In 1967 Mr Mark Beresford, grazier of Mobla at Binnaway, north of Mudgee, contacted the Mudgee Historical Society in relation to some unique historical photos of Mudgee which had been assembled in an album by his great grandfather, Dr Charles Edward Rowling, while living in Mudgee from the late 1860s until the mid 1880s. The photographs were subsequently lent to the Mudgee Historical Society and displayed at one of the Society’s meetings in September:
Unique Pictures of Old Mudgee
A rare, probably, unique, collection of photographs of the Mudgee of a hundred years ago will be on display at next Monday night’s annual meeting of the Mudgee Historical Society.
The pictures are contained in an album lent to the Society’s museum by Mr. Mark Beresford, of “Mobla”, Binnaway.
They were taken by Mr. Beresford’s great grandfather, Dr. C. E. Rowlands (sic), who practiced in Mudgee from the late sixties to the early eighties of the last century.
Society President, Mr. Dick Cox, has shown the album to Mitchell Library authorities, who are very interested in preserving the photos for the future.
One of the photographs, a scene in Market Street, has been used as an illustration on the cover of the Henry Lawson Floral Festival programme, shortly to be released.
Mr. Cox said that he hoped for a big attendance of members at Monday night’s meeting at the Museum.
He asked members to invite any person interested.
Mudgee Guardian, September 1967
At some stage copies of the photographs were made for the Mudgee Historical Society and mounted on cardboard, although the quality of reproduction of some photographs was poor. Regrettably, not all relevant photographs were copied, and some have gone astray.
In 1980 Mark Beresford presented all of the Rowling albums to the Mitchell Library. The collection included an album largely of Mudgee photographs (Volume 1), and other albums of Sydney, of Parramatta Hospital where Dr Rowling later worked, and of medical colleagues. There were, however, some photographs of Mudgee scenes and people sprinkled throughout the other albums.
In the early 2000s I visited the State Library and had the opportunity to inspect the albums. The clarity of the originals was far superior to the copies held by the Mudgee Historical Society and I was able to make more positive identification of buildings from my observations.
I regard these photographs as forming as significant a collection as the Holtermann collection of photographs of the goldfields towns of Hill End and Gulgong, taken by noted photographer Beaufoy Merlin. Although less well known than the Holtermann collection, many of the photographs in the Rowling Collection were taken by Beaufoy Merlin and other travelling photographers during their tours of rural new South Wales. The Rowling Collection is an invaluable reference for documenting changes in the town of Mudgee over a period of fifteen years during which Dr Rowling lived there. The collection shows a fascinating range of buildings: rustic workshops and shops, factories, hotels, cottages, churches and public buildings. As in the Holtermann photographs, the photographer has gathered the occupants outside or attracted the attention of passers-by.
Digital copies of these priceless photographs are highly desirable. As many of the buildings in the collection have now sadly vanished, a more intense study of their location and uses would only enhance the rich history of Mudgee.
To complement this summary of the Rowling photographs, I have supplied a brief biographiy of Dr Charles Edward Rowling He had significant family connections: his maternal grandfather was noted bridge builder while pioneer vigneron Dr Henry Lindeman was his father-in-law.
Still under construction is a study of the collection in which I have provided a brief study of each photograph in the order in which the photographs are presented in Volume 1, which apparently followed no particular order. As some buildings occur more than once, and sometimes with considerable changes, I have also provided cross-references. I have attempted to identify the buildings, their location, if extant or demolished and, if the latter, when demolition occurred. In addition, I have provided brief commentaries on the buildings, where relevant. Several streetscapes and panoramas of the town are also valuable references.
Mudgee Historical Society Inc
Biography: Dr Charles Edward Rowling
Dr Charles Edward Rowling was a prominent medical practitioner in Mudgee in the 1870s and the 1880s. He was active in civic and sporting affairs in the district, but is principally remembered for his unique collection of over 150 photographs, principally of Mudgee buildings and streetscapes. As many of these buildings have since disappeared or been extensively altered, his photographs serve as a vivid reminder of late nineteenth century Mudgee. His album of original prints and collection of glass negatives are in the State Library of New South Wales.
Charles Edward Rowling was born in 1844 and baptised at Saint John’s Church of England in Parramatta in the same year. His parents were Charles William Rowling and Jane, nee Lennox, who married in a Presbyterian ceremony in Parramatta in 1843. Jane Rowling was the younger of two daughters of noted colonial bridge builder, David Lennox. Charles William and Jane had two further sons: Robert (1846-1888) and George (1847–1883). Charles William died in 1853, aged 32, and is buried in Parramatta. Jane died in Orange in 1888.
In the mid 1860s Charles Edward attended King’s College in London, where he graduated in theological studies, chemistry, physiology, medicine and obstetrics. In 1868 he married Mary Elizabeth Lindeman, second daughter of Dr. Henry Lindeman and Eliza, nee Bramhall. It is believed that he came to Mudgee shortly afterwards, staying at least until the mid 1880s. During their stay in Mudgee two sons were born to Charles Edward and Mary Elizabeth: Edgar in 1869 and Norman Cox in 1881.
In the early 1870s his surgery was on the western side of Church Street, opposite William Schnalke’s furniture factory, about the site of the service station next to the Central Motel (Section 17, between Mortimer and Gladstone Streets); however, his residence was in Denison Street. In 1881 his residence and surgery were on the southern side of Market Street east, between Lewis and Lawson Streets. This may well be the substantial house at 27 Market Street, occupied since the 1970s by John and Jill Novak. Allegedly built as a doctor’s residence and surgery, it was occupied in the early 1900s by members of the Cohen family, associated with the foundation of the Mudgee Guardian newspaper. The house was later called Oura when it was occupied until 1914 by John Edward (Ted) Loneragan and his family who subsequently moved to Heaton Lodge in Mortimer Street.
In 1871 Charles Edward was appointed to the board of the Church of England Denominational School. He was also active in establishing the new hospital constructed in Mudgee in 1874 to the designs of noted Sydney architect, Edmund Blacket. In that same year he assisted in the search for the body of his colleague, Dr Simon Belinfante, who was swept away while attempting to cross the flood-swollen Cudgegong River at Cullenbone.
In addition he was a noted sportsman and a keen and above average cricketer. This interest explains the inclusion of several cricketing photographs in his photographic collection. Perhaps inspired by his vigneron father-in-law, the noted Dr Henry Lindeman, Charles Edward won prizes for red and white wines at the first Farmers’ and Free Selectors’ Association Horticultural and Industrial Exhibition, held in 1879.
In the mid 1880s Charles Edward sold his Mudgee practice and went to Parramatta, where he was in charge of the gaol and asylum. He died at St. Peters in Sydney in 1893.