Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Queen Comes to Katoomba NSW Australia 12 February 1954

(watching the parade - photographer unknown)

In 1954, the year after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning monarch to tour Australia.  The tour included  70 country towns and in Katoomba, an unknown person took photos of the event from the crowd.  These snaps are now a part of my small photography collection.

My Mother was 22 years old and working in a photo development shop in the Blue Mountains with her best friend.  One of the other girls working there, after processing & printing 18 Brownie shots of someone's day during the Royal Visit, printed a set each for her co-workers. 
Mum is good fun when she tells me of slightly naughty things in her younger, pre-marriage years (this week is her 55th wedding anniversary) - normally well spoken, she gets a twinkle in her eyes and with not quite a full giggle tells me stories with the punch line or main anecdote spoken through one side of her mouth, putting on an earlier Australian accent.

The Queen's visit was a huge event for many Australians and remains the most popular Royal Visit to Australia of them all.

A few years ago when visiting my Mother, she showed me the photos and told me about the fun they had at the shop - sometimes there wouldn't be any work* so they'd take corny posed shots of each other, hand to forehead - glamour puss at lunchtime.
Wondering why I'd want those old things that weren't very good anyway, she gave me the unknown photographer's snaps.

One of my activities is restoring old photographs & here is the original scan of the above scene:

It's hard to see all the splotches & scratches here but you get the idea about the exposure & straight-forward development (no dodging, these are direct contact prints from the negatives).  Taking photographs during a bright day in February would always be tricky.

- especially if the photographer appears to be short:

can they see anything? 

* in another shop where my Mother worked in main street of Leura (- she lived midway between Katoomba & Leura -) her kind boss kept her and her friend on the payroll during Winter even though there was hardly any work.  "You could let off a gun in the middle of the main street and you wouldn't even hit a dog"  - on ya Mum

Australia is not a Repulic yet but it may get its independence one day - I do hope my Mother gets to see it happen.

Oh, by the way, none of the photos shows even a tiny glimpse of QEII or even her car!

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