Alexander Galloway (1876 – 1945) – Newcastle Composer

Alexander Galloway

ABC Newcastle (Newcastle)
Day Shift – 14/08/2007 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan

(Originally posted

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the life and musical compositions of Alexander Galloway, a Novocastrian composer who penned hundreds of songs over a seven year period including A Song for Newcastle and Sailing on to Dreamland (The Song of Beautiful Lake Macquarie). Newly digitised and restored recordings of both compositions will be featured on the show. We sincerely thank Mrs Pauline Black, (Grand-daughter of Alexander Galloway) for permission to reproduce Alexander Galloway’s personal papers, photographs and clippings for this website.

Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Broadcast Notes:

Recently a donor deposited a 78-rpm record containing the songs Song for Newcastle and Sailing on to Dreamland (The Song of Beautiful Lake Macquarie) for inclusion into the University’s archival collections.

Both songs were composed by Alexander Galloway and sung by Edward Walcott (Baritone). The Columbia Graphophone record label stated that “All Profits from the Sale of this Record are donated to the Newcastle Patriotic & War Funds”. Apart from that very little was known about him.

Click below to download and hear these Alexander Galloway recordings

Song of Newcastle
  1. Song of Newcastle (Alexander Galloway)
Sailing on to Dreamland (The Song of Beautiful Lake Macquarie)

Sailing on to Dreamland (The Song of Beautiful Lake Macquarie) by Alexander Galloway (4.4MB mp3)

(Thanks to Mr Colin Greive ABC Sound Archives Ultimo for the magnificent job of digitising these recordings for us)

After some searching through the Newcastle Herald indexes we knew that the recording was issued some time during the WW2 period, probably 1939, as there is a news clipping from The Newcastle Morning Herald on Galloway from October 1944. He was also mentioned in the Greta Seam mining oral histories of Jack Delaney as a photographer in the mining districts. There is a street in Kurri Kurri named ‘Galloway Street’ and the births deaths and marriages confirm that he died in 1945 in Newcastle. His parents were James and Janet Galloway.

Local Studies in Newcastle also had a photocopied file compiled by Mrs C. Cooper on Alexander Galloway which was very helpful. It contained a newspaper clipping that was not in the Herald indexes entitled Newcastle Song Composer: Variety of Subjects (NMH 7th October 1939).

Newcastle Song Composer: Variety of Subjects (NMH 7th October 1939)

Further news clippings on Alexander Galloway

The article said that Galloway took up music in May 1938 learning to play the piano accordion by ear and learning the rudiments of music in that year. His first song was Busy Hands which dealt with the growth of a child from a baby to manhood. By October 1939 he had composed (i.e. 18 months later) 30 songs. Among his recent tunes was Metropolis of Steel (which was the original title of A Song for Newcastle) . He had approached Newcastle Council twice to have the two songs supported. It was also noted that Mr A. A. Hobson of Cardiff was having the items arranged for brass bands. Sailing on to Dreamland was presented at a community concert in Newcastle and the applause was so great that the conductor, Mr. Bryson Taylor, called for the composer. Galloway had come under the notice of the ABC, and that Frederick Whaite of the Australian Broadcasting Commission has written competent scores for several of Mr Galloway’s songs.

Further information came from an article in Newcastle Herald (5 January 1987) p.3 entitled Lambton lyricists. Mayfield muses: awake!

“ONE thing leads to another: Topics has had no luck coming up with an official Newcastle song for Pam Hartley, of New Lambton (Friday’s Topics). But we have stumbled across an old recording that most people would not have heard. Allan Wolfe, of Floraville, has two 78rpm recordings with The Song of Newcastle on one side and Sailing on to Dreamland – The Song of Lake Macquarie on the reverse. The songs were written by Alexander Galloway, were arranged by Frederick Whaite the baritone was Edward Walcott, the violinist William Galloway and the pianist Hazel Evans. Allan, a record collector, said he bought the records at a sale a number of years ago.

AND another: Mrs Pauline Black, of Blackalls Park, reports that Alexander Galloway was her grandfather and William was her father. Mrs Black said the recording, which has as its official title The Metropolis of Steel, was made during World War 11. Her grandfather lived in a large house called ‘Clovelly’ in Parnell Place, Newcastle, and her father was from Kurri.”

It was at this point that my contacts had run dry and I phoned Greg Ray at The Herald to ascertain whether he knew anything about these recordings and the people mentioned in the articles. He replied that he would write a story and the result was that he made renewed contact with Mrs Black who was able to provide us with her personal records on her grandfather.

Original Typescript of A Song for Newcastle by Alexander Galloway
Original Typescript of Sailing on to Dreamland by Alexander Galloway


Alexander, the prolific
by Greg Ray

(Reprinted with permission from the author from Newcastle Herald Saturday 14 July 2007 H2 p. 12)

NEWCASTLE has had a few songs written about it over the years.

There was The Newcastle Song, of course, in which Bob Hudson eulogised Hunter Street and the mating rituals that occurred there in the 1970s.

Less well-known, but just as imaginatively named, was the much earlier A Song for Newcastle, by former Coalfields photographer Alexander (Alec) Galloway.

This opus, preserved on a 78rpm platter, was recently presented to Newcastle University archives, and archivist Gionni Di Gravio is now researching its history.

The record, subtitled Metropolis of Steel, was issued during World War II and the Columbia Gramophone record label states that “All Profits from the Sale of this Record are donated to the Newcastle Patriotic & War Funds”.

The B side also with a local flavour is titled Sailing on to Dreamland (The Song of Beautiful Lake Macquarie).

Both are sung by baritone Edward Walcott, arrangements are by the ABC’s Frederick Whaite, the pianist is Hazel Evans and the violinist is Galloway’s son William.

According to information gathered by the late Mr Galloway’s granddaughter (William’s daughter), Mrs Pauline Black of Blackalls Park, Alec Galloway was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, in the 1870s to parents James and Janet Galloway.

The family moved to Bundaberg, Queensland, when Alec was six. After a year they shifted to Wallsend and Minmi.

Later Alec moved to Greta where he worked at Tulloch’s drapery store.

Alec married Amelia Butler and after a couple of stints at mining in Victoria and dentistry in the Hunter, set up as a photographer in the Coalfields in 1905.

Alexander Galloway and wife Amelia with son William

He was successful in this enterprise and soon had studios in Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Maitland and Weston.

Galloway Studio Staff

During World War I he operated a studio at Rutherford army camp. He also built the Royal picture theatre at Kurri Kurri, where he is said to have shown some of his own pictures.

Interior of Royal Theatre, Kurri Kurri, 1915 built by Alexander Galloway

Many of his photographs are today of great historical interest, and he produced a number of booklets of photos as tourist mementos.

He was an early exponent of novel advertising techniques. One newspaper article records a sign he had painted on a Coalfields fence “Galloway took my wife” with a second sign not far away reading: “I wish he’d take the kids.”

When he retired he moved to Newcastle East and lived in Murray Avenue in a house called Clovelly.

Clovelly House on Newcastle Beach


Clovelly House on Newcastle Beach
Clovelly House on Newcastle Beach
Clovelly House on Newcastle Beach


Gladys M Brawn photographed on Newcastle Beach in this photograph with Galloway Family – Please note her husband Harold Brawn established the Gladys M Brawn Memorial Fellowships in Medicine at the University of Newcastle in honour of his late wife in 1995.

Music became his hobby and in the late 1930s he taught himself to play the piano accordion and launched his song-writing career with a number called Busy Hands.

Over the next year he was reported to have written 30 songs, but it was his tributes to Newcastle and Lake Macquarie which received the greatest applause, being performed at community singing events and even broadcast on the radio.

A 1930s clipping from The Herald reported the performance of one of his songs, Springtime, noting that: “Alec is a man of many ventures and of just as many successes and we are pleased that he has succeeded in what we only dream about when we are under the shower and the running tap makes a melodious gurgle”.

Another of his songs, I See Your Face, was published and recorded and is said to have enjoyed some commercial success. He sang some of his own songs over the air on the popular radio program Australia’s Amateur Hour.

“I See Your Face” Sheet Music
Shop display

Alexander Galloway died at his home in 1945, aged 69. His funeral at Beresfield was well attended and his obituary stated that he was “survived by his wife, two sons, William (Kurri) and Graham (AIF) and two grandchildren”.

Mrs Black said she was delighted that her late forebear was receiving some contemporary recognition for his work.
“We’ve always been very proud of him,” she said.

As a matter of fact, he’s quite the flavour of the month.

Well-known amateur historian Mrs Chic Cooper reports that Alec Galloway and his son Bill are soon to feature in one of Kurri Kurri’s attractive historical murals, to be painted on a wall at the corner of Lang and Hampden streets where one of Alec’s photographic studios used to be.

“We are pleased that he has succeeded in what we only dream about when we are under the shower and the running tap makes a melodious gurgle.”


Was I dreaming when I saw this wondrous sight,
The sky lit up a golden red at night
A harbour filled with ships from ports untold
Receiving many cargoes in their holds
Giant industry which caused that bright red flame
And helped to earn the mighty City’s fame
Where countless thousands helping to a man
To realise Australia’s Birmingham.

Oh City Beautiful, the Empire knows your worth,
In peace or strife it looks to those
Giant Industries you girth
So well endowed by nature
Your fame spread far and wide
Great City of Newcastle, enhance Australia’s pride.

The sun arose in splendour from the sea,
It revealed a city beautiful to me
And gazing far where Nobbys Lighthouse stands
I saw the miles of sunbathed glistening sands
In future years where ever I may roam
This paradise will some day call me home
To voice the admiration that I feel
For Newcastle Metropolis of Steel


Come with me to share enchantment
Where white sails in splendour gleam
While the moonbeams chase the shadows
Midst sweet music let us dream.

Off the shores of Wangi Wangi
See Toronto’s twinkling lights
Our hearts filled with joyous rapture
With Lake Macquarie’s gorgeous sights.

Sailing on to Dreamland
Singing Love’s refrain
The stars now growing brighter
While the moon is on the wane
We’ll drift into the future
Where romantic breezes sigh
With regrets to Lake Macquarie
We must say a fond goodbye

Would that this would last forever
Rolling onward you and I
Forgetting all about tomorrow
Underneath this radiant sky
Slowly passing glorious Belmont
And there’s Swansea on our beam
Then the Great Pacific Ocean
Now comes to meet us in the stream

Sailing on to Dreamland
Singing Love’s refrain
The stars now growing brighter
While the moon is on the wane
We’ll drift into the future
Where romantic breezes sigh
With regrets to Lake Macquarie
We must say a fond goodbye.

East End – Before and After – A Community Printmaking Project. (1985)

Filmed and Edited by Jane Adam. Narrated and Directed by Therese Kenyon.

This documentary examines the social history of Newcastle’s historic East End. The music of Alexander Galloway featured in the film along with Clovelly House. See this film on You Tube. We thank Therese Kenyon for her permission to use this film.

Part 1

Part 2


What does it all mean? – Personal Reflections on Galloway’s Newcastle
By Gionni Di Gravio

As one listens to the tune, it’s hard to reconcile the Newcastle of today with the Newcastle portrayed in the song. I hear, in Galloway’s music, a great love for the City of Newcastle as well as Lake Macquarie, which typifies the time.

Newcastle is a busy power house of an industrial city with a natural beauty as far as the eye can see. He musically encapsulates the optimistic empire building public goodwill that characterised the Mayoralships of Morris Light (1924-25) and “Mr Newcastle” Frank Purdue (1950s / 1960s) in particular.

These two leaders championed the very idea of ‘commonwealth’ and brought to Newcastle the electrification of the tram service, advocated the electrification of the Newcastle to Sydney rail link, the creation of a children’s park at Centennial Park, the construction of the City Hall, Art Gallery, Museum, Cultural Centre, Library, Conservatorium and the autonomous University of Newcastle.

By contrast we now live in a very cynical time, an atmosphere of self interest, loss of hope and a crisis of heart as to where to head in the future. We have one of the highest incidents of heart disease, I wonder why. Our collective hearts are broken every time a magnificent old tree or old heritage landmark goes under the axe or bulldozer. Our public land, transport and institutions are under siege, being downscaled, removed or sold to private interests.

Our heritage is viewed akin to a case of syphilis and the public interest has been emasculated. No real public voice. No champion. We need a media that can join the dots… There also seems to be a macabre social experiment going on, as to how much can we take out of the community before the whole thing falls apart.

We expect a civilised society, a community, but want our tax cuts as well. Would the $4 be better as a hamburger, or collectively better as a new bus route, or dental scheme? We seem powerless to have any say in what happens in our City, with the perception that Sydney rules the roost, money and power talks, so why bother struggling for what you believe in, it’s too hard, sit at home and watch the telly and let the fossil fuel dictatorship have its way. Not.

Galloway’s music may appear naive in today’s ‘know-it-all’ political climate but I love it. We have to ask ourselves where is our civic pride? Is it too old fashioned a idea to entertain these days? Why can’t we live in a place aims to bring happiness to its citizens? Beautiful. A Council that creates happiness out there, rather than heart ache. I’m sure we wouldn’t mind so much when the rates went up, if we thought they weren’t being used to make our lives harder.

Newcastle appears to be a city where high rises are springing up everywhere, (like the sea levels) overwhelming anyone that probably wonders how any of this will be any good for the future. With a planet facing climate change, we need to be coursing a new way to live and not bullying into (overwhelming) submission all who stand in the way of such mindless ‘progress’. The home of global warming is also the most energy efficient. The City that is full of so many apartment blocks is also losing its soul, covered with graffiti, prone to drunkenness and senseless violence. Ghosts of convicts past? Two ends of the same spectrum. People who don’t love the city, nor themselves and hell bent on idiotic acts, State sanctioned or otherwise.

Somehow we need to tap into past hits and misses and find new inspirations and directions for the future. Newcastle is a place where you walk around all the time and wonder ‘what idiot did this’. We need to turn it around and create a place where people say, ‘what wonderful person did this, and created that…”

Future Inspirations

Newcastle celebrates the sesqui-centenary of the formation of the Newcastle Borough Council in 2009. This may be the opportunity for Newcastle to reach a maturity about it origins and strive for a new comprehensiveness. The University’s Coal River Working Party are currently in negotiations to commission a new symphonic work for Newcastle as well as realise the exciting an interpretative plan for the historic Coal River Precinct.

Representatives of the University’s Coal River Working Party attended a Coal River Precinct Conservation and Cultural Tourism Management Plan briefing at Council on 2 April 2007.

The consultants (Pizzey Associates) have proposed a light cannon sculpture over the area of Newcastle’s birthplace incorporating Nobbys, Fort Scratchley, Obelisk, Convict Lumber Yard and so on. It will be illuminated at night for an hour of so, and accompanied with stories of early Newcastle and a sound sculpture and oral history presentation.

Since they will be incorporating a sound sculpture into the installation, the attendees wondered whether the Conservatorium could be involved in some way, either re-recording the composition Symphony of a City or Ann Boyd’s Coal River, or even commissioning a new work. A new commission was suggested.

It should prove a wonderful boost for Newcastle if these proposals can be made real. It will also be in keeping with the legacy of Alexander Galloway, and his love for this city.

Gionni Di Gravio

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