Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blanche is 110 and going strong

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Blanche Coward says there is no secret to a long life.
The resident of Calvary’s Mt Carmel aged care hostel at Maitland will turn 110 on Saturday – but she doesn’t know what the fuss is about.
She said there was no magic formula to celebrating 110 birthdays.
The family settled in Pymble, on Sydney’s north shore. Ms Coward worked as a salesgirl and married Charles Coward, who served as a stretcher bearer in World War II.
He died at 51, when Ms Coward was a week off her 45th birthday. They did not have children.
She remained living in Sydney, but her grand-nephew wanted her to move closer to the family in Maitland. That’s how she came to move into Calvary’s Mt Carmel aged care hostel, at the age of 99.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 16 Dec, 2011.

Six decades of care come to end for pharmicist

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Terry Bailey was merely a fresh-faced teen when he embarked on a career that would span almost six decades.
Aged 17, Mr Bailey started life as a fledgling pharmacist under the watchful eye of Morpeth’s Keith Drinkwater.
But now 58 years, and a few Maitland postings, later Mr Bailey has decided to call it a day.
“I’m well passed my used-by date,” Mr Bailey, 75, said. “I started in 1953 so I think I deserve a break. It’s going to be hard to leave but I’ve realised that maybe it’s time to go.”
Mr Bailey will retire from his role as Greta pharmacist on Saturday after 25 years working in the town’s main street.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 16 Dec, 2011.

2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards Winners

Congratulations to Jill Madew of Snowy Scheme Museum Adaminaby for winning one of the 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards.

The 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards recognise the outstanding work of individuals and groups in preserving and promoting heritage throughout our community. Now in its tenth year, these awards recognise the exceptional contribution to heritage conservation and management made by our communities unsung heritage heroes. Jill Madew is an outstanding example of perseverance, great leadership and ingenuity. In 2002 a group of Adaminaby residents, under Jill's leadership, formed a fundraising committee and raised $40,000 to purchase heavy machinery previously used in the construction of the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme in NSW. The money raised by the committee enabled the purchase of eight of the ten items earmarked as most historically important.

New Director Announced for the Australian National Maritime Museum

Kevin Sumption has been appointed as the new director of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Mr Sumption holds a Master of Arts in museum studies and has held senior positions at the Powerhouse Museum and Australian National Maritime Museum. He has more than 10 years experience at senior executive level in both Australia and the United Kingdom.

Councillor honoured at Walka Water Works

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Walka Water Works was wild country overgrown with weeds when Cr Ray Fairweather embarked on an ambitious project to transform it into one of the city’s best-loved recreation areas.The historic site captured Cr Fairweather’s attention in “about 1982 or 1983”, in a report by a council planner about future urban development in Oakhampton and Aberglasslyn.

Full report by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 14 Dec, 2011.

Royal Australian Historical Society December journal

RAHS Journal, Vol. 97, Part 2, December 2011 - includes articles:
  • Obituary: Dr Ruth Meredith Frappell.
  • Reading in colonial Australia.
  • 'Necessary and urgent'. The politics of Northern Australia, 1945-1975.
  • 'No common corrobery': the Robert Burns Festivals and identity politics in Melbourne, 1845-59.
  • Richard Dawson: colonial ironmaster, engineer, merchant and agent of technology transfer.
  • The origins of a white Australia: the coolie question, 1837-43.
  • Theatre, amphitheatre and circus in Sydney, 1833-60. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Australian military history and research

The Gould Genealogy and History website has listed 51 links for Australian military history and research.  13 December 2011.
The links relate to Boer War, World War I, and World War II, and have been divided in several categories, including one for sites you’ll find on Facebook. As Facebookers we know that Facebook can be much more that just updates from family and friends. It has become an important modern day source of information. And with the numerous sites around just related to Australian military history (and that’s without noting all the individual battalion sites), its just as useful and educational as other forms of media these days.

Maitland’s twin historic Church Street gems

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland’s twin historic Church Street gems could face closure if the National Trust of Australia does not secure adequate recurrent funding to maintain and promote the properties.
Grossmann and Brough houses are two of more than 30 National Trust properties in danger of closing to the public if state government funding is not forthcoming. “While there are no immediate plans to close any specific trust properties, as a not-for-profit community-based organisation, we are seeking recurrent government funding to continue to maintain and promote properties like Grossmann and Brough houses,” National Trust of Australia (NSW) director of trust properties Gerry Hayes said.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 13 Dec, 2011.

National Archives of Australia

Do we have a photo of your Anzac digger?   The National Archives has recently added several hundred digital images of Australian World War I servicemen to its Mapping our Anzacs website. We recently received these images from the Department of Veterans' Affairs after they were identified among the 16,000 World War I images held in the Bonds of Sacrifice collection of the Imperial War Museum, London.  

Were you photographed as an immigrant?Do you know a post-World War II immigrant who was snapped by a government photographer before leaving their home country or when arriving in Australia. The National Archives is developing a new website showcasing 26,000 immigration photographs which will encourage former migrants and their families to identify people and add their memories. But we need a few to start it off. If you or someone in your family had a photograph taken by a government photographer, please let us know.

$150,000 first step to reclaim gasworks site

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The former East Maitland Gasworks site that has been off limits for decades will soon be forced to divulge its secrets.
A call has gone out for a consultant to go beyond the padlocks and the overgrowth to investigate what contaminants – and in what quantities – remain on the site on the corner of Melbourne and Brisbane streets.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 12 Dec, 2011.

Round one: restoration

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Original construction of the Darcy family vault is slowly being revealed during stage one of the grave’s major restoration program.
The Darcy family vault is the final resting place of Les Darcy, one of Australia’s greatest professional boxers.
Known as The Maitland Wonder, he won 46 of his 50 boxing bouts, including 29 knockouts, but was never knocked out himself.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 09 Dec, 2011.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Expert to preserve our city’s heritage

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Preserving and promoting the city’s heritage will be at the forefront of the revitalisation and redevelopment of central Maitland.
Maitland City Council has engaged Melbourne-based consultant Sue Hodges to develop a Central Maitland Interpretation Plan.
This is designed to ensure the historical value of the city centre is not lost in the changing face of the CBD – including the return of traffic to the mall.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 06 Dec, 2011.

Stepping back in time to uncover link to river

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Underneath the thick, dead lantana and piles of dirt, 14-year-old Nattina Phelps knew a piece of Greta’s history lay waiting to be uncovered.
The year 9 student and a small team of helpers have uncovered hundreds of sandstone steps thought to be built by convicts at the Hunter River Reserve in Greta.
Nattina said she thought convicts may have built the stairs to collect goods from boats that stopped on the river.
But Convict Trail Project executive director Elizabeth Roberts, who has been compiling the history of the convict-built Great North Road from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, said this was unlikely.
Only row boats could access the river at Greta, with Morpeth the last stop for steam boats.
Ms Roberts instead suggested the stairs may have been built as a path to collect water from the river or to use the river as a swimming hole.

Full article by Courtney Garnham available at Maitland Mercury, 05 Dec, 2011.

Historic Alison Homestead at Wyong devastated by fire

From the news report, 3 December 2011:
Police are searching for an arsonist who burned down historic Alison Homestead overnight.
The homestead was the oldest established continuous rural homestead in the Wyong District, built by Charles Alison in the 1870s.
A spokesman for Tuggerah Lakes Police said the caretaker of the property noticed a glow at 3.20am and arrived on the scene to find three buildings alight.
Police said the caretaker reported seeing a man running from the scene.
The spokesman said firecrews were able to save little of the historic buildings.
Samples of blood and other materials have been taken from the scene and investigations into the fire continue.
Alison Homestead was set on two hectares in a rural setting on Wyong’s first land grant. It was extended when original owner Charles Alison married the grand daughter of Blue Mountains explorer, William Cox. The property passed out of the family in the 1890s and was used for market gardening between 1898 and the 1970s.
In recent times the property became a museum and home of Wyong District Museum and Historical Society.

Now&Then 53 - December 2011

NSW State Records Now & Then December Newsletter is the final Issue for 2011, featuring of online news and updates, Open Day success, Spotlight on 50 years of State Records, the 2011 Christmas Competition.
  • Reading Room opening hours for the Christmas and New Year period
  • New Online Gallery: Sir Douglas Mawson - Blizzards and Bureaucracy
  • Index Updates
  • Today in History - revamp
  • New Scan Pro in the Western Sydney Reading Room

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission annual report 2010-2011 is now available online. The report provides an illustrated narrative account of the Commission's activities during the previous year, as well as financial accounts and statistical charts This year's report includes information on the challenges faced in North Africa and the Middle East as well as details of their ongoing work.   

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tips for dating old photos

Anthea Brown and Fiona Sullivan from NSW State Records have compiled a guide for Dating old photos - Tips, tools, shadows and social media. The guide has been created from a community-generated list, compiled via the Archives Outside blog.
The ten page document, published October 2011, is updated from the original version compiled in June 2010.

One of the most beautiful high streets in NSW

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland has one of the most beautiful high streets in the state but we need to do more to protect it according to Greens heritage spokesman David Shoebridge MLC.
Speaking outside the National Trust Hunter regional committee annual general meeting at Grossmann House, Mr Shoebridge said there was a lot to be happy about when it came to the state’s heritage, but also a lot of work to do.
“Towns need to have something to make it special so that people want to visit and live there, and Maitland’s got it,” he said. “I think Maitland has one of the most beautiful High streets in NSW. I think it should be better protected in the decisions made by the local council.”

Full article by Frances Sacco available at Maitland Mercury, 28 Nov, 2011.

In grave condition: Les Darcy's family concerned

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The family of Australian boxing legend Les Darcy are worried his perfectly embalmed body is deteriorating because of water seeping through a crack in the grave.
Work on the restoration of the famous fighter’s grave is expected to start today using almost $80,000 in state, federal and community grants.
But the inclement weather during the past week has caused concern for family members, who visited the site where the Maitland icon rests next to his brother.

Full article Courtney Garnham available at Maitland Mercury, 28 Nov, 2011.

Submissions for the ‘History and Genealogy 2012′ Handbook Close December 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, and 2012 is only a few weeks away, the Unlock the Past team are needing to finalise the content that will be in the next edition of their "History and Genealogy 2012" handbook.
December 15th is the cut-off date for articles to be submitted, while December 31st is the final date for adverts and vouchers, and any Directory updates.

The History and Genealogy 2011 Handbook was the first of it’s kind in Australia. The 2012 edition won’t superceed it, but rather compliment it, as it will be in a similar style of but with a different range of articles, adverts, vouchers, and an greatly expanded Directory section.
Register your interest by emailing

City’s last brickworks to be demolished

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Bricks and clay pits once played an important role in Maitland’s economy.
Now the city’s last remaining brick works – the PGH yard at Metford – will be demolished under a plan approved by Maitland City Council on Tuesday.
The 1930s brick press building, clay shed, kiln shed, dispatch office, drying shed, loading dock, office and laboratory will be removed in two stages.
The brick press building will be archived, monitored and any heritage relics salvaged in recognition of its heritage significance.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 24 Nov, 2011.

2012 National Trust Heritage Awards

The National Trust Heritage Awards offer a unique opportunity to showcase individuals, organisations, government departments and community groups who have completed a project that promotes the conservation of Australia’s environmental, built or cultural heritage.
Applications close: Monday 6 February 2012.
Now in its nineteenth year, the National Trust Heritage Awards continue to set an industry benchmark to winners and entrants alike, as well as to provide recognition amongst industry peers of excellence within the field of heritage conservation.

Check the National Trust website for more details.


Your Community Heritage

Your Community Heritage is a new approach to supporting and protecting Australia's heritage that will enable local communities around Australia to celebrate their local heritage.

The program recognises that our heritage is not just about 'big' heritage such as places on the World and National Heritage Lists, it is also about the heritage of individual communities, be they in regional Australia or small towns or in dispersed multicultural communities.
The Your Community Heritage Program comprises the following sub-programs to which the public may apply:

  • Protecting National Historic Sites
  • Recovering from Natural Disasters
  • Commemorating Eminent Australians
  • Sharing Community Heritage Stories
  • Celebrating Community Heritage
The amount of funding to be allocated across each of these sub-programs will be determined by the demand for funding.
For more information, please refer to: Your Community Heritage