13 June 2007

What we need is

Last Monday it was so crowded at Erina Fair, and difficult to park, that I went to Gosford.
Parking was no problem, there was little going on at all in the shadows of Gosford Castle for the holiday weekend.

Gosford Castle, Gosford.

Has it always been thus?

“Gosford has again demonstrated its lack of energy and enterprise by failing to provide sports of any kind for the holidays. Yet business people wonder why Gosford is deserted on such occasions.”
(Gosford Times, 24th December, 1897)

Mann Street, Monday,11th June 2007.

Perhaps we should ask, if not sport, what can a town like Gosford offer that cannot be found at Shopping Malls? If we are to resuscitate the town it could be useful to look at what it is that successful cities have that gives them life and a distinct identity.

In every example I can think of it is cultural activities and educational institutions. I.e. reference libraries, museums, contemporary art, music and film centres; an enlivened public domain. Gosford has none of these.

At one time Gosford was at the cutting edge of technology – at least in terms of access to cinema, now there are no cinemas in the town. Movies were shown in Gosford in July 1897.

“On Monday evening last Captain Pierce and Harrison’s Company gave a variety performance in the local School of Arts to a fair audience. A first-class programme was gone through comprising magical and ventriloquial feats by Professors Harrison, Barker and Benson; also a series of living colored pictures reproduced by the wonderful invention styled the cinematographe. The company also performed at Ourimbah and Wyong to fair houses.”
(Gosford Times 7th July, 1897)

No bad considering that the cinematographe was patented by the Lumière brothers in 1895, although other moving picture devices were in existence earlier. In 1892 the young engineer Léon Bouly designed a successful 'Cinématographe'. In 1893 he was granted a patent on an improved version, the 'Cinématographe Bouly'. Bouly couldn't come up with the yearly patent fees, and Antoine Lumière, picked up the expired patent and obtained one on the Cinématographe Lumière in the name of his sons Auguste and Louis.
The first time that projected motion pictures were shown to a paying audience in Australia was on Saturday 22nd August 1896 at the Melbourne Opera House, where Carl Hertz demonstrated his amazing 'Cinematographe' machine (R.W. Paul's Theatrograph) In 1896-97 James MacMahon opened the Salon Cinématographe in Pitt Street, Sydney. A Cinématographe Lumière was used to film the Melbourne Cup in 1896.

Still from Lumière Bros. 1895 movie.

I do not know which films were shown in Gosford, as many had been made by that time, but we were there at the leading edge of art and technology 110 years ago. (Of course the telephone line from Sydney only arrived in Gosford the same year.)

I cannot see how Gosford can revive itself other than by investing in the means to nurture contemporary art, knowledge and technology. "Creative Industries" might be a "buzz word" concept, but it is one in tune with the post-industrial economy of high-speed communications that we inhabit.

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