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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Anyone up for a game of marbles?



This week's prompt shows a group of Welsh boys playing marbles. I can well remember the many little groups of boys scattered around  the playground at Lyneham Primary School in the 1960s, intent on their marbles games, surrounded by knowing onlookers, or showing off their collections of beauties to anyone who cared to admire them, but it was a boy's game, and I don't think any girls played marbles, at least not at my school, where we favoured game of elastics, skipping, hopscotch or jacks. I certainly didn't know much if anything about all the different kinds of marbles or the ins and out of the game, and nor do I have any photographs of marble games in my family collection, so instead I found this image by Sam Hood, held in the online collection of the State Library of New South Wales. Another photograph by the prolific Mr Hood was featured recently in   Sepia Saturday #321.

Marbles always struck me as a game that required intense concentration, both by the participants and the spectators, and this photograph captures that intensity, even though we can only see the face of the player.  The photograph was taken at Stewart House at South Curl Curl Beach, which was and still is a school which aims to give underprivileged children from the outback, in this case country NSW, a chance to breathe the sea air and enjoy a healthy but educational holiday at the beach. It still exists, and you can read more about it here at . 
Quite coincidentally, Stewart House was the charity that our school supported through an annual fundraising appeal. I'm not sure now if our parents were simply asked to donate, or whether we were expected to do various tasks at home for which we earnt money that we then contributed to the school collection, but I think there was a competition to see which school House could raise the most money. Lyneham Primary School was located in Canberra, which in those days was more than a three hour drive from the beach, and there may very well have been children there who had never seen the sea, but for the most part we weren't poor or underprivileged, and with the encouragement of our teachers we felt happy to be helping children who were not so healthy and well off as we were.

TitleBoys playing marbles, Stewart House Preventorium, South Curl Curl
CreatorHood, Sam, 1872-1953
Call NumberHome and Away - 1599
Digital Order No.hood_01599
This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

Above is my class photograph from  4th class 1962, and I'm sure there some of these boys were fine marble players. Our teacher Mr Clive Harvie was a jovial man whom we all liked, but I clearly remember him explaining to us all about the Cold War and the threatening situation that had arisen in the Bay of Pigs, which was a major world concern at that time. When I gave a short talk about my early school memories at a school assembly commemorating the 50th anniversary of the school in 2009, a couple of Mr Harvie's grandchildren were in the audience of current pupils, and their great aunt came up and thanked me afterwards for talking about him as one of my teachers, because sadly he suffered a major stroke many years earlier, and consequently his grandchildren had never known him in anything other than a comatose state.

 Thankfully Mr Harvie has now passed on, as have a few of my classmates, but the majority of us are still around, and in recent years we have had held some enjoyable reunions, although of course some are not interested in the slightest. I'll be having dinner with some old primary school friends in Canberra next week,including one of the girls in my class photograph, so perhaps I can ask them about their memories of marbles and of Stewart House.

I very much hope you still have all your marbles, but if you want more, simply flick over to Sepia Saturday #323 , where no doubt there will be lots of blogs about marbles of all kinds and perhaps other playground games.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Baa Baa Heep! Baa Baa Heep!

Something tells me this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photo could well lead to cuteness overload, but who am I to (jum)buck* that trend?

The first three few photos below show my sister Louisa aged about 5, petting and feeding lambs and a goat on the farm of our mother Jean's cousin Austin William (Bill) Morrison and his wife Coral near Blenheim New Zealand, in the north of the South Island. Jean and Louisa had flown over there from Canberra in August 1963 for the wedding of Jean's brother Peter and his wife Doreen, who also comes from Blenheim. Heather and Graeme are children of Bill's sister Daphne and her husband Eric, so they are second cousins to Louisa and myself. I don't know that we've ever met, or that Louisa has seen them since, although I did meet Coral, Daphne and Eric about 10 yeas ago. I'm not sure who the three people are in the background of the first photo, but two of them could be Grandmother Mona and Uncle Derek, mother and brother of Jean and Peter. Coral passed away last year in her mid 90s. It looks like Louisa enjoyed her day at the farm and hopefully the wedding too. She wasn't born in NZ but moved there about 25 years ago and lives in the far north of the North Island.  

Continuing with the cuteness theme, here are Strahan and Laura, Louisa's nephew and niece and our two youngest, aged about 3 and a 1/2 and 15 months respectively, at a petting farm in Dural on the outskirts of Sydney in 1988. We were there on an excursion with Strahan's pre-school class.  

Probably a good thing that Laura wasn't bottle-fed, otherwise that bottle might have been rather tempting!

Laura back for another visit the following year in 1989

 Laura's 2 year old niece Isabelle currently loves talking about 'baa baa heep', as per the title of this post, and while I don't yet have a photo of her with the real thing, it's these nursery rhyme toys knitted by her Nan that have inspired her, ie. Baa Baa Black Sheep and Mary and her Little Lamb.

*For those who don't know, jumbuck is an old Australian term for sheep.

If you can cope with seeing more sweet animal photos from other Sepians, Just click here

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

From the sublime to the ridiculous?

The photo prompt for Sepia Saturday # 321 comes from the State Library of New South Wales and was taken by Mr Sam Hood in 1934, on the occasion of the Grenadier Guards' visit to Sydney and their march to the Cenotaph in Martin Place to lay a wreath, on 8 November 1934.  Here is a report and photographs of the event, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 November 1934.


A less detailed report of the event appeared in the Canberra Times of the same date. Note how the unfortunate gentleman who collapsed and died  in the crowd is given a different name and age in the two papers. His correct name and age appears to have been Charles Vinnicombe, 67, according to the NSW Registry of  Births Deaths and Marriages web site.  Both the above articles and photographs were snipped from Trove.

Fairfax Corporation. (1930). Cenotaph to our glorious dead in Martin Place, Sydney, ca. 1930s Retrieved March 10, 2016, from

Here is a photograph of the Cenotaph from Trove, around the time of the Grenadier Guards' visit.  I have walked past the Cenotaph many times when I lived in Sydney but if I ever took a photograph of it I can't find it. It hasn't changed much however.

According to a comment on the Flickr State Library web site relating to the prompt photograph, Mr Sam Hood was fond of taking photographs of kissing couples in the 1930s and 1940s, and there are links to other images given there.  I on the other hand have very few photographs of anyone kissing . and the following two are all I can offer, both from my mother's albums. 

This is a snap of yours truly making new friends in the gardens of Cambridge,  in April 1954. I look to be a little unsure of the attention I'm receiving from these two friendly but unknown little English girls, who look to have been slightly older than me, but the natural innocence of childhood shines through.

  The standard photograph below showing my father and me beside the Sentries at Buckingham Palace in their bearskins also appears in the album documenting our year in the UK, but I'm sure neither of us tried to kiss them.

And finally, here's one of my late mother's favourite photographs of herself in more recent times, being kissed by a seal called Ellie at the Porpoise Pool in Coff Harbours NSW, when she was visiting there with a busload of friends in 2007. In fact there are no porpoises there, just dolphins, seals and penguins. I remember Mum saying that she particularly liked the fact that both she and Ellie were originally from New Zealand, and consequently she felt a kind of affinity with her. No doubt Ellie was trained to kiss all the visitors, but I didn't argue!

Blog done,and now I'm heading off for a long weekend at the beach, but for more photographs of kissing couples, big hats, crowds and whatever else fellow Sepians may choose to feature this week, you can si simply put your hat on and head off to Sepia Saturday #321

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Fountains in Central Park

The prompt this week shows a fountain in Mexico from which the local people are filling earthenware jars with water, presumably for drinking. I don't really have much in the way of family photographs of fountains, so instead I thought I would look at the history of  a couple of fountains, which are both located in Central Park, which in this case is not in New York but in the suburb of Malvern East, near where we live.

The first fountain is the Wilmot Fountain, shown below in a photograph taken not long after it and the Conservatory behind it were built.  According to the Stonnington History Centre Catalogue,

  • "The Conservatory was erected in 1927 at a cost of 3,500 pounds. Located on an artificial mound, the Conservatory was open to the public and held permanent and temporary displays. Roller blinds were fitted to provide necessary shade. A sunken garden was built adjacent to the Conservatory to contain the marble fountain presented by the Mayor, Cr. H.G. Wilmot in 1928."

  • From the photo below which I took today it appears that the fountain and Conservatory have changed very little over almost 90 years, but of course the gardens are much more established. The water is flowing and it's a great setting for wedding photographs. One of our girls had lovely professional photographs of the bridal party posing around the fountain a few years ago.


Our daughter Laura's wedding, 1 October 2010. Photo courtesy Lisa Baker Photography,

  • The conservatory now houses the extensive orchid collection of a gentleman called John Varigos. There weren't many orchids currently in flower, but here is a link to his wonderful and amazing variety of orchid photographs on Flickr.

The second fountain in Central Park is the Gilpin Drinking Fountain. Here is a newspaper article describing its inauguration back in 1929. It was a shame the donor Mr Oliver Gilpin couldn't be present due to illness, but perhaps he just needed to drink more water!

Article published in the Age, Melbourne Victoria, Monday 10 March 1930, snipped from the Trove web site.

Present day photograph of the fountain's dedication.

According to the Stonnington History Centre Catalogue, 

  • "Oliver Gilpin (1874-1942) , is the man credited with creating the first major drapery chain store business in Australia.Gilpin opened his first drapery store in Korumburra in 1895. In 1910 the family moved to their new home, 'Kia Ora', in Finch Street East Malvern. Around 1917 the family separated and moved from Finch Street, but the business continued to run from the office in Belson Street. Around 1920 Gilpin subdivided his garden and created two blocks facing Central Park Road.Gilpin remarried and returned to live at 'Kia Ora' in 1921. Gilpin lived at the Finch Street house, with his third wife, from 1928 to 1936. By this time, Gilpin's chain of Drapery stores had grown to ninety-four branches. The business was taken over by Foy &​ Gibson in 1944."

Mr Gilpin's benevolence extended to donating another fountain to the nearby council of Balwyn, where he moved a few years later.

Presentation of the Gilpin Drinking Fountain 1929,

The Gilpin Fountain today, still maintained in working order

Central Park itself was established in the early 1900s, around the time that the first trams ran from the city along Wattletree Road to Burke St. Here is a plan from the Stonnington History Centre Catalogue of the kiosk that was proposed for the park in 1910.

  • Information from the Stonnington History Centre Catalogue:

  • "The photograph [above] shows an August 1910 architectural drawing for a proposed Tea and Refreshment Kiosk at Central Park, East Malvern. The floor plan and site plans show a building close to the corner of Burke Road and Wattletree Road.
  • The garden plan shows the position of gates including a lich gate and flower gardens and the position of flower beds.
  • The building has an octagonal refreshment room with verandah, sweet &​ fruit room and cake stall.
  • In the southern wing are a cloak room and ladies and gentlemen's lavatory. On the west wing are a scullery, kitchen and sitting room, bedrooms and bathroom.
  • Outside this wing are a yard with space for bicycles and preambulators and laundry and coal store.
  • There is also a sketch showing the elevation to Wattletree Road.
  • Crouch, architect, survey and sworn valuer 440 Collins Street, Melbourne is printed in the bottom right corner of the plan.
  • Print made from original 1910 architectural drawing."
                                                     The kiosk at Central Park at the corner of Wattletree Road and Burke Road.                                                                         

  • More from the Stonnington History Centre Catalogue:

  • "Central Park's site originally formed part ofthe 1885 residential subdivision of the Gascoigne Estate. Malvern Council purchased the 18 acre site for Central Park in 1906 for 5000 pounds, and the following year, Curator Thomas Pockett, selected a plan showing a sports oval at the northern end. The site at East Malvern was situated in the centre of Malvern, and was soon named Central Park. When Malvern Council took over the site in 1907, the land was still in the condition of undeveloped parkland. In 1908 tree planting commenced and fences were installed to keep out straying stock.A1907 advertisment for nearby real estate read -'It is expected that the park will form one of the finest public reserves around Melbourne. It is pointed out that the proposed electric tramway will run right to the gates of the new park. It is expected that the park will be in the centre of town and will induce people to patronise the tramway, and thus swell the receipts.'In 1910, the first tram for the Prahran and Malvern Tramway Trust commenced operation and ran down Wattletree Road to the terminus at Burke Road.In 1911 a timber framed kiosk, with a large refreshment room and upstairs accommodation for a caretaker, was constructed on the corner of Wattletree Road and Burke Road. The kiosk was built soon after the opening of the new tram electric service and it was ideally located at the terminus. Visitors arrived by tram to hear the Malvern Tramways Band playing at the newly erected bandstand, located at the rear of the kiosk. Central Park proved to be a great attraction for visitors.A supper room was added to the kiosk in the 1920s where dances, meetings and receptions were held, until the poor state of the building led to its demolition in 1973.The band rotunda was constantly in use during the 1930s but was demolished in 1951."

An example of an advertisement for the Kiosk published in 1913:
Prahran Telegraph 4 January 1913, snipped from Trove web site

Here's another photograph of the the kiosk  in its heyday, showing its convenient location at the tram terminus.

  • The kiosk was popular for dances and for many other public and private social functions. Here are a few examples of events held there.

Prahran Telegraph, 15 April 1911, snipped from trove web site

Prahran Telegraph, 25 May 1923, snipped from Trove web site
Prahran Telegraph, 6 September 1919, snipped from Trove web site
  • Sadly times changed and the Kiosk fell into decline in later years, and was demolished in 1973. Here's the same corner today. The trams still run, but anyone coming to the park without bringing their own supplies has to resort to the nearby shops and cafes for refreshment. Central Park is quite extensive and the council stages various outdoor events there throughout the year. The oval is used by several cricket and soccer clubs and is popular with dog walkers and personal trainers.

Family members playing a game of Kubb in the Park last Sunday after a picnic lunch.

                          Did anyone notice the mention of another kind of fountain in Central Park?

                     For more fountains, whether drinking or just decorative, just click over to Sepia Saturday #320