Scope and Content
The Alan Spearman Evans Collection comprises over 2000 photographic images of houses, house interiors, garden landscapes and industrial workplaces in New South Wales, taken by Alan Spearman Evans between 1924 and 1957.
The photographic images are in various formats including photonegatives (21 boxes), silver gelatin photoprints and 35mm slides. The photonegatives are stored with the original envelopes annotated by Evans and provide an historical record of photographic documentation – often providing detail on aperture settings, light conditions and type of film used.
The collection also includes family and general correspondence, property valuation certificates, the published book ‘Tail Up’ written by Sylvia Evans, a personal notebook and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings.
Alan Spearman Evans (1902-1963) was a Sydney-based amateur photographer who spent much of his life recording his houses, gardens and workplaces as well as those of his family and friends.
Evans married his childhood sweetheart, Sylvia Winifred Henderson (1902–1995), in 1927, and together they built their first home, Alwyn, in Arncliffe, in south-west Sydney. Photographing the construction of the house from its earliest stages, Alan initiated a routine of documenting the homes of his family and friends that would continue for over 30 years.
Employed as an accountant for Davis Gelatine (Aust) Ltd, Evans took his photographic hobby into the workplace, capturing images of the extensive Davis Gelatine industrial garden and factory complex in Botany. He was also photographer for the company newsletter Davis Gelatine Review. In 1933 the Davis firm leased the Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney and Evans documented ship-building activity and ship launches there.
In 1944 Sylvia Evans published her book, Tail Up, illustrated with Alan’s photographs, and this, along with related correspondence, provides a curious insight into their lives at Arncliffe as seen through the eyes of their cross blue heeler/kelpie, Manna. Manna died unexpectedly in 1946 and the devastated Evans’ named their next property, in Mosman, Manna House in memory of their beloved kelpie.
Alan and Sylvia moved into Manna House in 1950 and Alan continued to document the house and garden until his death in 1963. Sylvia stayed in the house they had built together for another 30 years.
For more information about Alan and Sylvia Evans and the photo collection, see the story, A window to the past.
Provenance and access
Parts of the Alan Spearman Evans Collection were acquired between 2006 and 2008 on eBay and a subsequent direct purchase from the dealer of those parts of the Evans material relating to houses, interiors and gardens. It is believed that the material was originally disposed of following the death of Sylvia Evans in 1995. The extent of the original collection is unknown but many images relating to Cockatoo Island, other industrial sites managed by the Davis firm, some domestic photographs, and personal correspondence are known to have been dispersed via eBay.
Given the haphazard nature of the disposal and subsequent acquisition of the Evans collection, the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection (CSL&RC) is responsible for the current arrangement of boxes and folders.
- For more information about Evans material held by other institutions see the list of related material below.
- A range of Alan Evans photographs can be viewed online through our Pictures Collection catalogue: http://collection.hht.net.au/firsthhtpictures/quickSearch.jsp
Download this finding aid
For further access to Alan Spearman Evans Collection material, contact:
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection
T 02 8239 2233
- The Australian War Memorial has acquired images of shipbuilding at Cockatoo Island taken by Evans and a photo album of the construction of an air raid shelter at the rear of Alwyn, 16 Loftus Street, Arncliffe (see Evans Collection: EC3/ALW for CSL&RC holding of negatives). This material can be accessed through the Australian War Memorial catalogue.
- The National Archives of Australia holds a collection of images taken by Evans of shipbuilding activity at Cockatoo Island. Records of these images are available on the National Archives PhotoSearch catalogue.
- The State Library of New South Wales has Photographs and scrapbooks of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, 1935-1943 / compiled by Norman Frazer and contains many photographs taken by Evans. Mitchell Library PXE 776.
- Sydney Living Museums (formerly The Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales) manages Vaucluse House, Vaucluse. Detailed information is available on this website.
- The New South Wales Heritage Branch has records of a number of properties photographed by Alan Evans on the NSW Heritage Database.
Series A: autobiographical material
Included in this series are scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, a personal notebook kept by Alan Evans as a young man, and photograph album pages documenting the Alwyn garden and social outings with family and friends.
Folio Box 22
- Alan Evans leather-bound notebook, 1910s-20s
- Photograph album of Alwyn garden
- Album of newspaper cuttings
- Loose-leaf pages from photograph album of Alwyn garden
- Christmas card featuring Alwyn
- ‘Davis Gelatine Review’
Series B: general correspondence and ephemera relating to Tail Up by Sylvia Evans, 1944-1948
This series contains general correspondence and ephemera relating to the published book Tail Up written by Sylvia Evans.
Folio Box 22(A)
- Mock-up of book titled Tail Up, written by Sylvia Evans
- Tail Up published book, written by Sylvia Evans
Folio Box 22
- Envelope to Alan Evans from Sun Newspapers Ltd
- Letter received from Womans Daily Mirror re Tail Up
- Copy for Tail Up
- Tail Up Correspondence – 1944-1948
Series C: James John Henderson properties and Manna House: photoprints, certificates of valuation and architectural plans, 1943-1950
Included in this series are valuation certificates, April-May 1943, and pages from photograph albums of the properties owned by Sylvia Evans’ father, James John Henderson, in Arncliffe and Blayney. This series also includes house plans of 34 Killarney Street, Mosman, the home of Sylvia and Alan Evans, 1950 -1995.
Folio Box 22:
- Certificates of Valuation, 29 April – 20 May 1943
- Architectural plans for Manna House - 34 Killarney Street, Mosman [Negatives of Manna House at EC19/PRO/N/189-198]
- Photographs of Henderson Properties: Photograph album loose-leaf page featuring the Henderson property – Omagh, Osman Street, Blayney
- Photograph album loose-leaf page featuring the Henderson property – Wyandra, Carcoar Street, Blayney
- Photograph album loose-leaf page featuring the Henderson property – Enniskillen, Smith Street, Blayney
Series P: houses and gardens, family and friends: photoprints and 35mm slides, 1926-1957
This series includes silver gelatin prints and coloured slides of the following people and properties:
Folio Box 23:
- Alan Evans
- Alan & Sylvia Evans
- Alwyn, 16 Loftus Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W, 1926 – 1950 – Residence of Alan and Sylvia Evans: Sylvia, James John Henderson & Mildred at Alwyn–25 May 1941
- Sylvia, James John Henderson & Mildred at Alwyn–25 May 1941
- Lounge chair and bookcase
- Three-seater lounge
- Sylvia, Mildred, James John Henderson and wife in garden
- Sylvia on lounge chair in garden with ‘Manna’ the dog
- Alwyn garden fountain and fishpond
- Front exterior of Alwyn
- Front view of Alwyn – 15 October 1944
- Alwyn garden
- Sylvia Evans reading in library [Negative at EC4/ALW/N/78-87/79]
- Echium Candicans
- Eupatorium Megalophyllum (Flower)
- Eupatorium Megalophyllum
- Prostanthera Ovalifolia (Mint Bush)
- Prostanthera Ovalifolia – a native shrub
- Flower heads in garden
- James John Henderson & Mary Henderson, Alwyn family dinner
- Sylvia and Alan Evans having tea in the back garden at Alwyn – Xmas Day 1940 [Negative at EC2/ALW/NCP/36-47]
- Sylvia, Mildred and Manna near air-raid shelter in Alwyn backyard
- Refrigerator and contents
- Vanguard – 23 July 1949 [Negatives of Alwyn in boxes at EC1, EC2, EC3 and EC4]
- Burnham Thorpe, 10 Edward Street, Gordon, N.S.W. – Residence of John Woolcott-Forbes [Negatives of Burnham Thorpe at EC19/PRO/NCP/53-94]
- Clifton Gardens, address unknown, N.S.W. Vacant block of land – Clifton Gardens [Negatives of Clifton Gardens in Box EC6/CLI]
- Danehurst, 50 Bower Road, Manly, N.S.W. – Residence of the Burnet family Black and white photograph of front of house from street.
- Everglades, Leura, N.S.W. – Residence of Mr & Mrs H. Van de Velde The urn in the courtyard at Everglades
- The courtyard at Everglades
- Steps leading down to the house – Everglades, Leura
- One of the many flowering trees. Everglades
- Part of Everglades garden
- The goldfish pool at Everglades
- Wall fountain at Everglades, Leura
- The pool in the garden at Everglades, the Leura home of Mr and Mrs H. Van de Velde
- Stocks used as a border to one of the shrubberies
- Tulips at Everglades, Leura
- The courtyard at Everglades – Squash racquets court and look-out in the background
- Everglades, viewed from look-out above squash racquets court
- ‘No, don’t push her in’ [Sylvia by pool]
- Lawn at Everglades, Mount Solitary in the background [Negatives of Everglades at EC18/PRO/N/1-19]
- James John Henderson Properties ‘Omagh' and ‘Iona’, Osman Street, Blayney, N.S.W.
- ‘Wyandra’, Carcoar Street, Blayney, N.S.W.
- ‘Enniskillen’, Smith Street, Blayney, N.S.W.
- ‘Achetee House’, 8-10 Victoria Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W.
- ‘Achetee House’, 8-10 Victoria Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W.
- 'Rockmoor’, 14 Victoria Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W.
- ‘Trentham’, 3 Kembla Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W.
- ‘Stanroy’, 42-44 Bayview Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W.
- ‘Lidsdale’, 8 Kembla Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W.
- ‘Lidsdale’, 8 Kembla Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W. [Negatives of James John Henderson Properties in Box EC8/HEN]
Folio Box 24:
- ‘Manna’ – The Evans’ Dog
- Manna House, 34 Killarney Street, Mosman, N.S.W, 1950-1957 - Residence of Alan and Sylvia Evans
- 34 Killarney Street, Mosman, N.S.W.
- House Exteriors
- House Exteriors/Garden, 1956-57 (35mm coloured Slides) [Architectural Plans for Manna House at EC22/C/3 and photonegatives in Box EC19]
- Miscellaneous Hillside, Edgecliff, N.S.W.
- Woronora Crematorium
- ‘The wall of Remembrance is at the rear of the main building’
- ‘Mother’s is in the wall to the right of the gate. 12th in the top row’.
- ‘Mother’s is 12th from the left in the top row (marked with a cross). The gardens and surroundings are beautiful just now’.
- Water view
- Palmeyrie, 54 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse, N.S.W. – Residence of Sir George Francis and Elizabeth Davis [Negatives of Palmeyrie in Box EC10]
- People Photograph taken at Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney, at departure of Gracie Fields after her triumphant Australian tour 
- Family member with Vanguard
- Sylvia and Alan Evans, left of Vanguard, with family and friends
- Family and friends
- Sylvia Evans with Mary Spearman Evans
- Sylvia Evans, Mary Spearman Evans, Ethel Gladys Knight (nee Evans) and Arthur Knight
- Alan and Sylvia Evans with family and friends
- Ship Launch – Cockatoo Island – 20 December 1947 [Negatives of Cockatoo Island at EC9/MIS/NCP/66-72]
- Sylvia Evans and Beatrice Evans
- Sylvia Evans and family
- Mildred May Henderson
- Mildred May Henderson
- Sylvia and family in the Southern Highlands
- Rosemary Peake Rosemary Peake – Hurstville – 25th December 1947 and Sunday 4th April, 1948
- Sylvia Evans Sylvia Evans
- Sylvia Evans in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney – c.1930 [Negatives of Sylvia Evans in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney at EC11/PEO/N/1-31]
- Tail Up – Photographs taken for Sylvia Evans’ book ‘Tail Up’ Tail Up
- ‘I would stand at the gauze door’
- ‘The side gate was locked’
- ‘We would play on the back lawn’
- Tail Up [Negatives of photographs taken for ‘Tail Up’ in Box EC20]
- 72 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse, N.S.W. – Residence of Harry and Beatrice Evans Residence of H. J. Evans – 11th August 1946
- View from Window – Sunday 3rd October 1948
- Garden – Sunday 3rd October 1948
- Residence of Mr & Mrs H. J. Evans – 23rd November 1946 [Negatives of 72 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse in Box EC21]
Series N: houses and gardens, family and friends, industrial workplaces and art photography: photonegatives, 1927-1951
This series includes photonegatives and contact prints of properties, family and friends, photographic art, garden landscapes and industrial workplaces.
- Alwyn, 16 Loftus Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W., 1927-1947 Alwyn Construction, Interior and Exterior images
- Alwyn Interior and Exterior images and excavation for air-raid shelter
- Construction of air-raid shelter, house exterior and garden
- Alwyn interior and exterior images
- Cairnsfoot, 18 Loftus Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W., 1943-1947 – Residence of Elizabeth and Alice May Farleigh Cairnsfoot exterior, Christmas parties & Red Cross Fetes
- Clifton Gardens, N.S.W., 1944-1948 17 Kardinia Road, Clifton Gardens, N.S.W. – Residence of Leslie Gordon and Florence Louise Klem
- 32 Kardinia Road, Clifton Gardens, N.S.W. – Residence of the Farleigh Family
- Davis Gelatine (Aust) Limited, Spring St, Botany, NSW, 1937-1941 Landscaped industrial garden, factory building and laboratory
- James John Henderson Properties and views of Blayney, 1941 Houses and streetscapes, Blayney, N.S.W. Construction of a new fence for ‘Lidsdale’, 8 Kembla Street, Arncliffe, N.S.W. – Residence of James John Henderson Arncliffe properties owned by James John Henderson
- Miscellaneous, 1936-1949 Hydro Electric Scheme Launch of 'SS River Hunter', Cockatoo Island Cockatoo Island Foundry The Luxembourg, Bowral Park Lodge, Bundanoon Woronora Crematorium Exeter and Mittagong
- Palmeyrie, 54 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse, N.S.W.), 1937-1943 – Residence of George Francis Davis (Chairman of Directors of Davis Gelatine (Aust.) Pty Ltd, Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Co. Pty Ltd and Mount Frome Lime Co. Pty Ltd Exterior images
- People, 1930-1949 Sylvia Evans (Winifred) John James Henderson G. Evans Elizabeth Farleigh Beatrice Evans (nee Tange) Peakes at Hurstville Dianne Evans and bedroom interiors
- Photographic Studies, 1940-1945 Interiors and Still Lifes
- Photographic Studies, 1940-1945 Interiors and Still Life The Pines, Upper Manilla, N.S.W., Undated – Residence of the Nixon Family Interior and exterior images Countryside images
- Properties, 1938-1941 Everglades, Leura Views of and around Duntry League [Duntryleague] Feltex House, head office of Felt and Textiles of Australia Ltd, cnr Jamison and George Streets, Sydney Burnham-Thorpe - home of John Woolcott-Forbes, Gordon, N.S.W. Visit to Mr and Mrs G.T. Marshall, Mudgee, N.S.W. A.J.Allingham’s home Red Cross Fetes, Lady Fairfax Residence, Wentworth Road, Double Bay, N.S.W.
- Properties, 1942-1951 Ivor Machin & family, 132 Fullers Road, Chatswood West, NSW Fete at Fairwater, Wentworth Road, Double Bay, N.S.W. Ray Thomas with wife and son Stephen ‘Manna’, 34 Killarney Street, Mosman, N.S.W.
- ‘Tail Up’, 1943-1945 Images used in ‘Tail Up’, written by Sylvia Evans in 1944
- 72 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse, N.S.W., 1939-1946 – Residence of Harry and Beatrice Evans H.J. Evans Residence – interior and exterior images
- Vaucluse House, Wentworth Road, Vaucluse, N.S.W., 1920s