How to waste time


As a Master Timewaster (I’m not a procrastinator; there’s an important difference) I could provide many hints and tips on ways to noodle away an entire weekend on nothing much in particular. But if I were to drill down to the single uncontested killer time-wasting activity ever thunk of, then it would be “staring at old maps”. Holy Moses, I could spend a lifetime on that.

So imagine the mixture of delight and horror that coursed through me when Russell tipped me this link to the Uni archives (damn you, Gionni di Gravio!) of a 1910 map of Newcastle. (I provide the link here, but warn you to click with care. You may suddenly find yourself unkempt and unshaven at your keyboard in three days time, wondering where the weekend went.)

Here’s a screen shot of the full map:


And here’s a zoom in that I bodgied together of the Hamilton North (aka Newtown) area, showing the newly cut “storm water channel” and the area where the gasworks and fuel depot now sit:


A few things that struck me:

  • My house ain’t been built yet.
  • The rail bridge over the creek is noted as an “iron bridge”, but those over the creek at Chinchen Street and Maitland Road were wooden. Wonder when they got replaced with the concrete jobbies?
  • The crossing over the rail line to Hamilton was via Baird Street.
  • There’s a small creek running through what is now Smith Park, at exactly the spot where Smith Park always floods. Go figure!
  • The whole area was barely developed a century ago. So much has happened so quickly.

Another thing that struck me is the elegance of the drawn map. As much as I love Google Maps you can’t go past an olde worlde hand-drawn map. Just gorgeous.

Thank you, Russell, and Gionni!