in 1886 of decorated sandstone with beautifully crafted stained-glass windows, furniture and fittings. Highlights are the pulpit of carved alabaster and marble (a memorial to the Eckford family), which was imported from Italy, and the mosaic floor. The single-storey rectory adjacent dates from 1860 and is characterised by a large veranda and shuttered French windows. 

23a. Stockade Hill
A little further south along William Street is Stockade Hill, the site of the first schoolhouse (1829) which was built by convict labour. For many years it doubled as a chapel and served the local community until St Peter's Church was built. 

23c. Oldholme
Nearby, in Wallis Street, is 'Oldholme' a Georgian brick cottage built in the mid-1830s for the town's police magistrates, including Edward 'Denny' Day, a popular official involved in the arrests of those involved in the Aboriginal massacre at Myall Creek in 1838 and of the bushranging gang of Teddy Davis ('The Jewboy'). There is a memorial window in his honour at St Peter's. 

24. Caroline Chisholm's Cottage
Located at 10 Mill Street is Caroline Chisholm Cottage, built in 1840 by 'Gentleman' Smith. It became an immigrants' home set up by Caroline Chisholm in 1842. However, its medical services were so in demand that it became a hospital, known as the Maitland Benevolent Asylum, until a new building was erected for that purpose at West Maitland in 1846. The original shingled roof still lies beneath the iron. Note that the twelve-paned windows are still intact.

28. Bank of Australasia
On the corner of Newcastle and Melbourne Streets is the old Bank of Australasia building (1882), designed by J.W. Pender to an Italianate design complete with Doric columns and ionic pilasters to the upper floor. It is a remarkably impressive building which has been painted to highlight the distinctive architecture.

Walka Recreation & Wildlife Reserve
Located 2 km north of Maitland via Oakhampton Road and Scobies Lane the Walka Recreation and Wildlife Reserve is open seven days a week from 7.00 am - 5.00 pm (7.00 pm during daylight saving). It is one of the largest and most intact 19th century industrial complexes in the Hunter Valley. It was classified by the National Trust in 1976 and restored and reopened in the 1980s. 
The Waterworks was constructed between 1879 and 1885 as part of the first water supply scheme for Newcastle. The water was pumped from Dickson's Falls on the Hunter River to Walka Lagoon using engines supplied by James Watt in England. It was the first permanent, clean water supply and, at the time, the largest industrial complex in the Hunter Valley. However demand continually outstripped supply and Chichester Dam was constructed in 1913. Walka became a back-up supply and was closed in 1931. A power station operated on the site between 1951 and 1978. 
The Waterworks' distinguishing features are the fine Italianate architecture and ornate brickwork of the pumphouse, the striking chimney, the large storage area, the old sandstone wall enclosing the sizeable reservoir, which is full of waterbirds, and the working model of the original pump which is on display inside the main pumphouse.
The complex has an outdoor museum display with an emphasis on the early days of the waterworks and its related Victorian-era technologies. It is a wilderness and recreation reserve with 12 km of walking and cycling trails, plenty of birdlife for birdwatchers, as well as camping, picnic and barbecue facilities. The lake is used by model yacht enthusiasts. 
The Waterworks is a significant community facility which hosts many diverse community events including vintage motorcycle and automobile displays and dancing displays. For more information check out http://www.maitland.nsw.gov.au/Tourism/Walka.

Walka Miniature Railway
Mini-steam, electric and diesel trains operate on the first and third Sundays of each month from 11.00 am. They travel along a 2-km track which runs along the eastern side of the Walka Recreation Lagoon. For more information check out http://walkaminirailway.com or tel: 0450 833 660.

Les Darcy Sites of Interest
James Leslie Darcy was born at Stradbroke, near Woodville, on 31 October, 1895. His grandparents had come from Tipperary, Ireland and his father was a labourer and share farmer. He left school at the age of 12 and, by the age of 15, was apprenticed as a blacksmith. He was a natural boxer and his work as a blacksmith strengthened his upper body. By 1912-1913 he had gained a reputation as a boxer and won a number of local fights. In 1913-1914 he fought a number of Americans but lost under questionable circumstances. By then he had become the biggest attraction in Australian boxing. He won his next 22 fights.
The brochure, Les Darcy The Legend 1895-1917 (available at the Visitor Centre) takes up the story: "By the end of 1915 Darcy knew that he had to go overseas to prove that he was the undisputed world champion. He accepted some offers to fight in the USA, but changed his mind on the advice of Sydney stadium promoter Snowy Baker. Some months later the political landscape had changed. There had been an uprising at Easter time in Dublin and the Darcy family were staunch Irish Catholics. Also, the Prime Minister of the time W.M.Hughes made it well known that he believed in conscription and passports were being refused to men of military age. As Darcy was seen as a high profile public figure, pressure was being put on him to enlist. Darcy had tried to enlist but he was under 21 and his mother would not sign the papers for him to serve his country.
"On 27th October 1916, the day before the referendum on conscription, Les Darcy and E.T. O'Sullivan stowed away on the cargo steamer Hattie Luckenbach from the port of Newcastle bound for Chile, and then hopped onto another ship to the USA. The conscription referendum the following day was defeated, but this decision ultimately led to the end of Les Darcy's boxing career. He was branded a coward and a deserter by the press and many patriotic Australians would not forgive him.
"Les had been promised many things before he arrived in the USA, but all the promises he had been given amounted to nothing. A major fight had been arranged in New York, but Governor Whitman had the fight banned because of the way Darcy had left Australia. Disillusioned with what was happening, Darcy took out USA citizenship on 5 April 1917. Other fights were arranged but again banned so Darcy volunteered for the USA army to avoid further criticism. He continued to train in the hope that he woudl still get a shot at the official world title that had eluded him.
"On 27 April 1917 Les Darcy collapsed and was admitted to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee suffering from septicaemia and endocarditis. It is believed that a tooth knocked out in a previous bout then put back in, was the cause of his blood poisoning. Doctors removed his tonsils but he developed pneumonia and died on 24th May, 1917. His fiancee Winnie O'Sullivan was at his bedside.
"After a funeral procession in San Francisco his body was returned to Australia. A funeral procession was also held in Sydney and a crowd of several hundred thousand were in attendance. Les Darcy was finally laid to rest in the Catholic cemetery in East Maitland.
"Les Darcy had only one greater love than boxing, and that was for his family. With the prize money he won, Les made sure his parents and family were well catered for. He purchased a block of land in East Maitland in 1915, then had the beautiful home, Lesleigh built for them in 1916."
The brochure lists 8 places of historical interest connected to Les Darcy. Of those the most interesting are:

1. Les Darcy Statue
The park on the corner of Banks Street and the New England Highway has an impressive sculpture of Les Darcy who was born in East Maitland. The bronze statue was unveiled in 2000 before a large local crowd.

2. Les Darcy Museum
Located next door at the East Maitland Bowling Club is a large collection of Darcy memorabilia including historic photos, posters, newspaper articles and boxing gear.

5. Lesleigh
Located at 15 Emerald Street, East Maitland. "Les Darcy had only one greater love than boxing, and that was for his family. With the prizemoney he won, Les made sure his parents and family were well catered for. He purchased a block of land in East Maitland in 1915, then had the beautiful home, Lesleigh built for them in 1916." His brothers and sisters were raised here. It is now a private home and not open to the public.

Aberglassyn House
Built in the early 1840s it is an outstanding two-storey colonial sandstone mansion designed by John Bibb, who had worked with John Verge, and situated on 12 acres overlooking a bend in the river. It has a beautiful circular sandstone staircase with a dome overhead, marble fireplaces, cedar joinery and vast, vaulted, stone-flagged cellars. Located to the west of town, at the end of Aberglassyn Lane (off Aberglassyn Road) - it can be seen from the very end of the lane. It is no longer open to the public. There is a very detailed description of its architecture and history at http://www.maitland.nsw.gov.au/Library/Resources/File/LH%20Fact%20sheets/Buildings/pdf%20docs/Aberglasslyn%20House_Final.pdf which notes "Aberglasslyn House is considered to be one of the finest surviving examples of social, economic and architectural history in Australia. It is a Greek revival style villa that is comparable to the best English work of the 1800s ...  It is one of the few surviving examples of a handsome colonial house that sits impressively over the rural landscape."

Bolwarra Lookout
This a beautiful spot where there are sweeping views from the north over the city and the river flats which surround it. Bolwarra is at the western edge of the area known as Paterson's Plains which stretched along the northern bank of the Hunter from this point eastwards to the junction of the Hunter and Paterson Rivers just east of Morpeth. Although a few farmers had been allowed to undertake some farming in the area the first permanent settlers were 12 ex-convicts authorised in 1818 as part of the same settlement plan which permitted the initial 11 to settle on the other side of the river at what is now Maitland. 



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the Gringgai clan of the Wanaruah Aboriginal people lived in the area.

* Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson of the NSW Corps explored the Hunter Valley in 1801 and named the site of the future town Schanck's Forest Plains. 

* By 1810 cedar getters were living in the area. They called the settlement 'The Camp'. 

* Governor Macquarie opened the Lower Hunter up to settlers in the years 1818 to 1821. Eleven emancipated convicts were granted small plots of land as a reward for good behaviour and free settlers began to move in to what was renamed 'Wallis Plains' after the commandant of Newcastle. 

* The locals called the settlement Morgan's Plains after one of the earliest and best known of the convict settlers - Molly Morgan. In 1814, she was sentenced to a further seven years for the theft of some government cows and was sent to the harsh penal settlement for re-offenders at Newcastle. Around 1819 Morgan received 159 acres at Wallis Plains, that land is now the business district of Maitland. 

* The first recorded flood of the town after European settlement occurred in 1819. 

* A bridge was built over Wallis Creek in 1827.  

* A government town was planned by 1829 and a number of administrative buildings were erected. 

* The Great North Road from Windsor reached the area in 1831.

* A flood in 1832 left seven people dead and peaked at 8.9 metres.

* The government town was officially proclaimed as Maitland in 1833. 

* The names East Maitland and West Maitland were adopted in 1835. 

* The combined population of the two towns was 1163 in 1836. 

* Caroline Chisholm founded one of her Female Emigrants' Homes at East Maitland in 1842. 

* The Maitland Mercury was established in 1843.

* In 1863 East and West Maitland were declared municipalities.

* By 1866 West Maitland had 5,694 people compared to about 2000 in the East.

* The Belmore Bridge was opened in 1869. 

* Coal mining commenced around West Maitland in the 1870s.

* In 1879 the town's Jewish synagogue was opened for worshippers.

* In 1893 a flood killed nine people.

* Electricity was connected to the town in 1922.

* By 1925 the Maitland coalfields were producing over 5 million tons annually.

* In 1925 the local Maitland Show held a speedway race which was, reputedly, the first one in the world. 

* East and West Maitland, along with Morpeth, were merged as the City of Maitland in 1944.  

* In 1955 fourteen people lost their lives when the Hunter River flooded through the town inundating 2,180 homes. The waters reached 12.5 metres.

* The second Belmore Bridge, near the Court House, was opened in 1964.

* In 1971 Maitland experienced its largest flood since the 1955 flood.


Visitor Information

Maitland Visitor Information Centre, Ministers Park, 258 New England Highway and High Street, tel: (02) 4931 2800. 


Useful Websites

The local council has a useful website with lots of information about eating and accommodation. Check out http://www.mymaitland.com.au.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

4 suggestions
  • I am the great grandson of Thomas Duckham and grandson of William Wilberforce Duckham I was wondering if I had relatives left in your town

    Ian Thomas Duckham
    • There is one facebook site devoted to families in maitland and pioneers are included in a book published by historical society. Facebook name is “Maitland family and History research” from my memory. Admin Campbell.

      Ray Richards
  • There never seems to be any mention of the The Hammonds or the Moores. Richard and Mary Ann Hammond were both convicts who completely changed their lives on arrival in Maitland and with their marriage. Mary Ann was formerly Margaret Prout, who changed her first name on the banns for marriage. They lived in the West Maitland area, and with some of their children are buried in the Anglican section at Campbell’s Hill. They had 9 children, the youngest, Leonard was the last born of the children, and first child baptised at St Paul’s West Maitland. This is mentioned in St Paul’s and other publications. One of the sons, Richard Nathan Clement Hammond, established a coach building business on his own I believe, before going into business with the Moore family. two of the convict’s daughters married 2 of the Moore brothers. Many members of the Hammond family were involved in the coach building business. I believe there were many sites of the coach factories around Maitland. Was 1 at 275 High St? One of the Hammond homes was there. This site is now a Subaru dealership, close to the overhead rail bridge.. Another, I believe was where the Pryde’s Sweets factory was later built, and another where the current Coachstop Caravan Park is now. So named because of the factory. One of the houses in Anzac St was a Hammond home, no 15? I have also been told that a Moore house was demolished to make way for the building of the Ken Tubman Drive. The Hammonds seemed to have lived near the Showground, the male convict died in a house in Louth Park Rd. One of their children, Richard Nathan was killed when run over by a wheel of a buggy. Children were out playing on the road, and an accident occurred. It was near the site of the Cross Keys Hotel ,which I can’t find on maps, but would have been in the area of the showground. he was 3. The next child after Richard Nathan, was Richard Nathan Clement Hammond. This was a common procedure of the time to name the next born after the deceased child, of the same sex, to be called the same name, with an extra middle name. I can supply further information re the names of the convicts’ children, or the next generation. Thomas Peachy Shearer Hammond was heavily involved with St Paul’s Church. The children c/would have gone to St Ethel’s school nearby, where 1 of their next generation was a student teacher. I have a booklet about St Ethel’s School. this member of the family Walter Leslie Hammond, and a direct antecedent of Richard the convict wrote a poem about the 1893 floods that was published in the Maitland Mercury. he was 13 at the time. The poem won him an award. I guess basically, this was a respectable family in early Maitland, and they don’t seem to get any mention for their coach building enterprises. I’m aware that RNC went broke, that doesn’t matter to us. I’d just like to see some information published about a local business family. Sincerely

    Lyn Hammond
  • You failed to mention that, before occupying the new school near Maitland Gaol, Grosmont and Brough houses were used as Maitland Girls High School.

    You might also like to add that, though it is not noticeable to the naked eye, Pender Brothers, which was in Elgin Street where Pender Place now is, was above the flood level of 1955. My father worked there. He needed to cross where the Long Bridge is today (the original was washed away in the flood) by Army Duck, but he was able to work every day during that catastrophic flood.

    Derek Bullen