Monday, January 26, 2015

Edwards Dunlop Building

Situated on Edward St in the CBD is this building that backs onto the grounds of St Stephen's Cathedral; it is now known as The Catholic Centre.
(Photo: 2013)

The building was constructed in 1900 for paper manufacturer and wholesaler Edwards Dunlop, who moved into their new premises on 1 January 1901 - the day of federation. On completion the building comprised four storeys and a basement, and included a lift and a telephone system.  The architects were believed to be the Sydney firm of Slatyer & Cosh.
(Photo: Queensland Government)

Here is a picture of the firm's Sydney warehouse, a heritage building still standing in Kent St, that was designed by architects Robertson & Marks. It was constructed in 1897 and you will notice the similarities.

The company was founded by Frederick Lewis Edwards, a stationer, and William Phillip Dunlop, paper manufacturer, in Sydney in 1873 and they expanded to Brisbane in 1880. The firm quickly became Queensland's major paper manufacturer, stationer and newsprint supplier. Part of their operation was the use of commercial travellers to represent their products in country areas. Here is a picture of a sample room set up in Cairns by one of their salesmen.
(Photo: JOL 111288)

The Edward St premises were sold to the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane in 1975 when Edwards Dunlop moved their operations out of the CBD. In the 1980s the firm was taken over by Amcor Pty Ltd but the name was relaunched in 2001 following a merger with Commonwealth Paper. It is now part of the international IGEPA group.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, January 19, 2015

The Brisbane G20 vs All the Way with LBJ

Recently the G20 Conference was held in Brisbane. Kilometres of steel barricades were erected and streets were closed off to protect visiting dignitaries from Brisbane's nasty protestors. I can only recall one arrest though - largely because most Brisbaneites treated the whole exercise as a big yawn.

There was an indigenous protest march, but apart from the burning of an Australian national flag which attracted negative attention, the march was peaceful and uneventful.

 (Photos: news media)

The early planning details released to the public concentrated so heavily on the security aspects of the G20 that Joe Average in Brisbane decided that the best course of action would be to pack up and leave town for a few days. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast accommodation and entertainment venues were even busier than their normal peak times of Christmas and Easter, while Brisbane businesses lamented the impact on their annual profits rather than "reaping the economic benefits" of the G20 as was promised by various politicians. Here is a photo showing a cyclist with the streets to himself, and below that a group of police protecting a deserted street.

(Photos: news media)

When the planners and organisers realised that Brisbane was going to be a ghost town they implored people not to stay away from the CBD but to carry on as normal. Too little, too late. Apart from Germany's Angela Merkel who visited Brisbane's famous pub nirvana, Caxton Street, all that the world's other leaders would have seen of Brisbane would have been a sterile cityscape with no inhabitants.
Of course the news media were all over the visitors like a rash, especially
when it came to reporting on the three top dogs: Obama of the USA, Putin of Russia and Cameron of the UK. The itineraries of these and other leaders were cloaked in mystery and their motorcades swept through deserted streets as if pursued by the devil himself.
(Photo: news media)

The last time a visiting US president came to town things were the same yet different. Lyndon Baines Johnson had a one-night stopover in Brisbane on Saturday 22 October 1966 as part of a whirlwind three-day visit to Australia. Johnson had served in Australia during WWII, and in hindsight the 1966 visit seems to have been somewhat of a series of meetings where Johnson was able to reminisce about those days and catch up with acquaintances of that time. Here is a WWII picture of Lyndon Johnson in his naval uniform.

Whilst in Brisbane he and the first lady Lady Bird Johnson did find time to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and the opportunity to cuddle a Koala was also on offer to the G20 visitors.
(Photo: Queensland State Archives Item ID 1140028)


Of course there were also overseas conflicts to muddy the waters. The G20 delegates had to tread warily around the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, whilst the Vietnam problem was a major talking point for Lyndon Johnson. In Brisbane as in the other venues there were pockets of protestors decrying the war and conscription.   
 (Photo: Graham Garner;

But largely people were curious about the man who had succeeded JFK and launched his own triple-letter identity into history. In those less security conscious times the police were involved more in crowd control than arrests. The photo below shows both uniformed and plain-clothed police with linked arms keeping the Brisbane crowd at bay.
(Photo: David Moore;

Huge crowds greeted Johnson when he arrived at Brisbane airport and at every part of his Brisbane itinerary. Despite the ever-present secret service detail, Johnson stopped the presidential limo on many occasions to interact with Australians - even at times rolling back the perspex roof to enable handshakes. His destination for the evening was Brisbane's top pub of the time, Lennons Hotel in George St, where his limo was surrounded as if he were a rock star or royalty. I was in the crowd outside Lennons that night, largely because I was just finishing my final year at high school and was out having some fun with my friends. The crowd was warm and well-behaved until Johnson's car arrived and then pandemonium ensued - in a good way.

Click here to see a film of Johnson's visit from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Unfortunately the Brisbane segment starts at 22:04 and is only a rather brief showing of arrival and departure together with some street scenes which seem to be around the Clayfield area.

Australia's prime minister Harold Holt, fresh from his famous "All the way with LBJ" war cry, chaperoned the US president around in what was the first ever visit to our shores by a serving US president. Unfortunately Johnson was also to make the second visit to Australia by a serving US president when he returned in a little over twelve months time to attend the memorial service for Holt who drowned at Portsea while on his Christmas break.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Toonarbin, West End

Captain Henry O'Reilly, an Irish master mariner, left his job sailing steam ships out of Liverpool in England to emigrate to Australia and arrived in Sydney in 1854 with thirty quid in his pocket and a belief that divine providence would present opportunities. He was correct - he was immediately hired by the Australasian Steam Navigation Company to sail steamers between Sydney and Brisbane.

O'Reilly made hundreds of trips between Sydney and Brisbane, mainly on the steamer Telegraph, and in 1863 he was made manager of the ASN operation in Brisbane, triggering a move up here. The forerunner to this building would have been his Brisbane office. Captain O'Reilly and his family for a time lived in the house Montpelier that overlooked the river in a spot known then as O'Reilly's Hill, later to become Bowen Hills and the site of Cloudland.

Subsequently Captain O'Reilly bought some land at West End from the architect Benjamin Backhouse that was offered for sale in 1868: 
FOR SALE, " TOONARBIN," a Superior Suburban Property, on the River, South Brisbane, near Hill End, containing about 8 acres, thoroughly fenced, substantial Stables and Offices, well-stocked Garden, Water Dams, &c., &c. Apply to Mr. BACKHOUSE, Architect.
(Brisbane Courier 16 September 1868 via

O'Reilly engaged Backhouse to design a house for him on the property and the following photograph shows the original form of the residence. The name Toonarbin that Backhouse had bestowed on the land came originally from a Henry Kingsley novel, and it was applied to the house. Here is a photograph showing the early form of the house - note the ornate chimneys on each corner. 
(Photo: JOL 98162)

O'Reilly lived at Toonarbin until his death in 1877, and his wife and children continued to live there for a considerable time after that. His son Charles O"Reilly was a customs agent and his bonded stores at Margaret St in Brisbane's CBD were recently demolished despite a call for them to be added to heritage lists.

In 1926 Archbishop Duhig bought the property. Some of the land was sub-divided and sold off and the residence was converted to a convent for the Sisters of Mercy. Some improvements and alterations, including replacing the wooden balconies and facade with brick, took place then to cater for its new function.

The building operated as a convent through to around 1995 and was then vacant for a dozen years until purchased by the current owners who set about restoring the building to its former glory. A labour of love over the ensuing years has Toonarbin looking like this. Although the structure has been enlarged and enclosed in brick, the chimneys provide external evidence of the building's origins.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

Proof of the success of the restoration is illustrated by the fact that Toonarbin won a High Commendation at the announcement of the National Trust's heritage awards for 2014.

Click here for a Google Map.


This is our final post for 2014.
Seasons Greetings to all readers!
We will be back in 2015.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Back to the future

There are a few hotel names that bob up in many different towns, for example - the Railway, the Post Office, the Royal - and today's venue, the Exchange.

In fact different versions of the name "Exchange" have existed in Brisbane hotels. The original Stock Exchange Hotel operated by Mrs Sarah Balls was situated in Queen St between Creek and Wharf Streets and the Royal Exchange Hotel that was owned at one time by Patrick Mayne was on the corner of Elizabeth and Albert Streets. Both of these have disappeared, although these days there is a Royal Exchange Hotel at Toowong. Remaining in the CBD is the Exchange Hotel on the corner of Edward and Charlotte Streets that was constructed in 1863 and is held on the Brisbane City Council's heritage list. Here is the earliest picture of it that I could find, taken in the late 1880s. It is taken from Elizabeth St looking up Edward St towards Spring Hill, and the Exchange is seen in part on the right side of the photo. There were some improvements made to the building in 1887 by architect John Ibler, and then when licensee Mr P Talty took over in 1897 he promised to make it an "up-to-date family hotel" with a "much altered and improved private bar".
(JOL 100011) c1889 

The following image was taken a decade later and shows the Exchange Hotel next to the Edwards Dunlop Building which in turn is listed on the Queensland government's heritage list. The sign at the front of the hotel proclaims Henry Biggs is now the proprietor.
(Photo: BCC-B120-31063) 1908  

When I started work in the city in the sixties, the Exchange Hotel was not quite the closest to the office where I worked, but the back beer garden of the Exchange became the favourite venue for the keg parties that were the standard office celebration for 21st birthdays, engagements and weddings, getting "called-up" (conscripted) or returning from the army, whether scathed or unscathed. In an office that contained several hundred mostly young workers there were plenty of opportunities to "tap" a keg, and we were frequent visitors. There was a "Select Steak Room" there too, as evidenced by the following tram advertisement for Quinn's Exchange Hotel.
(Photo: BCC-B54-14542) 1960 

Over the ensuing years the hotel has been subtly altered from time to time in order to re-invent itself in the face of increasing competition and changing tastes. Like many of the other older hotel buildings, the verandahs have been removed and there is an abundance of advertising signage. In the photo below the 2011 rugby World Cup is the theme to lure patrons to the venue - the flags and the oversized football a somewhat kitsch statement.
(BCC Heritage List) 2010

In my photograph taken earlier this year the signs are a little less obtrusive and the exterior a little more muted.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic) 

However, a visit to the hotel's web page just prior to posting this piece reveals more changes. The hotel has undergone a complete makeover in recent months, featuring a new look and new management. The date of the hotel's beginnings is featured, together with a name change.

And, a blast from the past! It is now the Stock Exchange Hotel.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Red Ted Theodore (and other Labor luminaries)

In successive months we lost two mighty Labor politicians - former prime minister Gough Whitlam and former Queensland premier Wayne Goss. I am not really from their side of the political spectrum but I did vote for each of them at the elections that propelled them to high office. 

Gough Whitlam (11/07/1916 - 21/10/2014)
(Photo: National Library of Australia) 

Gough Whitlam's "It's Time" slogan in 1972 resonated with me, particularly on the policy of conscription. By 1975 and the infamous Khemlani loans affair Whitlam's government was on the nose with me and plenty of others who voted him out after Fraser forced a double dissolution by refusing to allow the passage of the financial legislation needed to run the country. The closest I ever got to Whitlam was to be on the same plane as him on a flight from Maryborough in Queensland to Brisbane in 1971 when he was leader of the opposition. A man of huge stature and enormous charisma, he had the flight attendants and fellow passengers stealing admiring glances at him for the duration of the short flight. Many of the things that we now take for granted were products of the Whitlam era and it is a real shame that his government couldn't manage the country's finances effectively and subsequently ran off the rails. Whitlam remained an elder statesman and almost a cult hero until his recent death. Now he is a legend.

Wayne Goss (26/02/1951 – 10/11/2014)

Wayne Goss grew up just a couple of streets from me and we went to the same school a year apart. I knew him as a youth from the basketball courts and footy fields, but not as a man. Having said that, I attended the opening night of the Brisbane International Film Festival one year when Goss was Premier of Queensland, some twenty-plus years after our school days. He was also on the board of BIFF and he was greeting patrons as they arrived at the cinema. He knew me instantly and greeted me by name - a politician's gift to be sure, but but the mark of an impressive human being. The Goss government's willingness to attack corruption and make government accountable were landmark steps in Queensland and Wayne Goss deserves all the accolades being paid to him. His life and achievements were celebrated last Friday at a memorial service that was held at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Well played, Wayne!

Edward Theodore (29/12/1884 - 09/02/1950)

Another outstanding Labor politician from yesteryear is Edward Granville Theodore, who became known as Red Ted Theodore. He was initially a miner and a union organiser in North Queensland, but turned to politics in 1909 by winning the state seat of Woothaka. Theodore formed the Amalgamated Workers Association, the forerunner of today's Australian Workers Union. He became the state's treasurer under premier TJ Ryan and then succeeded Ryan as premier, a post he held between 1919 and 1925.

While in Queensland politics, Theodore bought this house in New Farm that still stands today.

(Photo: 2013

(Photo: BCC) 2010

Although partially hidden by vegetation, the roof and verandahs of this house give a clue to its designer, Robin Dods. Dods designed the house for barrister John Trude who had it built in 1907 and then sold it to Theodore in 1918, so it would have been Theodore's base whilst he was the state's premier.

Theodore moved to the federal sphere in 1927, contesting and winning a seat in New South Wales. He later became deputy prime minister and treasurer, living in the upmarket Kirribilli area. He sold this house in 1933.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Old movie films - who was the photographer?

I have recently received an email from a history buff in the US.

The email contains links to three 16mm movie films apparently taken by someone who visited Australia around the year 1940. These films were found in a garage sale and have been digitised by an American history group that is now trying to locate the photographer or anyone with a connection to them.

I have viewed the three films and find them to be fascinating. They show wonderful glimpses of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Shot in colour, they portray life in Australia at that time and many of the background scenes are familiar even today.

This blog is happy to pass on the plea of the Americans for assistance in identifying the photographer. If anyone has any information that would help please contact me by email.

Take a look at the films - you will enjoy the representation of Australia in the 1940s.

Melbourne 1940

Monday, November 10, 2014

Torwood Police Station (aka Sister Mary Angeline's house)

On the way towards the city, as you ease down the long hill before the old Milton tennis centre, she stands there, still and silent. On the verandah of a triple-gabled Queenslander is a nun, waving at the passing traffic. 

She is wearing a dark nun's habit with a touch of pure white wimple showing around a rather plastic face. 

Plastic face? 

Yes, it is someone having a leg-pull. Not a botoxed nun, but a mannequin dressed as a nun to brighten a commuter's day. She has even made it onto Google Maps - look below - you can just make her out above the red door behind the glass.

Recently I was browsing through some archived photographs at the BCC Brisbane Images site when I came across a structure that looked familiar to me. I checked the information filed with the image which told me that the building was the Torwood police station, photographed in 1935. This is the photo.
(BCC-B120-80976) 1935

It took me a while to place the building because no address was provided. But the triple gables and the two separate staircases apparent in the old image are still features of this nun's house on Milton Rd. It was a police station that opened in 1898 and operated through to 1992 before being decommissioned. It was purpose-built as a police station and I assume that one staircase led to the official side of the building while the other led to the residence of the officer who probably lived on the premises. Here is a more complete photo from Google. 

And another photo, this time from BCC where it is listed on their heritage register. The suburb of Torwood that this police station served no longer exists, though - it has been amalgamated into Auchenflower.
(BCC 2011)

And now, as I research the story, I find that the nun is famous. Here is a piece from the Brisbane Times that tells us that she has been delighting commuters for years and often reflects topical stories such as the reminder to vote in an election. 
(Photo: Michelle Smith via
If you Google "nun on milton road" you will find further evidence of her sense of fun - for example she donned a pair of floaties in case the 2011 flood reached her door!

Hooray for you, Sister Mary Angeline!

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Ausralian Estates Wool Store No 2

We have had a couple of glimpses of the Australian Estates Company Limited No 1 wool store earlier in this blog - once to discuss its WWII use by the US contingent in Brisbane, and on another occasion the fabulous Vice-Regal Ball in honour of the Duke and Duchess of York held there shortly after its opening in 1927.

Both of those posts were about the original Australian Estates wool store at Teneriffe. Today we are looking at the Australian Estates No 2 wool store, a four-storey construction built into the side of Teneriffe Hill next to its sister building in the late 1950s.

Things had changed in the thirty years since the first of these two buildings was erected. Wool was at its financial peak in the boom period immediately following WWII, and this new wool store was of a fresher, more modern design than the earlier ones in the area. When it was completed Australian Estates used it as a showroom where buyers could take advantage of the abundant natural light to assess and bid for the bales of wool. However mechanisation was already replacing manpower and this wool store was destined to be the last of its kind.
(BCC-S35-97186) 1990

In the 1990s the Brisbane City Council commenced its urban renewal plan that intended to convert industrial Teneriffe into a residential area. All the wool stores, including this one, were rezoned for residential makeovers that have transformed the suburb. This one had its four floors converted into 36 apartments.
(Photo: © Queensland Government) 2009

But the increasing demand for homes in the area led to a decision to enlarge the former wool store. This has been achieved in a unique fashion by lifting the roof off the building and adding a further nine apartments. The beginning of the transformation can be seen in the following photograph. 

(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic) 2014

The process that will add exclusive residences to this heritage listed building can be seen on the developer's web site.

The views to the river and also back to the city should be fantastic.

Click here for a Google Map.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

24 Rathdonnell St Auchenflower

I don't know anything about this Auchenflower residence except that it is a beautiful example of a renovated Queenslander.


(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, October 13, 2014


Any guesses as to what these photographs are depicting?

For anyone who does not recognise the French word in the title of this post, the sign on the outside of the cylinder in the top photograph is the giveaway.

The cylinder is actually a cast iron urinal that originally stood in Commercial Rd at the the Teneriffe ferry terminal. You can just make out the familiar shape of Mactaggarts Woolstore in the background of the bottom image. There was another like it on Merthyr Rd at the New Farm-Hawthorne crossing, and they were situated there to service the then tram terminus at each point. The tram drivers and conductors needed to have toilet facilities available during their busy days on the tramways of Brisbane.

These photographs were taken in 1974.

The urinal (sometimes called a pissoir) from the Merthyr Rd site was relocated by Brisbane City Council to Newstead Park in 1987. 


Monday, October 6, 2014

Mactaggarts Woolstore, Teneriffe

As this post is written I am living in the Winchcombe Carson woolstore at Teneriffe while our residence is being renovated. Our wonderful friends made their place available to us while they are enjoying a trip to the UK to visit relatives. I have blogged about the Winchcombe Carson building before, but right across the road is another woolstore, Mactaggarts, and we are going to visit it today.

The story starts with a youthful Scot, Dan Mactaggart, arriving in Queensland as a sixteen year-old around 1869. He went to work with his uncle John Mactaggart on a station at Kilkivan west of Gympie in the Burnett Valley. Here is a photograph of him from around that time.
(State Library of NSW; a4220089) 1870

Dan Mactaggart then became a partner in Glenbar Station, also in the Burnett, but the drought of 1877/8 destroyed the property. Mactaggart moved to Maryborough and commenced a business as a stock and station agent.

Dan Mactaggart was also a rower of considerable ability. His obituary describes him as a "famous amateur oarsman" and one of Queensland's best strokes. Here is a photograph of him and his Maryborough crew from 1887.
(Maryborough History via pinterest)

Mactaggart's business grew, and joined by his brother, he moved to Brisbane where they fashioned a considerable enterprise. The woolstore  that now bears their name was erected in 1926 for then owners New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agencies Company. It was ideally situated to take advantage of the Bulimba rail head that existed then, and also the Teneriffe Wharves. It is the only remaining woolstore with a river frontage. Here is a photograph taken from the Vernon Terrace side of the building in 1990, prior to the urban renewal project that has revitalised Teneriffe.

And here is a 1997 photograph, this time from the river sidealso showing the boardwalk that runs between the Teneriffe Ferry and New Farm Park. A trace of the original ownership of the building can be sighted on the top left of the structure.  

Dan Mactaggart lived to the age of 71, having given many years' service to state and national wool-selling brokers' bodies. He was prominent in rowing and sailing organisations too, and was described as a man with a kindly disposition although he suffered badly from rheumatism in his later years.
(Pastoral Review, 16 February 1924 via

Mactaggarts Woolstore is now known as Mactaggarts Place, having been converted to apartments in 1995. Here is a picture taken from the vicinity of the Teneriffe ferry terminal.
(Photo: © 2004 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Blenheim House, New Farm

Perched high on a hill this 127 year-old residence would have had superb views of the New Farm/Teneriffe area and the Brisbane River on its completion.

It was called Blenheim by its owner, JG Johnson, a civil engineer who owned the property until its sale in 1893.

The following images of the interior of the house known by that time as Dalveen, consisting of 12 rooms and a garage, were taken for a later sale of the house in 1922 and show the opulence of the residence.
(Photo: JOL 186908)

This description of the property is from the real estate listing of a more recent sale:
"This majestic colonial residence was built in 1887. Set high on the hill, with commanding street presence and views over the suburb, this house is one of New Farm's most admired residences.

Blenheim House features wide open verandahs opening onto landscaped lawns and gardens. Plaster internal walls are rarely found in timber houses, which clearly sets this home apart from its peers. 2 marble fireplaces, wide hallways and arches, separate sittings room and dining room all add to the grandeur and spaciousness of this property. If land is what you're craving, then this 1,037 (over 40 perches) will satisfy your heart. A salt water pool has been added to entertain your children.

The sale of this property will cause great interest, so interested parties should contact this agent as soon as possible."

The house is now listed on the Brisbane City Council Heritage Register, and this is their photograph from 2011.
 (Photo: BCC)

The house itself is a bit harder to see these days as it is surrounded by a growing hedge, but it nonetheless remains an attractive addition to the area.

(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


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