Historic Photographs of Early Hydroelectric Schemes at the Gara and Styx Rivers near Hillgrove, NSW

The New England region of northern New South Wales (NSW) has an interesting history of hydroelectric generation dating from the late 1880s. As I’ve noted in this overview of the earliest examples in colonial Australia, NSW’s first hydroelectric installation commenced operation at the Mount Sheba gold mine at Nundle in late 1889 (see the map below).1Sydney Morning Herald, 4 November 1889, p. 7; Australian Town and Country Journal, 8 February 1890, p. 24Sydney Mail, 24 May 1890, p. 1168. Continue reading “Historic Photographs of Early Hydroelectric Schemes at the Gara and Styx Rivers near Hillgrove, NSW”

The Romance of the ‘Whig Dungeon’

This long essay is an updated chapter from my PhD thesis (University of New England, 2000). It examines the rhetoric and symbolism of the radical propaganda mobilised around Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor at his trial for seditious libel at York in 1840, his imprisonment at York Castle and the extensive celebrations that followed his release from prison (dressed in a fustian suit) in 1841. Chartism’s political fortunes traditionally have been attributed to material deprivation and, more recently, the first revival of the movement in 1841–42 to the organisational innovation that accompanied the formation of the National Charter Association in 1840. I argue that the ‘romance of the “Whig dungeon”’ constructed around O’Connor’s travails was also a significant factor of renewal in this instance.

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Please Please Me (Album) Pitch Analysis For Accompaniment

If you’ve ever tried to accompany Beatles songs with an instrument tuned to standard ‘concert’ pitch (long defined by the International  Organisation for Standardisation as A above middle C=440 Hz) you’ll soon find that many don’t conform to this convention. ‘Ticket to Ride’, for example, is about one third of a semitone flat of concert pitch while ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is about a third of a semitone sharp: accompaniment of either with an instrument tuned to standard pitch will sound awful, as will many other Beatles tracks. Continue reading “Please Please Me (Album) Pitch Analysis For Accompaniment”

A Hard Day’s Night (Album) Pitch Analysis For Accompaniment

This short piece is part of a project seeking to clarify deviations from concert pitch evident in songs on Beatles albums—in this case A Hard Day’s Night (1964). Some potential reasons for the mastered pitch discrepancies evident in many early Beatles songs briefly are dealt with in the first article upon Please Please Me. Again, my source material is the stereo remaster released in 2009 (not mono versions, digital or otherwise, which may potentially differ). Continue reading “A Hard Day’s Night (Album) Pitch Analysis For Accompaniment”

Andrew Cunningham’s 1870 Captain Thunderbolt Photographs

Woodcut engraving of Frederick Ward published in June 1870
Figure 1: Frederick Ward, alias Thunderbolt. Source: Illustrated Sydney News, 8 June 1870, p. 1.

On 25 May 1870 the bushranger Frederick Ward (also known as Thunderbolt or Captain Thunderbolt) was shot and killed by a police trooper named Alexander Walker at Kentucky Creek, near Uralla, in northern New South Wales. In the following days an Armidale photographer named Andrew Cunningham captured at least ten photographs pertaining to Ward’s death. These included three relatively well known images of Ward’s corpse and two portraits of Alexander Walker (see Figure 2 below). Five much lesser known outdoor scenes were also taken by Cunningham at Kentucky Creek, including three photographs of the site where Ward was ‘captured’. Continue reading “Andrew Cunningham’s 1870 Captain Thunderbolt Photographs”

The All England Eleven’s 1861-62 Australian Tour and Early Cricket Photography at the Sydney Domain

Photograph of the first All England team that toured Australia prior to their departure from England in 1861.
Figure 1: The All England team prior to their departure from England in 1861. Source: William Caffyn, Seventy one not out, after p. 172.

The All England cricket team’s tour of 1861–62 generated unprecedented interest and excitement in the Australian colonies. Cricket had surged in popularity in Australia in the mid 1850s, when inter-colonial matches began, and when Victoria and (to a lesser extent) New South Wales (NSW) were transformed by gold rushes. In 1861 two Melbourne restaurateurs, Felix Spiers and Christopher Pond, contracted a team of English professionals captained by H.H. Stephenson to tour Australia. Stephenson and William Caffyn had been members of the pioneering 1859 All England tour to North America; however, the Australian venture—by virtue of distance—was a much longer undertaking, lasting well over six months.1William Caffyn, Seventy one not out: the reminiscences of William Caffyn, Edinburgh, 1899, chs. 14, 17. Continue reading “The All England Eleven’s 1861-62 Australian Tour and Early Cricket Photography at the Sydney Domain”

Identifying and Mapping Chartist Children

I think if you refer to the Bible you would not have this child named Feargus O’Connor.

Rev. Henry Banfather, baptism ceremony
of Hannah Feargus O’Connor Steward, Sprowston, 1841.1Northern Star, 1 May 1841, p. 6.

Naming children after radical political heroes was something of a tradition in England in the nineteenth century.2David Jones, Chartism and the Chartists, London, 1975, p. 24; Jutta Schwarzkopf, Women in the Chartist movement, Basingstoke, 1991, p. 124. In particular, during the early 1840s thousands of working-class parents gave their children the names of imprisoned Chartist leaders such as Feargus O’Connor (pictured below) or exiled counterparts such as John Frost (also below) as a form of symbolic allegiance to these men and the radical-democratic cause.3For O’Connor see below. For Frost see David Williams, John Frost: a study in Chartism, Cardiff, 1939. For a general history of the movement see Malcolm Chase’s Chartism: a new history, Manchester, 2007.

Portrait of Chartist leader Feargus O'Connor.
Feargus O’Connor, c. 1796-1855. Source: National Portrait Gallery.

As we’ll see below, it’s possible to identify these children at a national level and then map the districts where their births were registered. Doing so gives us a hitherto unexplored means of evaluating where Chartism was strong and weak in the early 1840s, supplementing existing, more traditional primary sources and interpretation. The first part of this essay looks at the political christening phenomenon from a national perspective while the second takes a much more localised, micro-historical approach by examining political christenings in a small community of handloom weavers resident in the parish of Sprowston near Norwich. Continue reading “Identifying and Mapping Chartist Children”

William Kilburn’s 1848 Chartist Daguerreotypes

William Kilburn's Daguerreotype photo of the Chartist meeting at Kennington Common on 10 April 1848
Figure 1: William Edward Kilburn, Great Chartist meeting at Kennington, 10 April 1848. Source: Royal Collection Trust.
Early photograph of Chartist meeting at Kennington Common in 1848.
Figure 2: William Edward Kilburn, Great Chartist meeting at Kennington (second image), 10 April 1848. Source: Royal Collection Trust.

Remarkably, a pioneering photographic record survives of the culmination of one of the most significant days in English nineteenth-century political history—William Kilburn’s fascinating Daguerreotypes (Figures 1 and 2 above) of the Chartist mass meeting held at Kennington Common (now Kennington Park), London on 10 April 1848.1William Edward Kilburn, ‘The Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, 10 April 1848’ [two Daguerreotypes], Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 2932484 and RCIN 2932482. Among the earliest photographs of a crowd, these historic images of a demonstration widely feared of precipitating insurrection have received occasional attention from scholars since they were rediscovered in the Royal Collection in the late 1970s; however, surprisingly little detailed analysis has been published to date.2See, for example, David Goodway, London Chartism, Cambridge, 1982, pp. 141–42. Continue reading “William Kilburn’s 1848 Chartist Daguerreotypes”

Early Hydroelectric Installations in Colonial Australia

While major Australian hydroelectric developments in the twentieth century (particularly the Snowy Mountains Scheme) have received considerable attention from historians, this short essay looks at the very earliest colonial hydroelectric installations.1For social histories see Brad Collis, Snowy: the making of modern Australia, Palmerston, 2002; Noel Gough, Mud, sweat & snow: memories of Snowy workers, 1949–1959, Moonee Ponds, 1999; Siobahn McHugh, The Snowy: the people behind the power, Pymble, 1995. For Tasmania see Marilyn Quirk, Echoes on the mountain: remarkable migrant stories from the hydro villages of the Tasmanian central highlands, Heybridge, 2006. In order to keep the survey manageable I’ve limited it to the first six examples which were all built for electric lighting purposes in the 1880s. Continue reading “Early Hydroelectric Installations in Colonial Australia”