©2014 Greg and Sylvia Ray
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic
or mechanical, and including photocopying, recording or by information storage and retrieval systems,
without the written permission of the copyright owner.
Printed by Newcastle Camera Print, Channel Road, Steel River, Newcastle
Published by Greg and Sylvia Ray with the support of the Newcastle Herald
Concept and design by Greg and Sylvia Ray
Research and captions by Greg Ray
ISBN 978 0 9871883 4 2
Front cover photo: Mattara Princess, 1981
Title page: Newcastle city and steelworks, circa 1976.
Selected, arranged and interpreted by Greg Ray
Layout and image restoration by Sylvia Ray
Slideshow enthusiasts had slides custom-made to punctuate the program. This one is by Newcastle Morning
Herald cartoonist Les Lumsdon. Amateurs, he suggests, ignore advice against working with children and animals.
The golden days of the home slideshow
NOT so many years ago the hearty suggestion: “Let’s have a slide night” was often enough to make the
whole family groan and to induce friends and relatives to suddenly discover prior pressing engagements.
And yet, despite the fearsome reputation of family slideshows as the definitive cure for insomnia, hardly a
family was without a slide projector and folding screen, and many amateur photographers shot more colour
transparencies than negatives on their days out with their cameras.
Actually, the slide fashion was an evolutionary step from the earlier era of “magic lanterns”. These box-like
projectors (originally lit by candles and later by electricity) projected images from transparent glass slides.
The drawback was the relative difficulty in converting negatives to positives, then sandwiching the image
in two plates of glass.These drawbacks were overcome in the great democratisation of photography that
followed the end of World War II. Family snapshots switched from black and white to colour and most people
settled on the popular 35-millimetre roll-film format. Colour transparencies were cheaper and easier to process
than negatives, and the colours were also more stable. As a result, many people preferred positive film and
cardboard-mounted slides for projection to colour prints for family albums.
All manner of slide projectors were made, evolving from simple, single-slide units to complicated
machines with carousel magazines and remote controls.
And all this was made redundant, virtually overnight, by computers and digital projectors. Nowadays, most
people regard their old slide projectors as curiosities or paperweights. As for the slides, vast numbers have
been thrown to landfill. In many cases a particular tragedy has struck.The marketing of basic slide and film
scanners that plug directly into home computers has made it possible for people to quickly and simply digitise
their slide collections.
Unfortunately for posterity the scans produced by these basic devices are often low-resolution and the
scanners usually lack the capacity to correct for the colour-casts caused by deterioration of the transparencies
over time. Many people, having scanned their slide collections, have thrown away the originals, patting
themselves on the back for saving space in their wardrobes.
That was what prompted the idea for a book of colour slide images of the Newcastle area.
Before this massacre of images from a very particular period went too far, I thought, my wife and I should
follow up our previous books of black and white photos with a volume preserving something of the heyday of
the colour slide in Newcastle and the Hunter.
The late Doug Brown helped us get that idea off the ground.
Doug had contacted me to share his knowledge about the Mayfield area, and he invited me to scan some of
his albums of snapshots from the Box Brownie camera days.
Having done that, Doug next mentioned his huge collection of colour slides, and suggested these too might
be worth examining. Doug had made it his business to document the visits of ships, the last days of wellknown
buildings and other events in the civic life of Newcastle.
After he died, his relatives generously followed through with his undertaking and allowed us to scan
Doug’s colour slides, an undertaking that occupied many days.
Next we met Barry Shoesmith, another compulsive photographer with an unusually good eye for
composition and exposure who kindly offered his own collections to be scanned.
More colour slides emerged from the vast collections of the late Ken Magor (whose black and white
negatives of Newcastle set us off on our course of book publishing in 2010) and other images came from
Doug Burnitt, the late Douglass Baglin, Doug Roberts and Alan Bennett (via Pete Smith).
Some people might wonder whether it’s too soon for a book of photos from slides; whether too little time
has elapsed since the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for images from those decades to have enough meaning or
interest. We wondered that too, but seeing pictures of the demolition of Zaara Street power station, of the old
escalator and elevator in the middle of Hunter Street Mall, of the Skyline Drive-in theatre at Lambton and of
many other forgotten places and things persuaded us that the project was worth attempting.
The Bolton Street offices of The Newcastle Herald and The Newcastle Sun, as they were in the 1970s.
In the postwar years, a rising middle class
embraced photography and soon affordable
consumer cameras flooded onto the market.
Film developing and printing was big business.
With a painted frame like these began many an interesting (or snore-inducing) family slide-night.
Photograph above is a classic view of Newcastle in the 1960s, with the Zaara Street power station still
operating and the heavy industries in full swing. The picture below dates from the much cleaner 1980s.
Another two 1980s-era aerials of Newcastle city, rapidly shifting into its clean, green, post-industrial guise.
An aerial view, looking south along Merewether Beach, with the now-demolished Surf House and the baths.
A very amateur aerial shot of Newcastle Beach in the 1960s. Note buses parked at Parnell Place (far left).
Bar Beach (above), and Newcastle Beach, (below), stripped of of their famous coverings of golden
sand by the fierce “Sygna” hurricane of 1974. Following a Newcastle tradition, the storm was
named after the ship it wrecked. Other examples are the Cawarra (1866) and Pasha Bulker (2007).
Crowds of sunlovers at Newcastle Beach, assembled to watch a surf carnival and Beach Girl contest in 1961.
Swim-suited 1961 Newcastle Beach Girl finalists standing on the stage, awaiting the decision of the judges.
Cranes tower over Royal
Newcastle Hospital, the
buildings of which once
dominated Newcastle Beach.
Fort Scratchley, in a sad
and neglected state before
its restoration, circa 1980s.
Views from Fort Scratchley. Above, looking towards Royal Newcastle Hospital and, below, looking west
over the former railway goods yards that stood on the site of the present-day East End Foreshore park.
Newcastle’s old Zaara Street power station, once a mighty landmark in the city’s east. The station was built
in 1915 by the NSW Government Railways. It was closed in 1975 and demolished in 1978. The photographs
on the oppositive page show part of the demolition. Flocks of pigeons are seen leaving, presumably made
temporarily homeless by the loss of what must have been a cavernous roosting place for many birds.
Views from the upper levels of Newcastle’s grain export silos. The photos on this page show the old floating
dock, floating crane and other ship-building and repair infrastructure at Carrington, with Wickham at back.