Names to Faces

Rhondda Pit Picnic,1957

Tug-o-War at Northern (Rhondda) Colliery Picnic, 1957

This wonderful photo appeared in The Newcastle Herald on Saturday 19 November in its excellent  A moment in time series. The photo is of a tug-o-war and was taken at a works picnic attended by management and workers of Northern (Rhondda) Colliery, near Teralba, New South Wales. It was taken by the late Vic Ash and provided to us by Barry Howard who identified some of the people as follows:

On the rope, from right to left – Jack White (at front, closest to camera), Peter Murray (Mine Manager), Norm Ward, unidentified man, Dawson Robertson.

The man holding the little girl, third from right, is “Nugget” Hayden.

Since the photo appeared in The Newcastle Herald, more information has been supplied by members of the public. On Saturday 26 November, The Herald reported:

Argenton’s Francis Fenwick called in to say his daughter had recognised him in the photo (above) published last week, standing on the very right behind the boy with dark hair.
Known as “Fenno” and now 87, Fenwick was a bulldozer driver for carrying company Hawkins and worked at the Rhondda Colliery for two and a half years.
He said he remembered manager Jack White and superintendent Peter Murray as if it were yesterday.

On Saturday 3 December, The Newcastle Herald reported:

Elaine White recognised her late husband Jack White at the front of the rope in the picture of the Miners Picnic at the Northern (Rhondda) Colliery in 1957.
Mr White died in 1979.
The man behind him, Peter Murray, died six years ago.
“I can tell you it was the staff versus the miners and the staff did pull the miners across the line,” she wrote.”

On Saturday 10 December The Herald reported:

Patricia McBlane sent an email to point out her husband Norm McBlane in the photo published on November 19 of the Northern (Rhondda) Colliery picnic in 1957.
She said her husband, then 14, is pictured at the far right of the photo.
His father Doug (Jock) McBlane worked in the mines and called events from the microphone at the picnics.

It is great to receive information about the people in our photos. Our Flickr site has been a boon in this regard, and now the publication in The Newcastle Herald of this and other photos from our collections has added greatly to our knowledge, and given pleasure to those who recognise themselves or loved ones in the photos.

Our thanks go to Helen Gregory of The Newcastle Herald for publishing the photo, the late Vic Ash for taking it, Barry Howard for supplying it to us, and, of course, Mr Fenwick, Mrs White and Mrs McBlane for giving us the information.

You can see the full sized scan of the photo on our Flickr site at

One thought on “Names to Faces

  1. Brings back memories what a great and enchanting place to grow up the best place in the world to play hiding-seek ;swamps water holes rainforests, creeks with a fascinating industrial complex as a play ground. The big bloke without shirt fourth from front (the Unidentified man) is my dad Noel Dennis Ward he was at Newstan colliery ; was the Mechanical engineer at Rhondda we moved there from Fennels Bay in 1954.Dad designed and built the workshop which stands where the old chimney stack and workshop was and the washing plant. Jack White was the Electrician Norm Ward was dad cousin he was a Deputy . Under Manager was Hector Harrison and Peter Murray was Mine Manager he later became superintendent for mines.Heck Harrison Moved to Belmont Colliery as Manager. Jack White died after a long illness with Parkinsons disease his wife Elaine nursed him she eventual studied nursing became ducks of her year and has been very influential in the care of the aged and terminally ill. Rhondda was initially opened by Wallsend Coke and Coke in 1901 the bricks and timber gotten from and made on site the all the brick buildings our old house originally Manager residence then the Engineers a beautiful house it was three bricks thick. Rose wood was extensively used it had 18 and 24 foot seams the Fassifern ; Great Northern(Northern Extended) and Rhondda seams. Rhondda was unique that it had a furnace down on the main tunnel flat as a means to circulate air. It was the First?? to use electric machinery because of its gas free status. The Cartel at the time put a tonnage embargo on Rhondda for it modern machinery out competed the other Pits.It was taken over by R.W.Miller and Sons, whom in turn was owned by Ampol and eventually, Coal and Allied. The destruction of the pit workings and old rail tracks has been a stupid act I hope they recovered the the hand made bricks and old sleepers of the rail line by the old stables and store room still left standing as of recent photos. Regards Peter Ward

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