Search the Collection
Advanced Search

ANMM Collection reproduced courtesy Leigh Purcell

Photographic negative showing a flying boat and tender vessels at Lord Howe Island

Date: 1946-1962
Overall: 100 x 125 mm
Medium: Film based negative
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Leigh Purcell
Object Copyright: ©Leigh Purcell
Object Name: Negative
Object No: ANMS1404[008]
Related Place:Lord Howe Island,

User Terms

    These negatives were taken by Gervaise Purcell (1919 - 1999) from the 1940s to the 1960s. He worked as a commercial photographer for the Monte Luke Studio in Sydney before opening his own studio in 1952. His images of swimwear for clients including swimwear manufactures such as Jantzen and retailers David Jones and Hordern Bros, blended modernity with Australian beach culture, carefree leisure and a touch of luxury.

    Purcell was responsible for all aspects of the fashion shoot from photography to selecting the props, locations and hiring the models. In the 1950s he used a Graflex Crown Graphic camera and flash gun mounted on a tripod which took large format sheet film. While on location only two or three exposures could be taken of each swimsuit as film stock was vulnerable to damage by the elements. After the shoot the images would be proofed and retouched if necessary for the client to make their final selection.
    SignificanceThese photographic negatives were taken by Australian commercial photographer Gervaise Purcell from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. They represent his work for clients such as swimwear manufacturer Jantzen, as well as retail giants David Jones and Hordern Brothers, cruise ship operators the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), radio technology manufacturer Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) and tourism operator Ansett Airways. Many of the images were taken with a Graflex Crown Graphic camera in the 1950s.
    HistoryDuring World War II, the RAAF used Catalina flying boats to fly to Lord Howe Island. Post-war, commercial airlines began to establish regular passenger services using flying boats in this Pacific region. The World Heritage site of Lord Howe Island is located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 660kms off the north coast of mainland New South Wales. From the post-war period right up until 1974, the island’s primary connection to the mainland was by flying boat.

    Ansett Airways took over the regular passenger service from Rose Bay in Sydney to Lord Howe Island, in the early 1950s. Prior to this, both Trans Oceanic Airways and QANTAS Airways had operated the passenger service, utilising both Catalina and Sunderland flying boats.

    Ansett introduced the converted Sandringham flying boats Beachcomber, Islander and Pacific Chieftain for the regular Sydney-Lord Howe Island route, representing a major rebuild of the Sunderland for civilian service, with seating capacity for 42 passengers in various configurations. In Ansett Airways colours, the Sandringham flying boats operated the three hour journey from Sydney to Lord Howe Island, and back, up to six times a week during peak periods, right up until 1974 - the last scheduled use of flying boats of this size in the world. By this time, an airstrip had been constructed on Lord Howe Island, and the economy of land aircraft compared to flying boats meant that this rather romantic mode of transport was superseded.

    Although flying boat VH BRE Pacific Chieftain was wrecked in a storm during an overnight stay at Lord Howe Island, on the first leg of a charter to Polynesia in 1963, both Beachcomber and Islander continued the Sydney-Lord Howe service up until its end, and survive today in museum collections. The flying boat VH BRC Beachcomber can be seen at the Solent Sky Museum (previously known as Southampton Hall of Aviation), Southampton, Hampshire UK, and flying boat VH BRF Islander is on display at the Fantasy of Flight Museum, Miami, Florida USA.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Gervaise Purcell photographic collection

    Assigned title: Photographic negative showing a flying boat and tender vessels at Lord Howe Island

    Related People

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.