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88/289-2 Photographic glass plate negative, depicting the narrow gauge, bogie, railway goods van, No. 4, built by Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Granville, New South Wales, Australia, 1914, for Colonial Sugar Refinery Co, used on Rarawai to Kavanagasau Light Railway, Fiji, 1914-1969. Click to enlarge.

Photograph of a brake van, No.4, built for Rarawai-Kavanagasau Light Railway in Fiji

Made 1914
This is a photograph of the narrow gauge, bogie, railway goods van No. 4 built by the Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd in the Sydney suburb of Granville. It is seen fitted with a temporary lifting frame to enable handling by an overhead crane or derrick.

The goods van was made for the Colonial Sugar Refinery Co.'s Rarawai to Kavanagasau narrow gauge light railway in Fiji. It operated on the free, twice-weekly, return passenger train that commenced service in December 1914 as well as the weekly public goods trains, that carried food supplies, pipes for the manganese mines, potatoes, onions, rice and maize. Movement of cattle was added in the early 1950s. The van was withdrawn in 1969 when the Wainikoro road opened.

The photograph has been printed from a rectangular black and white silver gelatine glass negative in landscape format. It is part of the Clyde Engineering collection of photographs (see also object 88/289-63). Almost all of the glass plate negatives in the Clyde photograph collection were taken at the Clyde works in Granville, and depict both the workers and the machinery they manufactured. Subjects covered include: railway locomotives and rolling stock; agricultural equipment; large engineering projects funded by Australian State and Federal governments; airplane maintenance and construction and Clyde's contribution to the first and second World Wars. Some photographs date back to the 1880s but most were taken between 1898 and 1945.

This collection of photographs is an archive of national significance due to its unique relationship to the industrial technology, engineering and commerce of New South Wales. In Australia few collections of this nature have survived to the present day especially ones which cover one company's activities from the 1880s through to the 1950s in such depth.

The photographs are also significant in their illustration of the important contribution made by Clyde Engineering to the social fabric of New South Wales. By 1923 Clyde had 2,200 employees working round the clock on eight hour shifts. Some of these lived in houses specially built by the company in Granville and the works had its own fire brigade, ambulance service, gun club and was home to Australia's first soccer club.

References

Dyer, Hodge, 'Cane train: Sugar Railways of Fiji', New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society, Wellington, New Zealand, 1988.

'Phoenix to the World; the Story of Clyde Industries and Sir Raymond Purves', Murray, J. CBE, Playright Publishing Pty Ltd., 1992

'Catalogue of General Engineering, Section 1, No 1'
Clyde Engineering Company Limited. 1904

'The Clyde Engineering Company Limited, Visit to Clyde Works of the delegates of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, 21 September 1909', Cumberland Argus Printing Works, 1909?

'Steam Locomotives Built by the Clyde Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd., Granville, Australia', Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales, date unknown

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project,
February, 2008

Ken Williams, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Volunteer, under the supervision of Margaret Simpson, Curator
August 2014

Summary

Object No.

88/289-2

Object Statement

Photographic glass plate negative, depicting the narrow gauge, bogie, railway goods van, No. 4, built by Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Granville, New South Wales, Australia, 1914, for Colonial Sugar Refinery Co, used on Rarawai to Kavanagasau Light Railway, Fiji, 1914-1969

Physical Description

Black and white glass plate negative depicting a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge goods van with an all-timber body and underframe, hook couplings and buffers. There were centrally located double doors on both sides and a platform with handrails on one end for the guard. The photograph shows the van in a set of railway tracks in an outdoor landscape with a large industrial building and trees in the background.

Marks

There is text directly hand written directly on the negative stating "No 723".

Dimensions

Height

164 mm

Width

215 mm

Depth

1.5 mm

Production

Made

1914

Notes

The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection is made up of around 1300 ½ plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 triacetate negatives.

The tri-acetate collection appears to date from the late 1930s through to 1960s the glass plates from around 1900 -1950. Most of the photographs are commissioned works taken around the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney. Others are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books. These are hard to accurately date it is almost certain that the collection is the work of numerous photographers; unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Glass plates were first used to support photographic emulsions in the late 1840s and remained in continuous use right through until the middle of the twentieth century. While the earliest plates supported 'dry' and 'wet' collodion emulsions these were replaced with silver gelatin emulsions in the 1880s. Unlike earlier plates these were mass produced on a huge scale and were capable of fast speeds even at ½ and full plate sizes.

One drawback of this process was that larger plate sizes required a correspondingly large camera to fit the plate. These were relatively cumbersome and when you take into consideration the weight of the glass plates it is no surprise to find they were mainly used for studio and commercial work. However they were still favoured by many professionals for a long time after roll film was introduced by Kodak in the late 1880s. This was because the large plates could be more easily worked on for masking and their contact prints provided better results than some of the early enlarging equipment

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008

References
Gernsheim, H. and Gernsheim A., The History of Photography from the Earliest Use of the Camera Obscura in the Eleventh Century up to 1914. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1955.

History

Notes

The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection was acquired by the Powerhouse Museum in December 1987. The material was removed from Clyde Engineering when the offices were being relocated and appears to be only a portion of the original collection. Around 1350 ½ plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 tri-acetate negatives came to the Museum at this time.

The tri-acetate collection is made up predominantly of copies of blueprints and plans of machinery dating from the late 1940s through to 1960s. These subjects may have referred to actual work carried out by Clyde but material appears to have also been used for research and copied directly from books. In 2007 the tri-acetate negatives were placed into cold storage while waiting to be catalogued. In the same year the glass plates were catalogued and digitised as a part of the Total Asset Management Project for the Museum's collection database and website and for Picture Australia.

The subject matter contained in the ½ plate glass negatives covers over 60 years of the Clyde Engineering Company's activities in New South Wales. It starts in the 1880s when the company was still called Hudson Brothers and goes through to the late 1940s. Most of these images were taken at the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney, New South Wales and many include interior and exterior images of the people and workshops at Clyde Engineering and on the banks of the Duck River.

Some appear to have been commissioned to record the completion of particular Clyde projects such as locomotives, boilers and agricultural equipment at the Clyde works. A few have been photographed in other locations such as the aircraft photographs taken at Bankstown Airport and some works photographed after delivery.

A few photographs are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books and these are hard to accurately date. As most of the original negatives were taken over a long time period it is almost certain the photographs are the work of numerous photographers, unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Some of the negatives have appeared in a Clyde booklet published for the delegates of the 'Seventh Congress of the Chamber of Commerce of the British Empire in 1909' and a Clyde booklet held by the museum which was published around 1945. These publications and the fact that some of the negatives have been masked make it clear that the while the photographers were cataloguing the accomplishments of the company they were also creating content used to advertise and promote the company's products.

Two photographers who did photographic work for Clyde from the 1960s onwards were Charles French of 87 Yarram Street, Lidcombe in New South Wales and Jack Draper an employee and photographer employed by Clyde Engineering around the same period.

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008

Cite this Object

Harvard

Photograph of a brake van, No.4, built for Rarawai-Kavanagasau Light Railway in Fiji 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 4 June 2020, <https://ma.as/367627>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/367627 |title=Photograph of a brake van, No.4, built for Rarawai-Kavanagasau Light Railway in Fiji |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=4 June 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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