The History of Photography in Perth

To tell the history of Perth photography involves a little history about the art of photography itself. The thought of capturing an image had been around for a few hundred years, with even a fictional tale detailing an accurate developing process in the late 1700’s. But the 1820’s was the pivitol point when photography as we know it came into crude existence through Frenchman, Nicéphore Niépce. It was his associate Louis Daguerre who later used a polished silver plate covered with silver iodide and exposed it to light through a camera lens to invent the Daguerreotype process, that was the first to be commercially introduced in 1839.

1853ssevansIt took 7 years for the first known ‘Daguerreotype Artist’ to visit Western Australia, when Robert Hall visited Perth, staying for a few days at Mrs Leeder’s Hotel. He charged 1 Guinea for a photo with a frame or £1/ 5s for a photo in a pressed tin, ‘Morocco’ casket, thus restricting his patronage to only the most wealthy colonialists. Unfortunately none of his captures have survived.

Being a remote outpost on the other side of a busier east coast hindered the amount of photographers who visited Perth and it wasn’t until the 1850’s that permanent studios started to pop up. New Yorker, Samuel Scrivener Evans appears to be the first in 1853 when he opened a Daguerreotype Gallery at the Castle Hotel in Fremantle before later moving to Perth. None of Evans’ photos appear to have survived either.
Evans was followed in November 1857 by the Duryea Brothers of Adelaide, working from St George’s Terrace and later Hay Street, charging 10s/6d per sitting and Frederick Herbert who set up shop in Howick Street, Perth.
They were quickly followed in August 1858 by a Mr Curtis setting up business from his home at Bazaar Terrace, Perth. Continue reading

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Fremantle Memoirs – Growing Up In Freo

Sally’s Memoirs
 Sarah Agnes (Sally) Hundt (nee Mocken)
 provided by her daughter Robyn

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Sally with her mother

I was born on a bright summer’s morning according to my mother’s autograph book, July 19th, 1921. Ten pounds in weight and named Sarah Agnes. According to Mum she told Dad to name me Hazel Rosemary but Dad, who till the day he died I’d never seen affected by liquor, got drunk with his shipmates on the way to the birth registry, couldn’t remember Mum’s names so named me after his eldest sister and his mother. I was always and still to this day, called Sally.

My Grandmother lived on the corner of Nairn & Market Street and we lived in a cottage on Collie Street, no. 22, now an estate agency.
In those days, 1921-1941, all around Collie, Nairn, Essex and Marine Marade, there was a polygot of nationalities, Italians, Yugoslavs, Portuguese, Germans, English, no Asians – white Australian policy was enforced then I believe. There was a Japanese laundry in Bannister Street and two Chinese fruit & vegetable shops in South Terrace though.

An Italian family, named Vinci, lived in 20 Collie Street and when they moved the Gumina’s came to live there. In 23, a Greek family named Anastas lived, in 26, another Italian family, the Rottendellas – red headed or as the Italians say titian headed. No. 26 is now a restaurant.

Next door to my Gran in Market Street was a wonderful Italian lady, Mamma Migliore. Mamma had seven sons and always yearned for a daughter. When she eventually had a daughter after 17 years the daughter was stillborn and Mamma died. Tony, one of her sons, was a very dear friend of mine till he died a couple of years ago. He was born a month after me and we always kept in touch through the years.

Mamma spoilt me rotten, always when I came down to Gran’s from Boulder, inviting me into dinner where huge servings of spaghetti was put in front of me and much pinching of the cheeks and ‘mia bellos!’ was the order of the day. Continue reading

Bringing a Bit of Colour to the Past

Hand-coloured or tinted photos have always been around since there have been photographs to colour. Sometimes it’s just a hint of a tint and in the more blatant efforts it looks more like the result of Homer Simpson’s makeup gun set to ‘whore’

It’s hard to forget that the ‘olden days’ were full of colour and many a curious person looking at black and white photos has wondered “What did it really look like!?”

Over the years I’ve become self-taught in a number of computer programs but the one I have the most fun with is Adobe Photoshop. Combined with my interest in genealogy it wasn’t long before I starting figuring out ways to use old and historical photos. I started hand colouring (I figure I can still use the term since my hand is on the mouse!) some old photos in the family albums and was quickly hooked. Sometimes the end result could blow your mind as you flick back and forth from the original image.

Lately I’ve been colouring historical photos that have been popular on the Facebook group Lost Perth,  widely successful in Western Australia where people having been digging up old photos of Perth’s yesteryears and posting them online for everyone to reminisce over.
My favourites are pre-1900 images. The further back the date of the photo, the harder it can be to imagine it in realities hue.

The first hand coloured photo that I posted was an image of the Old Men’s Depot that used to sit on Mounts Bay Road, right on the river. It’s such a beautiful image with all the elderly men relaxing by the foreshore and black swans swimming about.  It’s not the clearest image and quite grainy, not ideal for colouring but it was a favourite that I really wanted to bring to life.

mens depotOld Men's Depot - Mounts Bay Rd, Perth c1900

It was a bit hard to make it resemble reality due to the graininess but I think it turned out alright.

The next photo I chose is one of the oldest landscape photos of Perth and shows the Pensioner Guard Barracks just after they were built in 1865.
This was a popular choice as the Barracks were demolished in the 60’s with only the arch remaining so while the arch is a Perth icon, not many really knew about the Barracks as a whole.

Pensioner Guard Barracks, Perth  c1865

Pensioner Guard Barracks, Perth  c1865

In fact I coloured this photo twice. The first time I only had a cropped version and it wasn’t until I applied to the State Library of Western Australia for a hi-res copy of the original, that I saw all the wonderful things happening on the sides. On the left is a woman holding a baby. Another woman rests on a grassy mound. On the right are two boys tending their sheep, while a girl stands at the gate to her house. Three other children are also playing nearby.

Some commented that they’d love to buy a print so I applied at SLWA for reproduction rights and can now sell these as photo prints or on a canvas in a variety of sizes.

More painted photos to come!

Trove’s Newest Digital Newspaper Additions

Yesterday I decided to check out the latest newspapers that have been added to the Trove website – one of my favourite site’s for researching Australian Family History, to find a massive 54 newspapers have been added, mostly for New South Wales and Victoria but the sole newspaper added for Western Australia is one that I’ve always hoped to search through.

The Herald, which is a still a current day newspaper for Fremantle, is now available on Trove, thanks to the City of Fremantle Library, with editions from 1867-1886 currently available.

After a quick search I found a great article about a Great-Grand Uncle, Luke Tonkin, who allegedly had been involved in an assault on another man.

I was hoping to find something on my GGGreat Grandfather, John Foss Tonkin, but couldn’t find anything substantial, I’m hoping later editions will turn up something for him.

But for now I get to know Uncle Luke a little bit better…

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My Pop, The ANZAC

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George Lockett

George Lockett, my Mum’s father, my Pop, was born in 1919 in Edmonton, England being the result of a short lived WWI tryst between his mother Eva-Rose, who was working as a nurse at a British Forces military camp, and an Australian Soldier, John (Jack) Scott. That story in itself is an interesting read!

Eva-Rose’s father made her put George up for adoption and a then childless couple adopted him before  eventually moving to Australia under the Government Group Settlement Scheme.

He enlisted in World War II with the Australian Army in May 1940 and did initial training at Swanbourne Barracks in Perth before being posted to Rottnest Island to dig trenches.
In late 1941 he headed to Darwin to protect Australia from the Japanese who were steadily heading south. George was listed as a Gunner with the 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battery, aka ‘The Ack-Ack‘ who had the job of shooting at the Japanese planes from giant guns positioned in the ground. Continue reading

Adoption Mystery Solved after 94 Years!

If you’ve been following my previous blog posts, then you’ll know all about my search for my Great Grandfather, so as you may have gathered from the title, I found him!

But for others I’ll recap.
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My Grandfather George was born at the end of World War 1 in 1919, being the result of a short lived romance between an English WAAC nurse, named Eva-Rose,  and an Australian soldier.
His mother desperately wanted to keep him but her family soon after, forced her into signing the adoption papers.

George’s new family immigrated to Australia where they eventually settled in Perth. He went on to marry a local girl and have four children of his own.

Having always known he was adopted, it wasn’t until he was in his 60’s that he decided to try and look for his birth mother.

Fortunately his mother’s name and address at the time of his birth were on his birth certificate and so they wrote to a local newspaper in the town, asking if anyone knew her to contact them.

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Eva-Rose saw the paper and wrote a letter to him and eventually they were reunited the following year when George and his wife flew to England. It was a very happy occasion and George always seemed to have a spring in his step from that moment on.

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George with his Mum and half-sister, 1986

But what of his father? Eva-Rose could only give us a name, ‘Jack Scott’ and said that he was in the Australian Army and came from Melbourne.
*Actually, when the story was relayed to me I was only told that he was from somewhere on the East Coast,  let this be a lesson not to trust the memories of older people! (Seriously, this small piece could have saved me 100’s of hours of research!)

Fast forward years and years of trawling army records and collating information in spreadsheets, when I decided to do a DNA test with 23andme.com as they provided a Relative Finder search. I figured this would be my only hope. Continue reading

Combining Holiday with Family Tree Research.

A few weeks ago I had to drive my car from one side of Australia to the other, after recently deciding to move back to my home town of Perth, Western Australia.
Although I was living in a remote area of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory at the time, my car was in Melbourne, Victoria, having been looked after by my friend for the past two years. But now it was time for the two of us to head home!

Australia is a pretty vast land, being around 4000kms (2480mi) wide at its horizontal extremities. Melbourne to Perth is 3400km (same distance from Tennessee to LA) and would definitely be the longest drive I’ve had to undertake in my lil, black Toyota Yaris, whom I affectionately call Bruce.

Making the most of it, I decided to drive down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, through Mount Gambier in South Australia to Adelaide and then cross the Nullarbor into Western Australia, stopping in Kalgoorlie to visit some family.

Driving all this distance by myself didn’t seem appealing so I picked up a German backpacker from Gumtree.com.au and we set off, hoping to make it to Perth within a week.

While a great holiday, the opportunity also allowed me to get in some genealogy research! Continue reading