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Can you date this photograph? [Hay, Court House]

A moment in time…..

Today we head back into the regions with an interior shot of Hay Court House. There seem to be a few reluctant photographic subjects in this picture given the number of blurred faces. And is that the guilty party to the right? However, when you can see them, some of the facial expressions are priceless! Looks like this might be one for the clothing experts.

Larger version on Flickr

We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

  • Melissa says:

    I’m going to suggest the photo was taken sometime in the 1890s. The relative looseness of the jackets worn by many of the men suggests this period as does the slight padding of the shoulders and the wideness of their ties. One of the main features of men’s clothing in the 1890s (the ‘high collar’) is also evident in the photo.

    Interestingly, the fourth Hay Court House opened in 1892. Based on the nature of the building from the photo, it is likely that this is inside that court house. There’s an interesting article in the SMH dated 30 Sept 1892 of the opening of the Circuit Court before Mr Justice Stephen (I think this refers to Sir Matthew Henry Stephen). I wonder if the photo was taken on the day of the court’s opening?

    Also, when I looked closely on the front wood panelling to the bay on the left, I can just make out the word ‘Jury’ (I think).

    October 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm
  • Raymond says:

    Melissa: I was unaware of those fine distinctions to date men’s clothing in the 1890s. Thanks for that.

    Your posting sounds very much like it might be the occasion of the photo.

    If so, then I would GUESS that the men in the picture, who are in the “sanctum” of the “Bar Table” might be the local lawyers / solicitors who would be appearing in the court.

    Another guess is that the two men on the ‘bench’ might be Mr Justice Stephen and perhaps the current local Magistrate of the time at Hay.

    The man in the front left-hand side, is likely to be the Clerk of the Court.

    October 19, 2010 at 7:22 am
  • Raymond says:

    Ooops! The man in the front left-hand is more likely to be the Court Officer, and not the Clerk of the Court.

    And, while at it: The two younger gentlemen towards the rear, flanking all of the others on the left- and right-hand sides may be Tipstaff and Associate to Justice Stephen (if of course Justice Stephen should be one of the two on the bench).

    October 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm
  • beachcomberaustralia says:

    Good work Melissa! I enjoyed reading the newspaper description about Wednesday 28 September 1892. I have been trying to see what time the clock says – unsuccessfully. And I think it is ‘JURY’ written on the wood.

    The exterior of the building is remarkable (architect Walter Liberty Vernon 1892) –

    October 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    @Melissa I’ll second @beachcomberaustralia and say great work with the clothing and the newspaper article!

    I wonder if we are missing the back half of the court room here. Perhaps this interior shot of Albury Court House gives a clue as to what might be behind the photographer?

    @Raymond Thanks for the information about the potential roles of various people in the photo. So the person I thought was looking a bit guilty on the far right might actually be a court official? Ooops!

    @beachcomberaustralia It’s great to see a modern day shot of the building. It has certainly stood the test of time. I found a little bit more information courtesy of Hay Shire:

    October 21, 2010 at 10:04 am
  • lorette says:

    William John Martin son of Sir James Martin
    was P.M. 1-12-1899 until his death 6-8-1905

    hard to tell from photo if he is in it.
    could be him fourth from left facing camera with hand in pocket

    December 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm
  • enno says:

    You know for something like the opening of a courthouse, I reckon even in those days the mayor and the lawyers would have brought along their wives.

    December 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm
  • Trish says:

    I am the current Registrar of the Local Court at Hay and I hope I can clear up some of the queries. The area on the left hand side is indeed the Jury box. It is still there, although District Court no longer sits at Hay. The dock where the accused is seated is still there, however the “spikes” have been removed from the top of the bars. the man standing behind the dock appears to be a police officer or Sheriff’s Officer as he has epaulettes on his uniform. The Bar Table is still here too, although the chairs are long gone. The witness box is currently where the man is seated up high on the left hand side, however, the box on the right hand side also looks like a witness box as I have seen them like this in other courts. The seating area on the right hand side is no longer there, it has been replaced by a panelled area for the court monitor to sound record the proceedings. The area behind the person taking the photo is the public seating area and has ten long bench wooden seats and a timber partition with turned wood bars separating it from the main court room area. There is also a timber foyer as you enter the main front doors. I am very pleased to say that the clock is still on the wall and still works, so long as it is wound up with the key!

    March 23, 2011 at 8:49 am
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Thanks Trish, it sounds like the interior is still very similar to this photo. I especially liked your addition of what the courthouse looks like behind the photographer.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:34 am
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