Research on pioneer artist

Paterson’s links to a pioneering artist and author will be explored during the town’s ­annual heritage walk.

Author, illustrator and natural historian John William Lewin travelled to the Hunter Valley in 1801 and 1805 with James Grant, William Paterson and surgeon John Harris, who were exploring the potential for a settlement to be established in the region.

He spent time sketching the flora and fauna of the Hunter, with some of those drawings later appearing in his tome Birds of New South Wales, the first illustrated book to be published in Australia.

Mr Lewin and his work will form the major theme for the heritage walk being conducted by the Paterson Historical Society on March 10.

The society’s secretary Virginia Daniels said Mr Lewin was “quite an important person in the area”, with suggestions from local historians that Lewinsbrook, near Gresford, was named after the artist.

The society has conducted extensive research into the claims, but is yet to find written evidence verifying them.

This year’s heritage walk, which is the society’s major fund-raiser, will also focus on water storage wells at a number of historic homes throughout the district, while Ms Daniels said a key attraction for history buffs would be the display of the ­original Paterson Town Charter, dated 1843.

This is only the second time it will have been put on display since it was discovered in the police office next to the Paterson courthouse and given to the ­historical society in 1974.

Paterson Historical Society president Dr Cameron Archer provides an introduction to the display, before leading participants on a walk around the town’s key historical sites, including the only remaining World War II air raid shelter in the Lower Hunter.

The walk will begin at 1pm from the Paterson Court House museum and costs $5.

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