Charlestown, located 10kms south west of the Newcastle central business district, is home to the largest shopping centre in the region, Charlestown Square, just off the Pacific Highway.
It is also home to a vibrant shopping strip, both adjacent to the Pacific Highway and along the surrounding streets, including Charlestown Convenience Centre, a collection of retail outlets dabbling in coffee, food, phones, balloons, sporting apparel and other notable items. Around the corner is one of the Newcastle’s foremost men’s clothing stores and a Curves fitness centre exclusively for women.
Charlestown is a bustling metropolis with all the trappings of modern day Australia; not known to all is the fact that the suburb was built on the back of the 19th century coal mine when the first settlers in the region were miners from the pit. Information about the suburb’s early rise to prominence is available on the mining plaques at the south side of town adorning the wall of a popular local sporting ground.
Originally granted to the Waratah Coal Company, the area was the site of the company’s first shaft, sunk in 1873. Officially called South Waratah, the pit was variously known as Charles’ Pit, Raspberry Gully or The Gully Pit. These names all applied to Charlestown in its early days and the surviving name seems to have been derived from that of Charles Smith, the company’s manager.
The company had the area surveyed on April 29, 1876; the first subdivision later became Ida Street, Pearson Street, Milson Street and Frederick Streets. Harry Wright bought the first lot when it was auctioned later in 1876.
The town had its first water main in 1927 and was connected to civic sewage in 1959.
The suburb contains four primary schools; the state schools of Charlestown Primary, Charlestown South Primary and Charlestown East Primary, and the Catholic Diocese’s St Joseph’s Convent Primary School. The state primary schools advance to nearby Whitebridge High School, while the catholic primary school feeds into nearby St Mary’s High School at Gateshead and St Pius X High School at Adamstown.
The suburb has its own police station and a fire station, whilst the NSW Ambulance Service has its Northern Communications Centre in the suburb, off Dudley Road.