The old Newcastle Courthouse was the second court house in the area. The impressive architecture is symbolic of the nineteenth-century approach of providing law and justice through buildings designed to impart the authority and power of the Colonial government and justice system.
This building also shows the evolution of courts in New South Wales from small country court houses to larger centralised institutions. It is a grand Victorian Italianate building, providing a dramatic terminating focal point to Bolton Street. The structure’s original cell area remains intact beneath the building. It has an association with the famous Colonial Architect James Barnet.
There is a double-brick lined tunnel under the Court House, similar in construction to the Fernleigh track tunnel, but with a round bottom. Helen from Mayfield recalls that in the 1930s it opened onto the picnic area at Newcastle Beach, and it used to be explored by boy scouts and their leaders at night.
Nihon University intends to use the historic building for its administration and management. New wings are to be constructed on either side, reflecting a Japanese influence without ‘fighting’ the style of the old court house. The western wing will be an educational space, while the east wing will provide student accommodation.
State and Local
The Great Northern Hotel is notable for its Art Deco style and is one of the few intact examples of a ‘jazz-style’ interior. Having served as a major commercial hotel for many decades, it has been a vital part of the city’s social development.
The three deep wings that look a bit like towers from the front were designed to allow for adequate ventilation of the rooms as it was constructed before the advent of air conditioning. These three street-facing wings are connected to a service wing at the back.
In 1954, the venue was reported to have fabulous roof gardens on the fifth and sixth floors.
There are some reports of a ghost in the building. This spirit can make fans spin on hot days, despite there being no airflow or electricity to them.
The 1938 Murals painted by Herbert Gallop – Industry and Leisure, which were taken for cleaning in 1987 (before the sale of the hotel in 1988), ended up in 1989 at an art auction (they had been apparently offered to the new owners of the hotel, but their price was too high). They are now owned by Newcastle Council and are on display in the foyer of Newcastle Civic Theatre. These murals are important in illustrating a cultural shift in Australia at the time from a predominantly agricultural society to an industrialised state.
The Great Northern Hotel is to be transformed back into a magnificent hotel servicing the people of Newcastle and travellers alike.
State and Local