Margaret Henry Oral History Archive

The Margaret Henry Oral History Archive is a collection of audio tapes, transcripts, summaries and essays that were part of the Open Foundation Course (1986-1989). The wider collection of Margaret Henry Oral History Archive containing over 220 interviews in total held at Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle Library. The oral histories have been digitised and will continue to be uploaded to SoundCloud over coming weeks. They contain many stories of Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and its surrounds and records voices describing the Regions cultural, intellectual and social life. It is an incredible legacy to Margaret Henry who passed on 9 September 2015. The project is funded by the Vera Deacon History Fund.


Margaret Henry 1980s at UON

Who was Margaret Henry?

Margaret was born in New Lambton in 1934 and lived most of her life in Newcastle. She attended Newcastle Girls’ High, trained as a History/English teacher furthered her study gaining a Masters degree in History. For most of her professional life (1969-1990), she worked as an academic – mainly within the Department of History at the University of Newcastle and then in the Department of Community Programmes where she was responsible for the Open Foundation course. As an academic at Newcastle University, she is remembered very fondly as a mentor and supportive influence by hundreds of mature aged students and in particular women students. She was responsible for the establishment of innovative new courses within the Department of Community Programmes. Additionally, she involved the department and her students in many local social and environmental campaigns. She is especially remembered for mentoring indigenous students and her active involvement in the establishment of indigenous studies at the university.
Was a great mentor and supporter to many in the community, sharing her tremendous knowledge about Newcastle’s past. She encouraged generations of Novocastrians to engage in history and cultural heritage of the region. She loved for people to share their stories, was a good listening, and these oral history interviews are testament to Margaret’s passion for history, and her vision to have these important ‘voices’ documented.

Dr. John Turner and Margaret Henry (History), the University of Newcastle, Australia - 1985

Dr. John Turner and Margaret Henry (History), the University of Newcastle, Australia – 1985

Margaret Henry

Margaret Henry. Image courtesy Gregg Heathcote in 2014

The Oral History Collection

Cultural Collections, UON Library has digitised several hundred oral histories from the 1980s. The Margaret Henry Oral History archive records voices describing the Region’s cultural, intellectual and social life.
The collection is diverse and contains over 600 hours of recording, many of the interviews relate to the Great Depression, stories are told sporadically about the Depression because of the significant impact it had on people’s lives.
The oldest interviewee is Veronica Phillips (nee Harper) born in 1884 and aged 105 at time of the interview and is an exceptional and rare interview because the interviewee not only recalls pre-1900s but describes years during WWII and later decades. Veronica recalls the recalls the great drought in 1898, the “suffragettes” movement, “unsinkable Titanic” and helping fundraise for soldiers going off to WWI.

Health and Medicine
There are interviews about health and medicine of the region, with interviews with Dr Roy Mills (Chest physician), Dr Ferguson well known General Practitioner in Mayfield, Matron Punton speaks about Wallsend Hospital, and Sr. Mary Barnabas Paediatric Care at the Newcastle Mater Hospital. Beryl Clinton speaks about the history of Rankin Park Hospital, the place and the people.

About Place
There are interviews and stories associated with various places, such as Coon Island in Lake Macquarie, TorontoMorpeth, Paterson, Belmont,  Belmont South, Awaba, Green Point, Greta, and Buttai, and Islington, Mosquito Island, Port Stephens, Tanilba Bay, Lambton, Wickham, Charlestown,

Local Identities
Some of the regions well known identities are also interviewed such as Howard Williams and Neville Wheeler about ’95 years of law in Newcastle’, Neville ‘Ned’ Andrews well known sporting identity, worked at the State Dockyard and President of the Federated Ironworkers Union, Clem Ashford innovator of the fast food culture in Newcastle, and Alice Ferguson known who taught thousands of people to swim at Merewether Beach. Also Roy Whalan, well known horticulturalist recollects his early life and how he got into the nursery business. Helen Taylor’s family came from Czechoslavakia and came to Australia in 1949, Helen is fondly remembered for her long association with Tanilba House and her care in looking after the historic property. Hon. C.K Jones M.P. O.A. (Charles Keith Jones) is interviewed about history of trade unions and politics in Newcastle. Charles Jones was Lord Mayor of Newcastle in 1956, Federal Minister of Transport and Sate Member for Newcastle, (Part 1Part 2)

Education Lottie Stewart was a former teacher at Hunter Girls High School speaks about the changes in the education for girls. Dorothy Temperley speaks of her school days in Kurri Kurri.  Early education in Newcastle and the UON’s Open Foundation Course is discussed by Mildred Storer.

Religion Religion is also a theme, Sr Catarina Heffernan talks about the Dominican Order of Nuns (at Rosary Convent Waratah), Fr Harold Campbell about the Diocese of Maitland, and Ivy Easthope about the Seventh-day Adventists at Cooranbong. Phyllis Foster talks about the history of the Salvation Army in Newcastle.

Sport & Recreation Ray Williams about the Stockton Surf Life Saving Club. Ray was born in 1905 and resided in Stockton for most of his life, joining the Stockton club at aged 15 in 1920.  In 1987, at the age of 82 years Ray was still working as a beach inspector at Stockton, “probably the oldest inspector in Australia”.

Community Events Bob Johnston talks about his memoirs of the Maitland Show from age of 5 in 1930. The Maitland Show is one of the oldest shows in Australia, first held in 1844.

Pioneer Families
Interviews of some pioneers families such as the Marks, Boydell Dillon and Elliott families are told by their descendants. Charles Lewis about his memories of working in the Hunter Valley Timber Industry during the 1920s and 1930s.

Arts & Theatre
There are a number of interviews about Newcastle’s dramatic scene and theatres, there is a delightful interview with Betty Lind about Newcastle Dramatic Art Club, Peter and Shirley Bloomfield speak about the Newcastle Repertory Theatre, and Del de Glorion and Peter Whipper Snr each talk about their family’s involvement in Newcastle Theatre. And an interview with Agnes James about the Abermain Eisteddfod.  The history of Newcastle Printmaker’s Workshop is told by its Foundation Chair Robin Winston.

Betty Lind 1980s

Betty Lind talks about Newcastle Newcastle Dramatic Arts Club. Image Courtesy Betty Lind.

Many interviews are about the development of the coalfields and other large industries such as the State Dock Yards. John Aubin discusses the State Dockyard in Newcastle from 1942 to 1962. Harry Harding talks about the history of Shipbuilding in Newcastle, Douglas Bradford about the Cardiff Railway Workshops, and Clarrie McLennan talks about his days working at Zaara Street Power Station. As well as Sidney Ayerst about working as a diver at the port of Newcastle. Other interviews about large business include Ken Millington on the Electric Lamp Manufacturers, and Clarrie Withers on John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, Robert Burns about Goninan & Co. Ltd, and the history of ABC (2NC) radio in Newcastle by John Bracken. There is also the wonderful story of pioneer Walter Edwin Bramble whose family would establish Brambles as told by his grand-daughter Betty Anderson. Carlton ‘Carl’ Parrott talks about stevedoring on the Newcastle Waterfront. The early shipping history along the Williams River is discussed with Mr RL Ford. Maritime history and Newcastle’s Customs House is discussed by Captain James Fletcher.  

Coal Mining Jack Ambler and Jock Redding are interviewed about coal mining in the Hunter Region. Jack commenced work in the mines in 1941 and retired in 1984. He worked for that time at Stockton Borehole Colliery, the Waratah Colliery (the Gully Pit). Jock started in the mines in 1952, became a Deputy, and retired late 1980s, some of his working life was spent at Burwood Colliery. Clyde Jones and Mick Jurd are interviewed about the years in the mines, Clyde starting at the ‘pit top’ at age of 15 in 1927 at ‘Bellbird’, and Mick working in the ‘pits’ at Bulli in the 1940s before coming to Killingworth in 1949 and in 1970 working at the Lambton Colliery. David Bowtell talks about the first Masonite factory in Australia, the Masonite Factory at Raymond Terrace.

Transport Norman Kelty speaks about the changes from trams to buses in Newcastle.

Unions & Politics Keith Wilson was an active participant in social issues and talks about the emerging role of Newcastle Trade Hall Council. And Thomas Graham talks about the Federated Ironworkers’ Association (FAI) and the Newcastle iron and steel industry (1917-1950). Local Government in Maitland is discussed by former Alderman Fran Dawson.

Military & Defence Keith Sullivan discusses the RAAF Airbase at Williamtown, he joined the airforce in 1947 and later became a warrant officer at Williamtown. In 1981 was part of the No. 26 Squadron ‘The City of Newcastle’, he describes the changes at the airbase and the various types of aircraft and equipment. Melissa Cameron speaks about years in the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS).

Law & Order Keith Parsons & Doug Lithgow speak about the history of policing in Newcastle. Police in Newcastle were housed in the building known today as the Lock Up Cultural Centre. Keith is son of retired Sergeant Ewen Parsons and Doug the son of retired Superintendent George Lithgow, they each reflect their father’s views about the police force.

Women’s History There are several interviews about women, Kathleen Blackett describes the years she worked at Rylands during WWII and that there was often resentment towards women doing manual jobs.  Joyce Staley reflects on the life as a single woman during the Great Depression, the hard times and having to be self-sufficient, as does Doreen Maher. Pearl Hickey talks about the Newcastle Women’s Movements. Mary Calcott who worked at the Working Women’s Centre at Mayfield in 1975.

Family Business’ Family business’ of Newcastle and the Hunter also feature in the collection. Stephen Simpson talks about his trade as a bootmaker and establishing Simpson’s Shoes at Lambton. Also listen to Eric Merrion about ‘Merrion’s Cardiff Bakery’ a family business 1922-1977. Bill Payne owner of the Melvic Theatre at Belmont talks about setting up the theatre, and Keith McGill talks about following him his father’s footsteps to become a butcher. Alec Young of Young & Green car dealership, and Miss Nancy Morison talks about her family’s pioneering engineering firm Morison & Bearby, Arthur Dodd about the business he established Dodd & Co. Pty Ltd. Similarly John Sobb speaks about establishing his own retail store. Although not a family business, the history of Newcastle and suburban Co-Operative Society, community lead stores are discussed by Esme Allan. Colin Johnston talks about the growth of High Street, Maitland, and the family business Johnston’s Shoe Store. Marjorie Brown speaks about her years as a business person in Cessnock, owning a Milk Bar and several businesses. Frank Baker Jnr. talks about the family business ‘Baker’s Bakery.  Interview with Gordon Edwards about his Hairdressing Salon in Pacific Street, Newcastle, he tells the history of hairdressing in the region.

Migrant Histories There are fascinating interviews with people who were at the Greta Migrant Camp, such as Elly Slechter and  Bazil ManunczakLuka Dejanovic about the Croation community in Newcastle.

About the Environment There are interviews with the environmentalist such as Tom Farrell and Selby Alley speaks of the rise of environmental awareness in Australia. The history of the Northern Parks and Playground Movement and conservation in Newcastle is discussed by Doug LithgowJohn Lineham talks about the Toorumbee Creek Community, an alternative life-style movement, the aim was to “settle the country and develop a self sufficient life-style based on appropriate, mainly soft technology”. The attraction was to get away to the pristine isolated environment, to the tranquility, an escape from technology and industry. Joyce Bond is interviewed about her involvement in the Newcastle Hill Residence Group.

Tom Farrell

Tom Farrell speaks about early Newcastle & the environment

These histories record the public memory at a certain time, memories that can be mapped in time and place. Hearing the past can inspire us, provide new knowledge so we can better understand, and plan our future.

The oral history tapes have been digitised by Cultural Collections, UON Library and made freely available to the wider global research community thanks to the generosity of The Vera Deacon Regional History Fund. For further interviews in the Margaret Henry Oral History Project go to Margaret Henry Oral History Project (1986-1989) on SoundCloud.


Milsom, Rosemary (10 Sept 2015) OBITUARY- ‘Margaret Henry- City loses its ‘conscience’ Newcastle Herald.

Virtue, Robert (18 September, 2015) Remembering Historian Margaret Henry – a collection of oral histories compiled by the late Margaret Henry have been digitised. 1233 ABC Newcastle

Henry, Margaret (1991)‘The Battle for Newcastle’- Margaret Henry

The Battle for Newcastle:Heritage and the Earthquake. By Margaret Henry, 1991.

The Battle for Newcastle:Heritage and the Earthquake. By Margaret Henry, 1991.

Project compiled by Dr Ann Hardy for Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle Library

Signature: Celebrating Our Artist Graduates

2015_Signature e-invite

Celebrating Our Artist Graduates

Exhibition at the University Gallery
23 September – 7 November 2015

A casual read of any of the University’s Seahorse alumni magazines cannot fail to impress on the reader the scope and success of our alumni in their chosen fields. Our creative alumni are no exception and this exhibition at the University Gallery profiles the stellar careers of some of our finest graduates who make a difference to the way we see the world through art and creative practice.
Many of our past students have earned national and international reputations for their wide-ranging, innovative and cross-disciplinary approaches to fine arts, photography, and other creative fields, while maintaining strong links to the university and Newcastle community.
In recognition of the importance of creativity in our cultural landscape, and in celebration of the university’s 50th anniversary, the works of 50 alumni will highlight the broad scope of their ongoing investigations and achievements.

Please join our alumni artists for the opening at the University Gallery:
Saturday 26 SEPTEMBER from 2pm

Alumni Homecoming events: Wednesday 21 October – Friday 23 October 2015
Return to campus and reconnect with the people, places and pursuits that made your university experience a memorable one.


Heinrich Schliemann

Australian papers report on the discoveries of Heinrich Schliemann

The discoveries of Heinrich Schliemann, excavator of Troy and Mycenae, were enthusiastically reported in various Australian newspapers in 1877. As the following excerpt shows, the reports found a readership fascinated by the accounts of Schliemann’s dispatches:

Schliemann’s archaeological work was of interest to the non-scientific world as well. He kept the public informed of his discoveries through his books and through his dispatches to the London Times and Daily Telegraph, as well as a number of other newspapers, so that, as A. T. White wrote, “every person of culture and education lived through the drama of discovering Troy” (Lost Worlds, p. 27). His readers were excited by the romance of his undertaking and rejoiced in Schliemann’s incredible good luck in finding exactly what he had set out to find-the physical evidence of Homer’s Troy, and a buried hoard of golden treasure. Dictionary of Scientific Biography

THE ENTRANCE TO THE TOMB OF AGAMEMNON. See page 8.The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912) Saturday 21 April 1877.

Tomb of Agamemnon The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912) Saturday 21 April 1877

Gates of the Lions in the Citadel Mycene The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912) Saturday 21 April 1877

Mr Schliemann’s Discoveries at Mycene: Mask, etc, from Agamemnon’s Tomb. Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907), 19 May 1877.

The Newcastle University College Revues 1958-1965

Colin Anderson

Colin Anderson (Photograph courtesy of Robert Eather)

The late Dr Colin Robert Anderson, pictured above in his younger student days, passed away in 2014.  He was the director and prime mover of the early Newcastle University College Revues. The Newcastle University College, established in 1951, was the precursor of the University of Newcastle.

Thanks to the efforts of Robert Eather, Ken Longworth, Moira Gordon, Marilla North and others, we have been able to gather a number of the original recordings and related programmes and reviews of these theatrical performances. It has taken eight years to get to this point, since Ken Longworth first contacted us in 2008 about having this material digitised.

Thanks to Moira Gordon, (wife of the late Professor Barry Gordon, a producer for the first production) who tracked down the first ever University College Revue booklet for “Abandon Hope” we now know the original intention of the creators.


“THIS IS the first University Revue that has been presented by Newcastle University College. Since its inception in 1951, the College, through the determined efforts of its student body, has introduced and developed those activities which so soon became a traditional part of University Life.

Notable amongst these are the student newspaper, “Opus”, which was first published in 1954, the annual day of “celebration”, Autonomy Day, July 1st, on which day students hit town, generally with a procession – so far we’ve attacked the Transport Department (1956) and the rock’n’roll craze (1957). These celebrations culminate in the Cabaret on the same evening.

Now Revue is joining this list of “traditions”. The aim of a University Revue is to rend(er) limb from limb politicians and professors, fascists and physicists, liberals and communists – in fact any one and anything that has of late been before the public eye and is worthy or unworthy enough to deserve satirizing. Revue also presents a number of items which rely solely on the talent of the actor or singer for their success. For thee acts, we need talent and have been lucky enough to find in our undergraduate ranks singers and dancers of note.

We of the Newcastle University College hope that you will enjoy our Revue and join in the spirit of the evening – one of gay banter and light-hearted fun. If you see someone vaguely resembling yourself on stage, be flattered; if you don’t feel relieved. If you don’t understand some of our more subtle jokes, don’t worry about it – it’ll hit you in about a fortnight’s time.”

However, there are gaps in the archives, and so we are very interested in hearing from past performers, collaborators, family and fans who may hold material relating to them.

Below you can see what we do have, if you see gaps that can be filled, or errors that need correction, or memories that can be added please let us know.

Cheers and please enjoy.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist



Abandon Hope Revue Programme (Courtesy of Moira Gordon)

Abandon Hope Revue Programme (Courtesy of Moira Gordon)

Abandon Hope! Original Disc (Courtesy of Ken Longworth)

Abandon Hope! Original Disc (Courtesy of Ken Longworth)

Programme: Abandon Hope Revue Programme (2.7MB PDF File) (Thankyou Moira Gordon)

Recording: Abandon Hope! – Newcastle University Revue 1958
Digital Copy Courtesy of Robert Eather  (93.8 MB Mp3 File)

Abandon Hope Programme (July, 1958) Courtesy of Moira Gordon

Abandon Hope Programme (July, 1958) Courtesy of Moira Gordon

Recording: Abandon Hope! Newcastle University Revue 1958
Digital Copy Courtesy of Ken Longworth

Track 01 Opening Abandon Hope! (2.9MB MP3 FILE)

Track 02 A Technical Barbarian (4.1MB MP3 FILE)

Track 03 Cinder Sue (11.6MB MP3 FILE)

Track 04 Newcastle Opera (9.1MB MP3 FILE)

Track 05 Charleston (2.3MB MP3 FILE)

Track 06 Mrs Dalloway Went Thataway (9.7MB MP3 FILE)

Track 07 Liberace  (6.1MB MP3 FILE)

Track 08 Dragnet  (7.1MB MP3 FILE)

Track 09 The Russian Ballet (3.3MB MP3 FILE)


The Third Degree Revue Programme (Front Cover)

The Third Degree Revue Programme (Front Cover)

Programme: The Third Degree Revue Programme (4.7MB PDF File)

Recording: The Third Degree – NUC Revue (115.4 MB Mp3 File)
Digital Copy Courtesy of Robert Eather

Recording: The Third Degree
Digital Copy Courtesy of Ken Longworth

Track 01 Opening Chorus (1.9MB MP3 FILE)

Track 02 Don’t Take Your Cars To Town (3.7MB MP3 FILE)

Track 03 Sleeping Beauty (12.1 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 04 Thus Spake Our Bob (8MB MP3 FILE)

Track 05 On The Beach (9.7 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 06 Beatnik Blues (4.6 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 07 Doin’ What Comes Nacherley (3.1 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 08 Face The Mess (15.5 MB Mp3 FILE)

Track 09 Moments Best Forgotten (3.6 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 10 Cha Cha (3.5 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 11 Finale (26 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 12 My Fair Bookie (81.8 MB MP3 FILE)

Track 13 My Fair Bookie (73.6Mb MP3 FILE)


Reviews - The Third Degree (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

Reviews – The Third Degree (Courtesy of Robert Eather)


Brainwash Newcastle University College Revue Programme

Brainwash Newcastle University College Revue Programme

Programme: Brianwash Revue Programme (1.5MB PDF File)
Recording: None Available

Revue Programme

Revue Programme


1960 Review - "Brainwash" At The Roxy (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1960 Review – “Brainwash” At The Roxy (Courtesy of Robert Eather)


Faux Pas Revue Programme

Faux Pas Revue Programme

Programme: Faux Pas! Revue Programme (4.2MB PDF File)
Recording: Faux Pas! – NUC Revue (2 discs – 4 sides)

Faux Pas! Side 1 (54.1 MB MP3 File)

Faux Pas! Side 2 (51.5 MB MP3 File)

Faux Pas! Side 3 (52.6 MB MP3 File)

Faux Pas! Side 4 (50.4 MB MP3 File)

Faux Pas - A Revue

Faux Pas – A Revue


1961 - Reviews - One Faux Pas After Another (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1961 – Reviews – One Faux Pas After Another (Courtesy of Robert Eather)


8+2 Newcastle Univereity College Revue

8+2 Newcastle Univereity College Revue

Programme: 8+2 Revue Programme (2.9MB PDF File)
Recording: 8+2 – NUC Revue (1 discs – 2 sides)

8+2 Side 1 (101.7 MB MP3 File)

8+2 Side 2 (20.2 MB MP3 File)

8+2 Revue Programme

8+2 Revue Programme


1962 - Reviews - "Eight Plus Two" Trimphs (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1962 – Reviews – “Eight Plus Two” Trimphs (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1962 - Reviews - "Eight Plus Two" (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1962 – Reviews – “Eight Plus Two” (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1962 - Reviews - "Eight Plus Two" (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1962 – Reviews – “Eight Plus Two” (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

In Time-Out

In Time-Out Newcastle University College Revue

In Time-Out Newcastle University College Revue

Programme: In Time-Out Revue Programme (3.3MB PDF File)
Recording: In Time-Out – NUC Revue (2 discs – 4 sides)

In Time-Out Sides 1 and 2 (124.4 MB MP3 File)

In Time-Out Sides 3 and 4 (58.7 MB MP3 File)

In Time-Out Revue Programme

In Time-Out Revue Programme


1962 - Reviews - Plenty Of Fun in "In Time Out" (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1962 – Reviews – Plenty Of Fun in “In Time Out” (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

Top Secret

Programme: None Available
Recording: None Available


1963 - Reviews - "Top Secret" (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

1963 – Reviews – “Top Secret” (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

Colin Anderson Farewell Clippings (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

Colin Anderson Farewell Clippings (Courtesy of Robert Eather)

Blue Pencil

Blue Pencil Newcastle University College Revue Programme

Blue Pencil Newcastle University College Revue Programme

Programme: Blue Pencil Revue Programme (3.7MB PDF File)
Recording: None Available

Blue Pencil Revue Programme

Blue Pencil Revue Programme

Right Now

Right NOW! Newcastle University College Revue

Right NOW! Newcastle University College Revue

Programme: Right NOW! Revue Programme (834KB PDF File)
Recording: None Available

Right NOW! Revue Programme

Right NOW! Revue Programme


Back To The Wall

Programme: None Available
Recording: None Available

Ken Longworth’s Reminiscences on the Newcastle College Revues

“I have recordings of songs and sketches from the first two Newcastle University College revues, Abandon Hope (1958) and The Third Degree (1959).

The Abandon Hope recording is a 12″ LP, while The Third Degree includes a 12″ LP and a 45rpm EP. The last has a long sketch called My Fair Bookie, which uses the music from My Fair Lady’s songs for a story about bookmakers. Margaret McDermott, later Margaret Bowman, was the female lead in that and some other sketches of the first two years.

The late Vic Rooney is among the other performers on the recordings, which were made by Vista Records, a Cooks Hill based recording studio.

I was the first person on stage in the first revue, Abandon Hope, playing the title character in a sketch called A Technical Barbarian. I was cast as a technical college student at Tighes Hill who reluctantly got caught up in the Uni revue and was pushed unwillingly on stage at the start of the show each night. I had to be literally pushed on stage every performance because it was a bit terrifying for a 17-year-old to be alone in front of a packed audience of 900 at the original Roxy Theatre in Hamilton who expected to be laughing from the first seconds after the overture. I suspect I was cast as the tech student because I was the youngest cast member of the revue, the only first-year student who went along to the auditions.

I wrote my first revue sketch for the second revue but unfortunately it wasn’t among those recorded. It had a lot of visual comedy, as well as funny lines (virtually all lifted from Tennessee Williams’s play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, where they were all serious – it’s amazing what a difference a change of context can make!).

I was involved in the third revue in 1960 but, from memory, there was no recording. Everybody got a bit too ambitious in the third revue and some of the sketches, including two I wrote and directed, were yanked late in the piece because they weren’t working, with a melodrama replacing them in the middle act. I still think the sketches were among the best I wrote but I didn’t have control over the casting and some of the performers didn’t get the style that was needed.

I also wrote sketches for the fourth revue in 1961, the first staged in the then new auditorium/student dining room on the Tighes Hill campus, but I wasn’t too involved in the physical production and I’m unaware of a recording being made (although I do recall my voice being used in a recording done at the venue of a Dragnet send-up – it was a radio-style play and I think the voices were used offstage) . If there was one, I’d love a copy. My two sketches (neither listed in the program under my real name but under a nickname and a pseudonym) were among the show’s biggest hits and it would be great to hear them.”

Ken Longworth (March 2008)

Ken Longworth’s Notes on the Digitisation of Abandon Hope! and The Third Degree Vinyl Recordings

“The vinyl recordings made of the first two Newcastle University College revues (1958, 1959) are at last ready for me to hand over to the Newcastle University archives.

Adrian Gregg, a Newcastle theatre participant who is also involved in restoration of films and recordings, has cleaned the vinyl disks and transferred the recordings to compact disks.

There are three vinyl recordings: a 12-inch 33rpm LP of sketches and songs from the first revue, Abandon Hope, and a 12-inch LP and 45rpm EP featuring the second revue, The Third Degree.

The Abandon Hope recording was made after the revue, in a hall in Hamilton, when someone decided that a recording should be made of some of the production’s highlights. The Third Degree recordings are live, made during a performance, and, while they include the audience reaction, the sketches and songs vary in volume and clarity.

Adrian warned me that current styluses used for playback of vinyl recordings are different to those from the period when the recordings were made, so that playback with contemporary equipment might not be as good as with  use of older turntables and styluses.

He made me several CD copies of the recordings, so I’ll also give the archives one for each revue. (And he photographed the labels on the vinyl disks and used them for the CD case cover inlays). Adrian also made long-life masters on disks that are supposed to have a 300-year life. I’ll hang on to those, in case problems develop with the other disks.

There are track listings on the labels and he’s also put them in the back of the CD case inlays. However, the track listings for The Third Degree do not include the EP sketch, My Fair Bookie. As a result, there are two unlisted tracks on that CD.

Abandon Hope plays for about 37 minutes, while The Third Degree is about 62 minutes.

Unfortunately, there was no accompanying info with the recordings. I should have the revue programs in a box somewhere, so when I get the time I’ll look for them.

Playing the CDs, I recognised the voices of Vic Rooney and Maggie McDermott (now Bowman, after whom the Bowman building is named.) Boxhead O’Shea, who was also a first-grade rugby player and later a coach and who is still around Newcastle according to a Herald story earlier this year (I think his name was John but he was never called anything other than Boxhead), (ED.- “Boxhead” was Brian O’Shea, thanks Moira Gordon) plays Liberace in a sung sketch. I was also  horrified/fascinated to find myself in a sketch that I’d forgotten about.

There are references to lecturers – Cyril Renwick, or characters based on him, featured in both revues – and there is a sketch called Face the Mess, which was based on the TV interview show Meet the Press, which includes a breathy guest called Norma Sykes. I eventually remembered that Norma Sykes  was the real name of Sabrina, a chesty British celebrity.

A song in the 1958 revue, Don’t Take Your Cars To Town, has a reference to parking meters in Newcastle that suggests 1958 was the year they were introduced.

A lot of the people and references to events are, as you’d expect, of their time, so some sort of research could be needed into the recording contents to make them truly valuable archive records (no pun intended).

I can deliver the recordings and CDs when you are ready for them. It would be good if the ABC could be persuaded to do something on them, and if Margaret Bowman could be induced to talk to an ABC presenter
about the revues.”

Ken Longworth
November 2008

Barry Gordon’s Observations on the student ‘Revue’ in Newcastle
(From Barry Gordon’s “The Gordons of Merewether”, selected by Moira Gordon)

In late 1993, Professor Barry Gordon set about writing a family history, commencing with his graduation in 1956 and his move to Newcastle to join the staff of Newcastle University College.  At the time of his death, he had carried this project up to the early 1980s.  Barry scoured a wide range of sources to build up a chronology of events and happenings, using his skills built up working with historical material.  He commenced with mining his own old diaries and those kept by Moira, photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, calendar charts used to plan activities while of overseas trips, the memorabilia kept from these travels, expenditure records, taxation returns, school reports, trophies, magazines and papers which had been kept, publications, unpublished papers.  Then, as he faced the task of clearing out his room at the University of Newcastle at the beginning of 1994, and thereby sorting through papers and correspondence files built up over thirty-five years, this had meshed well with Barry’s project, and much material relating to his professional and university associations emanated from this. From this history of “The Gordons of Merewether”, Moira Gordon has selected Barry’s observations about the early occasions of student ‘Revue’ in Newcastle.


In Autumn [1958] Barry [Gordon] resumed as captain-coach of the reserve grade rugby side, and a group of students approached him with the idea of mounting a university revue. He agreed to co-direct the production together with one of the students, John Hartigan. In this undertaking his prior involvement with Sydney University Revue was an important factor. Scripts for sketches were contributed by two brilliant Sydney satirists, Philip Grahame (known as “Chester”) and John Cummings. Robert Hughes, who later became art critic for Time magazine and a high-profile author and presenter of TV series on art and culture, came to Newcastle to paint the back drops. Barry wrote scripts and song lyrics, co-compered the show, and appeared in some of the sketches. Moira volunteered her services backstage as call-girl. Intensive rehearsals for the revue began in May. (p.11)

The Revue “Abandon Hope” opened for a four-night season at the old and cavernous Roxy Theatre, Beaumont Street, Hamilton in early July. It was a cause celebre with full houses after opening night. Newcastle had not seen a production of its kind, in which fast-paced, topical satire of the “intimate revue” variety predominated. The cast and stage crew were drawn mainly from members of the rugby club and the university’s ladies hockey team. Their exuberant style was irresistible. Stand-out performers were Margaret McDermott (subsequently, Bowman), Brian O’Shea, Colin Anderson and Vic Rooney, all amateurs at the time. The last two went on to professional careers involving theatre and TV. (pp. 11-12).

The first university revue had been so successful, and the participants had enjoyed the experience so much, that a second was staged [in 1959]. Barry wrote scripts and lyrics, and directed some of the sketches. “The Third Degree” opened at the Roxy in late July. An even better production than its predecessor, it played to enthusiastic audiences and congratulatory reviews. The proceedings were recorded live and issued on L.P. for private circulation. (p.15).

The third University revue “Brainwash”, opened at the Roxy in July [1960]. Barry was not as heavily involved as in the past, but contributed lyrics and a sketch, “Gunn with the Bourbon on Beat Hunter Street” which mingled scenes and characters from two private-eye TV series with Newcastle personalities and events. At the end of the Winter, rugby coaching concluded with a premiership win, and Barry wrote a review of the first six years of the University Rugby Club for Opus, the College newspaper. (p.19)

He [Barry] wrote on a variety of subjects during the year [1962], including an article on jazz for the University arts magazine Nimrod, a piece on hire purchase for the Melbourne-based Catholic Worker, and with Moira, a paper on marriage for a conference of the Sydney Newman Society. Another paper was “Kingship, Priesthood and Prophecy in the Lord of the Rings”, a lengthy analysis of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic which was yet to become widely celebrated. There were also some long lyrics for the University revue. (p.24).


These interviews were recorded by Ken Longworth on the 4 April 2009 at a reunion held at the Central Coast of students of Newcastle University College.


"Our Mister Anderson" Uninews No 17 March 1991 pp.18-19

“Our Mister Anderson” Uninews No 17 March 1991 pp.18-19

“Our Mister Anderson” Uninews No 17 March 1991 pp.18-19 (2MB PDF FILE)


Shifting perspectives

FAN DONGWAN exhibition

Fan Dongwang, Dragon, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 180cm

Shifting Perspectives: paintings 1995 – 2015

A twenty-year survey of Chinese born artist Fan Dongwang

Exhibition at the University Gallery
12 August – 5 September 2015

This survey exhibition explores the shifting borders of Asian and Australian cultures through a series of dynamic, large format paintings that use colour and motif to shift cultural perceptions in art. The works exhibit a refined attention to detail while exploring the global experience of shifting boundaries in this Asian century.

Wednesday 12 August from 12pm

STUDENT HOUR ARTIST TALK with Fan Dongwang at 12pm
FLOOR TALK with Curator and Art Historian, Dr Rod Pattenden at 3pm
These are free events, all welcome

Please join the artist and Dr Rod Pattenden for the official launch at the University Gallery:
Wednesday 12 AUGUST at 5.30pm

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments.

Donation Honours Memory of Griffith Duncan

I Look Ahead - Towards A Better World (University of Newcastle and Newcastle Teachers' College, later Newcastle College of Advanced Education Mottos)

I Look Ahead – Towards A Better World (University of Newcastle and Newcastle Teachers’ College, later Newcastle College of Advanced Education Mottos)

A small ceremony held in the University’s Auchmuty Library to mark the donation of a book to Cultural Collections has conjured memories of the legacy of one of the Hunter Region’s educational giants.

Griffith Duncan

The book was a presentation copy of the Poems and Plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930) awarded as the Charles Oliver Prize to a 16 year-old Griffith Duncan, “for Magazine Articles”  by the Headmaster of Maitland High School (Mr Charles H. Chrismas) on the 16th December 1930.

The poems and plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930)

The poems and plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930)

The poems and plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930)

The poems and plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930)

Charles Oliver Prize plate within The poems and plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930)

Charles Oliver Prize plate within The poems and plays of Oliver Goldsmith (1930)

This young man would go on to become foundation Principal of the Newcastle Teachers’ College, later incorporated as the Newcastle College of Advanced Education and Hunter Institute of Higher Education before it amalgamated with the University of Newcastle 1989. The book was donated by Mrs Pat Wilson, who along with her daughter Amanda, and friends Emeritus Professor John Hamilton and wife Alison handed the book over to Special Collections Librarian Lyn Keily and Mark Sutherland Associate Librarian (Research and Information Services).

Mrs Pat Wilson (in red) with daughter Amanda, presenting the book to Lyn Keily and Mark Sutherland (centre). Photo: Gregg Heathcote

Mrs Pat Wilson (in red) with daughter Amanda, presenting the book to Lyn Keily and Mark Sutherland (centre). Photo: Gregg Heathcote

The book had been passed on to Mrs Wilson by Griffith Duncan’s aunt, Annie Robson, now deceased. Mrs Wilson discussed the possibility to donate the book to the University’s Collections with her friends Emeritus Professor John Hamilton and wife Alison, which was accepted.

(l-r) Emeritus Professor John Hamilton, Alison Hamilton, Pat Wilson with daughter Amanda, Lyn Keily, Gionni Di Gravio)

(l-r) Emeritus Professor John Hamilton, Alison Hamilton, Pat Wilson with daughter Amanda, Lyn Keily, Gionni Di Gravio) Photo: Gregg Heathcote

As part of the occassion, a display of Newcastle Teachers’ College photo albums, as well as a recording of Huldha Turner speaking about the College days was played over a slide show of images of the 1949 Pioneer Session. This helped bring back memories of Griffith Duncan and his ongoing legacy and leadership in education to the Hunter Region and beyond.

Griffith Duncan Presentation and Slide Show of 1949 Pioneer Session Photographs

Griffith Duncan Presentation and Slide Show of 1949 Pioneer Session Photographs. Photo: Gregg Heathcote


The lasting impression he left on his students and staff has shaped their lives and the lives of all that followed. Huldah Turner summed it up in her parting address to Dr Douglas Huxley on the 4th March 1992:


“When I left the college in early 1967, we were still dreaming of our “permanent campus” and wondering if it was, after all, an unattainable pipe dream. However, in spite of our primitive campus those who knew the Union Street Experience claimed that it had camaraderie and a warm fierce loyalty unique in similar institutions. It had to be experienced to be understood.

This spirit was initiated and engendered by its Foundation Principal, Grif Duncan, a man of massive intellect, wide ranging cultural interests and infinite compassion.

He put students and staff before self and all who worked with him came to know his stature; unfaltering integrity, dedication to his college and profound understanding.

He loved his college. He was fiercely proud of it and he fought all the way for his better world.

The college motto of course was his:

Towards a Better World


We thank Mrs Pat Wilson and family, as well as Emeritus Professor John Hamilton and wife Alison, for enabling this donation to the University of Newcastle. It has provided a humble reminder of what we are all here to achieve. In these times when the University of Newcastle is seeking to find its distinctive path in a new and challenging global environment, we cannot think of a better and more simple goal for the University, combining its motto with that of  Griff Duncan’s Newcastle Teachers’ College, igniting the powerful Promethian myth that knowledge and education can break the bonds of an enslaved mind, and ignite an eternal flame of ongoing freedom and progress for the good:

“I Look Ahead Towards A Better World”

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
12 August 2015

History Research Seminar Series Semester 2, 2015

History @ Newcastle

Research Seminar Series


Seminars are held in Cultural Collections @ Auchmuty Library (ground floor, through AIC), from 10am, and are followed by morning tea at 11am.

Semester Two, 2015

Week 3
Friday 14 Aug.
Ken Thornton – UoN
“The ‘Poles and Wires’ do not care who owns them. Should we? The rise of centralised coordination of electricity generation and transmission in New South Wales 1888-2003.”
Week 5
Friday 28 Aug.
Julie McIntyre – UoN
“Australia’s Atlantic: Trans-imperial encounters, exchange and entanglement”
Week 7
Friday 11 Sept.
Week 9
Friday 9 Oct.
Chris Cuneen – Macquarie
“The ADB 50 Years On: updating Dangar, Dumaresq and co”
Week 11
Friday 23 Oct.
Jo May – UoN
“Headmistresses, Archives and Audit Selves: reflections on the first two female principals of Maitland Girls High School 1884-1887”
Week 13
Friday 6 Nov.
Michael Kilmister – UoN
‘Treading on Anzac’s Sacred Ground: Fight or Flight?’*

For more information contact or visit the History @ Newcastle Facebook page.

*This paper is co-authored by Dr James Bennett and Dr Jennifer Debenham.