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City of Sydney Historical Association

Become a COSHA Member
You will receive:

  • A forward program of our monthly events
  • A Monthly Newsletter with a record of our speakers’ talks
  • Information on other History Events in NSW

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Upcoming Events

City of Sydney Historical Association (COSHA)

Formed in 2000 with the aim of increasing awareness and appreciation of the history of the City of Sydney, COSHA aims to make our history more accessible.
COSHA regularly organises guided walks, lectures and tours of historic sites and buildings.


The required public distancing will be observed. Hand wash available. Sign in required. In consideration for other people we would request that you wear a mask.


2.00 PM Saturday, 14th November

"The building of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge: Finding the Morse Photo Albums"

Speaker: Bill Phippen

When the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was completed in May 1889 it was the last link in a continuous railway network connecting areas north of Brisbane through Sydney and Melbourne to Adelaide and beyond. It was a necessary pre-requisite for federation and Henry Parkes said as much in his speech at the opening. The reason that a structure, almost within the suburbs of Sydney, was the last to be built, on a railway which stretched for thousands of miles, was the immense engineering difficulty of the site. At the time of opening it was an internationally acclaimed wonder, having the deepest foundations of any bridge in the world.

The bridge was built by American contractors, Sam Ryland and Edwin Morse, and they took a scrap book and photo albums of their work home at the end of the job. 125 years later Bill Phippen tracked the albums down in Kansas City and Washington from where a coalition of Sydney groups repatriated high resolution scans of the images and these inspired a book about the whole saga.

Railways enthusiast Bill Phippen talks about the first bridge and the men who built it, and is lavishly illustrated with the Library of Congress images and other records.

In 2019 The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridges was recognised by Engineers Australia with the Colin Crisp Award for documentation of engineering heritage.

Phone: (02) 9716 4775

Venue: Sydney Mechanics School of Arts
280 Pitt Street, Sydney
Admission: $5 (A note if possible)


2.00 PM Saturday, 12th December

"A Sydney Wild Man – the John Norton story"

Speaker: Dick Whitaker

Cyril Pearl’s book “The Wild Men of Sydney ” was about John Norton, Patrick Crick and William Willis – all crooked politicians who were heavily involved in the land scandals of the 1890’s and 1900’s. In addition to his political activities Norton achieved notoriety in a very different way. He became extremely rich through his media ownership of “Truth” newspaper a weekly scandal sheet. His story is a tragedy, that saw him become one of Australia’s first populist media figures, but despite his enormous wealth ended with the wreckage of his family as his descent into alcoholism inexorably took ove.r In this look at the life and Times of John Norton, amateur historian Dick Whitaker draws from several sources:

Cyril Pearl’s “The Wild Men of Sydney” is a must for anyone interested in the Norton story. In addition extensive use has been made of articles in contemporary newspapers – including the writings of Norton himself and cartoons that were used in “Truth” under Norton’s direction. rds.

Phone: (02) 9716 4775

Venue: Club York
95-99 York Street, Sydney
Accessible by bus or train Parking is available at the Bowlers Club Carpark, Clarence Street

Admission: $5 (A note if possible)