This is the twelfth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture.
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Over the last eleven columns I have explored
New England’s built landscape and
architecture. There is more to say. However, last week I was back in the North
after a longish break. This caused me to reflect on aspects of the present and its
links to our shared past.
History is about stories, those we chose to remember, those we chose to forget and some that are just forgotten with the passage of time. Each story is multifaceted, capable of being told in different ways, meaning different things to different people.
Shared past: A 1955 Drummond family wedding, this Armidale Federation style house is a rare example of the form expressed in weatherboard.
This is a photo of a Drummond family wedding from 1955. To family members, it is a story in itself, a reminder of our shared past.
Three of the four Drummond girls are at the front. Edna, the oldest, was ill in hospital. David Drummond stands on the steps to the left. His wife
is on the verandah with members of the groom’s family. Pearl
At a second level, the photo is something of a period piece, an example of an important ceremonial occasion. While most major Armidale Federation style houses are brick, this house is a rare example of the form expressed in weatherboard.
As with so many of the larger South Hill houses built in the second half of the nineteenth century, the front of the house with its steps and high verandahs faces south, looking out over the back gardens and tennis court to the city beyond. The street entrance in
Mann Street is at
the back of the house.
As a regional historian, I see part of my role as interesting and involving those living in
England with their own past. We necessarily live in the present,
concerned with problems of work, life, careers, family, school and studies.
One side effect is that our past slips away, especially for new people who do not have a direct lineal connection with that past. The stories that link the present and past are forgotten. Local and regional historians try to redress this.
But I also see part of my role as making
New England history interesting and accessible to those
outside the North who may have no connection with the area. I believe that out
stories are relevant to the broader sweep of Australian history and indeed
There are practical economic reasons for doing this beyond the questions of interest and relevance in the history itself. Our history draws people to the North and could draw more if it were better known.
Not all visitors are interested in history. Some do come just for the history, including the built landscape and architecture. More come for other reasons, but then sample the history while here.
The more stories we have, the better we tell them, the greater the visitor experience. Our history should be seen as it is, a resource to develop and manage to attract and enrich.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 22 November 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.