Terence John Andrew Callen (1912–2000) was born in Stockton, New South Wales, and spent a lot of his childhood on the waterfront and on the ferries that sailed to Newcastle and up the Hunter River. After leaving school, he worked briefly at Leeder’s Slipway and then went to Sydney where he was a photographer on the Daily guardian and later Smith’s weekly. In 1938 he joined the RAAF as a photographer and during the War was attached to the Royal Australian Navy. He subsequently worked in the Department of Defence in Melbourne. In 1956 he returned to Newcastle and was employed by the Postmaster General’s Department until his retirement in 1972. He lived in North Stockton for the rest of his life.

Callen had a lifelong interest in Australian maritime history. In the 1950s he became a regular contributor on shipping history to the magazine Shipbuilding, ship repair and services and also to The log, the journal of the Nautical Society of Australia. He was one of the founders of the Newcastle Maritime Museum and he wrote two books on Newcastle maritime history, Bar dangerous (1986) and Bar safe (1994). He also spent much of his time painting in watercolours and oils.

Callen’s brother, Patrick Clifford Callen, was an office holder in the Newcastle Shiplovers Society and acquired some of the photographs in the collection.

Shipbuilding, Ship Repair and Services

The log

Bar dangerous (1986)

Bar safe (1994)


In 1963 the Library purchased nine watercolour ship paintings by Callen from the Marine Press in Sydney. Callen first visited the Library in 1974 and assisted staff in identifying photographs in the collection relating to steamships. He presented his own collection of photographs in 1975–76. In 2004 Callen’s family donated his unpublished Dictionary of Australian steamships, 1831–1939.



The nine watercolour paintings by Callen depict steamships and sailing ships in Australian waters in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include:

The 'Lightning' afire in Corio Bay, October, 1869

Muscoota - Yarra collision, Xmas night, 1922



The Terry Callen Collection contains about 550 photographs of Australian ships. In some cases, only the negatives are held. Unlike other collections, where the focus is on sailing ships, the Terry Callen Collection is important in documenting the coastal steamships, including tugboats and other small ships. The photographs vary in size and condition, but they are all identified. The provenance or identity of the photographers is not recorded, although Callen himself took some of the photographs.


The typescript entitled Dictionary of Australian steamships 1831–1939, compiled by Callen, is in six binders. Each entry gives details of the ship’s registration number, construction, dimensions, ownership history and ultimate fate (wrecked, broken up or whatever). Most entries include a small photograph of the ship.


The photographs and paintings in the Terry Callen Collection are held in the Pictures Collection. The photographs have been dispersed, but can be found under the following subject headings: Cargo ships (161), Casualties (46), Ferries (four), Naval ships (36), Paddle steamers (15), Passenger ships (39), Sailing ships (32), Small ships (189) and Steam and sail ships (25). The paintings have been catalogued individually and have the call numbers PIC R380, R391–397 and R399.

The manuscript compiled by Callen is held in the Manuscripts Collection at MS 9821.


Stevens, T.S. and Dick, H.W., Obituary of Terry Callen, The Log, vol. 33 (3), August 2000, pp. 130–1.