City of Sydney Historical Association
COSHA
2nd March, 2013 - History of Surry Hills & Darlinghurst
9th February, 2013 - Chinese New Year
12th January, 2013 - Tour of St Barnabas Church, Broadway
8th December, 2012 - Colonial Land Use and the Coxes of Mulgoa Valley
7th November, 2012 - Guided Tour of the Town Hall Vaults
3rd November, 2012 - 1954 Royal Tour
13th October, 2012 - Rise of Sydney's Department Stores
14th July, 2012 - Life & Times of Tommy Townshend
9th June, 2012 - "Reynolds" Cottages
19th May, 2012 - St Paul's College Tour
14th April, 2012 - Motorised Mayhem
10th March, 2012 - The Flying Fruit Fly Circus
4th February, 2012 - Quong Tart: High Tea and Scottish Ditties
14th January 2012: Dictionary of Sydney
10th December 2011: Admiral Arthur Philip - The Man
12th November 2011: Glebe Walk
8th October 2011: Bob Carr at the Annual General Meeting
3rd September 2011: History Week
13th August 2011: Tom Wentworth Wills –Visionary Sportsman
9th July 2011: Henry L'Estrange - Funambulist and Aeronaut
11th June 2011: Afro-American Servicemen in WWII
14th May 2011: Government House Tour
9th April 2011: Amazing Stories from Randwick
19th March 2011: The Ones that Got Away
12 Feb 2011: Chinese Market Gardens of Sydney
8 Jan 2011: St Andews College Tour
11 Dec 2010: Garden Palace Scandal
13 Nov 2010: Cumberland Digs
9 Oct 2010: Painting the Rocks
4 Sep 2010: Celebrate History Week
14 Aug 2010: Whaling, Wool and Wealth
10 Jul 2010: The Ones that Got Away
12 Jun 10: Percy Lindsay
8 May 10: Sydney Tramway Museum
10 Apr 10: Making of our nation
13 Mar 10: Reading photographs
13 Feb 2010: Macquarie Place
9 Jan 10: Sydney's Astronomical History
12 Dec 09: The colony
14 Nov 09: Women of The Rocks
10 Oct 09: History of Kent Brewery
5 Sep 09: Scandal, Crime & Corruption
15 Aug 09: Walk-Darling Harbour
11 Jul 09: Redfern Alexandria & Waterloo
06 Jun 09: Pubs & Publicans of Sydney
09 May 09 : C19th Sydney Firemen
18 Apr 09 : History of Darling Harbour
14 Mar 09: Bewitched!
Annual General Meeting 2009
Jan 2009 - Trade Hall
4th February, 2012 - Quong Tart: High Tea and Scottish Ditties

 

This was COSHA’s contribution to the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Laila Ellmoos,
a Historian with the City of Sydney spoke to us about Mei Quong Tart, a leading nineteenth century Sydney merchant and importer from China.

 

Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903) was a well-known member of the Chinese community who bridged Chinese and non-Chinese worlds in Sydney in the late 19th century. He is generally  regarded to have been ‘the only Chinese who at the time succeeded in being accepted fully by the NSW community. He arrived to Australia when he was just nine years-old, living on the Braidwood goldfields until  his early 30s.

10 According to his wife, who rather formally refers to him as Mr Tart throughout  her biography of him. ‘Mr Tart was associated with many Scottish families on the diggings, from whom he acquired a good knowledge of the Calendonian customs, manners and habits. He could sing Scotch songs with singular pathos, recite Burns’ poems with a genuine accent, play Scotch airs on the piano, and jokingly alluded to himself  as being a native of Aberdeen.’

 

In late 1881, Quong Tart opened a tea and silk shop in the Sydney Arcade. It proved very popular, and he eventually he opened a chain of tea shops including the Elite Dining Hall and Tea Rooms in the Queen Victoria Building . Building, would be used for meetings of other women’s organisations, such as the Kindergarten Union.

But Tart did not rest on his laurels as far as his business success was concerned. As noted earlier, it appears from all accounts that he had a strong sense of social justice from an early age and a need to give back to the community that he had been welcomed into. He was active in the campaign against the

importation of opium, According to his wife,he was seized with ‘moral passion and

purpose’ on this issue, although his fervour was also about preserving the respectability of the wealthy Chinese merchant class These factors caused tensions with the Chinese community. Sydney’s Chinese community in the 19th

century was riven by ‘factions’  and despite his representations on behalf of the Chinese community, he was ‘separated by a wide social and cultural gap’.

 

Quong Tart was brutally attacked at his tearooms at the Queen Victoria Building in

August 1902 – an intruder entered his office, pretending to be a detective and when Tart’s back was turned, beat him around the head with an iron bar. On 26 July 1903, he died from pleurisy at his family home in Ashfield. His death was undoubtedly caused by complications from the injuries from his attack. There is speculation that it was ‘revenge for his intervention in a libel case brought unfavourably against a Chinese language newspaper’.