Thomas Morgan Williams

June 2017 | Written by Lucia Pichler, Executive Officer, Eastern Goldfields Historical Society from research by EGHS Life Member Tess Thomson

Tom Williams was a Boulder boy, born in 1905.  He commenced business as a photographer in 1924 when he was 19 years old, and by 1929 the recorded location of his photographic business was 280 Hannan Street in Kalgoorlie.

He had a mixed photographic enterprise, taking “candid” photographs, developing film for customers and selling cameras.  During the Second World War he served for four years in the RAAF.  As part of his service he was reputed to have been engaged in aerial photography over war zones.

After the war, Williams’ business premises were located at 87 Hannan Street, on the eastern corner of the City Buildings Arcade.  Apparently, there were special water tanks mounted on the roof and plumbed to the photographic dark room.  The water needed ice cubes in it to keep the chemical solutions from getting too hot.

He ceased working as a photographer in 1961, and his premises were taken over by “Hedley Candids” around 1963.

Thomas Williams died on 5 November 1968 and must have been well liked, judging by the amount and content of notices in the Kalgoorlie Miner in the days after his death.  One of the death notices reveals that he also taught at the Eastern Goldfields Technical School: “A tribute to an esteemed staff member”.  There were many condolences calling him “a true friend”, “a wonderful neighbour” and “a fine gentleman”.

The Eastern Goldfields Historical Society received the Tom Williams Collection of negatives after the death of his wife Mrs Mavis Williams in 1989.  The digitising of his negatives has commenced as part of the broader Digitisation Project at the Historical Society.  In total, the Society holds approximately 5,000 of Tom Williams’ negatives.  None of this collection has ever been viewed or reproduced since their original creation.  The photographs make up a unique and invaluable record of Kalgoorlie- Boulder people and events, from the mid-1920s until the 1960s.  Because of this, the collection is not only of local significance but also of State significance.

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