Lighthouses of Australia Project - JUNE 00 BULLETIN
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Dear Friends

All work and no play has made Malcolm a VERY dull boy!

Working too hard. Studying too hard. Here it is folks. Hopefully I will get some pages up and happening soon.

Malcolm, overworked and underpaid!. [Photograph: Deborah Taylor]
Malcolm Macdonald
[Photograph: Deborah Taylor]

eMail Malcolm


Letters & Notices:

Unmarked Grave of our First Lighthouse Designer

Hi. Malcolm,

Interesting to read your Macquarie Lighthouse Page: good to see that Francis Greenway, the architect, is recognized. Too bad the people of N.S.W. have allowed his grave in Maitland to remain unmarked and neglected since 1837. One would think that the man is, at least, as important as the buildings he designed and constructed.

With reference to your letter again, I think very few people in Australia know much about Greenway. There is only a page and a bit about him in The Australian Dictionary of Biography and there are only two (as far as I know) books that have been written about him ... and in each case the location of his grave is given only a line or two. His work, of course, is more important than the location of his grave - but one would think that the man should have some memorial at the place where he lies. As for who would be responsible for this, I think it should involve the Maitland City Council (if for nothing more than part of their tourist promotion), the State Government through the Heritage Council, and the Commonwealth of Australia through the National Trust; other bodies who should be involved would be the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and The Royal Australian Historical Society. I have written to each of these bodies and have had a variety of replies: the Council tells me that a Management Plan for the conservation of the Glebe Burial Ground is to be implemented but "...finances are limited at this time"; the State Government has told me that "...the matter will be investigated..."; the architects have told me the same thing, whilst the RAHS has told me that it will "...get back to me ..." - the latter, however, has confirmed that Greenway is, indeed, buried at Maitland.

The Glebe Burial Ground, the location of Greenway's unmarked grave. [Photograph Courtesy: Will Smith]
The Glebe Burial Ground, the location of Greenway's unmarked grave.
[Photograph Courtesy: Will Smith]

I don't want to burden you with all of the details, but perhaps some of the readers of your bulletin may be moved to prod someone in authority in order to have Greenway's grave and the Burial Ground given the respect it deserves.

To the left, old 1818 lighthouse designed by Greenway, and the current, 1893, lighthouse. [Photograph: AMSA]
To the left, old 1818 lighthouse designed by Greenway, and the current, 1893, lighthouse.
[Photograph: AMSA]

I have included as much information as I can (without writing a small book) about his work - especially to do with the lighthouse - and his "fall from grace" during the period when Lachlan Macquarie was Governor.

I have incliuded some photographs taken by my daughter. You will not expect, however, to see a photograph of a gravestone for Greenway. As I have I indicated, the grave is unmarked and is in a sadly neglected and vandalized little burial ground.

Even the marked graves have been vandalised. [Photograph Courtesy: Will Smith]
Even the marked graves have been vandalised.
[Photograph Courtesy: Will Smith]

"Francis Howard Greenway, designer and builder of Australia's first lighthouse, was born in Bristol, England, in 1777 to a family which was in the building trade. Trained as an architect, Greenway was a successful businesman in Bristol until, in his mid-30's, he was charged with, and convicted of, forging a financial document. The sentence for this crime was death, but it was later commuted to 14 years transportation to Australia.

He arrived in Sydney in 1814 and found favour with the Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, who permitted Greenway to establish private architectural practice in George Street. The Governor encouraged Greenway to prepare designs for many of the public buildings in the new Colony and, impressed with his work, granted him a full pardon in 1818 after the completion of the Macquarie Lighthouse.

Greenway was responsible for the design of The District Court House, St. James's Anglican Church in Sydney, The Barracks, The Royal Conservatory of Music (originally the stables for Government House) and St. Matthew's Anglican Church at Windsor. He was also the person who introduced the first Australian system of progress payments for work completed.

The Colonial architect was, apparently, a man of quick temper and one who quickly resented any criticism of his work. Lachlan Macquarie and his wife, Elizabeth, were also people who would bear no questioning of their authority and tastes - so it wasn't long before Greenway and the Macquarie family clashed. Macquarie was a man with "a grand design" in mind for the Colony, but the financial commitments of the British Government would not allow him to carry out many of his dreams. The Imperial Government sent a Commission of Inquiry, known as the Bigge Commission, to Australia to investigate Macquarie's administration, and Commissioner Bigge cancelled many of Greenway's larger projects, describing the work as "...too grand for an infant Colony...".

Greenway was dismissed after Macquarie's departure in 1822 and he retired, bitter and frustrated, to his land grant at Tarro, N.S.W., where he died, alone and in dire poverty, in 1837 from the effects of Typhoid Fever. His burial took place from St. Peter's Anglican Church, East Maitland, on September 25th. of that year and he was interred in The Glebe Burial Ground, East Maitland.

His grave, believed to be number 224, is unmarked. There is no definite evidence of the reason for this, but it assumed that, since he died alone and virtually unknown in a rural part of the Hunter Valley, there was no-one - and possibly no money - to provide a suitable marker for his grave.

The burial of Greenway was conducted by the local schoolmaster, a Mr. Goldingham, because the Priest of St. Peter's Church, The Rev. Mr. Rusden, was absent in the Upper Hunter Valley at the time. It is believed that Mr. Goldingham dug the grave himself because the Church at the time did not employ a Sexton. The Parish Register of St. Peter's Church records the burial of Francis Howard Greenaway on September 25th., 1837 - and it will be noted that whoever made that entry mis-spelled Greenway's name. However, The Royal Australian Historical Society confirms that the burial was indeed that of Greenway, the Colonial architect.

The Glebe Burial Ground where Greenway lies was the first place of its kind in the Hunter Valley, with the first burial being that of James Trimby (1792-1828). In the century since burials ceased in the late 1890's, this Cemetery has been neglected and forgotten by those, including the Maitland City Council, who should be concerned for its historic value. The father of James Trimby, one Joseph Trimby (1747-1836) who was a convict member of the ship "Friendship", part of the First Fleet of 1788, is buried in the same grave as his son. The Cemetery has suffered, not only from neglect, but from vandalism and the ravages of time and nature, to the point where its restoration is now, possibly, out of the question.

The neglected Glebe Burial Ground. [Photograph Courtesy: Will Smith]
The neglected Glebe Burial Ground.
[Photograph Courtesy: Will Smith]

One would hope, however, that concerned Australians who value their heritage would make an effort to ensure that the Cemetery is restored to some semblance of decency and that the grave of Francis Howard Greenway, who gave the first 'light' to the coasts of the Nation, is recognized and respected.

Will. Smith <caedda@alumni.lakeheadu.ca>,

Feel free to post any request, letters, notices here regarding research, events etc for any Australian Lighthouse on this notice board.

<keeper@lighthouses.org.au>


Mark Sheriff - The Heart of the Matter

[by Deborah Taylor]

Mark Sheriff takes a break from painting the Macquarie Lighthouse. [Photograph: Jeanne Eve]
Mark Sheriff takes a break from painting the Macquarie Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Jeanne Eve]

If I might borrow a title from Graham Greene, it's all about the 'Heart of the Matter'.

Though most of our lighthouses are now automated, there are a handful of Keepers who take on a caretaker's role. All of them are extremely dedicated and Mark Sheriff, of Sugarloaf Point in New South Wales is one of these people. There is one small difference though, as Mark's work at the lighthouse is also an extension of his art or perhaps it is the other way around.

The lighthouse leadlight above the door at the head keeper's cottage at Green Cape. [Photograph: Ian Curtain]
The lighthouse leadlight above the door at the head keeper's cottage at Green Cape.
[Photograph: Ian Curtain]

His priority of course is maintenance first and foremost but Mark believes in personalizing the environment in which he lives, wherever that is at any given time. As a relief Keeper, postings vary from state to state ranging from a few months to a few years. The beautification process extends far beyond the obvious to the subtle and delicate. His work is a complimentary mixture of contemporary and traditional, though both styles are separately applied with sensibility and respect.

Marks interpretation of Point Perpendicular. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
Marks interpretation of Point Perpendicular.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

I have not been to Sugarloaf, nor have I actually met Mark except over the telephone, but I remember the trip to Green Cape where he was stationed prior to his present commission. For regular bulletin readers, this trip coincided with our journey to the Point Perpendicular centenary celebrations in October '99.

Mark was stationed there some years prior and prodigiously worked to restore the complex. As the residence was occupied at the time, we were not able to view his work in the interior and I must admit at that time, Mark Sheriff was pretty much another name among so many of the dedicated people I was to encounter. The locals, though, were so proud of his work and enthusiasm; he was pretty much a local hero.

The sextant painted on the handpainted dado. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The sextant painted on the handpainted dado.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

When we made our way to Green Cape to meet Richard Jermyn, the present Keeper, he too told us of Mark's work when he was stationed there. Before I had a chance to see much of what he had accomplished, I noticed a simple motif that would change my perception.

As we walked along the path between the tower and the residence I noticed a large horizontal gas tank. On one end was a circular motif of two dolphins. This is, in itself, probably one of Mark's smaller pieces, but I was struck by its placement and self-contained simplicity. One might have walked that path a thousand times, but only an artist like Mark would see the potential for a punctuation mark between two dominating structures commanding attention.

You may think this is an odd way to introduce you to an artist who has accomplished big things, but I think it is important to understand what this really means. Art is not all about entertaining the obvious. While technical ability is one thing, a good thing yes, the ultimate gift is this combined with a finely tuned sense of perception and awareness that the applied design both harmonizes with, yet accentuates that of its foundation. That is to say that if a design is applied to a piece or a structure or whatever and enhances that piece, and then conversely, it should look as though it was always meant to be there.

The lighthouse station rescue boat. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The lighthouse station rescue boat.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

With this in mind, Richard began to tell us of the work Mark had done in restoring the residences and of his decorative work inside the tower. Unfortunately, most of the work inside the lighthouse was painted over by contract painters some time back, but the fine scrollwork on the pedestal beneath the beacon is still there.

The fine scrollwork on the Green Cape clock mechanism. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The fine scrollwork on the Green Cape clock mechanism.
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

Inside the residence he explained how the woodwork, the doors, architraves and windows had been stripped back to reveal their natural beauty. Apparently this was the case with Point Perpendicular and is so with Sugarloaf. Mark's other traditional based works include leadlight windows and giving the station's old boat a bright new coat of paint.

Mark Sheriff painting the Macquarie Lighthouse. [Photograph: Jeanne Eve]
Mark Sheriff painting the Macquarie Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Jeanne Eve]

Mark's priority has always been to keep the stations in immaculate condition, so he spends a great deal of his time either painting or mowing lawns (on his ride-on mower painted with zebra stripes). When he is not performing his usual duties he spends most of his time redecorating and renovating.

The forshortened ships on the fridge door. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The forshortened ships on the fridge door.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

As well as retaining sympathy for tradition, his contemporary works give the lighthouses and their compounds a fresh appeal, inviting them to co-exist with the new world. It is a rare mixture of respect and playfulness, considered design and spontaneity.

The garage doors of ships and lighthouses at Sugarloaf Point. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The garage doors of ships and lighthouses at Sugarloaf Point.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

The garage doors are painted with geometric patterns of foreshortened ships, and lighthouses which harmonize with the large format of the paneled doors, while a similar ship design also adorns his refrigerator. The garden is sprinkled with contemporary sculptures and furniture, while my unreserved favourite is the paper effigy of a man illuminated by the lighthouse lantern itself. There are numerous motifs of the nautical theme, boats and anchors on walls and of coarse he paints on canvas too!

The tower dummy on wheels. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The tower dummy on wheels.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

The tower dummy illuminated by the lantern. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The tower dummy illuminated by the lantern.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

Well, you might think that this is a pretty full agenda, but Mark is very dedicated to his partner Cath and their little daughter and I guess this is what strikes me as refreshing that he has room for everyone and everything.

So what does Mark do in his spare time? Well, he surfs, swims, dives for crayfish and goes fishing. He also plays the saxophone and eats unreasonable amounts of chocolate!

When Mark kindly agreed to speak to me over the phone regarding this article, it also struck me that he saw life as something to ride with and not against, that when confronted with the worst he is able to move on and when Government contractors paint over and obliterate his efforts, he treats this in much the same context. And do you want to know something else? He doesn't get paid a single cent. He buys most of his own paint and supplies.

When Malcolm and Smithy and I discussed the planning of this article we wanted to prioritize the emphasis of bringing to you the good news about lighthouse preservation and all the work that goes on behind the scenes, just like the life and work of Mark Sheriff.

In a world that seems to be increasingly pre-occupied by 'what's in it for me?' and a general insensitivity to the more labour intensive pursuits, it is comforting to know about people like Mark.

The decorated chimneys at Sugarloaf Point. [Photograph: Mark Sheriff]
The decorated chimneys at Sugarloaf Point.
[Photograph: Mark Sheriff]

To me it's all about the heart of the matter, to love what you do and do what you love, without forgetting why, without forgetting others and without the need to prove how or why.

Deborah. [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
Deborah Taylor.
[Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
eMail Deborah

If you enjoyed Deborah's story on Mark Sheriff read Ian Cliffords report on his vist to Sugarloaf Point in the January 00 Bulletin.


Department of Scrounge:

If anybody has any of this material on any Australian lighthouses including the ones listed at the Department of Scrounge it would appreciated, especially the high priority ones:

  • Original Colour Photographs
  • Historical Photographs or Postcards
  • History, experiences and anecdotes
  • Technical History

Please eMail <Keeper>


New Pages for Australia:

No new pages for Australia this month

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/New/Index%20New.htm>


New Links for Australia:

No new links for Australia this month

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/New/Index%20New.htm>


Also, New Links for World:

No new links for World this month

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/New/Index%20New.htm>


Australian News:

Any news or articles regarding Australian Lighthouses most welcome.


Thanks to the Following People for Their Help in May:

Cyril Curtain (info photos)
Roger Curtain (photos)
David Roberts (photos)
Keith Banks (story)
Capt Wal Cray (Photo)

Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site

Thanks to those who let me use their photos for thumbnails.


Regards until the July 2000 Bulletin
Malcolm Macdonald

http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/


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The JUNE 00 BULLETIN was published on: 8/6/00

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Lighthouses of Australia Web Site First Published: 3/12/97

Photographs & Contributions:

AMSA for Photographs
Deborah Taylor for Photographs and Report
Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
Ian Curtain for Photograph
Jeanne Eve for Photographs
Mark Sheriff for Photograph
Will Smith for Photographs

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