Monday, June 29, 2009

Albert St Methodist (now Uniting) Church

The churches around Brisbane provide an excellent guide to the fabric and growth of the city. The Methodist congregation in Brisbane opened their first church, on the corner of Albert St and Burnett Lane, in 1849. This was a relatively small building, only seating around 150 worshippers. Indeed, in 1853 the Methodist community were forced to remove themselves to the School of Arts in Ann St as a temporary solution to their problem of growth. The School of Arts still stands today (below). (Edit 13/12/2009 - The Church's own web pages state that it was this building that was temporarily used in 1853. However, the building - initially known as the Servants' Home - was not completed until 1866 , so it is likely that the congregation may have used the Brisbane School of Arts building that, in 1853, was situated on the corner of Queen St and Creek St. where the National Australia Bank now stands.)
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Jeays and Thompson replaced the original church with a larger version on the same site in 1856, but by the 1880s this too was overflowing.

Meanwhile, the industrious Methodists were saving and planning for their new church, to be constructed on the corner of Albert and Ann Streets. They were able to lay the foundation stone in 1888, and the splendid new church was opened in November 1889. The church was designed by GHM Addison and built by Thomas Pearson and Sons for the heavenly sum of £10,000. A large organ, built in Manchester, was imported especially to be installed in the church. In the photo below, the completed church can be seen in the year 1910, standing next to the Water and Sewerage Board offices.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #2542)

I have to confess to a stab of resentment in looking at the Water and Sewerage Board building, which looked pretty flash in 1910. The house my family and I lived in from 1959 onwards didn't have sewerage until about 1965, when Clem Jones did his sterling job of sewering Brisbane. That only took fifty-odd years then! Can you imagine a family of seven in suburban Brisbane in 1965 with only an earth closet toilet ? I thought not! :-(
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

But, back to the reason for this post - the church. It is now one of the most photographed buildings in the city, and is a firm favourite for weddings because of its Victorian Gothic exterior - see my photo above (click for a larger view). The Water and Sewerage Board is no more, and standing on that site is one of the city's several Suncorp Buildings.

Click here for a Google Map.


Pukka sahib

Friday, June 26, 2009

Treasury Building

The object of the Treasury Department in any government is to provide ways to fleece tax the general populus so that the elected government can get on with its business. They employ lots of clever accountants and lawyers to devise innovative methods to do this, prompting a whole industry of even cleverer accountants and lawyers to find ways around those methods. These pastimes are called democracy and free enterprise. In 1889, the building below was opened, and it contained the offices of Queensland's Premier, as well as the Treasury Department and other State government departments.

(Photo: Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #36853)

The building is situated at 1-27 Queen St, right up at the top of the city near the Victoria Bridge. It was built on a site that had been earmarked for Government use since around 1825. The original buildings on the site had been built by convicts and were used as military barracks until about 1864, when the military moved out and the Treasury Department moved in. Sort of a bloodless coup, by the sounds of it. The Treasury Building in the photo was built in three stages between 1886 and 1928, and the picture above was taken in 1898.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In 1995, with the interior of the building refurbished, it opened for business as the Conrad Treasury Casino (see my photo above - click on it for a larger image), with its new role being to fleece entertain patrons by means of various gambling enticements. Part of the revenue is diverted towards non-profit enterprises in Queensland, oversighted by the State Government. Not much has changed, really! :-)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: The Methodists

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

St John's Cathedral

How long does it take to build a cathedral? Readers of Ken Follett's best-selling novels "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End" know that it takes a very long time indeed. Follett opined that it takes at least thirty years, often longer if there is war or famine to contend with. Here in Brisbane we must be setting a world record in this category (well, I hope we at least made the finals!), because the Anglican St John's Cathedral in Ann Street in the city has taken over 100 years. The Duke of Cornwall and York laid the foundation stone of the magnificent gothic-style cathedral in 1901, the year of Federation, so the cathedral is as old as the very concept of a nation called Australia. The following picture of the cathedral and the next-door deanery was taken in 1910.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #117230)

The historical photo was taken from a rooftop vantage point in Adelaide Street, and shows the imposing structure high atop the sheer cliff face opposite. A combination of the overhanging awnings on the present buildings in Adelaide Street and the now-abundant greenery behind the cathedral made my recent attempt to emulate the original picture a tad difficult, but I did my best.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

A picture taken in Ann Street of the other side of the building provides a little more detail of the exterior of the cathedral.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The story of the building of the cathedral, including the delays caused by fluctuating finances (well known to most of us in current times!) can be found in the cathedral's web pages. As a structure it is most impressive, so much so that I suspended my usual avoidance of churches for a visit to see the completed cathedral. Inside the rather stern-looking Gothic exterior are wonderful vaults and arches, with dappled sunlight filtered through stained glass windows playing on the brickwork.

(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

And the windows themselves are very colourful and impressive. Stained glass windows usually contain stories within the fabulous panels of multi-coloured glass, and these are no exception. The cathedral is open to visitors and it is well worth making time to see this beautiful and historic building.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Creating a casino

Monday, June 22, 2009

Castlemaine Perkins

I didn't drink beer until I was around 19 years old, for no other reason that I just didn't like the taste. That was two years short of the legal drinking age of the time, but most of my contemporaries were going to pubs well before that age, feeling that if they were in the work force and eligible for conscription into the Army, then they should be allowed to have a drink. The laws were finally amended to reduce the legal age to eighteen in 1974, by which time my mates and I were all over twenty-one and past caring. Beer was the common drink in those days, and the brand you drank was a very regional affair. If you were a Queenslander who lived in or near Brisbane, then the XXXX (Fourex) label was likely to be your choice. The other local draught was Bulimba Gold Top, but it had the nickname "Green Death", which gives you some idea of its popularity. Other Queenslanders normally drank beer brewed locally, and they could be spectacularly one-eyed about the virtues of say, Cairns Draught or NQ Lager in Cairns, or Mac's in Rockhampton. Draught beer in kegs didn't transport too well, so anything imported from "down south" was at an immediate disadvantage compared with the local beer. XXXX beer was, and still is, brewed in the Brisbane suburb of Milton in the Castlemaine Perkins brewery, shown below in this photo from 1901.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #128860)

Milton Rd is one of Brisbane's main thoroughfares to the western suburbs and Ipswich, but the brewery has maintained its presence there despite changes in ownership and product. Huge semi-trailers regularly roll out of the brewery, laden with the famous product which is shipped all over the globe; although it has recently been announced that XXXX beer will no longer be available in Britain. In my recent photo (below), remnants of the old building have been combined with more recent additions.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Drinkers these days seem to be more willing to experiment with imported beers, rather than sticking to one local brew as in days gone by. That's probably a good thing, as the XXXX brand has just been sold to the Japanese brewing giant, Kirin. Thirty years ago a change to Japanese ownership may have caused street demonstrations, but it doesn't seem to have bothered today's drinkers too much.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Building a Cathedral

Friday, June 19, 2009

MV Mirimar

Before beautiful Bribie Island became a mini-Gold Coast with million dollar mansions on man-made canals, we used to visit my aunt, Dad's sister, who lived there in the early fifties, and still lives there today.

Bribie was a little bit like a frontier in the fifties. My uncle had a four wheel drive vehicle - a Land Rover - which was a work-horse, unlike the Ascot shopping-trolleys of today. It was used off-road because there were not too many roads, and the sandy terrain required decent traction. He loved fishing, and the Land Rover took him all over the island.

A visit to Bribie Island was a little complicated for us because we didn't have a car - not that there was a bridge in those days anyway; it wasn't completed until 1963. We would catch a bus into the city, walk to Hayles' wharf, and then a boat ride to Bribie Island would ensue. My sisters and I thought that it was a proper adventure. I don't remember that we stayed overnight at my aunt's, so I assume that the boat must have anchored at Bribie for a while and then returned to Brisbane. I do, however, remember the vessel that we travelled on, and it was the MV Mirimar, pictured below.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #146607)

The Courier-Mail recently ran a story on the Mirimar today - click here to read it. She was built right here by Norm Wright's shipyards in 1934, and spent years on the river and Moreton Bay, as well as a stint of island-hopping in North Queensland. Today she plies the Brisbane River on her daily tourist run to Lone Pine, boarding from the State Library at South Brisbane (below).
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

At various times over the years I have seen the Mirimar on the river from different office vantage points, and I have always been struck by her sleek lines - she looks long and lean in the water. It seems, however, that the old girl is shortly due for retirement and will be replaced by a new vessel for the Lone Pine daily tours. With luck, the Mirimar may end up being cared for at the Maritime Museum, alongside that other old lady of the river, the Forceful. I certainly hope so.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: XXXX

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fox hunt

For the life of me, I cannot imagine fox hunts in Brisbane. Sure, I understand that farmers would have shot foxes to protect their livestock; but a proper, port drinking, red coat wearing, horse and hounds type fox hunt? Surely not! It happened, though, and I have proof. Below is a photo from some time around 1892, showing a group about to set off on such an adventure. Britain was the bastion of the fox hunt, (although it has probably seen its last days there anyway); and foxes were imported from there into Australia for sporting purposes. Yes, I agree that, from the viewpoint of these enlightened and PC times, hunting a wild animal using a pack of dogs to chase it down and tear it to pieces is cruel and abhorrent; but back in those days, I'm sure that they saw it as having a dual theme - ridding the area of a pest, and a group activity of conviviality and action.

 (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #19620)

If you are interested, this link takes you to the digital record at the library where you can read for yourself the names of the riders and their horses! It appears the dogs weren't thought of as highly, as they do not rate a mention. The photograph was taken outside the Royal Mail Hotel at Goodna, which had been a stopping point for the coach journey between Brisbane and Ipswich. By the time the photo was taken, however, the rail line was complete and travel by coach had pretty much faded into memory. Further information about Goodna's past can be read here in a document called "Goodna Then & Now", although I have no knowledge of the document's authorship or sources. It is just out there in "The Cloud"!
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In any case, there is still a Royal Mail Hotel at Goodna, and you can see it in my recent photo above. Whether it is the same building or even on the same site, I am afraid I cannot say: it certainly looks similar to the building in the older picture, and the name "Royal Mail" is partly hidden behind a tree - click the photo to see a larger image. Goodna is now much larger and more suburban than rural, and if there are any foxes left there, they can rest easier knowing that they will not be descended upon by baying hounds and galloping horses.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: By boat to Bribie

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dr James O'Neil Mayne and Miss Mary Emelia Mayne

(Photos: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #108322 & #94319)

Anyone with even a passing interest in the early days of Brisbane should read Rosamond Siemon's historical novel, The Mayne Inheritance. This author proves the prevailing viewpoint that only the youthful have anything of substance to offer the world to be a lie; she produced this, her first novel, at the age of 77, and has gone on to write another. The Mayne Inheritance is not some dusty tome either, for it is alive with the trials of living in a colonial outpost and the human costs endured by the relatives of one of Brisbane's early pioneers who hid a terrible secret for most of his adult life, only to then reveal it on his death bed.

Rather than uncover his secret here, I would encourage you to read the book. Let me confine this post to the legacy left by the generation that followed that pioneer, Mr Patrick Mayne, who, by the time of his death had risen from being a poor butcher to become one of Brisbane's wealthiest citizens by securing valuable land holdings in Brisbane and surrounding areas. Mayne and his wife Mary had six children, one of whom died in infancy. None of those who reached adulthood married or had children, and Mayne's last survivors, his youngest son James and youngest daughter Mary Emelia (both pictured above), died in 1939 and 1940 respectively. Yet the Mayne legacy lives on - this is why.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #193526)
In the background of the picture above, taken in 1968, is the University of Queensland, nestled in a pocket of the river at St Lucia opposite Highgate Hill, which is from where this photo was taken. Originally, the University was situated in the city on George St, but the space there eventually became inadequate, and there was no possibility of finding more land in the crowded city centre. A new site near the (Royal) Brisbane Hospital at Victoria Park had been proposed for the University, but there were problems with that site - levelling it would involve an astronomical cost. To the rescue of the city and the University came Dr James Mayne, who indicated that he and his sister wished to purchase a tract of land at St Lucia to be donated as the new site for the University. This altruism was no flash in the pan, for Dr Mayne had already donated his entire salary from his years as a surgeon at Brisbane Hospital back to the hospital for improvements that included the hospital's first X-Ray machine. With the support of Brisbane's Lord Mayor, William Jolly, the Maynes purchased the land at the then huge cost of £80,000, and handed it to the University Senate in December 1926. This magnificent gift was in addition to a previous gift of land at Moggill to be used for the University's Department of Agriculture.

Unfortunately, it then took several years for the University to commence building on the site, with the result that the Maynes didn't see their dream fulfilled. Not long after the laying of the foundation and the commencement of building, firstly James and then Mary Emelia passed away. Even though the University was desperate for room, Siemon's book explains that the delay in building, and the subsequent muted response to this outstanding bequest, were due to the stigma attached to the Mayne name as a result of the secret Patrick Mayne revealed to the world as he lay dying.

Despite these apparent snubs, the Maynes' generosity continued. After their death, their identically-framed wills bequeathed their entire estates, some £200,000 at that time (probably more than 6 million of today's dollars!), to the University's medical faculty. In addition, the site of the original Mayne family home in Queen St, which James Mayne had transformed into the beautiful Brisbane Arcade, was part of that legacy and continues to provide a substantial annual income to the University.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)
Read the book - it's at your local library!

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Tally-ho!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Convict windmill

Brisbane was originally established as a convict settlement in 1824. The initial site was at Redcliffe, but the settlement was moved up the Brisbane River to North Quay a year later. The oldest construction left from those early days is the convict-built windmill on Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill, which was constructed in 1828 to provide flour for the settlers. As well as being powered by wind, the mill evidently had a secondary function as a punishment for convicts, who could be forced to grind the grain using a treadmill. For some reason, the mill was not entirely successful, and the building was converted to an observation station and signal station for ships in the port below. The following image, from a Shell postcard dated around 1905, shows the tower after the windmill sails were removed, and the associated flagpole that was used for relaying the signals, sent by telegraph from Fort Lytton, to the port of Brisbane.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #4831-0001-0002)

The old mill has long been a heritage item - the government tried to sell it in 1849, but was forced to abandon those plans by the weight of public opinion. In 1987, the Brisbane City Council, assisted by a group of architects, embarked on a restoration program. An account of that process, written by Brisbane conservation architect Peter Marquis-Kyle, can be found here.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In my recent photograph, above, the Old Windmill can be seen after its restoration, which included the flagpole too. The spherical object above the observation platform is the time ball that was dropped daily at 1 pm (for a period of years, it was also accompanied by the firing of a cannon) to announce the time of day to the colony.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Generous benefactors

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cathedral of St Stephen

Not being a fan of organised religion, the only times I visit a church are for weddings and funerals. And so it was recently when I visited the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Stephen in the CBD for the funeral of a friend. Not a close friend in recent years, but in our youth we worked in the same place and were further connected by escapades involving cricket and football, not to mention women and beer. He died far too young, taken by cancer, leaving behind a wife, children and grandchildren. It was sad and beautiful at the same time, in the way that funerals are. Many of our contemporaries were there, all of us being reminded of our own mortality, but remembering the fun times we had shared in earlier days. After the service, and after the hearse had rolled away, we had a cup of tea in a room next to the cathedral, while photos of our friend - the family's husband, father and grandfather - appeared on the wall to remind us of what a good man he was, and how fleeting life is.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #64063)

This web-page at the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane's site informs us of the history of the Cathedral of St Stephen. The foundation stone of the original church on this site was laid in 1848, and then the church was opened in 1850. It became a cathedral in 1859 on the appointment of James Quinn as the first Bishop of Brisbane. This original cathedral is shown in the photo above, taken in 1928.

The cathedral was recognised as being too small, so construction of a replacement cathedral adjacent to the original began in 1863, and the two buildings are shown together below.
(Photo: NLA; #nla.pic-vn4589898)

My recent photo, below, shows how they look today - click on it for a larger version.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Archbishop James Duhig had plans for a new cathedral in Fortitude Valley, but the plans were abandoned during the recessionary 1920s. St Stephen's has remained the Catholic cathedral, and several refurbishments have taken place over the years, the latest being about twenty years ago. The stained glass windows, several of them bequests of the family of pioneer local alderman and businessman Patrick Mayne, are an amazing feature of this inner-city place of contemplation and worship.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Crime and punishment

Monday, June 8, 2009

Elizabeth Kenny Clinic

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #54002)

Sister Elizabeth Kenny (shown above demonstrating her therapy) became somewhat of a celebrity, albeit a controversial one, in Australia and overseas as a result of her treatment of "infantile paralysis", or what is now called polio. In his article for the series "The Way We Were", currently being run by the Courier-Mail to celebrate Queensland's 150-year anniversary, Brendan O'Malley recounts how much she was loved by her patients and their families. She opened a clinic in Townsville in 1934, and then this one, on the corner of George and Charlotte Streets in Brisbane, in 1935.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #53582)

In 1940, The Queensland Government paid for Sister Kenny to travel to the United States to promote her methods for the treatment of polio. She
eventually moved to the States, where benefactors established further clinics for her. Unfortunately, Kenny developed Parkinson's disease, and she returned to retire in Toowoomba in 1951, and passed away there in 1952.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

I don't know what happened to the clinic, but the George and Charlotte Street corner is now dominated by this huge office tower, too big even for a wide angle lens. It may contain State Government public servants - I wonder how many of them are aware of the significance of the site.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Quiet contemplation

Friday, June 5, 2009

Toorak House

(Photo: © 1979 National Trust of Queensland)

High on the hill at Hamilton stands one of Brisbane's most impressive houses, Toorak House. Constructed of local stone, it was built in about 1865 for Brisbane businessman, land owner and later Queensland Premier, James Dickson. Dickson had a hand in early Queensland businesses such as Queensland Trustees and Brisbane Permanent Building and Banking Society. The following photo of Toorak House was taken around 1890.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #156697)

Toorak House has changes hands relatively few times since its construction. It was held in trust by members of the Dickson family after James Dickson's death, then was bought by John Gibson. One of the subsequent owners was famous Brisbane philanthropist Harold de Vahl Rubin, and it is currently held by the Allen family who have owned Toorak House and its two acres of land since 1963.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Toorak House is actually quite difficult to photograph, and I was unable to copy the original aspect. It is surrounded by a solid high fence, and up close there is no view of the house. My photograph (above) was taken from Kingsford Smith Drive using a telephoto lens.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Sister Kenny

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Across the river

I know there are those among you who cherish old postcards (Hi Val), so today's historical image is from a series of Shell picture postcards and it dates back to 1908 or thereabouts. It is taken from Bowen Terrace looking across the Brisbane River to Kangaroo Point, with a couple of steamships on the river at the time. At the time of this photo, the only vehicular bridge across the river was the Victoria Bridge, although there were railway bridges and ferry services at various points. Click on the photo to see it in a larger size.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #APE-062-0001-0006)

So if you were standing at Bowen Terrace in New Farm, and wanted to get to Kangaroo Point, you would have to walk into the city and then up Queen St to reach the Victoria Bridge (some 2 km) and then walk a further 4 km from South Brisbane to Kangaroo Point. As congestion started to clog the Victoria Bridge, a study was commissioned to examine the most appropriate site for a new bridge downriver from the Victoria Bridge, and the site from the New Farm cliffs to the Kangaroo Point peninsula was identified as appropriate for the purpose. In today's photo (below), the Story Bridge so dominates the landscape at Bowen Terrace that it is difficult to imagine what the view would be like without the bridge.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The Story Bridge opened to traffic in July 1940, not a moment too soon for Brisbane's beleaguered traffic and footsore pedestrians. Now the walk from Bowen Terrace to Kangaroo Point is only about 750 metres, a splendid discount on the previous 6 km.

Click here for a Google Map.


Brisbane's Toorak

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kingsford Smith Drive

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. "Hello, Brisbane Widget Co."
"Hello, this is Joe Bloggs. I'll be late to work today - there's been an aeroplane accident on Kingsford Smith Drive."
Stunned silence.

Sound unlikely? Well, it did happen one day towards the end of the war, as a fighter plane being towed from Bretts Wharves fouled the power lines on Kingsford Smith Drive, requiring police to attend the scene to divert traffic.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #150693)

Let's take a look at the old photo. In the foreground, a policeman wearing shorts and long socks, no firearm visible. Left of him are the tram driver and conductor in their foreign legion styled peaked caps, standing in front of their tram, which was headed to Balmoral Cemetery. Behind the tram, amid the traffic chaos is the plane, wings folded for transport, after having been turned around to clear the road. It looks like the maze of overhead power lines for the trams has been damaged, probably by those folded wings. More broken wiring lies on the ground in front of the tram.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Kingsford Smith Drive, like the rest of Brisbane, has lost its trams; now the road is four lanes wide for the ever increasing traffic to the northern suburbs, the Gateway Bridge and the airport. The overhead power lines for the trams have been dismantled and it appears that the street lighting is now powered by underground cabling, so any aircraft travelling along Kingsford Smith Drive these days should be safe!

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Shortcut
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