Image Maize silo stack, Hilltop, Tilba Tilba, c1895

TLF ID R3951

This is a black-and-white photograph of a partially constructed maize silo stack in an open field. It shows five workers - four on top of the stack and one on the ground. Several horses are being used in the construction of the stack, which is at least two storeys high. The silo has an open rectangular wooden frame that is supported by diagonal braces. Lightly forested slopes can be seen in the background. The photograph was taken by William Henry Corkhill.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows the method of construction of a maize silo at the time - a silo is a tower-like structure used to protect and preserve grain and green fodder; this silo is of a completely open construction, which would have made it vulnerable to weather-related problems such as mould, and attacks by animal pests such as mice; such constructions are relatively unusual today.
  • It demonstrates human ingenuity in devising a way to preserve a perishable resource - maize silage, which is sweet-smelling, moist and palatable to livestock, is produced by the action of naturally occurring acids when maize is stored in the absence of air; in this large stack, the central part would be away from the air.
  • It shows that agriculture in this period was very labour-intensive - five workers and horses are involved in the construction of the silo.
  • It records an aspect of rural life that has disappeared because of mechanisation - the horse is linked to a pulley system that enables the harvested maize to be raised to the top of the stack; horses were still important in agriculture at this time and, although tractors were coming into use, much of the First World War surge in cultivation was achieved using horse teams.
  • It reveals, through the unusually specific caption, that the man in the white shirt on top of the stack is Clem Bate and that the location is the back paddock of the Hilltop property near Tilba Tilba - Clem Bate served as an officer in the Tilba Rifle Brigade and was a member of the most influential family in the district.
  • It is one of a series of photographs recording life in and around the township of Tilba Tilba, New South Wales, by William Henry Corkhill (1846-1936) - Corkhill was an accountant, cheese maker and farm manager who, at the age of 44, decided to become a photographer; the collection spans 20 years and provides a glimpse of the development of a rural community; although Corkhill took thousands of pictures of family, friends and neighbours, his collection of glass plate negatives was reduced over the decades to about 1,000 in number and only 840 of these retained printable images.
  • It is an example of a print from a glass negative - although photographic film had been available since the late 19th century and was much easier to use than the dry-plate method of capturing images, the prints were not as clear as those made from glass plates; this explains the remarkable clarity and detail visible in so many of the glass plate images left by early photographers; the National Library of Australia uses film copies of old glass plate negatives to make prints and the precious originals are in secure storage with humidity and temperature control.
Year level


Learning area
  • History

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: William Henry Corkhill
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: William Henry Corkhill
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements