Monday, September 15, 2014

Cliveden Mansions, Spring Hill

The history of this humble boarding house in Spring Hill concerns two widows - one who built the house as her residence, and one who, out of necessity, converted the property into a boarding house. This is a current photograph.

(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic) 

The building is now called Cliveden Mansions and it is included on the Queensland Heritage Register. The original house erected here was named Chippendale and it was built circa 1889 for Mrs Selina Forth who moved in in 1890. Prior to that Mrs Forth was resident at Stanley Hall, Clayfield; a magnificent house previously seen in these pages. Unfortunately both Mrs Forth's 20 year-old daughter Clara, and her husband John Forth, a prominent produce agent in Brisbane, died within the family's first couple of years at Stanley Hall, prompting Mrs Forth's move into Spring Hill.

Mrs Forth passed away in 1911 and in 1913 the property was sold to Mrs Pauline Eschenhagen, a well-known restaurateur and caterer. The Eschenhagen family owned Chippendale until 1949, although they changed the name of the property to Cliveden Mansions in 1941. The following photograph shows the house around that time.
(Photographic collection, Queensland State Archives)

Pauline Eschenhagen was the widow of Karl Ernst Eschenhagen (known as Ernst), a baker originally from Crossen/Oder, Germany, who established one of Brisbane's best hospitality businesses in the late 19th century. It is said that Eschenhagen begged Morrow"s Biscuit Factory for a bag of sugar and a bag of flour to start his George St bakery that subsequently spawned branches in Edward St and Fortitude Valley and then a Queen St restaurant that could seat almost 500 diners. Ernst Eschenhagen was a celebrated baker, restaurateur and caterer who could boast that some of Brisbane's elite citizens, including successive governors of Queensland, were his customers. Here is a picture of his staff at a picnic in 1898.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #183931)

Things turned nasty for the Eschenhagens though. As a result of Australia's involvement in the Boer War anti-German sentiment run rampant, leading to a boycott of the Eschenhagen business. Judge William Shand wrote "before the war no more a popular and prosperous caterer was to be found in Brisbane... But his shop is a desert and picnics and jaunterings know him no more."

The business slowly recovered after the Boer War, but Ernst Eschenhagen took his own life in 1906. His sister-in-law, Pauline's younger sister Berthe, put that down to "too much debt, from too much wine and women", but who knows what part was played by the hatred endured during the war years.

Pauline Eschenhagen continued to run the business with the help of her son Karl (Charles). But the prospect of a second round of racial bigotry during WWI was too much - she sold the business in 1915 and used the proceeds to hire the original architect of Chippendale, GHM Addison, to design a large extension that allowed the property to be leased out as a boarding house.

Cliveden Mansions continues in use as a boarding house today.

Reference: "The Eschenhagens: Saga of a Celebrated Family", HJ Summers
                  "Berthe's Story: Tales of a Grandmother", Doreen Wendt-Weir via

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Metropolitan Motor Inn, Spring Hill

(Photographic collection, Queensland State Archives)

(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

I prefer the earlier look - what do you think?

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Main Roads Department Building, Spring Hill

It's more than a little confronting when a building that you recall being constructed turns up on the Heritage Register. I suppose that it's a result of Australia's relative youth that buildings younger than I am are recognised and protected in this way. I am reminded of the comment of a visiting Middle Eastern archeologist being shown the heritage listed City Hall. He asked when it was built. When told that it was erected in 1930 he remarked "My mother is older than that!" Everything is relative to your own perspective.

I had similar feelings when I discovered that the Main Roads Department Building in Spring Hill had been added to the state's heritage pages. I remember the construction of the building in the sixties and its opening in 1967. In fact a classmate who was a whiz at technical drawing got a job there as a draftsman.

Here is the earliest photograph of the building that I could find. Taken by well-known heritage photographer Richard Stringer in 1968, the image counterpoints the Modernist Main Roads building with the Spring Hill workers' cottages that surrounded it then. 
(Photo: © Richard Stringer; 1968)

The building was designed by Dr Karl Langer, an Austrian-born immigrant who became one of Brisbane's foremost architects and it was built by the prominent Brisbane firm of CP Hornick & Son Pty Ltd - a firm that also constructed the Brisbane Taxation Office, the Centenary Pool and the JD Story Building at the University of Queensland. Here is their photograph of the completed Main Roads Building.

Karl Langer was born in Vienna in 1903 and his early training occurred there. He was admitted to the Vienna School of Fine Arts in 1923 and graduated in 1928. After years of further part-time study he became a civil architect in 1931 and a Doctor of Art History in 1933. He began a small practice in 1934 and his work was well received; however, the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism were detrimental to further success. Langer had married in 1932 to Gertrude, a fellow art student who was Jewish. They foresaw the terrible times ahead and slipped out of Austria, escaping to Australia via Greece. They landed in Sydney in 1939. Finding work scarce in Sydney, Karl and Gertrude moved to Brisbane where they settled. Their European sophistication and their knowledge of architecture and art soon had them placed at the centre of Brisbane's nascent art scene. In fact Gertrude became the art critic for the Courier-Mail and Karl lectured in architecture st the University of Queensland. The true scope of Langer's work and his cultural influence is greater than space here allows, but suffice to say that he designed some of the state's most important buildings - Lennon's Hotel Broadbeach on the first canal development on the Gold Coast; Lennon's Hotel Toowoomba; Kingaroy Town Hall and Civic Square; Ipswich Girls' Grammar School Assembly Hall; and many more. He was also involved in the selection of the site for the Sydney Opera House. After his death in 1969 both the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology inaugurated prizes commemorating him and his work.   
(Photo: © GF De Gruchy; 1988)

The construction of the Main Roads building allowed the department's work force to be aggregated at the one site rather than being scattered. More than 1250 employees from eight different offices were moved there after the building was completed. At the time it was considered to be a state-of-the-art workplace with modern appointments and the latest business equipment - even including a computer.

What is its current fate? The restructured Department of Transport and Main Roads vacated the building in 2012 and it was sold in December 2013 for $22 million to a developer who plans to turn it into a luxury hotel/apartment complex, apparently to cost a further $155 million or so. 

This is how it looks today.

(Photos: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Winchcombe Place, Teneriffe

Thanks to the many people who took the time to send condolences following the death of my mother. I appreciate the messages of support immensely. It has been a really stressful time for the whole family - my wife lost her father to cancer in February; then Mum was diagnosed with cancer in April and passed away in July; to top it off, this month mrs tff and I have moved out of our abode for a couple of months to allow for some renovations to occur.

Now back to blogging!

Just as an appetiser to get us rolling again, here is an aerial photo taken above Teneriffe in March 1993. The Story Bridge and some of the taller CBD buildings are clearly visible in the background.

But it's the foreground that I am more interested in. 
(Photo: BCC-T120-1848.13)

The long building with the white roof is what used to be the Queensland Primary Producers Woolstore No 8, and it is situated on the corner of Macquarie St and Florence St. It is now known as Teneriffe Village, an apartment complex that on its ground floor houses a convenience store, a bottle shop, a bar, four restaurants, a hairdressing salon and a couple more small businesses. You can find an earlier piece on this building here.

Across Macquarie St towards the Brisbane River (bottom, out of picture) is the site of the former Teneriffe Wharves, the area having been cleared to allow for the urban renewal of the area so wonderfully articulated by then Lord Mayor Jim Soorley and Trevor Reddacliff. The vacant site in the lower left is now 135 Macquarie, an apartment complex, and to the right of that now stands Winchcombe Place, another apartment building. 

The middle right of the picture shows another vacant site - it is now 10 Vernon Terrace and contains the extremely popular Italian bistro Beccofino.

This area has been thoroughly transformed in twenty years. The landscape has been softened by the planting of trees; City Council buses "buzz" along here every 10 minutes; another Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman, introduced the CityCycle program that has dotted bike stations along the length of Macquarie St and Vernon Terrace; alongside the Brisbane River (out of shot at bottom of photo) is a heavily-used walkway connecting the Teneriffe ferry terminal to New Farm Park and shortly will continue right through to Toowong again. Regrettably Macquarie St, Vernon Terrace and Skyring St now are connected to Breakfast Creek Rd and the through-traffic has increased dramatically in an area that should be more pedestrian friendly.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Suspension of blog (2)

My mother passed away last week after a courageous battle against cancer.

Her funeral is being held today.

I am temporarily halting the blog again while my family grieves.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Kinkabool, Surfers Paradise

Just as Brisbane's skyline has changed over the last few decades, so has that of Queensland's second-most populous city, Gold Coast. In Surfers Paradise particularly, high-rise towers have sprouted like beanstalks to cast their long shadows across the famous beach in the late afternoon.

It was a Melbourne-based Jewish refugee from Europe who was in the vanguard of the change from the fibro beach shack village to a multi-storey metropolis. Stanley Korman arrived in Australia in 1927, an ambitious 23 year-old who rose from early employment as a cleaner to be one of Australia's leading entrepreneurs. After making a fortune in clothing manufacture his company acquired brands such as Rockmans, Roger David and Holeproof.

Not satisfied with this success, Korman moved into property development. Visits to Miami in the USA provided a blueprint for canal development leading to the creation of Chevron Island and Paradise Island on the Gold Coast.

Korman developed the first high-rise apartment block in Surfers Paradise in 1959-60 after having completed the Chevron Hotel and Lennon's Hotel (both now demolished) in the area. Kinkabool is a ten-storey building that stands right in the middle of Surfers Paradise and is now listed on the state's heritage register. Here is a photograph of the Surfers Paradise skyline shortly after the completion of Kinkabool. Its 34 units ranged in price from £3,000 to £5,000.
(Photo: Gold Coast City Council)
Korman's belief that tourism would be driven by such high-rise residential accommodation was proven correct. Soon other towers like Iluka joined Kinkabool to attract holiday makers to the Gold Coast. Here is an aerial view taken in the early 1970s when new unit blocks were emerging. Kinkabool is the white building right of centre; and the first of the absolute beachfront unit blocks, Iluka, is on the left of picture. Nothing remains constant in property development terms - Iluka has now been demolished, soon to be replaced by something bigger and shinier.

 (Photo: Gold Coast City Council)

Here is a current picture of Kinkabool.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

And compare the current Surfers Paradise landscape with the earlier photographs. Kinkabool (bottom, centre) is surrounded by massive structures that now dominate the skyline.
(Photo: GCCC; photographer Anthony Rees Halfnine)

But what of Stanley Korman, the original high-rise entrepreneur of Surfers Paradise? The credit squeeze of the early 1960s saw investors in his company lose tens of millions, resulting in charges against Korman for issuing a false prospectus. He was jailed for four and a half months and upon his release he moved to the US to start again in property development, building office blocks, supermarkets and a hotel. He died there in 1988 and his body was brought back to Melbourne for burial.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Lucas' Papaw Ointment

I once thought that rubbing the extract of the humble papaw into one's skin to alleviate the symptoms of chafing, burns and insect bites was a curious practice. Then I found out that some people are prepared to inject a deadly poison straight into their face in order to smooth out wrinkles. I'll take the papaw any time thanks! And I'm not the only one, it seems - actors, celebrities and models all over the world are praising its healing properties and rejuvenation qualities - Google it and see. Apparently it has no peer as a lip balm.

Lucas' Papaw Ointment can be found at chemists and it comes in tubs as well as tubes that look like this.

This natural remedy has a history that dates back over 100 years, and it originated right here in Brisbane. Its discoverer was a doctor with an interest in botany, Dr Thomas Pennington Lucas, who was born in Scotland, educated in England, practised in Herefordshire and then Melbourne, and came to Brisbane in the mid-1880s for the warmer climate. 

Here he practised medicine and studied thousands of tropical plants, seeking natural remedies for disease. His medical practice was initially located in central Brisbane and then moved to South Brisbane near to where the Mater Hospital now stands. In 1890 he purchased a 16 ha (about 40 acres) farm at Acacia Ridge so that he could plant and grow specimens for experimentation. The family moved to the farm and Lucas moved his medical practice back to Adelaide St in the city. By this time his interest in papaws had led him to call the fruit "the world's greatest healing agent". This photograph shows an early advertisement for his papaw ointment. The building to which it is attached may have been on Lucas' property at Acacia Ridge but I cannot be sure.
(Photo: BCC-B120-30692)

The initial success of the papaw ointment and his own conviction that it was a medical marvel led Dr Lucas set up the Vera Papaw Hospital in suburban New Farm in 1911 - it no longer exists, having been superseded by a block of units. A drawing of Vera is now shown on every package of the ointment. The Brisbane Courier of 8 December 1911 carried the following item, and below that is a photograph of Vera Papaw Hospital.
The Papaw Sanitorium.
Dr. T. P. Lucas has purchased Vera, the fine residence at the corner of Moray and Sydney streets, New Farm, adjoining Sir Samuel Griffith's former residence, and is converting it into a sanitorium to be known a the Papaw Sanitorium, where in future he will carry on his practice and also receive patients for special treatment.

Dr Thomas Pennington Lucas died on 15 November 1917, leaving the recipes for all his medical treatments to his wife. In 1919 she sold the business and the hospital in New Farm was sold in 1921. The ointment operation was bought by Lucas' daughter-in-law and then it passed to his granddaughter whose family still operates the business today at a site in Acacia Ridge that is quite near the original Lucas farm.

However that is not the whole TP Lucas story. The first-ever published book that was set in Brisbane was entitled The Curse and its Cure, and it was written by none other than Dr Thomas Pennington Lucas who also wrote a number of other books, both fiction and non-fiction.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Suspension of blog

Dear blog followers

At Easter I learned that my mother has incurable cancer.

I need to rearrange my schedule. My priorities have obviously changed.

For this reason the blog will be suspended until further notice.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Hampton Court, New Farm

Inflation. It's a term used by economists and politicians, usually to justify their own shortcomings.

I'm neither an economist nor a politician, but today's post is about inflation - well, indirectly anyway.

The photograph you are looking at below is of a block of 6 flats in New Farm - Hampton Court.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

These flats were erected around 1927 for dentist and investor William Danaher. Architects Hall and Prentice, who were in demand after designing Brisbane's City Hall, came up with this attractive building that is described as "Interwar Functionalist and Georgian Revival" in the BCC Heritage List and "Art Deco" by real estate agents.

The Courier-Mail carried this article about the flats in March 1949.


Yes, that's right! £10,000 for the whole block of flats! The block was turned in at auction for failing to reach reserve and the selling agent valued the building at more like £15,000. Here is a photograph of the building from 1989.
(Photo: BCC-DVD5-44)

I must admit that the estimated value of the building 65 years ago was surprising. I got to wondering about today's value, so I asked the Reserve Bank of Australia to help me. (Not really - I just used their on-line inflation calculator.) This is what it told me.

Allowing for inflation, the agent's valuation of the block of flats - £15,000 in 1949 - was now equivalent to $771,428.57. A significant increase.

But don't forget we are talking about the supposed value of all six flats in this attractive, close to the city suburb.

I checked the real estate pages. The last sale I could find in this block was for a top-floor flat that sold for $620,000 in October 2010. One flat. Given that October 2010 is three and a half years ago, it is possible that one flat could now command the same relative price as the whole block did back in 1949.

On that basis, and assuming that the flats on the higher floors would attract higher prices than those lower down, the price of the whole block would be something in excess of $4 million.

Of course, the RBA Inflation Calculator demonstrates how inflation affects a "basket of goods", not real estate.

But it does get me thinking about current real estate prices. Are they over-valued?

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Grandstand, Bulimba Memorial Park

Amongst the myriad monuments and memorials that sprang up after WWI is the Bulimba Memorial Park on Oxford St at Bulimba. Originally a reserve known as Jamieson Park after an early land-owner of the district, it was opened as the Bulimba Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park on 1 November 1919, dedicated to the servicemen and women of the suburb who went off to the Great War.

The park has played host to many pastimes over the years since. Football teams of all types, cricket clubs, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, even senior citizens from the area have all found a home here at various times. I played cricket in the park decades ago, and the verdant surrounds are still an attraction for all today. Here is a photograph of the park from 1949 that shows a cricket match in progress.

(Photo: BCC-B54-617)

The grandstand in the background of the image above was funded locally and constructed around 1923. I have a slight connection to the grandstand as it was built by a local tradesman who happened to be my great-grandfather, Fred Pool. At the nearby Balmoral Cemetery is the headstone to Fred's grave that notes him as the builder of the grandstand. It was commissioned by my second cousin Barry as a tribute to his parents and grandparents. Master carpenter Fred lived nearby in Grosvenor St - he had one of the first motor cars in the area. He also built several houses in the district and from what I understand, he was a very busy man.

Here is a picture of the grandstand taken a few years ago when it looked like it needed some TLC. 
(Photo: © Queensland Government; 2009)

I imagine that the park and the grandstand are now looked after by the Brisbane City Council. Here is a recent photograph of the grandstand looking in much better condition.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

When I visited the park on a recent afternoon there were parents and children enjoying all aspects of the attractive area. Toddlers were playing on swings, there were a couple of scratch soccer games happening, kids were simply running because they can.

I believe old Fred would be very pleased.

Edit: The grandstand popped up on my television recently - it is the backdrop to a state government anti-smoking announcement.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Brisbane beginnings: John Oxley's landing spot in Brisbane

Fifty years ago, when I was a teenager (it doesn't hurt if I say it quickly!), I was a Boy Scout. I belonged to a suburban scout troop in the south-western suburbs of Brisbane, and there I learned about knots (the only knot I can remember now is a reef knot!) and camping (my last attempt at camping was driving a camper-van around Europe in the 80s, and that brings back a series of horror stories!).

Anyway, my local scout troop was part of the John Oxley Scout District that was made up of about a half-dozen suburban troops. The District Scoutmaster determined that we should learn a bit about the intrepid explorer for whom the District had been named and one weekend we were all duly transported to the monument that marked John Oxley's initial landing in Brisbane. That monument stands next to the Brisbane River at North Quay, right where the western arterial road, Coronation Drive, strikes the CBD. Thousands drive past it daily and most would not know that it existed, let alone care. This photograph is undated and was taken by Capt Frank Hurley.
(Photo: National Library of Australia; an23207957-v) 

I don't really recall much about the Boy Scout excursion to the monument. I understood about Oxley sailing up the river and marking a spot suitable for a settlement, but I mistakenly thought that he must have been a Boy Scout and that had somehow assisted him in his travels. Be Prepared and all that.

So I have always been aware of the existence of this monument, even though most of Brisbane (apart from the Boy Scouts in the John Oxley District) seemingly wasn't. The monument was erected in 1928 as a result of research done by the founding president of the Queensland Historical Society, Professor FWS Cumbrae-Stewart. This is a current picture of the monument. Improvements to Brisbane's chronic traffic problems have pretty much isolated it from public view.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

Imagine my surprise when I found out that this monument is probably not accurate and that another monument marking the same event exists in another spot nearly two kilometres away. It's a tad embarrassing when you think about it. A city that doesn't really know about its very beginnings and is prepared to fudge fund two attempts at history.

Here I confess to my own ignorance of the second monument, although I have passed it by car, by bicycle and on foot thousands of times. It is upriver from the first, jammed between Coronation Drive and the Brisbane River, and it looks like this.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

This one has the imprimatur of the Australian Institution of Surveyors (Queensland Division) and was erected for the 1988 bi-centenary, but it owes its existence to research done by historian TC Truman. After a thorough perusal of Oxley's field book, Truman concluded that Oxley's actual landing-spot was further upstream than was thought earlier. Truman referenced a "chain of ponds" that he took to be Western Creek, which used to meander through Auchenflower and Milton to the Brisbane River but is now largely extinct save for some underground drains. The newer site passes the pub test too - the original monument stands at the crest of a 10 metre incline from the river, hardly a practical place to disembark. The latter venue would have been a far more accessible area for Oxley to scramble ashore. Truman's theories were published in a series of articles in The Courier-Mail in 1950.

I suppose it doesn't really matter all that much. As I have noted previously there are reminders of Oxley scattered far and wide in this neck of the woods - everything from roads to libraries and hospitals - and rightly so, too. But who would even know that there were two monuments in two separate spots, each proclaiming the same thing? 

I can tell you who - it is author Matthew Condon who cleared the whole matter up in his book Brisbane, available at your local library.


Click here for a Google Map to Monument 1.
Click here for a Google Map to Monument 2.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kiosk and Bandstand, New Farm Park

The bandstand in New Farm Park was constructed in 1915 to a design by AH Foster, the city architect of the time. It was built in conjunction with a kiosk which has since been destroyed by fire. The bandstand was built in July of that year, with the kiosk being built in September. Both were of the Federation Queen Anne style. Here is a glimpse of the kiosk in its sylvan setting a few years prior to its destruction.
(Photo: Brisbane City Council; BCC-C35-961290.20)

The following excerpt from the Brisbane Courier of 30 September 1916 shows how much fun Brisbane citizens could have at a park bandstand.


Tomorrow afternoon, at 3 o'clock, the Brisbane Excelsior Band will render the following selections in the bandstand at New Farm Park: -March, "Light Guards"; overture, "Rou e et Noir"; suite, "Les Fleurs d'Austialia"; hymns, selected; selections, "Memories of the   Opera"; overture, "Humours of Donnybrook"; march, "Black Fury. " At the same hour, at Bowen Park, the Brisbane Labour and Union Band will play :- March, "Queen of the North" (Lithgow); selection 'Sons of the Sea" (Rimmer); waltz, "Star of Love" (Round); sacred selection, 'Peace and Good Will" (Greenwood); selection, "Songs of England" (Rimmer); intermezzo, , Queen of Dreams" (Lithgow); march, "Bravest of the Brave" (W S Ford).

Here are a couple of photographs of the bandstand, which is now maintained by Brisbane City Council.

(Photo: Brisbane City Council; BCC-C120-9563.6)

(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)

For more information on Australian Bandstands of the Federation era, click here to go to a post at the wonderful blog ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly.

Click here for a Google Map. 

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