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Family history re-enacted at Chowey Bridge

Chowey Bridge photo
Emmeline Powell holding the hands of the Powell kids – Grace, Les, Reg, Walter and Charles. Emmeline's sisters are in the background. Charles Henry Powell was the photographer.

Stepping back in time the Powell family have re-enacted a photo taken at the Chowey Bridge more than 100 years ago.

On Saturday four generations of Powell family members reunited to stand together in front of the Chowey Bridge just as their ancestors had 110 years earlier.

Biggenden is home to the Chowey Bridge, which is one of only two of its kind in Australia.

This concrete railway bridge was built in 1905 and is a popular picnic hot spot.

Ron and Don Powell said the original photo was taken by their grandfather, Charles Henry Powell, who was a Mining Engineer and Manager of the Biggenden and Kilkivan Mines. He was also a keen photographer.

“We found that we couldn’t stand exactly where they were back then, but we were pretty close to it,” Don said.

“There were four generations of Powell descendents in the photo.

“We only found the original photo about six months ago and thought it could be nice to see if we could re-enact it.”

Nice to dig up family history in Chowey Bridge photo

Ron said it was only recently that he had started to looking at his family history in conjunction with a book written by family members tracing the families from first landing in Australia in 1823 to their great grandfather Charles Robert Powell, who was Mayor of Maryborough in 1871.

“It was nice to have the knowledge of where the Powell family had lived and worked, with particular interest in our grandmother and grandfather who were born and schooled in Maryborough” he said.

“Photography has been inherited by the family” Ron said.

“My grandfather was considered to be a photographic pioneer back in the day.

“Our grandfather was given a special permit to photograph the United States Naval Squadron of two cruisers and five destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral J.H.Newton when they visited Brisbane on 28 March 1941.

“Photos Charles Henry took of two of these ships that were extensively damaged in the attack of Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 were considered to be the last photos taken of the ships.

Chowey Bridge photo
Four generations of Powell family reunited to re-enact a photo in front of the Chowey Bridge just as ancestors had 110 years earlier.

In 1943 Kodak employed Charles to use his knowledge to help the in the Second World War effort.

At this time much of the mail to the Pacific Task Force came in the form of film to save weight.

Kodak engaged Charles to process the film and convert it back to letter form.

“I guess photography has followed on through the family from there.

“I have always loved photography and my daughter has photographed weddings”.

Don had a second career filming documentaries for various companies and Channel 10.

Other members of the family are also keen photographers.

“Taking the photo in front of the Chowey Bridge turned into a bit of a family reunion and something we enjoyed doing together.”

Ron believed the original photo was taken in 1910, 5 years after the bridge was built.

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