Help needed to put names to faces in old Geraldton dance photos

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Doreen Dawson's Orchestra plays on stage at the official opening of the Wonthella Memorial Hall in 1960. While the Geraldton Regional Library have identified most of the people in the photo, there are a few names they don't have.
Camera IconDoreen Dawson's Orchestra plays on stage at the official opening of the Wonthella Memorial Hall in 1960. While the Geraldton Regional Library have identified most of the people in the photo, there are a few names they don't have. Credit: Sally Elphick, Courtesy of the Geraldton Regional Library

Nearly 60 years have passed since the Wonthella Memorial Hall was officially opened with the Monster Carnival Dance — the first of many social events in the spacious building.

Memories of the night may have faded but photos capturing the significant event live on, with 145 electronic copies recently donated to the Geraldton Regional Library by Councillor Sally Elphick.

With the help of Geraldton residents Delma Attrill and Ann Hawke, the library have been able to identify people in 106 photos.

But there’s still 39 images with unidentified people, and library staff are calling on the community to lend a helping hand tomorrow, January 30.

Acting co-ordinator of Heritage Services and co-ordinator of the Photo Identification Project Lorin Cox said filling in the blanks would help preserve the historic event.

“It was a significant event for the time, but the photos have minimal impact without the names,” she said.

“The official party is in a lot of the photos, including the Mayor at the time, Charles Eadon-Clarke … and there’s also photos with Doreen Dawson’s Orchestra — she was quite a prominent figure.

“Hopefully on Wednesday we’ll remove the question marks.”

A souvenir ticket for the Monster Carnival Dance.
Camera IconA souvenir ticket for the Monster Carnival Dance. Credit: Wonthella Progress Association, Courtesy of Geraldton Regional Library

The Memorial Hall was built by the Wonthella Progress Association in memory of the RAAF members who lost their lives during the war. It was officially opened on August 5, 1960.

The hall was once home to Geraldton’s first television network.

Manager of Libraries, Heritage and Gallery Trudi Cornish said any information gathered about the photos would be added to the library’s catalogue, accessible online.

“Big gatherings used to be really important events on the social calendar,” she said.

“This is like a vignette of lost time.

“We’re really keen to get this sort of information while the names are in living memory.

“This really is the role of heritage services — to capture and preserve as best we can”

The project will start at 2.15pm tomorrow. To attend, contact the library on 9956 6659.

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