Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Changing Meaning of New England

Photo: Bruxner Highway, Tenterfield.

A short note on the changing meaning of the words "New England".

When European settlers first arrived on the Northern Tablelands they called the place New England because it reminded them of home. They then planted English trees, creating landscapes such as that shown in the photo.

At this stage the broader New England was known simply as the North, defining itself in relation to Sydney. The people called themselves Northerners. We can see this in the early names of the news state movement, the Northern Separation Movement.

In 1931 the new state movement adopted the name New England at its Maitland Convention. New England was now defined as an entity in its own right.

This name spread. We can see an early example of this when G A Robinson called his new Lismore based airline New England Airways.

In 1967 with the loss of the new state plebiscite and the decline of the new state movement use of the name New England began to shrink again. Today common usage has shrunk back towards the Tablelands.

I use the name New England in its broader sense because I am interested in the history of New England as an entity, not just little New England.

In a post on the New England Australia blog I referred to the way in which official and media use of language was starting to emasculate Newcastle's separate identity. This is a local example of a broader problem.

As best I can, I will try to preserve knowledge and understanding of New England's identity.

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