More than 140 years ago, Bernard Holtermann’s photographer, Charles Bayliss, could be found running up and down the steps of School House tower, then known as “Holtermann’s Tower”, carrying a large wet-mount glass plate negative.

The plates varied in size from 46x56cm up to 152x91cm and weighed up to 30kg. Three of the plates have now been recognised by UNESCO’s International Memory of the World project as the world’s largest 19th-century wet-mount glass plate negatives and for the technological achievement they represented at the time.

The result of this photographic venture was a stunning 978 centimetre panoramic photograph of Sydney, capturing a moment in time in fine detail. The images are so clear that there is no pixilation upon enlargement allowing, for example, bottle labels that are behind shop windows to be read. The collection toured the world as part of an exhibition to promote immigration to Australia.

Shore School has two connections to this. The first is that Holtermann’s Tower is the founding building of Shore. The second connection is that a Shore Prep parent, Ms Anna Brooks, was a member of the team who worked on the restoration of the broken glass plates and campaigned to have the plates recognised by UNESCO.

 

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Bo Holtermann, left, with his family.
Holtermann was a patron of photography in the late 19th Century.

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One section of Holtermann’s Sydney panorama collection, taken from Holtermann’s Tower in 1875. Note: The white building on the left is

“The Observatory” which was, prior to 1926, where Robson House Boarders lived. It was privately owned by one of the school teachers

and stood roughly where the southern end of the PE Complex along William Street is today.

 

Kate Riseley, Shore Archivist. archivist@shore.nsw.edu.au

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