Chinatown In Melbourne

Little Bourke St. south from Russell (Chinese with cart in fore). Chinese quarter along this street and its inferior quality seen easily (taken from original captioning information)

Little Bourke St. south from Russell (Chinese with cart in fore). Chinese quarter along this street and its inferior quality seen easily
(Description taken from original captioning information)

The Past Present has decided that this week it is time to head further afield and visit one of the other capitals which features in the vast collection of images. This image of Melbourne, taken circa 1936 by an unknown photographer is a beautiful and evocative snapshot of Melbourne’s Little Bourke Street (south) and a few of its residents.
Little Bourke Street is at the heart of Melbournes historic Chinatown district. In the early 1850s Chinese people began arriving in Melbourne seeking fortune on the Victorian goldfields. In 1854 lodging houses for these immigrants began to appear with the first being in Little Bourke Street and Celestial Avenue. The area was cheap, convenient and the immigrants could purchase supplies on their way to the goldfields. Soon enough merchants, stores and even benevolent societies began to appear, all aimed at the new and ever changing community of the emerging Chinatown. Following the gold rush many people in rural areas began to move to the cities and for the Chinese immigrants Little Bourke Street was the ideal location. It served as a focal point for the Chinese in Melbourne with many living in the area, but others simply visiting for meals, to gamble, to smoke opium or for religious ceremonies.
By 1900 Melbournes Chinatown was well established and between the turn of the century and 1920 it grew rapidly. In the 1920s and 1930s though, with restricted immigration and a shift towards establishing businesses outside the central business district, Chinatown began to shrink. In the postwar era new immigrants arrived, but Chinatown continued to diminish until in the 1940s and 1950s people began to suspect it would disappear entirely. In the 1960s, fortunately the area was saved and today Melbournes Chinatown is one of the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere.

What’s In A Name – Cremore Point and the Mysterious Hungary Bay

Hungary Bay From Cremorne, Sydney NSW  Front copy

The image depicted above is a beautiful glimpse into the history of Sydney Harbour and Cremorne more specifically, but it is also something of a mystery. Cremorne is a well known locality in Sydney, yet the name Hungary Bay is far more mysterious, having almost disappeared from history leaving behind just a selection of postcards.

Place names are remarkably changeable, and Cremorne too has more than just one lurking in its history. Before European settlement Cremorne was known by Aboriginal names, variously recorded as  Wulworra-Jeung and Goram-Bulla-Gong. After European settlement of course a new name was applied, but it wasn’t Cremorne. The First Fleet named the area now known as Cremorne Point Careening Point, due to the fact that the Sirius was careened in a nearby cove. Later the point became known as Robertson’s Point, so named because the land was granted to a James Robertson, a Scottish watchmaker who was appointed curator of Government clocks and astronomical instruments.

Robertson sold his land to James Milson in 1853 who soon leased 22 acres to Jacob Clark and Charles Woolcott who planned to establish a pleasure garden. The gardens, named Cremorne Gardens after a similar garden in London, were duly opened and featured all sorts of amusements, including a carousel and rifle shooting gallery as well as walks and gardens. The gardens were not wildly successful and closed after only six years but the name ‘Cremorne’ stuck.

So what of Hungary Bay itself? There is little to hint at the existence of this bay apart from a range of postcards, but if the spelling is altered just a little it is revealed that Shell Cove just around from Cremorne Point itself was known as Hungry Point. It was an area where oyster shells were burned for lime, but with so many oysters available no doubt the bay was also used to satiate the hunger of many an early settler! Was this the mysterious Hungary Bay?

Coking In Newcastle

Coke Oven Unit At B.H.P Company

Coke Oven Unit At B.H.P Company

The image above is a stark and I think artistic view of a trade which was once central to Newcastle and the area. Although now gone from the area, BHP once employed vast numbers of Newcastle residents, and supplied still more who worked in the mines supplying raw product, with jobs.
In the early 1900s Australia was demanding more and more steel and in 1911 BHP (Broken Hill Propriety LTD) decided to step in and begin to manufacture the precious resource. They decided Newcastle would be the perfect place to build their steelworks as there was a harbour which could be used for transport, a ready workforce, and they already owned land in the area. The steelworks opened in 1915.
In order smelt iron and make steel, another product was needed though – coke. To smelt iron the iron ore has to be reduced and to do this, you need carbon. Burning carbon creates carbon monoxide which reacts with the iron ore. Combine this with high heat and the iron melts and can be drained off. Coking coal is a fuel with very few impurities and an extremely high carbon content which is made from coal and widely used in the steel industry.
BHP in Newcastle made its own coke on site. To do this, they needed coke ovens which could heat the coking coal to very high temperatures, driving off impurities and leaving behind coke. This could then be either stored or transferred directly to the blast furnaces.

Childs Play In Glebe

Terraces of old houses in the Glebe. Girls playing. Campbell St.

Terraces of old houses in the Glebe. Girls playing. Campbell St.

The image above provides an enchanting look at inner city living during the hard years of the 1930s. Girls play in the street in front of their homes, some of the terraces which are such a part of Glebe.

Originally, as the name suggests, Glebe was land belonging to the Church of England, but in 1828 the land was auctioned off and soon after Glebe became a place of elegant homes and pleasure grounds. By the mid 19th century though, there was a clear class distinction in Glebe with the well to do living in the elevated areas while the lower classes lived in the lower and less desirable area, closer to Blackwattle Creek. Glebe became known as something of a mix of classes, made up of middle class, lower middle class and working class neighbourhoods. Not only was Glebe increasingly an area with a variety of distinct class groups though, it was an area of rapid population growth. In fact by 1901, 19200 people lived in the 3737 houses in the area, many of these houses being the terraces which are so characteristic of Glebe.

In the years following 1841 terraces began to appear in Glebe and by the 1870s they had actually become the dominant form of housing. Terraces were perfect for the rapidly increasing population, providing self contained, private houses and of course being economical with building materials and space. Yet although terraces were almost the standard building in the area, there was nothing standard about their design. The terraces in Glebe were built to reflect the period in which they were constructed, and by 1915 a mosaic of different styles could be found, ranging from colonial to Georgian, Victorian Gothic to Regency. Increasingly, these terraces were the homes of the lower classes, especially following the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague. The middle classes increasingly sought the space and sanitary conditions of the suburbs further from the city centre and Glebes distinct classes became far more difficult to separate. Today of course, Glebe is once again a trendy place to live with a mix of people, cultures and backgrounds making up the community.

There are several photos of Glebe in the collection, so keep an eye out for more posts about this historic area of Sydney.

Soul Pattinson – The History Of More Than A Chemist

Island of old residences just south of Y.M.C.A Building on Liverpool Street. Inside block bounded by Liverpool, Elizabeth Street etc.

Island of old residences just south of Y.M.C.A Building on Liverpool Street. Inside block bounded by Liverpool, Elizabeth Street etc.

Sydney has an amazing skyline, which has over the course of the centuries evolved and changed. Over time, buildings have been built and demolished, houses have come and gone and the skyline has evolved to reflect the increasingly tall and modern city. This photo, taken by an unknown photographer in 1936 shows a Sydney skyline which is not only lower than the one we see today, but which includes many buildings and terraces which have now disappeared.

The photo also shows some of the signs which once adorned so many of our buildings, the most dominant of which is that of Washington H. Soul Pattinson Manufacturing Chemists. Although many may recognise the name Soul Pattinson as a popular and well known chemist, the name Washington H. Soul Pattinson may be a little less familiar, yet it is one of Australia’s most successful and historic family run companies.

Caleb Soul arrived in Australia in 1863. He was an Englishman who had experience working in the drug industry not only in his homeland of England, but also in America. He soon realised the potential for a retail chemist which could import drugs and patent medicines from England and America. He opened a pharmacy in Pitt Street in 1872 advertising his products as sold at the same cost they would be found in London and New York. The business, which operated out of a single room, was a great success but he wasn’t trading under his own name. He felt that his sons name, Washington, sounded more honest, so he sold his products under the name Washington H. Soul. Within a year larger premises were needed and the pharmacy moved, though it remained in Pitt Street. In 1886 their current building was destroyed by fire but a replacement, called the Phoenix Building, was built in the same location and this building not only still stands today, but continues to trade as a Soul Pattinson Chemist. By 1890 the pharmacy was operating six stores in Sydney and by 1940 Lewy Pattinson was able to fund the donation of the first aeroplane in the Royal Flying Doctor Service based at Broken Hill.

Today though, Washington H. Soul Pattinson is more than simply the chemist chain we all know so well. Washington H. Soul Pattinson is a highly diversified investment house with holdings not just in pharmacy, but in areas including building materials, natural resources, media and telecommunications and even fund management!

Millers Point – The Final Chapter

Wharves Walsh Bay From pylon Lookout Sydney Front copy

The image above is the final installment (at least for now) in The Past Present’s Millers Point Series. The image, from a postcard dated circa 1935, shows the famous wharves at Walsh Bay which have been so much a part of Sydney’s maritime history in the 20th century.

The wharves of today though are of course very different, full of restaurants and up market housing, a far cry from the bustling, working wharves of the past. As the 20th century progressed, the size of the ships and the amount of cargo which they could carry increased, but the number of ships docking at the wharves was in decline. Work for the men working in Walsh Bay and Millers Point became sporadic.

The 1930s and the great depression were a time of great hardship for the men working in Walsh Bay. The number of men looking for work was far greater than the number who would find it on any given day. With the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge came the prospect of suburban living on the North Shore of the harbour and this made Millers Point less attractive as a place to call home. As the 20th century wore on, the population of Millers Point were aging along with the wharves and by 1975 only 48 children were enrolled in the local primary school, Fort Street. By the 1970s the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority had grand plans to redevelop the Rocks area, including ‘West Rocks’ as Millers Point was often referred to by locals. However, community pressure and a slowing of the economy resulted in the saving of much of the area and more recently, the once busy working wharves and the houses of the wharf workers have become much sought after by wealthy investors and homeowners.

Reconstructing Millers Point

View south along Hickson Road from bride at Munn Street, showing how uplands border Darling Harbour restricting expansion of ware houses etc. Dock sheds at right and residences facing High Street on cliff top at left

View south along Hickson Road from bridge at Munn Street, showing how uplands border Darling Harbour restricting expansion of ware houses etc. Dock sheds at right and residences facing High Street on cliff top at left

Millers Point is a fascinating area of Sydney with a rich history. It is also an area which many Sydney-siders are quite familiar with and the photo above is not only evocative of the rich history of the area, but shows how similar certain views remain today. Yet Millers Point has also undergone some of the most drastic changes of any area in Sydney.

The 1890s were a time of hardship and turmoil for the people living and working in and around Millers Point. With strikes, depression and the collapse of the wool trade, things looked bleak. The wharves were increasingly insanitary as were the houses. The outbreak of bubonic plague in January 1900 was a heavy blow and became the catalyst for major changes. The area was quarantined, houses underwent compulsory disinfection and anybody suspected of coming into contact with the dreaded disease was sent to the Quarantine Station at North Head under cover of darkness.

In the wake of the plague, and the public fear which accompanied the dreaded disease, the government had all the excuse it needed to resume the area, including the wharves, and begin an extensive redevelopment. The first priority of the newly created Sydney Harbour Trust was to rebuild the wharves, but they also resumed hundreds of properties and by the 1920s whole streets had disappeared, new cliffs had been constructed and many, many houses had been rebuilt. High Street, the largest grouping of these residential buildings, was even constructed during this period in the wake of quarrying along Hickson Road. These were Sydney’s first public housing, but they were not allocated according to need, but instead given by the Trust to maintain their own workforce.

Come back next week for the final installment of The Past Presents series on Millers Point.

Millers Point

View south from High St. steps along Hickson Road at Union Co. #5 dock showing restriction of wharf frontage by high cliffs paralleling Darling Harbor. Warehouses Etc. on upland.

View south from High St. steps along Hickson Road at Union Co. #5 dock showing restriction of wharf frontage by high cliffs paralleling Darling Harbor. Warehouses Etc. on upland.

Sometimes photos of an area show a glimpse into a past long gone, and the photo above, taken by an unknown photographer, circa 1936, is one such image. Although it is a view which remains remarkably similar today, Walsh Bay and Millers Point is a very different place now to the working maritime area which is glimpsed through this image.

Before the 1830s, Millers Point was isolated and reasonably deserted, with few people settling in the area. Three windmills, operated by John Leighton (known as Jack The Miller, which inspired the name of the area itself) and a military hospital were built in the area, but only six or so houses were to be found in Millers Point in the 1820s. However, by the 1820s Sydney Cove itself was becoming crowded and Dawes Point was already being adapted to the maritime industry. The deep waters of Millers Point, adjacent to Dawes Point, became the focus of a thriving, if malodorous, whaling and sealing industry and by the 1840s workers cottages and even the occasional fine house belonging to wharf owners were beginning to appear.

It was in the 1850s that Millers Point became a hub for maritime activity. Almost all workers in the area during this time were connected with the wharves or the local infrastructure which supported them (including hotels, boarding houses and pubs). By 1861 there were even six large warehouses built on the waterfront.

The Millers Point of this era though would have looked very different even to that pictured in the photo above. Come back next week when the Past Present will share another beautiful photograph of the area, and the story of how and why the area underwent such dramatic changes.

ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park

hyde park 1 watermarked

This week, with ANZAC Day falling today, it is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of Australians who enlisted. It is also, as I am sure you are all aware, the Centenary of the start of the First World War. At such a time of reflection and remembrance it was only fitting that The Past Present focus on the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

The ANZAC Memorial is a memorial to all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in World War One but more specifically it commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp who landed at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. These brave soldiers were the ones who birthed the ANZAC Legend. A year after the landing, a service was held in Sydney in commemoration and this led to the establishment of a fund for a memorial to those who sacrificed all for the cause. By 1918 more than £60,000 had been raised.

At the conclusion of the war it was decided that the grand memorial should commemorate all ANZACs who served during the war. In 1923 the Institute of Architects suggested the memorial be erected in Hyde Park, but instead a Cenotaph was created at Martin Place. In 1929 though a competition to design the grand Hyde Park Memorial was held and 117 entries were received. The winning entry was that of Bruce Dellit, one of the leading Art Deco designers in Australia and included sculptures by George Rayner Hoff. Construction on the memorial began in 1932 and the building was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester on November 24, 1934.

On Your Bike To BHP

BHP Steelworks Newcastle

BHP Steelworks Newcastle

This week, with many people gearing up for the Easter break and possibly finishing up work for a day or two, The Past Present is sharing the beautiful image above, from the collection of an unknown photographer and taken in 1936. The photo is a rarity in the collection, a work without a negative or description, but it is such an evocative glimpse into the past.

The photo is believed to show BHP Steelworks in Newcastle (a location which features heavily in the collection), but the aspect of the photo which I find most intriguing is the number of bicycles being ridden away from the factory. It appears to be the end of the day and the workers have mounted up and are heading home on their two wheeled transport. Several sources I have been able to find suggest that bicycles were a popular mode of transport for workers at the steelworks with hundreds of bicycles making the journey on a daily basis. There is a certain relaxed, country air to the scene for such a busy steelworks!