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


  1. Would you be able to tell me what building was previously on the site of the Commonwealth Bank Building, cnr Edward and Queen Streets please?

  2. The immediately prior building was an earlier Commonwealth Bank. Prior to that I believe may have been Queensland Newspapers - I'll have to check.

  3. I've been doing some research on Messrs Smellie & Co Ltd. As can be seen from the following link, they had a retail outlet in Queen Street that the article says was opposite the GPO.
    I can find few references to this retail establishment as opposed to Smellie's agricultural machinery/hardware business. I have some documentation that proves they the retail outlet was operating in 1926. I also have photos of an amazing ceramics department the contents of which would be worth millions today. But I have yet to prove whether they were taken in this retail establishment. Can any one help me with any relevant information pictures ?

  4. I am also looking for info on the buildings previously on the ComBank site. I am sure that the second building up from Edward Street was the Hibernian Building in which my grandfather had the Morrison Health Institute. I can only find reference to a Hibernian Building opposite King George Square. Can anyone help with any information about this?


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