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Wollongong City Council

Making history at Wollongong City Libraries

Friday 20 November 2020

A paper on the history of railways and the environment in Illawarra between 1870s-1915 has taken out top honours in the 2020 Friends of Wollongong City Libraries Local History Prize.

The prize was announced by Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM at a special presentation in Wollongong Library last night, Thursday 19 November.

“Congratulations to André Brett for his insightful paper on the railways of the Illawarra,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“The panel were impressed with the hard work and research that went into Andre’s research paper that will now be added to the Local Studies collection for others to enjoy and learn from.’’

The Local History Prize is a biennial award funded by the Friends of Wollongong Library, and coordinated by Wollongong City Council. Entrants are invited to submit a researched paper and vie for the honour of collecting the first prize of $5,000. After the competition all the entries are added to the Library’s Local Studies collection and add to the ongoing documentation of the Illawarra’s history.

“We had a record number of entries in this year’s event with 16 diverse and well-researched papers submitted in the competition,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“The topics were as diverse as a profile of Henry Robert James, a study of boatbuilders in Belmore Basin, Chinese market gardens in the region, marriage equality and a look at disability support services in the Illawarra.’’

The entries were judged by a panel consisting of a representative of the Friends of Wollongong City Library Executive, a local history expert from the community, Council’s Manager of Library and Community Services, Council’s Heritage Officer and a Local Studies Librarian.

“If you’d like to read the interesting research all the papers will be held in the Local Studies Collection on level 1 of Wollongong Library with extra copies available for loan,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

Wollongong Libraries are open, and while bookings aren’t required to visit people will need to check-in using a QR code, or provide their details on entry.

Winner of the 2020 Local History Prize

  • André Brett – The whistle blows, and we are whisked into a tunnel: Railways and the environment in Illawarra, 1870s-1915

Highly Commended

  • Joseph Davis - Vegetable Johns: Wong Gee and the forgotten Chinese market gardeners of Illawarra
  • Lorraine Neate – Burton’s purge: Wollongong and the 1840’s depression

Certificate of Recognition

  • Mark Johnston – A Wiseman by name
  • Ruby Ekkel – The Cedar-cutter’s romance: the romanticisation of the Illawarra red cedar industry
  • Alexander Lee – Protecting Australia’s soft underbelly: defending the Illawarra 1939-1944
  • Joseph Davis – The Wollongong vaccinator Dr. George P Lambert
  • Laura Kierse – Free life of the rover: 1st Bulli Rover Crew – the first ten years
  • Alastair Lawrie – An incomplete history of marriage equality in Wollongong
  • Joseph Davis – The shadow on the verandah of the most famous house in the Illawarra
  • Jamilla Smith – More than bricks and mortar: inquiry into the history of select disability support services in the City of Wollongong
  • Lorraine Jones – Civilian life in Helensburgh, Otford, Stanwell Park and Coalcliff during World War II
  • Joseph Davis – The earliest boat builders of Belmore Basin (from steam to sail)
  • Panayiotis Diamadis – Sideropole: the city of steel. A history of the Hellenic presence in the City of Wollongong
  • Claire Williams – The life and death of Henry Robert James
  • Joseph Davis – Unpolished cedar and the even more ‘unpolished cedar getters of the earliest Illawarra’