Tag Archives: band

Dockside with the Randwick District Town Band

This week Sepia Saturday  has given us an image of a harbour, with its docks busy with ships.  And so I go to a Sydney dockside, back in  the  1960s when the big liners were a way of travelling from country to country and not just for holiday cruises, ships like the Oronsay travelling  from Sydney to England in about 3 weeks.   It was also a time when brass bands would play dockside as the liner was leaving.  In this photo from the 1960s it is the Randwick District Town Band which had formed in 1961.  Hilda Tansey. now in her sixties, is near the lower right hand corner, long after she was Bandmaster of the Sydney Ladies Brass Band.  Each departure was a big occasion

Randwick Band 1960s

Today we  don’t see aeroplanes departing for overseas being farewelled in such style.

The following quote is taken out of its original context which dealt with more creative activities,   http://tinyurl.com/q2pp332

 `There’s something to be said for following those little voices in your head that say, “Do it.”

`Because if you don’t, that moment gets lost to history.

But I feel it applies equally well to my  posts in Sepia Saturday (and to yours too).   In time there is always a reader or two who has a definite connection to what i am writing. When I link photos, facts and occasionally speculations there is always the possibility that if I don’t some little thing will be lost to history for all time . I’m not referring to momentous events but to the changing way of life over the years..

This week I started converting a box of slides from the 1960s into .jpg format for the computer.  So when browsing today I was delighted to find that the Daily Mail online has an article on slides from the 1960s which have been recovered.

There you will find a delightful snapshot of Britain in the 1960s. Most of my slides seem a bit ordinary in comparison but some might be of interest in the future.  For example, does anyone at children’s birthday parties nowadays play games like these, as in 1961.

Which brings me  to what Sepia Saturday is all about, as they state on their blog.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind (they don’t have to be sepia) become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

I like that expression launch pad.  It is exactly what  we do, begin with a photo and then launch ourselves off in varying directions   Fantastic.  Thank you Sepia Saturday.

More harbours, ports, docks, coastlines at this week’s Sepia Saturday.

2015.01W-17

Re-visiting “What the children didn’t know”

Happy 200th birthday, Sepia Saturday.

2013.10W.04 I have only been a member of Sepia Saturday for three months which is only 7% of its lifetime.  So I was hesitant about re-publishing a post which was only made two months ago. But writing the post was a revelation to me as I started researching what was happening on the date which was written on the photo. This is a method I will continue to use whenever I know when a photo was taken but hopefully won’t be quite as long-winded in future.Garden party

Our theme for  today is groups of three. These three girls were  prizewinners at Mrs Burnell’s  garden party.in Castlemaine, Central Victoria, on Nov 16th, 1940 . It was part of the way into World War II, when raising money for war effort charities such as the Comfort Fund, Red Cross or Bundles for Britain was the usual reason for holding a money-raising event. It was such a patriotic time, not so long after the last coronation and a new king, with the country at war.  Best dresses and hats were brought out  for this special occasion, and the pram reflects the feeling at the time  with its crown, its Australian flags and red, white and blue bunting.. Crepe paper was the standard material for these creations, willingly constructed by parents. .  And the special doll Elizabeth was  named ,of course, after Princess Elizabeth.

A typical pretty, peaceful, family album picture of the time.  But it is what the picture doesn’t show which makes it interesting to me.  When the two girls on the right got out of bed that morning they had probably been primed to wish their mother a happy birthday.  It was her forty-first birthday.  But they would have been blissfully unaware of the reaction of their parents when they opened their morning newspaper of choice, the Argus, from Melbourne, and its news of the war from England. .Two nights before the worst bombing raid on the city of Coventry was carried out.  Over 4000 homes were destroyed and over 500 people killed. Coventry was the home of the  children’s 90  year old maternal great grandmother.  I don’t know long it was to be before the Australian family  found out that she was alive and well and was to live for another two years. Then on the night of the garden party the Royal Air Force  retaliated by bombing Hamburg.

But the children weren’t aware of this.

The Ruins of Coventry Cathedral
The Ruins of Coventry Cathedral

Also on the other side of the world and on that same day the Warsaw ghetto was closed to the outside world by the Nazis. In the previous month the Jewish people of Warsaw, about one third of the total population , had been rounded up by the Nazis and  confined to a small are of the city, These 400,000 people were held behind three metre high walls topped with barbed wire.  And on this fatal day the gap was closed.  Thirty percent  of the population crowded into two and a half percent  of the area.

But the children in Castlemaine weren’t aware of this

chilldren in warsaw ghetto

or of a group of three children in the ghetto in Warsaw,

The garden party was held at the home of Mr and Mrs Burnell, a beautiful home with a large front lawn suitable for all the stalls and competitions that go with a fund-raising garden party.    It was directly across the road from  Thompson’s Englineering  & Pipe Works, established in 1875, where Mr Burnell was the General Manager.  He had won the MC during WorldWar I.  Thompson’s was the most important business in Castlemaine, commonly known as Thompson’s Foundry  and was spread out alongside the main railway line from Melbourne to Bendigo, an ideal position for transporting the heavy goods which  it made, a wide range of steam-engines, boilers, mining machinery, railway equipment and centrifugal pumps. But during World War II they made  artillery and tank guns, marine engines, circulating pumps and other heavy forging and foundry work.

Making guns for war, what  the children didn’t know.

How's this for a crankshaft ?
How’s this for a crankshaft ?

The  eldest girl in the photos remembers the workmen on their pushbikes, four and five abreast, sweeping up and down the Main Street on their way to and from work. With such a large work force the foundry had a piercing whistle  which screamed out at 7.00am, 7.20am and 7.30am. There was no excuse for being late for work and the whole town and beyond had its own non-negotiable alarm clock.

Small towns are such a web of people and places.  The mother of the two girls on the right had originally come to Castlemaine with her parents as from 1923 to 1928 her father worked in the office at Thompson’s and was Bandmaster of Thompson’s Foundry Band. This is the same man who brought a book on Shakespeare with him when he came to Australia.  The man really did have itchy feet and jumped as bandmaster from one small country town to another several times. The Foundry has had its own brass band since  1887 and 24 members of the band served in World War I, six of whom were killed.  I have no figures for the Second World War.

When is the world going to learn .

download(1)

Thompson's in 1960
Thompson’s in 1960

And for more interesting stories about groups of three, click on the links in Sepia Saturday.

2013.08W.16