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 matthew.lewis@newcastle.edu.au or visit the History @ Newcastle Facebook page.

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

Free Oral History Workshop at Muswellbrook Library

A few members of our Cultural Collections team will be conducting an Oral History Workshop at Muswellbrook Library on the 26th August 2015 between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm.

Free Oral History Workshop at Muswellbrook

This free workshop is part of a project called Voices of the Hunter which is managed by the University of Newcastle, with support from the Coalfields Heritage Group and Coal & Allied. This project follows in the footsteps of Oral History Collector, Jack Delaney (pictured above), who produced a large number of recordings on cassette over a period of 20 years. This collection is held by the Coalfields Heritage Group, who loaned it to the University for digitisation. The collection is now being made freely available online.

The aim of the workshops is to reach out to anyone in the Coalfields community who would like to learn how to plan, organise and collect their own history whether it is family or community history. The presenters will give participants the confidence to assemble and preserve their collected stories. It is an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others and appreciate how things came to be.

If you would like to participate in the workshop please make a booking at Muswellbrook Library or phone (02) 6543 1913 by August 12th. Places are limited.


4135203528_4bf7130b71_oIn 2015, the University of Newcastle celebrates 50 years.  The university has a rich history and the community has been the mainstay, instrumental in its many achievements and milestones.

Students at the UON were active in radical protests, and the Autonomy Day freedom marches, led by renowned Classics Professor Godfrey Tanner, became another important part of the path to autonomy. Students were active in campaigning for civil rights and environmental issues other issues in the 1960s such as opposition to the Vietnam War. Later Autonomy Day events saw students standing up for rights of Aboriginal people in Australia and their non- representation at universities.  Campaigns for equitable access to education for all had an enduring influence, seen through the University’s history of commitment to equity in education.


Autonomy Day ” We Need An International House” – 19th July 1967. UON Library Cultural Collections. Photograph donated by Katherine MacNeill


Autonomy Day ” We Need An International House” – 19th July 1967. Autonomy Day, UON Library Cultural Collections. Photograph donated by Katherine MacNeill.


Autonomy Day, 19th July 1967. Photograph by Ross Smith, UON Library Cultural Collection .

Godfrey Tanner (1927-2002) came to Newcastle in 1959 aged 32, initially appointed lecturer at the Newcastle University College he was Professor of Classics at UON, however even earlier than this had responded, along with Auchmuty, in realising the need for a traditional university for Newcastle. He introduced students to the traditions of student life, and taught them that the UON had a part to play in the life of Newcastle and Hunter community. Retiring in 1993, in 1994 the University awarded him an Honorary Degree, a Doctor of the University. In 1998 the Godfrey Tanner Scholarship Fund was established.

Mrs. Lorna George and Professor Godfrey Tanner at a sporting event, the University of Newcastle, Australia


Professor Godfrey Tanner, the University of Newcastle, Australia – 1990

12 April 1961 “Freedom march” from Tighes Hill to City Hall led by Godrey Tanner, demanding autonomy and against Baxters who didn’t want to divide the colleges, he supported multi-campus educational institutions.   Many believed that Newcastle University College should continue to operate as a college of the University of NSW, however others pushed for an independent university for Newcastle. On 1 January 1965, the Governor of NSW proclaimed the University of Newcastle Act, marking the University’s foundation as an independent institution & declaring autonomous from the University of NSW.

According to folk legend, our understanding is that autonomy for the University officially began on the 1st January 1965 with a symbolic ceremonial bonfire held at the site of the Great Hall and officiated by the legendary Professor Godfrey Tanner who poured wine libations on the ground to sanctify the land upon which the University rests. The bonfire signified the “the joy of attaining long sought destiny”.

Autonomy day is normally held in early July, and students interpreted it as celebrating the autonomy of the University of Newcastle, from the University of New South Wales.

The date coincided with autonomy of the University of Technology from the Public Service Board control on the 1st July 1954. The students called this day ‘autonomy day’, giving them a sense of the importance of autonomy and were resistive against those on the outside.

The University’s beautiful Grant of Arms is our very own Declaration of Independence. The University of Newcastle was constituted on the 1st January 1965 by a Proclamation of His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales and signed and sealed on the 23rd December 1964 under the provisions of the University of Newcastle Act of that year. This historic document, along with Autonomy Day celebrates the University’s emergence as an autonomous institution in 1965.

The original inspiration for the University’s seahorse design came from Fairbairn’s Book of Crests and was Professor Auchmuty’s favourite design. The coat of arms was based upon that of the Shortland family. Lieutenant John Shortland led the first Colonial Expedition to Newcastle in 1797, and the site upon which the University was built was called Shortland.

The motto adopted for the University ‘I LOOK AHEAD’ was approved by Council in August 1965 and was in keeping with the ambitions of a University and the appearance of the seahorse on the shield. Professor Brin Newton-John is credited with choosing the ‘I look Ahead’ motto and choosing the colours. More information here
More information about Autonomy Day is here.

Professor Brin Newton-John was born in Cardiff in 1914 and studied at Cambridge where he gained a double major in modern languages and history. After graduation he became a teacher and then worked as a RAF pilot during World War II where his knowledge of the German language was especially important and helped him in his top secret intelligence work decoding German communications.He emigrated to Australia in 1954 for a post as Master of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne. He relocated to Newcastle in 1959 eventually becoming Vice Chancellor of the newly established institution. He retired in 1974.
Professor Brin Newton-John, the University of Newcastle, Australia - c1990s

Professor Brin Newton-John, the University of Newcastle, Australia – c1990s

Early partners of the UON
University and industry have always worked together very closely. The university has encouraged research and discoveries into new and innovative products and solutions through collaboration with industry, business and government partners.
In 1965 the emergence of the UON opened up new cultural and intellectual opportunities for the city of Newcastle and the Hunter Region. Those who began to build the University had a clear vision. Local and regional businesses gave financial and in kind support for the development of the University, this demonstrated, that industries themselves saw a local university as an asset. Newcastle contained the nation’s largest concentration of heavy industry, Newcastle’s largest employers were BHP and it may have seemed to some a place that did not need a university. The majority of students at the new UON when it opened undertook degrees associated with heavy industry, such as science and engineering. Companies such as BHP were there from the beginning to support the University, a partnership that endured for decades.
In the late 1960s, Newcastle’s largest employers were BHP, Stewarts and Lloyds, Commonwealth Steel and the State Dockyard. Newcastle contained the nation’s largest concentration of heavy industry. The majority of students were apprentices or trainees in heavy industry, and these industries supported science and engineering offering financial and in kind support of the development of the University.

BHP invested in the latest technology and shared its resources with academics.  One example was an IBM1620 computer installed at the works in 1962 which was made available to staff of the Mathematics Department and later relocated to the University.  A commercial arm of the university.

Two gentlemen using IBM1620 data processing system, the University of Newcastle, Australia

Two gentlemen using IBM1620 data processing system, the University of Newcastle, Australia

For industries in the region UON has had a strong research focus from the beginning and the University’s early partners were associated with industry in the region, they included BHP and other heavy industry and the focus of research in the areas of Science and Engineering.  Industry invested in technology and shared resources with academics and the University has always been responsive to industry partners and its students.  A commercial arm of the university known as The University of Newcastle Research Associates Ltd (TUNRA) was set up in 1969 to manage research and consultancies conducted with private funding.  Financial and in kind support from industry of the development of the University demonstrated that the industries themselves saw a local university as an asset.  This close relationship persisted.  BHP invested in the latest technology and shared its resources with academics.

Photo 8

TUNRA display on Open Day, the University of Newcastle, Australia

TUNRA enabled research to be undertaken at the university and be delivered to provide services to business and industry in the region.   Through TUNRA the university provided equipment and knowledge to operate pollution measuring devices to help improve condition of people living in industrial areas. Today the UON’s technology transfer company is named Newcastle Innovation.

NBN 3-University of Newcastle Environment Measurement Unit” (EMU) being driven around their streets. Sophisticated “sniffing” Equipment has been installed in the vehicle, which will be used to obtain data on the quantities of some of the main pollutants in Newcastle’s atmosphere at a range of locations. The service has, in large part, been made possibly by the Newcastle Broadcasting and Television Corporation Limited, which operates a commercial television station, NBN Channel.” MOVABLE POLLUTION TESTING –Gazette April 1972

A Phillips’ technician completing installation of the SO2 monitor in a Kombi van at the University of Newcastle, Australia

A Phillips’ technician completing installation of the SO2 monitor in a Kombi van at the University of Newcastle, Australia

“FIRST THERMAL SCANNER IN AUSTRALIA – A Daedalus (or Thermal) Remote Sensing Scanner has been acquired by the Department of Physics to enable the Department to obtain “heat pictures” of stretch of terrain flown over by aircraft carrying the Scanner. It is the first equipment of this sort to be operated in Australia. Valued at approximately $80,000 the scanner and associated equipment employ infrastructure radiation to reveal interesting data on resources and other features.” Gazette February  1971

Initially the University was involved in fields such as engineering and chemistry, today the university has pushed into areas of energy and the environment, health and medical research as seen in partnerships with Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) in 1998 and Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) in 2010.



Wright, D. (1992) Looking Back : A History of the University of Newcastle. The University of Newcastle: Callaghan.

Our Univer-city: Recasting the city of Newcastle as a knowledge hub. http://www.newcastle.edu.au/about-uon/our-university/celebrate-50-years/our-univer-city Adapted from Cushing, N., Quinn, K., and McMillen, I.C. “Recasting the City of Newcastle as a Univer-city: The Journey from ‘Olde’ Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the New Silk Road”. In Teo, A.S.C. (Ed.). (2014). Univer-Cities volume II. Manuscript in preparation.

University Archives held at UON Auchmuty Library Cultural Collections.

UON Flicker https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon

Information compiled by Dr Ann Hardy for the C50 Project on behalf of UON Library Cultural Collections June 2015.

Subversive representation

SUBVERSIVE REPRESENTATION Ian Wyn Owen with Michael J. Ostwald and Nicholas Charles Foulcher EXHIBITION DATES 22 July - 8 August 2015


Ian Wyn Owen
with Michael J. Ostwald and Nicholas Charles Foulcher

EXHIBITION DATES 22 July – 8 August 2015
The University Gallery

Architecture is often regarded as the art of conceptualising and representing space and form. Modernist architects, for example, conceptualised geometric, often-industrial looking buildings which they represented using a combination of white models and black and white drawings. In contrast, Post-Modern architects rejected the values of Modernism, designing more decorative and symbolically rich buildings, which they represented using coloured and patterned drawings and models. In both cases, the various representational media used were intended to reinforce the core values of each movement. But what if these same designs, the Modern and the Post-Modern, had been represented differently? How significant is representation in the communication of architectural intent?

In this exhibition the facades of ten famous houses – five Modern and five Post-Modern – are revisited using alternative representational strategies. Each new strategy seeks to uncover or reveal the underlying tensions or elisions in the work, using new colours, textures and images to question each architect’s approach. Through the use of both serious and ironic representational approaches, these ten famous buildings are reimagined in a more political, cultural and subversive manner.

Please join the artist at the opening to be launched by Head of School, Architecture and Built Environment, Professor Sue Anne Ware:
Monday 27 July from 6pm


Neel Raga

NEEL RAGA Harpreet (Neena) Mand with MA Collaborative


Harpreet (Neena) Mand
with MA Collaborative

22 July – 8 August 2015

The University Gallery

In Indian classical music a raga is a framework for composing music, the various ragas identified by their structure. Each raga, through its composition and recital, seeks to create a mood or evoke a rasa/flavour/emotional response in the listener/viewer. Neel, the colour blue, is traditionally extracted from the Indigo plant: it is a pigment that has physicality, but its materiality is spiritual, economic and political. Matter and spirit, labour and agency, are linked in different ways in shaping the contemporary Indian environment.

The exhibition Neel Raga explores Indian aesthetics and use of color in the Indian built environment through photographic images of a particular courtyard house in the city of Jodhpur, within the Indian state of Rajasthan. Through the concept of raga and its associated concept rasa it records the evocation of atmospheres during night and day. Neel is indexical of the temporal and cultural forces at work in Indian society that reflects and refracts transmutation in its symbolical meaning.

Please join the artist at the opening to be launched by Head of School, Architecture and Built Environment, Professor Sue Anne Ware:
Monday 27 July from 6pm

Kaleidoscope of Indian cities

 Neena Mand Kaleidoscope


Harpreet (Neena) Mand
with MA Collaborative

22 July – 8 August 2015

The University Gallery

In a diverse country like India there are multiple interconnected lives that can be observed at any given time in its myriad cities. These lives, through their intersections and juxtaposition, generate multiple images that may seem contrary. In the face of daunting complexity and palimpsest of histories we have sought to steer away from constructing compelling classifications or attempts to fix the essential character of Indian Cities.

This exhibition seeks to present to the viewer, Indian cities and cultures as being different, but nonetheless containing invisible connections that may seem familiar or utterly strange. It takes a nonlinear approach and presents Indian cities with their irreducible differences that need to be understood in their own terms, but still provide invisible connections whether they are cultural, aesthetic or existential, as observed and experienced by four individuals. The exhibition is not presented as an authoritative text but rather as an exploration and field report on things noticed, fleetingly captured and later discovered, remembered and connected, that evoke different realities and places.

Please join the artist at the opening to be launched by Head of School, Architecture and Built Environment, Professor Sue Anne Ware:
Monday 27 July from 6pm




Fine Art Students from Hunter Schools High Performers Program 2015


The University Gallery

Since 2003, the High Performing Students Program has been giving exceptional high school students the opportunity to get a ‘taste’ of university life while still at school. While the program is delivered at Merewether High School, it is open to students from other local schools and aims to keep our best and brightest in the region.

The program is available to students across a number of disciplines such as science, engineering and fine arts. Students enrol in a first year University course and with successful completion they are able to gain credit transfer in a relevant university degree. The program exposes students to an extended learning opportunity, as well as access to world class lecturers and library resources. The students also gain practical industry experience through excursions and exhibitions.

This is the second year of the High Achievers program in Fine Arts. However, it is the first time that the University of Newcastle’s School of Creative Arts has joined with the School of Education to provide a unique focus. The students have been encouraged to explore concepts from science through visual arts. This is an exciting opportunity to further investigate how thinking in the fine arts can inform other ways of understanding knowledge in the world.

LUCY MAHER – Newcastle High School
ROHAN HEARN – Merewether High School
STEPHANIE CODY – West Wallsend High School
MIRIMA GOLDMAN and BETSIE SHAW – Hunter School of the Performing Arts
ELLA GORE – Whitebridge High School
PARIS PERRY – St Philip’s Christian College
LAINA LEE, IRIS MA and ELAINE WANG – Lambton High School

Please join Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education and Teaching) Professor Liz Burd for the official launch at the University Gallery