Archive for the ‘labour history’ Category

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

The Radical Newcastle Book was launched during the Newcastle Writers Festival held at the Newcastle Town Hall on the 22 March 2015.

View the RADICAL NEWCASTLE ALBUM on flickr here:

View the FULL VIDEO of the Radical Book Launch Here:

View VERA DEACON @ The Radical Newcastle Book Launch

View PROFESSOR JOHN MAYNARD @ The Radical Newcastle Book Launch

View DR DANIELA HEIL @ The Radical Newcastle Book Launch


View DR JAMES BENNETT’S Vote of Thanks


View THE MOST MENTIONS AWARD @ The Radical Newcastle Launch


Dr Nancy Cushing welcomed and introduced the speakers including Mrs Vera Deacon, Professor John Maynard, Dr Daniela Heil.

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Mrs Vera Deacon @ The Radical Newcastle Launch  Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Mrs Vera Deacon @ The Radical Newcastle Launch Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015


Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015


Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015


Dr Daniela Heil @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Dr Daniela Heil @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015


Vera on the future of radicalism @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Vera on the future of radicalism @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Vera on the future of Radicalism @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Professor Caroline McMillen @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

VC McMillen launches the book @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

VC Pofessor Caroline McMillen launches the book @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Dr James Bennett Vote of Thanks @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Dr James Bennett Vote of Thanks @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Following a brief Question Time, Dr Nancy Cushing introduced the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Caroline McMillen, to officially launch the book.

Fellow editor, and Radical Newcastle creator Dr James Bennett delivered closing remarks and a vote of thanks.

Radical Newcastle Event

Radical Newcastle Event

The program for the forthcoming Newcastle Writers Festival has just been announced 4-6 April 2014. Download your programs from here:

Make sure you don’t miss the Radical Newcastle free event on Sunday April 6th starting at 1.30PM in the Mulubinba Room Newcastle City Hall.

1.30pm Sunday April 6th, Newcastle City Hall – Writing Radical Newcastle: Leading historians share their stories about the fascinating cast of communists, heritage activists and churchmen who are part of Newcastle’s colourful  past and a new book. With Ann CurthoysGionni Di Gravio and Prof Peter Hempenstall. Hosted by Dr Nancy Cushing. Free session.

Radical Newcastle @ Newcastle Writers Festival

Free event.

  • Sunday, April 6, 2014
  • 1:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Mulubinba – Room – Newcastle City Hall (map)

Vera Deacon was Guest Speaker at the 2012 International Women’s Day Dinner held on the 9th March 2012.

The Event was sponsored by the Newcastle Branch of the Union of Australian Women and held at The Adamstown Club Brunker Road Adamstown.

Vera was introduced by Janet Mundie and spoke on “Life by the Hunter River – Then and Now”

Vera is described as “an island girl who has tried to make the world a better place”

Her speech covered the followed topics including Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the current toxic state of politics and political debate in Australian media, University published book ‘100 Women’, Dr Jean Talbot, Donna Meehan, Hunter Valley and its ongoing care, 101st Anniversary of International Women’s Day, Winning of the Women’s Vote in Australia, Rose Scott, Scott Sisters, Ash Island, Women’s Suffrage Movement, History of Women’s Vote in Australia, ‘My Brilliant Career’, Vera’s early years, Woodstock Street Oakley’s Paddock, Hanbury Street Mayfield, Midwifery, Nurse Whiteman’s Lying In Home, Father works at BHP Coke Ovens, Family moves to Dempsey Island, then Mosquito Island, Labour Movement, Depression Camps, Platt’s Channel, Shortland Camp, Mayfield West Camp, Dole, Vera’s pedigree convicts Irish Catholics bullock driver, Aunty Nola Hawken, Awabakal People, convict women on Nobbys, Lysaghts Girls, Josephine Conway, Marilla North, Janet Copley, Charlie Skene, Vera’s father’s life, Big Ben, Soviet Union, Min Wilson, Communist Party of Newcastle, Socialists, Feminists, Reading, Migrants, Jessie Street and The Women’s Charter, Stockholm Appeal, Ban the Bomb, Dorothy Hewett, Nuclear tests and diseases of Children, Peace, Germaine Greer and the struggle for women’s rights across the world.


A Lyrical Afternoon in celebration of the life and work of Norman Talbot, Dorothy Hewett and Merv Lilley was held at Varuna, The Writers’ House in Katoomba,  on the 15th September 2012.

The first part of the afternoon was dedicated to honouring the life and work of Norman Talbot. Presenters included Dr Jean Talbot, Don Cohen,  President of Catchfire Press, Dr Christopher Pollnitz, Jo Tregellis and Zeny Giles.

Original running order for the segment was as follows :

The Work of Norman Talbot

Introduction by Don Cohen
Jean Talbot gives biographical details then reads the following poems:
First Hen Sonnet (photo)
Mum in a Photograph (photo)
Nine Tailors (photo)
Parachutes in the Second World War (photo)
Bell Pullers
At Aunt Ivy’s Christmas 1944

Followed by Christopher Pollnitz reading the following poems:
The Cactus
The Wrath of Tibrogargan
Birdsong at the Double Locks
The bat, Gunnedah
Listening to Little Wobby: Poetry Class
Followed by Zeny Giles reading from the unpublished novel Sulphurcrest

Followed by Don Cohen reading the following poems:
The Mystic Boiler Maker
The Birds of Lake Macquarie

Followed by Jean Talbot and Don Cohen reading The Pinkerton Haiku.

In addition to the Tribute, the Newcastle Poets also presented readings from recent works as part of the Event. Running order for this segment was Jo Tregellis, Dr Christopher Pollnitz, Zeny Giles, Don Cohen and Dr Jean Talbot.

The second part was dedicated to honouring the life and work of Merv Lilley. Presenters included Rozanna (Rose) Lilley, Marilla North, Tom Flood, Joe Flood and Adele Flood.

The original running order of the Merv Lilley segment (plus one Dorothy poem):

A: Poems (Rose and Marilla): approx. 15 mins
1. [from Git Away Back (1983)] Legend: 1 min

Rose : From What About the People?
2. Lucky Gem (p.14, 1.30)
3. When Freedom Cannot Marry (p.28, 2 mins)
4. The Canecutters Comeback (p.51, 45 secs)

Then Marilla does :
Go Down Red Roses (5 mins)

5. Where Sailor’s Belong (p.54, 1 min)
6. Nostalgia (p.61, 1.35)

Then Marilla does :
Husband of the Poet (2 mins)

B: Merv songs : Tom, Joe, Adele: approx. 15 mins
Anti-Fouling Roll
Cane Killed Abel
Pick-up Shed (2.5 mins)
Birchgrove Park
Possibly a 5th Merv song (shorter than D’s)

C: Poems from Cautious Birds (1973): Rose: approx. 7 mins
To A Sleeping Bird (1 min)
On Holiday (1 min)
God’s Fool (1 min)
The Lesson (1 min)
Through Every Grey Dawn (1 min)
River Road (2 mins)

D: Prose/ Pom reads from Gatton Man (approx. 5 mins)

E: Merv on death: Rose (approx. 3 mins)
From Sandgropers (1973)
Lucy (p.17, 1 min) [about the death of his mother]

Poems Merv wrote late in life
Swift (ms, 1.30) [about the death of his mother/Dorothy]
Request (ms 40 sec)
[this last poem is about Dorothy’s grave, so that segues nicely into the
DH section]

The third and final part of the afternoon was dedicated to honouring the life and work of Dorothy Hewett. Presenters included Rozanna (Rose) Lilley, Rosie Scott, Tom Flood, Joe Flood and Adele Flood.

The original running order of the Dorothy segment is as follows:

A: Dorothy songs: Tom, Joe , Adele [15 mins]
Norman Brown (Tom)
Sailor Home From the Sea (Adele)
Sweet Song for Katie (Adele)
Black Strike (Clancy & Dooley)

B: Rose reads
Once I Rode with Clancy (3 mins)
Living Dangerously

C: Rosie Scott: 10 mins
Halfway Up the Mountain
In Wind and Rain

D: Rose reads from Wild Card (Last Summer) 5 mins

This segment finishes with ‘You’ve said enough’, snaps the ghost of my
grandmother, ‘so hold your tongue.’

Reminiscences (Joe Flood)
End of the Town
Dorothy on Death
Last Rites

Final Song: Weevils in the Flour

At the end of the day was heard the most beautiful Australian song ever written. A poem by Dorothy Hewett in 1963, set to music by Mike Leyden in 1965. Based upon the reminiscences of the Great Depression by our own local treasure Vera Deacon. The “island in the river” is Moscheto Island that once stood in the Hunter River, the BHP was own BHP, the Humpies were those on Platt’s Estate.

A classic Australian song based from memories of Newcastle.

Weevills in the Flour (Click for a larger image)

UPDATED Weevils in the Flour: A short history of a song by Mark Gregory (1.1MB PDF File)

Please read Weevils in the Flour: A short history of a song by musicologist Mark Gregory. Also included is a note about the new setting of Black Strike (Clancy & Dooley & Don McLeod) relating to the first strike . Mark Gregory, in conversation with Marilla North, has referred us to the eminent  Julian Croft’s (of University of New England) paper he did back in 1999 – “A Sense of Industrial Place” published in ANTIPODES Vol 13 No 1, June 1999. Croft  nominates Newcastle as “the world’s first industrial city” and asserts that it was “atypical of the usual construction of Australian place”. He further asserts that proper parallels for the shaping of Newcastle should be made with Stuttgart, Birmingham and Pittsburgh.  One of Mark’s discovered heroes is “Frank the Poet” who has his own link:  who actually was a convict sited in Newcastle over 1837/1840 and who wrote four poems in or near Newcastle c 1838.

Marilla North, who conceived and organised this event contact Vera Deacon, who unfortunately could not make it. She did send her apologies which included the following reply:

I’d love to be there with Malcolm to remember Dorothy and Norman. One of the great joys of my life in the Sydney Realist Writers meetings was to her Doffy, as our little children called her, say her poems in that wonderful, melodious voice…”Have you heard the children singing…” and “Hiroshima, Hiroshima.” Our fifties generation of young mothers was haunted by fear of the atom bomb tests and our children developing leukemia; a fear powerfully real for Dorothy who had lost her little boy to leukemia. The RWG National Council published Merv Lilley and Dorothy’s collection What About the People. Denis Kevans and I sold that precious collection in the Sydney Domain, when we were invited to recite the poems from various stumps. I treasure a photo of myself, taken in 1964 by an old man, as I spoke from the stump. You can clearly see a copy of What About the People in my hand.

It’s seven years since Denis Kevans, Australia’s ‘Poet Lorikeet’, died in August 2005. Ten years since Doffy left us to sleep in that lovely Springwood bushland place. Eight years since I sat with many others, in silent homage to the moving quaker celebration of Norman Talbot’s life. A few years since I heard Merv Lilley and Jean Talbot perform the “Swan River Love Poem” at a hamilton poets’ night. Our memories, our lives are richer for having known them. Now I have kate Lilley’s selection of Dorothy’s poems and so the music of her life and work lives on.

Please give Merv and Jean a BIG HUG and greet the members of the Performance Celebration for me.

Cheers! Love and Big Hugs for you!!


Radical Newcastle Colloquium Flyer

On Friday 2 December The University Gallery will host the Radical Newcastle colloquium.

This all day event, featuring historians, activists, public intellectuals and the wider community will examine and discuss a broad array of topics from sex and abortion to radical clergy, environmental activism and politics. And yes, the famous Laman Street Figs are also on the agenda.

Speakers include noted Australian historian Professor Ann Curthoys (University of Sydney), the first Green elected to public office in NSW, and Laman Street figs activist, John Sutton, and sociologist and linguist, Dr Jim Wafer.

‘Radical Newcastle’ is an important new project built around partnerships between the University of Newcastle and the local community. This project aims to recover the radical underbelly and often submerged dimensions of Newcastle history and to connect that past with contemporary activist movements in the Hunter region.

A number of books have been published over the past decade on the radical histories of some of Australia’s big cities: Radical Melbourne, Radical Brisbane and, last year, Radical Sydney.

Senior Lecturer at the School of Humanities and Social Science, and one of the project’s coordinators, Dr James Bennett said that “Radical Newcastle” would be the first such project on a regional Australian city, and one that would reflect a very different radical heritage from Australia’s major metropolitan centres.

“We believe that a collaborative anthology on the radical past and present of Newcastle has the potential to recover some important aspects of the city’s history, in the process developing valuable partnerships with the local community” he said.

The “Radical Newcastle” project is looking to illuminate those obscure and untold stories that have shaped the city’s character, its cultural life and institutions.

This is a free event and lunch is provided. However a donation according to your means would be greatly appreciated to assist with catering for the day.

Please RSVP to the University Gallery on (02) 4921 5255 by Monday 28 November.

Portrait of Humphrey McQueen by Karen Donnelly, 2009

When: 14th October 2011 at 1.30 pm
Presenter: Humphrey McQueen
Title: ‘Will you be long, Mr Barrack?’
Where: Cultural Collections Level 2 Auchmuty Library University of Newcastle.
Cost: Free

The University’s Radical Newcastle Collective is proud to announce a free public lecture to be delivered by renown Australian historian Humphrey McQueen in the Friends’ Reading Room, Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library) University of Newcastle.

The lecture starts at  1.30 pm and is entitled ‘Will you be long, Mr Barrack?’

Humphrey McQueen is a freelance historian and cultural commentator. His most recent work is ‘Framework of Flesh: Builders Labourers Battle for Health and Safety’ published in 2009.

He has an impressive and diverse publication record in Australian history over a long period that includes his 1970 book, A New Britannia: An argument concerning the social origins of Australian radicalism and nationalism, released in several editions. He also contributed the Foreword to Radical Brisbane published in 2004.

This is an important opportunity to engage with a prominent Australian historian to help unpack the concept of ‘radicalism’ and to think through how it might be applied to the University of Newcastle’s own Radical Newcastle project.

Prior to Humphrey’s talk, you are also invited to a light lunch downstairs at Isabella’s adjacent to the Student Union Building from 12 noon to 1:15 pm. Isabellas is adjacent to the Student Union Building. This has kindly been provided by the School of Humanities and Social Science.

If you would like to attend the lunch could you please RSVP Linda Hutchinson (Humanities Research Institute) at by Wednesday 12 October.

I hope to see as many of you at the event as possible.

Dr James Bennett
for Radical Newcastle collective.
University of Newcastle

Conduit: Mr Alan Williams.  Deposited: February 2000.
Accessioned: November 2006 by Mr Peter Gray Brattan

The listing was made possible by the kind generosity of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.

Quantity: 2 boxes and 28 volumes

Date Range: 1918- 1983

Formerly known as the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australasia, the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia began as separate state-organised unions who achieved federation in 1899, and were finally registered federally in 1916.  Comprised of skilled tradesmen, the Australia-wide union occupied a strategic position within the Australian engineering industry and maintained strong links with the mining and railway industries. A short history of the Union’s foundation and early years can be found in the collection at C825(vii).

The Union subsequently amalgamated with the Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights’ Union in 1983.

The collection dates from 1918 through to 1983, and has a full record of meeting minutes from 1941 through to 1983. The financial accounts record is imperfect, lacking records for the period 1964 to 1975. The collection also includes a number of pamphlet publications and some correspondence material.

The meeting records from 1962-1963 are of particular interest. During this period major industrial disputes took place, sparked by the attempted resignation from the compulsory union of a Novocastrian, who wished to resign from the union on religious grounds.

Listings of related material include material held in the Auchmuty Library Cultural Collections, reference numbers:

A6053(xiv) Issues of ‘The Federated Moulder’, journal of the Federated Moulders’  Union of Australasia, predecessor to the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia (1 box), and; B5579 – B5583 Minute Books and Journals of the Federated Moulders’ Union of Australasia 1918-1936 (5 volumes).

C801 Minute Book, 24th February 1941 – 19th October 1942

C802 Minute Book, 19th October 1942 – 30th August 1943

C803 Minute Book, 6th September 1943 – 9th August 1944

C804 Minute Book, 9th July 1945 – 10th February 1947

C805 Minute Book, 17th February 1947 – 9th May 1949

C806 Minute Book, 8th may 1949 – 11th May 1953

C807 Minute Book, 18th May 1953 – 19th November 1956

C808 Minute Book, 26th November 1956 – 8th June 1959

C809 Minute Book, 22nd June 1959 – 5th June 1962

C810 Minute Book, 5th June 1962 – 30th November 1964

C811 Minute Book, 30th November 1964 – 12th June 1967

C812 Minute Book, 19th June 1967 – 27th April 1970

C813 Minute Book, 27th April 1970 – 27th March 1972

C814 Minute Book, 27th March 1972 – 8th April 1974, also shows accounts for 13th October 1958 – 30th June 1964

C815 Minute Book, 8th April 1974 – 7th February 1977

C816 Minute Book, 7th February 1977 – 21st April 1980

C817 Minute Book, 21st April 1980 – 19th April 1982

C818 Minute Book, 19th April 1982 – 24th January 1983

C819 Account Ledger, 18th June 1928 – 17th July 1944

C820 Account Ledger, 24th August 1944 – 1st July 1945

C821 Account Ledger, 30th June 1946 – 2nd October 1958

C822 Account Ledger, 1st July 1944 – 30th June 1964 (see also C814)

C823 Account Ledger, 28th January 1975 – 21st December 1981

C824 Account Ledger, 31st December 1981 – 8th November 1982

C825 (i) Statements of receipts and payments, 31st December 1942 – 30th June 1959, and Federal secretary’s annual reports 1959 and 1975

C825 (ii) Correspondence, Statement by A. Williams, Newsletter re: The Pickard Case

C825 (iii) Acts and Regulations relevant to the moulders’ industry, 1912 – 1955

C825 (iv) Newspaper clippings, pre 1963 – 1966, most undated, covering the Pickard case

C825 (v) 30 issues of ‘The Australian Foundry Worker’, pamphlet publication of the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia, January 1959 – May 1973, imperfect

C825 (vi) Revenue Accounts of the Commonwealth Steel Co. Ltd. Moulders’ Disputes Committee, October 1962 – May 1963

C825 (vii) Pamphlet, ‘History of the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) union of Australia 1858 – 1958’, The Worker Print, 1958

C825 (viii) Account ledger, 20th July 1981 – 13th December 1982

C825 (ix) Membership Ticket Book of the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia, 1966

C825 (x) Membership Declaration Slips (13), 10th July 1961 – 30th August 1982.

Mervyn Percy Copley
1914 – 1978

Merv Copley was born in Western Australia in 1914. On leaving school he joined the Public Service in that state, becoming a clerk of Petty Sessions and serving as secretary to two Royal Commissions. Disturbed by the poverty and injustices he saw on a daily basis during the Great Depression, he became interested in Socialism and gave up a promising career to become an organiser for the Clerks Union. After he joined the Communist Party of Australia he moved to Sydney, then to Newcastle in 1948 where he worked as an organiser for the Clerks Union and latter as a tally clerk on the waterfront.

Merv was an activist all his adult life. He was an honorary research officer for Newcastle Trades Hall Council for many years amassing a huge amount of statistical and other material along the way. One of the many campaigns in which he took a leading role was in the struggle to reduce air pollution in Newcastle during the 1950s. At this time it was so bad that it was a real danger to people’s health. His booklet ‘Eliminate that Smoke’, published in 1957, made a significant contribution to the campaign which eventually forced the NSW Government to strengthen legislation regarding air and water pollution despite prolonged opposition from BHP and other big polluters.

In all his campaigns, Merv was assisted by his partner, Janet. Both of them helped organise International Women’s Day and May Day celebrations in Newcastle during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In a letter to Vera Deacon in 1993, Janet Copley described how they worked together:

I gathered a lot of material for him from Trade Union Offices. About 4 pm on Fridays I took the shopping trolley to the Trades Hall and visited the Trades Hall Council, the Waterboard, and The Seamens Union office etc, and picked up the daily papers and Hansards they had finished with and brought them home for Merv to disect them. We worked during meal time with Merv clipping the various papers and Janet with a lead pencil in her hand recording the dates and the paper or book from which they had been out.

Janet Copley’s father, George Cant, born 1892 in Dundee Scotland was a ploughman who came to Australia in 1910. He later joined a WW1 Reconstruction Team sent to repair homes in England. May, her mother, was a Dora Creek girl whom George met after he settled in Morisset. Both were very active in the Hamilton North P&C struggling for improvements in the primary and kindergarten school. George founded the Timberworkers’ Union, worked in the railway, gas works. Retirement saw them both active in Pensioner and other community movements.

Some of the ephemeral material, such as pamphlets, leaflets and election material, which Merv and Janet collected would otherwise have vanished completely.  It has now found a permanent home in the Archives of the University of Newcastle.

This information was provided by Mr Ross Edmonds and Mrs Vera Deacon.


Ross Edmonds; Interview with Janet Copley, July 2010.
[Letter] Janet Copley to Vera Deacon 7 January 1993.
Geoff Curthoys; Funeral Oration for Merv Copley, September 1978.

The Collection was deposited in the University circa 1978 and was finally accessioned May – October 2006 by Mr Peter Gray – Brattan. The listing of the Merv and Janet Copley Collection was made possible by the kind generosity of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.

Finding Aid: The Merv and Janet Copley Collection (PDF File)

Introduction to the Josiah Cocking Papers
by Tony Laffan

Josiah Cocking (1867-1960) could probably lay claim to have been the most published Newcastle poet to date. As well as being a coal miner and socialist autodidact, for over 30 years Cocking contributed poetry and letters to a wide variety of socialist and union newspapers. Cocking wrote under names such as Daisy, Dandelion (Dan Deleon), K. N. Pepper, Violet, Taraxacum, Capsicum, Billy Khan and Edward Kelly as well as several varieties of Soshalistic Kove when writing in the C.J. Dennis style. His material was published in such papers as The People, International Socialist, Newcastle Argus, Newcastle Morning Herald, The Toiler, The Industrialist, OBU Herald, Revolutionary Socialist, Common Cause, Tribune and War Cry. Cocking was a member of the Australian Socialist league from 1893 and was an advocate of industrial unionism and the Industrial Workers of the World from 1907. He was a consistent anti-militarist and did regular knee drill at the local Salvation Army hall.

He also kept a diary and copies of his writings. His papers have been put into a coherent order by a grandson and deposited with the University of Newcastle Archives. These papers include an unpublished anti-war novel. Unfortunately Cocking did not always maintain his diaries but when he did we get valuable insights into the history of the labour movement as well insights on the intellectual development of this fascinating autodidact. The period 1893 to 1896 is written up and is important as it describes what the Australian Socialist league did at Wallsend. The period from 1899 to 1904 is also covered but from then until 1920 the papers are mainly copies of published letters, poems and articles from the International Socialist During 1920 Cocking resumed his diary, which then continues for most of the next four decades. These papers are a valuable resource and the diary portion is available as a CD-ROM from the Archives. The call numbers are A7748 to A7754, inclusive. They will repay research.

Tony Laffan
(Published in The Hummer. Publication of the Sydney Branch Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. Vol. 3 No. 7 Summer 2001-2002. )

Biographical Note
Josiah Cocking was born on the 11th May 1867 at Kadina in South Australia and died on the 27th July 1960 aged 93 at Mayfield, New South Wales. Mr Cocking was a miner and part of the early socialist and free-thought movement of Newcastle. He lived for a time in Wallsend and Mayfield, and wrote much verse for the local papers of the time under such pseudonyms as “Dandelion” and “Capsicum”. For a greater insight on the life and character of Josiah Cocking please view his biography in typescript (1.73Mb PDF file) or (496kB OCR PDF file) written by his son, Mr Arthur James Cocking (1916 – 1989).

The diaries and notebook papers of Mr Josiah Cocking were deposited in the Archives, Rare Books and Special Collections Unit (now Cultural Collections) of the University of Newcastle in November 1999 by Mr Keith Cocking. The shelf listing was completed on the 3rd March 2000 by Gionni di Gravio.


The notebook diaries of Josiah Cocking:

A. 14 November 1884 – 18 May 1893,  f.1 – 174.

B. 18 May 1893 – 7 April 1894, f.175 – 274.

C. 8 April 1894 – 11 April 1899, f.275 – 444.

D. 17 March 1899 – 15 January 1910, f.445 – 646.

E. 4 December 1909 – 17 May 1920, f.647 – 878.

F. 21 May 1920 – 20 December 1921, f.879 – 1088.

G. 4 October 1921 – 16 March 1923, f.1089 – 1268.

H. 19 March 1923 – 19 February 1926, f.1269 – 1524.

I. 4 September 1926 – 22 June 1928, f.1525 – 1654.

J. 15 June 1928 – 13 November 1929, f.1655 – 1758.

K. 13 November 1929 – 25 April 1931, f.1759 – 1856.

L. 5 June 1931 – 17 August 1932, f.1857 – 2012.

M. 18 August 1932 – 10 August 1933, f.2013 – 2112.

N. 21 August 1933 – 26 April 1934, f.2113 – 2248.


The notebook diaries of Josiah Cocking:

O. 27 April 1934 – 29 January 1935, f.2249 – 2368.

P. 31 January 1935 – 15 October 1935, f.2369 – 2502.

Q. 16 October 1935 – 31 July 1937, f.2503 – 2750.

R. 28 July 1937 – 28 June 1938, f.2751 – 2892.

S. 1 July 1938 – 13 December 1938, f.2893 – 2976.

T. 15 December 1938 – 14 September 1939, f.2977 – 3064.

V. 12 June 1940 – 15 January 1943, f.3185 – 3328.

W. 15 January 1943 – 1 January 1944, f.3329 – 3438.

X. 6 January 1944 – 12 January 1945, f.3439 – 3599.

Y. 7 February 1945 – 3 March 1946, f.3591 – 3742 and 10 March 1946 – 7 August 1947, f.3743 – 3864.

Z. 13 August 1947 – 5 August 1949, f.3865 – 4018 and 13 August 1949 – 26 July 1952, f.4019 – 4144.

ZZA2. 9 August 1952 – 28 July 1954, f.4145 – 4254 and 30 August 1954 – 13 January 1956, f.4255 – 4360.


ZZB2. 20 January 1956 – 7 June 1957, f.4361 – 4434 and 12 June 1957 – 21 November 1958, f.4435 – 4510.

ZZC2. 22 November 1958 – 11 March 1960, f.4511 – 4620.