Saturday, August 23, 2008

Armidale-Kempsey Road - historical snapshot

A visitor's Google search on Armidale Kempsey Road found Armidale-Kempsey Road - pretty but difficult featuring a photo by Gordon Smith.

Checking this search brought me to this photo from the NSW State Library. It is simply listed as Kempsey, Armidale to Kempsey road with a 1905 date.

Looking at the photo, a number of things jumped out at me.

The first thing is that the photo is staged. We have women above, men below.

The building itself - a hotel? - is an example of what I have come to call North Coast architecture. It is wood as so many coastal buildings were. We have the iron lacework above, then notice the wood fretwork below the balcony. There are a number of surviving examples of wood worked to provide decoration.

Then I noticed the bike. Some years ago I stayed with Arch and Nancy Gray at Scone. Arch had one of the greatest collections, perhaps the greatest ever collection, of New England material. This included a North Coast Steam Navigation Company pamphlet promoting its services.

Released, I think, shortly before the First World War, it encouraged (among other things) Sydney people to go bike touring on the North Coast. I really don't know enough of the history of the bike, so I haven't written of its place in the history of New England.

I liked the dog on the left sitting in the dust on the road. You can also see the wheel tracks in the road.

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