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Wilfred Hayler’s Newcastle Harbour photographs

Wilfred Hayler was in his late teens when he decided to photograph the ships and other activities around the busy harbour of his home town, Newcastle, NSW.

Wilfred with one of his photograph albums.

It doesn’t seem as though young Wilfred had particularly sophisticated camera gear, but he did have a good eye for a picture. And at the time he was taking his hundreds of photos, the world of shipping in Newcastle Harbour was in a fascinating state of transition from sail to steam.

The six-masted barquentine E.R. Sterling at the coal cranes, with the tug St Giles alongside.

In the early to mid-1920s, when Wilfred was taking his pictures, Newcastle Harbour was a busy and fascinating blend of the last of the sailing ships, eking out a living in the coal trade, and the faster and less fussy steamers and oil-burners. Also, his photos show the old paddlesteamer tugs still at work.

A moody shot at the dolphin wharves.
A paddle-wheel tug alongside a steamship, with a sailing ship visible behind.
An astonishing rare photo of the paddle-wheel river boat Anna Maria on Newcastle Harbour.
A sunken boat at the Newcastle wharf.
At the punt wharf. The vehicular ferry is presumably the Mildred.
Lovely shot of the Iron Monarch, with a sailing ship in the background.

Not much is known about Wilfred. Descendant Samantha Pearl – the owner of the collection – said he was born on August 20, 1906, the only son of butcher James Hayler, of Laman Street, Newcastle. He worked at smallgoods wholesaler Lord and Fry, and then later – apparently – in some role at Customs House. He married Daphne Bennett on November 11, 1935. The couple had no children, and Wilfred died in 1959.

Samantha is anxious to ensure Wilfred’s photographs are seen by a wide audience, and she hopes many people will appreciate the work of an enthusiastic Newcastle youngster, back in the 1920s.

Wilfred and Daphne Hayler
A promotional stunt for the movie “Covered Wagon” in Laman Street, Cooks Hill, probably taken from the verandah of Wilfred’s home at number 60.
A very unusual view of the Scotts department store building in Hunter Street, circa 1923.
Marvellous photo of the Hunter River at Morpeth.

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