COFFEE @ the Three Bears Kitchen, Newcastle 2300.
Opposite the railway line and adjacent to the footbridge that links Queens Wharf with Hunter Street sits an old corner building with a bland contemporary external renovation that has been partly rescued by the striking Three Bears Kitchen.
The combination of the curved steel beams below the Market Street footbridge and the black tiles and copper signage identifying the Three Bears Kitchen creates an eye-catching corner at Newcastle’s Scott and Market Street.
Internally some of the building’s original structure has been revealed and in so doing, a very interesting space has been created. Large exposed beams and bare brick walls that expose the location of past arched windows blend well with the whimsical mock old ceilings, polished concrete floors, and steam boiler. The old style lights, the crate fruit displays, and the copper water stand and matching shelves all contribute to making the Three Bears Kitchen a captivating space.
The atmosphere is evocative and comfortable, and both indoor and outdoor seating is available. The menu is comprehensive and the coffee and food is fresh and delicious; our takeaway chicken Baguette was a standout.
NOW & THEN around Newcastle
In 1797 Lieutenant John Shortland, whilst searching for escaped convicts from Sydney, became the first European to explore the area known today as Newcastle. Shortland found the area to be abundant in coal and was also attracted to its deep-water port.
The most dangerous convicts were sent to work in coalmines that would produce New South Wales’ first export. By the start of the 19th century, conditions in the settlement had improved and a building boom began. The streets were laid out and the first church, gaol and public school were constructed. Work also began on the breakwater, which today joins Nobbys Head to the mainland. Only a significantly reinforced breakwater and the original public school, which is the oldest in Australia, survive today.
Newcastle remained a penal settlement until 1822, at which time the settlement was opened up to farming. With penal law abolished, the settlement slowly acquired the aspects of a typical Australian pioneer settlement and a steady flow of free settlers moved into the area.
Until recently, ships carrying coal travelled from Newcastle to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. Today the port remains the economic and trade centre for much of the north and northwest of New South Wales and the Hunter Valley region.
Newcastle was an important industrial centre for the Australian war effort during the Second World War. Consequently, the area became a Japanese target and in June 1942, a Japanese submarine attacked Newcastle. Fortunately there were no casualties and only minimal damage occurred.
Today commercial and retail occupation of the old city centre remains low as the CBD shifts west toward ‘Honeysuckle’; a major urban renewal area that incorporates the adaptive reuse of heritage listed buildings including the former railway work sheds which are now used as a gym, a community activities space and the Newcastle Regional Museum.
A photographic record of my visit to Newcastle, NSW
The following images showcase contemporary alterations and additions to heritage listed buildings and/or buildings located within heritage conservation areas in Newcastle.
The colours of Newcastle…
Its not easy to get a colour scheme right, particularly when you are using more than two colours. Preserving or reinstating an authentic colour scheme on a building can help retain and enhance a building’s historical significance.
Newcastle presents a striking colour palette. Whether it is the colour of the buildings or the large mural paintings around the city, there are so many examples of wonderful vibrant colour combinations to be seen. Below are just a few.
Authentic colour-schemes can be researched or found in several ways. Original colours may exist behind wallpaper, electrical switch plates, built-in cabinets or architraves, or externally under gutters, house numbers or timber cladding for example.
Paint scrapings can be collected and examined using a microscope; ensure scrapings are collected from areas that have been protected from the elements. Scrapings may reveal the different colours the building has been painted over time and paint suppliers can match these colours.
Old photographs, the social pages of old newspapers, books on restoration or colour schemes, both old and new, may provide helpful information. Even black and white photographs can be used to show where darker and lighter colours were used on a building.
It may be fitting to paint a building in a non-original colour scheme if it reflects a significant period in a building’s history. For example, if a building is heritage listed because it has a strong association with a famous or influential person, painting the building in the colour that it was painted at the time the person lived there would be appropriate.
New colour schemes and/or more contemporary interpretations of traditional colour schemes sympathetic to the architectural style of a building can be successful if carefully considered. Only ‘off whites’ should be used on heritage listed buildings or buildings in heritage conservation areas; stark white should be avoided.
Consulting a heritage consultant with expertise in early colour schemes may be worthwhile, especially on larger detailed buildings. Local councils often provide information on their websites to help building owners select suitable colour schemes.
Dictionary of Sydney, Office of Environment & Heritage – State Heritage Inventory, The City of Newcastle Council website.
Historical images courtesy of Flickr Commons and the State Library of NSW.