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Frederick Garner Wilkinson


Frederick Garner Wilkinson (1901-1975) migrated from England on the P&O Otway with his family in 1911. His family were employed to manage the Sydney City Mission which provided food and shelter for homeless people at Harrington St The Rocks in Sydney. The family there and Frederick took many of his photographs from the rooftop. This gave Wilkinson a lifetime interest in shipping and the harbour. In 1919 he acquired a camera ], a five falling plate Klito camera and began taking photographs of ships and the harbour. He continued to do so until 1937, with a break between 1922 and 1923 when the family made a visit back to England. They returned to to Uk in 1920 on P&O liner Osterley where grandfather Thomas Frederick Wilksion died in 1920 aged 45. The family grandmother and son Frederick returned in 1923 on P&O liner Ormonde. Wilkinson immediately took to his camera and shipping photographs. (He was also a ham radio buff, stamp collector). He lived at 71 Lower Fort St where he kept a written record of daily shipping departures and arrivals. Later he moved to Mosman (96 Avenue Rd - rented after he married in 1928) and worked at Penfolds the stationers in the City for 50 years. He took photographs on the ferry going to work and coming home. His camera held five glass plates, so this was the limit to the number of photographs he took in any one day because he would have to remove and reload his camera in the bathroom, his darkroom, at home.

His son Leyland wrote: 'My father was not a 'trained cameraman' … however he had associations with and shared images with the 'professionals' of shipping photographers - Walter Livermore, Ernest Best, and Alfred Dufty. Wilkinson's photographs were used by Dufty for postcards, identifiable from the glass plate negatives in the Wilkinson collection. A W Dufty's studio and shop at 32 Erskine Street, Sydney were a centre for maritime art, photography and memorabilia for many years. No records of purchase of photographic supplies have been located by Leyland. It is possible that Dufty used Wilkinson et al's photographs in exchange for supplies.

In 1924 Frederick and his mother moved to William St North Sydney and from then on the next recorded adress is Mosman when he married Sara Nelson. Frederick's dedicated shipping photographic records including his shipping lists cease in 1924, although he did take occasional photographs after that. (New wife also disliked ships.)