Thursday, August 4, 2011
We were contacted a few months ago by Graeme Angus from Sydney. Graeme had purchased a photo album in the 1980’s from a garage sale and it contained black and white and hand coloured photos of Norfolk Island taken by Roy Bell. The album has Bell’s signature on the back cover. Graeme asked if the Museum would like to have the album and we were delighted to receive it this week.
However what makes this album special is the inscription on the inside cover. It reads: “Presented to Iris, From her fellow Guides who spent may happy days in her company at Norfolk Island. 11th March 1947. It is signed by Dolores Buffett, Audrey Scott, Amy Bathie, Dolly Evans, Gordina Douran, Jean Buffett, Fay Bataille, Madeline Snell, Edie Cooper, Mildred Nash-Christian, Sib Bataille, Dorothy Gondon, Jean Laing (colourist), Enid Leslie Quintal, Mabel Leslie Quintal, Pamela EH Chistian, Dawn Adams, Clara Adams, Beverly Downes and Verle Young.
‘Iris’ was Iris Thomas nee Christian and it appears the album was presented to her when she left Norfolk to live in Sydney. She returned here in the early 1950’s and passed away in 1954 at the young age of 42 - her grave is in the Norfolk Island Cemetery. Iris had an older sister Joan (Baker).
Iris’ father was Limon Howland Christian (known as Howlin), son of George Henry Parkin ‘Parkins’ Christian. Howlin had worked on the ship The Iris in Auckland and sadly passed away in his 30’s after drowning in Auckland harbour. Iris’ mother, Emma Petherbridge re-married Louis Victor Bataille and together they had another three children; Seabury, Richard and Fay. Emma was keenly involved in the establishment of Girl Guides on Norfolk by Mrs Eric Stopp in 1928. In guiding photos of the time Iris is often seen as a flag bearer and was a very keen Guide. Fay also later became a leader in Girl Guides on Norfolk.
Norfolk’s guiding history is interesting. For the first ten years meetings were held at the school. However owing to the increase in girls wishing to join, the Committee decided they needed their own hall and approached the Administrator and he allowed them to lease a quarter of an acre on land adjoining the school. Fundraising followed to raise the funds to erect a building. The pines were donated as was much of the labour for the actual building. The building was opened in 1940 however 40 years later as the school population grew an arrangement was made with the Administration for the Guides to lease land on the land where the Girl Guide Hall stands today. The new hall was made, once again, by fundraising and voluntary labour. The original guide hall still stands today and is the school library building.
Today while many Brownies are enrolled there are a smaller number of guides, however guiding still has a strong and important role to play here in fostering friendships, striving for personal and community goals and spending ‘many happy days’ together. I’m sure Iris and those other twenty young women who signed her photo album all those years ago in 1947 would agree with that.