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”

Recently Digitised Material

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, from fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, from private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell literally 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:

  • Glass Plate Negatives of Sea Captains, c1920 – Ref: NS6192
  • Stereoscopic Views of the ‘Franklin Relics,’ 1860 – Ref: NS1155
  • Mt Biscoff Tin Mine Photographs – Ref: NS6719
  • Gentleman Jim, 1942 – Reference: Ref: NS4264/1/5
  • Hobart High School Photos – Ref: AG162/1/6
  • Charles Street School Register 1902-08 – Ref: AB753/1/1
  • Return of Convicts Embarked for Port Arthur by the Ships Tamar, Isabella, Shamrock, and Lady Franklin (1834-1855). Ref: CON126/1/1
  • Return of Money Forfeited by Prisoners at Port Arthur (1864). Ref: CON132/1/1
  • Letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Commandant, Port Arthur (1834). Ref: CON86/1/2
  • Film: Timber Makes News, 1947 – Ref: AC672/1/219
  • Film: Les Skelly talking about Tiger Hill, 1986-9 – Ref: NS1391/1/1
  • Film: Burnie Mill, 1956 – Ref: AC672/1/1

Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material”

Esther’s Story, Part Three: The Cascades Female Factory and Brickfields Invalid Depot, 1870-1877

In 1870, a horrific assault took place at the Cascades Female Factory. At eight o’clock in the morning on the 13th of July, a woman named Eliza Osborne beat an elderly woman named Ellen Conway with the iron dinner bell. She hit her in the head so hard that the bell cracked. Ellen Conway was a 73 year old ex-convict who had been sent to the depot for begging. One of the people who rushed to her side to help her was the nurse, Mrs Cecilia Eliza Paul. A few kilometers away (about 25 minutes’ walk), the nurse’s daughter ten year old Esther Mary Paul was also a witness – to her uncle George’s marriage at the family home at Cross Street, Sandy Bay.

This week in Esther’s story, we break away from the whaling logbook where we first found her as a five year old girl. Now we’ll trace her and her parents through two institutions which housed the most vulnerable people in Hobart in the 1870s – the Brickfields Invalid Depot and the Cascades Establishment. To piece that story together, we have to jump forward and backward in time a little bit, but I promise it is worth the journey!

Continue reading “Esther’s Story, Part Three: The Cascades Female Factory and Brickfields Invalid Depot, 1870-1877”

Esther’s Story, Part Two: Getting By in Hobart, 1860-1870

“Cross Street, Sandy Bay Road,” “Be a good girl, Esther,” “Esther shall not go out again,” “Bombay is in Asia, ABC,” “Evil communication corrupts,” “Love your grandmother Esther” – each of these were written over and over again in a whaler’s logbook, and signed “Esther Mary Paul” in November or December, 1865. What was little Esther doing writing these lines, in -between and alongside the records of her uncle and aunt’s adventures at sea long before she was born? Was she being educated or punished, or both? Where was she living and why was she there? In this continuing story of little Esther Mary Paul and the whaling logbook in the Crowther Collection, we’ll try to piece together Esther’s young life. It’s a tale of sorrow, struggle, and abandonment, but also of strength, resilience, and love.

Continue reading “Esther’s Story, Part Two: Getting By in Hobart, 1860-1870”

Esther’s Story, Part One: The Whaler’s Log

In November of 1865, a five year old girl named Esther sat in a house in Sandy Bay, writing lines in a small, leather-bound book. Some days, she had geography lessons. Some days, she was in trouble. Some days, she just needed to memorize her new address. Two months came and went, and the little girl wrote line after line. Her notebook had once belonged to her Uncle William, and recorded his whaling voyages to the Pacific Ocean and the Timor Sea. In the spaces in-between the stories of whales and gales, little Esther did her school work. So did her Aunt Charlotte, who copied out poems and ballads for the little girl to memorize. Aunt Charlotte knew that logbook well, for it was the record of her own honeymoon at sea, nine years earlier. Now it became a part of a different family story – of tragedy, loss, love, abandonment, and survival.

Esther’s Story is actually the story of three nineteenth-century women: Esther Mary Paul (Lithgow), her mother Cecilia Eliza (Rowland) Paul, and her aunt Charlotte Ann (Rowland) Jacobs. Over Family History Month, we’ll follow these women through three blogs and fifty years of their lives, using digital collections together with library and archival resources. It’s a tale of adventure, improvisation, and resilience, but it’s also something else. It’s a reminder – of how our own historical present can change how we think about the past. Read on to discover more.

Continue reading “Esther’s Story, Part One: The Whaler’s Log”

Collecting history as it happens – COVID-19 Stories campaigns across Australia

A Libraries Tasmania and TMAG partnership, COVID-19 Stories, is reaching out to Tasmanians to capture their stories and records of the pandemic. COVID-19 Stories is just one of many projects across Australia aiming to preserve memories of this historic time. Stories – big and small – are needed to fully record this story. With enough public input these wide-ranging projects will allow us to capture the diverse experiences of our community as we faced, and carried on through, a life-changing, worldwide pandemic.

COVID-19 STORIES Submission – J Davidson
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The Conservation Treatment of CRO5/1/33

About 170 years ago, a prominent Hobart doctor made a series of anatomical drawings for local medical students. Dr Edward Swarbreck Hall’s stunning illustrations later ended up in the hands of his fellow medical practitioner, Sir William Crowther, who donated them (with the rest of his considerable collection) to the State Library of Tasmania. But the drawings were in poor condition, neglected for well over a century, and they needed urgent conservation treatment before they could be displayed. What follows is the story of how our conservator, Stephanie McDonald, brought one of the drawings back to life for Lauren Black’s new exhibition, A Complex Beauty at the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition will soon be available online as a ‘walk-through’ digital experience (in the meantime, you can check it out on Flickr). Read on to discover more!

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Tasmania’s Area Schools

In the 1930’s, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Tasmanian educators came up with a bold new vision to transform rural schools. They wanted to teach the latest in agricultural science, to instil a lifelong love of learning, and to help Tasmanian rural children develop into informed citizens of a modern democracy. They ended up creating a model that was admired around Australia and the world: the Tasmanian Area School.

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