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)

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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)

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Scott St Flats, Kangaroo Point

 In a recent post about John Oxley we heard the name of Professor FWS Cumbrae-Stewart, who was one of the founders of the Queensland Historical Society. It was he who was largely responsible for the first memorial commemorating Oxley's landing at North Quay.

The professor's full name was Francis William Sutton Cumbrae-Stewart, and he was a New Zealand-born lawyer and academic who lived in Brisbane from 1898-1936. In 1925 he was the founder and first president of the Historical Society, in 1926 he became a professor of law and in 1927 was made King's Council.

Cumbrae-Stewart married his wife Zina in 1906, and she was as active as her husband - she belonged to at least 20 community and charitable organisations and was on the executive of many.

In 1924 Zina Cumbrae-Stewart commissioned a design for a two-storey block of flats to be built in Scott St Kangaroo Point. The architect she chose for this task was Elina Mottram, the first woman to open an architectural practice in Queensland. The flats were constructed in 1925 as an investment for the Cumbrae-Stewarts who at that time lived quite nearby in Main St Kangaroo Point. The Cumbrae-Stewarts moved into the flats in 1930 prior to Professor Cumbrae-Stewart's retirement in 1936. Upon his retirement they moved to Melbourne to be nearer to their only child, a son. Francis Cumbrae-Stewart died in 1938 at the age of 73, and Zina Cumbrae-Stewart lived until 1956, passing away a month before her 88th birthday.

Here are Francis and Zina pictured sometime around the time of their retirement.
 (From 5745 Cumbrae-Stewart Family Papers 1906-1983 via

The flats overlook a small park and the Brisbane River, and were designed with French doors, bay windows and balconies to optimise the views. Here is a photograph.
 (Photo: Queensland Government; 2009)

The flats, known as the Scott St Flats, remained a family investment for decades after the deaths of Francis and Zina. That they survive today is almost a miracle, given the appetite developers have for land in that area.  The listing on the state government heritage register would be assisting in that regard. Here is a current image of the flats together with a picture showing off the splendid view.

(Photos: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

Across the road at 1 Scott St is a relatively new and totally opulent apartment building boasting 12 apartments over 15 floors, all with magical views across the Brisbane River to the city. There was some antagonism against the development initially, mainly because the developer wanted to buy the street from the state government and local citizens were concerned about loss of amenities in the area.
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic) 

Thankfully that idea was kyboshed by the government. The initial pricing structure for the new apartments was kyboshed too, with buyers merely forking out single-digit millions rather than sums of $12-15 million as was originally forecast

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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.

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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.

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