The Davidson Collection

of historic photographs


The Davidson Collection carries the name of Alister Thomas Davidson (1889-1966), a long-term and senior officer of the famous Burns Philp Company.

Davidson’s twin daughters Marion and Margaret took the actual photographs around Port Moresby, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and at sea over a period of about 10-11 years, mainly during the 1950s.

The sisters took most of their photographs from Manly ferries, from the foreshore and from an 8m launch that they jointly owned.

They preferred to shoot Australian merchant shipping but also `shot’ liners, some warships and wharf and wharf area scenes. For most of their photographic career they used a roll film camera which produced negatives and contact prints of 2-1/4in. square ( c.58mm square). They rarely used colour film which was hard to buy then but following acquisition of a 35mm film camera, some colour negatives were taken.

The sisters donated their collection of negatives and proofs to the embryonic Sydney Maritime Museum (AKA SHF) in the early 1980s. The materials included many hundreds of beautifully-done line pencil drawings of merchant ships and perhaps 8000 individual negatives and the appropriate prints.

During 2005 SHF member Graeme Andrews electronically scanned the best 4000 or so images. These are now in the keeping of the SHF and are accessible to ship enthusiasts and researchers by means of CDROMs.

Roughly 500 to 600 of the Davidson pictures can be seen on this site under the categories of:

•    Naval vessels

•    Colliers and Coasters

•    Ferries, tugs and harbour craft

•    Fishing vessels

•    Merchant ships and misc

•    Passenger Liners