Merewether was originally part of the Burwood Estate, and takes its name from the owner, Edward Christopher Merewether. The Church of England parish church is St.Augustine, in Llewellyn Street, the land and cost of erection met by Mr. Edward Merewether. It became the centre of a new Provisional District in the Diocese of Newcastle in 1890. In 1891 the Census gave the population as 4,700. Merewether was incorporated as a Municipality in 1885, covering 1,110 acres (4.5 km2) and 31 km (19 mi) of streets. The Mayor in 1901 was David Lloyd, a funeral director who resided in Railway Street. The former Council Chambers, opposite the Post Office, are today the clubhouse of the Australian Returned Services League. In 1938 an Act of the New South Wales Parliament created a "City of Greater Newcastle", incorporating 11 municipalities into one local government area, including Merewether.
The dominant industry within the old municipality was coal mining, with the last colliery, at Glebe, not closing until 1959. This was served by a company railway which left the main Government line in the city centre, crossed the main Hunter Street, passed down the centre of Burwood Street, crossed Newcastle's Civic Park, passed under Laman Street and continued along its own permanent way through the suburb of Cook's Hill, to The Junction, past its school then up Merewether Street embankment crossing Llewellyn, Caldwell & Ridge Streets, past the telephone exchange, up Morgan Street, crossing Yule Road to the Newcastle Coal Mining Company's colliery complex. The Happy Valley Colliery (tunnel), opposite Rowan Street, and worked by the Maheen family, also closed about the same time.
Coal mining also took place to the south of Merewether at Glenrock Lagoon, and Murdering Gully on Burwood Beach. That area is now part of the Glenrock State Conservation Area. Access to these collieries was via a private railway which ran from The Junction (with the Glebe colliery line) past Merewether Beach and through Australia's first 2 railway tunnels, built in 1861 & 1862 respectfully, cut under Merewether Bluff, above the Ocean Baths. Burwood Colliery at Glenrock Lagoon was a shaft; whereas Murdering Gully consisted of a number of tunnels which fed a large coal loader above the beach, and closed down during the 1949 miners' strike, never to reopen.
Merewether also once had extensive pottery works and brickyards, the last to close being Hughes' Pottery, opposite The Junction School, in the last two decades of the 20th century.
Merewether's Glebe Colliery, c1900.