Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Can you date this photograph? [Martin Place]

Well it’s the start of a new year and back to work for many of us!

Here’s a work day scene of Martin Place in Sydney to get us back into the swing of things!

Can you date this photograph?

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.

  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    via @ Michael Lightfoot on Facebook – “FX Holden puts it as at least 1948.”

    January 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm
  • pellethepoet says:

    It’d be great if you could upload a higher resolution to Flickr. I’m feeling like one hand’s tied behind my back :)

    January 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm
  • Legs says:

    Not FX Looks like chevie. May be late 40’s early 50’s. No later than 1952.

    January 31, 2012 at 8:07 am
  • JennysOldCars says:

    Can’t be before 1948 because that really looks like a Holden model 48-215, known as the FX, in centre of the street – FX’s made 1948-1953.
    Chev’s 1946-50s had vertical grill slats/shapes, this vehicle seems to have horizontal grill – but would look Chevy- like as the 48-215 body styling showed its GM/Buick/Chev ancestry.
    Certainly fashion is not my forte but the lady crossing the street looks smartly turned out 1950s style to me.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:42 am
  • enno says:

    The caption on this photo used to say “constructing the tram track’. It would obviously be “reparing the tram track” or “reconstructing the tram track”.

    I also have my doubts about whether that is a 48 type Holden.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm
  • enno says:

    Now the *alleged* 1948 Holden seems to have had 9 vertical bars in the shorter sections of the grill on the right and the left, and I can’t see 9 bars in this photo, looks more like 6. On the other hand, there are not a lot of alternatives that it could possibly be.

    Heading up the street immediately behind the cenotaph, appears to be a Volkswagen.

    Someone may recognise the “JOIN” sign hanging on the wall at the top right.

    Can’t see a mailbox with “GR” on it. Can’t read any of the newspaper posters.

    The woman crossing the road in front of the Holden looks more 50’s than 40’s to me.

    Challis House on the left is claimed to have been built in 1907.

    The truck parked outside Challis House looks rather odd. It does not seem to be a Ford or a Chev truck.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  • JennysOldCars says:

    oOOPS – got my horizontal and vertical mixed in my earlier comment – Holden FX had vertical grill bars and the Chevs horizontal bars/adornments.

    Gee I’ve got to get better eyes or a better computer, I can’t count the number of grill bars on that car but it still looks a like a FX Holden……..But
    BUT given the Buick origins of 48 Holden styling, and what appears to be a largish space between headlights and bonnet ‘nose’ on the photo car maybe it’s a 1947-48 Buick.

    January 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm
  • enno says:

    Well I did consider that, but go and look up what 46,47,48 Buick look like , and it doesn’t look anything like that car at all.

    The 48 Holden styling is supposed to be based on a project for a 1938 US GM “small” car, that they never proceeded to build. Did GM ever actually make a car which looked almost exactly the same, but not quite, a 48 Holden ??

    The other slightly curious thing, is the lack of any flags on all those flag poles.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:57 pm
  • enno says:

    Its rather suss that depending on which links you click at Flickr, you get to download either a 75 kbyte or 225 kbyte version of this photo, which have drastically different properties when viewed with Windows Photo Viewer.

    The 75 kb version has no detail of the holden grille at all, the 225 kb version does, and it appears to have not enough of the vertical bars, but it hard to be sure. It is also possible that Holden changed the design during the 4 year production run.

    Actually, nearly all the digitisation schemes which the government has tried, have been a FAIL when it comes to maintaining legibility of details. Birth certifcates, parish maps, photos, macquarie’s journals, you name it, mostly a big fail.

    January 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm
  • Anna Gray says:

    This has certainly got a discussion going!

    A larger version of this image is now available on Flickr – sorry for the delay in reloading it!

    Just a note on image size and digitisation schemes – as the digital world changes and new technologies become available delivery standards change. Items that were digitised earlier on may well not meet the standards that we would apply today. We also tend not to put the highest resolution copies of images up on the web in an attempt to deliver to a wide range of people with differing technical capabilities.

    Thanks for all the comments so far – I hope the larger version helps discussion along!

    February 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm
  • Mick Reed says:

    My friend, whom I’ll call PeteOldCars, says it is a Holden FX in the centre and also a Fargo ute on the left.

    He also says that all city tram lines were relaid in concrete for the Royal Visit of 1954. This might expalin the lack of flags if they were all being done up ready for the Queen to zip by.

    Enno’s surely right about the woman crossing the road being 1950s.

    Re the scans that some have commented on, mostly they are pretty ordinary. Often tonality is lost, I suspect because the histogram isn’t used – or at least used properly – to maximize information obtained. Neither is the resolution good enough. Sure the screen will only show a few ppi, but maybe a higher resolution image (say at 600ppi) could be available for nutters like us to download and enhance detail.

    Trouble with all this is time and disc space at your end.

    Still one can only ask.

    Happy New Year to all


    February 2, 2012 at 9:51 am
  • pellethepoet says:

    Thanks for the larger version Anna.

    A headline at the news-stand mentions “… Jimmy Carruthers Future?” Trove searches reveal there was much discussion regarding the boxer’s future in the press in 1953. Speculation was rife that he would he bow out on top of his game as the world bantam weight champion. There were concerns in some quarters that he may be tempted to stay in the ring longer than necessary, as he was earning big money in South Africa. It is interesting to note that Carruthers announced his retirement on Sunday 16 May 1954 – the day after the Queen returned to London from her tour of Australia (see photo above article) –

    This headline would indicate the photo dates to 1954 at the latest.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:19 am
  • Mick Reed says:

    The larger image enables more to be seen and the newstand is showing the front cover of “Sporting Life” Magazine for November 1953.

    So, as my mate PeteOldCars said, it was just before the Royal Visit in Feb 1954, when they were lelaying the tramlines.

    You can see an image of the magazine cover by entering into Google the following:

    “sporting life” magazine 1953

    Click on images, and – at least on my system – it’s the first item in the list.



    February 3, 2012 at 9:56 am
  • pellethepoet says:

    @Mick Reed, well that clinches it! Well spotted. Considering how may copies of the cover are pasted up, I’d say it is the current issue. The question now is, which day in November 1953? Finding a newspaper article re the roadworks should give us that, but I haven’t had any luck so far.

    February 5, 2012 at 12:32 am
  • Mick Reed says:

    The Sydney Morning Herald observed that work was taking place at this road junction on 5 November 1953. See here|||l-decade=195|||l-year=1953|||l-monthInYear=November|monthInYear%3A11

    February 5, 2012 at 10:50 am
  • pellethepoet says:

    Again, the chocolates go to you Mick! Here’s the relevant text from “Column 8”:

    THEY are drilling out the road between the tramlines in George Street at the bottom of Martin Place. I don’t know how much extra it would cost to have the work done after the day’s traffic has subsided, but it couldn’t possibly equal the cost of the traffic congestion caused by doing the job in the daytime. And, with trams inching their way across the rails, the men on the job can only work in snatches. In nearby offices the din caused by the chattering of half a dozen pneumatic drills has made work next to impossible. Daytime is not the time for tearing up city streets.

    Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 5 November, 1953, p. 1. –

    February 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm
  • Anna Gray says:

    Done and dusted! And not just the year and the month but down to the day!
    Fantastic little insight into the image from the column 8 comment as well.
    No doubt the royals were blissfully unaware of the chaos that preceded their visit.
    Thanks everyone!

    February 6, 2012 at 8:58 am
  • JennysOldCars says:

    Just got a chance to look at that larger image on Flickr – wow. How good to be able to read the newstands posters.

    And that’s got to be a FX Holden now that it can better seen. Just for interest sake for those who want to look at the pre-50 Buick similarities with our 48-215 Holdens both can be seen on the CHACA page
    Also a couple of period Chevs on that page too showing the GM/GMH styling.
    ps. not the only old car enthusiast here and they all said FX Holden too.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:59 am
  • Tom Anderson says:

    The Holden is a taxi and I wondered if anyone was able to read the full rego number? My friend’s father owned two Holden taxis with T419 and T431 rego’s. I can read T4xx in the photo so I wondered if this was one of his taxis.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm