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Photograph of Harry Hawker and his Sopwith aircraft at Caulfield Racecourse 1914


Photograph of Harry Hawker and his Sopwith aircraft at Caulfield Racecourse 1914

Object information


Inscription on back of photograph and attached paper identifies the young boy in the bottom right corner as James Maxwell Moss, with his aunt Hilda Maxwell (later Lyall) in a white dress and hat beside him.

Born in South Brighton, Melbourne, Harry Hawker (1889-1921) had an interest in aviation from a young age, becoming a qualified mechanic and skilful motor cyclist. In 1911, he travelled to England to pursue his dream of becoming an aviator, finding employment with the Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd in 1912 as a mechanic and gaining his pilot licence, and soon after entering flying contests and setting flight records. In 1913, Hawker became a test pilot and designer for Sopwith, producing the Sopwith Tabloid, a short-winged biplane, which was faster and more manoeuvrable than any other aircraft at the time. Hawker shipped his Tabloid to Australia and during January to April 1914 gave a series of flying exhibitions to enthusiastic crowds. His exhibition at Caulfield Racecourse on 7 February was attended by between 25,000 and 40,000 people (reports vary).

Physical description

Composite three-part black and white photograph mounted on card. It depicts a crowd looking up at Harry Hawker flying in in Sopwith Tabloid aircraft at Caulfield Racecourse in 1914. A portrait photograph of Hawker is mounted in the top left corner.

Statement of significance

The Elizabeth Kay Collection consists primarily of early Canberra tourist ephemera, dance cards and invitations for Canberra events during the 1930s, and a variety of other items dating from the 1920s and 1930s related to aviation, Boy Scouts, Commonwealth Railways and anthropological research. The material relates to Kay, her family and their interests.

Mrs Kay (nee Moss) moved to Canberra in 1926, after completing her education in Melbourne, joining her father Mr HP Moss who had been working in the position of Chief Electrical Engineer in Canberra since 1912. The objects relating to aviation, the Commonwealth Railways and anthropological research came into Mrs Kay's possession through her father, who collected Aboriginal artefacts from a number of sites in the Canberra area. A program from the 1934 Australian Scout Jamboree Sunday service was given to Kay's brother, John Maxwell Moss, who attended the event. Kay's aunt, Hilda Maxwell (later Lyall) and eldest brother, James Maxwell Moss, are pirctured among the crowd watching Harry Hawker flying over Caulfield Racecourse in 1914. The invitations and dance cards for balls held at Old Parliament House and at the Forestry Commission during 1933, 1934 and 1936, relate directly to Mrs Kay and her husband, Cecil Kay, dating from before their marriage with 'Miss Elizabeth Moss' favoured for numerous dances on Mr Kay's dance cards. The Canberra tourist ephemera belonged to Cecil Kay and were likely purchased in 1932. The open letter written to Prince Edward of Wales on his Royal Tour in 1920 expressing the importance of patriotism towards the British Empire was given to Mrs Kay at her primary school in Melbourne.

Object information

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