Author Archives: dhawriter

John Carmichael’s works: Others

This post covers other artworks John Carmichael have done through his lifetime between Scotland and Australia. He did quite a lot in his 54 years, including teaching, drawing, etching, engraving, printing, painting, and doing lithography.

From a notice printed in The Sydney Monitor and Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser, two of Sydney’s newspapers dated from October  to November 1828:

JOHN CARMICHAEL, Engraver, begs most respectfully to intimate to the Gentry and Inhabitants of Sydney at large, that he now resides at the house of Messrs Mc’Naughton and Rowell, apothecaries, No. 6, King Street; where he means to prosecute his profession, in all its various Branches.
J.C. returns his sincere and grateful thanks to those who have hitherto honoured him with their favours, and ventures to pledge himself, that none who think proper to employ him will ever have cause to repent their kindness and Patronage.
Orders executed with the utmost promptitude care and dipatch.
N.B. miniatures from two to give guineas; transparent window blinds, painted to order, landscapes copied and all kinds of fancy work done in the neatest manner.”

His first known artwork done in Australia was the watercolour portrait done with ink on card. John Carmichael have signed it as ‘drawn by John Carmichael, 19th December 1826, Sydney New South Wales’.

“King of black Native” (assumed to be the well known ‘Bungaree’):




The rest shown here are others I’ve found online:












That’s about it for John Carmichael’s works. I am sure there are so many more, but probably not easily found now as many would have disappeared over time. We are just fortunate that there are some left for us to recognise his contribution to Australia in the artwork, printing and engraving industries.


Tagged ,

John Carmichael’s works: Artworks for publications

When John Carmichael advertised that he had created a series of engravings of Sydney and its surrounding scenery in December 1828 (3 years after his arrival to Sydney), this collection of a booklet with 6 images were sold publicly from  March 1829 and was all sold by end of May 1829.

There were some comments about this booklet called “Select Views of Sydney, New South Wales”, including the images – shown below – from various newspapers between December 1828 and May 1829:

  • The Australian” on 25 December 1828 (page 3) commented that:


Mr. John Carmichael is fast completing his series of engravings of Sydney and its surrounding scenery. Two of the views we have seen – they have taken Mr. Carmichael two months’ assiduous labor, and certainly do him infinite credit. In one view the observer is supposed to be stationed on Hyde Park, looking north-easterly. It takes in the unfinished Roman Catholic Chapel, with the range of streets lying north-westerly; the other from near the Commissariat Stores, looking up George-street. It is proposed to complete the whole in six views, to be published with a prospectus, at 15s. sterling. This is far too low to numerate the skill and time of the engraver, whom it will take months ere he can complete a work, which, in this country, was never yet equaled, and in few places promises to be excelled. Ingenuity and skill, such as are displayed in this undertaking are certainly well worthy of cultivation, and we would confidently solicit the warm support of the public in behalf of the engraver, who has a further claim upon the patronage of the liberal minded, in his being dumb, and we believe, deaf. Should Mr. Carmichael complete his stupendous work, it will be a credit to the Colony. The two views we have seen deservedly rank him with the best second rate landscape engraver of the day.”

  • Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser” on 28 March 1829 (page 3) annnounced that:


IN the hands of the Artist, and speedily will be published, price 4 Dollars, stitched in a handsome cover, six select Views of Sydney and its environs, dedicated by special permission to Sir JOHN JAMISON, President; and to the other Members of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of New South Wales.
The Engravings will not only be finished in the most superb style, so as to render them worthy of a place in the portfolio of the connoisseur, as superior specimens of the Art; but they will also be calculated to exhibit to those at a distance, a true picture of this interesting Town, of this our Australian Metropolis, and accompanied too with such letter press illustrations as may be necessary.
As the plates of all fine engravings, only print a limited number of impressions, and these of course, the most perfect at the first; it is therefore respectfully suggested to those who may he desirous of obtaining copies, to insert their names and addresses into the subscription list, as early as possible, so that they may be supplied in the succession of their applications.
Subscription Lists, now lay open at the Bank of Australia; the Bank of New South Wales; the Sydney Gazette Office; the Australian Newspaper Office; the Monitor Office; Cummings’ Hotel; the Royal Hotel; the Australian Hotel; Hill’s Rose and Crown Tavern; and, at Mr. M’Naughton and Rowell’s, King-street, the lodgings of J. Carmichael, the engraver and proprietor.”

Images of “The Select Views of Sydney, New South Wales”:

Cover page (



Other images in this booklet:

Sydney from Hyde Park (



Sydney from the Domain near Government House (



Sydney from the Parramatta Road (



Sydney from Woolloomooloo (



Sydney Cove between Fort Phillip and Dawes Battery (



George Street from the Wharf (




Quite impressive, huh?


He did quite a lot, especially for some publications – which is too numerous to mention here. However there is one notable publication that should get a mention here, “Picture of Sydney: and Strangers’ Guide in N.S.W. for 1839” by James Maclehose:

2014-08-26 14.38.00

In this publication, John Carmichael did 20 engraved images, covering buildings, people, landscapes and maps. Only several selected ones shown below:

Male and female black natives, New South Wales (




Sydney Cove from the stream (


New Court House, South Head Road, Sydney (



There would be more – you’d find some through State Library of NSW or National Library of Australia.

John Carmichael’s works: Advertisements & Stamps

Between 1825 and 1857, John Carmichael had worked non-stop in producing engravings, drawings, paintings and printings, as well as lithographs. To know certain number of his works cannot be achieved, however there is at least 13 known advertisement works John have done. Some are being shown below:

All images shown below can be found from State Library of NSW

9833ded654ef0aa0c38fbf92c5fb1983 \62858r



And one of the three first Australian stamps in 1850:


And apparently he did several more stamps (1851, 1854, 1856 and 1860 (the 1860 stamps were re-produced from 1856 stamps)









The jury is still out there whether the whole stamp collection shown above are all works done by John Carmichael…

According to

New South Wales was the first part of Australia to be settled by Europeans, and the first to operate a postal service, which in 1803 was carrying letters between Sydney and Parramatta for a 2d charge. In 1809 a collecting office in Sydneywas established to receive mail from passing ships, and in 1825 the postal service was expanded. Mail coach service began in 1830, and in 1835 a new Postage Act superseded the 1825 statute and set rates based on weight and distance travelled.

The postmaster of the time, James Raymond, was in communication with Rowland Hill in England and worked to encourage the prepayment of letters in NSW. In 1838, Raymond introduced envelopes embossed with the seal of the colony, and available for local mail for 1¼ pence each instead of the 2d charged letters paid for in cash. They are thus regarded as precursors of the Penny Black. However, the envelopes were not popular, and in 1841 Raymond was unable to develop official interest in postage stamps for the colony.

In 1842 regular mail service was carried by steamer between Melbourne and Sydney, and the first mail packet from Britain arrived in 1844. An act of 1848 reformed the postal system and authorized the use of stamps; the first stamps appeared on 1 January 1850. They were locally produced, and depicted a scene of Sydney and its harbour, thus becoming known as the “Sydney Views”. The 1d, 2d, and 3d stamps were separately engraved, and then re-engraved and retouched over the next year, yielding dozens of varieties.

In 1851 the colony switched to a more conventional design, a profile of Queen Victoria wearing a laurel wreath, first in a somewhat crude rendition, then a better one in 1853. The colony also took the unusual step of using paper watermarked with the denomination, a practice that resulted in a number of mismatches between watermark and printed denomination that are rare and highly prized today.

To view more stamps, see and find some stamps in good conditions. And another site has a better list of stamps. It is quite hard to find better quality images of stamps John Carmichael did on the Internet, unfortunately.

From The Australian States Stamp Album (by Seven Seas Stamps Pty Ltd – no year shown, but is pre-1990s), it stated that John Carmichael did:

  • 1850 {commonly known as the “Sydney Views” – first stamp issues of an Australian colony. The design, based on the Great Seal of New South Wales, represents industry receiving convicts at Sydney Cove} – 2d stamp (blue coloured);
  • 1851 {The design features the laurel – wreathed head of the Queen and these are known to philatelists as “Laureates”} – 1d (red/blue, and orange), 2d (blue), 3d (green/blue, and green), and 6d (brown);
  • 1856 {Issued for use on registered letters, these stamps did not bear a denomination. The registration fee at the time was sixpence (6d)} – 6d (red/blue, and orange/blue)

John Carmichael’s works: Maps & Charts

This post will focus on the maps and charts that John Carmichael (1803, Edinburgh Scotland -1857, Sydney Australia) had created between 1825 and 1856.

    1. Chart of the Zodiac [cartographic material]: including the stars to the 4th magnitude between the parallels of 24 degree 1/2 declination north & south. T.L. Mitchell & J. Carmichael – 1831.


    • Map of the Colony of New South Wales – To the Right Honorable Edward G S Stanley. T.L. Mitchell & J. Carmichael.” Showing nineteen counties from Crowdy Bay to Moruya, and from Wellington Valley to the sea. It also shows the names of counties, settlements, houses, huts, roads, tracks, trig. Stations, rivers and creeks, plains, and lakes, including the ‘route of Major Mitchell to the interior in 1831’.

    • A chart of Port Philip, as surveyed by Lieut Thos. Symonds & Mr. Frederick Shortland, of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Wm. Hobson Esqr. Captain and engraved by J. Carmichael, Sydney. 1836. 

    • Map of the town of Sydney – 1837″ For Tegg’s ‘New South Wales Pocket Almanac and Remembrancer for 1837’. This map included streets of Sydney, locations with public buildings, and other houses. Streets with names, buildings – some with names, military establishments, park and burial grounds. “Circular Quay” shown as a semi circle. Area from Burial Grounds to Dawes Point, and from Millers Point to Farm Cove.




  • National Library of Australia
  • State Library of NSW
Tagged , , , ,

Did You Know…

That John Carmichael was the first recorded deaf person to migrate to Australia from United Kingdom as a free settler?

John came to Australia on his own in 1825, and it seems that he may have paid his own way over hoping to make his fortune down under by himself!

Interesting… what else?

John was born James, a son of James Carmichael (a poulterer of Fleshmarket Close, Edinburgh, Scotland) and Janet Black, on 27 December 1803. When John was 9, he was admitted into the recently-opened Edinburgh Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. He was apprenticed to Mr. John Horsburgh, after leaving school, trained to become an engraver. Once John have reached the ‘Journeyman’ status as an engraver, he travelled to the colony of New South Wales in 1825. From the town of Sydney, he was employed as an engraver, artist, printer and teacher by others in the Colony. He was married twice and had eight children before dying on 27 July 1857 at his residence, Prince Street, Sydney.

Okay, so he was deaf, but doesn’t that means he signed as a deaf person?

Yes, there are written records of his signed stories during his time in Edinburgh and printed comments about him being ‘deaf and dumb’ in Sydney. This indicated he was known as a deaf person who doesn’t speak, but can sign, read and write.


1. From the recollections of Alexander Atkinson, a deaf Scot written in 1865 (1):

…named James Carmichael. This youth had, however more shining personal qualities; he was a handsome looking lad, to whose company the girls of the house were more partial than he to theirs. He was a capital “fine chap” with  and for us; he had an enthusiastic fancy for cock-fights, which was constantly fed by the shop and yard of his father, who was a respectable poulterer in the city. Frequenting one of the most noted cock-pits in the city, he was in the habit of fixing our stare on him by gesticulating every incident of the last fight and assuming every air and movement of the combats in all their rounds up to the “Death” with striking fidelity to the “Life”; nay his animation went so far as if he wished himself the Champion Cock. However, he signed with as much pathos over his fallen antagonist.

Carmichael had also a mania for horse-racing, to gratify which he was most cheerfully, since he left school, the first and last of the Edinburgh people, trudging five long miles every day in the race week to and from Musselburgh Races. He then came to us, proud of being again great in our eyes, giving rapid, yet distinct gestural pictures of the different races, horses and their riders, which he had observed with minute attention. He yet omitted nothing else of these periodic gatherings, however trivial.

Carmichael had an excellent turn for drawing, in which he embodied his favourite predilections with a surprising fidelity to truth. He gave away many excellent ink and pen specimens one of which I still keep, representing several race horses with their jockeys on their backs, as they were preparing to start from a winning post, with an ease and skill which at once showed the hand of a master. He was, like Mackechnie, well encouraged in his talent. He was, on leaving school, apprenticed to an engraver in the city.

2. A report was printed in the newspaper named “The Australian“, dated Thursday 25 December 1828, about John’s first publication, making available for the public to purchase based on the series of engravings of Sydney and its surrounding scenery. Excerpt shown:

…the skill and time of the engraver, whom it will take months ere he can complete a work, which, in this country, was never yet equaled, and in few places promises to be excelled. Ingenuity and skill, such as are displayed in this undertaking are certainly well worthy of cultivation, and we would confidently solicit the warm support of the public in behalf of the engraver, who has a further claim upon the patronage of the liberal minded, in his being dumb, and we believe, deaf. Should Mr. Carmichael complete his stupendous work, it will be a credit to the Colony. The two views we have seen deservedly rank him with the best second rate landscape engraver of the day.

3. A police report printed in the “Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser“, dated Tuesday 29 May 1832:

“DARLING STREET ROBBERY – As Mr. Moss and Mr. Carmichael, of George-street, were passing along York-street, between nine and ten o’clock, on Friday evening, they were met with three villains, who knocked down Mr. M. down and robbed him of his watch and some money. The alarm raised by Mr. C., who, through unable to speak, clapped his hands most lustily, brought some constables to their assistance; they succeeded in apprehending one of the fellows who turns out to be a native named Atkins, of most infamous character.

What prompted John to migrate to the Colony of New South Wales?

It may be due to the ‘call’ for people with skills to help build the colony into a bigger and established country away from England. While there are many convicts with various professions, the government were not keen on using them, or that those may have issues with level of professionalism? Anyhow, there is a need for people with skills in engraving, drafting and printing as the country was new and there were no to limited availability of maps and such. John might have felt that he would gain better employment opportunities in the Colony, rather than in Edinburgh.

So how did he travelled?

He swam over…

Ah ok, John actually sailed on “Triton”, departing from Leith, a port in Scotland on 21 May 1825. The ship stopped at Hobart for a few days, before it went on it’s way to Sydney Cove. From the shipping indent, there is no other recognised passengers accompanied John so we would have to assumed he travelled alone. The ship brought Scottish immigrants and cargo of sundries for both Hobart and Sydney Cove. The ship arrived at Sydney Cove on 28 October 1825, after a 7-days journey from Hobart.

What did John do in the Colony of New South Wales?

Well, he posted an advertisement, declaring his ability as an Engraver, offering services of designing and printing coats of arms, bills and such. This was placed in a newspaper “Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser” (printed in December 1825 several times) stated:

JOHN CARMICHAEL, lately arrived per Triton (who served his Time with Mr. Horsburgh of Edinburgh), begs to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Colony, that he engraves Coats of Arms and Initials on gold, silver, and ivory; also, Plates for Bills of Exchange, Bills of Lading, Ornamental Cards, Tickets, and Bills of Parcels, &c. on the shortest Notice, in a Style superior to any hitherto attempted to be executed in the Colony. —Orders to be left at the House of Mr. J.M. Wilson, Upper Pitt-street; or  at Mr. Parker’s, 99, George street.

From that point, he was able to obtain plenty of jobs, developed well-regarded reputation as an engraver and artist in the Colony to both the public and government of the time. There is no obvious evidence of him mixing with other deaf people in the Colony, but John may have developed his group of friends to communicate with. John have never returned to Edinburgh to see his family and friends.

Contacts from his family and friends back in Scotland?

Yes – apparently there was a notice in the newspaper informing there is a communication for Mr. John Carmichael, engraver, formerly residing at No. 39, Phillip-street, from his friends in Scotland. One can assume that John would have received letters and such from his family and friends.

The next few postings will concentrate on his works and the last one about his Australian family.


(1) “Memoirs of My Youth: An Autobiography of Alexander Atkinson – 1865”. Published by British Deaf History Society Publications: 2001. Pages 122-123.

  • “John Carmichael: Australian Deaf Pioneer”, B. Carty, 1998. Deaf Studies, Sydney, 1998: Selected papers from the ‘Australian Deaf Studies Research Symposium, Renwick College, NSW. Edited by A. Schembri, J. Napier, R. Beattie and G. Leigh. North Rocks Press, 2000. Pages 9-19.
  • State Library of NSW
  • National Library of Australia – Trove and collections
  • Family records
Tagged , , , , , ,

History Through Deaf Eyes website

A lovely website on USA’s version of Deaf History at Gallaudet University’s:

Tagged ,

Pictorial History of Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, Sydney NSW Australia

This building was built from 1870s to met the need for a large number of deaf children to be educated in Sydney at that time. This post was an attempt to show the how much changes have been made to the school from 1870s to 1960s when it was then sold to University of Sydney.


Deaf, Dumb & Blind Institute, before extensive renovation and addition, Sydney. Creator:American & Australasian Photographic Company. Call Number: ON 4 Box 57 No 273. Digital Order No.:a2825004

Deaf, Dumb & Blind Institute, before extensive renovation and addition, Sydney.
Creator: American & Australasian Photographic Company.
Call Number: ON 4 Box 57 No 273.
Digital Order No.: a2825004

Sydney, NSW (Darlington). Call Number:At Work and Play - 06952 Digital Order No.: bcp_06952

Sydney, NSW (Darlington).
Call Number: At Work and Play – 06952
Digital Order No.: bcp_06952


The Deaf, Dumb & Blind Institution. Call Number:Government Printing Office 1 - 05471. Digital Order No.: d1_05471

The Deaf, Dumb & Blind Institution.
Call Number: Government Printing Office 1 – 05471.
Digital Order No.: d1_05471

Deaf & Dumb Asylum / C. Bayliss Photo, Sydney Creator:Bayliss, Charles, 1850-1897. Call Number: SPF / 256. Digital Order No.:a089256

Deaf & Dumb Asylum / C. Bayliss Photo, Sydney
Creator: Bayliss, Charles, 1850-1897.
Call Number: SPF / 256.
Digital Order No.: a089256

This engraved picture may have some artistic freedom to modify some features?:

Unknown source

Unknown source


Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institution. Call Number:Government Printing Office 1 - 08078. Digital Order No.: d1_08078.

Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institution.
Call Number: Government Printing Office 1 – 08078.
Digital Order No.: d1_08078.

Deaf & Dumb Asylum [Newtown] / Star Photo Co. Call Number:PXE 711 / 229 Digital Order No.: a116229

Deaf & Dumb Asylum [Newtown] / Star Photo Co.
Call Number: PXE 711 / 229
Digital Order No.: a116229

Fairfax Corporation.  1920,  Building of the Deaf and Dumb Institute, New South Wales, ca. 1920s [picture]

Fairfax Corporation. 1920, Building of the Deaf and Dumb Institute, New South Wales, ca. 1920s [picture] <;

G.W. Wilson & Co.  1912,  Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, Sydney [transparency] : a variety of Sydney and country scenes / G.W.W

G.W. Wilson & Co. 1912, Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, Sydney [transparency] : a variety of Sydney and country scenes / G.W.W <;

Bayliss, Charles, 1850-1897. Deaf and Dumb Asylum [picture].

Bayliss, Charles, 1850-1897.
Deaf and Dumb Asylum [picture].



History of Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, Sydney NSW Australia

Name and sites changed over time:

  • 1860 – “Deaf and Dumb Institution of New South Wales” – the first school building was located at 152 Liverpool Street, near South Head Road.
  • 1861 – The school relocated in larger premises at 368 Castlereagh Street, Sydney and was officially declared a Public Institution on October 1.
  • 1868 – “New South Wales Deaf and Dumb Institution” – a move to a larger premises”on the heights of Paddington in Old South Head Road.
  • 1869 – “New South Wales Deaf Dumb and Blind Institution.”
  • 1870 – The Institution was given a Government Grant of 2,000 pounds and 5 acres of land at Newtown (later known as ‘Darlington’).
  • 1872 – The new building at Darlington was occupied in February and remained the Institution’s home for 90 years.
  • 1943 – A school for blind children was established at Wahroonga.
  • 1957 – “Royal NSW Institution for Deaf and Blind Children.”
  • 1959 – The Board of Directors, being acutely aware of the inadequacies of the Wahroonga School and the now unsuitable environment of the Darlington premises, purchased land at North Rocks and commenced building the complex known as the Deaf and Blind Children’s Centre.
  • 1962 – The institution provides the premises for two state schools operated by the NSW Department of Education: “North Rocks School for Deaf Children” and “North Rocks School for Blind Children.”
  • 1963 – The Deaf and Blind Children’s Centre at North Rocks was officially opened by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Eric Woodward.
  • 1974 – “Royal NSW Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.”
  • 1997 – “Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.”


Further details on the building itself

According to the paper on the history of the physical development of buildings and grounds of University of Sydney ( Page A20:

“Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute

The Institute Building was built on five acres of land granted on the Newtown Road in 1870 to the NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind. This institution had begun in 1860 when Thomas Pattison founded the first school for the deaf in Australia. It became a public charity in 1861, then in 1870, with the inclusion of blind children, became known as the NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind. After a limited architectural competition, Benjamin Backhouse was appointed architect for the first stage of construction to accommodate 70 children. The high Victorian institutional building was constructed in three phases:1870-1872, 1878-1879 and 1883-1884. An associated Superintendent’s residence was built in c. 1886-1891. (33)

The grounds of the Institute encompassed most of the triangular block fronting City Road and were originally bounded by a picket fence. Permanent fencing was erected around the entire curtilage, first on the Newtown Road frontage in 1878, followed by Codrington Avenue in 1883, and the stone piers of the fence feature the signature motif of architect, Benjamin Backhouse. Some of the fencing survives as an important indication of the original boundary. (34)

During the influenza epidemic following World War I it was used as an emergency hospital. In World War II it was occupied by the RAAF between 1942 and 1944. For nearly a century this was the largest institution for deaf, dumb and blind children in Australia and a successful public charity. (35)”

The Sydney Architecture has the description of the building and its renovations covered: (
“The NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind was the first school for the deaf in Australia. For nearly a century it was the largest institution for deaf, dumb and blind children in Australia and a successful public charity. The building is a fine example of 19th century charitable institutions and in its development and fabric displays the philosophy, growth and planning of its educational and residential facilities. The Institution had strong associations with well-known philanthropists of the period. The acquisition of the complex by Sydney University was a significant part of the University’s extension beyond its original site, into the formerly residential suburb of Darlington. The retention of the building is representative of changing planning schemes for the University, changing perceptions of the heritage value of Victorian architecture and the development of conservation philosophy and planning. A fine example of a high Victorian institutional building, whose composition derives from its construction in stages.
The first school for the deaf in Australia was founded by Thomas Pattison in 1860 in East Sydney and in 1861 became a public charity. With the inclusion of blind children it became known in 1870 as the NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind. Five acres of land were granted on the Newtown Road in the same year and following a limited architectural competition Benjamin Backhouse was appointed architect for the first stage of construction to accommodate 70 children. Three phases of building were undertaken to Backhouse’s designs in 1870-1872, 1878-1879 and 1883-1884. In 1891-1892 A L & G McCredie added another storey to the main building and totally remodelled the facade with further alterations and additions in 1912 (McCredie & Anderson) and 1928-1929 (A W Anderson). An associated Superintendent’s residence (H 02) was built c.1886-1891. In 1919 the building was used as an emergency hospital during the influenza epidemic and in 1942-1944 it was occupied by the RAAF. In 1962 the Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institution moved to new premises. Its buildings were acquired by Sydney University and refurbished for Geography and the Student Counselling Service. The Merewether Building, H 04 (1965) and the University Regiment and Squadron building, H 01 (1964) have been built within the original curtilage. Fencing and other elements of the original landscape design survive.
The Institute building is an eclectic mixture of late Victorian architectural styles. In its final form it appears as a symmetrical Italianate building however in its earlier form it contained French Gothic style elements. The building was constructed in a series of stages, elements of each stage survive in the final building. The Institute (as photographed in 1870-1875) consisted of a central three storey block, of polychromatic brickwork, with flanking towers with Burgundian (French) style pyramidal roofs including dormers and decorative metal finials. The two side wings featured a ground floor arcade facing City Road. Although elements from this phase may survive internally there is little indication on the main facade. The arcades have been modified and the brickwork rendered. A later photograph in the GPO Collection shows the north wing (as it appears) today, a two storey building with parapet and a central portico. A smaller southern wing had also been added, with a portico, gable and tower with a pyramidal tower to the south-east. This south wing was later modified to match the north wing and the tower roof removed. The asymmetrical complex was substantially modified in the late Victorian period to form a symmetrical Italianate composition. The central block was enlarged and the pyramidal roofs to the towers removed and replaced by domes, which survive today. The whole composition was rendered to give it a sense of uniformity, covering the polychromatic brickwork of the original central block. The original side wings were enlarged by the addition of another storey, the arcade motif was partially continued, as arches. The main elevation is largely in this form today. The palisade fencing to City Road appears to be contemporary with the additions of the north and south wings. Initially a picket fence lined City Road. Evidence of the polychromatic brickwork survives to the fence to the rear of the site, including a doorway with arabesque or incised work to the sandstone pediment and the newel posts. Mature trees survive in the grounds, as does the Superintendent’s Residence.
The Press Building (a building on the grounds):
An example of residential accommodation provided for the head of a large 19th century charitable organisation reflecting the esteem and status associated with the position of Superintendent. A competent and intact example of its type, with associated curtilage and fencing.
The residence was built in the period c. 1886-1891 within the grounds of the NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind to accommodate the Superintendent of the Institution. The residence was probably the work of A L & G McCredie who succeeded Benjamin Backhouse (the original architect) on his retirement in 1884. The residence and garden were enclosed with a dwarf stone wall and iron palisade in 1892. The house shares some stylistic similarities with the main Institution complex. In 1962 the Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institution moved to a new school at North Rocks and vacated its buildings which were acquired by Sydney University. The residence was occupied by Sydney University Press from 1964. It was refurbished in 1990.
The Press Building is a two storey bay fronted villa. Although primarily Victorian Italianate in style the building has an eclectic mix of decorative elements popular in the late 1880’s. The two storey verandah stretches across the north facade from the western bay and returns to the east. The verandah columns and lacework are cast iron. The roof is clad with terracotta, which is probably a later modification. The chimneys have been removed externally. The roof may originally have been slate. The north-west gable containing the two storey bay window projects beyond the line of the verandah. It has a decorative timber bargeboard. The finial has been truncated. The bay window has rendered architraves, keystones, string courses and cornice. The building is a typical example of a suburban villa dating from the late 1880s.”

This building is a part of the University of Sydney grounds and is used as “Darlington Centre and Forum Restaurant” – a conference centre.


  • National Library of Australia
  • State Library of NSW
  • University of Sydney
  • Sydney Architecture
  • Wikipedia
Tagged , , , ,

Timeline now has contents…

Just thought I’d let you know that the other page “Timeline” above now has contents. I will be adding as many as I can over the time. It now starts from 1788 and hopefully stops at 1950.

Feel free to throw any other information you think should be included. Also happy to correct any mistakes.


A new website – Deaf in NSW

Deaf Society of New South Wales (DSNSW) have launched a website called ‘Deaf in NSW’, a historical view of the NSW Deaf Community as well as the history of DSNSW.

It is a beautifully designed website with a timeline that I really liked.

It will be modified and added on over the time as the main objective is to preserve the history and educate people about the history of deaf people living in NSW from 1788 onwards.

It is hoped that other states will follow suit soon.

Your feedback on the website?

And please ignore the ad below…

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Australian Deaf and Immigration Issues in the 18th and 19th Centuries

I came across an interesting letter in the issue of “The Silent Worker”, a Deaf magazine in USA about a deaf man from Australia wanting to work in New Zealand. Here’s the transcription of the letter:

From The Silent Worker vol. 21 no. 2, page 33 (dated November 1908): (1)

“Recently a deaf-mute, a residence in New South Wales, thought he would leave Australia and settle in New Zealand, in which country he had an offer of a situation as a slaughterman at a weekly wage of £5. But he reckoned without his host – the New Zealand Government – whose agents hold the shipping company liable for a bond of £100 if they permit anyone to land, either lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind or infirm, and likely to become a charge upon the State.

The deaf and dumb naturally resent being classified in this manner, especially as the only difference between them and the rest of the community is that they are without the sense of hearing. “The average deaf-mute is mentally and physically sound.” A man capable of earning £5 per week could not have much amiss with him. Yet the New Zealand immigration Laws barred his further progress. No wonder a spirited stand is being made against such an anomalous proceeding, for if the fellow had lost his sense of smell, instead of his hearing, he would not have been challenged at all. The Australian Deaf and Dumb Association is sending a strongly worded memorial to the New Zealand Government. – The British Deaf Times.

Then a day later, I was sent a link to a blog – – about a post titled “Why Being Deaf in White Australia Meant You Were Going Nowhere”. It was about Frederick J Rose and his protest about the Immigration Restrictions for Deaf and Dumb when travelling around Australia via ports.

So with those two examples at hand, I went on a search to see why it was so.

Immigration Policies and the Deaf in 19th Century

Apparently, the first Immigration Act was provided in 1869 to the Commonwealth countries, which included Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many other countries under England. This Act was to used as “an entry tax and for quarantine of all vessels transporting ill passengers. The entry tax went into a fund destined to the care of sick and indigent immigrants as well as the cost of their travel to their final destination. Upon arriving at a port of entry, the ship’s captain was required to provide a passenger list indicating the total number of persons, names of heads of families and unmarried and/or unaccompanied persons, their country of origin and destination. Moreover, he had to declare if there were “any mentally ill, idiots, deaf and dumb, blind, or infirm, and if they were accompanied by relatives able to care for them.” (2)

Branson & Miller (1998) explained that:(3)

“Immigration policies have in various ways prohibited the entry of deaf people into Australia. Currently, these prohibitions operate through health clauses in the immigration act, which allow health officers, using medical grounds, to declare deaf people a potential burden on the public purse…”


“The first control was directed at people who were judged unfit for work and therefore potentially dependent on the public purse. In fact, discrimination against those later to be labeled “disabled” became established well before the White Australia Policy. Deafness was judged to be a condition rendering a person unfit for work.

The Victorian passengers act, “The Passengers Act 1855,” said that the captain of any vessel must:

Report (to the immigration officer in the port of arrival) whether any of the passengers by the said ship are lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind or infirm and if so in the opinion of the said officer are likely to become permanently a charge upon the public or any public or charitable institution.

This was reaffirmed in the Commonwealth Act of 1901 and in the 1958 immigration regulations.

There is also more than a hint of eugenics in Criterion 4006:

The applicant has been found to be free from any disease or condition that, if offspring were produced, would, in the opinion of a Commonwealth medical officer, result in the offspring being affected by a disease or condition referred to in clause 4005.

Lastly, in one of the New Zealand Official Yearbooks, the 1920 Year book had those clauses: (4)


The legislation respecting the restriction of immigration into New Zealand is contained in the Immigration Restriction Act, 1908, and its amendments, and the Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Act, 1919.

Prohibited Immigrants.

The following persons or classes of persons are prohibited from landing in New Zealand:—

1. Persons not of British birth and parentage who are unable to write out and sign in any European language a prescribed form of application;

2. Idiots or insane persons;

3. Persons suffering from contagious diseases which are loathsome or dangerous;


When persons arrive in New Zealand who are lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind, or infirm, and are likely to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution, the master, owner, or charterer of the ship by which such persons come to New Zealand must enter into a bond for £100 for each such person, guaranteeing his support and maintenance for five years.”


Branson & Miller (1998) made an interesting point:

“Given these policies, it is not surprising that Australia has always had one of the lowest percentages of genetic deafness in the world.”


This would also means those deaf immigrants/settlers of 19th Century would have to travel furtively, in a pair with a hearing person, to avoid being detected as deaf and dumb, and being ‘deported’. Frederick J Rose and his brother when they came to Australia during the Gold Rush of 1850s, and would have missed the restrictions by few years. However, would have he been subjected to such restrictions then, when he did travelled back to England in 1860 to marry and bring over his English wife.

There is a need to research this topic more closely to see how other Deaf people have managed to travel around in the 18th and 19th Century. And it could also explained why there were not much of an Australian presence in the International deaf events in the 19th Century.

Your thoughts?


(1) – The Silent Worker was a popular national newspaper among the deaf population of the United States during the end of the 1890’s through the end of the first quarter of the 20th century.

(2) – “Promoters, Planters, and Pioneers: The Course and Context of Belgian Settlement in Western Canada”, by Cornelius J. Jaenen. (

(3) – “Issues Unresolved: New Perspectives on Language and Deaf Education” edited by Amatzia Weisel. “Achieving Human Rights – Educating Deaf Immigrant Students from Non-English-Speaking Families in Australia” by Jan Branson and Don Miller. 1998. Pages 91-92.

(4) –

Tagged , , , , ,