Archive for May, 2009

Some old Cocks Photographic studio-style  photos on display at the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage have confirmed the age of the Kiama Blowhole Tennis Courts (right next door)as around 1892.

Check out the size of the Norfolk Pine next to the courts in 1892 and later in 2009.

Blowhole Tennis courts 1892

The view above clearly shows the two surfaces and a shelter, in exactly the same spots as the current two tennis surfaces and the clubhouse!Blowhole Tennis courts 1892 looking down

‘In William A. Bayley’s ‘ Blue Haven’- the History of Kiama Municipality, it is recorded that ‘Lawn Tennis’ as it was called, reached Kiama in 1892 when two courts were made in the excavation left from the harbour works on Blowhole Point. Other courts were located at the rear of the Christ Church (Anglican) – built of concrete, and at the front of the Catholic Church adjacent to Manning Street. The Catholic courts were of ant-bed and were superbly maintained by Jim Flynn. They were removed in 1963 with the building of the new church. Another was located at the rear of Kiama Hospital for the use of Hospital staff, most of whom lived-in at the Nurses and Sisters Quarters. These courts were often made available to other clubs whose courts were undergoing repair. The Blowhole courts had become neglected during the second world-war but were rebuilt and reopened in 1963’

This is from


Blowhole Courts 2009

The  Blowhole Tennis club is going through some changes (may even add  ‘heritage’ to the name!) with a new lease, and a recent grant  of $5175 from  the NSW State Government  http://www.dsr.nsw.gov.au/grants/cap_projects.asp

to resurface the tennis court


and apparently considering lobbying for a heritage plaque (as part of the Kiama Heritage Walk) overlooking the courts, and maybe even an annual Heritage Tennis Tournament, complete with old uniforms and equipment. Rather like  this one in Melbourne!

Heritage Tennis Club

Bakers Road, Dandenong North, VIC 3175

p: (03) 9795 9210


Read Full Post »

Ghosts in the Glen

This was published in the Sydney Morning Herald  in April 27, 1947 by Bill Beatty and seems to based on the Henry Kendall  (An Australian Poet who had cousins at Kiama and wrote about nine poems set around Kiama)  poem below.

Henry Kendall 1

Henry kendall 2

Henry Kendall 3

This possibly is further based on the murder of Robert Fox by James (or John) Tobin at the Marks farm near Jamberoo. This was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of Friday May 13, 1836, (stated it happened April last)


and in a later article reported him hung.  Both were ticket-of -leave men and Tobin had claimed that three bushrangers had broken into the house previously, stole the only gun,and then returned some days later and murdered Fox with two axes. The story fell apart based on the condition of the axes and Tobin’s previous death  threats. It is conceivable that a garbled and enhanced account of this was passed down and reached Henry Kendall’s ears. In some accounts the Inn is specificically mentioned as the ex-cedar getter David Smith’s Gum Tree Inn, in Kiama, which is regarded as the first structure built in Kiama, and David Smith as Kiama’s first official European resident.


This one is from the Historic Australian Newspaper archive


< Friday 14 January 1870 The Brisbane Courier

A GHOST STORY. – The following is from the
Kiama Pilot :-One night last week, a young
man was coming from Shoalhaven, when he
beheld what he believes was a ghost, or some-
thing very like one. On crossing Mount Plea-
sant, he was riding leisurely along, the night
being dark, but sufficiently light enough to
enable him to discern objects, when, without
any previous intimation, his horse started at
something. Simultaneously, a strange noise was
heard, and on looking down to the side of the
road he beheld the spectre. The head was only
visible, and he describes it as being larger in
size than a cow’s. The ears were as long as a
person’s arm, while the eyes appeared as large
as a man’s fist, and kept whirling round and
round. The horse immediately started, and did
not halt till near Kiama. We have been informed
that another individual observed something
startling one Sunday night, not long ago, about
the small hours, He was returning home,and
when between Mount Pleasant and Kiama,
a creature in the form of a man, about six
feet in height, with black stripes down each
of his legs, and minus a head, made its ap-
pearance very near his horse’s head. The indi-
vidual looked at it, and continued his course, but
several times he noticed it following him at a
brisk pace. He immediately put spurs to his
horse, and the ghost, taking the hint, quickened
his pace. They raced for some distance, when
suddenly the spectre “vanished into thin air.”
Such are the circumstances as related to us.
We refrain from giving any opinion on the
matter. They were related to us in all sincerity
on the night of the occurrence, and the witness
was very nervous, and ” all of a shake

Though this is not a ghost, a lioness near Kiama is still remarkable

SYDNEY, Thursday.

The police have received a re-

port that a holidaymaker at Kiama

was confronted by a lioness while
shooting in the scrub to-day. It
made  no attempt to molest him
but made off into the bush.

The description corresponded to
that of an animal which has
caused the death of many sheep

in the  district

Read Full Post »

This is an official Pilot Flag, since 1934 and is called a Code H Flag and replaced the Pilot Jack

Here is some info from this site http://flagspot.net/flags/xf-pilt.html

4 March 1935. The Honourable Company of Master Mariners wrote to the Admiralty asking, “Is the Pilot Jack a proper flag to be displayed at stem head of a merchant ship ?”

The letter was circulated for comment, and the Admiralty Librarian, D.B.Smith wrote, “Commander Mead is carrying on Perrin’s research into the record material about flags, and is finding many preconceived notions are not in accordance with the intentions of the regulations, when studied in the light provided by the actual papers on which they were issued.”

4 May 1936. The Head of the Naval Law Department concluded, “Nobody has yet disclosed any official authority for it to be flown as a jack. This flag is not legal as a jack under present law. The phrasing of Article 73(2) of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 is ambiguous, but refers to its use as a pilot flag only.”

At the same time the Naval Law Department was being pressed by the Board of Admiralty to permit use of the white-bordered Union Jack in combination with International Code letter ‘ M ‘ as a signal for ships entering and leaving Dockyard Ports. On 18 December 1936 the Department Head wrote,

“Random use of the Pilot Jack would appear to be illegal in view of the terms of the Pilotage Act 1913, Section 45. That section says that HM may, by Order in Council, make rules as to the signals to be used where the services of a pilot are required, and that to use any pilot signal for any other purpose than that of summoning a pilot is an offence punishable with a fine not exceeding twenty pounds. Order in Council 9 October 1933 constituted Pilot Jack hoisted at the fore as a pilot signal for the purpose of this Act. The law clearly has not been strictly enforced, but its existence does seem a reason for not acting in contravention of it. It is true that by the same Order in Council other ships present hoist the Pilot Jack when Red Ensign over ‘ M ‘ is flown by a ship under way and this practice has not been challenged. Two wrongs do not make a right. It would also be illogical for the Admiralty, after opposing on the grounds above, the flying of the white-bordered Union Jack as a jack by merchant ships, (as a consequence of which other designs for the Merchant Jack are under consideration at the Board of Trade), should then require their ships to fly it in certain Dockyard Ports.”

Later that month, Head of Naval Law wrote, “It is true that this Act has not been strictly enforced, and indeed under those very Dockyard Port Orders in Council the Pilot Jack is laid down for a purpose other than summoning a pilot, but this usage was introduced during exceptional wartime conditions, and in any case is hardly a reason for extending its illegal use.”

The Admiralty sought the opinion of the Board of Trade who replied on 19 Apr 1937 that, “The Board are disposed to think that the use of the Pilot Jack for any purpose other than summoning a pilot is undesirable, and is probably in contravention of Section 45 of the Pilotage Act 1913.”

The possibility of issuing an Admiralty warrant to legalise use of the white-bordered Union Jack as a merchant jack was considered. However on 7 May 1937 the Marine Department wrote to the Admiralty, “The Board (of Trade) are advised that there is doubt whether a ship is entitled to fly the Pilot Jack for any purpose other than summoning a pilot. Further advised that though there is power under Section 73 of Merchant Shipping Act 1894 to issue warrants authorising substituting other national colours for those laid down in that section, it is doubtful whether there is power by warrant to authorise the use of any national colours in addition to those not already agreed.”

This was followed by a letter to Naval Law, “We have replied to various merchant service organisations, which have advocated the use of the Pilot Jack to be flown as a jack at the bows of merchant ships, that we cannot support the adoption of this particular flag on legal grounds.”

However at some time in 1937 a Board of Trade Notice was issued stating that British merchant ships might wear a square Red Ensign, or Blue Ensign, as appropriate, at the jackstaff, though no official exception would be taken to continuance of the frequently adopted practice of displaying a small Pilot Jack, the Union Jack surrounded by a white border.

In 1939 Naval Law wrote (NL 863/39) to the Board of Trade that the white-bordered Union Jack was used by the Navy, but only as a signal, and recommend that the merchant jack should be a square Red Ensign for which there was a precedent of 1694.

The discussion was interrupted by the Second World War, but continued in 1946. There was now a campaign to make the ordinary Union Jack the official Merchant Jack, in recognition of the contribution made to the war effort by the Merchant Navy . Questions were asked in Parliament on 16 October, 23 October, 11 December 1946, and 21 January 1947.

On 5 February 1947 the Private Secretary to the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, Ministry of Transport wrote that, “The Merchant Navy already flies a flag which incorporates the Union, and that being so, the First Lord and the Minister of Transport do not consider there is a reason to change the present practice.”

The Ministry of Transport, which had taken over the Maritime Department of the Board of Trade, were not particularly interested in the question of a merchant jack, and the Admiralty’s only concern was that it should not be the Union Jack.

13 May 1949. The Ministry of Transport wrote to Naval Law asking how queries about use of the white-bordered Union Jack should be answered. Naval Law apparently suggested that the Ministry should take legal advice.

The Treasury Solicitor reported to the Ministry of Transport that in relation to Order in Council 1933 (SR&O 1933 No.976), the white-bordered Union Jack was a signal, only if hoisted at the foremast, and that there was no offence committed, under that section, if it was hoisted elsewhere. Nor did he think that use of the flag as a merchant jack was an offence under Article 73 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894. He wrote, “It may well be that the intention was to bring this section into line with the fact that this flag was in use as a pilot signal, but unfortunately, in my opinion, failed to do so. What it should have done was to except this flag only when used as a pilot signal. As it stands however, there is in the section no qualification regarding the use of this flag.”

On 21 June 1949 this legal opinion was passed on to Naval Law, who, on 7 September 1949 wrote back, “The Board (of Admiralty) has no objection to you writing to interested bodies informing them that the Union Jack is incorrect and that the correct jack is a square version of the Red Ensign, but there is no reason to discourage the existing practice of flying the Pilot Jack at the jackstaff.”

This is the most recent information that I have been able to find. It is in the National Archives (PRO) at Kew, mainly in ADM 116/3799, but also ADM 116/3566, ADM 1/19969, ADM 1/21665, MT 9/4365 and ADM 205/55. I hadn’t time to read everything closely, but I think that I extracted a fair summary. The white-bordered Union Jack ceased to be a signal for a pilot in 1970, which obviously removes one objection to its use as a civil jack. However I think that to say that the white-bordered Union Jack “is a legally permitted jack for merchant ships” is wrong. It was introduced as the signal for a pilot, and although it is no longer that, no legal action has been taken to make it a civil/merchant jack. It is more accurate to say that its use as such, “is permitted”, or “is not illegal”.
David Prothero, 11 September 2003


He goes on to explain the current rules for pilot flags

When the Signal Code was revised in 1934, another Order in Council of 9th October 1933 (effective 1st January 1934) changed the list to;

  1. The International Code Signal G
  2. The International Code Signal P.T.
  3. The Pilot Jack hoisted at the fore.

As far as I know the Pilot Jack (the white-bordered UJ) ceased to be a pilot signal in 1970.

The flag for a pilot boat was defined in the Pilotage Act of 1808. It specified that a Pilot Boat was to be, “fitted with black sides and have the upper strake next the gunwale painted white and shall carry a vane at the masthead or else a flag on a sprit or staff or in some other equally conspicuous situation; which vane or flag shall be of large dimensions proportioned to the size of the boat or vessel carrying the same and shall be half red and half white, in horizontal stripes of which the uppermost shall be white.”

This white over red flag was confirmed in section 612 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 and section 613 added; “When a qualified pilot is carried off in a vessel not in the pilotage service he is required to exhibit a pilot flag (i.e white over red) to show that the vessel has a qualified pilot on board.”

This flag could be flown under the ensign, at the jack staff, or the triadic stay. I think it was normally flown under the ensign when the captain of the ship was also a qualified pilot, which was likely in ferries or vessels on regular coastal runs.

In 1934 International Code Signal H replaced the white over red flag.
David Prothero, 9 July 2001


Some interesting searches re the Kiama Pilot in the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) archives now online


tain Stobo lins been dismissed from .the
offico which ho held as pilot of Kiama. It
is asserted that he took up the Government
moorings in the harbour, and when the
Rapid steamer went into port, there was
nothing to moor her to, and she was com-
pelled to steam about in consequence. The

matter being represented to the Government,
Mr. Stobo has been dismissed


Also Captain Arthur Bell, who died when the ‘Bombo’ sank, liked writing to the Sydney Morning Herald.


This letter defends the master of the Kiama, after it sank

Another letter from Captain Arthur Bell rfers to  neon lights from a  hotel (probably the art deco revamped New Brighton) interfering with the  ‘leads’  (guides ot approaching ships) at the Kiama harbour







This one refers to the Pilot’s Cottage decorated with bunting for the Prince of Wales’s birthday.







Bunting was the order of  the day at the Lighthouse by the Kiama Pilot,  another time.



Here is a reference to the stand-off signals the Pilot would hoist if the weather was too stormy.








Read Full Post »

“Hell must be filled with beautiful women and no mirrors”





Orry-Kelly with Tony Curtis on the set of his Oscar-winning “Some Like it Hot” film where he was costume designer.


Kelly, Orry George (1897 – 1964)

31 December 1897, Kiama, New South Wales, Australia
26 February 1964, Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Cultural Heritage:
  • costume designer

KELLY, ORRY GEORGE (1897-1964), dress designer, was born on 31 December 1897 at Kiama, New South Wales, son of William Kelly, a tailor from the Isle of Man, and his Sydney-born wife Florence Evaleen, née Purdue. Orry attended Kiama Public and Wollongong District schools. His distinctive first name (later hyphenated with his surname for professional use) was derived from a variety of carnation in his mother’s garden and from that of an ancient Manx king. After working briefly in a Sydney bank, Kelly was attracted to the stage. He studied art, acting, dancing and voice, and became a protégé of Eleanor Weston. Moving to New York in 1921, he found employment first as a tailor’s assistant, then as a painter of murals for nightclubs and department stores. He also formed a friendship with a young Englishman Archibald Leach, later known as Cary Grant, sharing living quarters with him and another Australian expatriate Charles (‘Spangles’) Phelps, a former ship’s steward.


Kelly’s murals soon led to employment as a title designer for silent films for the Fox Film Corporation, and to designing stage sets and costumes for players like Katharine Hepburn, Ethel Barrymore and Jeanette MacDonald. In 1931 he moved to Hollywood where Grant helped him to gain entry into First National Pictures Inc. Between 1932 and 1944 Orry-Kelly was chief costume designer at Warner Bros, working on hundreds of films and forming—with ‘Adrian’ at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Travis Banton at Paramount Pictures Inc.—a triumvirate of the leading men in his profession. Kelly dressed many major stars, but his most distinguished work was done for Bette Davis, whose ‘red’ ball gown in the black-and-white film, Jezebel (1938), was probably his best-known single creation.


An uneasy relationship with studio chief Jack L. Warner, caused chiefly by Kelly’s alcoholism, came to a head in 1944 when Warner discharged him. Orry-Kelly subsequently secured a three-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation to dress Betty Grable. From 1950 he freelanced with several studios and established private workrooms. Despite declining health and mounting personal problems, he maintained his professional status, designing for Rosalind Russell, Leslie Caron, Kay Kendall, Shirley MacLaine and Natalie Wood among others. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him three Oscars for best costume design for An American in Paris (1951, shared with two others), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like It Hot (1959).


A quarrelsome, hot-tempered man of slightly less than middle height, with brown hair and large blue eyes, Kelly was brilliant but difficult, a versatile perfectionist who used only the finest hand-finished fabrics. His period costumes were noted for their richness and authenticity; those he designed for Davis helped to define her strongly individualized screen characters. His style was marked by its felicitous balance of realism and artifice, and achieved glamour without vulgarity. A talented amateur oil-painter, he also designed ties, cushions and shawls. He enjoyed contract bridge and watching prizefights. Witty, popular and gregarious when not affected by alcohol, Kelly was known to his intimates as ‘Jack’. He never married. Leaving an unfinished memoir, ‘Women I’ve Undressed’, he died of cancer on 26 February 1964 at Los Angeles and was cremated.

Orry with Kay Francis

Orry Kelly with Kay Francis

Here is the family tree from the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage on Orry-Kelly.

 Here is a shot of the Kelly siblings at a 1905 Church of England Sunday School Concert kindly donated to Sue Eggins’ display at the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage Museum!

Here are the three Kelly children. Billy, Muriel and Orry Kelly.
and here is a young Orry, and one can see that having a father who was a gentleman tailor meant you were always beautifully dressed, as a form of advertising perhaps!
I believe his father William Kelly is the man with moustache in middle row, third from left but I am trying to find the copy identifying him as the first surf rescue captain. I will publish a photo from the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage exhibition of Orry’s Mother, Mrs Hart, off to visit her son in Hollywood shortly!
Kiama Surf Life Saving 1912, William Kelly centre third left
Kiama Surf Club 1912 members:- Back: (l to r) W. Cocks, J. Kingsbury, J. Loomes, F. Kingsbury, unknown, unknown, I. Thomas, S. Gabriel. Centre:- G. Tory, H. Thomas, W. Kelly, J. Bullen, A. Pollack, P. Walker, W. Farquharson, D. Walker. Front: D. Duggan, S. Smylie, J. Murdoch, A. Henderson, H. Tidmarsh.

Here is William Kelly’s gentleman tailor shop, around 1913.

Here is his mother Mrs J.J. Hart, the rather theatrical woman on the left, with Eleanor Weston, who had been Orry’s mentor in his younger days, about to travel to Hollywood by liner.
Mrs J.J. Hart in a later newspaper article

This was published in Wollongong (NSW Australia), in the Illawarra Mercury Weekender feature liftout (written by Katrina Lobley)on Saturday June 29th, 1996. She now works at the Sydney Writers Centre. 


Ph: (02) 9929 9237

Michelle Hoctor is the heritage writer for the Illawarra Mercury and probably knows about  Orry-Kelly descendants’ whereabouts. The important part is the fact that a copy of  the biography lies with the Kelly family, and Orry-Kelly wanted it to be made into a film, but because it was revealing lurid details of Cary Grant’s homesexual past it was suppressed in a court case, the article alleges.

There is also a story  of Orry in the army in the St Petersburg Times December 20th 1942


and a year later Orry writes an article for the St Petersburg Times covering a Hollywood fashion parade.


Hollywood fashion parade CaryHe wrote a syndicated column for INS, Hearst’s International News Service.

Check out comments for an update on living relatives of Orry-Kelly( at least last year in 2008)


Orry George Kelly (Birth certificate confirms this is the correct name despite about six versions) at about 8 years old in what was probably a studio shot at Cock’s Photographic Studio in Kiama. ( it may have been part of a dramatic production, but the boat in the photo has ‘Kiama’ on it and appears in other studio shots, well spotted Sue Eggins!)


The Kiama and District Historical Society Secretary Sue Eggins has put together an ‘Orry-Kelly’ Exhibition for a showing of a Orry film (Casablanca) shown in August 2009 as part of the Kiama Council 150th anniversary celebrations. http://www.kiama.nsw.gov.au/media/pdf/Media-Releases/090421-150th-celebrations.pdf

The film was shown at Pics’n’Flicks at Gerringong Town Hall on Friday August 7th, 2009 (http://www.visitnsw.com/town/Gerringong/event.aspx)and will be opened by the much loved film critic ‘Mr Movies’ Bill Collins who is passionate about Orry Kelly and apparently collects Orry-Kelly. He certainly would be a good lead for anyone seekng a copy of Orry’s unpublished biography!

Saturday 8th August 2009 Update; on film and exhibition; Gerringong Pics’n’Flicks showed ‘Casablanca’ which was a great success (lots of familiar dialogue), Bill Collins was unable to attend, and Sue Eggin’s ‘Orry-Kelly’ exhibition is currently showing at the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage.

A local boutique hotel, the Kiama Sebel Harbourside, has named its community gallery the Orry-Kelly gallery.

This is a pic of the current Orry-Kelly exhibition at the Pilot’s Cottage in Kiama put together by Sue Eggins as part of a very successful Kiama Council 150th Anniversary Celebration.
The Kiama Independent did a story as this as well!


I will take a photo of  (Orry’s father)William Kelly’s silver watch for bravery (he dived down and saved a ship in Kiama Harbour) that is on display at the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage.

And here it is!

William Kelly’s story http://www.nswoceanbaths.info/people/p008.htm

William Kelly's watch

Orry came back to Kiama, too late for his father’s funeral in 1924

Eleanor Weston (  proprietor of the flower shop ‘The Grove’  ) travelled to Hollywood to visit Orry  in the 1950s. She was a member of the Weston Family who were publishers of the “Kiama Independent’  and also his mentor during his days at Miss Swindell’s Academy in Kiama.

In the centenary booklet of the Kiama Public School (published in 1961, three years before Orry died) Orry is fondly remembered by a old school chum…..

Mrs M. Tidmarsh.

“Orry Kelly and Ray Walker were the best painters in the school. They used to paint designs for chocolate boxes. I used to skate with Orry Kelly and we always got first prize for the best couple at fancy dress balls”

Ice used to be put down on floors in Kiama for skating, and for a while in the 1910s and 1920 a floor at School Flat park for roller skating. The chocolate boxes referred to could well have been for Atkinsons confectionery in Kiama. With a local ice cream parlor,  skating and local chocolates ( because of the dairy production in the area) Kiama must have been an idyllic  place to grow up! There’s a film for you, Hollywood, the ‘Young Orry-Kelly’ bio-pic!


Check out King Orry’s Grave on the Isle of Man!





Read Full Post »