Duck trousers, straw bonnets, and bluey: the history of Tasmanian textiles and clothing is filled with colourful and unique garments, characters, and stories. Stories like that of Joseph Bidencope, a skilful tailor and milliner from Poland, whose popular hats made in Battery Point were exhibited to great success at the Philadelphia International Exhibition in 1876. Or the many stories of the female convicts housed in the factories at Cascades and Ross – some of whom were imprisoned for stealing aprons, bonnets, and jackets – who made, embroidered, and laundered clothing.
These stories- and many more- are at the heart of a new free exhibition Duck Trousers, straw bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of Fabrics and Clothing in Tasmania currently on display in the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives Reading Room in Hobart. The exhibition has original records and heritage books from the Tasmanian Archive and State Library collection on display, along with information and images in our new exhibition space.
A single item, sitting on a library shelf, can be the thread of a story that weaves through locations and generations. This one is a ‘musical score’ – the sheets of music notes used for a performance – owned by a notable (but little known) Tasmanian woman.
Sometime in the 1990s it came to the attention of the National Archives (then responsible for Tasmanian railway records) that a large collection of railway plans was languishing in haphazard storage at the Inveresk Railyards in Launceston. Archivists were dispatched to investigate and encountered a chaotic situation. Records had been stored anywhere and everywhere, including stuck up a disused chimney! Many had been badly affected by the 1929 floods and by the incursion of soot from coal-fired steam engines. However, the collection was one of marvellous significance, documenting Tasmania’s railway infrastructure. The archivists made a case for the preservation of this collection and secured funding to perform the mammoth task of cleaning, organising and properly storing the recovered hoard. In the process they found something quite unexpected.
This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania. Each year, we place items online to help promote and preserve our rare and special collections. These images and films are just a tiny sample of an amazing treasure trove of Tasmania’s heritage. From colonial artwork to convict records, fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell millions of stories from Tasmania and around the world.
Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue or visit us on Flickr, YouTube and Instagram.
In this blog:
Photographs related to the history of Tasmanian trams, buses, equipment and staff – Ref: AG184/1/1 to 33
Glass plate negatives of Hobart and Surrounds by William James Little (c1870 – 1920s) – Ref: NS526/1/1 to 49
Photographs collected by the Cox Family (c1850-1929) – Ref: NS6904/1/1 to 87
Photographs of Launceston sent to Overseas Pen-Friends – Ref: NS5622/1/1 to 15
Photographs of Hobart and surrounds taken by James Chandler (c1920s) – Ref: NS1231/2/1 to 22
Small collection of glass plate negatives from the Black family (c1930s) – Ref: NS5583/1/1 to 13
Album of Thomas Midwood – Ref: NS6759/1/1
Port Arthur Circuit – Baptism Register (1828-43) – Ref: NS499/1/531
Port Arthur Circuit – Burial Register (1832-43) – Ref: NS499/1/532
Wills from AD960/1/1, AD960/1/2, AD960/1/3 and AD960/1/4
In 1908, Cyril joined the New Town Harrier club continuing until he went to war in September 1915. He even appeared in the first race of the season held at Moonah on Saturday 26 June 1915. It was a two mile handicap race in which Cyril finished in fourth place.
Cyril returned to running for New Town after the war. In later life, he became an administrator in the club. In 1912, Cyril began an apprenticeship as a furniture upholsterer with Whitesides & Sons which ran a furnishing warehouse at 166 Liverpool Street, Hobart.
Going to war
Together with his unit, the 12th Australian Infantry Battalion, Private Cyril John Allen embarked at Melbourne on board HMAT Hororata A20 on 27 September 1915. You can follow the progress of Cyril’s battalion by reading the 12th battalion diaries from 1914 to 1919.
Cyril was awarded the Military Medal in June 1917 and promoted to the rank of corporal. In 1918, Cyril was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served as Acting Quartermaster-Sergeant (AQMS).
A certificate was issued to “Cyril John Allen MM2905 – Sergeant – 12th Battalion. Served with honour and was disabled in the Great War. Honourably discharged on 7.8.19”.
Cyril served as a machine gunner in the same platoon as his good friend, Gunner Tom Williamson. In 1917, Tom was killed a few yards away in the trenches. While still at the front, Cyril wrote a consoling letter to Tom’s mother.
Cyril returned to Australia on board the SS Suffolk in June 1919. On the first day home from the war, Cyril is pictured in an open-air car which might be a 1917 E-X-45 Buick Tourer. It sports an Australian flag from a side panel. Squeezed into the seat is Cyril, his mother, and the driver, Mr Craige, who was influential in the New Town Harrier Club.
Cyril went into business as a furrier in New Town, Hobart, Tasmania. His business imported animal furs of many types and made them into coats and other clothes.
In July 1972, Cyril received a number of appreciative letters from students at Chigwell Primary School for a talk he gave about animal furs.
Cyril and his family were active members of the New Town Methodist Church. Prior to the second world war, Cyril was superintendent at Albert Park Methodist Sunday School. He continued to support the Methodist Church into the 1960s and 1970s with donations.
World War II
Cyril served in Australia in World War II. In the late 1930s, Cyril is pictured with full medals on display on ANZAC Day.