Newcastle’s First Graduates

Class of 1953 - James Carr, Ernest Walpole and James Mackie. The first graduates of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Class of 1953 – James Carr, Ernest Walpole and James Mackie. The first graduates of the Newcastle University College’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

At a presentation held on the 16th May 2013, records and artefacts belonging to one of Newcastle’s first three University graduates was donated to University of Newcastle.

A collection of items belonging to the late James Carr was handed over to the Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen by his son, John Carr. The presentation was timed for the 60th anniversary of the University College graduation ceremony held on the 16th May 1953.

Presentation 16 May 2013

Presentation 16 May 2013 (l-r Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist, Teresa Chitty, Associate Librarian Research & Information Services, Professor Caroline McMillen, Vice-Chancellor, Belinda Carr, Bronwyn Carr and John Carr)

The Collection included photographs from the day in 1953, and from the 50th reunion celebrations for the Department of Chemical Engineering held in 2003, his degree, certificates, letters of congratulation, and the hood of his academic gown.

One of the more intriguing items was a canister containing a 16mm silent colour film of the procession to Newcastle Town Hall filmed by James Carr’s Father-in-Law.

Canister containing 16mm Colour Film of Procession to Newcastle Town Hall

Canister containing 16mm Colour Film of Procession to Newcastle Town Hall

James Carr was one of the first three graduate of the University in 1953, then known as the Newcastle University College of the New South Wales University of Technology.

James Eshott Carr (1921-2011)

Jim was born in Mayfield on 30 October 1921, the first child to Richard and Isabel Carr (nee Runcie) and lived at 4 Durham Street, where he was later joined by two more siblings, Mark and Jenny.

He was christened at the nearby St Andrews Anglican Church, educated at Mayfield East Public School and Newcastle Junior Boys High School where he obtained his Intermediate Certificate in 1936 and from there attended the Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) in North Sydney as a boarder in Hodges House.  He obtained his Leaving Certificate in 1938 and returned home to Mayfield, attending the Newcastle Technical College at Tighes Hill (an offshoot of the Sydney Technical College) to study Chemical Engineering part time, while working at the BHP.

World War 2 interrupted his studies and he joined the Australian Military Forces in 1941 to 1946.  On his return from military service he resumed his part time studies and full time work at the BHP, gaining his ASTC in 1950 with a Diploma in Chemical Engineering with Credit.

The recently formed Newcastle College of the NSW University of Technology invited Jim to continue his studies in Chemical Engineering to obtain a degree, which he continued to do part time while working in the Chemical Laboratories at BHP.  He completed his course in 1952 and graduated a Bachelor of Science with Second Class Honours on 16 May 1953 at the age of 31.

Jim was keen to join the workforce and was successful in obtaining a job with the Australian Fertilisers Pty Ltd at Port Kembla in 1954.  The family moved firstly to Warrawong, then Port Kembla and a few years later into a new house on Mount Pleasant in Wollongong.  He was moved back to Newcastle in 1969 for a few years managing the Kooragang Island plant of Australian Fertilisers Pty Ltd and in 1973 to their head office in North Sydney.

Jim retired in 1981 after a rewarding career in the fertiliser industry, making practical use of his studies in chemical engineering.

Jim was very skilled with his hands and during his retirement years spent his time restoring antique furniture including teaching himself to rush chairs from library books on the subject.  Trout fishing, snow skiing and wine making were also retirement activities that occupied his time.

Jim passed away following complications from Alzheimer’s in 2011 at 89 years of age.

John R. Carr

Conferring of Degrees - 16th May 1953

Conferring of Degrees – 16th May 1953

The Newcastle University College of The New South Wales University of Technology Conferring of Degrees Newcastle Technical College Presentation of Diplomas 1953 [3.3MB]

or

The Newcastle University College of The New South Wales University of Technology Conferring of Degrees Newcastle Technical College Presentation of Diplomas 1953 (332KB PDF)

This year marked the sixtieth anniversary of the first graduation ceremony and the Carr family thought it would be fitting to mark the occasion by presenting a number of items that he kept from that ceremony.

James Carr, Ernest Walpole and James Mackie

James Carr, Ernest Walpole and James Mackie

James Carr receiving his degree at the Newcastle Town Hall before the Union Jack

James Carr receiving his degree at the Newcastle Town Hall before the Union Jack

Three graduands with their degrees

Three graduands with their degrees

The three reunited again in 2003

The three reunited again in 2003

Letter of congratulation from the Chamber of Manufactures  of New South Wales

Letter of congratulation from the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales

Letter of congratulations from W.E. Clegg Chairman Newcastle Technical Education District Council

Letter of congratulations from W.E. Clegg Chairman Newcastle Technical Education District Council

James Carr Bachelor of Science Second Class Honours 16th May 1953

James Carr Bachelor of Science Second Class Honours 16th May 1953

James Carr Sydney Technical College Diploma 30th December 1950

James Carr Sydney Technical College Diploma 30th December 1950

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist

One thought on “Newcastle’s First Graduates

  1. Pingback: University of Newcastle – History, Community and Milestones PART 1 – ASPIRATIONS FOR A UNIVERSITY | Cultural Collections, UON Library

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