“In the early 1980s, David Seeto and I visited the Lindenberg car collection in Pittsworth.
Joyce Lindenberg told us that her husband was a photographer and showed us one of his cameras. She sent us to the back of an old shed . . . a former darkroom with an earthen floor covered with glass plates. As there was no electricity, we collected the plates by candlelight.
We took about 500 glass plates back to Brisbane. There was an urgent need to proof and to protect the glass plates. The process revealed the extent and quality of the collection.
It felt important, then and now, that the work of a fellow photographer should be preserved and brought to public attention. With a busy studio, I had little chance to do anything with them, but promised myself that once retired I would look at them.
Since Joyce Lindenberg had given us the plates, we believed wrongly for years that her husband was the man behind the camera. In fact, the photographer was Herbert John Pardey who rented space from the Lindenbergs.
Born in Hackney, England, in 1875, Pardey arrived in Victoria in 1895. He worked as a jackaroo before establishing a photographic business in Dungog, New South Wales. In 1900, he married Susan Crowell in Maitland and had two daughters. Alma passed away before her second birthday. Eileen was born in 1902.
Pardey’s poor health had already been the reason for his emigration and in 1907 he decided to move to Queensland for a climate more suited to his health. He chose Pittsworth and established his photography business there until 1917. The nature of country town photographer’s business was very broad. He was the recorder of the social and news events, weddings and portraits of the area. Pardey also did commercial work, including a contract to record the progress of the Millmerran-Pittsworth rail line.
Pardey shows a marked sense of originality when compared with other country photographers of the period. His strong visual language distinguished him from the stereotyped formality of the period and makes his images interesting and enjoyable.
This book contains personal choice of images with which I connect. The synchronicity goes further as one of the images is from a house and farm called Sunnyside in Southbrook and shows my wife, Katherine’s Grandmother and Great-Aunt, their parents, and the property.
Susan and Herbert Pardey had two sons in Pittsworth, George and Leonard.The family moved to Sydney in 1918. Herbert worked there for only 18 months with Harringtons Limited, a branch of Kodak. As his son, George said: “He was always wanted to be his own boss.” Herbert bought a studio in Cowra in 1920 and ran it until his death at the age of 57 in 1932. Eileen, George, and Leonard continued the business until the late 1980’s.
The Pittsworth collection has, after further research, expanded to 1050 glass plates, and has been digitised and shared.”