Diary of a Ghost Chaser - Mr Baker the Baker

My adventures lead me to Lambton, a suburb in Newcastle to chase my next ghost story.
Tammy Guest, the business owner of Inspirational Health in Elder Street met me on a tour a few weeks ago and told me about the presence of a previous owner in the premises she has been working from for the past three years.

                                      A view of Lambton photo: Cultural Collections Ncle Uni

Lambton is a suburb of Newcastle, and as most of the settlements of Newcastle it started around a coal mine.

Originally a coal-mining township, Lambton was incorporated as a Municipality (including Jesmond, New South Wales), on 24 June 1871. The 1891 Census gave the population as 3,434. It was the first municipality in Newcastle district to be lit by electric light.

In the early years the miners of the township used to entertain themselves gambling on dog races known as the "Dog & Rat" because they would release a rat (wallaby) on flat open area then let their dogs chase it down the dog that caught the rat won (the rat won if it made it to the scrub)

In 1901 there were 14 churches, a Music Hall, Assembly Rooms, a Temperance Hall, a Mechanics' Institute, Miners' Institute, a Post, Telegraph and Money Order Office, a Savings Bank, Court House, Fire Brigade, Council Chambers, and fine public schools.(wikipedia.org)

Tammy's business occupies a building first established as a bakery.

The original home and bakery was situated on the southern side of Elder Street.
It was a two story wooden home with a small bake house behind.

Tammy showed me the window where William Baker would sell his bread to the locals. It was still there.

                                The 'bread sales' window is behind the white board in the photo
                                                                  Photo: R.Daniel

William Baker, whose parents were 'pioneers' living in Groves Street, Waratah started work at 14 in the mines. He got an apprenticeship with a man by the name of William Shoesmith at his bakery and then bought him out when he went bankrupt. This was the place on Elder street.
William Baker then went on to marry William Shoesmith's younger sister and so the two families worked together baking bread in Lambton for the next 80 years.
The bread carters would arrive daily at the rear entrance in Kendall Street to load up and deliver fresh bread.
So William began bread baking began in  1873.

                   Back entrance to the original bread shop where bread carters would pull             
 in with their horse and wagons to fill up with fresh bread
                                                                  Photo: R. Daniel

William became famous for his bread making and was known far and wide for his delicious bread winning many awards. How lucky were the local residents of Lambton!
He was, at one tim,e called "the Confuscious" of bread making winning many awards at local and State competitions and eventually became a judge himself.

I asked Tammy if she had any feelings of the presence of the Baker family still in the being in the building.

Tammy showed me that back room telling me that when she was there early on in the first year of her business she would sit after hours doing book work when there would be a distinct smell of tobacco coming from know where.She would follow the smell but would not find a source.
Some evenings, at the same time, every time, the fire place would start to crackle and pop as if a piece of firewood was being placed on the pile to burn.

                                            Tammy feels William's presence at the fireplace
                                                           Photo: R.Daniel

Tammy feels that William is happy with her business being where his shop used to be.
"William gave back to the community" she told me. "He used to give away free bread after Sunday cricket games along with the butchers in Elder Street who used to give the spectators and players free sausages."

"Everyone chipped in and looked after each other, especially through the Depression years, when 8 out of 10 people did not have a job."

"We also work with the community in mind and we have had a wonderful three years with the business expanding and growing all of the time. We are really busy and I think William is really happy with what we are doing".

                                                          Original pressed metal ceiling
                                                                      Photo: R.Daniel

Certainly the vibe of the space is comforting and inviting.
I only felt a very different shift in a spot in the hallway where three rooms opened into a small walk through area.
There it was like walking through a heavy wall of dense energy.
I told Tammy that it was as if that spot was the busiest point of the whole building with people once pushing and jostling each other to get through.
Possibly, in years past, William's workers would be busy passing fresh bread from out the back where the baking ovens used to be into the shop to be sold at this point.

                                        View from the front room onto Elder Street, Lambton
                                                               Photo: R. Daniel

Tammy is happy to live alongside William Baker, the Baker.
He is taking care of her and she, in turn, is looking after his old shop.
A meeting of like minded souls 100 years apart.

Sometimes the ghosts of the past cause no harm at all.
They are just there - overseeing proceedings from time to time.
Their energy and their heart lives on.

Seems that most of the shops in elder Street have a story to tell beyond what we see as we walk past them.
I look forward to learning more about Elder Street and will be sharing this on a Lambton ghost walk in 2016.
I thank Tammy for her time and I hope to see William one day in the future.

                                                            Lambton Park Rotunda


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