Wallsend was established after The Wallsend Coal Company’s first mine was opened in 1860. Named after a place in England, the town grew rapidly. Unlike many other colonial towns, they were not formed on convict labour. Commercial buildings and shops were soon erected to service the needs of the miners arriving from Scotland, England and Wales. By 1880 there is evidence of a wide variety of business, including general stores, butchers, bakeries, hotels, cordial factory, blacksmiths, carters, bootmakers, tailors, newsagents, chemists, tobacconists, undertakers, builders, insurance agents and a newspaper.
Land surrounding “A” Pit was subdivided by the Coal Company and became Cowper, Campbell, Brown, Thomas, Whitton, Martindale, Brooks, Metcalfe, Murnin and Irving Streets. The first blocks sold for £120 to £160 per acre. Most plots were large as families needed to be self-sustaining growing their own fruit and vegetables, and keeping chickens, pigs and goats.
After long disputes with the Coal Company a group of disgruntled employees led by James Fletcher began the Co-operative Mine on the site of what is now Wallsend High School. This mine ceased in 1934 and was the one and only attempt to work as a co-operative.
In 1874 Wallsend became incorporated and the first Council was formed with James Fletcher elected Mayor. Plattsburg Borough Council was formed in 1876 with amalgamation of Plattsburg and Wallsend councils in 1915 becoming known as Wallsend Municipal Council. In 1938 Wallsend joined Newcastle City Council.
The town has a rich sporting history, renowned for its soccer, racing, athletics and football. The Australian Rules Black Diamond Cup is the oldest sporting trophy still being contested in Australia. It was instituted in 1887 as a challenge cup, with any team winning it twice successively to retain it permanently. In 1889, Wallsend took it home, having won the first two years. It lived in the Mayor’s house for many years. It is now in the care of the Newcastle Museum.