The Morpeth Road culvert could have a state heritage listing

STONE: Heritage enthusiast resident Heather Berry wants the Morpeth Road culvert on the state heritage list. The culvert was built by convicts in 1833. Pictures: Simone De Peak
STONE: Heritage enthusiast resident Heather Berry wants the Morpeth Road culvert on the state heritage list. The culvert was built by convicts in 1833. Pictures: Simone De Peak

A trip down memory lane could be a reality with the rediscovery of an 180-year-old culvert.

For years, the stone tunnel has remained tucked away under Morpeth Road until council workers cleared trees away – just months ago. 

It piqued the curiosity of Morpeth Heritage Conservation Group vice president Heather Berry, and she began tracing the history of the structure. 

Historical documents reveal the stone tunnel was built by convicts in 1833 with the purpose of providing an easier passage way from Queens Wharf. 

Ms Berry said the culvert has substantial heritage significance, and needed to be protected by a state heritage listing.

“I believe the culvert on Morpeth Road– and the area around it – is one of the most significant for both Morpeth and the City of Maitland,” she said. 

“As such I am hoping to put a proposal through to get the culvert a state heritage listing.”

Ms Berry said the culvert was built at the same time as the world-recognised Great North Road.

“I am not saying this culvert is as significant as the [world heritage listed] Great North Road but we have a culvert which is as significant as any on that road,” she said.

”The difference is that our culvert is still being used 180 years after it was constructed. I think to be able to say we have one that’s been in use for so long is majorly significant.”

But rediscovery also sparked a bigger vision for Ms Berry. 

Ms Berry said the area has the potential to be a tourist walk, starting at the old Queens Wharf through Steamer Street to the culvert –  including a viewing platform.

“I am going to put a proposal to the council as an additional tourist walk as it is part of the Morpeth Heritage Conservation Area,” she said. 

“I think it could add a new dimension to the tourism experience in Morpeth. I think it has a lot of potential.

Maitland Council have had an archaeological report completed on the culvert, but the Morpeth resident hasn’t had a chance to dig into it yet. 

“This would show the development of not only Morpeth but the Hunter Valley,” Ms Berry said.

“Other than Closebourne House, this would be about the oldest structure in Morpeth.”