A moment in history – can you date this photograph?

Can anyone help us determine what is happening in this photo? Please add your comments about this image in the comments section of the post (below).

We have many undated photographs at our museum. They will be increasingly featured in posts on this blog called Captured Moments on this blog and on our Flickr account.

If you know the dates, the people in the featured photographs or any other interesting facts about the images please comment.

By using our collective wisdom the featured photograph will become a real part of history, possibly with a fascinating backstory.

Sydney Moderns: Art For A New World

Grace Cossington Smith Bridge in-curve 1930


You’re probably wondering why the the local historical society’s blog has a post featuring an exhibition taking place at the Art Gallery of NSW. A good question with an easy answer.

The artistic and cultural movements resulting from the machine age – the Art Deco and Art Moderne movements – that heavily influenced the featured artists also had a significant Australia-wide impact. It was Art Deco’s optimistic declaration of progress and modernity that cemented its popularity as Australia rebounded from the Great Depression. It was expressed through all types of buildings, commercial, residential and monumental, ushering in a moment of consistency and accessibility to Australia’s built environment.

Art Deco worked on human, street scale and provided definition to our skylines. The embellishments and architectural detail of Art Deco created theatrical incidents which enlivened the conservative atmosphere of the streets. Its hallmarks: the distinctive stepped summit, ornamental detail including popular motifs such as the rising sun, lightning zig zags and bold geometric patterns with the use of rich and colourful materials still assert their presence on the streetscapes of Australia today.

The street scape of Vulcan Street has at least two fine examples of this – the Monarch Hotel (built 1930’s) and the wonderful windows of the Commonwealth Bank (formerly Mylott’s Bakery built 1930). The influence of Art Deco and Art Moderne is also seen in residential architecture and design in the local area.

One of the Art Deco windows at Moruya's CBA
One of the Art Deco windows at Moruya’s CBA
Art Deco detailing on the Monarch Hotel, Moruya

The exhibition, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, showcases more than 180 early modern works by Australia’s most celebrated and respected artists. Spanning the years between 1915 and the early 1940s, the exhibition presents the diverse and versatile forms of Sydney modernism and considers their relationship to modern Australian life, to nationalism and internationalism, and to Australia’s dominant artistic genre, landscape painting.

This landmark exhibition presents one of the liveliest and most distinctive periods in the history of Australian art,’ said Daniel Thomas AM, art historian.

In the years between the two world wars, Sydney was a thriving modern metropolis. By the 1920s its population had grown to one million and its urban environment was being transformed by exciting new structures, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, modern transport and David Jones’ new flagship store on Elizabeth Street. The Home magazine, launched in Sydney in 1920, became the source for all things stylishly modern, promoting the latest ideas in design, furniture, fashion and art.

The exhibition includes the artists Margaret Preston, Roy de Maistre, Roland Wakelin, Grace Cossington Smith, Thea Proctor, Grace Crowley, Ralph Balson, Rah Fizelle, Frank and Margel Hinder, Margo and Gerald Lewers, Dorrit Black, Olive Cotton, Max Dupain and Harold Cazneaux, along with important works by Sydney’s lesser known ‘lost moderns’, such as Tempe Manning, Niel A Gren, Frank Weitzel and Fred Coventry.

These progressive artists in Sydney responded to these new movements. They explored and promoted modernity, modernism and the international style moderne in their work through revolutions in colour and light, and through the developing forms of abstraction. Their diverse works present the dynamic patterns of life under light-filled skies or coloured interiors as new realms of visual experience.

The rich collection of modern Sydney art at the Art Gallery of NSW is augmented by works borrowed from Australia’s major public galleries and private collections. This exhibition will be on display from 6 Jul – 7 Oct 2013

Roy de Maistre
Herbert Badham – George Street, Sydney. 1934 (detail)

To find out more about this exhibition head to www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

The Moruya and District Historical Museum is located at 85 Campbell Street Moruya in an 1875 heritage-listed terrace house built by Abraham Emmott, an early settler to the area.

Emmott, a migrant from Yorkshire, reached Moruya in 1859 and set up a general store on the verandah of his first home. From there he moved to his new Beehive Store in Vulcan Street, and the name of “Emmott’s” held good for over a century.

In 1875, Abraham built a pair of semi-detached houses, using a standard North of England design. The bricks were made locally and now show their age and the lack of firing in their making. As a concession to the Australian climate, good roofed verandahs were added to the English design.

Stepping out from his bedroom to the verandah, Abraham could see what was happening down the street at his Beehive Stores. Abraham’s house is now home to the Moruya Museum.

The other half of the pair was occupied by Abraham’s son, John, who achieved some renown from an incident that occurred when he was returning to Moruya from the Gulph diggings at Nerrigundah. He was bailed up by the notorious Clarke gang who shot him as he tried to escape, and, as he lay wounded, robbed him of the money and gold he was carrying.

The Moruya Museum houses a collection of furniture, books, artefacts and memorabilia that portrays to visitors something of the lives of the ordinary people of this community from the middle of the nineteenth century. Most items on display were donated by local families.The result is an eclectic mix of considerable charm and interest.

A new exhibit is the 1881 Abernethy Stonemason’s Lathe which was used for turning and polishing many of the Moruya  granite columns and pillars decorating Sydney buildings that were well known in Sydney from the second half of the nineteenth century.

The columns were used in the GPO building, the Queen Victoria Building, St Mary’s Cathedral, many monuments and, most famously, the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The lathe was used to produce the beautifully turned and polished pillars used in several of the buildings.

The  Twin Bed Lathe was made in Aberdeen Scotland in 1881. It was last used at Loveridge and Hudson’s yard in Sydney in the 1960s and then donated to the Lachlan Vintage Village Heritage Theme park in the late 1970s. In 1987, it was bought by the NSW Heritage Council, who handed it over to Eurobodalla Shire in 2010. The Moruya Antique Tractor and Machine Association helped restore the lathe.

From the quarries of Moruya….
….to the major buildings of Sydney

Quick Facts:

Moruya Museum opening hours are 11am to 1pm Wednesday, Friday & Saturday and every day from 11am to 3pm during the summer school holidays. The Geneology Room is open on those same days from 10 am to 2pm. Full details are in the Contacts secion of this blog.

Entry fees are Adults $3, Pensioners $2 & children $1. As the older generations of pioneer settlers died, so too died a wealth of folk history. Local Historical Societies such as ours aim to stem the loss, not just by preserving the artefacts used by our grandparents, but also by researching and recording local history.

We have a number publications for sale on the history of the area and produce a quarterly journal.

The Museum also houses a large collection of photographs of the district and the pioneers who developed the area. Many are on display but many more are filed and indexed and stored in the Museum.

Group tours and school tours are most welcome. These tours are led by Museum Volunteers who have an intricate knowledge of the items in the collection. Attached to the Moruya Museum is our Genealogy Research Room. A wide-ranging collection of microfiche, microfilm, CDRoms and printed material are available for family history researchers. A charge of $10 is made for non-members to use the facilities.

Vulcan Street is Moruya’s ‘main street’ and is part of The Princes Highway, the coastal highway that links Sydney and Melbourne, and has had a vital role to play in the history of Moruya.

As pressure from new settlers grew on the colonial authorities to open up the land on the southern side of the Moruya River, the surveyor Parkinson was sent to lay out a new town. Following this, the town of Moruya was gazetted in 1851. It centred about the track opposite to where the road from Broulee terminated at the river bank, the two being linked by a punt.

As there already was a blacksmith on that track, it was named Vulcan Street. The other initial streets were Campbell, Queen and Church. Campbell Street owed its name to the squatter William Campbell, Queen Street to patriotism and Church Street to the Catholic Church’s presence there. Land sales commenced in 1852. Many of the blocks went to local settlers but Campbell cornered a large slice of the market.

Below is a series of photos of Vulcan Street through the decades.


Vulcan Street is still a busy, commercial street with a real mix of architectural styles and function.

Do you have any information or anecdotes about Vulcan Street and its history. While the Society has good information about the street we are always looking for more.

If you can help us make the history of the street ‘live and breathe’ through anecdotes, could you do please include these in your comments (following this post).

The Moruya Court House

A Magnificent building

The courthouse is one of Moruya’s older surviving buildings. It dates to 1881, at a time when the vogue was to erect substantial civic buildings. It was built at the time when Moruya had well and truly become the administrative centre for the area.

Long Description:
The Courthouse was constructed during the Public Works Department’s period of hectic and elaborate construction activity during the late 1870s-1890 period, a time during which the colony exuded a strong sense of prosperity and confidence.

It was designed by James Barnet of the Colonial Architect’s Office. The building, symmetrical in plan, consists of a central double height Court Room flanked by recessed single-storey office pavilions. It is constructed of painted brick with brick quoins. The hipped roofs are clad with concrete tiles while the front verandahs are iron-roofed and are supported by timber posts featuring decorative brackets. Windows to the upper walls of the Court Room are round-arched, while elsewhere there are double-hung sashes.

The Courthouse is approached by a short flight of stairs which leads from a grassed area set back from the pavement to the main entrance beneath the front verandah. Two more flights of stairs are towards the outer end of each of the flanking office wings.

The Courthouse has a heritage listing with the NSW Heritage & Environment Department (NSW Government) & the above information was obtained from that site.

Credit: (visit link)

Year Built: 1880

Current Use of Building: Courthouse

Level of Courts: County

Architect: James Barnet, Colonial Architects Office

Dates this building was used to house judicial proceedings: 1880 to present

Physical Address:
65 Vulcan St
Moruya NSW 2537

9:00 – 1:00 & 2:00 – 4:00 Monday to Friday

Related Website: [Web Link]

We can certainly admire it as a stylish old building. The way it is effectively lit at night ensures that it is is a real addition to the Moruya streetscape.

There also are other beautiful buildings from this period in our historic town.

Do you know anything about the history of the courthouse or of the people who worked there. If so please add your information to the comments section below.

Conference of the NSW and ACT Association of Family History Societies

Early Bird Notice

Registrations are now open for the 29th Annual Conference of the NSW and ACT Association of Family History Societies to be held in Canberra on 20 -22 September. Register before 30th June to save $25.00 and pay only $140.00.

This is a chance to check out what’s new in the family history arena. Hear our expert speakers share their knowledge, attend workshops, talk to the professionals and meet your fellow family historians. Conference 2013 will focus primarily on finding families through NSW and Commonwealth institutions; and the technologies that are changing the way we do family history.

Get in early to secure your place. Go now to the Conference 2013 website to see the program, register and save!

Trove Tuesday : A Real Treasure

Have you reserved a place for the Trove master class at the Family History Fair? Running in conjunction with Conference 2013 and exclusive to conference delegates, experts from the National Library of Australia will conduct a master class to help you get the best out of Trove for your family history research. The session is on Friday 20 September between 10.30am – 11.30am. Bookings are now open so go to the Conference 2013 website to register.

If you haven’t discovered TROVE yet, it’s a free on-line search service available through the National Library of Australia. Yes, it’s all about Australia and Australians. Use Trove to explore digitised newspaper articles as well as books, maps, images and music. 24/7 access means I can get on-line and browse the collection at a time that suits me. And once I start browsing I often find myself in for a long stint—I always find something that catches my interest. Not surprising as Trove has over 50 million digitised newspaper articles alone.

Recently I found a newspaper article that I didn’t know existed on Trove about my father-in-law. The Canberra Times of 18 February 1949 reported:

Truck and Lorry Collide – A utility truck, driven by Emily Scott, of Sutton, and a motor lorry, driven by George Francis Tooke, of Eastlake Hostel, were involved in a collision near the Patent Office yesterday morning. The vehicles sustained slight damage.

This small article was sandwiched between other stories—the cost of cows at the Homebush Stock Sales, and a report about a possible inquiry by the NSW Trotting Club into the confusion of a judge who had semaphored incorrect placings for four of the six races. And of course there was an inevitable advertisement—Aunt Mary’s Baking Powder, which always ensures success… and is available everywhere.

It’s fascinating to look back at these early newspaper editions and I find it amusing that such small incidents were newsworthy enough to make i t into the newspaper of the nation’s capital city. I suppose this a reminder of how small Canberra was in those days—can you believe a population of around 17,000? Thankfully as far as we know George didn’t suffer any serious consequences from the truck and lorry collision. We can only guess and hope that Emily faired as well. And who knows about the fate of the poor confused judge…

If you want to find out more about Trove and how to use it why not attend one of the Learning @ the Library sessions. I attended a session on Learning Trove for Family History and got heaps of information and some good search tips. It’s also worth checking out the Trove Forums – there is a genealogy forum where you can ask questions and connect with other family historians.

Personalised help to support your research on subjects covered by the library collections is available through ‘Ask a Librarian’. HAGSOC member John T recently mentioned he is very impressed with the service and found the librarians always provide good answers to his questions. So if you need help finding and using Library resources why not use this terrific service.

The National Library is a wonderful resource for your family history research. Hope you enjoy making discoveries as much as I do. And don’t forget to register for the Trove Master Class during Conference 2013.

Glorious Days @ the National Museum of Australia

Glorious Days – Australia 1913 is on show at the National Museum of Australia until 13 October. This exhibition is an opportunity to step back in time and be immersed in nostalgia from the period. 1913 is described as a ‘hinge year’ when people embraced the modern world of automobiles, aeroplanes, roller skating and cinema, although attitudes and prejudices from the past persisted.

The exhibition covers many aspects of Australian life – sport and leisure, Aussies at work, our homes, our health and how we defended and built our nation – seen through music, photographs, newsreels, artwork and ordinary and extraordinary objects. From Australia’s first postage stamps to luxury motor vehicles there are heaps of memorabilia and vintage items on show. Particularly impressive is the luxury Model T Ford with its shiny boa constrictor horn and kangaroo bonnet ornament. Horse-drawn vehicles were still commonplace in 1913 but motor vehicles soon outnumbered horses on the streets as vehicles and petrol became more affordable. I’ll bet the motorist of 1913 would never have guessed how much petrol would cost in 2013.

In 1913 the government of the day was keen to boost the birthrate. To reduce mother and infant mortality and to help pay for medical assistance a maternity allowance of ₤5 was provided. Mmm this is sounding familiar – I wonder if this is the 1913 version of today’s baby bonus.

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