top of page

H H Tilbrook

Northern Argus founder Henry Hammond Tilbrook.

H H Tilbrook, Clare
Grey River Argus - Greymouth NZ

Henry Tilbrook was either

Wherever he was from, Henry Hammond Tilbrook was 6 when he arrived in South Australia with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Tilbrook, and siblings,

who were residing at Llandudno at the time of his birth, but returned to their home in Cambridgeshire later.


  • Henry arrived in South Australia in 1854 on the Albemarle (named for Nelson's Ship).

  • Henry Tilbrook was a chorister in his youth at Christ Church.

  • and was educated at Mr J. M. Young's and Mr. Elliott's schools in Adelaide.

  • At the age of 13 Henry worked for a time as a compositor (printers' devil) at the Register office in Adelaide,

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900)
The Register, originally the SA Gazette and Colonial Register, and later SA Register, was South Australia's first newspaper.


Then Henry worked for a year at the Arkaba Station  where his brother-in-law to be, Alfred Clode, was manager, (Arkaba Station Homestead was built in 1856 by Doctor William James Browne and Doctor John Harris Browne) in the Far North.

  • Then, on the Paratoo run he was employed as a lamb minder and

  • shared a one-roomed hut with three other men
    (Paratoo was part of the successful partnership of Peter Waite and Sir Thomas Elder, before it had big dams, and small paddocks)

    • ‘It had a doorway, but no door,

    • and a window opening, but no window.’

    • There was only one bunk so three of them had to curl up on the earth floor at night.

    • ‘Kangaroo rats ran over our prostrate forms, and perched upon us'

  • and they were "eventually" driven out by drought, when he was aged around 17 or 18 years.

He then went adventuring to New Zealand seeking gold, but having no luck on the goldfields,

  • he spent "three years as manager", working in the newspaper office for the Grey River Argus at Greymouth, on the South Island of N.Z.
    (The Argus supported the Labour Movement. For many years the legend, “New Zealand’s pioneer Labor daily” appeared on the masthead.)

Amateur Photographer

Mr. Henry Tilbrook took a great interest in scientific matters, astronomy, and

photography, and

  • as a chess player won the championship of the Clare club on one occasion.

  • He also made a large astronomical telescope for observation of the heavens, now in the hands of Justin Tilbrook who lives at Penwortham.

  • His collection of photos of all parts of the State taken by himself was very large and interesting.


As newspapers introduced new technologies in their rush for ever higher circulation, Henry became a serious photographer.

Below:  Henry Tilbrook made a combined hammerless gun and rifle with remote control corded device, with which he could trip the shutter on his tripod-mounted camera.

He often mentions this device in his writings and he is seen here using his fingers to wind up the reel of thread which was connected to his camera so that he could be included in the photographs.

Amateur Photographer
Trig station with a man (H.H. Tilbrook)

Left and above: Henry Tilbrook in three of his photographs

1. Corset Rock near Cape Banks, with H.H. Tilbrook seated on top, 1898

2.Henry Tilbrook with his invented remote control gun and reel

3.Trigonometrical station with a man (H.H. Tilbrook) standing beside it


Henry Tilbrook embarked on many photographic expeditions around South Australia.

  • He experimented with various photographic apparatuses in order to capture a variety of scenic views and portraits.

  • In 2001, his work was featured at the Art Gallery of South Australia, in the exhibition
    ‘The Photography of H.H. Tilbrook:
    South Australia at the Turn of the Century’.
    for which an exhibition catalogue was produced (illustrated below).

The Northern Argus

Henry Tilbrook was still a young man when he returned to South Australia and in 1869, aged 21. ("Later in Life", according to Wikipedia) He was only 21 years old at the time, but had had much experience to guide him.[2]

  • The Northern Argus was founded on February 19, 1869, by Henry Hammond Tilbrook and his brother-in-law, Alfred Clode.
    (See Family)

  • with the first edition rolling off the press on February 16, 1869.


Alfred Tilbrook, brother of Henry, joined the paper as a partner in July, 1870,

  • and either a month later

  • or after two years, Alfred Clode, his brother-in-law,

  • went to Japan; where he reportedly worked as an interpreter for the Emperor, and where he started an English paper, and later migrated to America.


​Left: Northern Argus offices at Clare SA.

At that time local JP, Mr William Kelly, joined the paper as associate editor, a position he held for 10 years.

Mr Kelly was also prominent in local government and held the position of Mayor 14 times.

In the early days the publishing of a newspaper

  • gave a town incredible status and

  • meant that it had “arrived.” 

  • It also meant generally the community was confident and growing,

  • with a vibrant future.

The Northern Argus
"Photography of H.H. Tilbrook:
South Australia at the turn of the century"

2001-07-20 until 2001-11-04
Art Gallery of South Australia
Adelaide, SA, AU


The exhibition included

  • not only his photographs, but also

  • his stereographs, photo albums

  • and his camera and of course,

  • the fascinating diaries that he rewrote in his old age, transcribing a copy for each of his children.

In these memoirs he recounted highlights of his life, as well as detailed accounts of photographs taken on his travels.

  • Thus dates, places and the stories behind many of the photographs are known,

  • providing invaluable information

  • and allowing viewers to empathise with the ordeals endured to reach and record these remote and breathtaking locations.

The Tilbrook photographs, stereographs and albums were borrowed from the extensive collection of Mr R.J. Noye. There was a comprehensive website that Mr Noye had established.

Northern Argus office, Clare.jpg
First edition of the Northern Argus.jpg

Above: The First edition of the Northern Argus

News Press Room -- Above and illustrated Below:

Gutenberg's innovations in movable type printing have been called the most important invention of the second millennium.

  • Movable type page setting and printing using a press was faster and more durable.

  • Also, the metal type pieces were sturdier and the lettering more uniform, leading to typography and fonts.

  • The high quality and relatively low price of printing established the superiority of movable type for Western languages.

  • The printing press rapidly spread across Europe, leading to the Renaissance, and the Reformation, and later spread all around the world.

The rotary printing press was invented by Richard March Hoe in 1843.

  • It uses impressions curved around a cylinder to print on long continuous rolls of paper or other substrates.

  • Rotary drum printing was later significantly improved by William Bullock.

  • There are multiple types of rotary printing press technologies that are still used today:

  • sheet-fed offset (below), rotogravure, and flexographic printing. - Wikipedia


Ottmar Mergenthaler’s introduction of the Linotype machine in 1886—first in the United States, then in Britain and other industrialized countries—allowed existing newspapers to increase substantially their production and circulation, with such increased mechanisation growing huge newspaper companies.

  • This development may have suggested to Henry that he get out of publishing earlier, rather than later.


Above: The old printing room of the Northern Argus in Clare - it looked quite a bit different to the presses of today.

Henry’s first editorial was beautifully crafted, a sheer delight to read. In part it said:

"We come forward with no flourish of trumpets, we put forth no high-sounding policy:

our aim will be to 'be just and fear not,' and our convictions we shall maintain with independence of spirit and outspoken candour,"

-- H. H. Tilbrook, Northern Argus, first edition, 1869 [3]


Tilbrook's main contribution was the founding of his newspaper, the Northern Argus.

It obviously was rewarding enough that he could retire after only 20 years of newspaper publishing.

Early Retirement
Early Retirement

The business remained as such for nineteen years until 1889, when Mr Henry retired, aged only 41, giving his share to his son Mr. R.H. Tilbrook.

  • The Tilbrook family also published two other papers – the Port Broughton Echo (1887-1888) and the Blyth Agriculturist (1908-1969).

  • When Henry retired to East Adelaide in 1889, he became the official photographer to the SA Government and South Australian Railways.

  • In 1913 Mr. Alfred died, and the surviving proprietor, Mr. R.H. Tilbrook, then took over all responsibilities.

    • The two brothers Tilbrook (Henry and Alfred) married two sisters (Marianne and Ada Clode) and they lived side by side in homes in William Street West Clare.

  • Four Tilbrooks were editors of The Northern Argus – Reg, Eric, Denis and Ian.

The Northern Argus stayed in the Tilbrook family until 1996 when Tudor Tilbrook sold the paper to Fairfax Media in January, 1996 to be run by Rural Press.

It continued to provide daily news for the people of Clare and the surrounding region until the pandemic crisis of 2020.


As of 2015, its historic archives are kept by the Clare History Group.[3]

After Henry left the paper, his son, Reginald, took over the reins.

Reginald's son, Eric, then served until about 1955. Eric’s two sons, Denis and Ian, were also prominent newspapermen.

An extended list of the publishing Tilbrooks appears at the end of this page.

Tilbrooks of the Northern Argus..jpg

Below: Henry Tilbrook's Panorama of Elder Range, 1894

Tilbrook_Panorama Elder Range.jpg
 ‘A canyon, Blyth Plains.’ One half of Henry Tilbrook’s stereo pair. Soil erosion near Kybunga, c.1900.

Above: Another view of the Old Burra Smelting Works c.1900.

Below: ‘A canyon, Blyth Plains.’ One half of Henry Tilbrook’s stereo pair. Soil erosion near Kybunga, c.1900.

Photography of H H Tilbrook.jpg

Henry was interested in photography and became famous for his inventive amateur work

  • His most well known photograph was one which he took of himself sitting on what is now known as Corset Rock in the south-east of SA.

  • He took many photos which included himself. 

  • Later his work was displayed in SA railway carriages.

Henry became a keen and careful amateur photographer, and his interest has been described by Solomon Williams (q.v.), the local tinsmith and ironmonger:

I early made the acquaintance of Mr Tilbrook, and have numbered him amongst my friends since that time.

I found him a congenial companion, and in several directions his tastes were similar to my own.

He was fond of mechanics and of scientific study and invention.

He preceded me as an amateur photographer, and it was on account of his success that I was induced to take up the art.

This was the period when the ‘dry plate’ system had recently been introduced, which made it much easier for amateurs than the old ‘wet plate’ system was.


The printing paper then used was the albumenised paper and we had to sensitise this by floating it on a bath of nitrate of silver solution and then fuming with liquid ammonia.

For years we worked together, comparing work and notes.

At one period we concentrated on stereoscopic pictures,

and many drives have we had around the district securing tit-bits of scenery, of which there is such a variety in the locality.

Then again, we were both fond of astronomy, and here again Mr Tilbrook preceded me in construction of an astronomical telescope, and later assisted me in similar work.

A stormy camp, Lake Frome', 1900 with H.
Weathered rock formation.jpeg

Above: A stormy camp, Lake Frome', 1900 with H.H. Tilbrook


In September 1889 Henry Tilbrook and his friend Fred Lester, the local AMP agent, went on a hunting trip to the Far North.

At the time Tilbrook was 41 years of age and Lester 26 years.

Tilbrook did not take his camera, as the sole purpose of their trip was to obtain euro skins for rugmaking,

but in his reminiscences he said ‘I regretted the absence of my camera’.


‘This time, although I took my combined hammerless gun and rifle with me, I decided as my main objective to obtain photographic records of the scenes of our explorations.

I packed my 8 × 5 camera, with Ross lenses of three kinds

– Rapid Symmetrical, a short-focus symmetrical,

and a pair of stereoscopic lenses – with an old brand of plates which, unfortunately, did not give the best of pictures.

They were not orthographic either, and the “distances” in my negatives on this trip were not as distinct as I afterwards succeeded in obtaining with isochromatic plates and Burchett and Ilford color screens.’

View from the Flinders Ranges.jpeg

They travelled to Carrieton by train, then on to the Flinders Ranges with a pair of horses drawing a four-wheeled wagonette laden with chaff, provisions, camera equipment and ammunition.

Tilbrook took photographs along the way, sometimes climbing to the top of a range with his camera to obtain a view, handicapped by a severe bout of influenza.


In his notes Henry Tilbrook wrote:

It was hard work climbing the ranges to obtain photos, but I persevered.

At night I had to change plates, with my head in a ruby-colored bag and a candle outside.

Marianne had made me this bag of turkey twill, doubled.

It had a little ruby glass window through which came the dull candle-light.

This red bag was really a small tent which I placed inside the 8 × 6 calico tent, over the shortened camera stand.

With my arms, head and shoulders inside this,

and the lower end tied tightly around my waist with strings to keep out all white light,

and the candle outside the little ruby glass window,

I changed the plates every night.

It was a tiresome job, as I was on my knees all the time, and the perspiration rolled off me.

In a portrait studio there is only one developer – namely four grains of pyrogallic acid to each ounce of ‘A’.

But out-door view photography is vastly more complicated and difficult.

Four grains of pyro with a landscape view [and] nearly all green grass and green foliage would be useless.

While, on the other hand, eight grains of pyro on a portrait negative would render it so harsh and ‘hard’ that the resulting picture would be pure ‘soot and whitewash’.

Gallery of Rural Photographs

Note: Both the SA State Library and the SA Art Gallery hold portfolios of the photography of H H Tilbrook.

Cape Northumberland, looking north-west,
Gallery of Rural Photographs
View overlooking the Glenelg River, with

He retired in 1891 and moved to St Peters St.East Adelaide where he maintained his interest in photography, and in September 1894 made another trip to the Flinders Ranges with Lester.

In 1905 at age 57, Tilbrook went on his last trip, which took him again to Mt. Gambier and also into Victoria.

By this stage in his life he was starting to suffer quite serious health problems, which never hindered his desire to travel and continue photography.

He writes in his diary that while trudging through a boggy track carrying his nearly twenty kilograms of equipment, he suddenly recalled the warning from his doctor to not "take violent exercise, or even go up steps, or carry heavy weights, or go up hills."[6]


Left: View overlooking the Glenelg River, with the tent and two men in a dinghy in the middle distance

On this last trip, he visited several cave formations near Mumbannar, Victoria. Whilst in these dark limestone caves he used a very early form of flash photography, burning magnesium ribbon during long exposures of up to forty minutes, which created a detailed view of the interior of the dark caves.


Left: Limestone Ridge caves, Mumbannar, Victoria 1905

Other photographic excursions that Tilbrook mentions in his writings include:

1898 – to Mount Gambier and district
1899 – to the top of Mount Bryan, north of Burra
1900 – back to the South East
1905 – Mount Gambier and Portland Victoria


In 1901 he supplied a large number of photographic views of scenery in the South-East to the Railways Department which were to be placed in railway carriages.

In 2001 the Art Gallery of South Australia held an exhibition, The photography of H.H. Tilbrook: South Australia at the turn of the century, which was curated by Alisa Bunbury.

The Valley Lake, Mount Gambier.jpeg

Henry Hammond Tilbrook was married on New Year's Day, 1870, at Christ Church, North Adelaide, to Miss Marianne Clode, daughter of the late Richard and Charlotte Clode, who had come from Windsor (England) five years before to settle in North Adelaide.[4] Marianne Clode was the daughter of Richard and Charlotte Clode from Windsor in England.[2]

  • Henry Hammond Tilbrook died on 9 September 1937 at St Peters St. East Adelaide.[2]

  • The remains were brought to Clare on Saturday 18 Sept 1937 and interred in the Clare cemetery. The Rev. H. J. C. Hughes (Anglican), of Unley, conducted the burial service.

Henry Tilbrook had a brother who lived in Molong in New South Wales between 1911 and 1932.

  • His wife Marianne died 32 years prior.
    Surviving children are: —

  • Mr. R. H. Tilbrook, of Clare, who held the mayoralty in 1907-8-9. and had six sons and two daughters. including Alan Tilbrook. (see below)

  • and Mrs. S. S. Lloyd, of Spring Farm, Clare.


His brother Alfred was survived by a large family:

  • Mrs.. J.Stockdale (Laura),

  • Mrs. C. A. Harder (Melbourne),

  • Mrs. S. Moody (Maitland),

  • Mr. L. N. Tilbrook (Kapunda),

  • Mr. A. G. Tilbrook (Sydney),

  • Miss Eva Tilbrook (Clare),

  • and Miss M. F. Tilbrook (Clare),
    and a large number of grand-children.


Henry had 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

  • The late Mr. Alan H. Tilbrook, who died at Clare on December 21, 1932, was the fourth son of Mr. and Mrs.R. H. Tilbrook, and had attained the age of 33 years, being born at Clare. He later took up a garden property near Clare, also acting as agent for Messrs Coles' Bros.

  • He was a councillor for Armagh Ward in the Clare District Council for some years and was a councillor at the time of his demise.

Extended Family
  1. Tilbrook, Alfred. Brother of HH Tilbrook and partner with him at the Northern Argus from 1871 until his retirement in 1913. Founded the Blyth Agriculturist in 1908.

  2. Tilbrook, Denis Temple (1928-). Editor of the Northern Argus from 1965 to 1987. Son of Eric Tilbrook. brother of Ian Tilbrook.

  3. Tilbrook, Eric Hammond (1895-). Journalist at the Northern Argus from 1921, then editor. Son of Reg Tilbrook. (Areas Express, 19 February 1926, p. 2.) EH Tilbrook, authored “The First 127 Years of Clare and District”, an unpublished manuscript, seen by researcher Milburn, Clare 1840-1900.

  4. Tilbrook, George (died 1882). Printer. Working at Hokitika, New Zealand 1870. Printer of the City and Country for Ebenezer Ward. (City and Country, 25 August 1882, p. 2.)

  5. Tilbrook, Godfrey Vincent (1901- ?). Editor of the Blyth Agriculturist from 1965 to 1969. Son of Reg Tilbrook.

  6. Tilbrook, Henry Hammond (1848-1937). Newspaper proprietor and editor, amateur photographer. At age 13 began work for the Register as a compositor, before working in the north of the state on a station. Moved to New Zealand and managed a newspaper at Greymouth for three years. Returned to South Australia and founded the Northern Argus at Clare in 1869 in partnership with Alfred Clode. Retired in 1889. (PRG 180; Northern Argus, 17 September 1937, p. 7.)

  7. Tilbrook, Ian Temple (1926-). Editor of Northern Argus for seven years. Son of Eric Tilbrook.

  8. Tilbrook, Kym Lander. Journalist. Began working as a cadet journalist at the Advertiser in 1969 and retired in 2006. Positions included day editor, chief-of-staff, features editor, associate editor - features and news, chief political reporter and group manager (editorial) for the Advertiser and Sunday Mail. Son of Denis Tilbrook.
    Author of SA Through our eyes: the history of the Country Press Association of SA and SA country newspapers, 2012.

  9. Tilbrook, Leslie Noke (1879-1953). After apprenticeship on the Northern Argus, in 1911 took over the printing of Kapunda Herald. Became manager and editor in 1917 and bought the business in 1923, which he sold in 1951. Son of Alfred Tilbrook. (Barossa and Light Herald, 8 January 1953, p. 1.)

  10. Tilbrook, Maurice Henry. Son of Reg Tilbrook.

  11. Tilbrook, Reginald Henry (1895-). Son of Henry Tilbrook.

- From SA Memory

Extended Family
Tilbrooks of the Northern Argus..jpg

Read more:

‘Lives of small men all remind us,

We can write our Lives ourselves,

And, departing, leave behind us

Some fat volumes on the shelves.'

Per Longfellow

In the lives of most men there’s a tale to unfold

Which it is selfish to keep to themselves.

They should take up the pen, ere getting too old,

And some fat volumes leave for our shelves’ H.H.T.

Diaries of H H Tilbrook - At the SA State Library

Transcribed by H. Davies, volunteer at the State Library of South Australia, 2017

  1. Transcript of PRG 180/1-2 Reminiscences
    The Australian Bush. Its fascinations.

  2. Transcript of PRG 180/1/3-5 Camping out expeditions 
    Camping out expeditions Henry Hammond Tilbrook

  3. Transcript of PRG 180/1/6-7 Memoranda
    Memoranda or Notes of Incidents. By Henry Hammond Tilbrook

Diaries of H H Tilbrook
Page 1 Reminiscences HH Tilbrook.jpg

Right: 'Spoils of the Ocean' by photographer H H Tilbrook
Wales, Australia, 1848-1937

1898, Pelican Point, South Australia
gelatin-silver photograph (from a stereograph)
20.4 cm x 15.8 cm


Copyright From the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
R J Noye Collection. Gift of Douglas and Barbara Mullins 2004

Creator: H H Tilbrook, photographer, 1898

From: Dept of Technical Education NSW

Spoils of the Ocean 1898 Pelican Point.j
bottom of page