The Town of Seaham

The Military Station

Henry Dangar was appointed by Governor Brisbane as assistant surveyor soon after Dangar’s arrival in NSW in 1821. He began surveying the Hunter Valley for settlement in 1822. He marked the land into counties and parishes and reserved land for future townships, one of which was Seaham. A government cottage already existed there, one of the earliest government buildings in the Lower Hunter. Some convicts from Newcastle had been permitted to begin farming in the Paterson Valley in 1812, and at Wallis Plains in 1818. Cottages were built to house the military who would supervise the work of the convicts. By 1828 the new Governor, Sir Ralph Darling, inquired into the use of the buildings. The Seaham cottage was sold to a Mr. Edward Atkinson around 1830. It stood on high ground above what is now Seaham Park.
Before 1821, cedar cutting gangs from the convict settlement in Newcastle worked in Seaham supervised by a military guard. A guard house was built on a hill overlooking the river and this may have influenced Henry Dangar to set aside the area for a Village Reserve. Land was allocated to applicants according to their wealth and potential ability to make the land productive. Following is a selection of names attached to the grants given on both sides of the Williams before 1830, their relevance here being that present day street names and geographical features are named for them.: Peter Sinclair, Thomas Bartie, Andrew Dixon, Alexander Warren, Hugh Torrence, Sarah Still, and William Fisher. Most of these were Scottish emigrants hopeful of improving their circumstances in a new country.

The Village

Until 1838, many of the large estates operated like self contained villages— a homestead for the owner and his family, and many outbuildings for the workers. Those pioneer workers were convicts but gradually they were replaced with emigrant labour. Then, possibly because of economic pressures, the large estates were divided into small farms which were either sold or leased to tenant farmers.
By 1838 the need for a central village arose, a place with services for local residents, public facilities, churches, schools and accommodation for travellers.
The Government Gazette of 26 July 1838 announced the founding of the Seaham Village. Following the accepted norms of the day, the streets were laid out on the map in a North- South, East- West grid, which would help travellers navigate their journey. The village was centred on a bend in the river. A large section, including the lagoon, was set aside as a Reserve for Public Recreation.
The principal streets were named for historic or nearby landholders ( some mentioned previously as well as Warren, Wighton and Nelson).
A slow start to land sales in 1838 led to more in the 1850s when the government had set aside sites for churches and other public uses. By the late 1860s there was a thriving village serviced by storekeepers, butcher, shoemaker, blacksmith, cabinet maker and carpenter. There were hotels, an accommodation house and post office, mail arriving on alternate days from local towns, and twice a week by steamer from Sydney. There were two churches and a National School. The population had farmers, dairymen, labourers,vine growers as well as a school teacher and puntman.

The Town

Seaham was proclaimed a Town in 1885.