State Library of South Australia

Discovering a Norwood footballer with Zoom viewer

Date: 12 March 2015

The State Library returns footballer to his rightful place.

Recently the Library discovered an image in our Chamberlain Collection which revealed a fourth soldier who had not been visible since the glass plate negative had been processed.

Image of the four soldiers after preservation work is complete
Image of the four soldiers after preservation work is complete

Along with the image of soldiers taken before they left Adelaide, is a separate piece of paper with the names of four Norwood footballers Phil Robin, Brunel Nash, Thomas Storey and George Beames.

Norwood footballers names
This image shows the separate piece of paper with the names of four Norwood footballers.

Only three men appeared in the photograph and the Library had the men identified as L-R - Robin, Beames and Nash.

Following a comment from a member of the public questioning the identity of the men in the photograph Senior Archivist Margaret Southcott, Project Manager Andrew Piper and librarian Jenny Scott revisited this image of Norwood footballers who enlisted in the early days of WWI. Advice was sought from the Norwood Football Club who suggested that the chaps were L-R Thomas Storey, Robin and Nash and pointed the library to their website of those who served which contains short biographies and portraits of the men as players.

With some close scrutiny by the archivist and skilled advice from our Preservation Conservator Amalia Alpareanu it became obvious that the negative was surrounded by Gihon's Opaque, a substance used to remove the background from an image to create portraits.

Norwood footballers before preservation
This image shows the area covered by Gihon's Opaque but not visible on the image.

But this proved to be only the beginning of solving the 100 year old mystery.

Coinciding with this information the State Library was about to announce the release of a new image viewer. The viewer provides our customers with an improved viewing experience by using the zoom tool feature which enlarges and zooms-in to specific areas of the image.

The team applied this technique to the image of the Norwood footballers. Further consultation with the Preservation Conservator confirmed that in a sensitive operation the Gihon's Opaque could be removed and the image was brought back to the original composition taken almost a century ago. The surprise came in revealing tunic buttons peeking out from behind the Gihon's Opaque.

Norwood footballers zoom image
This image shows the tunic buttons peeking out from behind the Gihon's Opaque.

Matching the newly exposed original with the digitised version on the Library's website, confirmed that No. 875 George Darling Beames was indeed included but missing from the image as it had been held and catalogued in the collection.

"The State Library has digitised more than 150,000 images, beginning the extensive process in 1998. This discovery is a first using the zooming feature which is not only the envy of national and state libraries across the country, it has enabled the State Library to solve a photographic mystery at a very poignant point in time", said Director Alan Smith.

Project Manager, Andrew Piper, explained that the new viewer is a vast improvement over the previous method. "The State Library of South Australia was the first cultural institution in South Australia, if not the country, to deliver its extensive photographic collection online in 1998" he said. "We've not made any improvements to that method until now. The features customers can now look forward to are:

  • higher quality images
  • larger images
  • zoomable images
  • compatibility for handheld devices
  • social media sharing
  • attractive print styling
  • keyword search to browse the rest of the collections."

The new display gives the image more prominence, without losing the important contextual information provided in the catalogue record.

The new image viewer has been built using responsive design principles rendering high quality State Library images on PCs and portable devices, without the need to download a plug in.

The same searching functionality remains, where using the Library catalogue, customers have access to the State Library's vast collections. Having found a photograph in the catalogue, and when a photograph is found clicking the 'view image' button will launch the new image viewer.

Using the zoom feature of the new viewer to compare the faces in the photograph with the website, we discovered tunic buttons peeking out from behind the Gihon's Opaque.

Seeking the advice of our Preservation Conservator, Amalia Alpareanu, she agreed the Opaque could be removed to reveal the image of the WWI soldier that lay beneath.

Librarian, Jenny Scott said "The sensitive operation of bringing to light this image not seen for nearly a Century began ... to reveal the image on the glass plate in an entirely different light, correctly identifying each man and restoring No. 875 George Darling Beames to his rightful place next to his team mates".

Image of the four soldiers after conservation
Image of the four soldiers after preservation work is complete.

Details of the four Norwood footballers who enlisted

  • No. 638 Private Philip De Quetteville Robin, was born at Norwood, South Australia, on 10 August 1884. Amongst the first to enlist after war was declared he enlisted at Morphettville, South Australia, on 24 August 1914 and served with the 10th Battalion. He was killed in action at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Along with VC winner Arthur Blackburn, he gained the furthest ground of any Australian during the Gallipoli campaign. A gifted footballer of national renown, he represented the successful South Australian team in the 1911 carnival.
  • No. 875 George Darling Beames was born at Eastwood, South Australia, on 6 April 1889. He enlisted at Morphettville, South Australia, on 31 August 1914 and served with the 10th Battalion. He was wounded in action at Gallipoli on 19 May 1915 and again in France on 26 July 1916. He married Christina Urquhart at Glasgow in 1918 and returned to Australia with Christina in 1919.
  • No. 702 Private Brunel John Nash was born at Parkside, South Australia, on 29 May 1887. He enlisted on 25 August 1914 and served with the 10th Battalion. He was killed in action at Gallipoli on 2 May 1915.
  • No. 706 Corporal Thomas Victor Storey, was born at Shepparton, Victoria, in 1894. Amongst the first to enlist after war was declared he enlisted at Morphettville, South Australia, on 24 August 1914 and served with the 10th Battalion. He was wounded in action at Gallipoli on 9 September 1915 and again in France on 23 July 1916. He returned to Australia in 1919 and died at Norwood on 10 September 1939.

Information and enquiries

Information about the viewer and the State Library's Centenary of ANZAC projects is available from

Andrew Piper, Manager Online Services
State Library of South Australia
Phone: 0429 074 481
piper.andrew@slsa.sa.gov.au

Search photos through our catalogue, then use the facets on the right hand side to limit to photographs.

Public enquiries

centenaryofanzac@slsa.sa.gov.au

Media enquiries

Bev Scott, Marketing Manager
State Library of South Australia
Phone: (08) 8207 7221 or 0467 770 793
scott.beverly@slsa.sa.gov.au

 

Story by: Andrew Piper

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