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ISSN 1838-5044


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Contents ISSUE 18, SEP-OCT 2013

On the cover


Our fair ladies Meet the historians who are fighting to save the Parramatta Female Factory from neglect and to keep the stories alive of the women who passed through its gates


Getting about the country From carts to sulkies: Margaret Simpson from the Powerhouse Museum looks at the history of bullock- and horse-drawn carriages


Guiding lights Many travellers perished before our life-saving lighthouses were built along Australia’s coastline. Barry Stone explores those in some of the most dangerous of areas


A country’s lifeblood Nicole Cama travels to the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales in the footsteps of 20th-century photographer William Hall


Life on the Murray-Darling Join Penny Hyde as she looks at the importance of the Murray-Darling as a transport system


Coast to coast Discover one of the world’s great rail journeys as Melanie Ball climbs on board the Indian Pacific


36 24



your family



By the people, for the people The new website that lets you explore your links to Australia’s first politicians


Editor’s letter


Postie’s here! Your thoughts, your say


Somme battlefields to Aussie shores Read how a group of French teenagers are preserving the memories of WWI Anzacs


Bob’s your uncle Network with other researchers and break down those brick walls!


The tram conductor and the Premier Mark Tedeschi tells how a tram journey in 1941 changed his grandparents’ lives

your history 38

School day memories Ted Witham tells of one teacher who gave her students a lasting love of music


Saving Grace The heroines who risked their lives to save victims of a shipwreck


13 Platform Hannah Kent tells what it’s like to research an 1830s murder mystery in Iceland; plus the latest history news 16

Ask our experts Solving the mystery of a family photograph, and records from Kilkenny, Ireland


History now We preview great events you won’t want to miss around Australia and New Zealand


From pioneers to miners Spotlighting the Coalfields Heritage Group


History apps From history trivia to daily journals: we review the latest apps


The book shelf What we’re reading right now


One picture…1,000 memories The story behind one precious photograph

offers 71



Subscribe to Inside History… …for the opportunity to win one of three findmypast World collection subscriptions!

our family

PO Box 406 Erskineville NSW 2043 Australia PUBLISHER Ben Mercer EDITOR Cassie Mercer

COVER IMAGE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT AND FEATURE WRITER Sarah Trevor ART DIRECTOR Lucy Glover DESIGNER Amy Di Stasio EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Melanie Ball Nicole Cama Laila Ellmoos Paula Grunseit Barbara Hall Annette Hughes Penny Hyde Kylie Mason Richard Offen Margot Riley Meg Quinlisk Charlotte Schaefer Margaret Simpson Barry Stone Mark Tedeschi James Tierney Mark Webster Ted Witham PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS See page 71 or subscribe online at DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS For iPad, find us on Apple Newsstand For Android and PC, find us at

The two chaps on our cover were photographed at the wheel of a motor car c.1920. It’s courtesy of the Wilson P Evans collection at the State Library of Victoria, ID H92.330/161. Car number plates are a terrific aid to dating photographs. Sadly the car on our cover doesn’t have a plate, but if you have a photograph in your collection that has a number plate visible, grab a copy of Australian Number Plates. It’s a great book put together by the Blue Mountains Family History Society and lists all number plate ranges for each state and territory. It’s priced at $7.50 plus postage, email to order.

Inside History (ISSN 1838-5044) is published six times a year by Cassie Mercer (ABN 13 353 848 961) PO Box 406 Erskineville NSW 2043 Australia. Views expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of the publisher. Copyright 2013 by Cassie Mercer and Inside History. All rights reserved. DISTRIBUTED BY Gordon and Gotch Australia PRINTED BY Ligare Pty Ltd 138 Bonds Road Riverwood NSW 2210

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


editor’s letter

In family history, context is just as important as names, dates and relationship. Here at Inside History, we try to help you put the “flesh on the bones” of your research, because you never know what is going to help you discover more about your ancestors.

alia and New Zealand. This issue we’re looking at trans port aroun d Austr tors were an adventurous Most of us can see from the records that our ances states throughout their lot. They pop up in different towns, even different different areas? Was it lives. But by what mean s did they travel to these s or bullocks better? expensive? Uncomfortable? Dangerous? Were horse es from experts We answer these questions and more with our featur from the Powerhouse around Australasia, starting with Marg aret Simp son the 1800s on page 42. Museum, who looks at the history of carriages in , that helped our But it wasn’t just the roads or in many cases, tracks an incredibly important ancestors move around. Intern al water ways were s the Hawkesbury transport route. On page 54 Nicole Cama investigate how people used the waterways, while on page 57 Penny Hyde looks at to go. Murray-Darling system to get where they needed ns of safety for many beaco those – ouses lighth at g We’re also lookin 48, Barry Stone has as they navigated our dangerous coastline. On page look at these crucial been travelling around Australia for us to take a closer pieces of infrastructure. look at the part a tram We also worked with Mark Tedeschi this issue, to e from an internment driver played in securing Mark’s grandfather’s releas reading on page 60. camp during World War II. It makes for fascinating al school project Plus we reveal how you can help with a very speci icse about school days on Aussie diggers in Vignacourt (page 36), remin man (page 28). (page 38) and look at a new website on Sydney’s Alder All this and much more. Enjoy!

Right The Cobb & Co. Melbourne to Ballarat mail coach, by artist Arthur Esam, 1894. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, ID H15478.




Postie’s here!

It was great to receive copies of Sulari Gentill’s books in your giveaway from issue 14. My wife and I would like to thank Inside History for introducing us to a new Australian author who is setting her mysteries in an earlier age. Sulari’s books have opened for us some of the turmoil of the early 1930s, about which we had read little. We also want to express our appreciation for the quality of Inside History. We have nurtured our interest in Australian history over many years, but have often been frustrated that articles have either been inadequate or too detailed to hold our interest. Your magazine meets our desire for material thatʼs relevant, has sufficient detail to stimulate our thinking, and provides avenues to follow if we wish to know more about the topic. — Milton Coleman, South West Rocks NSW


John Anderson is my great grandfather and his brother Peter, my great uncle. Imagine my recent delight to find how they came to Australia in your magazine. I had given up ever finding them on a shipping list, although on Peter’s death certificate it says he was on the Hannah Landells. I had searched this shipping list, had the Oxley Library look for me, had SAG research it, all to no avail. Then, bingo! The mystery was solved after I read Judy Webster’s article, “The case of the false identity” in issue 17! Peter was buried at sea but John went on to marry Susan Lloyd and father 10 children, one of

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whom was a gorgeous old man — my grandfather — John Alexander Anderson. — Sharon Ingersole, Coffs Harbour, NSW


After reading “From Calabria with Love” in issue 17, I purchased another copy and sent it to my childhood friend in Italy. She was born in Australia to an Italian couple who, like Nicole Cama’s grandparents, married by proxy. I recall her father recounting that, on his wedding day, he took note of the time and observed to his fellow Italians working on a farm in Queensland that he was now a married man. A toast was made, and he returned to work in the tobacco field. His bride, having married in her home village with a male relative standing in as the groom, arrived in Australia some time later. The family returned to Italy in the 1970s, but I hope receipt of the article will evoke fond memories for a loving, warm and hard-working couple, Giuseppina and Emidio Fioravanti, who celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2010. — Lisa Burton, Boyne Island, Qld Want to have your say on “Postieʼs here” ? Write to us at Each issue our star letter will receive a great prize for writing in! This issue, Sharon Ingersole wins a copy of Plein Airs and Graces by Adrian Mitchell (Wakefield Press, $34.95).

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Images Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H4291.


your family

Bob’s your uncle Are you looking to connect with other descendants or historians? Each issue we’ll feature who and what people are researching.

Image Courtesy Douglas Stewart Fine Books,


I am the President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka. Our Church has sketches of all the missionaries who came to Sri Lanka except that of the Reverend George Erskine. Originally from Ireland, George set sail from Portsmouth in December 1813, along with several other missionaries. After seven years of service in Matara, Sri Lanka, he moved to New South Wales in 1822. His home, called ‘Erskine Villa’, gave its name to the suburb of Erskineville in Sydney’s inner west. As we prepare for bicentenary celebrations of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka in June 2014, I am hoping to find a sketch of the Rev. George Erskine for a souvenir we plan to publish. We have tried the British Methodist Church archives but did not succeed. If you are able to help, I would like to hear from you. — A W Jebanesan;


We’re looking for a repatriation hospital for soldiers from the First World War that was in Medindie, South Australia. It may have been a private facility, but I can’t find anything so far and have been looking everywhere. I learnt about it on the last page of a World War I Lieutenant’s 26-page record where it stated that he was released from active duty on 26 February 1920 from

‘Darling St, Medindie’. If you can shed any light on this hospital please help! — Leonie Bedford;


I am desperately seeking a photograph of Jack Hunter, born as John in Byron Bay, New South Wales. I believe his elder sister, Maybeline Hunter, could be the key to any photographs that may still exist. Jack died young in the war so he would have only been young in the photographs. Maybeline married John Lyons. Their children were Phoebe Lyons, Minnie Lyons, who married a William Henry Young Blutt (but she left her children at a young age and was not heard from again by her daughters), Robert John Lyons, who married Ethel Horsman Richardson and was in the Second World War, and William James David Lyons who married a Kathleen O’Reilly. If you believe you are connected please contact me as a photograph of Jack is very important for an upcoming anniversary. Any help is greatly appreciated. — Kerry McMurray;

Lots of researchers have been linking up and knocking down their research brick walls via “Bob’s your uncle”. To place an ad, email Adverts are free!

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


what’s on

History now

The best events across Australia & New Zealand COMPILED BY CHARLOTTE SCHAEFER AND SARAH TREVOR

Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography

Until 10 November This stunning exhibition charts the fascinating evolution of fashion photography through 60 original works by 40 legendary artists including Horst P Horst, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Arthur Elgort and Tim Walker. Selling Dreams is drawn from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s national photographic collection. The State Library of NSW is the only Australian venue hosting the exhibition. According to Margot Riley, State Library fashion historian, “It’s like seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time. Some of these images are familiar due to their online popularity; viewed up close they are absolutely stunning and together they capture an incredible fashion story.” Enjoy this free exhibition at the State Library of NSW Galleries. Visit



Win tickets to a curator tour!

Our friends at the State Library of NSW are giving away 10 double passes to a special Inside History walk&talk tour. Enjoy a fascinating tour of Selling Dreams with curator Margot Riley, the Library’s resident fashion historian, on Wednesday 9 October from 10.30 to 11.30am. To go into the draw to win a double pass, tell us the name of your favourite photographer. Send your answer and your details to by 30 September 2013. Entrants must be 18 and over. Prizes do not include travel expenses.

Above: A personal picture taken by Arthur Elgort on an American Vogue fashion shoot in July 1981. Š Arthur Elgort/Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


NSW History Week NSW

7 to 15 September In our imageconscious 21st century, it’s not too hard to understand the centrality of photographs and images in history. This week-long fixture on the history calendar, with a stunning array of events around the state, considers how the development of the visual has long changed, informed and sculpted society, and takes a closer look at how historians use art and photography to inform their research. As part of the celebrations, Inside History is partnering with the Australian National Maritime Museum for a symposium on 11 September titled “From glassplate to cyberspace”. Check the History Week program for more details! Visit

Past Lives: Convict Stories Through an Archaeological Lens

11 September Archaeological digs unveil history before your very eyes. This event at the Australian Museum is your chance to hear from Dr Mary Case, an archaeological consultant who has been involved in dozens of digs and projects around the Sydney region. She’ll examine the archaeology of both Sydney’s and Parramatta’s convict past, presenting the findings of various archaeological projects and bringing together 20 years of her research. Admission is $30, or $20 for Australian Museum members. Visit

Waratah Creation Story

History Week NSW celebrates the history of images, such as this iconic shot of artist Dulcie Deamer in 1924. Courtesy of State Library of NSW.

27 September Explore Indigenous history and heritage on this 90-minute walk led by Aboriginal horticulturist Brenden Moore through the scenic Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah. The region featured an important trade route for Indigenous peoples. This tour will explain traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine in the region, providing rich insights into the area’s Indigenous history and botany. The cost is $35.60 and bookings are essential. Call 02 9231 8182



British Military Service Records

19 October Many Australians have family connections to the British Armed Forces, and the extensive records of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force often provide unexpected insights into servicemen’s lives. In this lecture, held at Richmond Villa in Sydney, presenter Jeremy Palmer will discuss British military service records from World War I and earlier conflicts, including recent additions to the available material. The cost is $20 for members, $30 for non members. Visit

ACT Big Things in Store

15 September Fancy venturing behind the scenes of the Australian War Memorial’s holdings? The vast, purpose-built Treloar Technology Centre, in the industrial suburb of Mitchell, is the Memorial’s storage and conservation facility. It opens its doors to the public only once a year. Peruse its extensive collection of weaponry, aircraft, tanks, vehicles and equipment, used both by and against Australians in various conflicts. Some of the artefacts on display date back over a century, providing quite the hands-on military history lesson! A precision drill team and sausage sizzle will round off the day. Entry is by gold coin donation, with all proceeds supporting the Australian War Memorial. Visit

Limestone Plains to Marble Halls: NSW & ACT Family History Conference

20 to 22 September This annual conference is always a hit, as the place where key family history identities, vendors and institutions gather with grassroots family history societies. Hosted by the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC) this year, the weekend is set to be packed with national and international speakers, trade stands, exhibits, workshops and more. It’s held in conjunction with the Family History Fair, which features master classes on Trove, NSW Land Records, and writing family history, led by a range of experts including Carole Riley, Hazel Edwards and speakers from the NLA. See you there! Visit

QLD Murder at the Archives

From 18 September to 16 October Examine the underbelly of Queensland’s history at this informative seminar by Queensland State Archives. It aims to outline the records that can illuminate and potentially solve historic crimes. Real historic case studies, such as the Gatton murders, will be analysed using police court and prison records. This free seminar will be held at several locations, scheduled for Queensland Family History Society on 18 September, Bribie Island RSL Club on 10 October and Moreton Bay Regional Council Library at Strathpine on 16 October. Visit

Carnival of Flowers Steam Train Tour

21 and 22 September Indulge in the railway of yesteryear on this scenic excursion hosted by the Australian Railway Historical Society. Travel from Brisbane’s Roma Street Station to historic Toowoomba in style on board a classic 1950s steam train, with wooden carriages from Queensland Rail’s heritage fleet, reflecting the pace and charm of that decade. Enjoy pristine vistas and fresh air as the train crosses the Little Liverpool Range, over to Spring Bluff, past various pretty townships, finishing with lunch at the recently renovated Toowoomba Railway Refreshment Rooms. On Saturday 21 only, you can also view the colourful procession of Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers. Cost is $118 or $133 for the parade option. Visit

Mapping your ancestors

Michael Murphy, one of the victims of the Gatton murders Gatton c.1898.

16 October Historical maps are a potential goldmine for genealogy. They illuminate not only geographical features but also political and parish boundaries, from Poor Law unions to tithe maps. Like photos, maps are a moment in time and tell a thousand words. Even today’s equivalent — Google Earth — can be a revelation for your research. Come and listen to Helen Smith’s seminar at the Genealogical Society of Queensland’s rooms on how maps can assist and enhance your family history research. Visit

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |



VIC The Enemy Within

Until 29 September Held at the stately Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne’s south, this free exhibition explores the eight internment and prisoner of war camps located in Victoria during World War II. Almost 26,000 prisoners and 15,000 internees were classified as the ‘enemy’ or ‘enemy aliens’ and moved to camps behind barbed wire, which had an enduring impact on migrant groups and the broader community. Be sure to visit this thought-provoking exhibition before it closes at the end of the month. Visit

Newsworthy Workshop

15 October We all love Trove, but unfortunately it doesn’t (yet!) cover every newspaper over every time period; sometimes we just have to leave our beloved computers and find the rest. Come along to the State Library of Victoria’s Newspaper Reading Room and get a hands-on look at how to access newspapers in their hard copy, online and microfilm formats. This two-hour workshop will also discuss how to access databases containing both current and historical articles. It is free to attend but bookings are required. Visit

History Week 2013

20 to 27 October Exciting things are in store for this year’s History Week, with a range of events planned all around Victoria. Stratford Heritage Farm Day on 20 October revisits the region’s agricultural past, while the ‘Flashback’ event at Melbourne Museum recounts several notable women in Victoria’s history, from the little-known to the infamous. A variety of exhibitions, events and walking tours are also on offer. From an exclusive tour of the heritage-listed Supreme Court building (25 October), to a tantalising walk exploring the history of chocolate in Fitzroy and Collingwood (20 October), there is truly something for all tastes at this week-long celebration of Victoria’s long and fascinating history! Visit



She Said He Said: Reading, Writing and Recording History Conference

21 to 24 September Professional, academic, community and oral historians are all welcome to the 2013 oral history conference. Hosted by History SA, the Oral History Association of Australia and the University of South Australia on the university’s City West campus, this is an important conference about the practice of history now and in the future. It will examine developments in oral history, urban history and Indigenous history alongside a range of themes like contested histories, technology and memory. Visit

Mannum Museum Steam & Blacksmith Day

5 to 6 October Relive the romance of paddle steamers on the Murray River at this special weekend. Held at the Mannum Dock Museum of River History, four one-hour cruises aboard the heritage vessel PS Marion will recreate the voyages of yesteryear. The art of blacksmithing is also on proud display with Randell’s Steam Works in operation, revealing the history and hardships of metal production. Cost is $20 for adult museum entry and a short cruise. Visit For more on the Murray-Darling and its paddlesteamers, turn to page 57.

Explore Melbourne’s Supreme Court during History Week Victoria. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, ID H96.200/182.

WA Carnamah Town Centenary

13 to 15 September Happy birthday, Carnamah! Three hundred kilometres north of Perth, Carnamah is a farming community with a rich history, set to celebrate its centenary — 100 years since it was gazetted as a town — with a weekend of special events. An art exhibition, grand parade, buffet dinner and fireworks display are in store, along with bus tours to the historic Macpherson Homestead, which is more than 135 years old. Learn more about this region’s fascinating history and help the Carnamah community celebrate their centenary! Visit

Image Leg irons, courtesy of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority, photographer Peter Whyte.

Majority Rules Curatorial Tour

16 September Delve into Western Australia’s political history with this behind-the-scenes curatorial tour of the Majority Rules exhibition at the State Library of Western Australia. On display until 21 October, this exhibition comprises historic newspapers, elections and how-to-vote cards from as early as 1904, plus much more. For further insight into the featured artefacts, a thought-provoking half-hour curatorial tour will provide inside knowledge into the political events, campaigns and goings-on that have impacted Western Australia and beyond. Visit

TASMANIA Centenary of The State

2 to 6 October This month, Hobart’s iconic State Cinema commemorates its centenary. Initially opening as the North Hobart Picture Palace in 1913, the ‘State’ as it is affectionately known, is one of the few surviving moving picture houses that remain in operation today. It is set to celebrate its role in Tasmania’s cinematic history with five days of special events, live music and, of course, film screenings (including historical favourites). Keep an eye out for the launch of a book detailing the history of the State Cinema. Visit

Convict Backgrounds

23 October Hear the latest research findings on the economic and social history of Britain from 1800 to 1850, and learn how this relates to your convict ancestors. Professor Pam Sharpe, from the University of Tasmania, will discuss how academic research on the historical context back in Britain affects our understanding of convict lives before their transportation. Hosted at the Port Arthur Historic Site, this promises to be an informative talk on the history of convict transportation. Call 03 6251 2324

NZ Down the Hall on a Saturday Night

Starts 21 September As in Australia, community halls were centres of social gatherings in New Zealand’s rural regions, particularly in the decades after World War II. This lively exhibition will tell the story of the five halls built by and for the community in the volcanic ‘pumice lands’ south of the Rotorua region — Ngakuru, Waikite, Reporoa, Broadlands and Rerewhakaaitu — in the words of some of the original settlers. Images of the halls from then and now, as well as objects from the times, will also be on display. This exploration and celebration of the thriving social hubs of yesteryear may just leave you with a sense of nostalgia! Visit

Logs to Blogs: Diaries from the Turnbull Library Until 28 September Diaries are a particularly intimate historical source, and a fascinating resource for learning the personal stories of historical figures both known and unknown. This fascinating exhibition at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington features 12 diaries from its collection. The diary of Zachary Hicks is the earliest, beginning in 1769 at Tolaga Bay, while Agnes Bennett’s diary about establishing a hospital on the Balkan front in World War I is particularly riveting. Soak up history in all its vivid details from a first person perspective at this exhibition before it closes in late September. Visit

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


your family

By the people,

e l p o e p e h for t

Explore Sydney’s political history online with a new project from the City of Sydney History Unit. Laila Ellmoos reports.


LMOST 500 men and women have served as aldermen or councillors on the City of Sydney Council since it was formed in 1842. Hundreds more have served on the surrounding suburban councils that have since been absorbed into the City of Sydney local government area, including Redfern, Glebe and Newtown. The City of Sydney History Unit has recently developed the Sydney’s Aldermen website that provides biographies of these men and women. The first aldermen were prominent businessmen who had vested financial interests in the



commercial and public life of Sydney. Self-made men on the first council included entrepreneur John Hosking, department store owner David Jones, chemist Ambrose Foss, tanner and currier William Pawley, builder David Taylor, publican Thomas Smidmore and solicitor Robert Owen. The calibre of candidates was in sharp contrast to the men of standing from the ‘upper ranks of colonial society’ that had run for the Legislative Council since 1824. The City of Sydney Council, which governs the day-to-day running of inner Sydney, was the first

Thomas Smidmore

Thomas Smidmore (c.1806–66) was a foundation councillor for Brisbane Ward on the City of Sydney Council from 1842 through to 1850. Smidmore was the illegitimate son of Mary Gough, an illiterate Irish-born convict. He eschewed his convict heritage to become a prominent member of Sydney society in the mid 19th century. One of Smidmore’s first business ventures was a Staffordshire pottery warehouse on George Street, which he ran in the 1820s and 30s. He later became a successful publican. Thomas Smidmore was married three times and fathered at least 13 children. He acquired vast tracts of property in the centre of Sydney, Balmain and Marrickville. He died in 1861. Smidmore Street in Marrickville is named for him.

Far left Sydney Town Hall illustrated by Frederick Schell for the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, 1883. Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives. Left Mayors, aldermen and council staff of City of Sydney Council in 1861. Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives ID SRC20592.

example of representative government in New South Wales. The council came into being when the Legislative Council passed an Act on 20 July 1842 ‘to declare the town of Sydney to be a city and to incorporate the inhabitants thereof’. Those who nominated to serve on the first council had to have substantial personal wealth and own property within the city boundaries. Twenty-four councillors were elected across six wards. There were four councillors per ward. Once elected, the councillors elected six aldermen, one from each ward, to govern the city. Likewise there were limits on who could vote in the first municipal elections, compared to today. Only around 3,000 rate paying adult males who owned or occupied property worth more than £25 were eligible to vote. By the early

20th century, franchise was extended to owners, occupiers and lodgers in the City, and eligible female owners and occupiers from 1902. But unlike state and federal governments, there was no universal suffrage for council elections until the mid 20th century. Voting rights continued to be tied to property ownership, income or duration of tenancy until 1941, when every adult resident in the city was given franchise. In the 19th century, aldermen were elected to administer the local affairs of the City of Sydney: to regulate the produce markets, repair the roads, light the streets, to provide a fresh water supply, and to ensure the efficient and sanitary removal of sewage. The council levied rates on the City’s building and land owners to pay for the construction and maintenance of these services. By the mid 20th century, the responsibilities of the council expanded to include the creation and maintenance of public parks, community centres for children and aged residents, and providing electricity. Since its formation, local government service has attracted men and women from all walks of life, including from different religious, cultural, political and class backgrounds. The occupations of aldermen have ranged from dentists, film producers and doctors to wool brokers, publicans and painters. Aldermen have had varying levels of commitment to the local government service, as demonstrated by the amount of time they served on the council. Some aldermen served for less than a year, while others remained on council for upwards of 30 years. There is a range of information available on the Sydney’s Aldermen website for interested researchers, or those who have a relative that may have served as an alderman or councillor. The u

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


Left A meeting of Sydney City Council in the Council chamber at Sydney Town Hall in 1932. Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives, ID NSCA CRS 46/1/8,. Below An invitation to celebrate the opening of Centennial Hall on 27 November 1889. Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives, ID SRC17066. Opposite Sydney City Council Aldermen meet in the Council Chambers in 1960. Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives, ID SRC12541. Opposite inset Arthur McElhone, 1868–1946. Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives, ID NSCA CRS 54/23.

website provides biographical information including details of local government service history, occupation, family background, community involvement and parliamentary service. Each biography has at least one photograph or painting of the alderman or councillor if it’s available, and there are references with links for further research. The Sydney’s Aldermen website also shows the links between aldermen, such as connections through business, family, party politics and community ties. For example, Owen Caraher and Patrick Hogan were brothers-in-law and were in business together as soap and candle makers. They were also aldermen on the City of Sydney Council: Hogan in 1857-59 and Caraher in 1859-71. Often generations of the same family served on the council for decades. Notable examples of family service are the McElhone, Burdekin, Hordern, Nock and Harris families. Only 26 women have served on the Council from 1842 until the present time. The first woman alderman was Joan Pilone who was elected in 1967. Although the Sydney’s Aldermen website has been only recently launched, it is the culmination of more than 20 years of research, starting with the Council’s sesquicentenary history project which resulted in the publication of Renato Perdon’s biographical register of Sydney City aldermen in 1997. The City’s History Unit encourages family history researchers and others to contribute information on their political ancestors because the Sydney’s Aldermen website is a work in progress. The History Unit is updating and refining each biography as new information comes to hand, both through ongoing research within the City’s History Unit and the City’s Archives and through contributions from interested members of the public.



Research also is ongoing into the other councils that have been absorbed within the boundaries of the City of Sydney local government area since 1949: Alexandria, Camperdown, Darlington, Glebe, Macdonaldtown/Erskineville, Newtown, Northcott/South Sydney, Paddington, Redfern and Waterloo. The City’s archivists and historians are systematically researching biographies of these former aldermen and councillors and these will gradually be added to this website. New biographies will be published online in stages as each former council area is completed. The Sydney’s Aldermen website provides a unique insight into the people who have shaped Sydney through municipal governance from 1842 until 2008. Visit to start exploring the resource. 

FURTHER ONLINE RESOURCES n City Boundaries and Wards, 1842-2004 http:// n Golder, Hilary: A Short Electoral History of Sydney City Council 1842-1992, City of Sydney, n Mayors of Sydney

Arthur McElhone

Arthur McElhone (1868-1946) was one of the City of Sydney Council’s longest-serving aldermen. He represented the Fitzroy Ward from 1899 through to 1946, with a small break while the Council was administered by Commissioners in 1928–30. His father John and his younger brother William had also been aldermen; the brothers McElhone had served together between 1908 and 1927. William McElhone was Lord Mayor in 1922 and Arthur was briefly Lord Mayor for two months in 1935 when the incumbent died. Arthur’s son John was an alderman in 1946–53. Arthur McElhone was a prominent Sydney businessman, at one time the managing director of Nicholson’s Pty Ltd. and the chairman of directors of the North Coast Steamship Company and the

Eagle and Star Insurance Company Ltd. He was a candidate for the Civic Reform party for most of his time on Council, although he did not always tow the party line. In the heady political times of the early 1930s, the press dubbed him ‘Walkout McElhone’ because he voted with his conscience instead of with his party. Whenever items came up that McElhone and the six Labor Party aldermen dissented with, they walked out of the chambers and council meetings had to be adjourned or closed. Arthur McElhone died in 1946. Six years later, a park opposite Elizabeth Bay House was dedicated to his memory. The McElhone family is also the namesake for a 1870s staircase that links Kings Cross with Woolloomooloo.

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


Specialising in early Irish convict research

Irish Wattle’s books cover more than 900 Irish convict arrivals before 1797.

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your family

fair Our ladies

Around one in five Australians are related to women who were incarcerated at the Parramatta Female Factory. The Factory itself is one of our most significant historical spaces; a Francis Greenway building and our oldest convict women’s site. But now its survival is under threat. Paula Grunseit spoke to historians about their ongoing campaign to save the precinct, and their work in recording the stories of the women who passed through its gates. u

From top Susannah Watson, c.1880, who stayed at the Parramatta Female Factory many times between 1828 and 1844. Courtesy of Babette Smith; Rules and Regulations for the Management of the Female Convicts. Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


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Image Taken near Daylesford, Victoria in 1899. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, ID H92.200/175.

From bullock teams to gigs, lighthouses to waterways, we look at how your ancestors moved from A to sea.

Inside History | Sep-Oct 2013 |


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Image Courtesy State Library of Victoria ID H2008.2/309








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Issue 18: Sep-Oct 2013  

Journeys through the past: Inside History’s September-October issue, the transport edition, has landed! From carriages to railway, lighthous...