Isn’t it good, Taswegian Wood: Experiments in Growing Cricket Bat Willow Trees and a Wooden Cricket Pitch

In the 1930s and 40s cricket bats were a precious thing. Around the world, bats were in short supply, largely due to an increase in demand for English willow (Salix alba var. caerulea) for use in a range of items both during and after the Second World War. As was noted in correspondence between J. M. Crockett and The Commissioner of the Australian Council of Agriculture in July 1940:

every available tree of this type has been taken over in Gt Britain for War Purposes, the chief item being aircraft construction, the timber being the best substitute for spruce, which is all tied up now in countries occupied by the enemy … The other uses for this willow is artificial limbs for which no other timber is suitable, and recently has [been found to have] the quickest, and most powerful detonation as a component in high explosive fuses for shells … So you can see that none of the tree is not of high commercial value.

As a cricket bat manufacturer, J. M. Crockett (Jim) had obvious motives in writing to the Commissioner and highlighting both the current global willow shortages and the value of willow timber more broadly; he wanted to propose the planting of willow trees as a viable and profitable agricultural activity in Australia. As Jim Crockett continues in his letter, ‘in normal times Australia’s requirements alone is 100,000 cricket bats annually, for which 4,500 mature trees would be required to produce the same.’ Kashmiri willow, which today is a major source of cricket bat willow, had not yet been fully developed as an industry outside of India, and so the bat-making industry was having to look further afield to other sources of willow. Australia, and most particularly the cooler and wetter climate of Tasmania, was certainly a strong option worth exploring. Over the next few years Jim Crockett made several visits to Tasmania, noting the ‘climatic conditions ideal’ for willow bat propagation. Indeed, he went so far as to state that ‘not only could Tasmania make Australia self-sufficient, but an export trade to the empire’s cricketing Dominions was extremely likely.’

Continue reading “Isn’t it good, Taswegian Wood: Experiments in Growing Cricket Bat Willow Trees and a Wooden Cricket Pitch”

Recently Digitised Material: October-December 2021

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue and Tasmanian Names Index or visit us on FlickrYouTube and Instagram.

In this blog:

  • Photographs of Tasmanian Cricket Teams – Ref: PH40/1/3625-27
  • Photographs of Launceston and Perth– Ref: NS7193/1/5-8
  • Artwork of Launceston Mechanics Institute – Ref: LPIC41/1/1
  • Artwork of Hobart Town, on the River Derwent, Van Diemen’s Land by W.J. Huggins (Allport)
  • Photograph of Twin Ferry Kangaroo, Hobart – Ref: PH30/1/3269
  • Advertisement for Weaver and Co, Wellington Bridge Hobart by T Midwood – Ref: NS6760/1/7
  • Glass Plate Negatives by A Rollings of Sorell Area – Ref: NS1553/1/1010-1099
  • Register of Convicts B, M-Z 1835-47 – Ref: CON22/1/4
  • Register of payment of salaries to officers of the police, 1855-57 – Ref: AUD45/1/1-3
  • Journal of a voyage from Liverpool to VDL, 1833 – Ref: NS5739/1/1
  • Copies of Wills Recording Granting of Probate – Ref: AD960/1/6, AD960/1/7
  • Film of opening of Launceston library after refit – Ref: AG279/1/2
  • Film of the Launceston children’s library – Ref: AG279/1/1
Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: October-December 2021”

Recently Digitised Material: October-December 2020

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this post contains images and voices of deceased persons.

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 and YouTube.

In this blog:

  • Peter Laurie Reid Carte-De-Visite Collection, c1860 – Ref: NS1442/1/1 to 53
  • Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 – Ref: NS6607/1/1 to 14
  • Stereoscopic Photographs of Emu Bay Burnie, c1890 – Ref: NS6664/1/1 to 5
  • Stereoscopic photographs taken by George Benjamin Davies for submission to the Postal Stereoscopic Society of Australia, c1921 – Ref: NS6538/1/1 to 33
  • Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau photographs – AA375
  • Photograph of Fanny Cochrane Smith and Horace Watson recording Tasmanian Aboriginal Songs: NS1553/1/1798
  • Illustrated Travelogue July 1919 – Ref: NS6853
  • Fountain in Governor’s garden, Port Arthur – Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
  • Drawing of George Meredith, Senior – Ref: LMSS12/1/72
  • Photographs from the Trustees of the Tasmanian Public Library – Ref: SLT23
  • Wills Image Replacement Project: AD960/1/1
  • Diary of Police Duties kept by Charles H. Brown, District Constable, Coal Mines, Tasman Peninsula 1853 – Ref: CON129/1/1
  • Index to General Correspondence, 1836-7 – Ref: CSO4

Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: October-December 2020”

A History of Play: Early Childhood Education in Tasmania

Firstly, a confession. I have struggled to write this blog, to gather references and to find a quiet space to write an intelligent, interesting, engaging and informative piece on the history of early childhood education in Tasmania. My first effort was informative, but it seemed to lack something, and I wasn’t happy with it.  

Then, one day, I had an epiphany while walking after work. I feel an immense pride in the public education system in Tasmania. I send both my boys to public schools on the Eastern Shore in Southern Tasmania. My father was a well-loved, enthusiastic and dedicated Physics and Maths teacher in both public and private schools in Northern Tasmania. I still recall him enthusiastically telling me, “Tasmania has the best public education system in Australia.” When I studied at University, I was constantly meeting his past students whose choices were in some way inspired by his teaching methods.

This is how education began in Tasmania – with inspired, talented people dedicated to improving the lives of Tasmanian children.  

While researching this blog, I discovered one such person, Joseph Benson Mather, who was determined to provide an education to Tasmania’s poorest children. I and my colleagues went on to find dozens of stories of devoted parents, dedicated teachers, and generous communities who believed that young Tasmanian children deserved high quality early childhood education. Together, they laid the groundwork for early childhood education in Tasmania today, where amazing teachers encourage little children to learn through play, to be curious, and to love school.

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From “Dangerously Foul Air” to Free School Milk: A Brief History of Public Health in Tasmanian Public Schools, 1900-1975

Schools with no toilets and no sinks to wash your hands. Sick children labelled as “mentally deficient” because of their swollen adenoids and tonsils. Adolescents with a full set of dentures, little children cleaning their teeth with the corner of a sooty towel. A generation of teenagers with curved spines and poor eyesight from bending over their school desks in poorly lit and freezing cold classrooms. This was the picture of public health in Tasmanian schools in 1906. Over the next 75 years, schools found themselves on the front lines of the battle against contagious disease, poor nutrition and poor health. Over time, Tasmanian public schools became a crucial part of the Tasmanian public health system, and transformed the lives of thousands of Tasmanian children. Read on to find out more about this fascinating story.

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Tasmanian Film Corporation: If it moves, we’ll shoot it

It operated for just five years, but the Tasmanian Film Corporation created many of Tasmania’s most iconic films.
40 years on, we remember this agency and their work.

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