Our Speaker Evenings have been temporarily suspended due to CONVID-19.

We hope to resume our Speaker Evenings in October. Government Regulations permitting.

Speaker Evenings are held on the first Tuesday of the month (except January) at 5 30pm.

Anticipated speakers and topics in the  future include:-

Robyn Dunlop (April) - Community Mental Health Services in the Lower Hunter

Scott Bevan - Hunter River

Heather Berry - Changing Times in Morpeth, 1865 to 2020

Speaker Evening Tuesday 3 March 2020 at 5 30pm

Heather Berry to Speak to Maitland Historical Society about the Early History of Morpeth

The guest speaker at the March talk of the Maitland & District Historical Society will be Heather Berry. Her topic will be The European Discovery of the Site of Morpeth and the Development of the Town to 1864.

Heather is a long-term resident of the Maitland area and has lived in Morpeth for ten years. Living in an early house built by a Mr Moyes, on a block of land purchased from EC Close, she became fascinated with the early history of the village. She helped to confirm the location of Close’s first house and is actively involved in the search for the elusive remains of the store ship St Michael which sank upstream of Morpeth Bridge. She is also investigating the building of the road to East Maitland: a question still to be answered is whether the Morpeth Rd culvert was constructed by the iron gang in 1834.

Heather’s illustrated Morpeth story will begin with Colonel William Paterson’s pioneering survey voyage up the river in 1801 in the Lady Nelson and will examine the growth of the town up until the railway came to the busy little port. This was expected to be a boon to Morpeth, but actually it signalled a period of decline. Heather will bring Morpeth’s story up to date with a second talk in July.

These talks will demonstrate that Morpeth is worthy of its heritage classification and that it is important that the village builds on its unique identity as an historic river port.

The first talk will be given at the Historical Society’s Rooms, 3 Cathedral St, Maitland, beginning at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 3 March. Members of the public are most welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be provided before and after the talk, but the Society asks for a $5 donation to cover their cost.

There is no need to book to attend this event, but people wishing to contact the Society can do so by calling 0438 623 299 or emailing maitlandhistorical@gmail.com. Visitors are welcome at the Rooms on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 11am and 3pm.


Book Launch Saturday 7 March 2020 at 1.00pm

Book about significant Maitland area family to be released

Maitland and District Historical Society Inc. are hosting an event to mark the publication of ‘A Remarkably Fine Place’ by Jim Sparke. Jim will take part in a conversation with Cameron Archer about the book. Cameron is an agriculturist and is keenly interested in the local and the agricultural history of the region.

Date: 1.00pm on Saturday 7 March

Location: Maitland and District Historical Society, 3 Cathedral St, Maitland (enter carpark through Preschool Lane off High Street)

Light refreshments will be available during this event, to which members of the public are welcome.
Maitland has a number of families who can trace their time in the area back to the early days of European settlement in the Hunter Valley. The Sparke family is one of them. Its Hunter Valley story began when seven male members led by patriarch Edward Sparke Snr arrived from Devon in 1824. Family members were granted land in the area of Hexham, Upper Hexham now known as Tarro as well as elsewhere in the Hunter Valley.

They became a successful pastoral family and part of the colonial establishment. They donated land to the Anglican Church, built the once very popular Wheat Sheaf Inn at Hexham as well as the Hexham wharf. This wharf played a major role in early transport on the Hunter River.

Like much of the landed colonial establishment in the lower Hunter, they became caught up in the severe depression of the 1840s. This ruined many, but their entrepreneurial talents and hard work helped them to survive. They had to sell much of their land to pay debts, but one of them (Edward William) established a stock and station agency which became one of the largest and most enduring in the Hunter Valley and beyond. Other members of the family owned Stradbroke, on the Paterson River, and land near the Maitland saleyards which was used for the holding of livestock. The family made a major contribution to the development of the Hunter Valley.

Edward James (Jim) Sparke, who grew up on Stradbroke and lives in Maitland, studied Rural Science at the University of New England and had a long career in the Australian beef and related industries.


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