Monday, 13 January 2014

Governor of New South Wales # 1 - Captain Arthur Phillip, RN

Phillip became the Governor of my state on 26th January 1788, the same day that Australia was claimed for the British Empire. At that stage, the Colony Of New South Wales WAS Australia. For this series, I thought to cover the first 10 Governors, and try to include a statue of each of them. However, I am finding that easier said than done with some of them. The first 10 Governors takes us from 1788 until January 1855, 67 years during which the voice of the people via the state parliament became increasingly important. The first Premier of the state was sworn in in June 1856. After 1855, the role of Governor seemed to be increasingly filled by vacuous barons and viscounts.
Phillip's term as Governor came to an end on 10th December 1792. His heart was not really in it, I suspect. Whoever victualed the First Fleet, and chose those who sailed in her, did a lousy job from Phillip's point of view. He was light on farmers, and he was light on tradies. The rainfall in this country is a smidge different from that in the Old Dart, and flood and famine was a constant weight upon his shoulders. Cooks and Banks painted a glowing picture of the indigenous tribes around the harbour, but they were not taking their land from them - Phillip was, and the tribes reacted in a predictable way.
One of the major thoroughfares of the inner city is Phillip Street, home to numerous legal chambers. And so we come to the statue. It is the only one I know depicting Phillip. There may be more, and I would love them pointed out to me. This one is in the Royal Botanic Gardens alongside Macquarie Street, and opposite The State Library. It was erected in 1897, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria's ascenscion to the throne. It was erected on the site of the grand "Garden Palace" which was burnt to the ground in 1882. I think I am actually glad this glass palace did not last long. It was massive, and gaudy, and dominated the harbour view. Not that this statue of Phillip is not gaudy in its own turn, but tastes vary over the decades.
However, the gaudy, jingly present is overwhelming even this example of bad taste, as towers of glass and steel rise up behind Phillip all the way down Macquarie Street to the very forecourt of the Opera House. When Phillip first climbed upon his marble pedestal, though, Macquarie Street was the epitome of genteel, well-heeled living.
Thank you to The State Library of NSW - custodian of the final four images. Each is out of copyright.


Cloudia said...

Well done

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

Joe said...

Philip appears to have been portrayed as quite solemn in the illustration and the statue. I seems he had much to be solemn about.

Jim said...

Regarding my Paddington bank photo today, the former, larger Commonwealth Bank building is next to the Australian Centre for Photography, on the opposite side Oxford street. Oddly, the current Commonwealth Bank building was actually an ANZ Bank branch until recently.

Julie said...

Ahh ... I suspect that is up nearer the Light Brigade then. So I gather the one down near St Johns has closed down. Not enough ATMs in Paddo.

Joan Elizabeth said...

That is the one statue I know of Phillip. The historic shots of Macquarie St are great.

I love the way you can see the past in the current landscape. I just get confused.

diane b said...

I don't remember seeing this statue. I must look for it next time I'm there. I love the old photos to see how it was. Did you see m 60's shot of the Quay??

Julie said...

I will go find your 60s shot of the Quay, Diane.