Paula Stafford, Henry Talbot and Spike Milligan

Guest bloggers: Nadia Buick and Madeleine King from The Fashion Archives

Paula Stafford—the Gold Coast fashion designer responsible for introducing the bikini to our beaches in the mid 20th century, and putting Queensland fashion on a global stage—was an impressive record keeper, with seemingly every new business venture, every new ad campaign, and every new swimsuit documented extensively. It’s a wonderful collection, but the scale is overwhelming! As we tackle box after box of archival documents and photos, we wonder if we’ll ever get closer to making a new discovery. Such was our state of mind when we pulled out the fifth box of photos for the day. We’d seen so many of the images before—some we’d sifted through previously, some the library have already digitized and catalogued online, and others were doubles. We’d already given up hope as we flicked through the final photo album in the last box of the day. Page after page returned what we’d seen before. Until of course, we flipped to the very last page, and turned over a photograph that had been slipped in loose. Just at a glance we could spot it wasn’t quite like the others. It didn’t feature the shop, or the Gold Coast locations that set the scene of the other Paula Stafford fashion shoots we’d encountered. No, this was quite different: a clean white studio environment. The models didn’t look like the bronzed girl-next-door types and rugged hairy-chested brutes Stafford seemed to favour for her shoots. They looked somehow more urbane, a pale London look. And actually, the male model didn’t look like a model at all. He looked like… Spike Milligan.

Photograph of Spike Milligan and model from Courier Mail

The photograph as it appeared in the Courier Mail

It’s a cliché of research that new discoveries are made once all hope is lost, the pursuit goes cold and then some unassuming scrap of evidence appears at the 11th hour. It’s just that it’s a cliché that rings true more often than not. Therefore, it’s a cliché that tortures researchers into sustaining a seemingly fruitless mission.

But back to the photograph: we flip it over for more clues. A hand-written caption reads, ‘Spike Milligan ‘Goons!’ fame with model wearing Paula Stafford outfit (reversible)’. A printed stamp on the back reads, ‘Helmut Newton & Henry Talbot Photographers. 578 Bourke Street’.

Spike Milligan and model reverse, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

An international photography studio, an international comedy star, and Paula Stafford. What lead to this strange constellation in Australia at this time?

We know that the German born photographers Helmut Newton and Henry Talbot had immigrated to Melbourne during World War II. They were sustained here by fashion publishing based predominately in Sydney. Their time in Australia was hugely influential. They produced a vast amount of photographs, and were not always credited, making it sometimes difficult to identify their work.

A quick search on Trove led us to discover that Spike Milligan was in Australia for a number of months in 1962, filming a comedy series for the ABC. But what was he doing in a fashion shoot?

We started looking for other shoots by Newton or Talbot, using Australian fashion, or models, or even featuring Spike Milligan. We knew Helmut Newton had left Australia for Paris in 1961, but his partner Henry Talbot continued to use the studio name. The photo was undated, but based on the styling and our knowledge of Paula Stafford’s work from this time, it looked like the early 1960s. We began searching for more Henry Talbot fashion photographs, and discovered some in the Powerhouse Museum collection for a campaign called ‘Everglaze’ (the product name of an American engineered cotton used by fashion designers all over the world). We located other photos from this campaign held by photographic dealers, featuring the same model, Kaia Stanford, seen in our photo with Spike Milligan. These credit the photograph as ‘Henry Talbot for Everglaze, 1962’.

Armed now with a date and a few keywords, we went looking for coverage in local newspapers. The Paula Stafford collection contains hundreds of newspaper clippings, so we figured it was likely she had kept a memento of this shoot with a significant photographer and an international comedy star. After a lot of digging, we discovered a partial clipping from The Courier Mail in 1962, featuring the photoshoot with Kaia Stanford and Spike Milligan. Unfortunately it was torn, but with access to the library’s microfilm collection, we were able to find the full-page feature.

Courier Mail November 28 1962 page 20

Courier Mail November 28 1962

Under the headline, “Spike the Goon Clown Shows How Fashions Can be Fun” (November 28, 1962), the piece features a collection of ‘leading Australian sportswear designers’, namely Paula Stafford, Kenneth Pirrie, Prestige, and Sports du Jour. The real focus of the piece, however, is the models that were in town for a major event on the Australian fashion calendar: the ‘All-Australian Fashion Parade’.

This was no ordinary fashion parade. It was an extraordinarily ambitious charity event presented by the Australian Women’s Weekly and the Myer Emporium featuring only the work of Australian designers. It toured from Sydney to Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. It ran for two months over the 4 capitals, and in each city offered a staggering two parades a day over a week or two, some with multiple evening parades.  In Brisbane, it was held at upscale hotel, Lennon’s, with considerable fanfare.

Courier Mail 17 August 1962 page 3

Courier Mail 17 August 1962

Along with Kaia Stanford, the Courier Mail spread features London model Jill Stinchcombe as a second foil to Spike Milligan’s comic antics. With her exciting mod hair-cut and ‘It Girl’ aura, Stinchcombe was a high-profile international addition to the All-Australian Parade line-up. The visiting models were followed intently by Australian press, with regular appearances in advertising campaigns and interviews for newspapers, magazines and television in the months surrounding the event. Everyone wanted to know what they ate, what they cooked, what make-up products they favoured, and what they did in their spare time.

Courier Mail 20 August 1962 page 14

Courier Mail 20 August 1962

There’s no mention of Everglaze in the Courier Mail piece—they’re referred to mysteriously as a ‘Swiss Fashion Group’—but it’s not unusual for fashion shoots to become separated from their original commercial purpose in the media, especially when celebrity subjects provide adequate newsworthiness.

Stafford’s garment is given prominence in the piece. It’s a coat featuring a geometric bamboo design—Everglaze cotton, of course—and a mandarin collar to complete the ‘oriental’ look. It’s cut at the front and sides from the hem to the waist to reveal a pair of orange Bermuda shorts beneath. The open sleeve cuff shows off an unmistakable trademark of Paula Stafford designs: it’s reversible, to be worn with the bold print or turned inside-out for a plainer look.

Paula Stafford’s position as an international trailblazer has been well established, but images like these remind us just how successful she was. This shoot demonstrates that in her second decade of trade, she was able to maintain an edgy, risqué image when the youthfulness and change of 1960s fashion saw many other designers of her generation left behind.

More on Paula Stafford at The Fashion Archives

The Suburb of Daisy Hill, Brisbane


Daisy Hill, looking towards Loganlea and Waterford, 1831

Daisy Hill, a suburb of Logan City, is situated 22 km south-east of the centre of Brisbane.

The Dennis family were the first European settlers in Daisy Hill. They arrived in Australia from Cornwall on the ‘Flying Cloud’ in 1864. James Dennis married Mary Ann Markwell, whose family came to Australia on the ship ‘Chaseley’ in 1849.

James and Mary Ann Dennis


The couple settled in Daisy Hill in 1870, having married in 1867. Mary Ann was born in Brisbane and died on 22 August at Daisy Hill. James Dennis was born at ‘Rosevin Cottage’, Penzance, in Cornwall on 7 June 1842. He died on 10 October 1893 at Dennisvale, the family property at Daisy Hill and was burried in the family cemetery, on the edge of Daisy Hill State Forest.


Dennisvale, James and Mary Ann Dennis' family house (built in 1890)


Dennis family cemetery, Daisy Hill State Forest

The forest known today as Daisy Hill State Forest was in a sorry state in 1903: ‘Daisy Hill did not always look so good. When the first forester inspected the forest  in 1903, he found that white settlers had devastated the area by indiscriminate timber removal’ (Courrier Mail, 14 September, 1996, p. 3).

An oral history collection at the John Oxley Library (Accession OH50) contains interviews with Florence Ellen Hampson and Charles Glen Shailer, whose families lived in the area that is now Daisy Hill State Forest: ‘Timber was used for building houses, girders for bridges and sleepers for tram and railway lines. Many of the sleepers for the tramways in Brisbane came from Daisy Hill State Forest in the early days. Timber was also used for electric light poles, house stumps, fence palings, shingles, boat keels, wood for boilers, wood for household stoves and for use in the jails.’ (Charles Glen Shailer, OH50, Item 2).

Mr Shailer’s great grandfather arrived in 1866 and his family has lived in the area ever since. He talks about the animals in the forest and Aboriginal people’s use of  the forest: ‘Yes, there were some Aboriginal people in both my father’s time and my time, but they lived under very different circumstances. My maternal grandmother spoke of Aboriginals burning the flat and part of where the rifle range was later built. The reason for the burn was to attract the wallabies to green grass shoots. On another occasion my aunt Sally Dennis told me that late one day a party of Aboriginals visited the homestead and grandfather gave them a bag of sweet potatoes. They made a fire and sat in a ring around the fire until the potatoes were cooked.’

In 2003 Mary Howells interviewed Florence Ellen (Poppy) Hampson for Logan City Council Oral History Project. Poppy Hampson was the daughter of Joseph and Lily Dennis. Joseph Dennis was the youngest son of James and Mary Ann Dennis.

Poppy Hampson talks about her childhood at Daisy Hill. Her father grew fruit and vegetables—papaws, pineapples and bananas, peas, beans and tomatoes.  The family also had a mango plantation. They used to sell mangoes to State Jams at Woolloongabba. As there were no grocery shops in Slacks Creek or Daisy Hill, Poppy’s father had to go to Beenleigh to buy food. The family had seven or eight cows at one time, cats and dogs as pats, and even a pet snake that would crawl amongst the papaws when they were being packed for the market.

Mrs Hampson went to Slacks Creek School as a child in the 1930s and she remembers her teachers—Miss Roberts, Miss Carmody and especially Mr Wilkes: ‘He’d scream and yell and he wouldn’t be short of using the cane, but a wonderful teacher’ (OH116-38, Box 9702, John Oxley Library).

Daisy Hill State Forest is a place of significant historic, scientific and natural value. The authors of Cultural heritage study of Daisy Hill State Forest Park : a report for the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage have listed cultural heritage places within the forest, including: Wrights Water Hole, Dennis Family Burial Ground and early snigging tracks, created by hauling timber from the forest in the early days of logging at Daisy Hill.


Resources about Daisy Hill, John Oxley Library

OH 50: Daisy Hill State Forest Oral History (Box 14304), John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

OH 116: Logan City Council Libraries Oral History Project (Boxes 9701 and 9702), John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Newspaper clippings, John Oxley Library: Logan-Suburbs-Daisy Hill

Photographs, John Oxley Library: Logan City-Suburbs-Daisy Hill

Anderson, Judith; et al. (1995), Cultural heritage study of Daisy Hill State Forest Park : a report for the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage


Veronika Farley, Archivist, Queensland Memory, State Library of Queensland

Queensland Places – Shipping via Torres Strait – The Queensland Line

As Queensland continued to develop through the last quarter of the nineteenth century, there was a growing need for efficient and regular access, via shipping, to overseas markets. In 1880, as a means of ensuring stable and regular shipping to Queensland, the government entered into an agreement with the British-India Steam Navigation Company for a Torres Strait route. This contract was initially described as a mail contract but quickly developed into a comprehensive shipping service.

The initial term of the agreement was eight years and the terminus of this so called “Queensland Line” was to be Brisbane. A number of terms and conditions were negotiated by the Queensland government, as part of this service, including “Queensland Line” ships not being permitted to sail south of Brisbane without the sanction of the government. As well, there was a series of ports of call stipulated in both directions along the route. These ports of call included the Queensland ports Keppel Bay, Bowen, Townsville, Cooktown and Thursday Island. Overseas ports stipulated were Batavia or Singapore, Colombo, Aden, Port Said, Naples, London and other English ports. The “Queensland Line” was initially established as a four-weekly service.

In addition to the carrying of general cargo, the “Queensland Line” ships brought many immigrants to Queensland, with the service being continued successfully up until the years following the First World War. The “Queensland Line” provided a range of benefits for Queensland. The commercial interests of central and northern Queensland were safe guarded by this reliable and effective shipping service. As well, the service enabled migrants to make their way to Queensland by the shortest route and avoid the long voyage via the southern Australian ports.

Over time, the British-India Steam Navigation Company went through a complex history of company amalgamation, eventually becoming part of the P & O Group.

Duke of Portland, State Library of Queensland Neg. No. 54208

Duke of Portland

This image shows one of the Queensland Line ships, the Duke of Portland at anchor in Brisbane in around 1900.

Brian Randall, Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland.

Accession M 1750: Jules Guerassimoff Cutting Books

Accession M 1750

This interesting accession contains two large scrapbooks with press cuttings and photographs about Jules Guerassimoff’s rugby career with the Wallabies, including newspaper articles about tours to South Africa (1963), New Zealand (1964), England, France and Canada (1966-1967).

Accession M 1750

Accession M 1750

Guerassimoff was born in Thangoll, central Queensland, on 28 June 1940. His grandparents were Russians who left Siberia in the late 1920s with false papers, reaching Australia after travelling through Japan, Canada and China.

Jules Guerassimoff, Accession M 1750

Accession M 1750

Accession M 1750

Jules Guerassimoff played interstate rugby during the 1960s and international rugby with the Wallabies in the 1960s and 1970s. His Wallaby number was 490 and his position flanker. He played 12 tests for the Wallabies.

Interestingly, most players received no pay during the tour to South Africa: ‘Most of the Wallabies have made a big financial sacrifice to come on the present tour. Only three of them are receiving full pay from their employers during an absence of more than three months, some are on half pay and a number of others, including two schoolteachers and 12 students, will be heavily out of pocket. (by A. C. Parker)

Accession M 1750

In one of the newpspaper articles in this accession, entitled ‘Jules changed mind’, we learn that Guerassimoff had no particular interest in playing rugby union (he played rugby league at school), until he won a State reserve jersey against France at the end of the 1961 season. That year, aged 22, he was included in the Queensland team going on a tour to New Zealand: ‘After four tough matches on that tour he was ready to face the Australian selectors in a tough series of trials in Sydney.’

After Australia defeated South Africa in the Second test (9-5), Guerassimoff’s teammate Greg Davis said: ‘I could not have played nearly as well without Jules. He was tremendous. I knew that if I went for a man or the ball and missed, Jules would be there to succeed.’


“2013 CLASSIC WALLABIES STATESMEN BIOS”, accessed on 10 November, 2014,,

Veronika Farley, Archivist, Queensland Memory, State Library of Queensland


Building Costs for the Julius Street Flats at New Farm

Receipts for Julius Street Flats

In a year when there has been much interest in Queensland architecture and of house design and building costs in Brisbane. It is interesting to find a time capsule for the 1930’s in the State Library of Queensland’s collections. The Julius Street flats at New Farm, was heritage listed in 1997 and built by E.W. Mazlin and is a rare example of a group of highly intact 1930s flats /apartment buildings.

For a tantalizing look at construction costs of the past visit the State Library of Queensland to discover more about the social and economic history of a particular time. Through the collections of the John Oxley Library, it is possible to delve deep into the past and explore what life was like in a particular era.

The land in New Farm where the properties are located was originally part of a larger parcel for which a Deed of Grant was issued to John McConnell, in January 1845.

Julius Street, is a short and narrow cul-de-sac that is surrounded by a highly intact group of 1930s buildings, and as such is recognised as having a distinct sense of place.  They have considerable aesthetic significance as a highly intact group of 1930s flat buildings, designed in a range of fashionable styles favoured by architects of much of the more prestigious domestic housing in Brisbane during the interwar period.



The flats, consisting of seven properties comprising of Ardrossan, Green Gables, 5 Julius Street, Syncarpia, Ainslie, Pine Lodge, and Evelyn Court, are located fronting Julius Street.  They were constructed between 1934 and 1938 on a parcel of land that was subdivided in 1933 by Julius Rosenfeld, who had operated Rosenfeld’s Sawmill on the site from c.1924. The place is important in demonstrating the pattern of residential development in Brisbane, and in particular New Farm, between the wars.

This collection of material for the Julius Street build showcases the construction costs of the day but also a closer look at a more personal view.


Grocery receipt


Some other items of interest are the household accounts for Mr. Mazlins family, in the form of their grocery account for April 1943. This captures a glimpse of what was being purchased by this household during a time when there was shortages because of the Second World War and It is interesting to see the cost of such things as 50lbs of sugar at 16 shillings and 8 pence, 1lb currents 10 pence and 1 bar of kerosene soap at 8 pence.

This collection captures not only the cost of construction but the types of materials used and also the businesses from whom the materials were sources. There are beautifully presented art works on the stationary whether it is plumbing supplies or the new stove. All this material tells a story while capturing the essence of the day during a time of unrest in the world. This building was heritage listed in 1997 and

a full history can be found here.

To view this collection ask for the Julius Street Building, New Farm Records

Janette Garrad – Original Content Technician, State Library of Queensland


John Henry Paul Berthon Photograph Albums and Sketchbook Digitised @SLQ

In April this year the John Oxley Library was fortunate to receive a wonderful donation of two photograph albums and a sketchbook compiled by a young Welsh engineer who arrived in Australia in the mid 1880′s to work on railway projects in central and northern Queensland.  John Henry Paul Berthon was a man of many talents.  He was a keen musician, he played banjo and sang and was also a talented artist, photographer and sportsman.

He immersed himself in colonial life and became an integral member of the communities in which he lived, including Cairns, where he owned an auction house and was involved in sporting teams and musical societies.  Jack, as he was universally known, worked on railway projects in the Rockhampton district and helped plan the route of the Cairns to Kuranda track.  The photograph albums and sketchbook are annotated by Jack, providing a fascinating insight into colonial life, in his own witty and humorous style.

Jack Berthon's sketchbook, 1885





The albums, also, are a treasure trove of wonderful images, providing an intimate portrait of Berthon’s personal and working life in the Cairns region and North Queensland.







Jack Berthon, in drag, performing in a theatrical production in Cairns, 1893.

The following information was provided by J.H.P. Berthon’s granddaughter who lives in England.  She very kindly brought the collection into the John Oxley Library whilst holidaying in Australia.

John Henry Paul Berthon, universally known as Jack, was born in India in 1865, third child and only son of Major General John Frederick Berthon of the Bombay Staff Corps.  His mother, Maria, sadly died en route home from India when Jack was only four, and is buried in Cannes, France.  Jack and his sisters were then mainly brought up by their uncle, the Dean of St Asaph in North Wales.  Jack, a keen sportsman, initially went into the army but according to family legend he failed his religious exams (embarrassing if you are brought up in a deanery) so he became an engineer.  He had an aunt who lived in Geelong, Victoria, so that is probably how he came to be in Australia. 

In 1890, en route back to Australia from England, Jack was shipwrecked in the Red Sea, aboard the steamship Dacca.  He swam to the Daeldalus lighthouse with his banjo on his back and then drew a picture of the ship going down.  Mercifully everyone was saved, but Jack lost all his belongings, including his precious “references” which he had to reapply for.  Jack’s description of the event, together with his drawings, subsequently appeared in the “Illustrated London News”, and various other newspapers including the “Times”.


J.H.P. Berthon's first-hand account of the "Dacca" shipwreck contained in Album 2


J.H.P. Berthon's illustrations of the "Dacca" shipwreck, contained in Album 2.

His grand daughter continues the story:  After leaving Queensland in the mid 1890s Jack Berthon went to America, prospecting and mining for gold in Oregon.  By the time Jack was 40 he was back in Wales where he married Elsie Lyddon from Cardiff in 1905.  In 1908 their only child, a daughter, Violet, (my mother) was born.  The family originally lived in Wimbledon on the outskirts of London, but later returned to Cardiff where Jack took over an uncle’s engineering company, J.B. Saunders, which specialised in railway equipment.

Jack Berthon was a much respected, talented and popular man, an excellent engineer, and a much loved husband, father, and grandfather, but not a terrific businessman.  According to my mother he had started many enterprises over the years, including an experimental farm, but none provided much in the way of financial reward.  He died near his daughter’s home in Bristol, England, in 1952.

Jack Berthon has left a lasting legacy to the people of Queensland in these beautiful albums and sketchbook which, thanks to his family, have come back to their place of creation.  The John Henry Paul Berthon Collection, Accession 29440, may be viewed at the John Oxley Library or online at:

Lynn Meyers

Original Materials Librarian



NPA Cultural Festival

NPA Cultural Festival logo

Many Cultures One Spirit was the theme for the recent Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) Cultural Festival. This inaugural event was hosted by the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC) and drew together participants from the Torres Strait and Cape York as well as the local communities. The program celebrated the diverse cultures across the five communities of the NPA.

State Library stall

The event was held at the NPA Yusia Ginau Oval at Bamaga and included stalls, exhibits and a central stage and performance area. Stalls were constructed in traditional style to add to the atmosphere of the festival. The above image shows Tyler Wellensiek from the Cairns Office setting up a display board for Indigenous languages. Tyler and I were there to support the IKC Coordinators and NPARC with their Languages Alive project.

State Library's language display board

As well as the stall, Tyler and I spoke to stallholders and participants about the state of languages in the NPA communities. While some of the Torres Strait Islander languages were still spoken by many people across the communities, there was a concern for the Aboriginal languages of Cape York. There are 11 Aboriginal languages in the community language profile, however many of these are endangered and only spoken by a handful of Elders.

NPA food stall

The stalls surrounding the oval featured traditional foods, including kup mari, sop sop, blood pig as well as contemporary fare such as hamburgers for the not so adventurous!

Saibai Island dancers.

Highlights of the festival were the evening performances showcasing dance groups from the Torres Strait and Cape York. The Saibai Island Dance Group were spectacular in their costumes and high energy dances while the local Injinoo dance group amassed a large group of performers of all ages to share their local dances – there was even an opportunity for audience participation, but I kept my two left feet out of harm’s way! The Lockhart dancers showed why they have been one of the champion dance groups at the biennial Laura Dance Festival.


Other highlights on the program included a fashion parade featuring local youth as well as a range of performances from local singers and bands.








Ludwig Leichhardt III Visits The John Oxley Library

On Wednesday, 15th October, the John Oxley Library, had the pleasure of hosting a visit from Mr Ludwig Leichhardt from Berlin.  Ludwig Leichhardt III is the great-great-grand-nephew of the famous 19th century explorer and naturalist who disappeared in Australia in 1848.  Mr Leichhardt, a retired engineer, has been fascinated by his famous forebear since his teens and has written four books on the topic.  He last visited Australia in 1988 for Australia’s bicentenary, giving a speech about the renowned explorer at a University of N.S.W. conference to mark the 175th anniversary of Leichhardt’s birth.

Ludwig Leichhardt Lithograph, 1846. Acc: 6415

Mr Leichhardt’s visit to Southeast Queensland is an initiative of the Office of the German Honorary Consul to Queensland, Professor Michael Schultz, with the support of the German Australian Community Centre, Queensland, and marks the 170th anniversary of the start of Leichhardt’s great overland expedition from Moreton Bay to Port Essington in October 1844.  Mr Leichhardt’s programme included visits to the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, John Oxley Library and the Queensland Museum, to view collection items relating to his famous ancestor.  He also attended the German Unification Day reception in Brisbane and visited schools across Brisbane and the northern Gold Coast to speak with German students and their teachers.  The climax of the visit culminated on the 27th October at a reception given by the University of Queensland in honour of the visiting President of the German Parliament, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert.  The following day Mr Leichhardt and Dr Norbert attended a ceremony at Brisbane Airport where the newest Qantas Boeing 737-838 VH-XZO was named “Leichhardt”.

Whilst at the John Oxley Library Mr Leichhardt, accompanied by Royal Historical Society of Queensland President, Helen McMonagle, viewed significant Leichhardt collection items, including an 1839 letter written by Ludwig Leichhardt while he was a student in Paris, various rare Leichhardt maps and charts, and a lithograph portrait of Dr. Leichhardt.  As you can see there is an uncanny family resemblance between the two men.

Mr Ludwig Leichhardt viewing the 1839 Leichhardt letter which is currently on display in the Treasures Wall, John Oxley Library.


Mr Leichhardt in the John Oxley Library Reading Room viewing rare Leichhardt maps and charts.

The John Oxley Library holds a significant collection of Leichhardt material including maps, charts, published works relating to his explorations, biographies and photographs which may be located through our catalogue.

Lynn Meyers

Original Materials Librarian

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

On October 27, the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is celebrated internationally to raise awareness of the need to preserve audiovisual assets in our collections for current and future generations.

The theme for this year is “Archives at Risk: Much More to Do”. Visit the official website to see how collecting institutions around the world are acknowledging this day.

Here at State Library, we have original film, video and audio items that reflect the culture and history of Queensland. The fragility of audiovisual formats makes it critical to preserve as much of the collection as possible via proper storage, treatment and transfer of content. There is an ongoing program of transferring analogue content to digital formats to provide access to the content and for preservation purposes. Significant collections or at-risk collections are identified and prioritised for digitisation as part of this program.

You can watch a range of our existing digitised movies on Flickr Commons.

Currently we are working on the Playback Oral History Project, where public libraries, community museums and historical organisations in Queensland were invited to submit a small selection of their oral histories to be digitised, made accessible and preserved. Participants from seven organisations identified historical local oral recordings for digitisation and reformatting by SLQ. These participants are in turn creating and presenting new material from the digitised content. You can visit the project webpage to hear extracts of audio recordings from the various participants. The seven collections of more than one hundred oral history recordings will be available through our catalogue in mid-November 2014. Watch for announcements via SLQ website, Twitter, Facebook and our blogs.

Oral histories awaiting digitisation

You can do your part for World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. Locate your audiovisual items that might have been forgotten and make a start by caring for your collections. Here are some links to guides to preserving your collection, to ensure that your heritage materials are accessible in the future.

SLQ Conservation Clinics are also available bimonthly, where conservation staff offer one-on-one consultations to help you look after your personal treasures including audiovisual collections. You can also make time to consult with Conservation staff by email or phone if you are not in Brisbane. Bookings 07 3842 9069, enquiries 07 3840 7779.

Swee Cheng Wong – Audiovisual Conservator, State Library of Queensland

Queensland Places – Somerset – Henry Marjoribanks Chester

Henry Marjoribanks Chester is prominent in the history of the Torres Strait region by virtue of his having been one of the Police Magistrates at Somerset.  Henry Chester was born in 1832 in England and immigrated to Queensland in 1864, where he worked for a time in the Union Bank of Australia.  He was then appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands and Police Magistrate for the Warrego Pastoral District.  He subsequently served as Land Agent at both Gladstone and Gympie.

In 1869, he was appointed Police Magistrate at Somerset, replacing Frank Jardine who had been granted leave of absence.  Chester was under the impression that his appointment was permanent and was disappointed when he had to stand aside when Frank Jardine returned in August 1870.  Chester stayed at Somerset until around 1872, involving himself in various business enterprises, as well as undertaking some exploration of the area.  Eventually he was re-employed to fill the vacancy brought about by the death in office of Police Magistrate Aplin, taking charge on 20 October 1875.

On 25 September 1877, Chester took charge of the new settlement at Thursday Island, before moving on to serve as Police Magistrate at several other Queensland locations including Cairns, Croydon, Cooktown, Clermont and Gladstone.

One of the major highlights in Chester’s long and varied career was his sailing north in the Pearl from Thursday Island to take possession of the supposedly unoccupied eastern half of New Guinea when, under instructions from the then Premier of Queensland, Sir Thomas McIllwraith, he planted the Union Jack at Port Moresby on 4 April 1883.  This act of occupation, with its complex political background, was later disowned and disavowed by the British government.

Henry Chester died in Brisbane on 3 October 1914.

Henry Marjoribanks Chester, State Library of Queensland Neg. No. 166768

Henry Marjoribanks Chester


This image, published at the time in various newspapers and publications, shows an artist’s impression of Henry Marjoribanks Chester, at the time of the raising of the British flag at Port Moresby.

You may also be interested in two recent blog posts on the history of the Somerset settlement Part 1 and Part 2

Brian Randall, Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland.