Friday, February 27, 2009

Brisbane Synagogue

I worked in the city for nearly 40 years, and didn't even know that this building existed until just a couple of years ago. The building is situated at the top of Margaret St, just down from George St. I can only assume that I must have passed it many, many times, usually in a car, but evidently didn't notice it enough to understand what it was. The building was erected in 1885 and consecrated as a Jewish synagogue in 1886. The following picture is dated 1906.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #145942)

For those interested in the architectural detail, there is a good deal of information here, at the Queensland Government Cultural Heritage (CHIMS) site. I am pleased that we have managed to retain such an old temple in the CBD, and that it is still active. On the CHIMS site, I learned that the synagogue was substantially renovated around the time of the celebration of the centenary of Jewish life in Brisbane - there were Jews here as far back as the separation from NSW. Here is the synagogue now, surrounded by the type of building that is more typical of the modern Brisbane CBD.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

I am certain that there have been prominent Brisbane citizens who were Jewish, just as there would have been prominent Muslims, Catholics, Protestants and atheists. However, I don't propose to list any because I have a general objection to that kind of labelling. I am far more interested in knowing that the history of the city was enriched by these differing cultural backgrounds, even back in the nineteenth century. For those who might be interested in learning a little more about Jewish life in Queensland, I recommend a browse of this site published by Jewish Queensland.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Coppertop

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The remarkable Cilentos

One of Australia's most prominent families is the extraordinary Cilento clan. Sir Raphael Cilento was a noted doctor and administrator. His many achievements included being an expert in tropical medicine; Director-General of Queensland Health; working in Germany after WWII in the clean-up of the dreadful Nazi concentration camps; and Director for Refugees and Displaced Persons at the United Nations. His wife, Lady Phyllis Cilento, was a household name in Brisbane for many years, as she was a gynocologist, obstetrician, paediatrician and author, all while raising six kids! She founded the Mothercraft Association in Queensland and for decades was Medical Mother in a regular Courier-Mail column. Of their six children, four are doctors, one an artist of international repute, and one is well-known stage and screen actor, Diane Cilento, pictured here with fellow Aussie actor, Peter Finch.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #194558)

Lady Phyllis's medical surgery was attached to the family home in the Brisbane suburb of Annerley, just opposite the Chardon's Corner Hotel, and next to the Souths rugby grounds. The following picture of the house was taken in 1958.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #189894)

Back in the pre-television days, we used to "go to the pictures" - now known as going to the movies. Our family was quite keen on the pictures, and I can remember seeing a couple of Diane Cilento films as a kid. One was "The Admirable Crichton", where she played a maid who was shipwrecked with her toffee-nosed employers - she had to produce a fairly awful cockney accent, as I recall; and another was "Tom Jones", in which her sexy portrayal of Molly earned her an Oscar nomination. Because she was a Brisbane girl (and the Cilento family house was not too far from where we lived), we actually knew that her name was pronounced "Dee-ahn" rather than "Die-anne", a fact that gave us a certain coolness, or so we thought. More than those who only knew her as the sometime wife of Sean Connery, anyway!
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Lady Phyllis Cilento sold her Annerley home in the 1960s and moved to Toowong. The house was demolished to make room for a service station, but since then it has been regenerated into something a lot greener, and here it is now (above) - a superstore for the horsey set.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Brisbane bar mitzvahs

Monday, February 23, 2009

MR Hornibrook

The year 1893 was a significant in Brisbane for at least a couple of reasons. In February of that year, Brisbane experienced its worst ever flood; and later on, in August, a child was born in the suburb of Enoggera. That child was Emanuel Richard Hornibrook, and he would become one of the most notable figures of Brisbane's 20th century. After being apprenticed to a building firm, Emanuel started his own construction company in 1912. By then known as Manuel, Hornibrook successfully tendered for large construction jobs all over Queensland, and by the late 1920s, the company MR Hornibrook Ltd was also operating in other states of Australia as well as New Guinea. The photograph below, taken around 1945, shows the company's headquarters at Newstead (click for a larger image).

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #91372)

Some of the projects that the company participated in over the years are: many of the buildings at the University of Queensland; the Story Bridge; the William Jolly Bridge; the Hornibrook Highway (actually a bridge) that connects Redcliffe to Brisbane; and the Sydney Opera House. MR Hornibrook was knighted in 1960. The company later became Baulderstone Hornibrook and is now known as Baulderstone. The brick building that once was the company's headquarters can still be seen at Breakfast Creek Road, just before you reach the bridge over Breakfast Creek travelling outbound. (Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The building is now called Campbell House (soup? soap? I don't know!), and although there are now many trees and shrubs to separate the building from the busy street, it seems otherwise unchanged. If memory serves me correctly, I believe that at one time this building was also the home of the Queensland Principal Club, which apparently has something to do with horse racing, and not (as I perhaps imagined) a club that trumped the Queensland Club, Tattersalls and the Brisbane Club for prestige.

Click here for a Google Map.

Next: Medical Mother

Friday, February 20, 2009

CSR Refinery

One lump or two? A question that's probably not asked as frequently today as in days of yore. Actually, in those days of yore (when were they, exactly? I've never really known!) they probably wouldn't have asked about lumps anyway - at least not when asking how much sugar one wished to have in a cuppa. It would more likely have been spoons. Australians used to be fairly large consumers of tea, I suppose following the tradition brought here by the British colonists. The Brits are still large tea drinkers - I found an entry in Wikipedia ranking Great Britain at No 2 in the world with 2.3 kg of tea per person per annum and Australia a long way back at No 8 with a mere 0.8 kg. That was as at 2002, and I don't suppose things have changed all that much. By contrast, we apparently drink about 2.4 kg of coffee each per annum, but alarmingly, the majority of that is instant coffee.

The CSR Refinery building (pictured below, in 1902) was erected to supply the lumps (or spoons!) for all of those tea, and increasingly, coffee drinkers. Built in 1893, it became an important part of Queensland's development, and also contributed greatly to the industrialisation of the Bulimba reach of the river because of its requirement for port and rail facilities. An article on the refinery can be read here, at the Queensland Government's EPA site.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #142850)

The article concludes by saying that, towards the end of the twentieth century, the Brisbane City Council's Urban Renewal Taskforce became keen to relocate many of the inner-city industrial sites, and as a result, the refinery ceased operation. The site was redeveloped by Mirvac, and became the multi-award winning Cutters Landing apartments, as seen below.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Although new apartment blocks have also been built, the original building has been retained; and I love the way the contours of the building have been preserved. Even the smaller, stand-alone building on the left has survived - it is now fitted out as a gym for the residents of this up-market complex. A heritage building with modern interiors and facilities, right on the river - what more could a Brisbane dweller require?

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Brisbane boy becomes bridge builder

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Queen & Edward (2)

Do you remember your first job? And, if so, are those memories good memories or not-so-good ones? I do remember my first job - I should, because it lasted for fifteen years, and it has something to do with today's photos. The first image below was taken during the war years; in fact in 1940. It's an picture that I really like - Brisbane in the rain, some pedestrians hurrying across the street while others wait for the traffic lights to change. Two-way traffic in Edward St, including a Bayards (a large Brisbane department store) delivery van; and the buildings: on the far right hand side of the picture is a building that I believe at the time housed Nat Green the Chemist and Australian Metropolitan Life, and next to it is part of the Tattersall's building. Further to the left can be seen the Weller family's Embassy Hotel, which stood on the corner of Edward St and Elizabeth St. On the left edge of the photo can be seen part of the AMP Society's Queensland office, which would become the headquarters of General MacArthur during the latter stages of WWII. Click on the photo if you wish to see a larger image.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #82490)

My first job was in that building, working as a clerk for AMP. When I got there in the late 1960s, not much had changed from this photo, except that the fashions were a bit more modern, and so were the cars. And, the memories are good - I kicked off a career in the financial services industry that continued for forty years, made friendships that last to this day, and had a great deal of fun. Seeing I have mentioned cars: in 1967, on the princely annual salary of $1471, I bought my first car from an AMP colleague for $60 - it was a black 1953 Ford Customline. I didn't even have a licence when I bought this car and drove it home. My father had forbidden me to buy it. He woke up one morning to find it parked in our yard! Things were decidedly frosty for a while :-) That car kept kept my mother, a regular contributor to the petrol tank, and myself extremely poor for the next couple of years.(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In today's picture, above, you can see the same view of the AMP building (we'll have a better look at this building in a later post), now known as MacArthur Chambers. It contains a well-known book store on the ground floor, basement and mezzanine levels; while the floors above have been converted to apartments. There is a museum commemorating General MacArthur's WWII stay here on the eighth floor, which in my days contained the dining room for AMP executives (the hoi-polloi like me ate on the ninth floor!). Moving to the right, the Embassy can still be glimpsed (just behind the tree) between the National Mutual Building and the Canegrowers building; then the Wintergarden shopping mall; the external view of Tattersall's Arcade still looking the same; while the whole southern corner (right side of picture) of this intersection has been redeveloped by the Tattersall's Club. It is now the entrance to the Queen St mall. I have even conjured up a similarly wet day to the original picture, and that isn't such an easy task these days!

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: One lump or two?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hawthorne St Woolloongabba

"Bring out yer dead!" "Bring out yer dead!" For those who, like me, love the irreverent humour of Monty Python, those words immediately bring to mind this sketch from their movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", a hilarious look at life in the Middle Ages. Watch it right to the end for their bitingly satirical comment on royalty.

Naturally, there is really nothing humorous about the Bubonic Plague - we can only laugh at it from afar. We have never experienced it, so it is safe to laugh at comic scenes of someone gathering bodies on a hand-drawn cart, including one who says "I'm not dead!". But, did you know that we did have the Black Death here in Brisbane? I didn't, at least until I was researching for this blog and came across the following photo. Just click on it to see a larger version.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #47425)

According to information kept at the John Oxley Library, Brisbane experienced about 56 cases of the plague around the years 1900 to 1902, with 25 deaths reported. Here is some more information from the ABC's science program. The photo above was taken in Hawthorne St Woolloongabba, just up from the Ipswich Rd corner. The street had to be quarantined to stop the disease from spreading, and uniformed police have cordoned off Hawthorne St, preventing people from entering or leaving. The houses in the foreground have been infected, while in the backgound can be seen a church. The houses were ultimately barricaded off, and the hunt was on for the rats that were spreading the disease. The church in the background is the German Lutheran Church, built in 1896. Here is a similar picture of Hawthorne St that I took recently. (Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The church is still present today, and although it seems to have added some building improvements, those spires on the roof provide a reference. It is now known as the Nazareth Lutheran Church, the adjective "German" having been dropped during WWII, I suppose to avoid any discrimination that may have occurred at that time. The wooden buildings that had been quarantined have long gone, and there are now brick flats in their place. Looking at this quiet suburban street, one can hardly imagine the dread that must have been experienced by its inhabitants a century ago.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Back to Queen and Edward

Friday, February 13, 2009

Howard Smith Wharves

Occasionally, while on one of the many fitness campaigns I have embarked on over the years, I have run, walked or cycled across the Story Bridge. I have also driven across it many times - the most memorable being early one morning on my way to work at Mt Gravatt, before the completion of the Captain Cook Bridge and the freeway. A young woman emerged from one of the stairways on the southern side clad in a wet suit which she proceeded to peel off, revealing that she was wearing only the bottom part of a bikini, before donning a T-shirt and shorts to wander off, totally unconcerned! The traffic slowed as if there had been a multi-vehicle pile-up!

Apart from being an essential link between Kangaroo Point and Fortitude Valley, the Story Bridge is, of course,
an icon of the city of Brisbane. It is now possible to climb the bridge,and I imagine that the views would be superb, as the views form the bridge proper are already pretty good. We'll have more about the bridge in a future post - today we are more concerned about what can be seen from it. Underneath the northern side of the bridge on the river bank used to be the Howard Smith Wharves. They nestled in below the cliff face at New Farm, and were the main commercial port for Brisbane for many years. This 1938 picture shows the wharves prior to the opening of the Story Bridge. The cliffs in the background, at New Farm, were excavated to allow the widening and deepening of the river to accommodate larger ships.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #167693)

When the completion of the Story Bridge made it difficult for large ships to continue use these wharves, Brisbane's main commercial shipping activity moved to Hamilton, although some smaller vessels continued to berth here. Air raid shelters were constructed here during the war years, and after the war, the area was used by the State Government for the Water Police headquarters and also as a storage area. Some of the wharves' structure was lost during the 1974 floods, and the picture below shows what is left today. Although the image looks as though tff has been imprisoned for crimes against photography, there was actually some safety fencing in front of my shooting location that I was unable to avoid if I wanted to replicate the viewpoint of the original.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The Brisbane City Council has now proposed redevelopment of the site to include a boutique hotel, as well as a gallery and public space. This is controversial, as some believe that the heritage aspect of the area would be lost; but, for once, I'm in the other camp. The area cries out for a friendlier, more useful vibe, and the old air raid shelters and remaining buildings could readily be absorbed into something more beneficial to the wider community. You can see from the second photo (just click on it to see a larger image) that the area is now fairly barren and lifeless, although it is part of the RiverWalk project, and the New Farm floating walkway commences here.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Monty Python

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Coronet Flats

When I visited Napier, New Zealand, I received an instant education in Art Deco architecture. Napier was destroyed by earthquake in 1931, with the loss of over 200 lives. Almost all the buildings in the centre of Napier were razed. Rebuilding was organised on a a massive scale, not only to rehouse the inhabitants, but also to supply work in the years of the Great Depression. Art Deco was very much in vogue, and as a result, all the new buildings were created in that style. In Napier you can get Art Deco overload, there's so much of it to see. Prior to going there, the only Art Deco I'd seen was an elaborate water fountain created in Art Deco style at my golf club. Rather OTT considering it was only for thirsty golfers about to tackle the tricky Par 3 eighth hole, I always thought; but still, it was in memory of a club stalwart from a past era.

At around the time that Napier was being rebuilt and wool stores were being erected at Teneriffe, another Art Deco building was constructed at New Farm, opposite New Farm Park, on the corner of Brunswick St and Elyston Rd. Called Coronet Flats, it was a building containing nine flats, with windows overlooking the park. Here is a picture that appeared in the Brisbane Courier in 1933. It seems as though this image has been digitised from the newsprint rather than the negative, hence the low resolution. The Art Deco style is readily seen in the columns, and also in the glass window inserts in the facade.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #117826)

I particularly like the motor cars parked at the front of the opulent-looking building, and this newspaper photo seems to conjure up thoughts of a bygone era. Who knows what stories could be told by these nine flats?

The flats remain, still looking the part. The building itself, although its architecture suggests a certain age, certainly looks as good as new; with well-kept gardens and fresh woodwork. I am pleased that I have even been able to include two more modern vehicles in the picture.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Once Brisbane had the reputation of not retaining our heritage, but thankfully these days it is very difficult to demolish old buildings, or for that matter, old trees, which is just as it should be. This building, a memento of a bygone era, should be with us for many years yet.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Under the Bridge

Monday, February 9, 2009

Corner of Queen St & Edward St (1)

The centre of Brisbane's commercial area has been at the corner of Queen and Edward Streets for over a century. Each of the four corners has had many incarnations, and we are about to look at one of the earliest. So many stories are there to tell about this site, I have decided to number them. The picture below dates back to 1889, well and truly before the mass acceptance of the motor car as transport. Here we have several horse-drawn conveyances of differing types; some stationary, some in motion. I can see one saddled horse, patiently waiting for its rider, at the entrance to the laneway between the two buildings. There is also a blur recorded by the camera in the lower left of the image, and I take this to be a tram travelling along Queen St. The photographer who recorded this scene has set up his camera on the southern side of Edward St, about where the entrance to the Wintergarden shopping mall is now. And there is also a quite good looking dog in the lower right foreground. Have a look at the image - click on it if you would like to see a larger size.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; # APO-040-0001-0002 )

The commercial houses present in this photo no longer exist. On the right we see The Mercantile Bank of Sydney, and on the left, across the laneway, is the three storey Federal Building Society building, which is standing on the corner of Edward St and Queen St. Across Queen St on the other corner can be seen the Courier building, home of Brisbane's newspaper.

You might expect that things would have changed in the ensuing 120 years, and you would be right. Edward St is now paved, for a start! All three of the buildings have been demolished and replaced, some more than once. You can see today's image below.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Starting from the right of the picture, we have the Edward St entrance to MacArthur Central shopping complex. The laneway has now gone, and MacArthur Central butts right up to the next building on the left, the nine storey MacArthur Chambers. No horses in sight; transport has evolved to the ubiquitous motor car, and the public transport buses. Then, on the far side of Queen St, we now have the Commonwealth Bank building. So, the names have changed, and the buildings are taller. That's progress.

For a Google Maps view of this site, click here.


Next: Jewel in the crown

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bulimba School of Arts

Do we really think before we demolish older buildings? Is there a valid reason to knock down an older structure just to replace it with something newer? I suppose the answers to those questions depend on your viewpoint. If a building is unsafe and cannot be satisfactorily or economically repaired, then I guess there is no option. Sometimes, though, I wonder whether redevelopment happens for other reasons.

For instance, take a look at the image below, the Bulimba School of Arts. It used to be situated at the top of Riding Rd, across the road from the Uniting Church, and just below Bulimba State School. Should you wish to read a nostalgic and at times hilarious account of going to this school, please take time to look at Dennis Burchill's account here, on (you will be tested later!). I have to say upfront that I have no knowledge of why or even when the School of Arts was demolished, I am merely wondering why it no longer exists.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #145451)

I remember this building, naturally known as the School o'farts (by some boys - not moi!) when I was younger. It was a building with history and character, and perhaps its use dropped off during its latter years, but I, for one, would like to have it still standing. It also acted as a library, and I hope that it was a clearly considered decision to replace it, and not some political whim, because this is what it has been replaced with - the new Bulimba Library.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In the foreground of both images can be seen the monument to WWI soldiers that Dennis Burchill so wonderfully describes in his memoir (I warned you that you'd be tested!), but the gabled School of Arts has now been levelled, and on the block now stands one of the ugliest, most boring, brick buildings I have ever seen. I have nothing against libraries - I use my local library extensively, and a library is an essential addition to a community - but surely it could look more inviting than this brick box. Thus endeth the rant.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Queen & Edward

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bulimba Uniting Church

I was never an avid church-goer, but I did have a brief conversion when, for a few months, I was very interested in the daughter of the local Baptist minister. Fortunately for me, this high-school romance petered out long before I had to decide anything life changing, such as full body immersion baptism or renouncing dancing. My wife would probably tell you that I have indeed renounced dancing, but these days its for aesthetic reasons (I just don't look very cool when I dance - literally as well as figuratively!), rather than for reasons of religion. My only other really religious undertaking was playing cricket as part of a Methodist Church cricket team (see - I would change denominations according to social or sporting rather than spiritual needs!).

This year Queensland celebrates its 150th birthday, and this little church has been around for more than 140 of those years. Here is a picture from 1914, showing the mem
bers of the church's choir.
(State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #8008-0001-0001)

In those days it was the Brisbane Primitive Methodist Chapel, situated in Oxford St on land donated by local farmer, Mr Riding.

Now we can see the church today, situated (in the same place) on the roundabout where Oxford St, Lytton Rd, Riding Rd and Hawthorne Rd converge. Rather a good place for a church, if you ask me - I pray every time I get to a roundabout! What is it with Brisbane engineers and those darned roundabouts, anyway?
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The church is now the Bulimba Uniting Church, and it has survived into the 21st century admirably. It even has its own web page, where it advises that it is very family-orientated. I wonder if it has a cricket team?

Click here for a Google Map.


School o'farts!

PS: Originally this blog contained a photo that had been identified as the church that is discussed here, but it was pointed out to me that the identification was incorrect (see the comment section below). I have therefore removed the image, and posted the picture of the choir instead. The building that was incorrectly shown is the School of Arts, featured in the next blog post. tff

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lucky Mac's Casket Agency

When I was a kid, I briefly had a job as a paper boy. This holiday job involved selling Brisbane's daily newspaper on the platform of a suburban railway station. My friend, who got me the job and worked with me on one of the other platforms, gave me the drum - "the papers cost one shilling and sixpence, see, and the punters normally give you two bob, see, and if you can't find the change before the train goes, you can keep the change, see?" I saw, alright. I developed rifling through the pockets of my apron looking for sixpence into a very theatrical art form. Trains galore left the station with commuters holding pleading hands out the window waiting in vain for their change. I was extremely disappointed (and a fair bit poorer!) when those holidays ended and I had to go back to school. Anyway, I would have given up all of my sixpenny "tips" to be a paper boy like this. Just click on the picture to see it in a larger size.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #181342)

Here we have the paper delivery boys of Lucky Mac's Casket Agency & Newsagency in Oxford St, Bulimba, just up the road from the ferry. Four cool-looking types on army surplus Harley-Davidsons, complete with side-cars. This photo is dated 1953, probably just before blokes like this on bikes like these would have been called "bodgies", but I'm sure they did a sterling job for the proprietor, Mr Mackenzie. I can just imagine myself being the barefoot boy standing importantly amongst all of this fabulous machinery. I have another photo of the newsagency here.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #181308)

I'm not sure whether one of the gentlemen standing outside the newsagency is Mr Mackenzie, Himself. I'd like to think so. I love the bicycles scattered about the shop - actually, Mr Mackenzie had better get Himself straight back in there, because I'm sure there are a couple of kids in his shop right now, probably stuffing Superman comics down their shirts. (How would I know that?)

The building that was Lucky Mac's newsagency can still be seen at 78 Oxford St, and here it is. (Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

It is now "Thai Legend" restaurant and takeaway, and seems to have a somewhat more startling colour scheme than when it was a newsagency. The house next door
in the earlier photo survives, too, although it is now a business premises rather than a residence. But, I don't care how vibrant the shop is now, to me it can never be as colourful as when it was a newsagency that delivered the Courier-Mail by Harley-Davidson.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Church cricket
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