North Shore Historical Society

Date : 
13 May 2021 
Council Event
Cost: Annual fee

Event Details

Monthly Meetings

North Sydney Historical Society are pleased to be able to recommence monthly meetings in Stanton Library, with the return of a featured guest speaker and at an earlier time. Numbers however are limited and COVID-safe protocols are in place.


May Guest Speaker: Margot Riley

Margot has curated numerous exhibitions and displays for the Library and contributes expertise across a variety of collection functions including: research, acquisition, and
interpretation. She is a cultural historian with a special interest in popular culture, photography and dress, and has written and lectured extensively about Stanton Library's collections.


May Topic: Holtermann’s Triumph

In 1875, the world’s largest ever wet-plate glass negatives were made for entrepreneurial German gold miner and entrepreneur Bernard Holtermann (photo below right) as part of his global campaign to promote Australia. Photographer Charles Bayliss (below left) produced the big negs, recording panoramic views across Sydney Harbour, in a purpose-built studio erected on top of a tower at Holtermann's North Sydney residence.

Re-discovered in a garden shed at the Holtermann family’s Chatswood home in 1951, the ‘big negs’ were part of a collection of over 4,500 photographic images later donated to the State Library of NSW. But catastrophe struck in 1982 when one of the gigantic plates smashed into hundreds of pieces. Thirty years on, in 2016 – 141 years after its creation – technology triumphed again to enable reconstruction of this rare survival in photography’s world history.

This illustrated talk will tell the story of Holtermann’s triumph, his partnership with Bayliss and the “Big Negs”.


Due to COVID-19 and Stanton Library requirements, please note the following:

  • Meeting numbers are limited to 30 attendees, but there is no need to pre-register as numbers are manageable at the present time.

  • Doors will open to NSHS members before the meeting at 5.45pm and will close once the meeting commences at 6pm.

  • Pre-meeting refreshments will be unable to be offered on this occasion.

  • You are required to sign into the NSW Government COVID app on entry for contact tracing purposes.

  • Library staff will be available to sign in those without a smart phone.

  • Face masks must be worn at all times when in the library.
  • The meeting will conclude no later than 7.45pm.

Please check the latest Society Bulletin (741KB) for further details or keep in touch below:


President 02 9929 6637, Secretary 0414 416 802  

Facebook page


About the North Shore Historical Society

The Society, founded in 1958, aims to promote both public knowledge of and research into local history, including the way in which the histories of the City of Sydney and the NSW State have impacted on the development of the North Shore.

The Society accomplishes its objectives through regular monthly meetings, visits to historical sites, and walks exploring regional history. It also financially supports History Prizes for local school students.

The Society assists Council in many matters including the provision of plaques at historical sites.

The Society's archives and research files are available in the Heritage Centre (Stanton Library), plus advice and support can be sourced from others with particular interests or expertise.


How to Become a Member

Membership is open to everyone with an interest in regional history. Membership offers you the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests, to attend meetings with informative guest speakers, to attend outings to places of historical interest, and to receive our monthly Newsletter with details of meetings, speakers and other relevant historical matters.

The membership fee is $15 per person, per annum. If you would like to join, please download:

NSHS application for Membership form (349KB) 

complete and post it with your cheque, or bring it along to one of the monthly meetings!


13 May 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM
10 Jun 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM
08 Jul 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM
12 Aug 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM
09 Sep 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM
14 Oct 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM
11 Nov 2021 at 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM


234 Miller Street
North Sydney
New South Wales 2060


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