In 1982 the state rail authority determined that they would not renew Lynch’s lease. This was due to the fact that there were several authorities with an interest in the tiny parcel of land where the postage stamp sat and regulatory frameworks had developed over time to the point that basically the bureaucracy of it all was insurmountable. The Lynch’s basically didn’t intend to fight the decision and essentially were going to wrap up their operation. The public had other ideas. One of the customers brought in a book to start a petition. Another customer had a legal background and he prepared a cover letter. This petition ended up in several volumes. The community went into uproar. I remember the “hands off our prawns” campaign from when I was a boy. It was all over the local media, I remember people with placards demanding that something be done. Below is a cartoon from the Herald at the time which says it all.
In the end council was forced to act. They built the Lynch’s Prawns building that we know across the road from the old Lynch’s site, pictured below. The Lynch's were only in this building for a short while, calling it quits in the mid-80s.
After having my morning tea with Aina, I started relaying the stories over the next few days to different people that I knew and via social media. The thing that really struck me was that everyone I spoke to had some story about this place, some connection with it and the families involved. Whether it was “my father was such and such’s cousin”, or “my family used to service Pats cab”, or even just “I remember buying my bait there”. For my part, I found out that my grandfather caused a bit of a row between Pat and Aina once. My grandfather would sometimes fish with Pat and on one occasion he promised to have Pat back for dinner he was going to. Apparently they got onto a good spot of fish and a very sheepish Pat turned up at the dinner at 11pm. According to Aina, Pat visited my grandfather the next day at the police station and told him that he'd "better go and square up with Aina or they mightn't be getting away to dangle a line for a while".
The thing about Lynch’s is that it was a focal point for the Novacastrian community from the time they started in 1935 until the time they called it quits in the mid-80s. The foreshore is now unrecognisable from what has gone before and that is a good thing, it needed to happen. Only the Lynch's building remains now, it is the last physical reminder that we have of the people, culture and heritage of the Perkins Street boat harbour and everything that went with that.
Newcastle is changing so fast at the moment. Its so exciting and joyous to see our city coming back to life. Novacastrians have waited a very long time for this and it is sorely deserved. The thing is that we need to be careful, its important that in all of this excitement of re-discovering and re-defining Newcastle, we don’t lose what it means to be Novacastrian. The Lynch's building and its history in our community is important and we are very proud to be involved with this project that will save this landmark on our harbour, breathe new life into the Lynch’s building and return it to its role as a focal point for the Novacastrian community.
Thanks very much for reading this series of blog articles about the Lynch's site and its importance to the Novacastrian community. We hope to see you at Lynch's soon, we can't offer one of the world's best prawn sandwiches these days but we will do an amazing cuppa.