Here are some photographs of Glenelg and Somerton circa 1948 I’ve found along the way, that I thought some of you might like.

Glenelg Pier

On a post on his travel blog, John Pedler included three nice images of Glenelg Pier, all courtesy of Holdfast Bay History Centre photographic collection. The first two were taken in 1935 and 1936 respectively, and show the jetty aquarium:

The third image shows the pier after it was destroyed by a storm in April 1948: it was rebuilt (a little shorter) in 1969.

The Crippled Children’s Home

The State Library of South Australia holds many images of old postcards and photographs: one series was taken at the Crippled Children’s Home in 1948. The first image shows the building itself:

The second image shows some children on the beach, which must surely be Somerton Beach, right?

By way of comparison, the image from the Unredacted article looks like this:

Rubaiyats A-Plenty

If you haven’t already picked up on this, the irrepressible Barry Traish (surely the Duracell bunny of Somerton Man researchers) has recently done some digging on George Marshall’s Rubaiyat, and is now certain that it was not a false imprint. So here’s a nice collection of Rubaiyats from the post outlining his findings:

Other Images

This image of Chapman’s delicatessen in the 1940s is on sale on eBay, feel free to buy it if you like. I doubt they sold pasties, but who can tell?

Here’s a double decker bus of the era (I believe), courtesy of the Advertiser’s Adelaide Now site:

14 thoughts on “Glenelg and Somerton circa 1948…

  1. Nick,
    I’m curious about your saying “I doubt they sold pasties…” Could you explain the reasons for that doubt?

    It’s before I was born, of course, but ‘pies, pasties and sausage rolls’ were standard workman’s fare, and standard for the school tuck-shop from the late fifties, at least. Our local and very traditional Aus/English bakery always had them until recently when the owner finally retired. The new style is focaccia and vegan wraps, as you’d expect 🙂

  2. Greg Dowle on October 28, 2017 at 7:01 am said:

    The reason the pastie was mentioned was because the Somerton Man was believed to have eaten a pastie before his death. That is according to the autopsy results.

  3. Diane: it’s because (a) I couldn’t see anything like pasties in the photograph, and (b) I would have expected pasties to have been sold in a bakery rather than in a delicatessen.

  4. Nick – thanks for taking the time to explain. I see your point.

  5. Nick
    I’ve come across the following, and provide the link in case you’ve not heard of this author before. His article is about Adelaide but details accord with my own memory of Melbourne and of Sydney before the 1980s. The link also gives details of books on this subject by the same author. Might include some useful practical information.

  6. john sanders on October 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm said:

    D: Allow me to set you straight on the pasty (ie) issue if I may. The pastie started life as a cold fare Cornwellian miners convenient morsell that their plump comely wives packed for them to consume during a crib break in the mine pits; much akin to the traditional British farmhand’s cold pork pie so esteemed in the Hartford Hereford and Hamshire, or even Sussex rural areas. For all of that the Australian Cornishmen with names like Kitto from the Burra copper fields would, I’m reliably informed, would not have been unfamiliar with a lunchtime cold pasty or three. Of course they were also sold in Adelaide delis and bakeries such as Wenzells of Glenelg (2) and one could take them at room temp. or from the pie warmer according to preference. Let it be known however that SM’s last meal being a pasty is pure SPECULATION based solely on potato having been found in his gullet. Being a confessed pasty conesseur from way back, I would have expected other odds and ends such as carrots, peas turnip and apple to show up also, had it been a proper Cornish pasty; though I’ll allow that I’m certainly not an expert on human digestion patterns. At the end of the day D. all I can really say is that anyone who may tell you otherwise could not possibly be a pastie (y) fan like the rest of us pheasant pluckers sons.

  7. John,
    I do know the Cornish ‘vegetable pie’. What I don’t know is where pasties could be bought hot in 1948. In a bakery, of course, as Nick says. Then again, the shops shut by 5.00 or 5.30 and pubs by 6pm (did pubs sell them?). In 1948 travellers were better catered for: kiosks and tea-rooms in many railway stations – what time did they close? Was the Travellers Aid society active in Adelaide as it was, say, in Melbourne… and what time did they close? As I recall, pasties were eaten only as a lunch-time snack/meal and ‘fast food’ tended to be eaten as a meal only in the form of the Friday night treat of fish-and-chips though I have that from hearsay; such things were never permitted in our house.

    I take Nick’s point about delicatessens, though, because as I recall from the early 60s, our local deli sold only ‘dry goods’ such as biscuits (loose, from large tins) and preserved food: cured meats, cheese, salted butter, pickles and preserved vegetables etc.

    The point really is that if SM ate his potato-containing food hot, there were few places he could have bought it in 1948, in Adelaide, after 5 pm.

  8. john sanders on October 29, 2017 at 1:44 am said:

    D. Whilst Milongal and I have covered your query at some length in the recent past, most likeky on this very threadline, all you really need to know is that pie carts in Adelaide were numerous in the good old days and operated at all hours. Several were operated by hotels such as my own favourute, the grand old ‘Duke of York’, pics of which you can see on line; a horse drawn cart trapsing around the inner city streets purveying its fare of hot pies and pasties. If one were to inquire, there might well have been something wet on offer beneath the drop board o slake a keen thirst. Delicatessens of yesteryear carried all sorts of smallgoods like preserved saugage, olives, continental cheeses and sweetmeats. it would be quite unconcionable for such an establishnent not to include a few head of humble English pork pies and its close relative, the ubiquitous Cornish pasty (ie) in its inventory.

  9. john sanders on October 29, 2017 at 4:20 am said:

    D: As we’re well aware ghibelline crenellations are just another word for swallow tailed loupes formed as fire slits in embattlement merlons; whereas my rosette merlons merely reflect on my ignorance of archetectural forms. I’m thinking that the specific design referred to, might have been more useful as an aid to the cocking and aim steadying features of advanced crossbow design…..SM also carried honed point scissors and a utility knife that might conceivably have been useful in equine maintainance I suspect.

  10. milongal on October 29, 2017 at 9:01 pm said:

    (In SA at least) it’s a Jetty not a Pier (although I notice older references seem to say ‘Pier’ – and we certainly have pubs named ‘Pier’ (eg the Largs Pier which claims Jimmy Barnes among it’s favourite sons)
    Also in SA lingo a ‘Deli’ is sort of what the Eastern State’s (or at least Victoria) would call a ‘Milk Bar’. In my lifetime (which doesn’t go back anywhere near 1948) they would certainly have sold Pies, Pasties and Sausage Rolls.

    SA seems has several notable large scale Pie-makers – (off the top of my head) Cowley’s, Gibb’s, Balfours and Vilis (I have a feeling I’ve missed a major player) . I’m almost certain Vilmos (of Vili’s fame) was born in the 40’s so that brand at least is more recent – but the others I’m pretty sure would have existed back then. As JS points out, ‘Pie Carts’ were a big thing, and I think all the players above had them (until recently there were at least 2 in the city centre at night, and another one up the Parade in Norwood).

    I assume the pasty came to Australia via the Cornish – who I think largely settled in the Copper Triangle (Wallaroo, Kadina, Moonta) – and certainly the best Cornish Pasties in SA come from that region (the original Price’s Bakery (only loosely connected to the Price’s drive-thru bakeries now in Adelaide Metro, I think)).

    Anyway, I think it’s possible such a small shop would have sold snacks (including Pasties) – however I can’t see any pie-warmer in the picture (these days they often have ones with glass on the counter, but I remember old silver drawers usually sitting on a bench at the back). Of course, just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there – and it may well be in the back room (or in those times they may have had different pie warmers).

    Someone (possibly you, JS?) at one stage suggested the ‘possibly a pasty’ in his gut could have been minestrone soup or similar – and without treading too far down paths I don’t want to go, I’ve sort of assumed the ‘pasty’ reference suggested the potato was in little cubes (which I think would also be consistent with a minestrone). There’s nothing really to indicate that it was a shop-bought meal either. I am no biologist (or chemist or any useful sort of scientist), but I would imagine pastry and potato break down in the gut at similar rates. Without knowing exactly what was in his gut (we’re sort of making some big assumptions off the scarce detail we have) we can’t be certain, but does it seem odd to have potato with no trace of pastry? That said, it seems odd too that the officials would decide ‘something like a pasty’ if all they saw was potato….

  11. milongal on October 29, 2017 at 9:32 pm said:

    Oh also, the kids at the beach picture is interesting – because it appears there’s a ramp behind them rather than the stairs

  12. john sanders on November 28, 2017 at 9:59 am said:

    Milongal: Check out the X pic on this thread,then check the same one out on the Taman Shud Unredacted site which is so much clearer. Forget about Const. Moss’ busy busted stairs and look further over to the left above the first sand mound just to the left of X. Above that you will note how there is less vegetation on the rough embankment and it appears that there may be one or two fence rails missing so as to enable folks to make an alternative track down to the beach. Now if you look ever so carefully above the wall right about there, you just might make out what to me appears to be evidence of recent disturbance similar to heel drag marks. I really don’t get the deal with the small sand mound on the beach at all, though perhaps it was just a convenient place to bury SM’s hat, teeth etc. not to worry. You might also look directly across the road and note that part of the Alvington high wall appears to have been breached. There is nothing to indicate the street lighting that Olive spoke about and in any case 7.45pm that time of the year, would still be daylight. Nice shore breeze blowing and at least another 45 minutes before the mozzies might decide whether to make their presence known.

  13. john sanders on November 28, 2017 at 11:42 pm said:

    Couple of days ago I posted about the unsuitability of Barbour thread for mending SM’s cloths and I’m pleased to see that TxT has now jumped on it to re emphasise my point. Followers may not be aware that a clever young soldier, who in the war, worked with Australian Intelligence as a German translater, initially at no. 4 camp Tatura and later at Rabaul during the war crimes trials. In 1951 he was recruited for service with ASIO and became director in the early 70s only to be sacked in 75 two weeks prior to the fall of government. A very talented fellow, keen on repartee and practical jokes who also loved a bit of salsa with his crumpet. We might then wonder did he also have a rather novel way of ensuring that folks would better remember him after introductions eg. a unique calling card. His name of course, Peter Robert BARBOUR and he ended up as Ambasador to Venezuala.

  14. milongal on November 29, 2017 at 9:56 pm said:

    @JS: IT’s certainly possible that there’s some disturbances in the large dune – but it’s really hard to tell in those photos what dark spots are – shadow, weeds, something else? As an example (I’m not suggesting it’s interesting in terms of SM, just using it as an example), in the bottom right there seems to be a dark semi-circle – which you’d sort of assume is a drain, but I thought storm water is discharged through MUCH bigger pipes – and you’d expect the sand to be eroded to the bottom of it….
    If that’s beach sand (which I assume it is) then any drag marks wouldn’t last very long before being destroyed through natural erosion and (if people were regularly traversing that section) by foot traffic.

    The small mounds could indicate something’s been buried, or they could simply be where sand gathers as the wind whips it across the shore – or where water has washed sand down the hill given that they line up with the path missing vegetation. For me, the age of the photo makes it difficult to conclusively discern too much – and I don’t know we even know at what point it was taken. Given SM was originally just another mundane death the photo likely wasn’t taken until the mystery became interesting (from a media perspective) – which could have been weeks later….

    NB: I find it interesting that Pebo is running with your Barbour Thread observations…but good that he is. Maybe I’ll have a read of it some time (I gave up on TxT a long time ago – partly because I found the commenting aggressive if you dared question or disagree, and partly I just found some of the posts a bit random and all over the place….

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