Ghosts of Victorian Newcastle Come Alive

Westminster Hotel through the Ipad App

Look out for the launch of an exciting new exhibition at the Newcastle Museum entitled Reconstructing Victorian Newcastle which will run from the 6 November 2012 – 9 December 2012. The link to the Museum’s page is here:

The Exhibition features the project work of Dr Tessa Morrison, who is a senior lecturer and Research Fellow in Architectural History,  and her team of App developers Helen Giggins and Nicholas Foulcher from the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle. The Team have been using the classic glass negative images of photographer Ralph Snowball featuring the architecture of Victorian Newcastle. Mr Russell Rigby, a member of the University’s Coal River Working Party also assisted in the geo-referencing amd mapping of hundreds of the University’s Ralph Snowball images. For the original images See:

The first European settlement of Newcastle was begun in 1801 with a second and more successful settlement launched in 1804. Newcastle was made a city in 1847 even though it only had a population of only 1000 people. By late 1870s Newcastle was the industrial heart of New South Wales. By the 1880s it boasted fine houses and paved streets. By 1890s Newcastle was the first city in Australia to be electrified. In 1889 the Illustrated Sydney News described the incredible growth of Newcastle:

“Hunter Street, the George Street of Newcastle is a fine thoroughfare, full of such shops as but few colonial country towns can boast, and this of course, is the great promenade. On Saturday nights, when it is seen at its best and brightest, it is almost impassable in places owing to the throngs of shoppers and loungers who turn out after tea or dinner.”

This energy of the city, its growth, commerce and industry were comprehensively photographed by photographers such as Ralph Snowball. By the end of the 19th century Newcastle was a bustling city with significant stone buildings, hotels with broad verandas and a thriving commercial centre.

This exhibition to reconstruct Victorian Newcastle, by Tessa, Nicholas, and Helen from the School of Architecture and Built Environment, the University of Newcastle, is intended to bring the late 19th century city alive. The exhibition consists of 30 images which show the architecture of past and present Newcastle. After downloading a free application on your smart phone or tablet device, such as iPads, you will be able to interact with the images in the museum, finding out further information on the sites and directions to their locations. These directions are also on a handout for those without mobile devices. Then you can walk around Newcastle viewing these images in situ at 25 sites.  You will be able to see a butcher in Hunter Street from a hundred and twenty years ago, proudly showing his produce; imposing hotels; grand department stores and landmarks all in their original positions. The images in the exhibition represent the essence of the project and will give the viewer an understanding of the lost Victorian city.

This project is a pilot project which has been funded by the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle.

Newcastle has had a diverse history with its architecture that reflects its booms and busts. There are three distinct periods in the city: the convict city; the Victorian city and the modernisation of the 1950s and 1960s. Toll House is all that remains of the convict city. The Victorian city was Newcastle’s heyday. However, although there are some significant buildings that still remain in the city, and many more that have been altered or demolished in the move to modernise the city in the 1950 and 1960s.  This Project has reconstructed central Victorian Newcastle using Augmented Reality and mobile technology.

If you have a smartphone, iphone or ipad, download a free app from the app store called Layar. Once downloaded scan the image above to try out the program.

Exhibition Poster


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