Local Treasures: Early Surfest Photographs 1985-1988

Surfest - 25th November 1986 Newcastle (Australia) [Photo: Chris Patterson for Hannan Photography Courtesy of UoNCC]

Surfest – 25th November 1986 Newcastle (Australia) [Photo: Chris Patterson for Hannan Photography Courtesy of UoNCC]

Day Shift – 18/11/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio (Archivist) discuss the release of over 800 scanned colour and black and white negatives of the early Surfest events held on Newcastle Beach across the years 1985 to 1988. They are all sourced from a massive commercial photographic archive recently donated to the University of Newcastle (Australia).

Broadcast Notes:

Surfest ’85 (99 images)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157646902367064/

Surfest ’86 (456 images)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157649215677766/

Surfest ’87 (142 images)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157649316149282/

Surfest ’88 (128 images)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157649320214052/

 

A collection of over 800 photographs held in the University of Newcastle’s Archives has been released globally to assist in the celebrations currently underway to mark the 30th anniversary of the Surfest in February 2015.

The images, all scanned from original colour negatives, date from the inaugural Surfest bearing the date of ’26th November 1985′ up until 1988, taken at events held at Newcastle Beach, Australia.

Massive crowds at the inaugural Surfest '85 26th November 1985 (Photo: Chris Patterson for Hannan Photography Courtest of UoNCC)

Massive crowds at the inaugural Surfest ’85 26th November 1985 (Photo: Chris Patterson for Hannan Photography Courtest of UoNCC)

The images were shot by Chris Patterson and other photographers working for Hannan Photography, who were engaged to record the event by Peach Advertising on behalf of the Surfest sponsors B.H.P. (The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Ltd). Surfest was also known as “The BHP Steel International”.

Once the call came out from the Surfest Anniversary organisers for historic images, Chris contacted us, after learning that the entire Hannan photographic archive had been donated to the University’s Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library. He came in, and help tracked down the original 35mm colour negatives that he shot all those years ago. He also explained their numbering scheme which has been very helpful in sorting the massive collection.

The images were scanned from the original 35 mm colour negatives, at 3200 dpi using an Epson Perfection V700 Scanner. They comprised sheets labeled under the original numbering sequence of CN6858, CN7560, CN8162, CN8764 respectively. (CN=Colour Negative)

The original negatives are held in Cultural Collections at the Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle (Australia).

People are welcome to use the images for study and personal research purposes. Please acknowledge them as “Courtesy of the Hannan Photography Archive, University of Newcastle (Australia)”

For commercial requests you must obtain permission by contacting <a href=”mailto:archives@newcastle.edu.au” rel=”nofollow”>Cultural Collections</a>.

If you are the subject of the images, or know the subject of the images, and have cultural or other reservations about the images being displayed on this website and would like to discuss this with us please contact <a href=”mailto:archives@newcastle.edu.au” rel=”nofollow”>Cultural Collections</a>.

If you have any further information or stories that come to mind after viewing the photographs, please leave a comment.

These images are provided free of charge to the global community thanks to the generosity of the donors (Don McCririck of Hannan Photography) and the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.

If you wish to donate to the Vera Deacon Fund please download a form here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/21528529/veradeaconform.jpg

Further information on the forthcoming Surfest 30th Anniversary 2015 is here: http://www.surfest.com/

Local Treasures: Greg Heys (1945-2007) Unfinished Doctoral Thesis Launch

The Late Greg Heys (1945-2007)

The Late Greg Heys (1945-2007)

Day Shift – 21/10/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Wendy Heys, Dr Bernie Curran and Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Wendy Heys, wife of former Lord Mayor and University of Newcastle academic Greg Heys, Dr Bernie Curran and Gionni Di Gravio (Archivist) discuss the launch of Greg Heys unpublished and unfinished doctoral thesis on Democratic Governance and Sustainable Regional Development through the University of Newcastle Libraries.

Broadcast Notes:

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD GREG HEYS’ THESIS

FREE DOWNLOAD – Democratic Governance for Sustainable Regional Development. Theorising Regional Development Governance Processes for Achieving Ecologically Sustainable Development Objectives in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. By Greg Heys BSW (UNSW) MUrbStud (Macquarie) June 2007. (921KB PDF File)

From Wendy Heys and the Heys Family on behalf of the Editorial Team of Judy Conway, Dr Bernie Curran, Professor Brian English, Dr Moira Gordon AM and Len Regan. 

You are invited to the launch of the unfinished doctoral thesis of former Lord Mayor of Newcastle and University academic Greg Heys entitled ‘Democratic Governance for Sustainable Regional Development’.

By the time of his death in 2007, Greg had conducted a unique set of interviews with ‘champions for the Hunter’ and commenced writing his analysis based upon these.

Greg’s vision for regional development governance in the Hunter, together with the diverse understandings and motivations of the interviewees, underpins the thesis and justifies the decision to edit and publish Greg’s work in order to make it available for others.

The work will be launched by Professor Brian English, long-time friend and academic colleague of Greg at 5.30 PM, Wednesday 29th October 2014 in the Friends of the University Reading Room, Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan. ALL WELCOME.

Please RSVP to Dr Bernie Curran on (02) 49217453 or email bernard.curran@newcastle.edu.au

 

Editorial Team (l-r) Judy Conway, Dr Moira Gordon AM, Wendy Heys, Dr Bernie Curran, Len Regan and Professor Brian English at Launch of Greg Heys Unfinished Thesis on Democratic Governance 29th October 2014.

Editorial Team (l-r) Judy Conway, Dr Moira Gordon AM, Wendy Heys, Dr Bernie Curran, Len Regan and Professor Brian English at Launch of Greg Heys Unfinished Thesis on Democratic Governance 29th October 2014.

Professor Brian English addresses crowd which Wendy Heys with grand child and Dr Bernard Curran look on at Launch of Greg Heys Unfinished Thesis on Democratic Governance 29th October 2014.

Professor Brian English addresses crowd which Wendy Heys with grand child and Dr Bernard Curran look on at Launch of Greg Heys Unfinished Thesis on Democratic Governance 29th October 2014.

For further images from the Heys Family Collection please see our flickr site:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157648992815155/


Personal Profile – Greg Heys

Greg Heys was born on the 28th February 1945 in Sydney Australia. He married Wendy and had two children Sarah and Matthew, as well as two grandchildren. The family moved to Newcastle in 1982, and Greg lived there with his family until his death in 2007.

Greg matriculated from the Christian Brothers High School, Lewisham in 1962 and undertook theological studies for six years.

In 1972, Greg graduated from the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree.

Greg Heys Graduation as Bachelor of Social Work (UNSW) with wife Wendy and baby Sarah,  May 1973. (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg Heys Graduation as Bachelor of Social Work (UNSW) with wife Wendy and baby Sarah, May 1973. (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

In 1990 he completed a Masters of Urban Studies from Macquarie University. His thesis analysed regional development policy in the Hunter Region from the 1970s through the 1980s.

From 1973 to 1976 Greg worked as the first appointed Community Development Officer with Orange City Council where he established and managed a range of services such as neighborhood centers and child and youth facilities in new suburbs. From 1976 to 1980 he became Social Planner with the Bathurst-Orange Development Corporation, providing advice and identifying where social and community facilities needed to be established for the new population areas. From 1981 to 1982 he worked as a Regional Social Work Advisor for the heath Commission of New South Wales Central Western Region, Orange establishing social working networks, planning and facilities across health and related social welfare issues.

The family then moved to Newcastle, and from 1982 to 1988 Greg worked for the NSW Department of Community Services. He managed the Hunter Social Development Program for three years where he also provided advice on establishing and funding community services such as children’s services, transport and services for the elderly and women and youth refuges. Later he set up and managed the Home and Community Care program throughout the Hunter Region.

In 1988 Greg joined the staff of the Hunter Institute of Higher Education (HIHE) as a lecturer, where he taught students in the Bachelor of Social Science (Welfare). After the HIHE amalgamated with the University of Newcastle in 1989, he held a lecturer position in the Social Work Department at the University until his retirement in March 2000.

Greg Heys standing for Newcastle as  Australian Labor Party candidate (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg Heys standing for Newcastle as Australian Labor Party candidate (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

From 1991 to 1999, Greg entered local politics and was elected as a Labor councillor on Newcastle City Council. From 1995 to 1999 he was the popularly elected Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

Greg Heys as Lord Mayor of Newcastle circa 1995 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg Heys as Lord Mayor of Newcastle circa 1995 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg with former Lord Mayor Joy Cummings and wife Wendy, c1995 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg with former Lord Mayor Joy Cummings and wife Wendy, c1995 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

In this capacity he was a director on the Honeysuckle Development Corporation and the Chairman of the Hunter Waste Planning and Management Board as well as serving on many committees. His leadership as Lord Mayor saw the hugely successful and groundbreaking Pathways to Sustainability Conference here in 1997, positioned Newcastle to be head of the pack of all other Australian cities in pursuing ecologically sustainable development policies and practices in the late 1990s.

Greenhouse Challenge 1997 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greenhouse Challenge 1997 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Pathways to Sustainability Conference 1997 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greenhouse Challenge 1997 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

The Newcastle Declaration Endorsed at the International Conference Pathways to Sustainability 1-5 June 1997.

The Newcastle Declaration Endorsed at the International Conference Pathways to Sustainability 1-5 June 1997.

Commitment by Newcastle City Council to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the City of Newcastle. 14th April 1998.

Commitment by Newcastle City Council to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the City of Newcastle. 14th April 1998.

Greg with Prime Minister John Howard, circa 1998.

Greg with Prime Minister John Howard, circa 1998.

 

Greg lost the election in 1999 to incoming Lord Mayor John Tate. He was missed by many people who are reported to have said that he was “the best Lord Mayor of Newcastle ever”, as the following letter from a young Jonathan Moylan says:

Letter from Jonathan Moylan to Mr Heys 15th September 1999 (Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Letter from Jonathan Moylan to Mr Heys 15th September 1999 (Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Following his retirement from the University in March 2000, Greg then enrolled in a PhD researching governance models for sustainable regional development.

On the 29th August 2002 he was honored with being awarded The Newcastle Medal

Newcastle Medal awarded to Greg Heys in 2002

Newcastle Medal awarded to Greg Heys in 2002

While researching and writing his PhD, Greg worked in the Premiers Department of NSW as the senior project manager for the Hunter Community Renewal Scheme where he focussed on collaborating with 28 government not-for-profit organizations and community groups in delivering an eight pronged strategy to “improve the quality of life in Windale”.

Windale community thanks Greg Heys with honor board at Tree of Gratitude August 2007.

Windale community thanks Greg Heys with honor board at Tree of Gratitude August 2007.

Following this project he worked for Mission Australia between August 2004 to November 2005 to assess the feasibility of and to set up the Hunter Community Foundation over an 18 month contract. In 2006 he founded the Friends of the Regal Group to campaign to restore the community cinema that faced hard times.

Greg with Bruce Avard out the front of the Regal Cinema Birmingham Gardens in 2006.

Greg with Bruce Avard out the front of the Regal Cinema Birmingham Gardens in 2006.

From January 2007 and just prior to his death Greg was the Community Development and Planning Officer with Port Stephens Council implementing Council’s community and sustainable planning program.

Greg died aged 62 years on the 5th June 2007 at the Calvary Mater Hospital, after suffering a massive heart attack days before. The funeral was held on the 13th June 2007 at Our Lady of Victories Church in Shortland.

"Heys' talent for helping people" Daily Telegraph 6 June 2007

“Heys’ talent for helping people” Daily Telegraph 6 June 2007

"Farewell to Greg Heys" Newcastle Herald Editorial June 6th 2007

“Farewell to Greg Heys” Newcastle Herald Editorial June 6th 2007

"Death saddens city"Newcastle herald June 6the 2007 p.13

“Death saddens city”Newcastle herald June 6the 2007 p.13

Peter Lewis Cartoon published Newcastle Herald 11th June 2007 (With permission of Peter Lewis)

Peter Lewis Cartoon published Newcastle Herald 11th June 2007 (With permission of Peter Lewis)

"He sparked Newcastle's recovery" Sydney Morning Herald 17th June 2007

“He sparked Newcastle’s recovery” Sydney Morning Herald 17th June 2007

"Short, rich life an inspiration. Hundreds farewell man of integrity" Newcastle Herald 14th June 2007

“Short, rich life an inspiration. Hundreds farewell man of integrity” Newcastle Herald 14th June 2007

It was during the funeral service that his son Matthew lamented that his father had not finished his PhD on regional development, the final chapter was near completion when he died.

Wendy and Greg Heys circa 1997 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Wendy and Greg Heys circa 1997 (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

And it was to this end that a committed group of Greg’s friends and academic colleagues, led by his dedicated wife, Wendy, applied their minds and skills to editing and bringing the incomplete doctoral thesis to a point where it could be made available to the wider academic and regional communities of the Hunter and beyond.

The work can be downloaded directly from the link at the top of this post. It has also been uploaded into the University Libraries Encore database here:

http://encore.newcastle.edu.au/iii/cpro/DigitalItemViewPage.external?sp=1012409&sp=T

and shortly be also available in the NOVA Digital Repository here:

http://nova.newcastle.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Index

Greg Heys left a great legacy of service to the communities he served both as a committed social worker, University academic and political representative, please join us in celebrating the life and work of this remarkable man.

Greg photographed at his 60th birthday in 2005. (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg photographed at his 60th birthday in 2005. (Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Heys)

WHEN: 5.30 PM, Wednesday 29th October 2014

WHERE: Friends of the University Reading Room, Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan.

ALL WELCOME.

Please RSVP to Dr Bernie Curran on (02) 49217453 or email bernard.curran@newcastle.edu.au

Greg Heys in the Kimberley 2003 (Photo courtesy of Wendy Heys)

Greg Heys in the Kimberley 2003 (Photo courtesy of Wendy Heys)

 

For further research into the professional research work of Greg Heys please consult the Greg Heys Planning Collection held in Local Studies, Newcastle Public Library, Laman Street Newcastle.

A link to the holdings is here: http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/232551/Greg_Heys_Planning_Collection.pdf

Local Treasures: The Rodoni Glass Negatives

Troops posing for a comical photograph after fall of German Papua,1914 (Thomas James Rodoni)

Troops posing for a comical photograph after fall of German Papua, 1914 (Digitised from a Thomas James Rodoni Glass negative by Chris Fussell)


Day Shift – 19/08/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Nick Gerber
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle discusses plans for the recently donated glass negatives of the late Thomas James Rodoni that documented Australia’s first military conflict of the First World War, the fall of German New Guinea. The Collection also contains images from the lead up to the Great War, including what appears to be recruitment drives across Sydney and Newcastle. There are also images believed to be taken at places around Lithgow and Newcastle. We would appreciate any further information relating to the selection of images below

Broadcast Notes:

In February 2014 Bill Rodoni, son of the late Thomas James Rodoni donated all his father’s original glass negatives held in his possession to the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library).

Close family friends Chris Fussell and his wife helped Bill organize the transfer of the Collection to the University, Chris, being a photographer, also kindly provided some of the digitized images he was able to make of the glass negatives that were in good enough condition.

Chris Fussell (left) with Bill Rodoni (right) son of the late Thomas James Rodoni

Chris Fussell (left) with Bill Rodoni (right) son of the late Thomas James Rodoni

Some of these images were featured in the recent 5th August 2014 Newcastle Herald story here: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2466630/hunters-first-wwi-volunteers-in-action-in-new-guinea-photos/

At present, there are nine or so images up on the Herald website to accompany the story. The newspaper print edition featured two images.

We collected around four archival boxes worth of glass plates. Some (i.e., around 2 boxes worth) of the original glass negatives were in relatively good condition, and another two archival boxes worth (that lay in Bill’s downstairs garage) were in a very terrible condition, water damaged, moldy, dirty and most stuck together.

Rodoni Glass Negatives upon arrival at University of Newcastle

Rodoni Glass Negatives upon arrival at University of Newcastle

All these glass negatives are now in the hands of our conservator, undergoing a thorough conservation and preservation treatment involving documenting their condition, cleaning, carefully separating the damaged plate, and then re-housing all of them in new archival quality boxes.

Once this phase is done, we will commence the digitization of them all, and have secured the University Gallery for an exhibition next year running  from March 2015 as the University’s contribution to the Anzac Centenary Commemorations.

Dr Ann Hardy, a University historian, has also said she would be prepared to volunteer her time to research Thomas James Rodoni’s life and trace the subject matter of his photographic works in the collection for the Exhibition. Gillian Shaw, University Gallery Curator, has booked the University Art Gallery from March 2015 next year to present large reproductions of these Rodoni slides as part of our contribution to the Centenary of Anzac Commemorations.

The collection is rare as there are few wartime collections taken by non-official photographers during the World War I.  The collection depicts Australia’s first military engagement of World War 1 being the transfer of power from German New Guinea in 1914 to the Australian Forces. This engagement also witnessed the first Australian casualties of First World War.

Biographical information relating to Thomas James Rodoni is scant, but have identified a moustachioed man  (in the selfie pictured below) and in a number of images as Thomas Rodoni.

The moustachioed man we believe is Thomas Rodoni

The moustachioed man we believe to be Thomas Rodoni

Military Parade - Leichhardt Marchers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Military Parade – Leichhardt Marchers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Military Parade - Farmers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Military Parade – Farmers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Plumber Gas Fitter Gladesville (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Plumber Gas Fitter Gladesville (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Bagpipes and Highland Dressed (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Bagpipes and Highland Dressed (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Street Parade - Domain Artillery Off to the Front (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Street Parade – Domain Artillery Off to the Front (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lithgow - Parade Opposite Walters and Son Undertakers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lithgow – Parade Opposite Walters and Son Undertakers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle Beach Crowds Military (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle Beach Crowds Military (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour - View from Boats (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour – View from Boats (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

New Guinea - Soldiers with Coconuts (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Soldiers with Coconuts (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

New Guinea - GMP Madang NG 1914

G.M.P. Madang NG 1914

Soldiers and Papuans (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Soldiers and Papuans (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Company of Soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Company of Soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lineup of soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lineup of soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Officers in White (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Officers in White (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Rodoni photographed with glass plate [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Rodoni photographed with glass plate [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle - Unveiling of Newcastle Post Office Cenotaph (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle – Unveiling of Newcastle Post Office Cenotaph (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Freidman's Carrington Hotel (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Freidman’s Carrington Hotel (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Diving at Newcastle (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Diving at Newcastle (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle - 2HD Mayfield (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle – 2HD Mayfield (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Interior - Unidentified Engineering Workshop (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Interior – Unidentified Engineering Workshop (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Unidentified workers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Unidentified workers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Photograph taken of Newcastle Customs House, from second floor of Great Northern Hotel at 10 minutes to 1 PM date unknown (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Photograph taken of Newcastle Customs House, from second floor of Great Northern Hotel at 10 minutes to 1 PM date unknown (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Wer (sic) Are We [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Wer (sic) Are We [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Two Ladies on Shore at Sunrise or Sunset  (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Two Ladies on Shore at Sunrise or Sunset (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

 

Name: Thomas James Rodoni

Born: 1872? (according to Bill vaguely) but actually born in 1882 in Victoria (sourced and confirmed by Lyn Keily via Ancestry.com)

Married: 1915 in Sydney to Catherine Annie

Occupation: Toolmaker

Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force document (Signed 28/1/15):
Certificate of Discharge of No. 534
(Rank) Private Name Rodoni T.J.
(Regiment or Corps) Aust Naval & Military Expedition
at or near the Town of [Hoth—?] Melbourne
in the State or Country of Victoria.
Attested at Sydney on the 18th August [1914] for the Australian Military Expedition Regiment or Corps at the age of 31 Years.
He is discharged in consequence of June expiring
Service towards completion of engagement 164 days
Service Abroad 164 days.
Discharge confirmed at Sydney.

New South Wales Government Railways and Tramways document dated 12th August 1915 from the Office of the Chief Commissioner Sydney states that Mr. T. J. Rodoni wrote to them on the 3rd August 1915 requesting desire to temporarily leave department to enter the Lithgow Small Arms factory to assist in manufacture of munitions for war.

Department of Defence document dated 23rd June 1916 certifies that T.J. Rodoni was employed in the Small Arms Factory Lithgow between 4th August 1915 and the 22nd June 1916 as a CUTTER GRINDER and that his conduct and character was GOOD.

A Government Dockyard, Newcastle document dated 4th March 1919 states that he was currently employed there on work connected with the engines for the Commonwealth Ships as a tradesman.

Died: 25th January 1956 (Mayfield) Killed in Waratah according to Bill while getting the newspaper he was involved in car accident, and died at the Mater a few hours later.

We welcome any further information that anyone can shed on Thomas James Rodoni and his collection of glass plate negatives.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
18th August 2014

Local Treasures: The Birdwood Flag

The Birdwood Flag in its original condition. [Courtesy of The University of Newcastle's Anglican Diocese Archives in Cultural Collections A6137(iv)]

The Birdwood Flag in its original condition. [Courtesy of The University of Newcastle’s Anglican Diocese Archives in Cultural Collections A6137(iv)]

Day Shift – 20/05/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Bronwyn Orrock and Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle introduces Bronwyn Orrock, University scholar in Fine Arts who, from 2009-2011, undertook an important research project into the archives documenting the provenance of every object, relic and example of art and artisanship held in Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle.

Until 2014, one item eluded her, The Birdwood Flag, Australia’s first National Flag, and arguably the most important national cultural relic of the First World War, whose remains lay in a cardboard box in a safe. This is the story of the flag, its creators, and its rediscovery.

Broadcast Notes:

Introduction: Re-discovering the Birdwood Flag

During 2010 I completed an Honours Thesis for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Newcastle, researching the history of the objects in Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. Many of the archives originally in an office in the damp south east corner of the Cathedral had been given by Dean Robert Beale (later Bishop) to the University for their embryo Local History collection in about 1976. I was given permission by the Cathedral Council to research those archives.

A chance finding of a little booklet referring to the Birdwood Flag started the process. After the goosebumps had settled down, realising that I was seeing important military history, I photographed the pages and put it in my folder of research material. Weeks later I came across some black and white images of an Australian flag but my non-military brain simply did not “connect the dots” (after all I was researching Fine Arts). Again I took some photo images for my research folder just in case there was any significance.

At first I believed that the booklet referred to The Gallipoli Flag in the Cathedral which had been painstakingly restored by public subscription and is kept in a glass case on the southern side of the Crossing. Several months later I was in the Cathedral photographing objects for my work and took a close look at the flag on display. I wondered what had become of the silver badges that were referred to in the booklet. Sometime later I mentioned to the former Dean Emeritus Graeme Lawrence, the material I had found about the flag and asked about the whereabouts of the badges. My confusion gave way to elation when he told me the Birdwood Flag was the one that hung over the Fallen Soldier in the St Michael Chapel until the early 1980’s and was the flag of the Commonwealth of Australia – not the Gallipoli flag which was a Union Jack.

He went on to explain that it was his task as Dean, when the flag fell (as is military custom) to “quietly and reverently” dispose of the flag (destroy). Although he did not know the history of the flag in any detail, he felt sure that the flag would one day be of great importance, simply because he knew it was an Australian flag from WWI, so he had made a decision to disobey tradition and secrete the pieces of the flag and the badges in a cardboard box in the bottom of the strongroom. That flag was replaced by a new smaller version in the 1980’s presented by the Returned Services League.

I went home and re-examined those old photographs for hours – enlarging them on Photoshop to see if I could read the badges or see the name of the flag-maker. I could suddenly see that it was hand-made and was a beautiful silk-like material, but the quality of my images and my Photoshop skills were not good enough to read it clearly.

I approached then Dean James Rigney, in great anticipation of the discovery and he told me that the strongroom contained items which I could not access. Disappointed, I kept the knowledge in my heart, hoping against hope the box had not been destroyed or thrown out in a clean-up undertaken after the retirement of Dean Lawrence. He later told me he did not believe the box was there any longer. I later told Gionni Di Gravio Head of the University Archives – I was bitterly disappointed that the flag seemed destined to be included in a section in my work cataloguing “Lost stolen or destroyed Cathedral treasures”. His advice was to hold-fast and wait, that one day there would be an opportunity to find out if the flag was really there. Three years later Dean Stephen Williams was appointed and I had a discussion with him and told him about the flag. He looked for the flag and the rest as they say, is history.

When I received the call to say the flag had been found, I cried with happiness and a wave of chills and shudders of emotion swept over me. Several years ago my husband and I visited the Somme, France for Anzac Day, as my husband’s Grandfather had died there only weeks after being relocated from Gallipoli. I shook with emotion when I realised that this Australian flag was probably the one saluted by our family member and the many other Aussie Diggers who went into those terrible killing fields and who never returned home to their wives, children and parents.

Just as in Australia, there was no grave to mourn in France, just a simple name chiseled on a limestone wall among thousands of others – all that remained to signify the existence of an” ordinary bloke” a courageous volunteer Aussie soldier at Villers Bretonneux. You see, there was no body to find and bury, no keepsakes or identity tags found to provide closure for the family, just fragments swallowed up by the mud in ‘no-mans’ land in the fields between the Windmill and Mouquet Farm in 1916.

And now…the possibilities of a National Treasure – that Australian Flag! I believe from my brief readings on World War I that this flag was possibly the only Australian flag used outside headquarters during WWI. General Birdwood had a deep respect for the Aussies under his control led by Australian hero of the Somme, Sir John Monash who pioneered new battle techniques, which led to the freeing of Villers Bretonneux and eventually turned the tide of war on the Western front.

Bronwyn Orrock
22 January 2014

Gionni’s note

It was at a meeting to discuss the care and preservation of some unrelated historic Cathedral drawings on the 12 November 2013, that both Amir Mogadam (University Conservator) and I got a chance to view the remains of the Birdwood Flag that lay in a shoebox. After a general question about the Birdwood Flag, and whether it had survived, the Cathedral’s Verger Robert Gummow took us to the safe and took out a shoebox marked “BIRDWOOD FLAG EXTREMELY FRAGILE”

The shoebox in which the remains of the Birdwood Flag had laid since the 1980s. (Photo by Gionni Di Gravio)

The shoebox in which the remains of the Birdwood Flag had laid since the 1980s. (Photo by Gionni Di Gravio)

When we opened the box our hearts sank.

The contents of the box, the crumbled remains of the Birdwood Flag (Photo: Gionni Di Gravio)

The contents of the box, the crumbled remains of the Birdwood Flag (Photo: Gionni Di Gravio)

My first impressions were very much like that of Rod Taylor’s character in the 1960 sci-fi classic The Time Machine, where the Eloi representative leads him into the archive and shows him the crumbled remains of ‘books’. What we saw appeared like the remains of the Dead Sea Scrolls, reduced to ash. How could we have allowed this to happen?

As soon as I had returned to the University I emailed Bronwyn Orrock at her last known email address, hoping to be able to tell her the news. She made contact two days later and I rang and told her the news. Her reaction was to burst into tears of joy. I again felt like I was in a Hollywood movie, this time, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Indiana was describing to his father the Tomb of Sir Richard. She also eased my mind by telling me of the tradition of the flag fall. So, now what to do? Since the original future conservation trajectory of this important Australian flag had now changed course? Our conservator set about contacting institutions who could possibly be our companions in its restoration, while the Newcastle’s Museum, Julie Baird, found a more suitable container for the Birdwood Flag’s remains.

Birdwood Flag rehoused in a proper container (Photo: Bronwyn Orrock)

Birdwood Flag rehoused in a proper container (Photo: Bronwyn Orrock)

We hope to be able to conduct a full conservation audit of the Birdwood Flag at the University of Newcastle, and hopefully identify the signature located in one of the two photographs of the original flag. This could possibly be the embroidered name of the sewer or maker of the flag.

Detail from one of the two photographs of the original Birdwood Flag showing a blurry signature of its creator (Photo: UoNCC)

Detail from one of the two photographs of the original Birdwood Flag showing a blurry signature of its creator (Photo: UoNCC)

A History of

“The Birdwood Flag”

The Australian National Flag in the Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Newcastle.

by Bronwyn Orrock

This flag is a narrative of our young nation’s history, it represents the growth of national pride, the gallantry, honour, stoicism, ingenuity and heroism of our volunteer Australian Infantry Force; the fears, hopes and aspirations of the families who loved and supported them and it also vocalises the unmentionable suffering, cruelty, horror, despair and death of the World War I.

The start of World War I in 1914 caused immediate effects on this small community so far from the front line with a decline in trade through the port of Newcastle of 50% in the first year. As well as widespread unemployment and economic ruin, the names of 20% of the 1000 strong congregation of Christ Church Cathedral were already listed on the Honour rolls.

The news from Europe continued to be grim, by end of 1916 on the Western front alone there were some 40,000 Australian casualties.

Miss Sparke, the catalyst and presenter of the Birdwood Flag was motivated by the enlistment and proudly patriot service of her two brothers, both of who were later to die as a result of injuries from the war. Somehow her herculean efforts at establishing the Field Forces Fund (NSW) raising money, making clothing, gathering gifts and soldiers comforts was not enough for her. Hearing of the horrors of war that her brothers and friends faced, she wanted to lift the spirits of the Australians so far from home. After reading about the donation of a Union Jack to the AIF she determined to send an Australian flag to be flown for the Australians and for it to be held in trust.

On the 31st August 1916 The Newcastle and Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate reports the Australian Flag is almost ready to send overseas and the subscription list will soon be closed .

“Miss Dora Sparke writes, ‘The committee of the Field Force Fund, has received permission to present an Australian Flag to General Birdwood, for the Australian Imperial Force, in appreciation of the gallantry of our troops. All workers and sympathisers are invited to contribute, and in sending donations to the honorary secretary, to endorse them “Flag”. To attain the object in view, it is felt that it would be superfluous to make any more than a simple and direct appeal. It is proposed to have the names of the donors inscribed in a scroll to be sent with the flag. It is hoped that arrangements can be made for the presentation to be made upon Christmas Day. The time and place of the unfurling to be left to the proper authority.’ “

In the Northern Times (4.11.1916) it was additionally reported:

Any contribution however small, will be accepted in order to make the gift as representative as possible. The women and children of Great Britain recently presented a Union Jack to the AIF and it is through the Field Force Fund, that the Australian flag will float beside the flag of the Empire.”

In the Northern Times 7.12.1916 it is reported that

“Miss Ruth Seale, Hon Treasurer of the “Flag Fund” acknowledges receipt of the following amounts towards the Australian flag to be presented from the NSW Field Force Fund…

and the article goes on to list donors names and amounts (16) plus it mentions the silver plaque of presentation donated by Dora’s mother, Mrs Clara Sparke.

The Sydney Morning Herald (5.10.1917) reports:

“Attached to the standard was a silver plate of presentation donated by her mother”

Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate (5.12.1917) provides coverage of the AGM of the Field Force Fund and quotes Miss Dora Sparke at the end of giving her Annual Report:

“… read a letter stating that the flag had been presented to General Birdwood on September 12 on the field in France, and that the general had suggested that a silver shield should be attached to the flagpole upon which could be inscribed the famous battles of Australian troops. The committee, said the society’s organiser, had decided to adopt General Birdwood’s suggestion, and subscriptions would be specially invited for the purpose.”

Sydney Morning Herald (5.10.1917) said:

Miss Dora Sparke has received the following cable message from Mr Woodburn, Commissioner for the A.C.F abroad. “Have pleasure advising presentation flag General Birdwood in the field on 12th September. Many members present. General greatly appreciated gift, suggests silver plate engravings, showing names famous Australian battles be placed on pole. Shall we arrange have this done your behalf? Forwarding reports first mail”

The flag, which was subscribed to and presented from the women workers and honorary members of the NSW Field Force Fund, was accompanied by the following address to General Birdwood:

We ask you to kindly hold in trust for the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force the flag which will be handed to you by the Commissioner for the Australian Comforts fund, [who] is forwarding the flag on behalf of the NSW Field Forces Fund. We know that it will be zealously guarded by you until such time as the victory of the Allies gives you the opportunity to hand it over to the force which you have commanded with so much distinction.”

The flag was presented to General Birdwood at his headquarters in the field by the Australian Comforts Fund Commissioner. General Birdwood suggested that additional silver shields be added to the flagpole under the one (donated by Mrs William Sharpe) to commemorate all the famous battles in which Australian troops had participated. The letter of the Commissioner who presented the flag, referred to the:

“great operations in progress, and we could not ask for more time for a leisurely and elaborate ceremony. No guard was available; and we were extremely unfortunate in missing the official photographer, but it was a happy little event and unique in so far as Australians are concerned in France. A grass plot in front of the General’s hut, a few square yards in extent held us, whilst the light misty rain drove across the fields before us. The General with his trusted staff around him – signs of war on every side- the never ceasing roll of guns and traffic- and there you have the scene! To us it was a particularly happy thought that you should send this flag. We who have worked in the field know that no-one takes a greater interest in the welfare of the Australian troops than General Birdwood; and we regard the flag as an emblem of affinity between him and you dear folk at home, whose devotion has meant so much to the boys who are fighting the good fight, for those who may not serve:”

This letter was signed by Chief Commissioner of the War Chest Fund, Mr T. S. Woodburn on behalf of the Australian Comforts Fund.

The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (7.1.1918) & (26.7.1918)

The brief history of flag is given, followed by:

“ a letter dated London May 15, to Miss Sparke, from Colonel Woodburn concerning the making and presentation of the silver shields to General Birdwood in France. A letter from General Birdwood to Woodburn advised, “they have now been fixed to the pole bearing this flag, which you handed over to us some few months ago, and they do indeed look nice and add to the value of the gift.” Woodburn goes on to comment “These shields were engraved in three separate pieces recording the years 1915,1916 and 1917 and presented quite a handsome appearance. There will still be another year or part at least of actions of the A.I.F to be recorded, and we take this opportunity of asking that we may be allowed to complete the record on the flag of another year, by the addition of another shield at year end on your behalf.” The letter goes on to applaud the work of the NSW War Chest Fund and Woodburn talks at length of the heroism and homesickness of the troops, but their determination to compete their task….

It was in this atmosphere of staunch support for those who served, but gloom and malaise in the wider economy of the city, then Dean of Newcastle, Dr Horace Crotty determined early in the war to have a memorial erected in Christ Church Cathedral – perhaps an altar reredos. As the war years dragged interminably on, the widespread suffering and grief in the Newcastle region was a burden shared by the Dean and his colleagues who ministered to those left behind. Many families felt quite unable to say their farewells because they had no body to bury, no ritual, no ceremony that gave them the dignity of saying goodbye in a manner befitting the courage of these volunteers….and to assist in the healing of those left.

Some felt guilt that they were still alive while brothers and mates perished. It is a fact that no remains of any Australian servicemen killed in action in World War I were never repatriated, save the bones of a single soldier, which were placed in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra – in the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The signing of the Armistice on 11.11.1918 saw widespread rejoicing, but the enormous human impact and emotional malaise hung over the city like a cloud. Those who could, resumed their lives, and slowly talk turned to providing a place where families could come to grieve their lost sons, brothers and husbands. For former servicemen, a place to go to quietly to remember their mates that they left behind in the killing fields of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Many of these ‘walking wounded’ men were amputees, suffered bullet or shrapnel wounds or had post-operative infections, burns or mustard gas poisoning (even worse – this was before there were antibiotics and other life preserving drugs). Most suffered the continuing nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In this era of Victorian/Edwardian sensibilities and very civilised, polite society, the primitive indignity and gravitas of the war, which included chemical warfare and many new technologies was difficult for people to grasp, as news about the war to those at home had been ‘sanitised.’

Even if there had been money to undertake the long arduous journey by boat to Europe, (in those days a luxury for only the very wealthy) so many Australian service personnel had been buried hastily in unmarked graves on the battlefield, or disappeared without trace in the merciless bombardments, there was no identifiable final resting place of the loved one for families or friends to visit.

It has taken many years for us to understand the full horror of what those troops stoically suffered and how the families lived with anguish often for decades afterward. Mrs Clara Sparke is an example – she died less than two years after her youngest son at a relatively young age, and there is no doubt the boys’ fate impacted on her health substantially and affected the family severely.

Eventually the BHP Steelworks re-opened in 1922 and new industries sprang up to provide services; once more employment grew and hope emerged. During those years we also had a World Wide flue pandemic which killed scores of people in the region.

There was no official War Memorial in Newcastle when Dr Crotty launched an appeal calling on the community to build a special War Memorial Chapel to commemorate those who served their country. Immediately his call was answered by Hudson Berkeley, then owner of the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate and a long time Cathedral parishioner and benefactor who said ‘he would find the money’ – and he did 9,000 pounds, but unfortunately he died before construction was completed. Other prominent families, such as Commander Gardiner, the Wood family and the Parnell family also gave generous donations. Dr Crotty said:

“We now appeal to the city to respond to the splendid lead already given [by several parishioners] by providing furnishings in keeping with the beautiful fabric provided. The interior can be as beautiful as we make it.”

Fundraising events were held, flowers sold, fairs arranged and the seamstresses and farm labourers, domestic workers and shop assistants, coal miners, steelworkers, teachers, nurses and housewives dug deep and gave their pennies and farthings to see this chapel constructed. The biblical parallel to the parable of the Widow’s two coins, cannot be more clearly demonstrated than in this fine building. So some 17 years before the War Memorial was established in Canberra, this Chapel was built in the Hunter by public subscription to hold relics of significance and to provide a place to mourn and hopefully find some peace. It was in this spirit that Miss Sparke determined that the Cathedral would be the flag’s final home.

The Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners Advocate on 8.4.1920 reports:

………..”The cable was received by Miss Sparke advising that General Birdwood would shortly be leaving London for Australia and he wished to have Miss Sparke express her wish for the disposal of the flag. Miss Sparke sent a cable expressing that the flag should be returned to this city. The wish was respected and a cable was returned saying the flag had been sent to the War Records Office Melbourne (by then absorbed into the War Museum Commission). The flag was forwarded to Newcastle this week and Mr W Sparke has taken possession of it pending the return of Miss Dora Sparke from Tasmania.

[note: Dora was in Tasmania following the announcement of her engagement to Mr Dudley Ransome a former RAF pilot from a wealthy grazing family – but the marriage never occurs ]

When General Birdwood visited Newcastle on 28.4.1920 in his six month tour of Australia after World War I, he did a ceremonial ‘handing back’ of the flag at a Civic Reception in the City. Miss Sparke said:

“ we received the flag reverently as a memento of a glorious cause, and we would do all in our power to see that it was placed where no other enemy but Time could destroy it”

Newcastle Morning Herald 26.5.1922 reports on the previous Evensong Anzac Service at Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle giving account of the presentation of the Birdwood Flag” by Miss Dora Sparke to Dean Horace Crotty. In receiving the flag on behalf of the Chapter the Dean said:

“he would place it during the service on the Altar and it would afterwards find a permanent resting place on the walls of the cathedral, where it would speak for all time to the citizens of Newcastle of the glorious deeds of the men of the Australian Imperial Force. ”

[The words of the service were deeply moving and inspirational I recommend the full report is read]

It hung for many years over the magnificent bronze sculpture of Alfred Forster, representing all servicemen, When it ‘fell’ in the early 1980’s the pieces were recovered and quietly placed in a box in storage by Dean Graeme Lawrence and it is those tiny fragments of our collective national memory we hold so dear today.

In the aftermath of the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake, and the immense damage to the Cathedral, (which entailed an eight year rebuilding process) the flag’s very existence was forgotten until 2010. A chance discovery of the photographs of the flag were noticed in the University archives while other research was being undertaken, and the process tentatively began, to try and locate all the remains of the flag and re-discover all the history.

This is an unfinished story which will be added to as more information comes to hand.

Bronwyn Orrock 25.4.2014.

The silver plate engravings upon which were inscribed all the major Australian battles. (Image Courtesy of The University of Newcastle's Cultural Collections)

The silver plate engravings upon which were inscribed all the major Australian battles. Note the blurry signature on the left hand side. (Image Courtesy of The University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections)

 

Who was Miss Dora Sparke?

Dora comes from a pioneer family of the Hunter. Her great great Grandfather was Edward Sparke Sr., who came as free settler from Devon in 1824 with wife Mary, five sons and servants, to take up a land grant along the Hunter River. The family had a long tradition of civic service and one of Edward Sr.’s nephews was the first Mayor of Sydney. Edward Sr.,  and each of his five sons received primary land grants in the Hunter Valley. These included “Woodlands”, “Webland Park” and “Woodbury”, the last two those of the family’s fourth son, William and his wife Mary Ann. William and Mary Ann were Dora’s great Grandparents.

Dora’s grandfather was William Andrew Sparke, born at “Webland Park” in 1832, second son of William and Mary Ann, and one time Mayor of Newcastle. W.A. Sparke and his wife Elizabeth Tighe (daughter of early Newcastle figure, Robert Tighe) were married on 23 June 1857. Their eldest son was William Sparke, born in 1858. He married Clara Harrison Smith in 1884, and had four children, the second of which was Dora, who was born in 1890.

William Sparke (1858-1948) was educated at Newcastle Grammar School, he was articled to George Wallace (at the time the Mayor of Newcastle). He was admitted to the Bar on the nomination of Sir Edmund Barton KC on 2.9.1882. He returned to Newcastle and founded his firm which over time became Sparke Millard and later Sparke Helmore Solicitors. He worked until 2 days before his death at age 90.

Miss Dora L. Sparke. President, Victoria League Newcastle. 1931-1948

Miss Dora L. Sparke. President, Victoria League Newcastle. 1931-1948

Miss Dora L. Sparke. President, Victoria League Newcastle. 1931-1948

28.7.1884, William married Clara Harrison Smith of Hobart, third daughter of (former) Captain Smith of the 99th Regiment – mother’s name not indicated.

Dora has one older sister Leila Muriel (1885-1968) and two brothers, both who joined the military and died as a result of War Service in World War I. There are no direct descendants of the four Sparke children.

Lt. Edward Rasleigh Sparke (1895-1919) younger brother of Leila and Dora was a volunteer in the first AIF and landed at Gallipoli in 1914. He fought in the battle of Lone Pine and continued on the Gallipoli Peninsula, eventually suffering a bullet wound to the foot. He returned to active service and he spent his 20th birthday in a dugout on the Gallipoli Peninsula. He was given a commission to Lieutenant and in April 1916 transferred to France where he had his 21st birthday. He was seriously gassed at the Battle of the Somme and never returned home to Newcastle. He was repatriated as an invalid to the Randwick Military Hospital, Sydney. He died of the complications of his gassing six months after the Armistice and was given a full military funeral on 24.6.1919 at Waverley Cemetery, Sydney.

Lt Alan Everard Sparke (1900-1927) wanted to “do his bit” for the war effort and being too young to enlist where his family was well known, he ran away from home aged 15 at the commencement of World War I. He traveled by ship to the UK dressed in Khaki, and arrived penniless. As a 6ft tall young man and an excellent horse rider, he was able to convince the authorities that he was in fact older than he was, and, enlisted in the City of London Yeomanry. After six months he transferred to the Royal Field Artillery serving in Palestine and Egypt. He gained a commission to second Lieutenant by 16, and later, a first Lieutenant. While on service in Salonika he contracted malarial fever and was evacuated to London where he recovered. He then joined the regular army where he was given a position as a military trainer at Aldershot. He was transferred to France to the Royal Horse Artillery and served with distinction until the Armistice was signed, (promoted to the rank of Captain at 18 in France) . After the war he went on a British Expeditionary Force (fighting the northern Russian Bolsheviks) traveling through Ukraine and 200 miles up River Dnieper. He served at Murmansk near St Petersburg and Arkhangelsk (Archangel) until the force was ordered back to the UK.

It was here in 1919 that he was informed of his brother’s grave illness and death in Sydney, so he took leave and returned home to family. Interviewed about the war in Russia on his return to Australia in 1920 he described scenes we would understand all too clearly today. In that interview he stated his ‘taking leave’ from his career and his intention to return to his life in the military in the UK after spending time with his family. Unfortunately Alan died at age 27 in the family home at Waratah. The initial media reports and the burial ceremony with no church service or military honours suggest suicide. A later Coronial inquest gives a finding of accidental death by gassing. A devastating tragic loss of an unsung true Hunter hero.

(Note: In those times suicide was considered a “sin” and not seen as the result of mental illness. Soldiers quietly bore the horror of their years of war and often told no-one not even close family members of their terrible experiences. Today we may understand this condition as probable post-traumatic stress disorder and the difficulty of re-adjusting to civilian life. He did not receive the hero’s burial one would expect of a gallant volunteer and later career soldier and adventurer.)

On this point we received this comment from Louise Gale, Sparke Family historian and (distant) cousin of Dora Sparke, by Email 13 July 2017:
“The suggestion that Alan committed suicide draws heavily on there being no church service at his funeral or military recognition. The burial took place long before the inquest findings, and indeed it may have been thought at the time that he had committed suicide, hence the low-key funeral arrangements, but the finding of the inquest (weeks later) was unequivocal that his death was accidental. Here is a link to the inquest report as reported in The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate:
To say that both of Dora’s brothers died as a result of WWI service is perhaps an unwarranted statement to make about Alan’s death as late as 1927. It suggests he committed suicide as a result of war-related post-traumatic stress, and places more emphasis on what people may have thought initially (suicide), without taking into account the evidence presented at the inquest and the very definite outcome.
Regards, Louise”

 

Dora Lempriere Sparke was born on 1.12.1888. A bright child, she is named as Dux of Dominican Convent School. (Presumed her primary school). Dora is Dux of the Graduating year of Newcastle Girls’ Grammar School Waratah. Principal Ms Brownlie MA read the Annual Report to the School Prize Giving function, where it was reported Dora Sparke had successfully matriculated (gained University Entrance) the previous March at specific examinations held at East Maitland (although we have not found a record of her attending University in Australia). In 1920 Dora became engaged to Lt Dudley Ransome formerly of the Royal Flying Corps and from a Tasmanian grazing family but the marriage did not eventuate.

In a 1915 SMH article, largely about the Red Cross activities it describes the beginning of the Field Force Fund and Ms Dora Spark and committee – The Red Cross acted as a shield group which took donations from many sources for distribution O/S. The article applauds the work of the Field Force Fund as a group of young ladies who met initially to make items as Christmas presents for despatch to troops in the battlefields. It grew quickly over weeks, to a large sewing circle, then to a second group at Mayfield. It started social activities and street stalls, flower sales and card parties as fundraising events and oversaw collection depots at major retail stores in the Hunter. Schools played a large part in providing goods made by students and fundraising in smaller communities. Dora travelled to many parts of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter (10 branches in the area around Scone/Muswellbrook alone) and to northern and mid-western NSW, starting new branches. The Field Forces Fund, which started in such a small way inspired many others. It was later invited to merge into the NSW War Chest Fund, and was renamed the Newcastle and Hunter War Chest Fund, stretching from Murrundi to Morisset with Dora Sparke appointed the Honorary District Organiser and Superintendent.

Miss Sparke was a published writer and correspondent with articles still available on the digitised newspaper service on “Trove” (National Library of Australia). She was an inaugural member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. A foundation member of the League of Nations Society and the Victoria League (A Commonwealth of Nations Friendship Society), she was for 17 years its President covered a period spanning World War II. This again saw her again undertake a huge volunteer public duty, fundraising and setting up industry to provide spun wool for knitting clothing, meals and services to allied military personnel (many of whom came to Newcastle at various stages of the war), arranged homestay and billets, raised cigarette funds for the troops, raised money to build mobile canteens to service air raid victims in the UK, sent clothing to victims of the London blitzes, supported the volunteer firefighters in the UK cities and after the war, worked with overseas born wives of Australian servicemen coming from around the world to live in the Hunter.

 

Planning War Work
PLANNING WAR WORK. (1939, September 14). Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) , p. 3. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133742280

Spark family Home 1902 (Ralph Snowball Image Courtesy of Norm Barney Photographic Collection, University of Newcastle)

Sparke family Home 1901 (Ralph Snowball Image Courtesy of Norm Barney Photographic Collection, University of Newcastle)

The above 1901 image by Ralph Snowball (University of Newcastle Cultural Collections) also captures the only image we can locate of Dora Sparke. The family members are believed to be (from right to left) Edward Rasleigh Sparke (1895-1919) on the rocking horse, Dora Lempriere Sparke (1888-1957) holding the hand of her mother, Mrs Clara Sparke (died 1929). Leila Muriel Sparke (1885-1968) is on the verandah and holds baby Alan Everard Sparke 1900-1927. The last person, also shown in several other Snowball images with Clara and the baby, is believed to be the children’s paternal grandmother Mrs William Sparke (Elizabeth Tighe, daughter of Robert Tighe) This image shows the relatively newly completed Knoyle, later images show landscaping and fencing completed. See the larger detailed image here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/3722295271/sizes/o/ 

 

Dora Lempriere Sparke (1888-1957) resigned per position from the Victoria League due to ill health in 1949 and is honoured as a life member of the Victoria League for her tireless work.

On her death she bequeathed the family home ‘Knoyle’ at Waratah to St Phillip’s Anglican Church. It became a Men’s Home and later became the first campus of St Phillip’s Christian School. It is still their administrative headquarters.

She is interred in the family grave at Sandgate with her mother father and two of her three siblings (Alan& Leila) while her brother Edward is interred in the Waverley Cemetery.

Mayoress Entertains

Mayoress Entertains

MAYORESS ENTERTAINS. (1944, July 20). Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) , p. 4. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134251144 

Opening of Victoria League Club

Opening of Victoria League Club

OPENING OF VICTORIA LEAGUE CLUB. (1947, March 6). Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) , p. 8. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article132858345

The Warriors’ Chapel

Cover of The Warriors' Chapel Booklet

Cover of The Warriors’ Chapel Booklet

This official War Memorial Chapel, the St Michael Chapel predates the National War Memorial in Canberra by 17 years and while the tiny 46 x 18 ft space with a ceiling of 40ft is not the largest official war memorial, it can certainly lay claim to be the most exquisitely beautiful and impressive War Memorial in Australia. It is the Australian “Mother Church’ of the Toc H movement. The Chapel:

  • Is a celebration of Australian materials – it employed the best craftspeople and artisans from Melbourne and Sydney.
  • The whole of the chapel is lined with Sydney Sandstone and clad on the outside with the same pressed and double baked bricks as the rest of the Cathedral. The external roof was originally Muntz Metal which is a copper/zinc/iron alloy – a salt resistant material but this too was eventually affected by the salt air and had to be replaced in the 1970’s.
  • The only timber in the Chapel is the ceiling of Australian red cedar timber with carved timber angels and corbels. These originally supported Italian translucent marble lights, which unfortunately were replaced in the 1950’s due to their blackening caused by the heat of the incandescent globes.
  • There are arcaded recesses around the walls and the eastern end of the chapel is ‘apsed’ with pink marble reredos encasing the magnificent bas-relief George Tinworth panels. We are one of only four places in Australia who have examples of his bas-relief art – the other is Old Parliament House Canberra, the Sydney Powerhouse Museum, National Gallery of Victoria and Queensland Art Gallery. We understand we may be the only place in the world outside York Minster who can boast a complete Tinworth altar reredos still intact.
  • Anthony Horden and sons supplied the Altar and the marble steps
  • The floors are Australian marble and the steps leading to the pink marble altar represent the significance of Christian life expressed in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The first step is white- Inferno – the mirror of penitence, the second Purgatorio – the Black step is the gloom of contrition, the red step Paradisio in Canto IX, represents the favour of the new moral world we pass into under the guiding hand of God.
  • Around the walls of the chapel below the highly placed 13 stained glass leadlight windows by Kempe and Co of London, is a stringer course of stone exquisitely carved with foliage and the inscription with the verse of Laurence Binyan, we have all learn’t as children:They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them nor the years condemn , at the going down of the sun and in the morning we shall remember them. These last four words appear above the altar.
  • A perpetual red light of remembrance hangs from the top of the Sanctuary above this shrine. Above this is a bronze of the crucifixion – the Christus being crowned with an Imperial Crown as the King of Sacrifice.
  • Carved in the solid stone is the following inscription:

    “Hallowed in the name of Christ, be the memory of the Brave Men and Women who died in the great war for the Freedom of the World. They shall yet stand before the Throne an exceeding great army, and in that last muster, There shall be found, These our own well beloved”.

  • The western wall of the chapel has three gothic recessed archways and the centre one has the Australian “Rising Sun” insignia worn by our Army. The left archway has the Navy insignia and the right hand archway has the Air Force insignia. This is where the Birdwood flag hung from 1924 until the 1980’s when it fell to the ground.
  • On this wall is also a glazed case containing an original timber cross marking the grave of an unknown soldier in France and presented by the (then) Prince of Wales – later King Edward VIII. This is held in safekeeping for Toc H, a worldwide peace movement of former troops emanating from WWI (if you haven’t heard of them there is an interesting website available.)
  • In front of this wall lies a bronze sculpture by Sir Cecil Thomas of Kensington London, of the Fallen Warrior – his friend Alfred Forster the younger son of Lord & Lady Forster, Governor General of Australia. Alfred was injured in 1918 serving in the Scots Greys, Cecil Thomas was wounded at the same time and lay beside his friend in hospital; Alfred died of his injuries the next year. Cecil recovered and went on to study art after the War ended. He set about casting his friend’s image in bronze and in 1924 his sculpture was installed at St Hallows in London (it was highly commended by the Royal Academy). Lord and Lady Forster presented a second casting to Toc H (a World War I peace movement) to be laid at its Australian mother Church. Interesting to note that although he was Governor General of Australia, sadly both of Lord Forster’s sons served and were killed in WWI – reflecting the Australian experience where many families grieved multiple family deaths.
  • It was Lord Forster’s specific wish that the effigy be no longer a sole personal memorial to Alfred and so it bears no name or badge – it is to represent all who died. The only inscription is from the famous words of Laurence Binvon’s poem:


    “They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them or the years condemn.”

  • In this wall is a piece of stone carved in the shape of a Canterbury cross sent by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral UK.
  • Later, a rushlight used by prisoners of war of the Imperial Japanese Forces at Changi in World War II, was presented to Toc H and also resides on the wall.

Note also the magnificent gold pieces by William Marks of Gardenvale Victoria who worked in the UK during the time of the Arts and Crafts movement and was a world renowned art enameller & goldsmith.

The women of the Diocese who had lost a husband, fiancé or son in the War donated their jewellery and this was melted down and used by William Marks to make the 18 carat “Book of Gold” (once left in the Chapel but now stored behind protective glass). The case is of chased gold and is encrusted with gemstones from the jewellery. In hand-wrought calligraphy and rich mediaeval styled illumination by local artist Mrs. EJ Dann, the names of all those lost in World War I from the Newcastle Diocese are listed on a parish by parish basis. A second book contains the names of all the 20,000 local Australians who died in active service with their rank mustering and place of death in this “war to end all wars.”

William Marks was also commissioned to make an alms dish, chalice, paten, wall cross and altar cross and candlesticks with matching vases. These irreplaceable and exquisite pieces of the goldsmith’s art are as beautiful and perfect underneath as they are on the visible surfaces.

Bronwyn Orrock

25.4.2014

The Birdwood Flag represents one of the important cultural treasures of Australia. With the help of one of our cherished volunteers, Miss Octavia Anderson, we have digitised the entire Anglican Diocese of Newcastle file relating to the Warriors Chapel and Birdwood Flag 1924-1979.

A6137(iv)- Christ Church Cathedral – Warriors Chapel-File (30 MB PDF)

Regards,

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
May 2014

 

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: Plan of Morpeth 22nd June 1849

Morpeth, June 22nd 1849. (Elkin Papers, A6022(iv) University of Newcastle's Cultural Collections)

Morpeth, June 22nd 1849. (Elkin Papers, A6022(iv) University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections)

Day Shift – 19/11/2013 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle discusses a mysterious rare plan of the Township of Morpeth drawn on June 22nd 1849 held in the papers of the late Emeritus Professor A.P. Elkin C.M.G., M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt. We know next to nothing about its author or the circumstances regarding it creation.

Broadcast Notes:

Within the papers of the late Emeritus Professor A.P. Elkin lies an early plan of the township of Morpeth. It is clearly dated 22nd June 1849, but bears no markings of authorship. The plan measures approx. 36cm x 27.5cm, marked in pencil and ink, with a light watercolour wash.  The construction materials of the extant buildings are identified as Red for brick, Yellow for stone, and Green for wood. At the bottom right hand side is an embossed seal “DE LA RUE & Co BRISTOL BOARD” which indicates that the paper stock came from London based stationer founded by Thomas De La Rue, which appears to have been advertised as available in Australia (according to TROVE) since at least 1846. There is no indication of an author.

Stamp located on bottom right hand side of Morpeth Plan.

Stamp located on bottom right hand side of Morpeth Plan.

The overlay below provides a rough idea of the boundaries of the plan. It is very difficult to line up the line of the river against where is runs today. We can see the original course of the river has changed, and sections are now with dried up billabongs and hardly discernible today.

Morpeth 1849 superimposed on Google Earth 2013 Landscape (Thanks Russell Rigby)

Morpeth 1849 superimposed on Google Earth 2013 Landscape (Thanks Russell Rigby)

In his book Morpeth and I (1937, facs. reprint 1979), A.P. Elkin quotes from the surveyor W.H. Wells, who published a description of Morpeth in A Geographical Dictionary or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies on the 1 January 1848. Wells says:

Morpeth. A town in N.S.W., in the county of Northumberland, and parish of Maitland, originally called the Green hills: it is situated at the head of the navigable part of the Hunter River, 20 miles by water from Newcastle; it at present contains about 635 inhabitants, viz. : 334 males and 301 females, an Episcopalian church and parsonage, a Wesleyan chapel, a ladies’ school, and two day schools; fine inns, one steam flour mill, a soap and candle manufactory, five large stores, some excellent shops, 37 stone and brick buildings, and about 117 wooden buildings; steamers constantly ply between this place and Sydney; coal promises to be abundant at a very short distance from this river. The land is the property of E.C. Close, Esq. , who has from time to time disposed of portions of it on building leases. The extensive wharf of the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company is here, and throughout the greater part of the year there is a daily communication to and from the metropolis by the steam vessels of the Company; a considerable number of sailing vessels also trade between this place and Sydney. There is a pretty church erected dedicated to St James. A coal mine is in actual operation under the direction of Mr Close, jun. , also the extensive steam flour mill of Mr John Portus. About two acres on the bank of the river are used as a Government wharf; an officer of the Custom house from Newcastle is stationed here.

Wells mentions the type of buildings in some detail, which leads us to conjecture whether he either had some knowledge relating to the plan following the publishing of the article.

The township of Morpeth is inextricably linked with its original colonial settler, Edward Charles Close, who was born in Bengal, India, in 1790. He arrived in the area, then known as “Green Hills” in 1821, and was set to work as Engineer Of Public Works  at Newcastle, constructing a fort with seven guns on the site of present day Fort Scratchley, (recorded by Henry Dangar in his 1822 survey as “Fort Thomson”).  He also constructed a pagoda house for the signalman, upon which was erected a signal fire, which consumed around a ton of coal per night. (Ref: NMH 30 Dec 1927 p.4) This was the precursor to the Nobbys Lighthouse.

The land that he settled on was called “Illulaung” (also spelt “Illulung”, “Illalung”) and was an Aboriginal name denoting the whole area south of the river including the East Maitland hills (Elkin, Morpeth and I, 44). Close built his house Closebourne, which he later sold to Bishop Tyrrell in 1848. He then built another house very close by, which he called “Morpeth House”.

The first mention of the name “Morpeth” in both the New South Wales Government Gazette, and the Sydney Herald that we managed to check appears in 1833 . The “Morpeth” that appears in use in the 1820s actually denotes the site of the proposed township of Maitland, or Wallis Plains.

Thanks to Andy Carr, Librarian for Professional Researchers, Access and Information at the State Library of NSW, who drew our attention to an 1834 survey of Morpeth located online here: http://library.sl.nsw.gov.au/record=b1512633

The actual plan is here: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/ItemViewer.aspx?itemid=975159&suppress=N&imgindex=1

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung, 1834 (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung, 1834 (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung (1834) Overlay 2013 (Thanks Russell Rigby)

Town of Morpeth formerly called Illulaung (1834) Overlay 2013 (Thanks Russell Rigby)

The State Library of NSW also hold two further digitised plans of relevance. The first is a drawing (supposedly) drawn by Edward Charles Close circa 1840 showing  the property as well as the landholdings in the Morpeth district. Permanent Link to the record is here: http://library.sl.nsw.gov.au/record=b2952674~S2 The digital image is here: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?itemID=865428&ACMSID=0

Edward Charles Close (?) Drawing circa 1840 showing  the property as well as the landholdings in the Morpeth district (Courtesy State Library of NSW)

Edward Charles Close (?) Drawing circa 1840 showing the property as well as the landholdings in the Morpeth district (Courtesy State Library of NSW)

The other is a “Plan of fourteen building allotments in the Town of Morpeth, Hunter’s River: for sale on the 19th January 1841 by Hunter’s River Auction Company” Permanent link to the record is here: http://library.sl.nsw.gov.au/record=b2432011~S2

The digital image is here: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?itemID=861826&acmsid=0

Plan of fourteen building allotments in the Town of Morpeth, Hunter's River: 19th January 1841(Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Plan of fourteen building allotments in the Town of Morpeth, Hunter’s River: 19th January 1841(Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

We don’t know who drafted our plan, but it may have had something to do with the clergyman who administered St James Church.  The plan is located with a number of Diocesan documents that had been presumably provided to Elkin for his work on the Diocescan history. The man in charge of the parish was the Reverend Josiah Rodwell, who was made Minister of Butterwick, Seaham and Morpeth on the 16th December 1848, and was raised to the priesthood on June 3 1849. (Elkin, Morpeth and I, 99), and served from 1848-1851. The date of the plan as June 22nd 1849 might be significant as a preliminary work towards a census of the parish.

For a view of Morpeth in 1865 from the Illustrated Sydney News see the article on the University’s Coal River Working Party site here: http://coalriver.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/the-town-of-morpeth-in-1865/

Gionni Di Gravio
Archivist, UoN