Who is


Ed Tonks is a retired Social Sciences teacher. For more than 40 years he has been actively teaching, researching and promoting aspects of the Hunter’s history. Since 1990 Ed has delivered or conducted more than 800 talks for service clubs, community groups and professional bodies. His “Mines and Lines”, “Urban Industrial Newcastle”,” Bridges of the Hunter” and “Pits and Pubs” tours are well known.


He has written the following books and calendars.

  • South Maitland Coalfield Field Study Notes (1979)

  • History of Redhead Colliery (1981)

  • Beneath Tidal Water - The Story of Newcastle’s Harbour Collieries (1985)

  • Northumberland-Newstan: 100 Years of Coalmining (1987)

  • Adamstown Via Fernleigh: Trains & Collieries of the Belmont Line (1988)

  • Wallsend and Pelton Collieries: A Chronology of the Newcastle Wallsend Coal Company (1990)

  • Lambton by the Sea: The Last 19th Century Colliery on the Newcastle Coalfield (1995)

  • EL Class: An Early History (1996)

  • NR Class: An Early History NR1-NR15 (1998)

  • NR Class: An Early History NR16-NR30 (1999)

  • NR Class: An Early History NR31-NR45 (1999)

  • From Pillars to Highwall: An Early History of Goodsir & Cooper and Bayswater Colliery Company Pty Limited (2000)

  • Hotels of the South Maitland Coalfield (2000)

  • NR Class: An Early History NR 46-NR 60 (2000)

  • NR Class: An Early History NR61-NR 90 (2002)

  • NR Class: An Early History NR91-NR 121 (2004)

  • No Bar to Time. The Hotels of the Newcastle Local Government Area (2015)

  • Ed Tonks’ Trains of the Fernleigh Track (Calendar) (2015)

  • No Bar to Time. Lost Hotels of Newcastle & Lake Macquarie ( Calendar) (2015)


Ed has also been active as an historical consultant as well as a member of a number of committees. During 2013-2014 he worked on the historical content for much of the Fernleigh Track interpretive signage. He has been involved in a number of commemorative groups resulting in rededications or setting of plaques. In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal for “documenting and disseminating local history”. During 2005 he was invited to deliver the John Turner Memorial Lecture. In conjunction with the Festival of Heritage in 2010 Ed was presented with a “Bona Perpetual” award by the Hunter Heritage Network.