Dan Evans, the Felixman of Echo Point

The Lillas family at Echo Point with the Mountain Devil 1960;
Ron Lillas, son Timothy, Robin Lillas (sister of the donor, Colin Slade)
John and Jim Low with their parents May and Basil, Echo Point, about 1954
Unknown

 

Jan Koperberg with her mother
Unknown
Unknown

 

Unknown

 

Jim and Gladys Ryan on their honeymoon, Nov. 1950
Iris Cammack, Neil and Carol Roberts, Enid Schneider, c.1948
Image courtesy of Carol Roberts
Eileen, age 19 with her parents Elsie May &  Horace Kelly
from Peakhurst, NSW, 1952
Kindly donated by Stephen and Michael Kelly

 

Eileen Kelly, 1952
Kindly donated by Stephen and Michael Kelly
Stephen Crawshaw with his cousin, 1952
Dan Evans at Echo Point, 1950s
Dan Evans, the Felixman of Echo Point

 

Dan Evans, also called the Felixman, was a well-known local identity at Echo Point, Katoomba from the 1930s to the 1950s, with his Felix the Cat and later Mountain Devil props. Visitors, mainly families with children, would pose for a souvenir photograph which was developed on the spot. A number of these surviving photographs are in the Local Studies collection of the Blue Mountains City Library.

One early photo in the collection is a tintype, the rest were printed on photo paper and mounted in a decorated card frame. A few facts of Dave Evans’ life have emerged; he was Welsh born and lived in Darley St Katoomba, within walking distance of Echo Point. His income would have been highly seasonal and dependent on weather and holidays, never large enough to warrant a shop or staff and professional darkroom setup.

One witness says he would be at Echo Point taking pictures ‘rain, hail or shine’; so his business address was right there in the open air where his customers were – what a workplace. A little draughty perhaps, but in the absence of customers one always has the view, or the mist, or both.

The earlier photos from the 1930s show the child size Felix the Cat figure accompanying one or more children or family groups, some kids needed mother close by, as their looks of apprehension suggest. The later images from the 1950s show the large Mountain Devil figure. This may be a response to the commercial success of Felix and concern with copyright.

The majority of his surviving photographs are taken at Echo Point and they cover mainly tourist portraits; although he may possibly have also operated at the Scenic Railway and there is a group portrait of working men at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, with a Felix figure. He was quite unlike other photographers such as Harry Phillips, who took few portraits and published widely and commercially on landscape subjects.

The 1891 Welsh Census shows Dan was born the second of seven siblings about 1883 in Ferndale (Glynrhedynog), Glamorgan, Wales; his father, William, was a miner and his mother was Naomi nee Owens.  Dan emigrated to Australia about 1927 and is shown as a property owner in council’s rate records from 1937 – 1957, residing in “Cartref” (Welsh for home) Darley St, Katoomba, occupation – photographer. Records show he married Edith Anne Taylor, her second marriage, in 1932 at the Registrar General in Sydney, their residence was in Liverpool St in the inner City. Dan had been previously married in Wales to a Minnie Griffiths in about 1905. A 1933 commercial directory lists him as D. Evans, photographer of Katoomba.

In April 1932 the Blue Mountains Times newspaper reported that Mr Evans, the Felixman at Echo Point, had complained to Katoomba Council of unlicensed persons plying a somewhat similar business without paying a fee. Katoomba shopkeepers were also complaining of the many street musicians collecting from passers by – they had ‘become so common as to be quite a nuisance’. The Great Depression produced many unemployed men who tried their hand at busking for a few coins.

Dan died in Katoomba Hospital in October 1961, aged 78 years and was cremated at Rookwood Crematorium, the informant was his older brother William from Newport in Victoria. In 1962 the ‘late D Evans’ photographic license was transferred to Souvenir Snapshots of Katoomba.

Links
Ferndale – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferndale,_Rhondda_Cynon_Taf

“Katoomba Council” The Blue Mountains Times (Katoomba, NSW : 1931 – 1937) 8 April 1932: 3. Web. 11 Jan 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194856771&gt;

Thanks to the many people who have donated copies, or originals, of their family photos taken by Dan, to the Blue Mountains City Library, Local Studies Collection. Without their kindness, this page would be the poorer. 

Please contact the author if you have more information about Dan Evans The Felixman, or have any of his photos you would like to donate as originals or copies.

© 2009 Blue Mountains City Library, revised 2016.
John Merriman, Local Studies Librarian

Advertisements

One thought on “Dan Evans, the Felixman of Echo Point

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s