For decades, as I drove most days along King Street to work in Newcastle city, I’d stop at the lights at Darby Street and admire the wild-looking piece of steep land on the south eastern side of the intersection, wondering who owned it and hoping it would never be torn apart. Although I admired this little piece of land, I never bothered to find out anything about it, and I never tried to walk through it, assuming it was probably a private garden.
Recently I discovered that this lovely spot is actually a public park. Its name is Church Walk, or Church Walk Park, and a group known as “Friends of Church Walk Park” has been formed to improve and protect it. One of the members of the group, Lyndley Havyatt, wrote to me seeking photos from the park’s early days, but unfortunately I don’t have any of the age she is seeking.
According to Lyndley, the park was established in 1924, when the council had plans to make the little plot of ground “a botanical showcase” for Newcastle.
Excited at the news that this lovely spot is public ground, I went for a walk there and took some photos.
The stone picnic shelter, although a little defaced with the standard graffiti tags, is quite cute. It’s story is told in The Newcastle Herald of May 14 1938:
A shelter lookout of neat and unusual design has been completed in Church Walk Park, in the centre of Newcastle. It is a new departure in this class of building. The main dimensions are 12ft. by 12ft., with a flat concrete roof, supported on one central steel column. The flanking walls are of grey stone rubble, obtained from the Waratah quarries. The lookout gives shelter from southerly and westerly winds, and at the same time gives vision through a glass sash, which is portion of the central structure. It will be approached by steps from Church Street and another flight from the lower park walk. The building was erected by Messrs. J. Jamieson and Sons, of Waratah from de signs prepared in the office of the City Architect (Mr. F. A. Scorer).
It’s a lovely little park, and well worth visiting for a picnic or just a quiet sit-down.