This image from a glass plate negative produced around 1885 shows the Manly ferry P S 'Fairlight' on Sydney Harbour working up to full speed on the Manly service. The paddle steamer has completed her swing around Bennelong Point and is now lining up for the turn at Bradleys Head. 'Fairlight' was built in 1878 and used steam and an auxiliary sail rig to make the passage from Scotland to Sydney. In 1908 she was converted into a Sydney-Manly cargo ferry and was retired in 1912 and converted into a hulk.
In the foreground the photograph shows one of Sydney's famous watermen resting on the oars of his skiff as the wash of the ferry passes him.
To the right are three ships, two of which are moored to harbour buoys. The one at the left is a large passenger ship with auxiliary sail. This is one of several very similar passenger ships operated from 1871 by the Orient Line. They were 'Lusitania' (1), 'Chimborazo', 'Cuzco' and 'Garonne.' 'Cuzco' was the last to visit Sydney, leaving in 1902.The others were retired in the 1880s. To the right is the white hull of another auxiliary sail steamer, another small steamer is heading to the right while a small ferry is heading into Neutral Bay.
Graeme Andrews OAM, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences volunteer under the supervision of Margaret Simpson, Curator, October 2015
This photographic negative was taken by the Sydney based photographer Henry King. It is part of a collection of over 1300 glass plates taken between 1880 and 1917, although most appear to have been made in the late 1880s and 1890s.
King was one of the Colony's most significant early photographers and although born in England around 1855 grew up in Sydney. He found work with the well-known Sydney photographer J. Hubert Newman and in 1880 established a studio in partnership with William Slade. Four years later he was sole proprietor.
King quickly established a reputation for himself due to the high quality of his finished work. While King's income, like many other photographers, was dependent on portraiture he, like Kerry, is best known for his outdoor work. These views, particularly his city views, are justifiably praised and seem more carefully framed and printed than Kerry's. Outdoor views of Sydney make up the main bulk of King's work in the collection although, like Kerry, he took a series of photographs of the Jenolan Caves using magnesium flares.
Henry King died aged 68 in Waverley War Memorial Hospital on 22 May 1923 following abdominal surgery.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, December, 2008
King, Richard, Australian Dictionary of Biography - Online Edition
Josef Lebovic, Henry King, 1855 - 1923, auction catalogue, Josef Lebovic Gallery, Paddington, Australia, date unknown
Newton, Gael, Shades of Light; Photography and Australia 1839 - 1988, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988