RGSSA Library Catalogue

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

RGSSA Exhibition Catalogue for 2016



GPO Adelaide 1880

The RGSSA is located in the Mortlock Wing
 State Library of South Australia
 North Terrace, Adelaide, 5000 South Australia 
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 1 pm

The object of the Society is to promote the understanding of geography 
among its members and the community

The RGSSA's Volunteer Library Committee
 acted as exhibition curator 

Challenging Communications from 1836

Transport and communications were a vital part of the 18th and 19th century's organised settlement and trade. Australia as an island continent needed maritime mail communications, vital for access to the European commodities markets and immigration.

By  the 1870s Adelaide, was the electronic telecommunications hub of our part of the Southern hemisphere relaying messages from Europe and all countries en route to the rest of the Australian capital cities and New Zealand. This had the effect of putting Adelaide, and South Australia, on the world map.

The infrastructure set up at that time by private enterprise and colonial government stretched our ability to cope with this demand, but we did, and the economic boom lasted until the 1890s. The boom started with the significant ore discoveries, particularly gold, coal and tin. Subsequently the establishment of the stock exchange, increased wool and meat  production, aided  by refrigerated shipping,  and the expansion of pastoral  holdings,  led to a demand for transport to get the products to the coast, and to local or overseas markets, at the best price, at the best time.

During this  brief period as a hub, 1870-1890,  Adelaide  was ideally  placed  to be at the forefront of new ideas  on industrialisation, commerce and trade. Innovation flourished, rail and sea travel expanded at a rate not seen again until the 1950s.

Sketch map, No. 2, held in the Public Record Office
Kew, UK dated 1837 by Colonel Light

The above sketch map is held in the Public Record Office, Kew, UK, dated 1837 by Colonel William Light (1786-1839), detailing his reasons for placing the city where he did. At about this time the Port River was found to be navigable for shipping and 'Port Misery' became the main port.

A copy of this map for the proposed site of Adelaide by Colonel Light is held in Cabinet 1 at the RGSSA. Light explained to the S.A. Company Office at the Alephi Theatre in London in 1837 that he did not expect his reasons for the the site to be fully understood for some considerable time! Light's layout helped to progress order, law and communications.

Many large houses in the eastern area of the Adelaide Plains had towers, suitable for placing telescopes, trained on the Flagstaff at Holdfast Bay (near where the marina is at Glenelg today). The raising of the flag on the Flagstaff indicated that the mails from England and interstate had arrived at Holdfast Bay.

There would no doubt have been a rush to collect that mail by residents to find out how families, products exported and news from other countries via the European papers effected business in the young free colony of South Australia.

Colonel Light has written on part of the map:
From the harbour near [current Port Adelaide] to [what is now Thebarton], on the river a distance of only 5 miles and a half, it is [a] vista of the most level plains I ever saw and a Canal may be easily make to connect the River to the harbour, by damming the river 20 feet at [Thebarton] could see preserved with all the year round and ships of larger berthen might come up to the middle of the town

Colony growth needed communications
from the RGSSA Collections
Items featured in Cabinet 1

This surveying level (above) held in the Collection was used with
 other equipment to survey from Rapid Bay through the Adelaide Plains and up through to Gawler by Colonel William Light from late 1835-October, 1839.

'Another view of Hindley Street looking west'
in South Australia Illustrated by George French Angas, 1847

'This is one of 60 coloured lithographs from the 1847 edition of South Australia Illustrated by colonial artist, George French Angas (1822-1886), together with a descriptive passage for each. The lithograph was created by J.W. Giles from Angas' original painting. The date assigned is assumed to be approximately when the lithographs were created; the original paintings were done in earlier years. 

Plate 41 (above): Scene of an early Adelaide street. Part of the text accompanying the illustration explains the location: 'Hindley Street, which is about a mile in length, is the principal part for shops and public business, and presents an animated and bustling appearance. The ground in this street, and in King William Street, which intersects it, is very valuable; and is being rapidly built upon by the merchants and tradesmen ....'--from SA Memory

Police troopers delivered the mail by foot
 in the early settlement days of Adelaide!

The English Mails
from the RGSSA Collections
Items featured in Cabinet 2
 'Easily the most important postal service in colonial Australia was the English mails. Colonies by definition depended on the mother country for capital, management, news and decisions, so the English mails had a status which no other postal service could emulate.'--Dr Robert LeeUniversity of Western Sydney Australian Heritage Commission, 2003 

Private Mail

By the 1850s Royal Mail Ships took 60-80 days to reach Australia from Europe. The ships were designated RMS to indicate that they carried mail from the United Kingdom to far-flung points of the empire. 

Picture of  Port Adelaide
 McLaren Wharf circa 1870

The Great Circle Route is the shortest course between two points on the surface of a sphere. It lies in a plane that intersects the sphere's centre and was known by mathematicians before the time of Columbus.

Although the red line in the above map might look like the shortest route
 connecting the two cities on the map, the yellow line or Great Circle Route
 is in fact the shortest path
image from: http://www.matthewskues.co.uk/great-circles.html

In the early 1840s, Governor George Gawler (1795-1869), assisted with the design of a new port for Adelaide which replaced 'Port Misery' that had replaced the anchorage at Holdfast Bay used in the late 1830s. 

A basic search of the Library's digital catalogue for 'Port Adelaide' will retrieve over 500 results for volumes and maps held in the Collection.

This map in the Collection is dated March, 1840

The new Adelaide port alleviated the difficult Holdfast Bay site at Glenelg ('Port Misery') where loading and unloading of goods and passengers had been ferried by lighter (flat bottomed barge) and then carried ashore to waiting bullock carts.

'Port Misery'

The Golden Age of Colonial Postal Services
From the RGSSA Collections
Items featured in Cabinet 3

'In 1887, Port Adelaide became the transhipment point for all the eastern colonies. Special mail trains ran from Largs jetty (near Port Adelaide) to the Adelaide GPO. These trains were arranged as soon as the lighthouse keeper at Cape Borda (on Kangaroo Island) sighted the steamer from Colombo and telegraphed Adelaide with news of the ship's imminent arrival. 

From Adelaide, a special mail train ran to Melbourne with the mails for Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The Victorian Post Office sorted the Melbourne mails on board the train as soon as it cleared customs at Serviceton on the South Australia-Victoria frontier, so they could be delivered the day after their arrival in Adelaide.' --
Dr Robert Lee of the University of Western Sydney

Sketch by William Anderson Cawthorne (1824-1897)
Rounsvelle’s Coach services in the mid north
of South Australia  going along a dusty road
circa 1847

Samuel Thomas Gill's (1818-1880) image of the Bush Mail services in the 1840s

Private contractors were used for delivery to town post offices

This postal map shows routes around the main settled areas 
of South Australia in the early 1840s

The Telegraph in Colonial Australia
From the RGSSA Collections
Items featured in Cabinet 4

Many brave explorers mapped the Australian 'Outback' 
from the 1830s to the 1900s 

The explorer John McDouall Stuart (1815–1866) found the way across the Australian continent from South to North after several attempts in 1862-1863. He mapped reasonable reliable water supplies from the Artesian Basin's mound springs that enable the Overland Telegraph Line's installation, and the proposed routes for steam trains, although the latter was not realised until 2004 by diesel.

John McDouall Stuart opened up country areas of South Australia for settlement which lead to the overall development of Adelaide and as a vital link in the iconic Overland Telegraph system.

Whitworth Wesley Richards Rifle 2509 (above) used in the 1864-1866 expedition
 to the Northern Territory belonged to RH Edmunds who accompanied John McKinlay
as surveyor to the expedition

The Government had chartered a fine new steamer, South Australian, and on October 29 the party sailed from Port Adelaide. There were two other officers— Messrs. H. Packard and C. Young. 'Escape Cliffs' was reached on December 5, 1864.

While in the Territory, Mr Robert Henry Edmunds (1834-1917) acted as surveyor and second in command of the party under the late Mr John McKinlay (1819-1872), who was sent out to explore the country between the Victoria River and the Gulf.

The Northern Territory was administered by South Australia from 1863 to 1911 after three failed attempts to establish a settlement (1824–1828, 1838–1849, and 1864–1866). Success was achieved in 1869 with the establishment of a settlement at Port Darwin.

Under the administration of colonial South Australia, the overland telegraph was constructed between 1870 and 1872.

This is the original diary of John McDouall Stuart (above) written during his second to last trip from north to south in 1861. He successfully crossed from South to North and came back to Adelaide in 1863 to public acclaim.

The estaffette bag (above) used by John Lewis (1844-1923) in the 1870s to relay messages from one end to the other of the near completed Overland Telegraph Line.

The first commercial electrical telegraph, the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph, was co-developed by William Fothergill Cooke (1806-1879) and Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875). In May 1837 they patented a telegraph system which used a number of needles on a board that could be moved to point to letters of the alphabet. An electrical telegraph was independently developed and patented in the United States in 1837 by Samuel Morse (1791-1872). His assistant, Alfred Vail (1807-1859), developed the Morse code signalling alphabet with Morse. The first telegram in the United States was sent by Morse on 11 January 1838.

The telegraph lines from Britain to India were connected in 1870 (those several companies combined to form the Eastern Telegraph Company in 1872).

Camels were first imported into South Australia from around 1846 by John Ainsworth Horrocks (1818-1846). Burke and Wills used camels as did most exploration parties into the deserts. A large importation of camels and their handlers or cameleers (known locally as Afghans) was undertaken in the late 1850s. Camels were able to carry items and other supplies for the Overland Telegraph Line from 1871. In 1901 the working camel population was assessed as 4,000 Western Australia, 1,500 South Australia, 2,000 Queensland and 500 in Western New South Wales. Immigrant cameleers reached their maximum number at 393 in that same year. There is no doubt that they rendered a service to the exploration and development of Australia out of all proportion to their small numbers and, had it not been for the cameleers and their camels, the development of our harsh and dry interiors would have been delayed by at least a century.--
Fiddman, J.W. Camel and Cameleers : RGSSA private publication, 1940. 
Refer: RGSSA catalogue record

Australia was first linked to the rest of the world in October 1872 by a submarine telegraph cable at Darwin. This brought news reportage from the rest of the world. The telegraph across the Pacific was completed in 1902, finally encircling the world

Bringing the telegraph cable ashore at Port Darwin 1871
 'SS Niagra' at anchor in the bay
Laying the Atlantic telegraph cable from ship to shore : a series of sketches drawn on the spot by John R. IsaacLondon : published by Messrs Lloyd Bros & Co. Liverpool, John R. Isaac, [1857?]
Recently catalogued, the above volume in the Collection, features sketches of the SS Niagra, and is the only copy of this title held in an Australian public library. It will be added to the Library's digital catalogue with a summary note:  
In 1857, Cyrus West Field (1819–1892) of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, financed the first attempt to lay an Atlantic telegraph cable. The plan was to begin laying the cable from Ireland across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. The USS Niagara was commissioned to start the project at Valentia Island, splice the cable mid-ocean to the Admiralty ship, HMS Agamemnon, to complete the cable run to Newfoundland. This portfolio of lithographs depicts the Atlantic Telegraph Squadron landing the cable at Valentia Island. The attempt was unsuccessful; the cable breaking and the end was lost after laying 380 nautical miles. Subsequent attempts from Ireland at Knightstown (1858) and Foilhommerum Bay (1865) also failed. A commercially viable transatlantic telegraph service was finally established in 1866 from Foilhommerum Bay to Heart's Content, Newfoundland. Transatlantic telegraphic communication operated from Valentia Island for 100 years. Western Union International terminated the telegraph service in 1966.
Plate 2: The Ships of the Squadron
Willing Mind, Cyclops, Agamemnon, Susquehana, Leopard, Advice, Niagara
by John R. (Raphael) Isaac, 1857

The Library's copy contains a loose sepia photograph of the cable ship, Great Eastern in 1866, pictured at the Newfoundland end of the Atlantic cable. The following newspaper article is annotated in the Library's record:

'Recently there was a letter [to the editor] soliciting information about survivors of the voyage of the SS Great Eastern while engaged in laying the Atlantic cable. I was employed as an extra engineer and attached to the staff of the screw department. The engineering staff of the ship for both paddle and screw were under the supervision of Mr. Beckwith as chief. The scientific staff included Captain James Anderson [1824–1893], Professor Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Daniel Gooch, Cyrus Field, [Richard] Glass, and others, afterwards knighted for eminent services. I regret, that at 86, I am very nearly the last survivor of an expedition which aroused the deepest interest in the mechanical world.'--William Cuming, St. Albans, N.Z. Daily Mail (London, England), 1926. 

For Library enquires regarding this volume please quote:
call number / rg 621.3828 b 1857

From the RGSSA Collections
Items featured in Cabinet 5

Charles Todd demonstrating the Overland Telegraph operations
in Adelaide in 1872. Melbourne Post 1872

Adelaide was the hub of the Overland Telegraph in the 1870s and 1880s. Then the latest commodity prices overseas, Arctic and Antarctic exploration, the fall of dynasties, war and rebellion was all relayed through Adelaide. This gave the daily press and local business at least 12 hours advantage, from the other states, which South Australia capitalised on for a while.

The above world map shows that by 1894, 
20 years after the submarine telegraph cable reached Australia,
most major cities in the world were connected by telegraph

The overland telegraph helped create Sir Sidney Kidman's wealth and legend. His pastoral empire stretched along the Murray/Darling into western N.S.W. and southern Queensland and was claimed to be drought proof for a time.

Sir Sidney Kidman
Only now, in April 2016, is the pastoral empire being sold!

'Once the stock was off their hands it was Kidman’s job to get it to market and under his own handling, he proved to be pretty good at handling both, using his system of the telegraph to best advantage and, it has been said, instructing his drovers to pay the telegraph operators a little something they were headed extra for any information they could give about other mobs on the road–how big they were, in whose charge and where they were sold to make more favourable marketing decisions.'--

Bowen, Jill. Kidman, the forgotten king : the true story of the greatest pastoral landholder in modern history, 1987 : p. 119
Refer: RGSSA catalogue record 

Kidman's mansion, 'Eringa', still stands (above)
and at his bequest has been part of Kapunda High School since 1921

Morse Code items
on loan from Mr B. Challen

Most Library holdings are catalogued on the Society's web site: http://www.rgssa.org.au/Catalogue.htm

Some of the RGSSA's activities include:
Coach tours, day and weekend excursions
Monthly talks on geographical topics
Publication of an annual SA Geographical Journal and 
bi-monthly newsletter (GeoNews) 
Other occasional publications including
 South Australian regional tourist guides

Please contact the RGSSA if you would like to find out more about joining and assisting the Society to advance public  awareness and  environmental issues, encourage research and scholarship, recognise and  reward achievement and commemorate past achievements of significance.

The Society is an incorporated, not-for-profit, registered charity and Australian Taxation concessions apply for donations to the library or scholarship fund.

Contact details
Royal Geographical Society of South Australia Inc.
PO Box 3661, Rundle Mall, Adelaide S.A. 5000
Email: library@rgssa.org.au
Phone:   61 8 82077266
Web site: www.rgssa.org.au
Membership information

Researched and compiled by the RGSSA's Volunteer Library Committee


posted by Sandra Thompson
RGSSA remote cataloguer

<strong>RGSSA Exhibition Catalogue for 2016</strong>
Overland Telegraph Line (N.T. and S. Aust.)--History, Pioneers--South Australia, Port Adelaide (S. Aust.)--History, South Australia--Historical geography, Surveyors--South Australia
04/04/2017 18:04

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