Early Land Grants:

Portion 8, E.W. Hely (47 acres), and Portion9, E.W. Hely (54 acres). Both granted on 11/1/1882.

Portion 21, Edward Taylor (47 acres).

Portion 49, J.F. Mann (50 acres).

Portion 51, John Goodsir (500 acres). Granted on 31/7/1882. Portion 55, John Goodsir (40 acres).

Portion 56, John Goodsir (45 acres).

All portions are in the parish of Awaba.

From : http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/library/lhist/suburb/lmp&p/rathmines.htm

After the Hely family’s occupation of Rathmines, there were several attempts to subdivide the land.  None of them were really successful until H. F. Halloran’s subdivision in the 1920s.

It was reported in the Newcastle Morning Herald of 11th September, 1880 that the sale of 24 villa sites of between 2 ½ and 5 acres, adjoining the properties of Mr E. W. Hely (101 acres) and Mr J. Goodsir (585 acres) would be held in the Borough Markets on 2nd October, 1880.  In 1881, “Another Grand Subdivision of the balance of the Rathmines estate” was advertised in the Newcastle Morning Herald.  The sale was to be held on site with a Steamer carrying passengers from Newcastle and Belmont on a “Grand Excursion” to the estate.

Luncheon was provided, all at a cost of 5 shillings each (to be deducted from the purchase price).  “75 large-size villa sites of the celebrated Rathmines Estate” were to be auctioned on the site.  Neither of these subdivisions produced significant development.

In 1920 H.F. Halloran’s company, Realty Realisations Ltd., subdivided parts of Hely’s farm (portion 9), most of Goodsir’s property (portions 55, 56 and part of 51) and part of J. F. Mann’s property (portion 49).  This subdivision is shown in the lithograph below and forms the basis of Rathmines as it is today.
As part of the estate,  Realty Realisations built a ferry wharf and swimming baths on the waterfront adjoining the area directly opposite the current shopping centre.  At this time there was already a shop and tennis courts there.  The area attracted picnickers who travelled by train to Toronto and then the ferry to Rathmines.  A road was built in 1926 which connected to the Lake Road and this was used by picnickers coming by bus from Cessnock.
Rathmines Baths with Ferry Wharf in background (Mr & Mrs Reed & friend).

In the 1920s and 1930s, Rathmines was a popular destination for holidaymakers.  They would double or triple the population on weekends and during the holidays.  Many well-off Newcastle families owned properties which they visited on weekends. The family of one of the first students at Rathmines Subsidised School were caretakers for the Cook family.  The Cook family owned a ham and bacon shop in Hunter Street, Newcastle West, and would come out to their house on the waterfront, and play tennis on weekends.

1930s Baths in front of the tennis courts still there today.

Mrs Rita Smith remembered coming to Rathmines as a young girl in the 1920s.  There were many good sportspeople, Australian and State champions in cycling, tennis and soccer, who came to stay here.  They were feeling the effects of the Depression.  She remembers paddling her canoe up the creek to where the shops are now.  This creek was converted into a drain by the RAAF to build the sports oval.

For many of the permanent residents of Rathmines during the 1920s reality was hardship.  The 1922/23 recession, and later the coal-lockout, forced many miners to leave their homes in the coal fields and live in their weekenders they had built in better times.  Some lived at Rathmines in tents.

One gentleman remembered living in his weekender for about 18 months, right through the coal lockout and into the Depression, until returning to work in a mine in Cessnock.  To collect his dole he would have to walk from Buttaba to Rathmines, row over to Kilaben Bay, walk to Toronto, collect his dole of 7 shillings a week from the Police Station, then repeat the journey home.

His income was supplemented by playing banjo mandolin in the hall known as the “Tin Troc” (short for “Trocadera”).  Dances were held regularly here, as well as Christmas parties where the hall would be decorated with wildflowers and the like.  On one occasion someone went out to pick some smelly beans or berries and scattered them on the dance floor.  The smell was so overpowering that the room was quickly cleared.

View towards Cow’s Point (now Memorial Point).  This bay is now Catalina Bay.

Rathmines community spirit became strong in this friendly, country atmosphere.  The Progress Association was formed during the coal lockout by Mr Dick Holland who was, apparently, never short of a suggestion for entertainment.  Boating regattas and sculling races were organised.  Prize money for these was raised from dances and Housie night in the hall.  They charged 3 shillings or a “silver coin” admission.  If you won the swimming carnival, the prize money was 5 shillings “and you were rich again”.

Most of the school’s photos from this era were donated by Mrs Phyllis Reed, who ran the local store.  Mrs Reed came to Rathmines in early 1930s and loved the place so much, she brought back her family to live here.

1931-32 Mrs Phyllis Reed’s first visit to Rathmines.

She ran the local store with her husband, who also drove the taxi into Toronto.

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