Posted by: Bruce | March 16, 2015

Street Photography Sydney, 1945 – Desperately seeking Norma.

In the photo below is Norma who has the arm of Don (Charles) Cottrell. The year approximately 1945 or earlier.

Don (Charles) Cottrell and Norma

Recently I was contacted by Paul, Don’s son, via my post ‘Street Photography Sydney, 1945’ (photo G. McGrath).

Paul lives in the U.K. and has a photo, this one above, also taken by G. McGrath, Her Majesty’s Arcade, Sydney. He was hoping I’d be able to supply some information about the photographer which might have led to details of Norma and her family. He does not know Norma’s last name.

Paul provides some background to this photo from the little given by his Dad.

Don was a Chief leading stoker in the Royal British Navy and on shore leave. Aged approx. 18yrs, he credited Norma, and her family, with helping him to cut down on fighting and drinking. According to Paul, Norma was probably the love of his Dad’s life and would have married her, given the chance to return to Australia.

Like a couple of other readers, I have a photo from G. McGrath but that’s all. Meanwhile, a few emails with Paul later, I offered this post, offer accepted.

Paul, whose father has now passed, is still keen to contact Norma and/or her family. A great photo with a story and a slim chance to add another chapter. It might succeed if spotted by Norma or her family.

Don Cottrell and Norma

After a little research and close look at the pics, I feel safe saying the photo was taken in George St, Sydney outside Beard Watson’s, furniture manufacturers.

Word for today;    Romance – a never ending story.

More to come;    same blog time, same blog channel.



  1. Wouldn’t it be loverly. Photos (I particularly love the sepias)and books are the first thing I check out when visiting.


    • Hi Mary; yes it would. Well, you never know your luck in a big city. Glad you visited and I’ll see if I can stir something up from a book. Must be almost time for you to pop out something meaty or super fictional? Lately it seems hard to find the time, what about you?


      • I’m spending a good part of my time with my mum, Bruce. It seems that artists can work in garrets. But some writers at least need a little space. I.have made a start on a thought I had. It has to do with the government shoving pensioners out on the equivalent of an ice floe to die. Takes more thought and energy than I currently have. Nice to be able to visit friends in the meantime.


  2. It would be so wonderful to find Norma or her family!


    • Hi Bri, how are you? Yes, it would be good for Pauls’ quest of family history. Interesting too, considering his own family and mother etc. I wonder about Norma and her family as well. Do they have an identical photo tucked away somewhere? Would this be an interesting or unwelcome bit of history? If they see it, that is.
      Hope you and your family are well, how old is your little one now?

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s exactly what I was wondering, too – how would this be received by Norma and her family? Would they be as keen as Paul to know this story?

        My family and I are very well, thank you for asking! Alia is two weeks shy of 9 months! It’s really crazy. Luckily for me, she’s quite lazy and in no real hurry to be independently mobile, so I’m not yet running around after her 😉
        I returned to work 3 weeks ago, which has been quite a welcome relief, getting part of my own identity back, so it looks like it will be my mother who ends up chasing after her when she’s ready to start moving – we’ve been trying to convince mum to retire for years. All it took was one of us having a child!

        Hope things are well at your end. I’m glad to be back in wordpress land and look forward to catching up on all I’ve missed!


  3. A big ask. My dad was a Sydney street photographer during the 1940’s. I don’t even have one of his photos or know anything about his trade.


    • It is a big ask for sure, but you never know your luck in a big city.

      The story, I think, makes an interesting post for some readers and stranger things have happened, so it’s worth putting it out there.

      It’s a shame you have little or no information on your dad during that time. Perhaps he worked for himself, perhaps he was employed by a another photographer.

      I guess you’ve Googled your dad’s name hoping for something?

      Thanks for taking the time to comment John.


  4. […] in the 1940’s with photo by photographer G. McGrath. I have two such posts, here and here (desperately seeking Norma), and Ed advised that he too has an image by G. Mc Grath. A couple of messages later and […]


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