Holmesville History

Holmesville History - Under Sugarloaf
Holmesville History - Under Sugarloaf

Holmesville is named for Joseph Holmes, and originally was a Private Town because it was a privately set up town by Joseph Holmes to house the many miners working in the local mines.

The story began in 1856 when Joseph Holmes, his 19 year old wife, Mary, his relative John Holmes (a cousin?) and his wife Emma, came to Australia on the “Herald:” They moved around a bit after their arrival, their children being born in different suburbs.

In 1862 Joseph, then living at Minmi, applied for and received a grant of 101 acres – Portion 47 for 100 pounds. The family settled here in the area which today is called “Private Lane” or referred to locally as “Down The Lane”. In 1895, Joseph bought Portion 49,100 acres for two hundred pounds. This was subdivided into town allotments, the first sale of land was recorded on the 29th April 1898.

Joseph and Mary Clark Holmes had 12 children. The eldest son, Joseph, died from injuries, in the mine collapse that left his father permanently stooped, when they were working together. Joseph and his parents are buried in the West Wallsend Cemetery.

The town went ahead, some blocks being paid off over a period of time, some due to default, returned to Joseph. In the early days there were many little local shops dotted around the town, selling sweets and daily necessaries. The first shop building still remains on the corner of Charlotte and George Street, it closed its doors in September 1997. The Post Office section closed 1994.

The cousins, John and Emma, settled in Estellville in their Portion 48 grant. They suffered a tragedy in their family when their 3 year old son, William, was bitten by a black snake. Imagine this! The cottage was situated in bushland, no doctors or nurses handy. Wallsend was approached by a track through the bush.

The lad’s father returned home about 3pm to be met by his frantic wife. He rushed to the cottage, tried to scarify it with the razor, but noticed the red line of poison already moving up the leg. John turned tail and ran along the track to Wallsend for the doctor who came at once. By the time the doctor arrived back the boy was dead, although the body was still warm. (information from local newspapers)

We don’t know for sure just why John and Emma returned to England, but it would seem feasible that the isolation where they lived, no medical help readily available and the death of their loved son was motivation enough. Descendants of both lines have made contact in the past years, and are endeavouring to find out more about this return to the homeland.

The Holmesville Hall was built by Simeon Hartland in 1906, to provide a place for his Grandson, Jack Bramwell, to skate. The hall was known for many years as Hartland’s Hall. When the Hall commemorated its centenary, Hartland descendants attended the special afternoon arranged by Holmesville “Where Old Friends Meet”.

Another well known landmark is the beautiful Holmesville Hotel, built in 1904. There was a marvellous centenary celebration in 2004, the year that our well known resident, Jennifer Hawkins was crowned Miss Universe.

Another heritage building is the little Congregational Church in St Helen Street, built in 1903 by William Holmes, youngest son of Joseph who donated the land. Since 1977, the church has been part of the Uniting Church, and today is affiliated with the West Wallsend Church. Holmesville Services are still held monthly and the local Fellowship Group meets in the Church Hall.

There is a lot of history in our area and if interested, it is possible to find out more at the local Museum situated in the grounds of the local West Wallsend High School. It is manned by enthusiastic volunteers who live in Holmesville, Barnsley and Wakefield, and are on duty each Wednesday during school terms from 10 am to 2 pm. Unfortunately due to the COVIG 19 restrictions the museum is closed at the moment but hopefully will reopen soon.

It would take many books, to tell all there is to about Holmesville. There was one written for the town’s Centenary Celebrations in 1998, and that could only tell part of the story.

Holmesville today

It still has a lot going for it. The local Tennis Court site in George Street has become the Community Garden site and it’s Hall a good venue to be hired by small groups or events. The Holmesville Skatepark gets full use by the youngsters.

Holmesville Hall possibly is one of the best used local halls in Lake Macquarie.

There is a little shopping centre down on Appletree Road, housing a butcher, hairdresser and a Thai Take Away Food shop.

A “State of the Art” fully manned Fire Station in Holmesville opened its doors in June 2010, so residents should be assured of quick response in times of need.

The Holmesville Progress Association after operating since the early 1900’s. The group sadly had to close at the end of 2019 due to health and age problems of its members. Over these years, the Association was geared to making Holmesville a better place to live and responsible for many improvements, eg playground equipment, tables and chairs in parks. They were also part of the successful Holmesville Skatepark Committee, Sugarvalley War Memorial Committee to erect the new monuments for World War two to the present day. For some years they also produced a biannual newsletter to the Holmesville residents bringing them up to date with what was happening in their area and also promoting local businesses.

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