Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Redcoats & Convicts Festival - Traditional skills


The Colony of New South Wales was established in 1788, peopled by convicts, soldiers and a few free settlers. In 1819 Hyde Park barracks was built by gangs of convict labourers to house convicts who, up to this time, has to make their own sleeping arrangements each evening in the town.

Both convict and soldier, free-settler and emancipated-convict worked with their hands, with their brawn, using raw materials, and methods handed down through the ages.


This was before the time of the great enclosures in Britain, before the growth of the industrial towns, and the drift of farm and village workers to new horizons. Youngsters dreamt of being an apprentice, of graduating to a journeyman, and finally becoming a master of their craft. At this festival just a few crafts were hightlighted: masons, blacksmiths, and cordwainers. But Sydney-town would have resounded to the work of weavers, farriers, scriveners, wheelwrights, tanners, chandlers, loriners and mercers, among others.


As I watched these master craftsmen ply their trade, I thought of books dear to me like Flora Thompson's 'Lark Rise to Candleford', 'The Stone Quartet' of Alan Garner (especially 'The Stone Book' and 'The Aimer Gate'), and even Bruce Chatwin's much later 'On the Black Hill'. All giving a flavour of a bygone era and that which is lost. Not that I decry progress; nor am I a luddite, wanting to replace blackberries with smoke signals.


Within the HPB's museum, there is a story noting that a number of fathers, sons and brothers passed through the building. Whether any had deliberately committed offences in order to reunite families is speculation. Four example, four Reilly brothers were transported from Ireland. Luke, a tailor, was sentenced for street robbery. Peter, an illiterate stone-cutter, was sentenced for stealing flannel. Francis, a shoemaker, was transported for pickpocketing. They were later joined by another brother, Thomas. This new land offered them greater opportunities than the old.

14 comments:

Thérèse said...

A wonderful way here to show and describe what happened and what is happening... never to forget.

brattcat said...

julie, please let kirsten know that even in distant vermont i read her posts, i admire her courage, her grace, and her frank prose style. i think of her often; i wish for her the best possible outcome. i can't cook for her, or take her husband out for a beer, but i can tell her mother that i care deeply about her daughter and her granddaughter, and hope to my core that this story has a happy ending.

Speedway said...

I hope these demonstrations get a lot of exposure to kids looking for an interesting, useful skill. Keeping these traditions alive also means helping a lot of people to perhaps find their way to meaningful work which would also support themselves and families.

Bergson said...

beautiful hands at work

Julie said...

BC - I will let her know. Thank you or your thoughts and love. They mean a lot to both of us.

Windsmoke. said...

Fantastic photos, i especially like the saddle with the tiny horse shoes attached in the last photo :-).

Steffe said...

Another great post from this event.

Ann said...

You and your hands :). Wonderful shots. Didn't realise they had so much there. Must go next year.

freefalling said...

I had to look up what a loriner was.
That will come in handy when I go on Sale of the Century with Tony Barber.


I've been watching this really interesting bbc series I reckon you'd like.
The Country House Revealed.
Here's a link to Episode 5
(which I reckon is the best episode).
http://www.vureel.com/video/29157/The-Country-House-Revealed-S01E05

freefalling said...

PS - Hip hip hooray - good news!!!!!

anjoe playhouse said...

Great photos and history ;-)

Joan Elizabeth said...

I like the leather apron ... reminds me of workmen in my childhood.

Kirsten's news ... such a relief.

Julie said...

My grandfather used to wear a leather apron, but to call him a 'workman' is stretching the bounds of credibility as he had but a fleeting relationship with the first four letters according to his two oldest sons!

Relief ... did I hear the word relief ... SHE is relieved ... I am just stuffed.

Ali - Scituate Daily Photo said...

I love the little details you've captured here!