1893 Brisbane flood photo by John Jackson Hogg

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Alfred Raper of Toowoomba

Alf Raper was born Alfred Alexander Thomas George Raper in 1875 in Parsons Green, Fulham, London. He was the son of Alfred Raper, a sculptor and Mary Jane Harriet Hodges (aka Ada Mira Jane Harriet). The family were at 24 Thistle Grove, Kensington in the 1871 census and Alfred snr's occupation is given as merchant clerk. Alfred jnr. is noted in the 1881 census living at 9 King St Brighton with his older sister Florence and the head of the household is a Nina Ellis aged 38 born in Madras. It is uncertain why he wasn't with his parents.

The Raper family migrated to Australian aboard the Quetta departing London on 24 July 1889 and arriving in Brisbane on 15 September. Alfred departed Brisbane 15 January 1891 aboard the Greta for New Zealand followed by his mother later that year and they settled in Christchurch. Ada Marie Jane Raper died there aged 61 on 25 August 1898 (The Star 26 August 1898 p.2). Alfred married a local girl Maud Colenso on 15 February 1900 and they had their first child Ada Florence in Christchurch. The family then moved to Brisbane late in 1900. The were residing in St. George St, Woolloongabba by 1903. Alfred is first noted a photographer in that year's electoral roll. The family remained in Brisbane until at least 1907 then moved to Toowomba. His grand daughter says Alfred was as a travelling photographer working from a horse drawn van (pictured below). He was never listed with a studio under is own name.

Alfred added the name Colonel at front of his christian name and is sometimes noted as C. Alfred Raper. He gave this name to his 5th born child who died in infancy. Alfred Raper died 6 May 1921 aged just 48. Alfred's son Alfred James Leslie Raper who was born 15 May 1905 in Brisbane. He is listed as a labourer living in Bay Terrace, Wynnum in the 1936 electoral roll. An A. Raper is listed as a photographer in Townsville in 1923 but it is unclear who this is.

Elizabeth Jane Colenso (nee Moyle) beside her son in law's travelling van

Family Tree:

1. Alfred Raper b. 21 Apr 1832, bap. 20 May 1832, Saint James, Westminster, London, m. 7 Oct 1858, St. Pancras Church, St. Pancras, Middlesex, to Mary Jane Harriet Hodges b. c.1837, Middlesex, d. 25 Aug 1898, Christchurch, New Zealand.
i Florence Raper b. c.1863, St. George, Pimlico, London.
ii Ada Raper b. c.1865, St. George, Pimlico, London.
2.iii Alfred Alexander Thomas George RAPER b. 1875, Parsons Green, Fulham, London

Second Generation

2. Colonel Alfred Alexander Thomas George RAPER b. 1875, Parsons Green, Fulham, London, d. 6 May 1921, Queensland, m. 15 Feb 1900, Christchurch, New Zealand to Maud COLENSO b. 28 Dec 1877, New Zealand (daughter of James Robert COLENSO and Elizabeth Jane MOYLE).
i Ada Florence Maud RAPER b. 19 JUN 1900, Christchurch, New Zealand.
ii Ivy Evelyn RAPER b. 19 APR 1903, Brisbane, Queensland.
iii Alfred James Leslie RAPER b. 15 MAY 1905, Brisbane, Queensland.
iv Myrtle Adeline RAPER b. 22 MAR 1907, Brisbane, Queensland.
v Colonel Alexander Thomas George RAPER b. 1914, Queensland, d. 1914, Queensland.
vi Douglas Archie RAPER b. 31 DEC 1917, Toowoomba, Queensland.
vii Coral Vada Beryl RAPER b. 30 MAR 1920, Toowoomba, Queensland.
viii Bernice Joyce RAPER b. 22 APR 1921, Toowoomba, Queensland.

Marcel Safier © 2010, revised 9 April 2001

(Thank you to Merrill James for the above photographs and information about her grandfather. If you can add anything to the above story please get in touch)

Henry Mobsby – promoting Queensland to the world

Henry William Mobsby went on to great achievements on the opposite side of the world to his place of birth. He was born 17 August 1859 in Hove, Sussex, the first surviving son of William Mobsby and Sarah Timewell. William Mobsby worked as a gardener and canal man, transporting goods. Henry followed the arts and went on to become closely associated with exhibition work for most of his life. He had accompanied his father in his official capacity to the Agricultural Exhibition at the Goldsmid Estate in Hove, near Brighton. His first personal contact with an exhibition was when he assisted the artist Mr. A. G. Greysmith in the Heatheries at the Royal Pavilion building in Brighton.

Henry was educated at Hampton Place High School in Brighton. He studied art and design as well as chemistry at the South Kensington School of Science and Art and undertook a courses in general commercial training, attaining senior diplomas from the Chamber of Commerce and the City and Guilds Institute in London. Henry received senior diplomas for theoretical and practical photography from the Cripplegate Institute in London.

Henry became engaged to Mary Ellen Jenner
the daughter of renowned landscape artist Isaac Walter Jenner. Jenner, from Surrey had served in the Royal Navy during the Crimean war before distinguishing himself as a marine painter. Jenner with his wife, daughter and her fiancĂ© Henry left England in 1883, departing from Plymouth aboard the “Roma” and arriving in Brisbane on 19 September. Henry married Mary in September the following year and he set up a house painting and decorating business in the Market Buildings in Roma St. Henry later took up a position teaching decorative art and lettering on the staff at the Brisbane Technical College. Jenner pursued his career in art, painting amongst other subjects, landscapes of early Brisbane. He was a founder the School of Arts in 1887 and also took up a teaching position at the Brisbane Technical College during that year.

Henry’s earliest documented work in photography in Queensland dates from 1888 in the form of a cabinet photograph of a Masonic group taken at Toowong. There is no record of Henry actually operating a commercial studio but he nevertheless pursued photography in earnest. He won a medal in the World Photography Competition, London in 1896. In 1897 Henry was appointed as the Queensland Government artist and photographer attached to the Department of Agriculture and Stock and he later became attached in March 1899 to the Chief Secretary’s Department and the Intelligence and Tourism Bureau.

Along with fellow government photographer Frederick Wills, Henry took the first moving picture footage in Queensland in 1898 using a Lumiere cinematograph. Although Wills was given the lion’s share of the credit during 1998 centenary celebrations of the event, I believe an injustice was done to Henry whose part was described as merely being Will’s assistant. Henry was the more experienced photographer of the pair. A replica of the original camera (that is now in the Queensland Museum pictured at right) was made for Kev Franzi of the Kenilworth Moving Picture Museum and it was used to recreate a modern version of the original film shot from the same vantage points. Both films were presented in a series of public lectures in Brisbane and Toowoomba during the centenary year.

The John Oxley Library holds an album thought to be the work of Henry showing his magnificent photographs depicting the celebrations outside the Treasury Building in Queen Street, the parade along William Street, the visit by the Imperial troops, and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwell and York who were fresh from visiting Melbourne to proclaim Australia’s first parliament in May 1901.

As a result of his government posting Henry became closely associated with Queensland’s representation at various exhibitions. Henry designed and looked after exhibits at the annual Royal National Association shows in Brisbane. His success at this led him abroad and he managed the Queensland exhibits at the Franco-British Exhibition in London in 1908 and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. He assisted at the Australian Natives Association’s Exhibitions in Melbourne, the Peace Exhibition in Adelaide and was the State organizer for the Queensland Government’s exhibition at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley in 1924 and he organized and designed the State’s exhibit New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin in 1926, that was deemed the best and most complete of any of the Australian state’s. Henry was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, England, member of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland where he was there honorary lanternist.

During 1908 and 1909 Henry traveled to England with his wife and daughter and was the State representative to London for the Franco-British Exhibition and as such he supervised the construction of the layout, designed trophies and selected the colour scheme of the state’s exhibit within the Australian Pavilion. He won the grand prix for his photography. After the Exhibition finished Henry remained in England exhibiting Queensland products at Newcastle, Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire as well as Aberdeen and Dublin. He also took time out and visited his family in Brighton that he hadn’t seen for some 25 years..

In 1915 Henry supervised the design and construction of the Queensland exhibit at the P.P.I.E. and was appointed Acting Commissioner in Charge following the death of Commissioner J. A. Robertson. Henry was appointed to the international jury in the Agriculture section in the latter exhibition, one of five jurors selected from Australia for the whole event. Henry was awarded a silver medal for photography at the P.P.I.E. and he gained a diploma in photography and certificate of efficiency in motion picture work while in San Francisco.

Henry traveled widely throughout Queensland and his photography of industry and scenes graced many of the publications issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Railways and they were also utilized for postcards produced by the Department of Intelligence and Tourism and their own various publications. His photographs and writing frequently appeared in the pages of the “Queensland Agricultural Journal”.

Although their publisher is unknown, three series of topographical postcards issued in Queensland, namely the Shell series, the Special Series and the Coloured Shell Series are closely connected and some of the views they feature are based on Henry’s photographic work. The Coloured Shell series postcards date from around 1905 and number over 150. The postcard from that series featuring the Intelligence and Tourism Bureau (Henry’s employer) is definitely from his hand. Other postcards in the series are known to be based on the work of photographers Poul C. Poulsen who had a studio in Queen St, Brisbane and Arthur Edwin Urry of Maryborough.

A series of real photographic postcards of Queensland scenes bear Henry’s name as the photographer although they do not contain any publisher’s credits. The Intelligence and Tourism Bureau produced many hundreds of postcards based on Henry’s photographs and amongst these was a series produced for the Franco-British Exhibition (this title being printed on the reverse of the cards). No doubt these were given out and sold at the exhibition as an advertising aid for Queensland. It appears Henry also carried Coloured Shell series postcards to the exhibition as well as examples with his notations on them made at the exhibition exist. Given the many hundreds of views issued by the ITB, Henry would easily be the most prolifically represented photographer on postcards in Queensland.

Henry gave illustrated lectures using a magic lantern to project images that he had largely taken himself. A collection of almost 800 of Henry’s lantern slides along with a lantern projector surfaced at a garage sale at Wynnum in early 2002. These include reproductions of early photographs of Brisbane that he used to illustrate talks on Queensland history as well as photographs of the Federation celebrations, photographs illustrating Queensland primary industry and many views taken within and around the Franco-British Exhibition and P.P.I.E. Among these slides are ones Henry would have used at these exhibitions. Henry also made many films about Queensland’s primary industries such as sugar, beef and cotton. He even presented film evenings at Indooroopilly School where his son has attended.

Henry’s daughter named Bertha (born Nelly Alberta Timewell Mobsby) was born 10 September 1889. His son, named Arthur Henry Timewell Mobsby was born 14 March 1894 but sadly he drowned during a flood in 1905. Berta took up photography and she accompanied her parents to England during 1908-09. An album of her work is in the possession of the author. Berta also became competent with a movie camera. She can certainly be counted amongst Queensland’s early female photographers and cinematographers although she never pursued her skills very far commercially.

During his career Henry befriended many and was highly energetic and successful in promoting his adopted home of Queensland to the rest of Australia and the world through medium of photography and the media of postcards, pamphlets, books, lantern slides and film. He attracted many new settlers to the State through his efforts.

Henry finally retired from his government post in 1930 no doubt continuing his hobbies of gardening and landscaping. He passed away in this 73rd year at his home at 100 Station Rd, Indooroopilly on 9 April 1933. He was interred in Toowong cemetery.

(Thank you to Kay Mobsby for sharing family photographs and papers)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Robert Cremer of North Queensland and the Northern Territory

Like other photographers in North Queensland in the late 19th century Robert Cremer moved around finding the small populations of the North not particularly lucrative enough to support a long stay in a given location. He was also one of the few early photographers to work in the Northern Territory. He was born Robert John Peter Cremer in 1856 in Cologne, Prussia the son of Martin Cremer and Johanna Cooper. Cremer's arrival date in Australia is not known but he was married in Thursday Island on 4 May 1880 to Annie Elizabeth Condon the daughter of Patrick Condon. Their first child Camille was born 14 July 1884 but she died in 1887. Their second child Robert Walter was born 22 June 1885 in Cleveland St, Townsville. For some reason Cremer travelled south as not long after that he is noted on a shipping list, travelling from Melbourne to Sydney aboard the coastal steamer 'City of Adelaide' arriving in Sydney 23 July. Cremer is first noted a photographer in Townsville in 1885 in the partnership Cremer, Deazeley and Blake (John Deazeley formerly of Brisbane and his brother in law Thomas Henry Blake). Not long after he set up in Flinders St, Townsville on his own, working there for 6-7 years. Another child Maud was born there on 26 February 1887 but died in her infancy. The next childen, twins William and Maria, were born 11 March 1889 in Croydon where Cremer worked for some time and Gertie was born in 1890 in Georgetown, just over 100 miles east of Croydon. Around 1892 Cremer moved to Thursday Island in the far north of Queensland where he operated two pearling luggers in addition to his photographic work. His last child Maud was born there on 28 April. Cremer travelled to Port Darwin aboard the 'Catterthun' arriving late October 1894 to investigate business opportunities. He intended operating his pearling luggers in the area (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 2 November 1894 p.2). He returned to Thursday Island and then eventually went back to Port Darwin aboard the ss 'Chingtu' with his wife and family arriving 18 June (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 21 June 1895 p.2). Cremer set up a studio in Mitchell St, Palmerston quickly after arriving nearly opposite the Club Hotel and his advertisments, if they are not slightly exagerated, give an interesting insight into his previous work and training: "R.C.'s experience in some of the leading studios in Europe, America and the southern colonies should be a guarantee that nothing but first class work will be turned out from the premises". Accompanying editorial comment noted " The building in Mitchell-street lately used as a school has been converted by Mr. Cremer into a photographic studio. Portraiture appears to be Mr. Cremer's special forte, and judging by samples on view he is an artist possessed of a thorough knowledge of this particular branch of photography" (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 28 June 1895 p.2). Although he stated his stay would be limited Cremer's advertisment ran until September when he then announced a reduction in his prices and that he would only remain open for another four weeks (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 20 September 1895 p.2) but this ad ran until 1 November. Business must have been better than expected or the ad was just a ruse to entice business and this technique was commonly used by many other photographers. Editorial content as late as December mentions Cremer would be leaving soon and "Have a good photograph taken of self and children while you have the chance. Such an opportunity may not occur again for some time." (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 27 December 1895 p.2) Cremer appears to have remained in Palmerston despite this. He did not place any more ads until August 1896 when he mentioned his studio would close temporarily so that he could travel to Pine Creek to produce a series of views for his "Photographic Album of the Northern Territory". A hurricane which struck Port Darwin on 6 January 1897 reduced a number of buildings to ruins including Cremer's Mitchell St studio. He left the area returning to Cairns to work. In 1899 Cremer, still residing in Cairns announced his intention to sit in the seat of Burke in the State Election but even the newspapers stated his chances were nil (Courier Mail 17 February 1899, p.6). He ended up retiring from the contest (Courier Mail 9 March 1899, p.5). Cremer was living in Mareeba in 1903 (electoral roll) but moved back to Cairns. In April 1904 Cremer announced his impending return to Palmerston, Northern Territory aboard the "Empire"saying he would be there for two weeks only (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 1 April 1904 p.2). He set up a temporary studio in a cottage in Smith St adjoining the Commercial Bank from 11 April but then advertised he would remain for just 3 weeks, but after 6 weeks he was still there and he announced he would visit Yam Creek and Pine Creek and kept advertising this for two more weeks. His last ad appeared on 1 July 1904 and he departed Port Darwin 12 July aboard the steamer "Australian" (Northern Territory Times and Gazette 15 July 1904 p.2). He is next noted working at Herberton until his death there 16 November 1911 at the age of 55. Annie Cremer later operated a boarding house in Abbott St, Cairns. None of the family enterred the photography trade. Her son Robert Walter Cremer became a blacksmith in Herbeton then Innisfail. Nothing is yet known about Robert Cremer's supposed work on the Continent, in the USA or the southern parts of Australia. Also no connection has been established with prominent American photographer James Cremer (1821-1893) of Philadelphia who was a prolific producer of stereoviews. Chronology: Townsville, Queensland 1885-91 Croydon, Queensland 1889 Georgetown, Queensland 1890 Thursday Island, Queensland 1892-1895 Palmerston, Northern Territory June 1895- Jan 1897 Cairns, Queensland 1897-1902 travelling 1899 Mareeba, Queensland (ER) 1903 Palmerston, Northern Territory April-July 1904 Herberton (ER) 1908 (ER - electoral roll) Thank you to descendant Fiona Shoobert and photographic historian Sandy Barrie

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

William Joseph Bundock Laurie

I have come across the story of the Laurie family in a pdf file "Family Stories - Five Ladies" by David Laurie which mentions his grandfather, William J. Laurie, photographer at Townsville. After speaking to David on the phone and conducting a little further research some interesting facts about his life have emerged.

William Joseph Bundock Laurie
Born 6 Feb 1890, Brisbane, Queensland; Died 14 Oct 1970, Townsville, Queensland
Parents James Laurie, mechanical engineer and Margaret Ellen Eccles.

The family travelled to England in around 1899 for work reasons. William appears in the 1901 census living at 1 Arthur St, Chorley, Lancashire with his sister Marguerite and mother Margaret listed as a cotton weaver. His father was absent from the home. William went to work for a local photographer James A. Derbyshire who started as a picture framer but moved into photography in 1905 at 10 Market St, Chorley.

In 1909 William returned to Queensland and showing considerable enterprise for a man of just 19 he purchased the former studio of Augustus Bebe Clinton in Flinders St, Townsville that had been trading for a few years under the name Federal Studio although the interim owner has not yet been identified. Clinton had been a long established photographer in Townsville (since 1890) who had started in photography around 1872 with Henry Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss in the Hill End goldfields in NSW and he had worked in Clermont, Bowen and Mackay prior to setting up in Townsville.

William Laurie married Frances Louisa Witham on 21 June 1916 and they resided in Queen St, Stanton Hill. William plied a trade in portraiture and he employed his sister Marguerite as a retouching artist and later as an assistant. He eventually began to diversify into landscape views and he produced many real photograph postcards of Townsville, Magnetic Island and the surrouding district which carry his superimposed initials WJL. William remained active as a photographer until the 1950s.

A large number of William's negative are held at the James Cook University in Townsville.

Thank you to William's grandson David Laurie david@laurie.id.au who has published some of his Laurie family history on line: http://david.laurie.id.au/family%20history/Family%20Story%20-%20Five%20ladies%201.pdf

Kirkham family of photographers

I have just made contact with Carol H. of the UK whose husband is a relation of Queensland photographer Reuben Kirkham. There were in fact 4 members of the Kirkham family involved in photography in Queensland and NSW.

Reuben Kirkham
Born 1857, Manchester, Lancashire
Son of George Kirkham (Boot closer and leather dealer) and Elizabeth Flint

Probably commenced in photography somewhat later in life c.1910


Windorah, Queensland 1913
visited England May-July 1914
Wee Waa, NSW (residence) 1916
Rockybrook, Yarwun, Queensland 1925
223 West St, Rockhampton 1930

Alfred Kirkham
Born 27 Feb 1885 Brewarrina, NSW, d. 2 Mar 1960, Darlinghurst, NSW
Son of Reuben Kirkham and Norah Ester Moody

Kirkham's Travelling Studio
Blackall, Queensland 1905
Paroo River, Queensland 1905
West Queensland 1905

Cloncurry, Queensland 1912-1913
visited England May-July 1914
Yarwun, Queensland (farmer) 1925
78 William St, Rockhampton 1936
94 William St, Rockhampton 1943

Joseph Henry Kirkham
Born 16 April 1901, Hillston, NSW
Son of Reuben Kirkham and Norah Ester Moody

Wee Waa, NSW 1916
(described at photographer at time of AIF enlistment, gave age as 18 although only 15

George Reuben Kirkham
Born 1882, Bourke, NSW, died 1949, Queensland
Son of Reuben Kirkham and Norah Ester Moody

Oak St, Barcaldine 1919

Carol has a photo by Kirkham Studios, Mossman St, Charters Towers which is probably taken by Reuben Kirkham.

Thank you to David Watkins for some of the genealogical information. Anyone with further information is welcome to make contact.