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Darling St Balmain, circa 1908

Bondi Junction music shop,
circa 1910

Glebe Point Rd, circa 1910

Newtown Bridge, circa 1908

Redfern St, Redfern, circa 1909

Charing Cross, circa 1920

Randwick Racecourse trams, c1920
WHEN I acquired the Werrong Lane place I found an old sea trunk in the ceiling. It was full of ancient letters, curious nick-nacks, bits of somebody's World War One uniform and some beautiful photographs of a Sydney that was at once familiar but long-vanished.

Old photos challenge a detective's skill. I spent many idle hours using the evidence frozen by the lens to establish when each of the photos was most likely taken.

You have to know when key buildings were constructed or torn down, when tram lines were opened, what men and women were wearing and when businesses came on the scene or disappeared.

These are some of my favourites. Most of them were taken between 1905 and 1910, a couple are from shortly after World War One.

Click pictures for enlargement and details.

What was happening in the world at the time these photos were taken?

In 1905
the Japanese shocked the world by defeating the Russian empire on land and sea. A revolution broke out in Russia and the first workers' soviet was formed in Moscow under the leadership of Leon Trotsky, only to be crushed by the Tsar's troops. In Britain, Asprin went on sale for the first time.

In 1908 the General Motors Corporation had been formed in Detroit and Henry Ford put the Model T Ford into production. The first paper cups were manufactured, Thomas Edison won patent rights for the movie projector and Albert Einstein proposed the quantum theory of light. There was much troubles in the Balkans, but that was a long way from Australia and would never affect us ... or so we thought.

In 1909 compulsory military service and old age pensions were intruduced. There was more trouble in the Balkans but Serbia backed down. The British House of Lords ruled it illegal for trade union funds to sponsor Labor members of Parliament, Bleriot flew across the English Channel and the first electric toasters appeared.

In 1910 the Chinese army invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama fled to India, Japan annexed Korea and the tango became all the rage. The first radio receivers went on sale in the US (in kit form) and Edison demonstrated "talking pictures". The First World War was still four years away.


King Street, circa 1908

George Street, circa 1905

Circular Quay, circa 1910

Enmore Terminus, circa 1908

Arncliffe Station, circa 1907

Turrella, circa 1900

Dulwich Hill, circa 1900

Railway Square, circa 1908

Railway Square, circa 1913

Railway Square, circa 1922