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Newnes in the 1930s Bush Christmas The Glenrowan Affair
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There have been many "still" photographs taken of Newnes during it's working life and there were at least two profesional photographers resident at Newnes during that time. Henry Mow was one who lived at Newnes in the early days. Numerous postcards of his work still exist in private collections. By the 1920s, Eric Breedon had a photographic business at Newnes, which included running the weekly movies in the local hall. There are two sample programs on display in the Newnes Kiosk.
On the other hand, very little movie footage has come to light. A short newsreel piece by Cinesound, taken during the final operating period, is the only piece known of the works in operation. However. after the closure of Newnes, the area was used as a location in at least two films made in the 1940s.

Film of Newnes during the operating period:
Only one piece of about 8 minutes is known. This was a Cinesound newsreel segment taken during the 1931-32 operating period. It shows several views about the works and includes one scene of miners leaving the shale mine.
Scenes from this segment are included in our Centennial DVD, available at the kiosk. It was also included in a VHS video, "Blue Mountains Moving Memories, 1920s - 1970s", produced in 1996 by the National Film and Sound Archive.

"Bush Christmas"
This film was released c.1948, although the Newnes segment, at least, was taken c.1943. The plot involves a group of children tracking down three horse thieves. Towards the end of the film, the horse thieves, followed by the children, ride into a "deserted town", the scene of the final showdown between the two groups.
Actors Chips Rafferty and John Fernside played two of the thieves, but neither actor came to Newnes; local stand-ins were used in a brief scene where the three villains are seen walking down the street. However, the third adult actor, Stan Tolhurst, as well as the children, all appear in scenes taken at Newnes.
Most of the external scenes of the "deserted town" were taken at Newnes along the Wolgan Road between what are now the old and new sites of the Newnes Hotel. Indeed, the hotel (on its old site, of course) is seen several times. However, these have been intercut with scenes involving an old, empty butcher's shop, said to have been located near Mona Vale.
Bush Christmas at Newnes - JPEG 14kb Besides the hotel, there are close-ups of three buildings. Today, there are some stone ruins nearly opposite the present site of the pub; these being the cellars of the middle shop of a group of three buildings that were still standing when the film was made. In the film, one of the thieves takes up a position in the right-hand shop, while the children first call at the left-hand shop. When the children ride on, they stop (and one child dismounts and pushes in the door) at what was once the billiard hall, next to the hotel. This structure was still standing into the late 1970s.

A scene from "Bush Christmas". --->
After finding no one home at the Grocer's and having demolished the front door of the billiard hall, the children gather outside the Newnes pub to plan their next move. If only they had called in at the pub (it was a still active and fully licenced building at Newnes when the film was made.) But children were never allowed into pubs in those days. (At Newnes? Never! Ha! Ha!)
So far, this film has not been released on either DVD or video. However, ABC TV has, in recent years, been showing it regularly on Christmas Day.

"The Glenrowan Affair"
Tracking down this film has been rather complicated.
Some years ago, there was a story circulating, that scenes for a film about the bushranger Ned Kelly, entitled "A Message to Kelly", contained scenes filmed at Newnes, but that the film had "never been released". Now that ScreenSound Australia has released the film "The Glenrowan Affair", the mystery can at last be resolved.
It would appear that a film, "A Message to Kelly" was commenced near Benalla in Victoria, but that this work was suspended. The director, Rupert Kathner, subsequently finished the film as "The Glenrowan Affair". This was first released in 1951, and ScreenSound Australia now have it on DVD.
Film group at Newnes - JPEG 9kb One interesting aspect of the finished film was that it was advertised as having been "entirely filmed in Kelly country" and the DVD also mentions this. In fact, although Kathner may have used Benalla footage from the original "A Message to Kelly", "The Glenrowan Affair" was finished in and around Sydney. The several railway scenes were all taken on the Richmond to Kurrajong railway. The "Glenrowan Hotel" was adapted from an old miners cottage at Newnes (and burnt for the climax of the film). One end of the Newnes Hotel appears very briefly as the Jerilderie bank.

<-- Some of the cast and crew outside the "Jerilderie Hotel" (actually the Newnes pub) during a spell in filming. Kathner sits in his director's chair.
The film itself is not a very remarkable one, but it does have curiosity value for it's Newnes connection. And as a link with "Bush Christmas", both John Fernside and Stan Tolhurst also appear in "The Glenrowan Affair".
The ScreenSound Australia (The National Film and Sound Archive) DVD release of this film has catalogue number: 55DVD 805. The DVD also has a demonstration trailer for "A Message for Kelly".

  Links to other web-sites for details and places to visit that may be useful for further research:
ScreenSound Australia Films, etc., from the National Film and Sound Archive Australia.
Iron Outlaw. Nothing on Newnes, but plenty on Ned Kelly. Mentions "The Glenrowan Affair".
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  Links to the "historical" pages on this web site:
Aboriginal Newnes History of Newnes Oil-shale Processing Bibliography Movies at Newnes Allan Watson at Newnes
Names - A to C Names - D to G Names - H to L Names - M to R Names - S to Z Employee list, 1932
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This page last updated 16Jan2010