Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Inspired by the collection

March 22nd, 2013 by


The Photo Library responds regularly to requests from authors and publishers for images of collection objects and photographs. Sometimes we are contacted by people who request photographs for their own creative projects. Malcolm Smith of Parkes Observatory has been using photographs from the Powerhouse Museum’s Clyde Engineering and Tyrrell photographic collections as reference for transport and landscape in his models and dioramas. 

Above is one of Malcolm’s photographs of a model he made using a Clyde Engineering collection photograph (see black and white image below) depicting Commonwealth Oil Corporation low sided open wagon number 12, built by Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 1900-1930. Malcolm writes:

Clyde built rolling stock was built for the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, around 1906-1910, for the Wolgan Valley Railway, which ran from a junction near Clarence in the Blue Mountains, to Newnes, in the Wolgan Valley, over a distance of around 32 miles. Newnes and the Wolgan Valley are on the western edge of the Wollemi National Park, north of Lithgow. The railway was built in just over 18 months, and work commenced in April 1906 on the railway construction. The COC was part of a British based joint venture, which had Sir George Newnes (publisher fame) as the main chairman and lead investor. The industry based at Newnes was based on the shale mines of the area, which directly used the shale in retorts, which had as an end product, kerosene, paraffin wax (for candles), lubricant oils and greases, and other shale based oil products. Fuel from the Newnes based retorts help fuel many of the Australian war-ships during WW1. Other products manufactured also included coke, for the steel works at Lithgow, but that was only for a short time. The oil bearing content of the shale in the Wolgan Valley was the richest in the world, producing more yield of oil per ton of shale than any location in the world. Ultimately, the industry suffered due to cheap imported products from overseas (using liquid oil based refinery, not from shale rock), and underpricing by those importers, to kill off the local suppliers…Other areas where the industry operated included Hartley Vale, Lithgow, Mittagong, the Illawarra, and up in the Liverpool Ranges near Murrundi.

Photography, model and diorama by Malcolm Smith ©


 88/289-644    Clyde Collection Glass Plate Negatives

Photographer unknown, Clyde Engineering Collection.

No known copyright restricitions.

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