The history of Maitland's vaults has been uncovered

The mystery surrounding subterranean Maitland has unravelled.

Late last month the Maitland City Heritage Group issued a call out to help unearth the secrets of the city’s underground basements.

As part of the search The Maitland Mercury published a series of black and white images featuring late historian Harry Boyle in an unidentified basement. 

What came forward is this.

“We believe the basement is located in High Street (the old Scobies Chambers) and used at the end of WWII as a packing area for parcels to be sent to Britain as part of a program called ‘Bundles for Britain,” Maitland City Council heritage officer Clare James said.

It is believed the space was then used for growing mushrooms.

“We believe the door of the basement used to be at ground level leading out to the river where ships would moor at a wharf and unload liquor which was stored at the back of the basement,” Ms James said.

“We have also discovered there is another basement in High Street that used to be used as a bomb shelter ­during the war.”

Harry Boyle in a basement believed to be in High Street.

Harry Boyle in a basement believed to be in High Street.

The concept of underground basements will be explored in an upcoming publication examining Maitland’s more unusual and quirky tales of the past.

“I think this new discovery demonstrates the value in the old history of High Street and the information may be known but might not be documented,” Ms James said.

“And no doubt there are many, many other stories of other buildings like the ones we have mentioned and they all reveal how the river was being used for trade.

“These stories really paint a picture of how Maitland used to be and how the river was completely central to trade, merchandise and commerce.”

* If you know more about the basements of Maitland contact Clare James on 4934 9832 or


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