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SS ORMISTON about to depart possibly from a wharf in Pyrmont, Sydney

Date: 1927-1939
Medium: Glass plate negative
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: 00034546
Place Manufactured:Pyrmont
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

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    Description
    The Australasian United Steam Navigation Company's SS ORMISTON is seen here about to depart a wharf, possibly one in Pyrmont, Sydney. Streamers are seen flung over the side of the vessel with crowds of people farewelling the passengers.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistoryThe Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Ltd (AUSN) was formed in 1887 and remained one of Australia’s most prominent coastal shipping companies until its collapse in 1961. The SS FAMAKA was built in 1922 for the Khedivial Mail Steamship Company, however, it was not until 1927 that the AUSN purchased the vessel and renamed it SS ORMISTON.

    After arriving in Sydney in poor condition, repairs were completed before ORMISTON could commence the Australian coastal passenger trade between Cairns and Melbourne. After servicing this route until 1935, ORMISTON was chartered as a cargo transport from Newcastle to Fremantle. During the next couple of years, ORMISTON also served the Sydney to Tasmania passenger route.

    Although the vessel continued to service the east coast route until 1942, ORMISTON suffered substantial damage when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off Coffs Harbour. Whilst receiving repairs to the hull on the portside of the ship, ORMISTON was taken over by the Royal Australian Navy and requisitioned as a troop transport. After fulfilling this function for the remainder of the war, ORMISTON recommenced the passenger coastal service between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. In 1955, ORMISTON was withdrawn from service, being the last passenger vessel to be operated by AUSN.

    Samuel (Sam) John Hood (1872-1953) was born at Glenelg, Adelaide in 1872. His father, John Hood, was a photographer who worked for Duryea's Adelaide Photographic Company. In 1883 John moved with his family to Sydney, and in 1884 Sam followed his lead and began work for another photographer, William Tuttle in Tuttle's Studio, George Street, Sydney.

    In 1899, Sam Hood established his own portrait business at The Adelaide Photographic Co, 256 Pitt St, Sydney. Due to two fires in the studio in the early years he worked from his Balmain home, where he constructed a darkroom and photographed the shipping trade and waterfront workers, which provided a steady income for his growing family. Hood would approach a ship on the assigned tug boat and photograph it as it lay off Sydney Heads. Once the ship reached the dock, Hood would board the vessel and approach the captain to allow him to sell the photographs of the ship to the crew. The captain authorised for the photographs to be paid for by the shipping company and then deducted a fee from the crew's wages.

    In addition to the photographs, Hood worked with ship artists to produce views of vessels under sail. In turn, Hood’s photographs of vessels with their sails furled were used by artists to paint ship portraits. Hood would approach the captain of a ship with a painting in oil or watercolour and ask to borrow the rigging plan on the promise of a similar work.

    Hood is known to have worked with maritime artists Walter Barratt, Reginald Arthur Borstel, George Frederick Gregory, and John Allcot, who was reputedly hired from the MILTIADES after Hood spotted him peddling his wares on board.

    The State Library of NSW holds a significant collection of Hood photographs. The ANMM collection comprises some 9,000 photographs of maritime subjects. It documents the end of the sailing ship era and the growing dominance of steam vessels. This technological advancement had implications for Hood’s business, as steamship crews were less inclined to request photographs of their vessels.

    During the 1910s, Hood had acquired cheap premises at the Dore Studio in the Queen Victoria Markets and continued to produce studio portraits, in addition to ship photography. In 1918, however, Hood transferred to Dalny Studio at 124 Pitt Street, Sydney. Originally owned by Thomas Cleary, Dalny Studio had a contract to supply photographs to the newspapers, Melbourne Argus and the Australasian. This soon also included the Daily Guardian, Daily Telegraph Pictorial, The Labour Daily, Daily News, Sun, and The Sydney Morning Herald. During the 1920s, Hood's work moved from the social and sport pages of newspapers into mainstream reportage.

    During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Hood’s employees included his children Ted and Gladys, as well as several photographers who went onto successful careers as press photographers for various newspapers. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Hood, aged 70, was recruited by the Ministry of News and Information to document the armed services. This period also witnessed the decline of formal studio portraits, which led the Hood studio to pursue more commercial commissions.

    Sam Hood continued working at his studio up until his death in June 1953. He had used the same modified Folmer & Schwing Graflex camera for over forty years.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: SS ORMISTON about to depart possibly from a wharf in Pyrmont, Sydney

    Primary title: "Ormiston" departure from wharf (sic)

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