The Space Time Expanse of the Ralph Snowball Archive

Portrait Photograph of Ralph Snowball, Market Studio, Hunter Street Newcastle
Ralph Snowball, Market Studio, Hunter Street Newcastle

An Amazing Photographer of Light and Shadow

Look into the penetrating eyes of Ralph Snowball.

What an amazing photographer and legacy. An photographic artist who recorded the living peoples places and events in a dance of light and shadow.

[Unidentified family, dog jumping through hoop, NSW, n.d.]

Inspirations

We were recently visited by a beautiful couple whose surname was “Love” and wished to see an actual Ralph Snowball Glass Negative. I asked why? Since they were all online in high resolution.

They wanted to see the real thing. So, I nervously brought out a box of original glass negatives, carefully wrapped in tissue papers and in a archival sleeve, and placed a selection of them on a light box. Referring at all times to the digital version to see what the negative looked like as a positive.

Need for an Overview of Snowball’s Professional Practice

As we took them through, I was explaining the other things we held from him that have survived, such as his fragments of diaries that helped them to understand how Snowball began life as a photographer, saving up to purchase chemicals and equipment. The glass plate box lids record his work in the field, who he photographed, when where, and what they were doing, along how many plates he took. He would then return home and develop the glass negatives into printed photographs that he would offer for sale to the people he had just photographed. And lastly, the records of exhibitions and features inspired by his work that have taken place over the years since his passing.

So, we felt a real need to provide an overview to the expanse of the Ralph Snowball Archive held, in part, at the University of Newcastle (Australia) and across the community.

The Snowball Glass Negatives

Most people are now familiar with the beautiful glass negatives, over a thousand of which were donated to the University in 2008 by Daphne Barney, in honour of her late husband Norm Barney and his friend Bert Lovett. Thanks to the recommendations of Bill Hillier and Mike Scanlon. You can see the digital images here:

https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/89

or

Top men, Raspberry Gully, Charlestown, NSW, 24 June 1898

 

The Arrival

They arrived at just the right time, as a conservator (Dr Amir Moghadam) had arrived to begin the cleaning and conservation process that would eventually set a new bar with the digitisation of glass plate negatives internationally.

The 2010 Luminate Exhibition would rank as one of the University’s most applauded exhibitions, and provided stunning large scale reproductions of Snowball’s glass negatives in exquisite clarity and detail, as Windows to Another Time .

More to the Snowball Archive

The glass negatives account for portion of the estimated 8,000+ glass negatives Ralph Snowball created in his lifetime, and now residing in institutions and with private collectors.

The Ralph Snowball Archives held at the University of Newcastle’s Special Collections (Archives) contain the following:

  • Some of his original diaries, minute books and notebooks
  • Glass plate box lids, onto which were recorded the dates, locations of the photos taken “in the field”
  • The actual glass negatives themselves
  • Printed reproductions of photographs on paper mounted on boards
  • Exhibition materials

 

Archival History

 

Ralph Snowball Studio, Clarence Road, New Lambton, NSW, [n.d.]

According to Norm Barney and Bert Lovett’s account published in their first ever publication of the Snowball photographs  With camera, horse and waggonette : the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie photographs of Ralph Snowball (1989) they say:

  • More than 8,000 glass negatives were stored in the cellar of Ralph Snowball’s Clarence Road house in New Lambton. Most had not been touched from 1925, the year of Ralph Snowball’s death, and late 1988 early 1989 when they were rediscovered by Norm Barney and Bert Lovett.

Ralph Snowball Studio, Clarence Road, New Lambton, NSW, [n.d.]

  • Between 700 and 800 boxes of negatives were in the cellar. Most were of two sizes: whole plate. approximately 8½ x 6½ in (21.6 x 16.5cm) and half plate approximately 6½ x 4½ in (16.5 x 12.7 cm).
  • Every negative was individually examined. A combination of age and dampness had seriously eroded about 2000 of them and these were dumped.
  • Many hundreds more, (approximately 5,000) mostly of tombstones and picnic groups, were given to Newcastle City Council’s local history library.
  • By 1989, of the more than 4,000 negatives that remained all were cleaned and indexed, wrapped in acid-free paper, reboxed and placed in metal cupboards.
  • Norm Barney and Bert Lovett were able to identify most of the names, dates and places with the help of the surviving notebooks, details on some of the old boxes, and Ralph Snowball’s habit of writing on some of the negatives.

Ralph Snowball Glass Negatives in the City of Newcastle Heritage Collections

Kerrie Shaw, Heritage Collections Digitisation Specialist has informed us that the City of Newcastle Library approximately 6,000 Ralph Snowball photographs:

  • Approximately 5,000 are intact glass negatives
  • Approximately 600 are boxed as damaged
  • There are upwards of around 1,000 printed images
  • Most of the 5,000 negatives are online, but were originally digitised in the 1990s. These are all being re-scanned, and around 2,000 of those have been done so far.
  • Access: https://newcastle.nsw.gov.au/library/newcastle-stories/online-collections

Ralph Snowball Glass Negatives in the possession of Mr Keith Parsons, Collector.

“Found: The Lost Photos” by Mike Scanlon published in the Newcastle Herald 18 September 2010, p.10,

According to”Found: The Lost Photos” by Mike Scanlon published in the Newcastle Herald 18 September 2010, p.10, following the University’s Luminate Exhibition:

“Behind the scenes, though, the scheme’s original instigator, Bill Hillier, seems to be the other unsung hero. He praised Norm Barney’s family for preserving a priceless legacy of major national significance.

He said the 72 enlarged Snowball photographs lining the gallery walls for the current Luminate exhibition were only about 8 per cent of the new Snowball collection.

But an even deeper mystery emerged after last weekend’s ceremony – of possibly yet another cache of missing photographs.

“From my investigations over the past year, there’s another large collection of Ralph Snowball glass negatives somewhere,” Hillier said.

“[About 1989] that collection was sold to a Lake antique store. Those owners have told me it was subsequently sold to someone else and removed in a heavily-laden truck.

“I would very much like to . . . speak to that person,” Hillier said.

Later, Elaine Knowles, of Blacksmiths Antiques & Collectables, said they’d bought Snowball glass plate negatives direct from the Snowball family after a big collection had been donated to Barney and Lovett.

“It was unsold here at our shop for 12 to 18 months. I can’t be sure,” she said.

Her son Jim Knowles said 1000 glass negatives and other items were then sold to a private buyer he declined to name.

“A couple of old camera tripods we had were also sold separately to another man,” Elaine said.

“Earlier, a Melbourne man interested in postcards came up to inspect what we had. He said he would have bought the lot on the spot if there had been more ship pictures, so he didn’t buy,” Jim said.

That leaves only the identity of the mystery man who bought hundreds of Snowball glass plates at Blacksmiths about 20 years ago.

H2 can now finally reveal, however, the “mystery man” was a reluctant buyer and none other than prominent Newcastle heritage activist Keith Parsons.

“The [Lake] store sold me between 900 and 1000 glass plate negatives, of which perhaps 400 to 500 survive,” he said this week.

“There were also copies of the same picture and two or three big picture frames. I’ve still got them all safe.

“I just wanted to save some artefacts of Snowball‘s old studio.

“I couldn’t bear to see them lost.

“A lot of the glass plates were blank and unusable [from old age] and had to be thrown out. Others had only part of a picture, but even a small part is worth saving, don’t you think? There are also lots of pictures of tombstones.”

Parsons said his sole aim had been to keep this lost Snowball collection intact in the Hunter Valley.

“I didn’t want this whole collection at all, only a few pictures. In the end, I simply bought it all because I didn’t want the [potentially historic] negatives to disappear, to leave Newcastle forever,” he said.”

The “Duplicates” mentioned above could actually be different glass negative shots taken by Snowball, as he did have the habit of photographing at least two images at each scene. It’s hard, without the digital high resolution scanning of recent years to actually seen the detail in a glass negative, even with a lightbox. Therefore we estimate that there are just a scant number of actual duplicates of glass negatives, but rather slightly different shots of the same scene.

 

Who Was Ralph Snowball?

According to Norm Barney and Bert Lovett’s account published With camera, horse and waggonette : the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie photographs of Ralph Snowball (1989):

  • Ralph Snowball (1849-1925) was born in north-east England on November 19th 1849. He came to Australia as an immigrant in July 1879, arriving aboard the ship, Ninevah, accompanied by his wife Mary and son George, 2. The ship’s records show him and his family as former residents of Durham. Ralph Snowball gave his occupation as platelayer, aged 30 years.
  • There is no record of when the family settled in Clarence Road, New Lambton, however two small notebooks from the 1880’s and early 1890’s have survived and in the early pages of the first, under the date January 19th 1883, he records receiving his first pay as a coal miner at Lambton colliery.
  • There is photographic evidence confirming that he started his photographic career from 1884.
  • The notebooks list hundreds of photographs taken in the 1880’s and through to the mid 1890’s and almost all of them were taken outdoors. Early entries record him at coal mines on and around the harbour, in the city and the surrounding townships (now Newcastle’s suburbs).
  • Over the ensuing years Ralph Snowball photographed every major and minor industry in the area. He would also photograph hundreds of tombstones in cemeteries throughout the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie area, as well as the schools (some since disappeared).
  • In 1887 Ralph Snowball expanded his business buying W.F. Robert’s Market Studio in the city. He now had commercial premises in the heart of the city for the Market Studio was on the first floor of the Borough Markets building. In the early years as a photographer he used a studio and dark room he built at his Clarence Rd home. The city studio provided him with more space. The building was eventually demolished in 1915 to make way for the Strand Theatre (it is now part of Market Square). About 150 of Mr Roberts’ negatives of Newcastle families of 1886-87 have survived.

Borough Markets 75-77 Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, [1887-1915]

  • Taking studio portraits had little interest for Ralph Snowball. He left that side of the business to others. He was an outdoors photographer. In the late 1880s his waggonette soon to become well-known throughout Newcastle and Lake Macquarie bore the following: “Photographic Enlargements in Every Style R. Snowball Hunter Street Newcastle.”

C918-0408 Early photographer R. Snowball of New Lambton with his means of conveyance, undated

  • By the early 1890s the sign had changed to: ‘R. Snowball Portrait Landscape & Architectural Photographer.’ The notebooks give us some idea of what it cost to work as a professional photographer in Newcastle in the 1880s and 1890s. Ralph Snowball kept records of the cost of chemicals, of the glass plates that were to provide the images of the photographs in this book and even of the card mounts for a finished print.
  • Ralph Snowball did work with a stereoscopic camera in 1891 and with it he took many photographs of the district and its people. Most were taken over a period of a few months but the novelty of using such a camera waned and it was used only intermittently after that. A few of these negatives have survive but most are damaged.
  • By 1989, of the more than 4,000 negatives that remained all have been cleaned and indexed, wrapped in acid-free paper, reboxed and placed in metal cupboards. Ralph Snowball left this region, and Australia, a great legacy and his photographs are an important part of our heritage. Although it is not the largest collection of plate glass negatives found in Australia, the Snowball Collection, as henceforth it will be known is of great regional and national importance because it is one man’s record of 30 years of photographing the people and places of the same area and at a time when a camera was to many people, a magic box.
  • Ralph Snowball retired in 1915. He occasionally set up his cameras to take a few photographs in the Lambton/New Lambton area and the last known are dated 1924. He died on August 4th, 1925, a few months before his 76th birthday. His wife, Mary, survived him by 17 years.

In retrospect, we now understand there must have either been more than 8,000 glass negatives in the original cache, or else there might have been an overestimation of how many glass negatives were originally trashed.

The Ralph Snowball Archive
at the University of Newcastle

RALPH SNOWBALL – LAMBTON & NEWCASTLE N.S.W. – PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE & ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER – ARCHIVES – DIARIES, MINUTE BOOKS & NOTEBOOKS

Ralph Snowball - Day Book, 1888-1894 [Archives Shelf Location A8899(vi)]
Ralph Snowball – Day Book, 1888-1894 [Archives Shelf Location A8899(vi)]

LABOUR ELECTORAL LEAGUE – WARATAH BRANCH
(Established January 5th 1894)
Conduit: Daphne Barney Donated: June 2008.

  • A8899 (i) Labour Electoral League – Waratah Branch. Minute Book. 4th January 1894 – 17th August 1894.  The Labour Electoral League Waratah branch was established on the 5th January 1894.

 

THE BOROUGH COUNCIL OF NEW LAMBTON – VALUATION BOOKS BELONGING TO MR RALPH SNOWBALL

  • A8899 (ii) Untitled Notebook Valuer book presumably belonging to Mr Ralph Snowball – [The Borough Council of New Lambton Valuation for the Years 1897-1898 with addition material 1902-1903.]
  • A8899 (iii) Notebook – Valuation for the Years 1903 and 1904 of all Ratable property within the Borough of New Lambton. Valuers – H. J. Noble (?), Ralph Snowball. Note: This notebook is very fragile due to the acidic paper.
  • A8899 (iv) Notebook – Valuation Years: 1905 -1906 New Lambton Borough. March. Valuers – H. J. Noble (?), Ralph Snowball.
  • A8899 (v) Notebook – Valuation of the Borough of New Lambton for the Years 1906 and 1907. Valuers – Ralph Snowball, John Beaford (?) March 20 1906.

 

RALPH SNOWBALL – LAMBTON N.S.W. – PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE & ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER

  • A8899 (vi) Day Book. 1888 – 1894
  • A8899 (vii) Diaries. [Portions of Diaries] 1883-1890. Includes:
    • Lambton Colliery period from first pay on 19 January, 1883 – 7 June 1884.
    • Purchasing photographic chemicals and equipment from 30 March 1883 to taking photographs 19 November 1883;
    • Photographic clients March – October 1885;
    • Assorted entries 1884, 1887 and 1890.
Ralph Snowball Stamp from A8899(vi) Day Book 1888-1894.
Ralph Snowball Stamp from A8899(vi) Day Book 1888-1894.

 

RALPH SNOWBALL – LAMBTON N.S.W. – PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE & ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER – GLASS PLATE BOX LIDS

Glass Plate Box Lids – (A8900) These lids containing annotations in ink, presumably in Ralph Snowball’s hand include his record of his work in the field. They include the box number, number of plates used and details of subject and place and date. They provide great clues in the identification of some of the photographs, as they are a chronological record of his actual location work.

A8900 Annotated Glass Plate Box Lids, 1885-1897. Annotation in ink, presumably in Ralph Snowball’s hand includes Box Number, Date, number of plates used and details of subject, place and date.

A8901 Annotated Glass Plate Box Lids, 1898 – 1912. Annotation in ink, presumably in Ralph Snowball’s hand includes Box Number, Date, number of plates used and details of subject, place and date.

2023 Update: All surviving Glass Plate Box Lids arranged in chronological order, and transcriptions checked.

DOWNLOAD
Transcriptions of the Ralph Snowball Archive Glass Negative Box Lids Inscriptions 1885-1912
(Archives Shelf Location: A8900-A8901)

 

Ralph Snowball Collection, original glass plate box listing, Box 91, June 1895

 

 

RALPH SNOWBALL – LAMBTON N.S.W. – PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE & ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER – GLASS NEGATIVES

https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/37985

and

Top men, Raspberry Gully, Charlestown, NSW, 24 June 1898

 

RALPH SNOWBALL – LAMBTON N.S.W. – PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE & ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER – PRINTED PHOTOGRAPHS – REPRODUCTIONS FROM ORIGINAL RALPH SNOWBALL PHOTOGRAPHS/GLASS PLATES.

(Purchased from David McLean, Proprietor of Cooks Hill Books)

Digitised Photographs are

https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/77

and

[Bramar Creer's House Crebert Street, Mayfield, NSW, 7 November 1900]

This collection consists of:

  • Eighty Two (82)  21.5 cm x 15 cm (8 in x 6 in) photographs mounted on cardboard 30 cm x 25, 2 cm (12 in x 10 in)
  • Nine (9) 13.3 cm x 9.6 cm (5 in x 4 in) photographs mounted on cardboard 16.5 cm x 10.5 cm (6.5 in x 4 in) and
  • Twenty nine (29) 21 x 13.5 (8 in x 5.5 in) mounted on cardboard 21 cm and 13.5 (8 in x 5.5 in) and 21 cm x 16.3 cm (8 in x 6.5 in)

Total images = 120

 

Archives Shelf Location A8897 – A8898

A8897 (i) Creer’s House Crebert, St Mayfield, NSW, 7 November 1900 – A copy is held at NCC 001 000316
A8897 (ii) Unidentified house, Waratah, NSW [n.d]
A8897 (iii) Witherspoon’s Employees Picnic, Toronto, NSW, 09 March 1899 – Copy also held NCC 001 002695
A8897 (iv) Topmen West Wallsend Colliery, NSW, 15 June 1898
A8897 (v) Unidentified group at Toronto Hotel, NSW, [n.d.] Copy 1
A8897 (vi) Unidentified group at Toronto Hotel, NSW, [n.d.] Copy 2
A8897 (vii) Unidentified group at Toronto Hotel, NSW, [n.d.] Copy 3
A8897 (viii) Jury men for the Dudley Colliery Disaster, NSW, 29 March 1898 Copy 1
A8897 (ix) Jury men for the Dudley Colliery Disaster, NSW, 29 March 1898 Copy 2
A8897 (x) Coach Builders and Farriers Picnic on the Maggie [Johnson] at Swansea, NSW, 24 March 1898
A8897 (xi) Lambton B Colliery, Redhead, NSW, 2 July 1894
A8897 (xii) Dudley Colliery Mine Disaster, NSW, 21 March 1898 Copy 1 Glass Negative ASGN0246-B11
A8897 (xiii) Dudley Colliery Mine Disaster, NSW, 21 March 1898 Copy 2 Glass Negative ASGN0246-B11
A8897 (xiv) Dudley Colliery Mine Disaster, NSW, 21 March 1898
A8897 (xv) Watt St Newcastle [25 May 1901] Could be taken same time as glass plate ASGN0192-B8, the street light is the same and Watt Street is decorated, possible for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York’s visit.
A8897 (xvi) Unidentified group in fancy dress [n.d.]
A8897 (xvii) Unidentified group in fancy dress [n.d.] Copy 2
A8897 (xviii) Unidentified group of School Children n.d.]
A8897 (xix) Unidentified group of School Children n.d.]Copy 2
A8897 (xx) [Seven-day Adventist tent at Hamilton, NSW, 28 December 1898 Copy 1
A8897 (xxi) [Seven-day Adventist tent at Hamilton, NSW 28 December 1898 Copy 2 – Date same as ASGN0-B SDA tents Hamilton
A8897 (xxii) Group at Waratah Copper Smelting, NSW, 8 December [1899] Copy 1 Copy held by NCC 001002456
A8897 (xxiii) Group at Waratah Copper Smelting, NSW, 8 December [1899] Copy 2
A8897 (xxiv) The Very Reverend Arthur Edward Selwyn’s Grave, NSW, 29 June 1899 – Dean of Newcastle (NMH notice 28 June 1899) copy held by NCC 001 003124
A8897 (xxv) Dean Selwyn’s Grave, NSW, 29 June 1899 (NMH notice 28 June 1899) copy held by NCC 001 003124
A8897 (xxvi) Wallsend Ambulance group 23 October 1897 Copy 1
A8897(xxvii) Wallsend Ambulance group 23 October 1897 Copy 2
A8897 (xxviii) Sacred Heart School, Hamilton, NSW, (No 4) 6 February 1895 Copy 1
A8897 (xxix) Sacred Heart School, Hamilton, NSW, (No 4) 6 February 1895 Copy 2
A8897 (xxx) Unidentified group n.d. Copy 1
A8897 (xxxi) Unidentified group n.d. Copy 2
A8897 (xxxii) Harbour and Rivers Display, Newcastle, NSW 12 October 1897 Copy 1 – copy NCC 001 000161
A8897 (xxxiii) Harbour and Rivers Display, Newcastle, NSW 12 October 1897 Copy 2 – copy NCC 001 000161
A8897 (xxxiv) F T and Permanent Way Picnic Committee, Toronto, NSW, 12 March 1900, Copy 1
A8897 (xxxv) F T and Permanent Way Picnic Committee, Toronto, NSW, 12 March 1900, Copy 2
A8897 (xxxvi) Coal Miners at Unidentified colliery n.d. Copy 1
A8897(xxxvii) Coal Miners at Unidentified colliery n.d. Copy 2
A8897(xxxviii) Coal Miners at Unidentified colliery n.d. Copy 3
A8897 (xxxix) J Hayes Locomotive 37 at Toronto, NSW, 3 October 1910  Glass plate ASGN0331-B14
A8897 (xl) Group and train at Toronto, NSW, 2 March [1899] (Bert Lovat’s Date Box no from transcription 191 copy NCC 001 001752.
A8897 (xli) Group and train at Toronto, NSW, 2 March [1899] (Bert Lovat’s Date Box no from transcription 191 copy NCC 001 001752.
A8897 (xlii) Hawken’s Oriental Hotel, Carrington, NSW, 13 February 1899 Copy 1
A8897 (xliii) Hawken’s Oriental Hotel, Carrington, NSW, 13 February 1899 Copy 2
A8897 (xliv) Newcastle Railway Station, decorated, Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.] – Copy 1
A8897 (xlv) Newcastle Railway Station, decorated, Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.] – Copy 2
A8897 (xlvi) Unidentified woman NSW[n.d.]
A8897 (xlvii) Unidentified family group NSW [n.d.]
A8897 (xlviii) Grave of Eliza Lundford , NSW[n.d.]
A8897 (xlix) Wallsend & Plattsburg Shop Assistants Picnic, Toronto, NSW, 11 March 1898
A8897 (l) Charlestown Hotel, NSW, 1898
A8897 (li) Unidentified graves [n.d.]
A8897 (lii) Grave of George, Rachel and George Mead, Methodist Cemetery New England Highway Rutherford, NSW, 21 March 1901 No 83 Reported 12 Sept 1874 Maitland Mercury
A8897 (liii) Journeyman Bakers picnic, Toronto, NSW, 18 March 1893
A8897 (liv) Adamstown lay Methodist Picnic, NSW, 24 May 1897
A8897 (lv) Grave of Margaret Hutchison, NSW, 1897
A8897 (lvi) Unidentified group [1890’s]
A8897 (lvii) Grave of Reverend John Tierney, NSW, n.d.
A8897 (lviii) Shop employees picnic, Tomago, NSW, 17 November 1898
A8897 (lix) Unidentified group [1890’s]
A8897 (lx) Sulphide Corporation, Cockle Creek, NSW, August1896
A8897 (lxi) Construction of Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle, NSW, 22 October, 1900 (Glass plate ASGN0839-B38)
A8897 (lxii) Hamilton Sacred Hearts School, NSW, 6 February 1895
A8897 (lxiii) Cake and Apron Fair, Lambton Church of England stall holders at St Johns Anglican Church, Lambton NSW, 11 November 1898 NCC 001 002900
A8897 (lxiv) Sulphide Corporation, Cockle Creek, NSW, August 1896
A8897 (lxv) Committee, Butchers picnic, Toronto, NSW, 30 August 1899
A8897 (lxvi) Committee, Hetton Wheelers picnic, Toronto, NSW, 26 February 1898 (Glass plate ASGN0349-B15)
A8897 (lxvii) Wallsend & Lambton Ambulance Classes, NSW, 23 October 1897
A8897 (lxviii) Coach Builders & Ferrier’s picnic, [Swansea, NSW, 16 March 1898] Copy one
A8897 (lxix) Coach Builders & Ferrier’s picnic, [Swansea, NSW, 16 March 1898] Copy two
A8897 (lxx) Christ Church Sunday School teachers group, Toronto, NSW, 5 October 1899
A8897 (lxxi) Unidentified funeral, [n.d.]
A8897 (lxxii) Fettlers Camp, Adamstown, NSW, 26 January 1901 (Glass plate ASGN0327-B14)
A8897 (lxxiii Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.]
A8897 (lxxiv) Waiting for Royals, Honeysuckle Station, Newcastle West, NSW, 25 May 1901 (Glass plate ASGN0195-B8)
A8897 (lxxv) Ironbark Bridge, Hexham, NSW, 9 December 1897 (Glass plate 0321-B14)
A8897 (lxxvi) Unidentified group [1890’s]
A8897 (lxxvii) Allanson’s group picnic, Speers Point, NSW, 26 January 1900
A8897 (lxxviii) Telegraph laying camp, Adamstown, NSW, 30 December 1897 (Glass plate ASGN0812-B37)
A8897 (lxxix) Ellen McAuliffe Monument, [n.d.]
A8897 (lxxx) Mayor David Miller and Councillors outside Watt Street Council Chambers, Newcastle, NSW, [1890’s] (Glass plate ASGN0886-B39)
A8897 (lxxxi) Maria Margaret Smith Monument, [n.d.] NCC 001 00294
A8897 (lxxxii) William Max, Bertram’s monument [n.d.] NCC 001 002453
A8898 (i) Photocopy of the introductory pages i to v from ‘With camera, horse and waggonette’: by Bert Lovett and Norm Barney
A8898 (ii) Corner of Hunter and Union Streets Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.]
A8898 (iii) Hamilton Institute, Hamilton, NSW, [n.d.]
A8898 (iv) T and P Way Employees picnic, Toronto, NSW, 5 April 1897 Copy one
A8898 (v) T and P Way Employees picnic, Toronto, NSW, 5 April 1897 Copy two
A8898 (vi) Hamilton Station Masters Cottage, Hamilton, NSW, [n.d.] Copy one
A8898 (vii) Hamilton Station Masters Cottage, Hamilton, NSW, [n.d.] Copy two
A8898 (viii) Jesmond Public School (Boys) Jesmond, NSW, 14 May 1895 Copy one
A8898 (ix) Jesmond Public School (Boys) Jesmond, NSW, 14 May 1895 Copy two
A8898 (x) Teachers picnic, Toronto, NSW, 12 December 1896
A8898 (xi) Toronto foreshore, Toronto, NSW, 26 December 1899 – (Glass plate ASGN0596-B27)
A8898 (xii) Hamilton R.C. (Roman Catholic) picnic Toronto, NSW, 20 October 1896
A8898 (xiii) Eight Hour committee, Toronto, NSW, [18 November 1894] Copy one
A8898 (xiv) Eight Hour committee, Toronto, NSW, [18 November 1894] Copy two
A8898 (xv) Independent Presbyterian picnic, Fern Bay, NSW, 26 December 1896 Copy one
A8898 (xvi) Independent Presbyterian picnic, Fern Bay, NSW, 26 December 1896 Copy two
A8898 (xvii) Highland Gathering Committee, Newcastle, NSW, 9 November 1895 – (Glass plate ASGN0478-B20)
A8898 (xviii) Hamilton Public School, Hamilton, NSW, October 1896 Copy one
A8898 (xix) Hamilton Public School, Hamilton, NSW, October 1896 Copy two
A8898 (xx) Newcastle District Teachers picnic, Toronto, NSW, 25 April 1896
A8898 (xxi) Unidentified group, NSW, [n.d.] Copy one
A8898 (xxii) Unidentified group, NSW, [n.d.] Copy two
A8898 (xxiii) Unidentified group, NSW, [n.d.]
A8898 (xxiv) Unidentified group, NSW, [n.d.]
A8898 (xxv) Unidentified group, NSW, [n.d.]
A8898 (xxvi) Independent Presbyterian picnic, Fern Bay, NSW, 26 December 1896
A8898 (xxvii) Butches picnic, NSW, [22 August 1891]
A8898 (xxviii) No 1 Waratah Public School – Boys, Waratah, NSW, 29 May 1895
A8898 (xxix) No 1 Waratah Public School – Boys, Waratah, NSW, 29 May 1895
A8898 (xxx) No 2 Waratah Public School – Girl, Waratah, NSW, 29 May 1895
A8898 (xxxi) Jesmond Public School class, Jesmond, NSW, 14 May 1895 Copy one
A8898 (xxxii) Jesmond Public School class, Jesmond, NSW, 14 May 1895 Copy two
A8898 (xxxiii) Jesmond Public School class, Jesmond, NSW, 14 May 1895 Copies
A8898 (xxxiv) [New Lambton school children n.d]
A8898 (xxxv) Unidentified group, NSW,[n.d.]
A8898 (xxxvi) Mary Davies grave, NSW, n.d.
A8898 (xxxvii) Unidentified group, Toronto, NSW 20 October 1896
A8898(xxxviii) Highland Gathering Committee, Newcastle, NSW, 9 November 1897 – (Glass plate ASGN0463-B20)
A8898 (xxxix) Butchers Picnic, Toronto, NSW, 20 August 1896

 

 

RALPH SNOWBALL – LAMBTON N.S.W. – PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE & ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER – EXHIBITIONS

M4847 Hunter and Wolfe Streets, Newcastle, NSW [n.d]

Photographs from Norman Barney’s ‘Then and Now’ Exhibition.
Conduit: Purchased from David McLean, Proprietor, Cooks Hill Books

 

The historical photographs were taken by various photographers including Ralph Snowball, Charles Kerry, A. Lynn, and Mr Hoffman. The modern photographs were taken by Norman Barney in 1992 and developed by The Newcastle Herald. There are 51 boards in the exhibition.

 

  • M4847 Panel 1
    Hunter and Wolfe Streets Newcastle, NSW, looking north, [n.d]
  • M4848 Panel 2.
    C Hinton’s Sign Writing, Corner of Hunter and Perkins Streets, Newcastle, NSW c1890s
    David Jones Store, Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4849 Panel 3
    Eight Hour Day Parade, Hunter Street Newcastle East, NSW, looking west, c1890
    Hunter Street Newcastle East, NSW, looking west, 1992
  • M4850 Panel 4
    Construction of Newcastle Post Office, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, [1 May] 1901[by Ralph Snowball]
    Aerial view of Newcastle Post Office, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4851 Panel 5
    Hunter Street Newcastle East, Newcastle, NSW, from Bolton Street, looking east, November 1899.
  • M4852 Panel 6
    Hunter Street, Newcastle East, NSW, form Bolton Street looking west, c1920’s
    Hunter Street, Newcastle East, NSW, form Bolton Street looking west, 1992
  • M4853 Panel 7.
    Newcastle Police Station, Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW looking east with Langwood and Co. in the background. [n.d.]
    Newcastle Police Station, Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW, 1992
  • M4854 Panel 8.
    Watt Street, Newcastle, NSW, looking south [n.d.].
    Watt and Hunter Streets, Newcastle. 1992
  • M4855 Panel 9.
    Old Court House, Hunter Street Newcastle NSW, c1890’s (ASGN0088-B4)
    The Old Newcastle Post Office, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992.
  • M4856 Panel 10.
    Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, looking west from Watt Street with the old Newcastle Post Office, [1905]
    Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, looking west from Watt Street with the old Court House and Ships Inn,1880’s.
  • M4857 Panel 11
    Charleston Photographers, G E Bodlly and the Oyster Saloon, Hunter and Newcomen Streets, Newcastle, NSW, c1890’s
    Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Hunter and Newcomen Streets, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4858 Panel 12
    Entrance to Newcastle Borough Markets and Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Mail Newcastle Office, NSW 7 August 1897.
    Market Square entrance, Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4859 Panel 13
    Hunter St Newcastle, NSW, Looking west with Crown and Anchor Hotel and Centaury decorations, [17 September]1897.
    Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle, NSW, 1992.
  • M4860 Panel 14
    Scott’s Store, Mrs Prevost and Ellis Boots Store Hunter Street Newcastle NSW [1890]
  • M4861 Panel 15
    Hunter and Perkin Streets, Newcastle, NSW c1890’s
  • M4862 Panel 16
    R Currie and Co Tailors and Mercers, Hunter and Perkins Streets, Newcastle, NSW c1890s
    Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4863 Panel 17
    T Buist and Co Limited Music Warehouse, Hunter and Thorn Streets, Newcastle, NSW,  [n.d.]
    Radio Rentals, Hunter and Thorn Streets, Newcastle, NSW, 1992.
  • M4864 Panel 18
    Newcastle Borough Markets, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, [n.d]
    Entrance to Market Square Hunter Street Mall Newcastle, NSW, 1992.
  • M4865 Panel 19
    Hunter Street Newcastle, looking north down Market Street c1890’s Ralph Snowball Glass Plate ASGN0226-B10
    Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, looking north down Market Street foot bridge to Queens Wharf 1992
  • M4866 Panel 20
    Harry Stegga and Co Tailors advertisement and Langer’s Book Arcade in the Municipal Building,Hunter and Market Streets Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.]
    Chandlers Music Store and Susans clothing store in the Municipal Building,Hunter and Market Streets Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4867 Panel 21
    R Langer store and A Gross store, Old Municipal Building, Market Street Newcastle, NSW, c1890s.
    Old Municipal Building, Market Street Newcastle 1992.
  • M4868 Panel 22
    Book Seller and Newsagency, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, opposite the former Newcastle Post Office, September 1897.
    Book Seller and Newsagency, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, opposite the former Newcastle Post Office, 1992.
  • M4869 Panel 23
    Walter Neve Complete House Furnisher and Stegga Clothing, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW [n.d.]
    Hunter Street Mall, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4870 Panel 24
    Hughes and sons Surgeon, Dentists and Potters the Jewellers, Hunter and Morgan Streets Newcastle, NSW, c1890’s
    Hunter Street Mall, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4871 Panel 25
    J S Robb, Milliner and Draper and T H Raysmith Jewellers, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, c1890’s
    Katies and Coles Variety stores, Hunter St Mall, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4872 Panel 26
    W Winn and Co Drapers and Clothiers Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, August 1897
    Best and Less store and Time Zone Amusements, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW,  1992
  • M4873 Panel 27
    Scott the Busy Draper, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW August 1897.
    MG 23 and Fletcher Jones shops, Hunter Street Mall Newcastle, NSW, 1992.
  • M4874 Panel 28
    Scott and Airds Gentleman’s Mercers and Hatters and Lock’s Hotel, Hunter and Newcomen Streets Newcastle, NSW, c1880s
    Hunter and Newcomen Streets Newcastle, NSW, 1992.
  • M4875 Panel 29
    Eight Hour Day parade, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, Between Crown and Darby Streets, [n.d.]
    Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, Between Crown and Darby Streets, 1992
  • M4876 Panel 30
    Tattersall’s Hotel, Hunter and Darby Streets Newcastle [1890]
    Hunter and Darby Streets Newcastle 1992
  • M4877 Panel 31
    Hunter Street West looking east, 10 June 1896, by Ralph Snowball
    Hunter Street West looking east 1992
  • M4878 Panel 32
    Mrs Breckenridge Drapery, Hunter Street West and Auckland Streets, -Newcastle, NSW, October 1899.
    Dandrew House, Hunter Street West and Auckland Streets, Newcastle, NSW 1992
  • M4879 Panel 33
    Blane Street (Hunter Street West), Newcastle, NSW, [nd.]
    Hunter Street West, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4880 Panel 34
    Ray Smith and Co. Watchmakers and Jewellers and R Breckenridge Auctioneer and Timber Merchant,  Blane Street (Hunter Street West), Newcastle, NSW 1890’s
    Newcastle Duty Free and Frontline Hobbies situated in Waratah House and Ray Baartz Sports Store Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4881 Panel 35
    Northumberland Building Investment Land and Loan Society, Centenary Coal Arch, Hunter and Burwood Streets Newcastle, NSW with 1897.
    Hunter Street NSW 1992 with Australian Tax Office Newcastle City Chambers, and Frederick Ash Bond Store, 1992
  • M4882 Panel 36
    R F Vale Paperhanger, Painter and F Witherspoon Importers, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW, 1890’s
    Creer and Berkeley Real Estate and McElwaine’s Fabrics Hunter Street near Auckland Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4883 Panel 37
    Hunter Street near Auckland Street Newcastle, NSW looking west, 8 June 1896
    Hunter Street near Auckland Street Newcastle, NSW looking west, 1992
  • M4884 Panel 38
    Hunter Street, at the intersection of Melville Street (Now Union Street) Newcastle NSW with Steam Tram No 98, Newcastle West Post Office and Technical College.  Ralph Snowball Glass Plate ASGN0541-B22
    Hunter and Union Streets 1992
  • M4885 Panel 39
    Duke and Duchess of York visit, Honeysuckle Station, Newcastle West, 25 May 1901
    (Ralph Snowball Glass Plate AGSN0194-B8)
    Hunter Street, Newcastle West, NSW 1992
  • M4886 Panel 40
    Duke and Duchess of York visit, Hunter Street Newcastle West, NSW, looking east, 25 May 1901
    Hunter Street Newcastle West, NSW, looking east, 1992
  • M4886 Panel 41
    Bank Corner, Newcastle West, NSW, [n.d.]
    Bank Corner, Newcastle West, NSW, 1992
  • M4888 Panel 42
    Thomas Brothers Wholesale and Retail Butchers, Hunter Street, Newcastle West, 1902
    Newcastle Philippine Food Supermarket, Hunter Street Newcastle West, 1992
  • M4889 Panel 43
    Woods Castlemaine Brewery advertisement, Hunter Street West, Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.]
    Hunter Street West, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4890 Panel 44
    Hunter Street, Near Union Street, Newcastle, NSW 8 June 1896 by Ralph Snowball
    Hunter Street, Near Union Street, Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4891 Panel 45
    J Blewett and Sons Saddlers and J Porter Grocers, Hunter Street, Newcastle West, NSW [n.d.]
  • M4892 Panel 46
    Elite Skating Rink, McLellan Hellyer and Co Colliery Supplies, Hunter Street Newcastle West, NSW with Honeysuckle Stationmasters Cottage and Honeysuckle Railway Cottage in the back ground 1890.
    (Ralph Snowball Glass Plate ASGN0379-B16)
    Palais Royal Hunter Street Newcastle West, NSW 1992
  • M4893 Panel 47
    Elite Skating Rink, Hunter Street Newcastle West, NSW and the Catholic and Presbyterian Cemetery, Hunter Street Newcastle, NSW 1890
    Custom Audio, Australian Muscle and Fitness and the Palais Royal. Hunter Street Newcastle West, NSW, 1992
  • M4894 Panel 48
    Aerial view of Hunter and King Streets from Darby Street Newcastle, NSW, looking west, 1929
  • M4895 Panel 49
    Hunter and Bolton Streets Newcastle, NSW, 1923
  • M4896 Panel 50
    Hunter and Crown Streets Newcastle, NSW, 1923
    Hunter and Crown Streets Newcastle, NSW, 1992
  • M4897 Panel 51
    Merewether and Hunter Streets Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.]
    Merewether and Hunter Streets Newcastle, NSW, 1992

 

2023 Update – Mark Gill’s Reminiscences

Following the release of this post on Linkedin, Mark Gill, whose family lived across the road from Ralph Snowball provided a hitherto unknown account of how the Snowball glass negatives came into the possession of the Newcastle Regional Museum and historians. Once he started his comments we invited him to provide his account to add here, as, to the best of our knowledge, no one was aware of the work the neighbours in the street had done to safeguard Snowball photographic legacy. He said he would provide the following words pending corroboration with his older siblings.

Mark Gill writes (LinkedIn comments 14/11/2023):

“I grew up over the road from Ralph Snowball’s house in New Lambton when his last remaining son still lived there in his 80’s/90’s.

He told us stories of serving in the Australian Light Horse in WW1 and charging Beersheba. He only ate the fresh fruit and veg that he grew in his own garden.

When he passed away with no living relatives to leave the house to, kids started trashing the place.

My family and I went in there at that time and rescued hundreds (thousands? maybe…it was very time consuming) of glass negatives from his father’s photo collection and gave them to the local museum (i.e. the Newcastle Regional Museum in its original Wood Street location in Newcastle West).

I’m so glad we did that. History is important, especially in the sense of local geography and community. Ralph Snowball captured a growing, evolving and thriving city, which continues to inform our identity today.

Must say I’m a bit surprised by the attribution of the ‘discovery’ of these glass negatives to Barney and Lovett. We found them and gave them to Newcastle Museum. I do however have a lot of respect for Barney as a local historian – don’t know much about Lovett.

Not fussed that we don’t get attribution, but they make it sound like they were the ones who went into the ‘cellar’ of that house and delicately and meticulously rescued all of them.

Just glad they are here now and available to all though.

Interestingly, a family with the surname of Love lived across the road from us, two doors down from the Snowball house at the time, so I assume they may be the ones referred to in the article. It wasn’t so much just my family who rescued those negatives, but more a labor of love by a few neighbours in the street, which had a real sense of community, and a love for old Mr Snowball.

I remember the cellar at the base of the house (which was on a significant slope – so it was exposed where the entry door was, but dug into the earth slope and the back rooms were completely dark and dank without a torch – seemed SO old because it was made out of large boulders that seemed cemented together in some way by hand.

The glass negatives all sat in piles 3-4 feet high in four or five rooms with no windows, dirt floor (hence many water damaged), lots of dust and lots of moisture. Lots of other fascinating objects from the last 100 years as well including newspapers, Women’s Weekly magazines from the 30’s and 40’s, WW1 mementos etc.

I’m not sure how much advice we sought at the time as to how to rescue them but we worked slowly in batches, picking up each slide and gently wiping off moisture and dust, then drying them out in the shade – or maybe even indoors – to avoid possible sun damage. Then we wrapped them each individually in newspaper. It took weeks. It’s possible that in seeking advice on how to do this, my parents and their neighbours may have sought advice – or even assistance – from Norm Barney and Lovett, but I don’t really remember any strangers down in the cellar.

Again, I was quite young at the time so was just following the lead of others. But having wanted to be an archaeologist since I was 4 , this felt like my Howard Carter moment – even if I was just another pair of hands – because I felt like I was laying eyes on treasures that had been buried away for so long.

I should also add that Mr Snowball (as we knew him – can’t remember his first name of the 7 kids Ralph had) was such a gentle and kind man and a great story teller. I strongly remember he had a thermometer and a barometer on the door as you entered his front door, and he referred to them often. It never made much sense to me at the time but on reflection, given his upbringing, life experience and total reliance on his garden for sustenance, it makes total sense that he’d be completely in tune with his environment.

I feel blessed to have known him and to have been able to contribute in some small way to preserving his father’s work.”

 

Compiled by Gionni Di Gravio, OAM
University Archivist, and Chair Hunter Living Histories
Special Collections, Auchmuty Library
University of Newcastle (Australia)


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