Local Treasures: The George Freeman Album

Front cover of George Freeman Album "Scraps"

Front cover of George Freeman Album “Scraps”

Day Shift – 18/03/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Mr Andrew Dodd and Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle introduces Mr Andrew Dodd, great grand son of photographer George Freeman. Andrew kindly provided an album of photographs held by the family to the University of Newcastle (Australia) so that selected images could be digitised. A number of these images are highly significant photographs of the town of Newcastle and surrounding coastal areas, and were taken around 1884, as he was certainly there photographing the wreck of the Susan Gilmore which occurred in July 1884.  It is reasonable to assume that while here he also photographed the city and surrounding areas, as The Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate reported on the 19th July 1884 (Ref:http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135857993 ) that “Mr. Freeman, photographer, has shown us some excellent picturesque views of the marine scenery around Newcastle. They are well taken, and the photographs would adorn any album.”

Broadcast Notes:

The following information regarding George Freeman was prepared by Pamela Goodhart Dodd and Andrew Dodd from copies of original documents, photographs and newspaper cuttings held by the family. The accompanying images were digitised by Gionni Di Gravio. Clicking on the images below will take you to the high resolution images that are in the 2-6MB size range for closer examination.

The album contains around 66 photographs, along with a number of inserts, which are images, a letter, printed documents and posters. The album is in poor condition due to the acidic and brittle quality of the paper. We photographed the entire album for contextual purposes, and digitised the Newcastle related images in high resolution on an Epson Perfection V700 Scanner at the highest resolutions possible. Since the album was on loan, we did not digitise all the images in high resolution due to the time constraints and post processing.

To provide context for the images below, the whole album is available to be viewed as a PDF here: The George Freeman Album (25MB PDF File)

On behalf of the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections we wish to thank Andrew Dodd, Pamela Goodhart Dodd and family for allowing us to share this family treasure with the wider research community, and warmly welcome any feedback or information relating to any of the images or the photographer who captured them, George John Freeman.

GEORGE JOHN FREEMAN
b: 17 January 1843   d: 5 April 1895

Only known photograph of George Freeman (Courtesy of Pamela Goodhart Dodd)

Only known photograph of George Freeman (Courtesy of Pamela Goodhart Dodd)

A BRIEF HISTORY – Developing Australia

George was London born, raised, and well educated at the Bayswater Grammar, and in a letter he wrote to his father in 1857 he thanked him for buying  ‘ a set of apparatus for photography ‘. – this was his start to the interesting life that was in store for him choosing photography as a profession when he arrived in Australia.

George John Freeman arrived in Adelaide on the ship ‘Countess of Fife’, with his father George Freeman and step mother, leaving London on September 28, 1860. They arrived in the port of Adelaide, January 4th 1861. George  was 19 years of age, his diary of the voyage records, weather, land sightings, ports and events ,even when there were none to mention, the people he spoke with and ‘printed some photography’ to pass the time, then the excitement of sighting Kangaroo Island off the coast  of South Australia and the long awaited docking in Port Adelaide.

Street scene of King William Street Adelaide late 1870s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Street scene of King William Street Adelaide circa 1870s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

He established a studio soon after arriving, renting properties in various locations and ran his studio from Rundle & Hindley Street premises.  George traveled the state photographing the growing townships and was fast becoming a photographer of some note and a character, traveling to Heathcote, Victoria, the Gold Fields in 1865,  in a guise of ‘a man in tatterd rags’ he sent photos home to England to an uncle for a monetary hand. In Melbourne and took photographs of the public gardens and buildings, is no know when he started using the name of the Melbourne Photographic Company – Wivell and Johnstone worked with him.

He was the sole agent for the Art Union of Victoria, exhibited paintings of Johnstone’s at the co-gallery. In the 1870s George was the leading fine  art entrepreneur. In 1873 he presented ‘dissolving views of oxhydrogen light’ – showing morally uplifting scenes from the ‘ Illustrated life of Christ, The bottle and the Drunkards children and the Pilgrims Progress’.  Newspapers reported – ‘Innovative and up to-date photography’, the press reported every novelty- ‘like   the Athenians of old, he is always looking for something new’. He experimented with luminous paint to make photos glow in the dark, glass transparencies, coloured sunsets and moonrise with ‘green moon tint observable in the moons rays’  – In 1874  recently dry plates assisted by flash powder, to make ‘instantaneous action photographs’.  Around this time he debunked  the new craze of spirit photographs demonstrating how they could be faked by partially exposing a plate to form light patches – ‘spirits’.

In 1874 presented an exhibition of British and Colonial paintings and photographs in Adelaide Town Hall. He also opened a picture gallery and ‘encouraged colonial artists to send their productions for exhibition.’ In 1875 he was commissioned to take Adelaide views, a panorama 11 feet long, form the top of the Advertiser Building, and one from Montifore Hill 6 feet long , for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, USA, in 1876. George married Mary Sarah Goodhart in 1876, an Artist, they lived at the Hindley Street premises.

In 1877 he used the new  22×18 inch camera to take views that won him a bronze medal at The Paris Expo Universelle International, France, 1878, for his views -11′ x8′- of Adelaide from Montifore Hill, Adelaide Oval and Public Buildings. In 1879 his views of  Victor Harbour, Goolwa, Mount Gambier gained a third prize in the Sydney International 1880 ?, and for views of Adelaide again in the Melbourne International Exhibiton 1880 -‘ well calculated to give clear conception of our progress in architecture and the character of some of our scenery’.  His local work of portraits of the Governors of the State and family were highly acclaimed, also photographs of the opening of the Art Gallery with HRH Prince Albert and other noted persons. George was also the ‘first bearer of the Grand sword of the Order of the Grand Lodge of Ancient and Free and Accepted Masons of South Australia in 1884’.

Two unidentified Aboriginal Children (Photograph by George Freeman)

Two unidentified Aboriginal Children (Photograph by George Freeman)

Unidentified Aboriginal Child (Photograph by George Freeman)

Unidentified Aboriginal Child (Photograph by George Freeman)

Unidentified Aboriginal Children (Photograph by George Freeman)

Unidentified Aboriginal Children (Photograph by George Freeman)

He was not only a photographer but a ‘showman, entrepreneur’, he organised Art Unions with prize money both in South Australia and Melbourne, sold views of prominent buildings and sent to London as promotion of Adelaide, he also worked with Belcher in Adelaide. He produced the first double photo portraits known to be taken in the colony – ‘two portraits of a gentleman sitting and standing – ‘Ingenious’ – the South Australian Advertiser, and to top that he did a triple headed portrait of the Emperor of Prussia, the late French Emperor and Prince Bismark all in one bust ‘- dubbed the three headed monster by the press.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

On the 26th February 1879 a devastating fire destroyed his premises in Hindley Street, they were then living in North Adelaide and was alerted by his apprentice, much of his work and photographic plates  and negatives were destroyed. In 1880 he patented an application for an ‘automatic fast holding door handle ‘, photographed shipwrecks , the Sorata at Cape Jervios , 7th September 1880.  In 1884, styling himself under the name of The Melbourne Photographic Company, his high profile in the South Australian press, George Freeman and Sarah decided to move to Sydney and worked in Newcastle. He possibly lived in Paramatta, Reynolds Street, Balmain, and in Newcastle.  ‘George Freeman  would set up business,  as soon as he finds suitable premises,’ July 10, 1884 –  reported by the Newcastle Register.

Two vessels in unidentified location (Sydney?) (Photograph by George Freeman)

Two vessels in unidentified location (Sydney?) (Photograph by George Freeman)

Photographing another shipwreck the Susan Gilmore, 3/7/1884, his work was noted – ‘the rocks and headlands are shown in the photograph and therefore accurate’ – The Newcastle Morning Herald- his photos were used for auction of the wreck.

Unattributed photograph of the Wreck of the Susan Gilmore (Slide C917-0504 in the John Turner Collection University of Newcastle) Could this be Freeman's image?

Unattributed photograph of the Wreck of the Susan Gilmore (Slide C917-0504 in the John Turner Collection University of Newcastle) Could this be Freeman’s image?

The image above was recently unearthed among the research slides of the late Dr John Turner, held in the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections. It is taken from a different perspective to the more popular image circulating of the wreck taken from the beach. Dr Turner does not provide a source for the above image, but compare it with another recently located by Dr Ann Hardy in the Hyde Family Album at the NSW State Library. The image appears to have been taken at the same time, from the position of the people in the photograph.

Photograph of Wreck of Susan Gilmore, 1884, from Hyde Family Album PXA-1445-Box5 taken by Dr Ann Hardy 2012 (Courtesy of NSW State Library)

Photograph of Wreck of Susan Gilmore, 1884, from Hyde Family Album PXA-1445-Box5 taken by Dr Ann Hardy 2012 (Courtesy of NSW State Library)

The photograph taken below from the beach does appear to match the Freeman photograph description description from The Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate story published on the 14th July 1884 p.3 showing what appears to be Rocket Brigades’ life lines in the sand extending to the waterline. : http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135857067

Wreck of the Susan Gilmore (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW) http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemPopLarger.aspx?itemid=393087

Wreck of the Susan Gilmore (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW) http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemPopLarger.aspx?itemid=393087

Wreck of the Susan Gilmore.

IN addition to the usual attractive contents of the Sydney Mail, the issue of Saturday last contains a very spirited three quarter-page engraving of the above disaster. The artist has very ably depicted the most exciting event in connection with the wreck – viz., that in which the captain’s wife is being rescued by the aid of the life lines at the hands of the gallant Newcastle Rocket Brigade. The engraving is taken from a photographic view of the wreck by Mr. G. Freeman, of this city, and forms a capital souvenir of the loss of the Susan Gilmore.

He photographed public buildings in Newcastle and Sydney, including the Town Hall, Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour and streets of the city.

Hunter Street Newcastle near current Lockup Museum and Post Office. Circa 1880s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Hunter Street Newcastle near current Lockup Museum and Post Office. Circa 1880s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Bolton Street Newcastle, circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Bolton Street Newcastle, circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle Harbour taken from Stockton, circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle Harbour taken from Stockton, circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle wharves circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle wharves circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Unidentified man on Newcastle coastline circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Unidentified man on Newcastle coastline circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Decorative arrangement of shells, and marine ornamental art in Newcastle (Photograph by George Freeman)

Decorative arrangement of shells, and marine ornamental art in Newcastle (Photograph by George Freeman)

The Horse-Shoe, (now King Edward Park) circa 1880s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

The Horse-Shoe, (now King Edward Park) circa 1880s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Cliff overlooking Bogey Hole, circa 1880s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Cliff overlooking Bogey Hole, circa 1880s. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle Breakwater (Macquarie Pier) taken from Nobbys circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle Breakwater (Macquarie Pier) taken from Nobbys circa post 1894 (Photograph by George Freeman)

The Pilgrim Boston coal loading in Newcastle Harbour circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

The Pilgrim Boston coal loading in Newcastle Harbour circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Coaling ships at Newcastle Wharf, Nobbys in distance circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Coaling ships at Newcastle Wharf, Nobbys in distance circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Two horses on shoreline, possibly near present day Newcastle Ocean Baths site c.1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Two horses on shoreline, rock platform possibly near present day Newcastle Ocean Baths site c.1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Closeup of ocean rock platform and crashing waves (Photograph by George Freeman)

Closeup of ocean rock platform and crashing waves (Photograph by George Freeman)

Closeup of Newcastle coastline with clashing waves. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Closeup of Newcastle coastline with clashing waves. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Closeup of Newcastle coastline (Photograph by George Freeman)

Closeup of Newcastle coastline (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle coastline circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

Newcastle coastline circa 1880s (Photograph by George Freeman)

His beloved wife Sarah died of typhoid in 1885, (Newcastle or Sydney) leaving a young family for George and the older children to care for. George continued to photograph buildings and scenes in Parramatta, Sydney and Newcastle. He was also an interpreter of languages for the Sydney and Adelaide courts. In 1890 his health suffering he returned to Adelaide with his family and set up another photographic business promoting photography exhibitions, he bought the camera obscura to Australia with a tent show at Genelg Beach.

George John Freeman died on 5th April 1895.

In the 1870’s there were known to be 700 photographers in Australia – it was big business !

George John Freeman studios out did Duryea, Townshend and Robert Hall. George Freeman’s 34 year photographic  career encompassed skill and showmanship along with an ingenious entrepreneurial style that recorded the early years of Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, country towns and views and bought new and exciting innovations to the colony as  a ‘photographer of some note’ to which we are proud to uncover more of his work, and learn more about the man who was our great-grandfather and the legacy he left behind.

The National Library of Australia, Canberra (Trove collection – of 21 photographs he exhibited for the Philadelphia Exhibition )

The Adelaide State Library has a collection of photographs including a family history , a scrap-book and memorabilia.
Author : Pamela Goodhart Dodd – Great Grand Daughter of George John Freeman
( Information from family history copies of document,photographs and newspaper cuttings )
Copyright 2014 Andrew Dodd

Street lamp on bridge over unidentified river. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Street lamp on bridge over unidentified river. (Photograph by George Freeman)

Local Treasures: Newcastle’s Public Infrastructure in 1829

Return of all the Buildings and Establishments at New Castle reported by Mr Rodd the Superintendent of Public Works As being the Property of Government shewing their present actual state etc. August 27th 1829 no. 147/143 (NRS 905, Letter No 32/4776 [4/2146] Courtesy of NSW State Records)

Return of all the Buildings and Establishments at New Castle reported by Mr Rodd the Superintendent of Public Works
As being the Property of Government shewing their present actual state etc. August 27th 1829 no. 147/143 (NRS 905, Letter No 32/4776 [4/2146] Courtesy of NSW State Records)

Day Shift – 18/02/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Dr Ann Hardy and Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle and Dr Ann Hardy discuss their recent trip to NSW State Records to photograph three bundles of hitherto lost documents of Newcastle in the late 1820s and early 1830s. The documents relate to an inventory of public buildings in the township that were being readied for what appears to have been the first privatisation prior to the Australian Agricultural Company take over of the Government Mines. They provide a digitised copy and transcription of one of these documents, and the importance of this information to the creation of the 3D early Newcastle model currently being constructed by artist Charles Martin for the University’s Coal River Working Party.

Broadcast Notes:

At the end of 2012, historian Rosemary Melville provided Gionni Di Gravio with a photocopy of an 1829 document entitled “Return of all the Buildings and Establishments at New Castle reported by Mr Rodd the Superintendent of Public Works As being the Property of Government shewing their present actual state etc. August 27th 1829 no. 147/143″
(NSW State Records – NRS 905, Letter No 32/4776 [4/2146])

The photocopy was very hard to read in places, so he asked his colleagues at NSW State Records to locate the original, in order to get a better copy. A couple of weeks ago they rang to say they were unable to locate the original, but found another, that was a copy, along with annotations. This was great news. But the very next day, they rang again to say that they not only relocated the original, but three bundles of files relating to it. Everyone was overjoyed. Many thanks to the staff of NSW State Records in Sydney especially Fiona Sullivan, Gail Davis and Chris Shergold. And thanks also Senior Archivist Janette Pelosi, whose previous “dream job” reading her way through the 1832 correspondence created the entry in the NSW State Records documentation which led her colleagues to locate the file.

NRS 905 - Letter No 32 - 4776 - [4-2146] bundle (Image courtesy of Fiona SullivanNSW State Records)

NRS 905 – Letter No 32 – 4776 – [4-2146] bundle (Image courtesy of Fiona Sullivan NSW State Records)

NRS 905, Letter No 32-4776 [4-2146] - Cover page of return (Image Courtesy of Fiona Sullivan, NSW State Records)

The full 1829 document along with transcription can be downloaded here:

Return of all the Buildings and Establishments at New Castle reported by Mr Rodd the Superintendent of Public Works As being the Property of Government shewing their present actual state etc. August 27th 1829 no. 147/143 with Transcription by Gionni Di Gravio (13MB PDF)

Descriptions of selected buildings and features located on the 1830 Armstrong Plan, and overlayed on Google Earth.

A selection of sites across the township of Newcastle on the 1830 Armstrong plan and overlayed in Google Earth

A selection of sites across the township of Newcastle on the 1830 Armstrong plan and overlayed in Google Earth

A selection of features and their descriptions, along with 3D virtual images provided by Charles Martin. More on Charles work can be found here:

Light house

Sir Thomas Mitchell's 1828 sketch rendered by Charles Martin 2013. Sir Thomas Mitchell’s 1828 sketch rendered by Charles Martin 2013.

Sir Thomas Mitchell’s 1828 sketch rendered by Charles Martin 2013.

Item No. 29

Where is it? Light House Situated on the Headland and South east of the Town

Who occupies it? Signal and Fire men

What condition is it in? This is an octagon weather boarded building designed after the Chinese style of architecture. The top part is perfectly weather proof. The ceiling of the lower floors all down owing to the rain finding its way in at the step which surrounds the building at the height of the lower story it not being covered by lead or copper but only with pitch which has melted away. The top mast of the Signal Staff is decayed and requires replacing. The Telegraph post is split and requires securing by means of two screw bolts. The platform of the Battery on which is six iron 12 Pounders mounted on old fashioned wooden garrison carriages requires, repairs as do also the carriages. The Guns, carriages, signal staff, Telegraph and Light House wants painting.

The Wharf

Sir Thomas Mitchell's 1828 sketch rendered by Charles Martin 2013. Newcastle Wharf and view up Watt Street rendered by Charles Martin 2013.

Sir Thomas Mitchell’s 1828 sketch rendered by Charles Martin 2013.
Newcastle Wharf and view up Watt Street rendered by Charles Martin 2013.

Item No.  34

Where is it? The Wharf [Where situate is not noted, but once stood at the extremity of Watt Street (formerly George Street)]. Now under the roundabout adjacent to Newcastle Railway Station.

What condition is it in? The Wharf is of Plank supported by Beams resting  upon Piles, which are  nearly eaten through by the worm  –  [100?] by 23 feet.  The steps of wood require to be renewed having decayed and quite dangerous.

 

The Watch House

Scene showing Watch House in centre, 3D rendered by Charles Martin

Scene showing Watch House in centre, 3D rendered by Charles Martin

Item No. 27

Where is it? Watch House

Who occupies it? Police and Bell man of the Public Works Department

What condition is it in? This Building 27 x 21 feet weather boarded with brick lined noggin consisting of two rooms and two cells for one of the latter requires repair at the back is a small octagon tower containing a Bell to summon the working parties some of the weather Boards of the Tower want replacing.

The Lumber Yard

Convict Lumber Yard rendered by Charles Martin 2013

Convict Lumber Yard rendered by Charles Martin 2013

Item No.  15 (should be 16)

Where is it? Lumber Yard situated at the north end of Watt St. and the East Side Newcastle Wharf

Who occupies it? Public Works Department

What condition is it in? This Yard is separated from that of the Prisoners Barracks by a high wooden fence on the east side, on the north side by a similar fence, on the west by a high brick wall rough cast.  Its various shops to the south side thus forming the yard which covers a space of ground 186 x 173 feet.  The Carpenters shed is 45 x 15feet and requires saddle boards the whole length and a few weatherboards replacing at the closed end.  The Blacksmiths shop is 70 x 30 feet of Brick and well constructed but requires new shingling entirely.  The Watchman of the Lumber Yard has a small brick lodge within the walls 12 ft. square at the entrance into the yard in good repair.  There is adjoining  a small tools house 9 x 6 feet and a lime shed 30 x 9 feet of logs in good repair.

What do we propose be done with it? I proposed partitioning off 25 feet from the west end of the Blacksmiths Shop for the purpose of making a store and two small rooms for the Superintendent and Clerk’s Offices.

The Gaol

Newcastle Goal, once overlooking Newcastle Ocean Baths rendered by Charles Martin 2013

Newcastle Goal, once overlooking Newcastle Ocean Baths rendered by Charles Martin 2013

Item No.  28

Where is it? Gaol is situated on the rising ground to the Eastward of the Town

Who occupies it? Criminal Prisoners and Debtors

What condition is it in? This Building is 87 x 37 feet of stone rough cast having two stories an entrance porch in which is two Gaolers rooms surrounded by a high brick wall rough cast the whole covering a space of ground 140 x 105 feet. Three rooms and ten [cells] on the ground floor and seven rooms above require some repairs viz some shingling new Iron bars to strong room ground floor. The inner wall is a crack indicating a settlement but of no great consequence some flags require relaying. There is a considerable crack and settlement in the outer brick wall at the north east corner, which ought to be supported at the angle by buttresses. The Gaoler complains of the Debtors escaping from the yard owing to the Cook house and Privy being situated too near the wall.

What do we propose be done with it? In the event of a future arrangement by which this Building should not be required as a Gaol it might be converted into a Military Barracks.

The Church

Christ Church and surrounding landscape 1818 (3D Art by Charles Martin)

Christ Church and surrounding landscape 1818 (3D Art by Charles Martin)

Item No.  36

Where is it? The Church

What condition is it in? A stone Building the outside Plastered. A Square tower at the East End, surrounded with a small shingled spire. At the West end circular. The roof over the circular end appears very much sunk. I should think the rafters had given way –  The tower spreads at the top 10 inches being split, and is much out of the perpendicular. There is a crack in the circular end and the Plastering is fallen from the outside of the west side of the Tower.

The Pier or Break Water

Macquarie Pier circa 1818 and under construction (3D Art by Charles Martin)

Macquarie Pier circa 1818 and under construction (3D Art by Charles Martin)

Item No.  33

Where is it? The Pier or Break water

What condition is it in? This is of Stone, it is raised too high for a Break water, and I conclude from this circumstance, was not contemplated for that purpose when undertaken. But rather as a Promenade to the Nobby – its being continued at its present height, would be very injudicious rendering it more liable to damage in stormy weather; it should not be more than 8 feet above high water mark, but it is now twelve feet and is higher at it termination that at the commencement ,which is also the [inverse?], since it should be lower  in the middle than the ends, by way of an inclined plane to facilitate the progress of the works.

The interior and exterior slopes are not sufficient. I do not consider these to be any natural obstacle to prevent the continuance of this work having taken the soundings immediately in the line of its directions as well as at some distance on each side of that line generally finding two fathoms, and in no case more than two and three quarters. –

In communication with Mr Livingstone the Master of the Lord Liverpool  Packet who has had the opportunity of I believeing some years experience and observation and also having had the benefit of the nautical experience – Lieutenants Caswell and Lieut. Wood both of the Royal Navy –  I concur most fully with them in opinion that it would be most advisable to continue the works for the good of the Harbour; The Channel into which is now rapidly filling up but would be most decidedly cleared by the force and direction given to the water, when the Boat Passage shall be stopped.

There is a probability of free stone upon Mr Platts property which I visited and inspected, close to the River side about six miles from Newcastle,  and I recommend it should be opened, having reason to believe good Building stone and flogging, might be got there a great desideratum for Newcastle, the stone being unfit for building though hardening under water –  In the event of a quarry being found it would be best for the upper part of the Break water to be built with it.

I apprehend Mr Platt would not object as it must greatly benefit his Property. An Overseer and ten men would make sufficient progress in uncovering it in a fortnight or three weeks to enable a better judgement to be formed of it.

 No 1 Windmill

Item No.  30

Where is it? No. 1 Windmill & House situated on the rising ground to the South West of the Town

Who occupies it? Mr Riley

What condition is it in? A Brick Mill rough cast circular 32 feet Diameter and 38 feet altitude. The sails and main shaft have been carried away but the materials for new sails are upon the premises. A new main shaft and driving wheel are already put up. A few shingles wanting and some of the bricks are much decayed. There is attached a brick noggin Cottage 48 x 13 feet almost down.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
18th February 2014

Local Treasures – Frederick Menkens

Day Shift – 17/09/2013 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Gionni Di Gravio discusses an original work, one of only three known copies in existence, by Les Reedman on the Work of Frederick B. Menkens.

The work was brought to our attention by Brian Suters, but only existed on a poor microfilm which we recently digitised and uploaded here:

http://encore.newcastle.edu.au/iii/cpro/DigitalItemViewPage.external?sp=1008053

Prepared when in his early twenties, Les Reedman completed the Architecture Diploma Thesis in 1956 for Newcastle College, or Newcastle University College when under the auspices of the New South Wales University of Technology.

He recently brought in his copy for a better scan to be undertaken.

 

Newcastle Civic Precinct and Ancient Architecture

Dr Marguerite Johnson presented her paper entitled “What to look for in a mayor: Newcastle Civic Precinct and Ancient Architecture” on the 15th March 2013 in Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library) University of Newcastle (Australia)

The Seminar was organised by the Discipline of Ancient History and the Classical Languages. The video was filmed by Gregg Heathcote, and produced by Gionni Di Gravio.

Her published paper entitled ‘What to Look for in a Mayor; or Classical Reception in the Coalopolis’ is available here:

http://theamphoraissue.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/preview-of-mhj-40-2-the-amphora-issue/

or here:

Dr Marguerite Johnson – What to Look for in a Mayor; or Classical Reception in the Coalopolis (619KB PDF File)

It was in part inspired by our previous post on Mayor Morris Light entitled: What to look for in a Mayor? The Life and Legacy of Morris Light (1859- 1929)

https://uoncc.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/what-to-look-for-in-a-mayor/

For further information:

Here are the details from the NSW Heritage site regarding the listing of the Newcastle Town Hall, along with detail on the building and its architect:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5055746

and Civic Theatre

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5060931

The original photographs of the plans of the Newcastle Town Hall on the blog page (by Allan Chawner):
https://uoncc.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/what-to-look-for-in-a-mayor/

High resolution images from our plan scanner are on our flickr site here (just remember to right mouse click and select original size:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6047538211/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6048088154/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6048089410/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6048087486/

The film of the announcement of NSW heritage Listing for both buildings is here:
http://youtu.be/7XvSp1d4oFE

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist

Reconstructing Victorian Newcastle – 6 November 2012 – 9 December 2012

Scan this image with LAYAR

The forthcoming Exhibition Reconstructing Victorian Newcastle will be launched at the Newcastle Museum and run from the 6 November 2012 – 9 December 2012.

http://www.newcastlemuseum.com.au/exhibitions/special-exhibitions/reconstructing-victorian-newcastle/reconstructing-victorian-newcastle

It features the work of Dr Tessa Morrison and her team of App developers working on the Snowball glass negatives. Dr Morrison is a senior lecturer and Research Fellow in Architectural History in the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment. Mr Russell Rigby, from Geology and a member of the University’s Coal River Working Party assisted in the geo-referencing amd mapping of hundreds of the University’s Ralph Snowball images. See: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/collections/72157629857677544/

If you have a smartphone, iphone or ipad, download a free app from the app store called Layar. Nicholas Foulcher (the IT student and app developer working with Dr Morrison) sent through some brief instructions yesterday through twitter.

“Reconstructing Victorian Newcastle App is Live! Download Layar for Free and scan this image to try before November 6th! pic.twitter.com/0UZBYFJE”

Once the app is installed on your phone, use the app to scan the test image above to try out the program.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist

Local Treasures: The Athel D’Ombrain Archive

Athel D’Ombrain

Day Shift – 15/11/2011 – 02:10 PM – forthcoming
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

University of Newcastle Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the recent digitisation of the Athel D’Ombrain Archive comprising of over 2,500 negatives, and talks about his life and extraordinary contribution to the Hunter Region.

Broadcast Notes:

The Athel D’Ombrain Archive was donated with the University of Newcastle Archives in 1982.

The following notes are from an 1981 article in the University News entitled “University Post” (Vol. 7 No. 12 July 1981 p.[3]) supplemented with further notes from a variety of websites. He left an incredible and varied legacy in the wider Regional community. These photographs are an outstanding document of his life’s work and contribution to the natural world,  history, architecture, science and art. They document many historical buildings throughout the Hunter Region, prior to restoration. They also document buildings and structures no longer extant.

The negatives were digitised by Sharon Mee and Michael Sherriff, and both should be congratulated for scanning the two and a half thousand odd negatives that are very challenging to handle. Sharon is currently uploading the negatives to our flickr site here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627892125061/

Here is a selection:

Rear view of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Mr. Sam McKeachie looking through upstairs window, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Well and shutters, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24 1961Bats in cellar, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Wire winding wheel in cellar, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Wire winding wheel in cellar, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Wire winding wheel in cellar, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Steps to cellar, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Roof showing storm damage, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Peg Bartlett in 100 year old period dress looking out of top window (coloured negative), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Rear view, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Rear view, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Side view, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Front doorway, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961
Colonnades and front verandah, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961From across the river, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Wallpaper, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Relative of Captain Cromarty with punt shotgun, Bob's Farm - September, 1973Peg Bartlett in 100 year old period dress looking out top window, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Front verandah showing front door, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Stairway with cedar doors, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961
Front and side view with Mr. McKeachie standing in front, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Fireplace, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]Picture frame, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]Western aspect, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]Ground floor rooms, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]Ground floor rooms, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]Showing damage to walls and general condition, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]
Showing damage to walls and general condition, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1977]Cedar doors, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Damage to ceilings, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Corner of Room, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Fireplace, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Corner of Room, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Damage above doorways, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]
Dome, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Damage to walls, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Fireplace, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Damage above fireplace, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Living room, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Fireplace, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Swallows nest in one of the smaller rooms, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]

Pre-Restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Windows - pre-restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]White-ant damage, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Damage to rear chimney, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Damage to rear chimney, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Columns and water tanks, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Columns and water tanks, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]

Pre-Restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Stages of interior restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Stages of interior restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Stages of interior restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Stages of interior restoration, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building, Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia [1978]Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August, 1981Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August 1981
Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August, 1981Western end, Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August, 1981Western end, Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August, 1981Front, Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August, 1981Front and side, Exterior photographs, Pre-Restoration photographs to record the condition of the building (for the National Trust), Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - August, 1981Armstrong Galleries, Morpeth with Campbell's Store in the background, NSW, AustraliaArmstrong Galleries, Morpeth with Campbell's Store in the background, NSW, AustraliaAnlaby's InnAnlaby's InnAnlaby's InnAnambah, Maitland, NSW, Australia [1964]Statue on stairway, Anambah, Maitland, NSW, Australia [1964]Ironwork from the roof, Anambah, Maitland, NSW, Australia [1964]Angel Inn, Maitland, NSW, Australia - July 1, 1966
Angel Inn, Maitland, NSW, Australia - July 1, 1966Proprietors and crowd having the last drink, Angel Inn, Maitland, NSW, Australia - July 1, 1966Proprietors and crowd having the last drink, Angel Inn, Maitland, NSW, Australia - July 1, 1966Australian Agricultural Company - remains of stone wharf at Booral, NSW, Australia - August 17, 1976Australian Agricultural Company - remains of stone wharf at Booral, NSW, Australia - August 17, 1976Australian Agricultural Company - remains of stone wharf at Booral, NSW, Australia - August 17, 1976Australian Agricultural Company - remains of stone wharf at Booral, NSW, Australia - August 17, 1976
Booral House, NSW, Australia - July, 1975Boydells Caegwrle, Allynbrook, NSW, Australia - September, 1976Boydells Caegwrle, Allynbrook, NSW, Australia - September, 1976Boundary stones, Maitland, NSW, AustraliaBoundary stones, Maitland, NSW, AustraliaBoundary stones, Maitland, NSW, AustraliaBoydells Caegwrle, Allynbrook, NSW, Australia - September, 1976
North East boundary stone, Colinson St. Tenambit (Mr. and Mrs. Crisps property), NSW, AustraliaBoundary stone (location not specified)Boundary stone at St. Johns College, Morpeth, NSW, AustraliaPeter Buntings house, Cnr of Lawes and William Street, East Maitland, NSW, AustraliaPeter Buntings house, Cnr of Lawes and William Street, East Maitland, NSW, AustraliaBrough House, Church, West Maitland [as it was when it was the Girls' High School Hostel, before alteration], NSW, Australia - May [1979?]Staircase of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961
Staircase of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Staircase of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Staircase of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Staircase of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961Staircase of Aberglasslyn House, Aberglasslyn, NSW, Australia - March 24, 1961
Athel D’Ombrain A.M. (1901-1985) was a photographer, optician, naturalist, author, cricketer, pioneer angler, game fisherman and historian.

He was born in Casterton in the Western District of Victoria in 1901. His father, a general practitioner, was one of the pioneer ornithologists of Australia, and had helped in the formation of the Royal Australian Ornithologists’ Union. It was through his father, and the excursions they shared together, that Athel learnt about the natural world. His interest was further developed by living on the north shore in Sydney at a time when the suburb was sparsly settled and a fine place in which to study birds and animals.

He attended Shore College, Sydney between 1913-18. After being educated at Shore, and realising that his interests were not academic,  he later studied agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College, and worked on the land at Somersby, garnering much success as a citrus-grower. He was part winner of a Wembly Medal and winner of several prizes in local citrus shows.

Athel had also studied optometry and when his brother, Arthur, an opthalmic surgeon, said he should move to Maitland and work with him as a manufacturing optician he said he would. In 1929 he moved to Maitland to work as an optical dispenser at his brother’s practice, and for over 20 years was associated with his brother in Maitland, and later for some years in Newcastle.

Athel was a well respected cricketer with the Northern Suburbs Cricket Club. Known as ‘Dorn’ to his fellow cricketers, his first A Grade season (1929-1930) marked the beginning of an association with the Club that would last over fifty years.

Besides playing, he was also served as Secretary from 1930-36, and later conducted Coaching Classes. In recognition of his long playing and administrative services, he was made a Life Member of the Club in the early sixties and Patron from 1968.

In 1934 he, along with Wallace Fitness, approached the secretary of the Hunter River Agricultural and Horticultural Association Show Society, asking whether they could display some local photographs in the Fine Arts Pavilion at the 1934 annual Maitland Show. The request was accepted, and so was founded the Maitland Salon of Photography.  In 1946 Maitland Salon became an Australian Photographic Society approved Salon and then in 1958 became an International Salon with approval from the Photographic Society of America and finally in 1982 the federation International De L’ Art Photographique granted its patronage.

In February 1936, he married Esma Drew, of Clarencetown, by whom he had a son, Robin, who later became a Technical Officer in Chemical Engineering. Esma died in May 1980.

Around 1950 Athel retired from optometry and became a photographer for The Maitland Mercury. After the 1955 flood hit his home he left the newspaper and established a commercial photographic business in Maitland. Concurrent with these activities he was a “photo-finish operator” at the Maitland Showground and a stringer cameraman.

Through the efforts of Athel and Newman Silverthorne, the Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fish Club was formed with Headquarters at Bundabah on the northern side of the Port. In 1935 the fishing enthusiasts built a clubhouse at Shoal Bay. “There was not one house at the bay at this time – nothing but bush”, he says. The Fish Club was taken over by the Army in the Second World War, following which it was incorporated into the Country Club Hotel. He was renown as a pioneer angler who adopted a scientific approach to the sport and who was very successful in the post war years. He is credited with devising the now widely accepted tag and release concept for big game fishes, commencing his first experiments in 1938.

Athel was an expert naturalist especially on Port Stephens and its flora and fauna. For example, he visited Cabbage Tree Island regularly for 44 years observing and banding the sea bird called Gould’s Petrel. The island is the only known nesting place of the species.

He also enjoyed looking at the birds in the wetlands at Hexham as he travelled between Maitland and Newcastle in the train. Previously he had contributed several articles to the Newcastle Morning Herald. In 1965 he wrote a piece about the birds at Hexham, which came under the notice of the Herald’s Editor at the time, Mr E.K. Lingard, who liked the story so much he asked Athel to write a weekly column. For some time he became a Saturday correspondent for The Herald. He also authored a number of published books, ‘Game Fishing Off the Australian Coast’ and ‘Fish Tales’, and an unpublished account of Gould’s Petrel, called ‘North East of Toomaree’, and an unpublished autobiography

His newspaper articles and books contributed a great deal to the unfolding of the wonders of nature. Moreover, he was continually identifying specimens found in the bush and backyards for individuals.

On the 9 June 1975, in recognition of his service to photography and the study of nature, he was awarded Member of the Order of Australia.

In 1981 he was invited to become a Convocation Visiting Scholar at the University of Newcastle, the third to hold the position since its inception in 1977.

As a result of his photographic work over many years, he amassed a monumental collection of photographs relating to the Hunter Valley. One of his roles as Convocation Visiting Scholar was to work in association with Denis Rowe (University Archivist) in the Archives in the Auchmuty Library, cataloguing his photographs and organising the articles about nature that he had written for the Newcastle Herald.

He continued to write his columns up until a few months prior to his death at age 83 in 1985. According to his son, Mr Robin D’Ombrain, he wrote a total of 995 articles for the Newcastle Herald.

He was a member of the Royal Australian Orthnologist’s Union, an Associate of the Australian Museum and a Member of the Order of Australia.

ICAM Australasia Meeting Melbourne 2011 – Report

Dome of the State Library of Victoria

On the 28 October 2011 we attended the Annual Meeting of Icam Australiasia in Melbourne. The University of Newcastle was represented by Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist and Chair of the Coal River Working Party and Ms Ann Hardy, Secretary of the Hunter Branch of the National Trust, post graduate scholar at the University studying the historic  James Fletcher Hospital Site and member of the Coal River Working Party.

What is Icam?

icam is the international confederation of architectural museums and an organisation of architectural museums, centres and collections. It is dedicated to fostering links between all those interested in promoting the better understanding of architecture. In 2010 the Architecture Museum University of South Australia became the inaugural Australian institution to participate in a conference of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums (ICAM).  At the invitation of the ICAM Board, the Museum hosted a seminar at UniSA for colleagues from Australasian institutions holding collections of architectural records. This was the first time representatives of these collections had met as a group and engaged in formal discussions. We agreed to continue the collaboration, and to form ICAM Australasia.

Why were we invited to attend?

Our University holds significant holdings of architectural plans, of particular importance is the Pender Archive representing three generations of architects, one of the largest and most comprehensive architectural collections in the country.

What was discussed?

Morning Session was held at RMIT University. Welcome from Harriet Edquist, Officer in charge of the University Design Archives.

Update from Christine Garnaut, Convenor of icamAustralasia

What do we want to achieve and what are we are able to achieve as a group bearing in mind the charter for ICAM is:

• Preserve the architectural record
• Raise the quality and protection of the built environment
• Foster the study of architectural history in the interest of future practice
• Stimulate the public appreciation of architecture
• Promote the exchange of information and professional expertise

– resourcing issues, community engagement, getting collections out there – exhibitions,

– interesting to learn of the archives of Mervyn Ashmore Smith (11/12/1904–14/3/1994), a Collection held in the Museum in SA. Melvyn Smith was an architect and town planner here in Newcastle up until 1953.

– Viewing of the RMIT Design Archives with Harriet Edquist, Building 15. Highlights included the Romberg Archives – designer of the Administration building at Newcastle, and lecturer at the University of Newcastle.

ACTIONS:

1) Collate our architectural related collections, research output and community contacts – such as Pender, Morton, University, subdivision plans, various architectural projects and mapping across the plan collections, South Maitland Railways (SMR), Les Reedman’s work, Professor Barry Maitland, Bob Donaldson, Ross Deamer, Snowball and other photographic Collections with emphasis on built environment, Architectural firms, involve Architecture staff and students, papers, theses etc.

2) Provide a historic context grid for these collections, e.g. Google Earth mapping of information, utilising subdivisions, photographs to provide context of plan with the historic landscape of the time, Russell Rigby’s overlays.

3) Pull together this architectural related archive into a single portal, incorporating links with our local community networks in the Hunter Heritage Network and National Trust, to provide a Hunter Branch chapter to link in with icam Australasia. Such items include the following:

We have also begun the scanning of the Pender Archive, they will be included here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627165745889/

Other digitised map/plan/built environment related collections of possible interest include:

Mahlshedt and Gee Surveyors – Newcastle – Jan 1886
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627126833932/

The Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627009132400/

Map Treasures (General scans of interest from across the collections)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627003398259/

The Athel D’Ombrain Collection
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627892125061/

4) Promote ongoing activities such as National Trust walks AAA walks http://www.thelockup.info/architecture-walks/ , collaborations between Coal River Working Party and Faculty of Architecture and other areas of the University relating to built environment, adaptive reuse, artistic collaborations e.g. http://www.thenovocastrianfiles.com/2010/07/aa-co-mine-managers-house-1849.html

Following lunch we made our way to the afternoon venue which was the Rare Printed Collections Meeting Room in the State Library of Victoria.

– Welcome from Mary Lewis followed by a session of short presentations followed by discussions convened by Helen McLaughlin

T & G Building Plans

– Professor Miles Lewis, Faculty of Architecture Building & Planning, University of Melbourne.  “Proposal for a short course for Curators: Collecting and interpreting architectural drawings”.

– Peter Johnson, Architect & Heritage Consultant, member of the AIA National Heritage Taskforce. “Proposal to establish a process for Institute State and Territory Chapters to more effectively assist cultural institutions to collect and archive documents of notable Australian architects”.

Topics for further discussion:

Promote the exchange of information and professional expertise:

e.g. Brainstorm ways in which we could engage more actively with each other and also engage researchers with the collections that we hold.

e.g. Discuss whether or not to link to established groups like Museums Australia or the Australian Society of Archivists through their special interest groups.

Foster the study of architectural history in the interest of future practice:

e.g. Discuss whether or not it is worth organising a special session/track of papers at a SAHANZ conference. (The 2012 conference is at University of Tasmania, Launceston, 5-8 July; abstracts are due by Monday 14 November)

Preserve the architectural record

e.g. Discuss implications of digital records and evolving platforms.

Raise the quality and protection of the built environment

e.g. How might we engage with this issue?

Stimulate the public appreciation of architecture

e.g. through our websites and collective activities such as exhibitions

Mary Lewis with participants

What to look for in a Mayor?

Morris Light
Morris Light


The Life and Legacy of Morris Light (1859- 1929)

Day Shift -16/09/2008 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: John Clarke
Producer: Jeanette McMahon
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the life and legacy of Alderman Morris Light. Morris Light (1859 – 1929), served as Mayor of Newcastle during the period from 1924-25 and had initiated the creation of historic Town Hall building. In February 2007 rare plans of the Town Hall were deposited in the University’s Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library. On the eve of our own Council elections, he is an inspiring figure to all budding future Lord Mayors and an example of what to look for in an individual aspiring to such a position of civic duty.

Broadcast Notes:

How did the University Archives come to hold the papers of Alderman Morris Light?

We hold the personal papers of the Auchmuty Library’s first and greatest benefactor Miss Reta Light (1898 – 1989), who upon her death in September 1989 left the Library $1.5 million. The Light Memorial Trust was formed to administer the endowment. According to her will, the money was to be used to purchase books, periodicals, microfilms and musical scores. From 1991 to 1999 the Trust financed over half a million dollars worth of acquisitions including a fine collection of Australian poetry , rare first editions of works by James Joyce and Thomas Hardy and impressive editions of Le Corbusier and titles related to the history of theatre. As part of her papers we also acquired those of her father, Morris Light (1859-1929).

The Town Hall

A set of rare plans of the Town Hall were donated in February 2007. Morris Light served as Mayor until December 10th 1925, and besides setting in motion the construction of the city hall, his achievements also included the electrification of the tram service, the creation of a children’s park at Centennial Park, an art gallery and museum.

He considered his greatest achievement the construction of the City hall and Civic Theatre complex, although he never lived to see his dream finally completed.

From our enquiries, these appear to be the only original plans of this building from the period that are known to exist. All extant plans are photocopies, probably due to the nature of the acidic paper upon which these originals were printed which becomes very brittle over time and therefore difficult to preserve.

The plans of this building also hold great sentimental importance for us, as we hold the records of Morris Light (1859 – 1929), who was Mayor during the period from 1924-25 that initiated the creation of this building.We also hold his Diary book where his inspiration for the Town Hall came after a visit to Durban in South Africa. In the vein of Emperor Hadrian he saw Durban’s Town Hall and other impressive public works, and decided that the City of Newcastle deserved better.

The following plans were received (All Photography thanks to Associate Professor Allan Chawner):

1. Title: City of Newcastle New Town Hall.
Scale 1/8” = 1’00”
Approx Sheet Size: 76cm x 66.3cm
Detail: Front Elevation
Date: 8.[10]. 1925
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by E.F.H
Traced by E.F.H
Checked by W.C.R.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water damage and brittle tears along right hand end, lower right hand corner broken off.

2. Title: [City of Newcastle New Town Hall.]
[Scale 1/8” = 1’00”]
Approx Sheet Size: 61cm x 65.5cm
Detail: Side Elevation
Date: n.d.
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by E.F.H
Traced by E.F.H
Checked by E.W.M.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water Damage along right hand side, some brittle tears.

3. Title: [City of Newcastle New Town Hall]
[Scale 1/8” = 1’00”]
Approx Sheet Size: 62.3cm x 31.3cm
Detail: Section A-A
Date: n.d.
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by G.C & W.C.R.
Traced by G.C & W.C.R.
Checked by W.C.R.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water damage lower right hand corner.

4. Title: City of Newcastle New Town Hall.
Scale 1/8” = 1’00”
Approx Sheet Size: 61cm x 65.6cm
Detail: Section B-B, Tower Room “B”, Upper Part of Tower Room “A”, Bell Chamber and Tower Room “D”
Date: n.d.
Designed by H.E.W. (Henry E. White)
Drawn by G.C & W.C.R.
Traced by G.C
Checked by W.C.R.
Approved by G.N.K
Condition: Water damage lower right hand corner.

The Inspiration for the City of Newcastle Town Hall

Morris Light’s Travel Diary from 10th February 1923 – 1st May 1923 holds the clues to where he got his inspiration for the Town Hall building after visiting Durban in South Africa. The Diary was later recycled as Newsclipping Book, containing clippings from 24th December 1924 – August 1929. University of Newcastle Archives Rare Books & Special Collections Unit. Shelf Location A7143.

Here is his report in 1923 to his fellow Aldermen and Mayor:

Report to His Worship the Mayor and Aldermen
Report to ‘His Worship the Mayor and Aldermen’ 1923

The following clipping is also of relevance describing the newly elected Mayor Light as a light that shine down across the city, as the Town Hall building itself was modeled on the Pharos Lighthouse of Ancient Alexandria, one of the seven ancient wonders of the World. How fitting that Newcastle received its own wonder.

Morris Light newclippings 1925
Morris Light new clippings c.1925

The Life of Morris Light

Morris Light

Morris Light

Morris Light was born in Kovno, Western Russia in 1859, but left there in 1879 escaping the persecution of the Jews that was gaining momentum during the period. During the period from 1879 to 1884, he moved to Scotland and operated a draper’s business in Glasgow. He later emigrated to New South Wales, Australia in 1884 landing in Sydney with 200 pounds sterling in his pockets. From Sydney he travelled to Mittagong, then Moss Vale before coming to Newcastle in 1886.

In Newcastle, he settled in Carrington and operated a business selling household wares in a horse drawn cart. In 1887 he married Sarah Jacobs, a 32 year-old English woman, and the couple had four children, Hilda (1888), Bertram (1889), Myra (1892) and Reta, who was born on the 15th March 1898. During the opening years of the new century Morris Light opened his first furniture store in Cowper Street, and then moved to Hunter Street West where it became known as the ‘House of Lights’. The enterprise expanded with a new emporium which was later built and a second store opened at Vincent Street Cessnock. His son, Bertram, was groomed to take over the management of the business which became M. Light & Son Ltd.

M. Light & Son

M. Light & Son

Morris Light was proud to acknowledge his successful achievement of the introduction of consumer credit to Newcastle, which offered finance to customers under his own interest free terms. The success of the system was reinforced by the claim that they had never found occasion to repossess any of their goods. His commitment and service to his local community was also a feature of his cumulative 35 years of public life as alderman for the Carrington and Newcastle Councils. He served two terms as Mayor of Carrington in 1902 and 1903, being credited as being a catalyst for the early electrical illumination of Carrington Streets.

On the evening of December 10th 1924, while a band outside the Council chambers played “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, Morris Light was elected Mayor of Newcastle, an event that was not without controversy. For the outgoing Mayor, Alderman R.G. Kilgour, refused to invest the new Mayor with the robes of office. Apparently upset at not being able to secure a seventh year as Mayor, he resigned as a protest against what he termed the “deceit and intrigue” of his colleagues. Morris Light served as Mayor until December 10th 1925. His achievements included the electrification of the tram service, he was also an advocate of the electrification of the Newcastle to Sydney rail link, the creation of a children’s park at Centennial Park, and he set in motion the construction of the city hall, offices, art gallery and museum.

He considered his greatest achievement the construction of a self-funded City hall and Civic Theatre complex, a task which involved a battle between Council and the illustrious coal baron Mr John Brown. Mayor Light wanted the coal baron to reliquish possession of the old Black Diamond Hotel site as a ‘gift’ to the people of Newcastle so as “to have a Town Hall befitting the prestige of the city”. The coal baron didn’t agree, and suggested they site the Town Hall at the congested eastern end of the City, as well as affirming that he would resist every move to resume the site proposed by Mayor Light.

Funeral of Morris Light

Funeral of Morris Light

As history would have it, Morris Light died of Pneumonia at 7.10 am on the 26th July 1929, aged 74 years. His funeral at Sandgate cemetery was attended by 300 people and involved a joint Jewish and Masonic ceremony. He never lived to see his dream of the City Hall and Civic Theatre finally completed.

Opening of the New Town Hall

Bertram Light at the opening of the new Town Hall

Bertram Light at the opening of the new Town Hall

At the opening of the new Town Hall Alderman Wheeler gave credit to his predecessor for the new building, the lights outside bear a commemorative plaque to honour Morris Light’s contribution. These buildings stand as treasures to the city of Newcastle and highlight the magnificent achievement that people of vision can have on a place.

Gionni Di Gravio
September 11, 2008