Margaret Laidler’s View from the 1870s

Margaret Laider's View of Infirmary, Harbour Master's House and Nobbys, circa 1870s

A rare treasure currently held in private hands has emerged in the form of a painting entitled ‘View of Infirmary, Gaol,  Nobbys, Harbour Master’s House and Nobby’. Dated to around the early 1870s, our colleague Ms Ann Hardy has identified the work as being by painter Margaret Laidler.

We know of at least another version of the work of which we have an image in the Hunter Photobank:

Margaret Laidler’s maiden name was probably Lamb – her father was William Lamb and mother Margaret Brown, and we believe that her husband was William. He was involved in some way with the Geelong Infirmary – they may have been in Newcastle for a visit which may explain the specific mention of the ‘Infirmary’.

If anyone has anything further to add we would be very interested in hearing from you. Please feel free to leave comments below.

4 thoughts on “Margaret Laidler’s View from the 1870s

  1. From Pam Harrison:

    It is Newcastle Hospital, otherwise called the infirmary. See attachment of drawing taken from “Newcastle’s Hospital by the Beach”.

    That angular building (on the left hand side of the painting) is Newcastle Hospital! look at the shape of the building in the sketch I sent you, and its location near the beach. The one you pointed to on your phone which you thought was the infirmary I think is associated with the gaol buildings. Infirmary is an alternative word for hospital, and used more frequently in earlier days.

    I have attached another sketch from the same book showing the architecture of the hospital over the years. Look at the angular shape!

  2. Margaret Laidler born 1828 (nee Lamb) was the wife of a geordie miner William Laidler, and was born in Durham in the north of England. After losing her first 3 children in 1854 to one outbreak of scarlet fever, she and her husband immigrated to the Victorian diggings in 1856 with their two infant children. They resided in the Smythesdale district of Victoria where William was a miner, landholder and lay preacher . The Primative methodists to which Margaret and her husband belonged were drawn from the mining and agriculural communities of England, and were a revivalist movement with a lively and uninhibited style of worship. As a group they were pioneers in both the temperance and trade union movements, and zealous workers for a more just society.

    One of Margaret’s grandchildren said Margaret Laidler “…was a doctor’s assistant, and was called upon for confinements and urgent nursing cases in the district”. Another grandchild recorded that Margaret was “the Sarah Gamp of the district and often went to help neighbouring families in times of sickness. She was interested in the medicinal value of herbs, and obviously understood the principals of infection control…”. Margaret and her husband were very close to another Durham couple Mary and Anthony Stubbs (Mary may have been Margaret’s sister). This couple arrived in Victoria in 1864 but had settled in the Newcastle area by about 1885. There is evidence that this couple visited Margaret and her husband in Victoria and maintained close and life long contact.

    Margaret Laidler counts amongst her decendant: grandson and Melbourne socialist book shop manager and union organiser Percy Laidler, and great granddaughter, Lorna Sisely, who was the first female doctor in Victoria to obtain a Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.

    Margaret Laidler was my great great grandmother and though I know something of her and her energy, I was very surprised to stumble across the above painted image. Nothing has been passed down within my family of her artistic ability. though a significant number of her descendents have been artistically inclined.

  3. Diane, what a lovely story you relate of your great great grandmother who sounds as if her interest in medicine was handed to Lorna Sisley. It is a little surprising that her artistic ability was not widely known, however is she was busy helping others she may not have had a lot of time for her art. I wonder whether Margaret did this artwork whilst in Newcastle, perhaps visiting Mary and Anthony Stubbs? Thank you for sending this information and I will be on the look out for further information relating to Margaret and the Stubbs. The Newcaslte work that Margeret did is truly lovely as it shows the buildings at the east end of Newcastle, with Nobbys in the background.

  4. My Great Great Grandparents were Anthony Stubbs and Mary Lamb from which you mention in the above correspondences.Mary’s parents were a William Lamb and Mary Ann Jackson.
    Anthony born abt 1831 and Mary born abt 1833 both in Co.Durham, England were married in Crook Church, Crook,Co.Durham,England on July 15 1854. They sailed from Liverpool,England aboard the ship “Empire of Peace” arriving in Melbourne on June 6 1864.Anthony and Mary had 5 children, 2 of which died young in Durham and one died a year after arriving in Australia.Margaret was a surviving child born in England who had a sister Jane born in Victoria. Jane is my Great Grandmother.Mary Stubbs nee Lamb did indeed have a sister Margaret born in 1829.Mary’s sister John Lamb accompanied Mary and Anthony to Australia.I have a 1903 electoral roll with a Anthony and Mary Stubbs residing in Corangamite,Corindhap.It states Anthony as being a miner for which he was.Why they were in Victoria in that year, I do not know.He was 72 at the time.Anthony died in 1913 in Wallsend,NSW as did Mary in 1917.I’d be very interested in finding out more information on the Stubbs and Margaret.Regards
    Bill Jarvis

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