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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Sydney from the air


This week's photo suggestion is of a busy harbour with a couple of large ships in  port and no doubt lots of sea-faring activity going on all around them. 

When my aunt Patricia Morrison passed away in 2011, she left behind a wealth of  old photographs, family letters and other historical papers, but there was also a sizeable packet of old postcards which has recently been passed on to me. There are a a few that she received  from friends with brief messages in the back, but most of them are new, ie. not written upon or posted, and I think my aunt must have primarily collected them on her travels in the late 1940s, before she commenced studying for her MA at Oxford, and perhaps also on excursions while she was in England. Amongst the cards are lots of lake and harbour views of European cities such as Oslo, Geneve, Stockhom and Antwerp for example, but this week I thought I might concentrate on Sydney, which my aunt must have visited as a young woman, perhaps on her way from her home in Christchurch NZ to her studies in England in the late 1940s. I've scanned below what might be called a pictorial aerogramme, that folds up neatly to a small letter size, but when opened out has photographs of Sydney on both sides. The first two photographs together make up one page, with the third photograph being of the reverse side, with space for letter-writing in the centre. Somehow these sepia views of Sydney Harbour, Circular Quay and Manly beach for example don't look particularly enticing, at least compared with the colourful scenes depicted in today's photographs. I suppose people just had to try to imagine how the scenes would look in 'real life', and if such an aerogramme was sent to them and included a letter from friends of relatives extolling the virtues of Sydney and telling them what a lovely place it was to live, they might even be inspired to either visit or even emigrate, so that they could see the sights with their own eyes.  Sadly these days our government is not so welcoming as it was back then, if would-be migrants don't arrive through the right channels. As I've mentioned here previously, I very strongly disagree with their policies and their cruel treatment of asylum seekers. 

Here are the little paragraphs of information in the bottom corners of the front page above. Sydney's current population now approaches five million. Interesting that it was described as the fourth city of the Empire. I don't know what the other three cities might have been.

The following three views come from a fold-out set of photographs that could also be posted, entitled Scenic Sydney, together with other beach and city views, but two at least are the same as on the aerogramme above.

An enlargement of the bottom photograph in the aerogramme, viewed from across the harbour, above Milson's Point. What's missing here is the Opera House, which wasn't  completed until 1973.

Another little card that probably came out of a separate photo set, again viewed from the North.
Here is Manly Beach sparkling on one side, Manly Wharf on the other, with Sydney Harbour spread out in the background. Ferries bring passengers from Circular Quay in the city centre across the harbour to Manly,which used to be advertised as being  'seven miles from Sydney and 1000 miles from care'. The first time I visited Sydney as a child on a family trip from Canberra in the 1960s, I bought myself a little souvenir badge in the shape of a boomerang with the word Manly on it, but then was afraid to wear it, just in case anyone possibly joked that I was somehow manly myself!

We moved to Sydney on 1980 when our eldest child was two months old, and lived in a little semi-detached house in Rose Bay for a couple of years. No view from our house, but if we climbed up to the top of our street we could enjoy a great view of Sydney Harbour, the city and the bridge, as shown here In this photo of my husband with our daughter in the pram. She may not have been quite up to admiring the view at that stage!

I'm in Sydney for a few days right now and just took this photo of the harbour, showing Circular Quay with ferry traffic coming and going, and a lot more development than in past decades. The big ferry near the Opera House is heading out to Manly. There's a cruise ship berthed at the dock for the day too, although they also have a separate wharf nearby. Some of the bigger ships cannot fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Opera House can just be seen on the left, with the arch of the bridge on the right. A lovely day for a train trip into the city and a walk across the harbour bridge, from where I took quite a few more photographs, including this one from one of the pylons. You can see climbers descending one side of the bridge arch. I have done the climb in the past, and you get a wonderful 360 degree view from on high, but unfortunately cameras are not allowed, in case they are dropped on cars or people below. Everything has to be very securely tied on, and the climbers themselves are attached to the railings by a sliding chain.

To finish, here is just one more pictorial view from my aunt's collection, this time of Falmouth in Cornwall. It's not an aerial view, but it is clearly a working harbour, and I like the  inclusion of a sailor and his friends in the foreground.  I wonder where he was sailing off to next?

For more scenic views, just strap on your wings and fly across to Sepia Saturday #264

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Low cost, low rent area means you save on diamond rings here!


My cousin John is co-owner in a stylish jewellery business in the centre of the city of Christchurch New Zealand. The business is called Youngs Jewellers and for a number of years now it has been located in New Regent St, selling both antique and contemporary pieces of jewellery. After a devastating earthquake struck  in 2011, the city centre was closed and unauthorised access was severely restricted, but John somehow managed to get inside the cordon and retrieve all the stock. He and his co-owner then operated the business out of a garage for over two years, until New Regent St was finally re-opened for business. It is still one of the few areas in the central business district that have been able to re-open, with much of the rest either destroyed or demolished. It's been quite a few years since I've connected up with John, but I've certainly admired the look of his shop on recent visits, and his mother has updated me on post-quake progress. 

Although John and I had a mutual great great grandfather called Charles Young, the business was not connected to him or any of his descendants. It was bought by John's father, my uncle Peter Morrison, in the late 1970s, and when Peter passed away in 1994, his son took over the business. Young's prides itself on having been a jewellery business since 1907, and I believe the original owner was A E Young. I haven't found out very much about A. E. Young personally, but I did find a few advertisements for the business in the 1920s, and I thought it was interesting that the main enticement to buy seemed to be that you could get jewellery there for less because they were in a low rent area.  You can see this in the following advertisement, for example, which refers to the practice of rack renting, which according to Wikipedia is an extortionate or excessive rent.

The Press 20 April 1926, snipped from the Papers Past web site
John Morrison, grandfather of John and myself, got married in 1919, and I wonder if he perhaps purchased a wedding ring for wife Mona Forbes from A.E. Young.  Out of interest, here are a few other advertisements that appeared on the same page.

Mona might have got her hair done by J.H. Ratcliffe, they could have munched on Griffins Nut-&-Raisin Chocolate
And the family pram which I've previously featured here could well have been bought from Henery Burson & Sons Ltd. It no doubt provided the six Morrison children, including my mother and Peter, with a comfortable ride.

However, I rather doubt whether either John or Mona ever frequented the Turkish Baths below. Probably not their style!


Here are a couple more advertisements for A.E. Young. At that time the business operated out of premises in Oxford Terrace, but it has changed address several times since then, and is no longer in a 'low rent'area.
The Press 19 Jul 1927, snipped from Paperspast web site

The Press 12 Oct 1926, snipped from the Papers Past web site

Here are some photographs I took in New Regent St in 2010, between earthquakes, and in 2013, after the building's renovation and re-opening.

My late aunt Patricia Morrison in front of her nephew John's shop, November 2010 

Jewellery display in Youngs, November 2010

Seen through Youngs' window with street reflections, October 2013.

View of  New Regent St, rather less than busy, and minus the tram that used to operate down the street, October 2013. Youngs is the second shop from left. You can read more about the construction and history of New Regent St here. The trams resumed operations in late 2013.

By contrast, I fear that a lot of the city centre still looks like it did in this final photograph from October 2013.  I'm in awe of the resilience and determination of the people who live there, like my cousin John.

Christchurch city centre, October 2013

You can find a recent photo and article in the Press mentioning John and the business here.

 To read more blogs based on this week's advertising prompt, just click and go to Sepia Saturday 263

Friday, 16 January 2015

Legal Luminaries

The prompt this week comes from a French postcard and shows two men sitting in a courtroom. They could be either solicitors or litigants, but the woman to their left and and the gentleman behind them are both wearing gowns and would appear to be barristers.  I don't have any courtroom photographs myself, as of course it's not usual for them to be allowed to be taken, but I thought that the photograph below was relevant here. It's just a small picture and I don't know where it was taken or what the particular occasion was, but it is dated 11 February 1929, and shows my grandfather John Morrison looking rather young and inexperienced, seated here with a group of worthy gentlemen.  According to my late mother, these men were all leading lawyers of their time in Christchurch New Zealand, and the fact that my grandfather was photographed in their distinguished company showed the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries. He would have been 39 when the photograph was taken.  He had educated himself at night school after leaving school aged 14, obtained his law degree and went on to become the Commissioner for Stamp Duties in Christchurch in the 1940s. When he retired he received many letters congratulating him on his very successful career achievements.

The names I have for the gentlemen pictured are, from left to right (not including the man who is only half in the shot on the far left): Mr W.D, Allard, Mr J. D. Harman, Mr Bruge, Mr Douglas, Mr Hill, Mr George Harper, Mr Morrison [my grandfather John], Mr Izard and Mr Neave.

Without knowing what the reason for the photograph was, I have so far only managed to find out about one of the other gentlemen here. George Harper, as he then was, is seated next to my grandfather, with his bowler hat and cane beside him. It would appear from the obituary published in the Evening Post of 13 March 1937 that he must have been about 86 at this time. He was not a Knight of the realm in 1929, because that honour was only bestowed on him about six weeks before he passed away.  He certainly does appear to have had a distinguished career, and no doubt held sway in many courtrooms.
This portrait accompanied an article in the Evening Post of 1 February 1937, in which the award of the knighthood was announced.

 Another portrait from the New Zealand Herald of the same date.


(By Telegraph—Press Association.)
The death occurred this evening of Sir George Harper, who was knighted in the last New Year's Honours in February. He was in his 95th year.
Sir George Harper, K.B., 0.B.E., was one of the best-known and most highly esteemed citizens of Christchurch. To the end of his life his vitality and undiminished interest in public affairs were remarkable, for, while many younger men had retired from active work, Sir George continued to serve the community in many capacities.
He was a member of the Christchurch Domains Board, the board of governors of Christ's College, the Cathedral Chapter, the board of trustees of the McLean Institute, and he served for some time on unemployment relief organisations.
The fourth son of the Most Rev. H. J. C. Harper, Primate of New Zealand, and first Bishop of Christchurch, Sir George was born on April 24, 1843, at Stratfield Mortimer, Berks, England, of which parish his father was vicar from 1840 to 1856. He received his early education at St. Peter's College, Radley, Berks, and Eton, and was the oldest living Etonian. Bishop Harper arrived at Lyttelton on December 28, 1856, but Sir George did not come out until 1858. He attended, the upper department of Christ's College for several years, and in 1866 he went to London and studied for the Bar at the Inner Temple. In June, 1869, he was called to the English Bar, and a year later, on his return to Christchurch, he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. 
Between 1870 and 1880 he was engaged in most of the principal cases in Christchurch and in the Court of Appeal. In the' eighties he was a member of the Royal Commission consisting of Judges of the Supreme Court and certain members of the legal profession set up to- assist in the revision of the Supreme Court Acts and in the framing of a new code of procedure. For many years Sir George was a member of the New Zealand Law Society, and the Canterbury District Law Society, of which he was president for two years. He was a member of the governing body of Christ's College since 1900, and sub-warden since 1920. He was also a Fellow of the College. He joined the Christ's College Rifles Volunteer Company in 1883 as captain. At the beginning of the Great War Sir George, with several others, founded the Citizens' Defence Corps, of which he was president. This organisation was instrumental in recruiting more than 5000 men for active service and in establishing a club for returned soldiers. The club was afterwards merged into the Returned Soldiers Association. For services during the war period Sir George was awarded the 0.B.E. He retired from active legal work in the firm of Harper, Pascoe, Buchanan and Upham in 1930, and had often been called "the father of the legal profession in Canterbury."

Here's a photograph of my grandfather John Morrison in his retirement, looking quite distinguished himself. It was 1972 and he was in his early 80s, having just stepped off a plane to visit us in Canberra.  If only I could have asked him more about the earlier photograph, but I was a young university student and unfortunately old photographs and family history were not matters that interested me back then. When the Paperspast web site extends to coverage of the Christchurch newspaper The Press beyond 1928, hopefully there will be more to be discovered. 

My grandfather was probably pleased that I had followed in his footsteps by studying law, but sad to say I didn't go on to pursue such an illustrious career as he did. Here is a photo from about 1977, showing yours truly all kitted up in gown and wig, on the one and only occasion that I was required to appear in court as a junior barrister in support of the QC that my employer hired to defend a client who was charged with stealing material from a building site, namely a type of scaffolding known as acrow props. The rule is that QCs can't officially appear without a junior, but this 'so-called' junior had had no previous court experience. The case went on before a judge and jury for about a week, and I think our client was found guilty in the end.
 I found working for a sole practitioner who defended all sorts of characters to be a very chaotic experience every day, and must confess that I only lasted about a year before deciding that becoming a public servant was a better option. Working in the Tax Office was nowhere near as exciting, but when my former employer was struck off a couple of years later for breaches in relation to keeping of his trust accounts, I was relieved not to be still working with him! 

For more Sepia Saturday blogs on matters legal or otherwise this week, just click  here

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Myrtle and her mandolin

In the prompt photograph above of some camp attendees with their musical instruments, the mandolin player reclining in the front of the group brought to mind the following photograph of my grandmother Myrtle May Byles and her mandolin.  One of her three sisters, either Nellie, Kate or Olive, is sitting next to her with some instrument or implement in her hand, perhaps a baton or a drumstick. It seems likely that this was a snippet of a larger photograph of a group of musicians, but it was all my aunt had when I visited her last year. Just in case you are wondering, what looks like part of a flower in the top right hand corner is simply a decoration on the photo frame, not part of the photo.  

Myrtle was born on 12 December 1893 in Wellington New Zealand and was 27 when she married my grandfather Oliver Desmond Cruickshank at the Trinity Methodist Church in Newtown, Wellington in 1921. Myrtle and her sister could well have been members of a church band. Methodism was quite a popular movement in New Zealand in the late 19th and early 20th century and its young people from Sunday School age onwards were encouraged to join a temperance group called the Band of Hope. This was not a musical band as such, but there could well have been one attached to it. Its members certainly enjoyed musical evenings, as shown in a number of articles I have recently discovered on the NZ historical web site Paperspast. Here is one example, from the Evening Post of 12 April 1912.

I can't be certain, but I think it is very likely that the Miss Byles who gave a mandolin solo here was my grandmother Myrtle, who would then have been aged 19.  Another article reports that the Misses Byles performed a mandolin and piano duet, and others refer to Church meetings where Miss Byles gave a mandolin solo with piano accompaniment, so it would seem that Myrtle must have been quite a good player. 

These articles were all  dated pre-1920. According to my aunt, Myrtle's elder sister Ellen Mary, known to all as Nellie, died of a broken heart in 1920, after her fiance was killed in World War 1. He was apparently a good friend of Oliver Cruickshank, Myrtle's future husband. Sister Kate Evelyn Byles was two years younger than Myrtle. It's less likely to be Olive, because she was seven years younger than Myrtle, but I definitely need to check with my aunt as to which sister this is. My aunt Nella is named after her aunt Nellie, whom she never knew, Nellie having died some years before she was born.

Here is a photograph of a inspiringly decorated Band of Hope pledge card:

'Band of Hope no-alcohol pledge card', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Jul-2013

Coincidentally my late father-in-law Bob Featherston was also bought up a Methodist, and he signed a similar temperance pledge in 1927 when he was aged 10, but I can't say that he totally abstained in his ater life. 

Nella has also told me that as a young boy her inquisitive, scientifically minded brother/my father Ian apparently hid behind the couch and mischievously took his mother's mandolin apart to see how it worked but was not able to put it back together again, so perhaps that was the end of Myrtle's mandolin playing. Ian didn't inherit any musical ability from Myrtle and sorry to say, neither did I.

 I never really knew my grandmother Myrtle, as we left NZ in 1956 when I was only three and before we were able to return for a visit she had passed away in 1959.  Young Myrtle Cruickshank nee Byles would recently have celebrated her 121st birthday. I'll finish with this family portrait c. 1905, showing Myrtle, front left, with her parents Thomas and Mary Ann, sisters Nellie (behind Myrtle), Olive and Kate, and  their brother Jim sitting on his mother's knee. A second son and brother was born in 1908. 

Happy 2015!    For more Sepia Saturday blogs that might  involve mandolins or other instruments, bicycles, camping, men in bonnets or anything else that possibly connects to the wide-ranging prompt photo for this week, just click here

Postscript; My aunt Nella now tells me she doesn't think the girl in the band next to Myrtle was Nellie, but in fact was someone called Miss Bray, which is a shame, because it means I have no photographs of  Nellie. I'm not totally conviced however, and am hoping for more positive identification in the near future.