acknowledgment is made to Bessie Salier Patterson and
Eric Edward Bayliss.
word of Charles Bayliss goes back to 1854 when we hear
of him as a child of four,
with his parents, landing in Melbourne aboard a sailing
ship from England, his birthplace having been in Hadleigh,
near Ipswich in Suffolk - to this day, a quaint town
of old-world houses.
turning point of his life was to come to him at the
early age of sixteen; surely there
was something of the
touch of destiny that brought to the gateway of his
mother's home in a Melbourne suburb the wet-plate'
travelling photographer Beaufoy Merlin. Young Charles,
always old for his years, must have realised, in a
flash, as it were, that he wanted to be a photographer
to learn the trade from his newly-found acquaintance
with the friendly and magnetic personality.
a lad to make such a decision is one thing but to gain
mother's consent is another. As we can well
it was many days before she eventually gave way before
his unending pleas. We learn of his duly joining
up with Merlin as his assistant and of the pair going
the "diggings" - which perhaps would be
the Gippsland fields which rose to fame in the sixties.
It was to be
a year before his mother was to see him again; when
he did return home he was a young man and one imbued
a deep love of Australia's great out-of-doors and
more than ever convinced that photography meant everything
next year or so (c.1867-1869) embraced further
field trips, one of which we know from the Manners-Sutton
letter(1) to have been to the, Western District of Victoria.
The association must have been a pleasant one for
them. Merlin learnt to place the utmost trust in
the young assistant who proved so apt and clever
while Bayliss was only too happy to be in the
company of his mentor as the pair spent days and nights
in the open occupied with their beloved photography.
hour of parting was to come only too soon and it was
destined to be forever. After nearly twenty years Merlin
must have felt that he had pretty
the coverage as far as his particular house and residents type of photography
in Victoria was concerned, and that fresh fields must be sought. It speaks
volumes for his estimation of young Charles that he should have been
him in charge of his interests when he crossed the border northwards.
story of Merlin's' photography in New South Wales
has already been
told; we have learnt of his great
for Holtermann and of his early
of how that wealthy man summoned Bayliss to Sydney with a view to bringing
immense enterprise to completion.
By early 1874, Bayliss must have
been entirely engaged
on the 'Holtermann project; some of the year's pictures were made in Sydney but the greater
number represent Victorian subjects.
these quite the most outstanding is the
great 9-exposure panorama of Ballarat, made from the tower of the
Ballarat City Hall,
photographed around about February or March(2). Both coating and
exposure are perfect and so is the clarity of detail
throughout; to make sure
no vibration he arranged for the authorities to have the clock and
its carillon (which had been installed during the previous year)
stopped during the progress
of the panoraming.
Next followed his photography on the 10" by
these numbering about two hundred and ten(3); Melbourne is listed
first with about 115 views, then Bendigo with about 30, Ballarat
and Geelong with
10, to say nothing of odd scenes at Stawell, Castlemaine and elsewhere-in
all a most comprehensive coverage. The individual identification
of these has barely
been commenced but already one point is quite clear - that all are
marked by first class technique and that all would enlarge splendidly;
some day they
will be, when there has been settled the practical, problem of an
available 10" by
highlight of the following year was the making of giant.
Sydney panoramas; so unique a project may well have
The period was
almost certainly during the late winter and early spring, for the
received some newspaper publicity during October while, in addition,
we have the evidence of the Commodore Goodenough funeral picture(4).
for the year 1876 included a number of Melbourne views
made in the 18" by 22" format, a size decided
upon perhaps because 20" by 24' represented the
largest size in which the albumen printing paper was
readily available; subjects included The Bank of Victoria,
Scots Church and the not-altogether-successful panorama
from the tower of Government House in the Botanical
Gardens. In addition, Bayliss would have spent a good
deal of time in Sydney printing, assembling and mounting
the material destined for exhibition at Philadelphia,
as well, there would be the great roll of prints which
Holtermann was to take along with him for display en
1876 negative of especial interest appears to be a
record of the opening day of the extension of the railway
to Beechworth (Victoria); if so, this photograph may
be accurately dated to September of that year. The
picture may well represent Bayliss' last exposure on
behalf of Holtermann and so take us to the threshold
of his work as an independent photographer, for two
years later we hear of him and his set-up moving permanently
home was in the western suburbs and his place of business,
as shown in Sands Directory for 1879, was at 348 George
Street. This would be near the corner of Angel Place.
(Some years later he moved across the road to No. 335A).
do not know exactly what was the appeal which brought
Bayliss to Sydney. It may have been some act of encouragement
or generosity on the part of his wealthy sponsor; on
the other hand his interest may have been stimulated
by hints of the untold glories of the forthcoming Sydney
International Exhibition of 1879.
Meanwhile, he lost
no time, after setting up his brass plate as "Charles
Bayliss, Landscape Photographer", in commencing
to get together a large collection of stock negatives
of all the 'best sellers' of the day(5),
street scenes and public buildings, the harbour and
its shipping, the (empty!) beaches, the beauty spots
of the Blue Mountains and so forth.
The east side of George Street, Sydney,
looking south from the King Street intersection.