Friday, December 11, 2009

The Queen Mother

I share my birthday with the Queen Mother. Well, sort of: she was turning 49 on the day I was born. And come to think of it, allowing for the time difference, I guess I was actually born the day before she would have celebrated her 49th birthday; but whatever - my passport shows the same date as hers did. There, that's full disclosure for you! Anyway, I always make it a habit to toast the Queen Mother on my birthday, and it has actually become a ritual recognised by all my friends. The old dear didn't mind a drink either, apparently. I recently read her biography, written by William Shawcross, and a glass of Champagne or a gin and Dubonnet were her favourite tipples. The biography is a veritable tome at around 1,000 pages, so skip to this rather acerbic review (on the other hand - I quite enjoyed the look at how the Royal Family operates) in the New York Times and save yourself the aching arms - that book weighs a ton! I'm not a fervent royalist in terms of their relevance to Australia, but I do have great respect for the work they do. The Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II must surely have worn out several secretaries each - the QM lived to be 101, and QEII has been queen for almost sixty years. And, in the case of the Queen Mother, she was never meant to be a queen at all. When her brother-in-law, King Edward VIII, fell in love with and wanted to marry a divorcee, he was forced to abdicate; and he did so on 11 December 1936 (seventy-three years ago today). Her husband thus became King George VI, she became the Queen, and the two of them were press-ganged into Buckingham Palace. Their coronation took place in 1937, just in time to marshal Britain through World War II. Ten years earlier than the coronation, they had been here in Brisbane as the Duke and Duchess of York - the roles they had every reason to expect would be theirs for life. They were recently married and proud parents of their first child (Elizabeth, the current queen) who was then not twelve months old - too young to go on the arduous six-month tour with her parents. Here is a picture of the Duchess being introduced to someone in Brisbane during that 1927 tour. The man in the impressive robes with his back to camera may well be William Jolly, Brisbane's first lord mayor (1925 - 1931), although he is not identified in the information with the image.

(Photograph: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #62412)

A Vice-Regal Ball was arranged in Brisbane to honour the couple. In order to accommodate the huge number of guests, it was decided to fit out a New Farm wool store for the occasion, and here is a picture of the transformation that was taking place at the new Australian Estates and Mortgage Company Limited building in April 1927.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; # 44018)

There was some 16,000 square feet of space available for this important occasion - the photo below shows the expansive dimensions of this building at Macquarie St New Farm.

(Photograph: Courtesy Nicholas T Curry - Happy Birthday, Nick!)

The Queen Mother passed away on 30th March, 2002, after a lifetime of service to the Crown, Britain and the Commonwealth. Shawcross, in his biography, gives countless examples of her dignity and her ability to bridge the gap between royalty and commoner. She is particularly remembered for the role she played during the difficult years of World War II, when, at the height of the blitz, she refused to leave Buckingham Palace - insisting instead on remaining with the King in order to support her fellow Londoners. Here is a reminder of her in her later years.

(Photo: Courtesy queenmother.org)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Well, that's it for this year! I've had a lot of fun, and I hope you have enjoyed my meanderings through Brisbane. The blog will be on hiatus (as they say in show-biz) until mid-January 2010, so that I can gather some more material and also recharge the batteries. I wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas holiday season, and good health and good fortune in the New Year. tff

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Proclamation Day

It is a special day today, 10th December, because 150 years ago on this date Queensland's first governor arrived in Brisbane to proclaim the Colony of Queensland, separated from New South Wales by the Letters Patent signed in London on 6th June 1859 by Queen Victoria. The new governor was Sir George Ferguson Bowen, and his wife, Lady Diamantina Roma Bowen, accompanied him on the journey to Queensland. Portraits of the two of them can be seen below. Below those images is the first page of the Government Gazette containing the proclamation.













(Photos: Left, State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; Image No 4593-1v000r001. Right, Courtesy Lady Bowen Trust - http://www.ladybowentrust.org.au)

(Photo: Queensland State Archives, Courtesy http://www.queenslandfirsts.org)

There is little doubt that the Bowens left their mark on Queensland and Queenslanders. Seemingly steeped in the democracy of parliament, the new governor established an Executive Council immediately on his arrival, and also sought to have elections called for a Legislative Assembly, Queensland's first. At the time, the State's upper house had members appointed rather than elected, and Governor Bowen was an advocate of changing that system to an electoral one. In many ways he seemed to favour the current one-house parliament, for he said "no man of ability, character and self-respect could be found to undertake the duties of Responsible Ministers, if they were liable to see their measures defeated or thwarted by a hostile majority in the Legislative Council created without their advice or consent."

Lady Bowen also sought to improve the lot of Queenslanders, in particular those who were less fortunate than others. A list of hospitals, orphanages and hospices that she championed can be seen here.

Such was the affection generated by Lady Bowen that, on the day in 1868 that the Bowens left Brisbane for Sir George's new post as governor of New Zealand, the Brisbane Courier reported: "Ever since she has been in the Colony, she has identified herself in the most hearty and zealous manner with every good and charitable work which has been set on foot and not a few have been originated and warmly promoted by her efforts." On her part, it was reported that she was prostrate with grief at the thought of leaving Queensland, and had to be carried onto the ship that was to transport them to New Zealand.

There is a re-enactment today of Governor and Lady Bowen sailing up the river to a welcome (including an artillery salute) at the Botanical Gardens, and then a procession to The Deanery at St John's Cathedral for the Proclamation to be read. I just happened to be able to catch sight of the vice-regal party on their way up the river. These photos are hot off the press.














(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)










Normal transmission resumes tomorrow.

tff

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

SPECIAL: Yungaba revisited

(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Back in March I posted a piece about Yungaba, the historic immigration depot at Kangaroo Point, in which I lamented the fact that the site had been sold to developers for the construction of upmarket apartments. Despite the objections of many, the State government seemed determined not to preserve the rich history of the building and the stories of the thousands who had passed through its welcoming portals.

It seems that the protest is not yet dead. Noted Brisbane-born author David Malouf wrote an article in The Australian at the weekend which again urged the government to initiate some form of historical museum for the site. Here is a link to that article - look for the associated stories as well.

Keep the dream alive! Protest to your local member! Write to Anna Bligh!

tff

King George Square

The original square on this site was called Albert Square, but after the death of King George V, the square was widened and renamed in his honour. Subsequently, a statue of the king was erected in the square facing City Hall - see the picture below from 1960.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #6668-0001-0006)

Albert St used to pass between City Hall and the statue until 1969, when the Square was redeveloped and Albert St was closed off at Adelaide St. The statue of the King was shifted closer to City Hall, and it was turned around as a result of the Queen, when she saw the statue on a visit here, asking "Why is Grandpapa retreating?" The following photograph, from 1972, shows the repositioned statue, with King George V now majestically leading his subjects into battle.

(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; #BCC-B54-38749)

Later, some additional statues were added. Bronze statues that had been part of Expo were added in and around the rectangular fountain that was a feature of the Square (see below) and Speakers' Corner was established with bronze portrayals of Steele Rudd, Emma Miller and Sir Charles Lilley (bottom photograph).(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; # BCC-T120-1054)

(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

As a result of the construction of the Northern Busway, King George Square has had to be redeveloped again. Gone is the grass and gone are the water features. Instead we have lots of bland granite paving and a few token trees.(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Summer days will be as hot as Hades here - a temperature of 50 degrees Celcius was recently recorded by a television reporter trying to determine how citizen-friendly the Square will be. Perhaps that is a deliberate design flaw to discourage people from gathering here for demonstrations, as happened frequently in the sixties and seventies - or am I just a conspiracist? ;-) Check this article in Brisbane Times for a recent photo and more news on the heat. Edit 19/01/2010: Brisbane has just experienced a scorcher, and the temp in King George Square was measured at 56.3 Celcius!

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: The Queen Mum

Monday, December 7, 2009

King Edward Park

Sixty-eight years ago today, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This horrific act forced the United States to enter WWII, but it had other effects as well. It demonstrated the capability of aircraft carriers to transport bombers close enough to be able to launch raids on sites that were previously thought to be unreachable by air. Here in Brisbane, it caused our civic leaders to realise that it would be possible for the Japanese to attack Brisbane in the same manner, and these thoughts were reinforced when Darwin was attacked by air in early 1942. Brisbane City Council assumed responsibility for the construction of air raid shelters to provide protection for its citizens in the event that Brisbane was attacked. Some 235 shelters were constructed in the city and we have previously looked at those that stood in Ann St. There are some that still survive, thanks to the Council's wisdom in designing them to be used for other purposes at the end of the war. The photograph below, taken in 1963, shows those that were built in Turbot St at King Edward Park.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; Image #BCC-B54-20589)

Brisbane City Council's architect in 1941 was Mr FG Costello, and he created several different types of air raid shelter, most of them designed to revert to another purpose, after minor modification, when the war ended. The one in King Edward Park was made from stone rather than the concrete used for others, and it became a bus shelter after the removal of some extra blast walls. Here it is today.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

As far as I am aware, there are no buses that actually stop here these days, and of course the trams that used to rumble past on the way up to Spring Hill have disappeared too. The shelter is now useful for those who need a rest before tackling the climb up Jacob's Ladder to Wickham Terrace.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; Image #BCC-C35-1359318)

King Edward Park itself was neglected for many years, but recently the Council has seen fit to beautify both the park and Jacob's Ladder, and it is now a very attractive part of the city.

Click here for a Google Map.

Next: From retreat to attack

Friday, December 4, 2009

Empire Hotel

One of the things that intrigues me about early Brisbane is the number of hotels that were built. There certainly seemed to be a very high ratio of hotels to inhabitants, much higher than today. Of course, that was prior to the motor-car when suburbs had to be self-contained, and no-one expected drinkers to have to walk too far to get to their local. Now we want to keep drunks off the roads, and we don't want people to drive to hotels, but they are too far away to walk to ;-) Here's a local that was built in the heavily-populated Fortitude Valley area - the Empire Hotel on the corner of Ann St and Brunswick St, photographed around the year 1934.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1865)

This opulent-looking establishment was designed by eminent architect Richard Gailey for Brisbane hotelier National Corrigan, replacing Corrigan's earlier hotel of the same name. The original hotel on the site was erected in 1865, and Corrigan had this one built in 1888. The State Government's cultural heritage pages state: The Empire was constructed by Smith and Ball Contractors and the first publican was Walter McFarlane. The hotel extended 130 ft (39 m) along Ann Street and 120 ft (36 m) along Brunswick Street, and contained over sixty rooms." Renovations to the hotel were undertaken by Richard Gailey Jnr in 1925, and then by Hall & Phillips in 1937. The second renovation saw part of the Ann St frontage removed for the construction of apartments. The apartments were torn down in the 1960s. Here is a photograph from 1994 showing the smaller Ann St dimensions.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #94768)

The Valley went through the doldrums after large suburban shopping malls appeared in Brisbane, but now it has rediscovered itself as the live music and entertainment precinct of Brisbane. The Empire Hotel is at the vanguard of all of that, and my recent photograph of the hotel is below.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Click here to visit the Empire's funky web site. (Hint: turn your speakers down!) :-)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: From bomb shelter to bus stop

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Naval Offices

At the very end of Edward St, right before the Botanical Gardens, stands a building that time forgot - and so has most of Brisbane, it would seem. This is it: the Naval Offices building, 3 Edward St.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

When Queensland was a separate colony, it was responsible for the protection of its own shores, and so the Queensland Marine Defence Force was formed. This was their office, dating from 1900, and photographed below in 1901. I am unable to provide the name of the architect, but the building has been described on the blog I Love Brisbane as follows: The architectural style of the building is mainly Baroque, with an ornate entrance pediment which incorporates the Naval Defence Coat of Arms. This is a largely intact example of a Federation period building. The original wrought iron entry gates still hang in the arched entrance way. The building is predominantly constructed from red brick which is essentially plain on the lower level and stuccoed on the upper level."

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #6420)

The building currently seems to be vacant, although in previous times it has had such tenants as a restaurant and a flower shop. There isn't much information available about it now, as a couple of heritage sites have removed their listings about the building. When the Royal Australian Navy was formed around 1911, the Queensland Marine Forces were folded in to it, and so the building then became the property of the Commonwealth. It was used as Navy and then Commonwealth offices through until 1980 or thereabouts, and from then it was leased out commercially. I assume that the building is still owned by the Federal Government, but I am unable to confirm. The Naval Defence Coat of Arms remains intact.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


tff

Next: Gailey's Empire

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mooney Memorial Fountain

I'm not sure how this would go down today, but back in 1877 the Brisbane Municipal Council decided that the area around Queen St and Eagle St needed a lift. The civic-minded aldermen of the time decided that they would construct a fountain to beautify the area. And not just any old fountain - what they had erected, complete with a plaque listing all of their names for posterity, was this rather overstated drinking fountain.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #108572)

The 10 metre high fountain was designed by the city engineer, Mr WH Chambers, sculpted by William Webster, and built at a cost of £627. For the purposes of comparison, this newspaper archive shows that Richard Gailey was selling quarter-acre blocks of land at Toowong for £25 in the same year. Whether there was an outcry about the cost, or because it was just too expensive for the Council to fund totally, I cannot say, but there was a public subscription to raise some of the money required. This subscription happened to coincide with another fund-raising effort - one to raise money for a memorial to James Mooney, a volunteer firefighter who had been killed fighting a fire in Queen St. As a result, the self-serving aim of the councillors was diluted somewhat, because the people of Brisbane came to associate the fountain with the collection for Mooney. Even though a memorial to him was actually built at his burial site at Toowong Cemetery, the Eagle St fountain became known as the Mooney Memorial Fountain. The fountain has survived, and here is a current photograph of it.

(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Below is a photograph from 1891, showing the fountain in place at the intersection of Queen and Eagle Sts. The procession is to celebrate Eight Hour Day.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #190686

In the 1930s, the Brisbane City Council planted a weeping fig tree behind the fountain, and the magnificent tree now provides welcome shade over the fountain.

(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The fountain needed some restoration work in 1988, and at that time, the Council decided to formalise the association that the people had recognised since it was built. A plaque commemorating James Mooney and all firefighters who had lost their lives protecting the city was incorporated into the fountain.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: In the navy

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reddacliff Place (Brisbane Square)

At the time that I left school to enter the workforce, there was no shortage of jobs available - unlike today when even university graduates can't be sure of success in finding work. I was able to apply for a job at a number of government departments, banks and insurance companies, all of which absorbed large numbers of young people entering the work force for the first time. Because I began work in an insurance office, I got to know where all the insurance buildings were. This one (below) was my favourite. It is the Prudential Building that used to stand on the corner of Queen St and North Quay, and I loved its art deco lines and the brick facade. Prudential was a well-known British insurance company that opened branches all over the British Empire, and this building housed its Queensland Head Office. The photograph dates from 1958.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; # 201413)

Regrettably, the site has been redeveloped. That's a word often used as a euphemism to describe the destruction of something that may have had historical significance or artistic merit to be replaced, usually with something bland and modern. I have been in the Prudential Building many times, and it was a delight. I suppose that its six storeys just didn't provide enough of a return for its fairly large footprint.

(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Here is what the site looks like today. We have what passes for "green space" in the front - just concrete with an occasional tree for comic relief. The concrete reflects our tropical heat straight back up to pedestrians - more on this when I revisit King George Square in a future post. A huge rectangular office tower that is not really any different from most of the others around it is nearby, with the only offset to this drabness being the colourful blocks with their abstract windows at the lower levels. This area is quite significant, because it is close to where the colony began back in 1825; and it is also part of the vista from Victoria Bridge as you cross to the CBD. As a personal view, I don't think that the redevelopment has the same impact as the older building, more's the pity.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: Firefighters' fountain

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Corner of Creek & Adelaide Sts

We've mentioned elsewhere in these pages the significance of the role that Brisbane played during WWII. A total of over one million US service personnel were based here at various times between 1941 and 1945, and when you consider that the normal population of Brisbane was only 330,000 then, it is not hard to see that there would have been some issues. Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of the most reported incidents - the infamous Battle of Brisbane that occurred throughout Thursday 26 November, 1942 - Thanksgiving Day for the Americans. I won't describe the whole circumstances here, because there are plenty of reports available. One of the better ones is recounted in the book Radical Brisbane, which you will find at your local library. There is an electronic excerpt here. The main commotion occurred on the corner of Creek St and Adelaide St in the city, outside the US canteen. That canteen was based in the Primaries Building, shown below in a photograph taken around 1940 - click the photo to see a larger image. It is the large dark brick building on the left side of Adelaide St, towards the centre of the picture.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #109967)

The building remains, and here is the same view down Adelaide St today.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The American PX (Postal Exchange) was situated on the ground floor of the building, and it was both a symbol and a symptom of the simmering unrest between Australian service personnel and their US counterparts. As described by Evans and Donegan in Radical Brisbane, the PX was "groaning under a profusion of American luxuries - cigarettes, alcohol, hams and turkeys, ice-cream, chocolates and nylon stockings - items that to Australian servicemen and civilians were either out of bounds, heavily rationed, or far more highly priced elsewhere." A skirmish in Albert St earlier in the day escalated into violence later in the afternoon and evening. Reports say that over 2000 Australians tried to storm the PX in pursuit of some American servicemen, and as a result, the PX was severely damaged. The following image, originally from the Sunday Truth newspaper, shows workmen repairing broken windows in the aftermath of the disturbance. (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #106429)

In fact it was more than a mere disturbance. Shots were fired in attempts to quell what had become a full-blown riot. One Australian was killed and seven others received injuries from shotgun blasts. Eight or nine of the Americans needed medical attention, and many others from both sides received "black eyes, split lips, swollen cheeks, broken noses and various abrasions." Even after this particular episode was broken up, tensions continued. Rumours of multiple deaths swept the Australian camps, and many of the servicemen from them came into town on following evenings bent on retaliation. There were further fights and bashings, and American MPs and any US servicemen seen with Australian women were particularly targeted.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Today's photograph of the building (above) gives no indication of the chaos and violence that took place here all those years ago. And, despite this sour note, many American soldiers look back favourably on their time here. It would be uncharitable to say that was because the alternative venues involved being shot at by the enemy. Australia in general, and Brisbane in particular, were known as being friendly and hospitable towards the US service personnel. Many of them took home Australian brides, and the two countries remain staunch allies.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: Transformation

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boggo Road Gaol

Jails are to Brisbane as flour is to bread - gradually add free settlers, buildings, roads and transport; carefully separate from New South Wales; leave to bake in the sub-tropical sun for 150 years and voila - a modern city of almost two million people. Brisbane originated as a jail because Sydney wanted to send its very worst convicts somewhere else, and so it's no surprise that jails have loomed large since then. I can't imagine the conditions that the free settlers in Brisbane must have endured, let alone the squalor and deprivation that would have surrounded the convicts. The picture below shows what the present site of the GPO looked like in 1850. St Stephen's church is in the background, and the building standing where the GPO is currently placed is a female convict factory.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library, ; #153725)

The factory was created by Commandant Logan to separate the female convicts from the rest of Brisbane's population, both free and convict. Women prisoners were subsequently moved to a stockade at Eagle Farm, and this site became a jail in 1837. Here is a photograph from 1863, showing blankets being distributed to aborigines outside the former female convict factory, which by then was being used as a police station.


(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; # 7773)

Brisbane's most notorious jail for both men and women was Boggo Road at Dutton Park, which first operated for male prisoners in 1883. A separate facility for women was opened in 1903. There had formerly been jails at Petrie Terrace and St Helena Island. The entrance to Boggo Road Gaol (historical spelling) is pictured below around the year 1936.


(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #62056)

In 1913, Queensland was the first Australian state to abolish capital punishment, but before then, executions were carried out at the prison. The gallows at Boggo Road are pictured below.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #110876)

The history of the facility continued until 1992, when the jail finally closed. There had been a deal of prisoner unrest during the 80s, largely as a result of the deteriorating conditions and poor sanitation there. A Commission of Review into Corrective Services was formed, and its findings led to the end of Boggo Road as a jail. For a while, it was possible to tour the jail, but the State government made the decision to convert the property into an "Urban Village", so the site is currently closed while this development takes place. A list of current correctional institutions can be found here, at the Queensland Government's Department of Community Safety web site. You can click here to see the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society web site.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Boggo Road is being gentrified, and my current photo, above, shows the front of the old prison and some new landscaping on the steep hill in front of it. It seems we can convert anything into housing these days - warehouses, wharves, wool stores, power houses, gas works and now - jails!

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: Battle of Brisbane

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jacob's Ladder

It is a fairly steep uphill walk from the CBD in Brisbane to Spring Hill. The steepest part is right at the end - the final part of the trek from Turbot Street to Wickham Terrace. Years ago, you used to be able to catch a tram to Spring Hill from the city. The trams originally travelled from Queen Street right through to Gregory Terrace, but in 1947, the final part closed and the trams then stopped at Wickham Terrace. Pedestrians could walk up to the Terrace through King Edward Park, along a path that became known as Jacob's Ladder. Here is a picture, from 1915 or thereabouts, taken looking down Jacob's Ladder towards town. A couple of women are on their way up - must have been difficult in those long dresses of the era (click the pic for a larger image). Notice that, although there are handrails, there are no steps! King Edward Park is on the right in this picture. Steps were built here in the 1920s and the City Council renewed them 1961.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #187175)

When I first started work in the city in the sixties, Brisbane had a much smaller population, and the world had never heard of global warming. There was abundant street parking available in the streets of Spring Hill, and from memory, I think you could park your car in a Parkatarea parking meter and leave it there all day for twenty cents. After work, large groups of people would walk up Jacob's Ladder to their cars and then drive home. Over the years, King Edward Park and Jacob's Ladder stagnated, but recently the City Council has spent up big and given the area a much-needed facelift. One of the cool things is what they have done to Jacob's Ladder. When you look down the Ladder (like in the older photo above), you see a rainbow of colours because you can see the large landing areas only, not the steps in between (see my photo below). At night, images are projected onto these large, flat landings, making a sort of light show for any evening strollers.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

However, when you are at the bottom of Jacob's Ladder looking up (see below), you can see only the stairs, not the landings - and the stairs are bright red!
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Click here to jump over to Brisbane Daily Photo, where Cara has a great photo of the stairs.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: "We are all just prisoners here..."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eagers

Shock horror! What is going on here? A bloke goes to photograph a place for a blog post and it's gone! Well, all but gone. After decades of operating at its Newstead site, the Eagers car yard is being moved to Newmarket. This photo (below) is the sight of the site when I visited recently. The showrooms were empty and the forecourt, normally crowded with cars, was totally bare except for a lone vehicle belonging to a workman, tellingly parked right next to a skip that was being filled with rubbish. Brisbane's past was being converted to its present right before my eyes. (Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic) 

The Eagers name goes right back to 1913, when Edward Eager and his son Frederick formed an automotive firm that was to become a well-known Brisbane Holden dealer. The following photo shows the official Queensland launch of the FX Holden at Eagers' showroom in 1948.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #111267)

In fact it was selling General Motors vehicles before the Holden was built in Australia, and the picture below shows the Newstead showrooms in 1937 with a lineup of Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and Buicks.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #7156)

As well as selling cars, Eagers also developed a large workshop and parts business. It also assembled vehicles from parts imported from overseas. The following picture shows the workshop area at Newstead around the year 1924. During WWII, a part of the site was used as a parts distribution warehouse for Allied forces.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #7136)

And here is a recent photo of the Parts division of the business.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In 1957, Eagers was listed as a public company, and in 1992 it merged with the AP Group, another large automotive business to become AP Eagers Group Limited, a congolmerate of car dealerships, other automotive businesses and insurance. The company sells Holden, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Land Rover, Volvo, VW, Jaguar, KIA, Mazda, Porsche, Subaru, Peugeot, Mitsubishi and Lexus vehicles from various dealerships in Queensland and interstate. And what of the Newstead site? I was able to discover that Eagers sold it in December 2006, but I can offer no news on its future.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: Stairway to heaven

Monday, November 16, 2009

Centenary Pool

In 1959, for the centenary of the formation of Queensland, the Brisbane City Council constructed the Centenary Pool complex designed by Council architect James Birrell, which includes a wading pool, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and separate diving pool. At that time, the whole of Australia was in an Olympic haze, basking in the afterglow of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games in which Australia had performed extremely well, especially in swimming. The photograph below was taken in 1960, shortly after the pool opened.

(Photo: D Finlay, State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #lbp00211)

The Centenary Pool was the only diving pool in Brisbane, and the Olympic standard pool immediately became the pre-eminent aquatic facility in the city, and remained so until the Sleeman Complex was completed at Chandler in 1980. The Centenary Pool still operates near Victoria Park on Gregory Terrace, and here is a more recent picture of it.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Originally there was a restaurant here, but now there is a fitness centre and some medical suites. The wading pool makes it popular still with families that contain young children. It is also still sought after as a training venue, as evidenced on my recent visit.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The complex also was a recent co-star along with famous current Aussie swimmer Stephanie Rice in a television advertisement for SunRice.

Click
here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: Eager for a deal
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