Friday, July 31, 2009

Ascot Taxi Service

When a patron who was leaving London's Savoy Hotel mistakenly thought that lyricist William Gilbert (of famous songwriters Gilbert & Sullivan fame) was a doorman, this is what is said to have unfolded:

"Call me a cab sir"
"Certainly sir, you're a four-wheeler"
"How dare you, sir!"
"Well, you asked me to call you a cab and I certainly couldn't call you hansom."

Boom, boom! :-)

According to the Taxi Council of Queensland, we were still using hansom cabs in Brisbane in 1935, from a rank outside the Supreme Court in George St. The first motorised cab had appeared in 1919, when two motor-mechanics formed Ascot Taxi Service from their garage in Racecourse Rd in the northern suburb of Ascot. The original owners of the business went broke during the depression, but the taxi service was taken over by new owners who,
in 1936, purchased land at 73 Barry Parade, Fortitude Valley, to build the company's new headquarters. This is the building, pictured below in 1937, with some of the modern vehicles from the company's fleet on show.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #65712)

Ascot Taxis had a well-recognised fleet of vehicles, with a livery of black highlighted with a white stripe containing black spots. They went on to become the first cabs in Queensland to operate with two-way radios. The Ascot name disappeared when the firm became Q Cabs in 1992, before eventually being folded into the giant Black & White taxi company.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The Ascot Taxis former head office building is still standing in Barry Parade in the Valley, as can be seen in my recent photo (above - click for a larger view). Traces of the original name can be seen below the paintwork of the new business occupying the building.

That current business is Valley Radiator Service. As their slogan says - "Where else would you take a leak?"

Boom, boom! :-)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Feeding an army

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dixson & Sons

One of the smarter lifestyle choices that I have made is to be a non-smoker. Both of my parents smoked when I was younger, and I always hated the smell of burning cigarettes. Cigarette smoke still makes me sneeze, even today. Smoking was a contributing factor to my father's early death from throat cancer, so I am glad that I had a natural aversion to the habit. When I was a teenager, I had a part-time job at the local corner store, and being the general dogsbody, I was responsible for keeping the shelves stacked with everything from apples to zinc cream. I always loved stacking the tobacco shelf. Roll-your-own cigarette smokers and pipe smokers were fairly common in the sixties, and tobacco used to arrive at the shop in cartons containing pouches of Champion Ready-Rubbed and Drum tobacco for "rollies", and tins of Amphora and Dr Pat for the pipes. Raw (I guess it wasn't really raw - it just didn't have all that other junk that they put in cigarettes!) tobacco had a seductive smell that was almost overpowering on opening the cartons that they were transported in.

At that time, i didn't think too much about where the tobacco came from. I assumed that it originated overseas, although I did know that cigarette manufacturer WD & HO Wills had a large plant over on the southside of town in the suburb now known as Robertson. But tobacco was grown in Australia (mainly in North Queensland), and there had been a tobacco factory right here in Brisbane - the Dixson and Sons multi-storey building in Fortitude Valley, pictured below in 1896.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #73246)

Sensibilities about smoking aside, it was felt that there was a financial incentive in having this business in Brisbane. Click here to read an excerpt from "The Queenslander" newspaper of 21 July 1896 that discusses the commercial benefits to the city and also gives the reader a tour of the factory and a description of the manufacturing process.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The old Dixson's building survives, on the busy corner of Brunswick and Ivory Streets in the Valley. The exterior has changed somewhat, as you can see in my recent photo (above - click for a larger image), that I have chosen to present in black and white. In 1901, Dixson's joined with WD & HO Wills to form British Tobacco Co. (Australia). I cannot say when tobacco production ceased in the building, but it is now home to a contemporary design house.

Click here for a Google Map.


Call me a cab!

Monday, July 27, 2009


When future generations look back on the millennium just past, the twentieth century, I wonder what will be the standout social change. Of course, the question itself implies that there will be future generations, which is just another thing that I wonder about. And addressing the second item first, one of the reasons that there may not be future generations is my answer to the first question. Are you confused? Me too! Anyway, back to my ponderings about what agent of change the twentieth century will be remembered for; and my answer is the motor car. Not the invention of it, because you, my intelligent reader, already know that the automobile (or the horseless carriage, the motor car or whatever other name it may have been known as) was invented in the century before that. However, during the twentieth century, methods of mass production (sounds similar to weapons of mass destruction, doesn't it!) and the increase in individual wealth and leisure time led to the present ubiquity of the motor vehicle. Wikipedia tells us that there were about 806 million cars and light trucks on the world's roads in the year 2007. But this is not meant to be a diatribe against the car - I'm sure we are all aware of the issues. In our house, we have reduced the number of cars from two to one, and I cheerfully use public transport whenever possible. I know many others are using bicycles and walking in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases. I actually love cars, and I used to love driving, too; at least up until recently when vertigo started to be a problem for me. (I bet you're glad I catch the bus now!) :-)

One of the things about cars is that, being a mechanical object, they sometimes break down. And if you are as mechanically challenged as I am, the very sensible thing to do is to belong to a motoring organisation that provides a 24 hour breakdown service. In Queensland, the premier motoring body is the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, or RACQ, which for over 100 years has been looking after the state's car owners and drivers. They have saved me more than once. Below is a photo of the opening of the Club's new service division in Spring Hill in 1953.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #20899)

In addition to its normal motoring services, the RACQ now also has major finance and insurance divisions and is a travel agent too. It has outgrown the Spring Hill premises, and moved to new corporate headquarters at Eight Mile Plains in 2002. It also opened a new claims centre at Acacia Ridge this year.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

These days, the former RACQ service centre is part of St Joseph's College (known as Terrace), a large Catholic school based on Gregory Terrace at Spring Hill. It is called "Waterford Place" and now appears to be an auditorium.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Noxious weed

Friday, July 24, 2009


One of Queensland's business success stories is the insurance and banking giant, Suncorp. Way back in 1916, the Queensland government formed the State Accident Insurance Office, which very shortly thereafter became the State Government Insurance Office (SGIO). Originally a general insurer, SGIO expanded to offer life insurance products and superannuation, then also added finance and banking operations. The State government built its first high-rise office tower on the corner of George and Elizabeth Streets to accommodate the insurance company, which moved in there around 1922. This is that building (below), photographed in 1922.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #177045)

The building is still standing opposite Queen's Park, and is still used by the State government, and this is how it looks today, now dwarfed by larger buildings in Brisbane's CBD.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

SGIO continued to grow both organically and by acquisition, and had to move to bigger premises. Their new head office was built in 1971, on the corner of Turbot and Albert Streets, just next door to the Albert St Uniting Church.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In 1996, SGIO (by then known as Suncorp) merged with Queensland-based Metway Bank (which itself had grown from a building society to a publicly listed bank) and the State government's investment operation QIDC to create the allfinanz monolith Suncorp Metway. Although the State government was a major stakeholder in this operation originally, it subsequently sold down its interests, and now Suncorp is Australia's largest general insurance operation, as well as the fifth-largest bank in the country. One building is apparently now no longer enough, and the old Metway Bank head office building in Ann St also sports the Suncorp logo (below).
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

However, Suncorp staff are evidently housed somewhere else - in a new building in Brisbane Square, I believe. Mightn't be too long before we see a Suncorp symbol down there too.


Motorists' friend

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Woolloongabba Police Station

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #37394)

It's a change to be able to present an older building that's not either a church or a hotel - and this building is probably as far removed from those two categories as it is possible to be. In today's historical photos we have the Woolloongabba Police Station, situated on Main St, just down from the Fiveways. The photo above shows the building in 1921, with the railway turntable for the trains that traversed the Fiveways in the foreground. A further picture of the police station from 1987 is shown below.

(Photo: R Irmer, State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #67790)

This building was purpose-built as a police station in 1912-13, replacing two rented properties that had previously housed the local police. The house was designed by the government architect, AB Brady, and built for £4,539. The station was further improved by the addition of electric lights in 1925, connection to the sewerage system in 1926, and the addition of a dining room for police constables in 1928. The building contained accommodation for the senior officer, as well as sleeping quarters for constables and four cells for prisoners. Then, a major renovation occurred in 1936, following the decision to make this the headquarters for the South Coast Police District, which covered some 2,000 square miles. In the late 1930s, the Police Welfare Club had tennis courts and a basketball court erected at the rear of the premises in order to provide supervised activity for local youth. In the fifties, the accommodation for police was phased out, and the CIB moved in.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The building was vacated by the Police Department in 1993, and is now occupied by the State Department of Sport and Recreation. My recent picture (above) shows the brick building to still be well-presented and in good repair, and it looks only slightly different from the way it appeared in the earlier pictures. The lights from the famous Gabba cricket ground are in evidence behind the building, and part of the spectator seating can be seen to the left.

And what of the police? In a blast from the past, the area is to be served by The Gabba Police Beat
, operating from a shop-front in Logan Rd.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Queensland Inc

Monday, July 20, 2009

Richard Gailey, architect

In my early post-school years, a group of friends lived in a flat in Gailey Rd, Taringa. Close to both the city and the university, this area was ideal for these young people, who were working and studying at the same time. What I didn't know then was that Gailey Rd was named after one of Brisbane's most prolific and enduring architects, Richard Gailey, who designed many buildings in Brisbane around the turn of the twentieth century. Many of them are still standing in full or in part around the city today. Gailey owned substantial property around the Swann Rd area of Taringa, resulting in the naming after him of Gailey Rd, the street that leads from Toowong up the hill to Swann Rd.

If you had to think of an occupation that would enable you to leave your mark on the world, it would be hard to go past that of an architect. You could argue authors or composers, but I think buildings are probably a more tangible and readily accessible legacy than words or music. Richard Gailey's legacy is visible all over Brisbane more than eighty years after his death.

Let's look at some of his work.

The Regatta Hotel - Coronation Drive, Toowong

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #12977)

Watson Bros (Plumbers) Building, Margaret St (now Wilson's Parking)

(Photos: Left - State library of Queensland and John Oxley Library #89333; Right - © 2009 the foto fanatic)

CML building, 62 Queen St

Old Myer Store (formerly Allan & Stark), Queen St

Irish Club, Elizabeth St

Metro Arts Building, Edward St

(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Moorlands - Coronation Drive, Toowong

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #199893)

The Baptist Tabernacle, Wickham Terrace

(Photos: Left - State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library #146445; Right - © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Click any photo to see a larger image.

The list continues: Brisbane Grammar School; Smellie & Co building, Edward & Alice Sts; and, given that
he reportedly was a staunch Baptist, a curious mixture of numerous suburban Baptist churches and over thirty suburban hotels. Gailey also designed the refurbishment of and extensions to Fernberg (now Government House) at Paddington in 1888.

Gailey's son, Richard junior, also became an architect. He designed the still marvellous Brisbane Arcade for Dr James Mayne, which was built on the site of the original Mayne family home in Queen St.


Next: Cop shop

Friday, July 17, 2009


We have previously met early Brisbane businessman William Perry, the founder of the huge Perry Bros hardware emporium. Perry lived at Folkestone, a hilltop residence at Bowen Hills. William Perry left his mark in this suburb too - Perry Park, where the family grazed their livestock, and Folkestone St are reminders of this entrepreneur. The house Folkestone no longer exists - after William Perry's death, the land was sold to the Catholic church, and on the site of the house Archbishop James Duhig built Our Lady of Victories church.

Perry was also a family man. On his estate at Bowen Hills around the year 1885, he had this residence, Miegunyah (pictured below), constructed for his sons Herbert and George.
(Photo: © 1979 National Trust of Queensland)

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #41591) ca 1886

Some idea of the wealth of the family can be gleaned from the size and opulence of the house, and the carriage being held for their use at the front of the steps, attended by a driver and footman. (Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Miegunyah was purchased in 1967 by the Queensland Women's Historical Society, who not only saved it from demolition, but since since then have been able to carry out some restoration work; they now run it as a historical museum and it is open to the public. Check out their website here.(Photo: Courtesy

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Gailey designed

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lang Park

Lang Park is the spiritual home of rugby league in Brisbane, and each year it becomes the shrine at which State of Origin is worshipped. Originally a cemetery, it is now seen as the burial grounds of the hated Blues (New South Wales) players and supporters who annually aspire to an Origin win here. Actual burials though, ceased when the cemetery was closed in 1875, with the remains of those interred being transferred to Toowong Cemetery. Then the area was used as a rubbish tip prior to its development as a sporting ground. The picture below, from 1919, shows the rudimentary playing fields, and behind them can be seen the signage for the Ithaca Baths in Caxton St.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #21561)

During the fifties and sixties, prior to the State of Origin concept, Brisbane club premiership matches at Lang Park were as keenly followed as today's interstate clashes, particularly when the local Wests team was in winning form. Lang Park was regularly filled for the Brisbane club grand finals. I played the other code, rugby union, but it's hard to avoid rugby league influences here in Brisbane. Rugby union supporters are often referred to as "rah-rahs" because it is mainly played in private schools (I, in fact, attended state primary and secondary schools in the heartland of rugby league - I'm just contrary sometimes!), and we in turn called league players and supporters "mungos", a reference to the Mungo Man of early evolution. State of Origin was also known as "Origin of the Species" in a backhanded compliment to the toughness of these matches. So I didn't visit Lang Park too frequently. I once took a girlfriend to a grand final in which the local rugby league team she supported was playing for the Brisbane premiership, but they lost. The relationship seemed to go downhill quite quickly after that.(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Of course, every Queenslander knows that the Lang Park name no longer exists, but, like the cockroach (gratuitous sledge aimed at Blues supporters!), it has proven to be hard to eradicate. The place has been renamed Suncorp Stadium, and after a couple of makeovers it is now a modern sporting venue with impressive facilities. A more complete history of Lang Park/Suncorp Stadium can be found here, and my picture (above) will give you an idea of this huge complex. Spectators can be delivered right to the door by bus, and train travellers have been provided with a covered walkway that takes them from Milton Station to the front gate. Suncorp Stadium now hosts not only rugby league, but also other major sporting events including the rugby union Super 14 series and test matches from both codes. It is also used as an outdoor concert venue - the recent Andre Rieu concerts were completely sold out, and Suncorp Stadium was teeming with blue-haired grannies instead of blue-haired NSW supporters.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: A different Perry house

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kangaroo Point Uniting Church

There's no doubt about churches - they're usually built to last. Pictured below is the Uniting Church, formerly the Wesleyan Church, at 46 Linton St in Kangaroo Point. This photograph dates from 1926, but the church was actually opened in 1903.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #189796)

The church itself appears to be quite a substantial building for the times, especially seeing Kangaroo Point was then very much a working man's suburb. But the faithful always seem to be able to locate the requisite funds for building churches, and this one has stood the test of time.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The building appeared largely unchanged from the earlier picture when I photographed it recently (click for a larger view), save for the removal of roof ornaments, which probably occurred when the roof was renewed at some time. In a tribute to our multi-cultural community, the sign in front of the church is bilingual, and the church's web page also mentions special Fijian services. And, just in case the meek don't inherit the earth, you can sign up for karate classes too!
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

I haven't been inside this church, but there appear to be a number of stained glass windows. I am sure that they would be beautiful with sunlight shining through them. I did seem to see a special effect on the exterior of the church, though! :-)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Cockroach burial ground

Friday, July 10, 2009

28 Moreton St, New Farm

I was intrigued when I first came upon this old photo of a New Farm house in the John Oxley Library, mainly because it is only about a kilometre from where I live. There is no special historical significance to the house or its inhabitants that I am aware of, save that it demonstrates how one family lived in Brisbane around the year 1904, when the image was made. Here is the excerpt from the records at the library:
"Brick residence, 'Cohoes' at 28 Moreton Street in New Farm. The home had elaborate fretwork on the end gable and there are acroteria on the ends of the guttering. Mr Arthur Moore was the resident of this home in 1906. (Information taken from Queensland Post Office and Official Directory, 1902,1906, p.83)"
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #141855)

I assume that it is the resident of the house, Mr Arthur Moore, and his family pictured on the verandah of the attractive dwelling. He is not described as the owner - perhaps he rented the house, or maybe his employer provided it for him. New Farm is quite close to the centre of the city, and was served by the electric tram at that time. It would have passed by on Brunswick St, just a block away from his house, so Mr Moore could well have worked in town. Or, perhaps he was indeed the owner, and may have been a gentleman who had no need to work. It is interesting to speculate, isn't it?
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The house is still there on the corner of Moreton St and Hazel St, and it is still a very attractive residence too, although difficult to photograph in precisely the same way. There is a large tree on the footpath that shields the house from view, and the gardens of the house also contain quite large trees. The lovely roofline and detailed fretwork are still very evident, as well as the chimneys and the wrought-iron roof feature. Although the front fence has been changed, the side fence appears to retain properties of the original paling fence. The house is deceptively large, as it extends quite a way into the property. I don't know who lives there now - wouldn't it be interesting to find out?

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #86414)

- After I wrote this, but before it was finally published as a post, I received some further information on this property. Friends were actual owners of this house at one time, and I have in fact been there, albeit some years ago! When I took my photo for this post, I was conscious of the fact that our friends had lived in this street, but I had no clue as to which house it was. I was discussing the blog with them when it became apparent that the house I was working on was the very house they had lived in. Not only that, but they had some further information on the construction of that house and others near it. Let me continue.

Above is the photo of the house next door, "Devon" (the name is on the front gate) at 32 Moreton St. In fact, four detached but identical houses were built side by side in Moreton St, extending from the Hazel St corner to the Bowen Terrace corner.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #141763)
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The book "More Historical Homes of Brisbane", issued by the National Trust of Queensland, indicates that the houses were built in 1897 as a rental investment for a Mr George Willcocks. The house at No 28 was originally named "Kent", but was renamed "Cohoes" by Arthur Moore, the inhabitant at the time the first image in this post was taken. The book indicates that the architect was possibly Giovanni Stombuco. His father, Andrea Stombuco designed Palma Rosa at Hamilton and also St Patrick's Catholic Church in Fortitude Valley.

But I still don't know who lives there now! :-)

Edit: Sales brochure, June 2015:

(Photo: New Farm Village News; LJ Hooker)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Church of karate

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hotel Broadway, Woolloongabba

Another of Brisbane's classic old hotels is featured in our historical photo today. It is Woolloongabba's Hotel Broadway, shown here in 1929 or thereabouts. I'm finding it interesting that, in pursuing this search of historical images and information, the buildings most likely to be still standing after decades are churches and pubs! The Hotel Broadway is situated on busy Logan Road, just an outfield throw from the famous Gabba cricket ground. It was built in 1889-90 for £4,820 by Messrs Wooley and Whyte to a design from John Hall & Son who had designed other licensed establishments in the town, such as the Pineapple Hotel, the Edinburgh Castle Hotel and one that we have already seen in this series, Burke's (Red Brick) Hotel at Annerley. You will see similarities between the Red Brick and the Broadway if you compare the two.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1887)

The history of the hotel has been recorded on the State Government's EPA web site, and you can read it here. The hotel originally offered accommodation, and would have been a great place to stay for country visitors to Brisbane. For more modern information on the Broadway, you can click here to be transported to the hotel's web pages.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

My recent photo, above, shows that the late-Victorian lines of the hotel remain, although the original brick work has been painted over. I don't care too much for the colours, but I find the original gabled architecture to be quite attractive. Although I have seen the inside of many hostelries in my time, I haven't been inside this one. I'd venture to say that the place buzzes during the cricket test matches and when the local AFL team, the Brisbane Lions, play their home matches here.

EDIT: Sunday 11 July, 2010 - A severe fire damaged the Broadway in the early hours of this morning. Here is a photo, reproduced from the web site of The Courier-Mail: 
 (Photo: Courtesy N Terehoff and

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Moreton foursome

Monday, July 6, 2009

Anzac Square

Alright - I'll admit it, OK? I don't like palm trees, OK? There, I've said it! Call the tree police if you must (but I really love other trees - even the big Moreton Bay figs that used to gobble up my golf balls!). Ban me as a non-PC palm hater, I don't care! I think that they're a blight on inhabited areas and that they all should be gathered up and exported to a tropical island to live out the remainder of their branch-dropping, fruit-splattering, bat-attracting lives. Unfortunately I seem to be in the minority. Palms are loved by many, especially property developers who, because palms grow so quickly that they can convert a bare building site into a perceived oasis in a nano-second, plant them in vast numbers to prettify the latest apartment block. Even government horticulturalists seem to like planting them - I'll come back to that. In the meantime, here is a view of Adelaide St taken sometime around 1937. It shows a couple of trams, some motor vehicles of the era, Anzac Square and the government buildings that abut it - just click it to see a larger view (you may glimpse a palm or two!).

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #60688)

Here's a later similar picture, taken in 1954, that shows the government offices adorned with bunting to celebrate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II. It also shows the Boer War statue that previously stood in Edward St, now relocated to Anzac Square. And a bigger palm tree!

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #193596)

(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In my recent photograph (above), the government buildings are now being monstered by even taller buildings, while Anzac Square is also being monstered by palms. The government gardeners have had a field day. Now they'll spend all their time picking up the yellowed fronds that fall from them - that's after they take any injured park-user to the hospital!

Click here for a Google Map


Next: Give my regards to Broadway!

Friday, July 3, 2009

All Saints' Church, Wickham Terrace

Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill is one of the older parts of Brisbane, just up the hill from the early settlement. It is here that the convicts built the mill that was used initially for grinding flour, then was turned into a signal post for the port of Brisbane. At the lower end of Wickham Terrace stands Brisbane's oldest Anglican church, All Saints'. The original church was designed by Benjamin Backhouse and completed in 1861; it was rebuilt in 1869 to a design by RG Suter. Below is a photograph of it from around 1885.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #4823)

The church's web site describes the building thus: "Its style is nineteenth century gothic revival, with buttressed walls of rough faced rubble, porphyry and sandstone, and a metal clad roof. The interior has a fine example of a hammer-beam roof, which is rare in Australia." The church is a brief stroll from the Anglican St John's Cathedral in Ann St, and it describes itself as the Parish Church of the city of Brisbane. Readers who are interested in the development of All Saints' may wish to read this story of how the initial church came to be. The church today is dwarfed by the neighbouring Suncorp building (see my recent photo below), but its charming stone presence is a welcome counter to high-rise office towers.
And, a further photo without those offending palms blocking the view. (Don't get me started!)
(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The All Saints' web pages indicate that the church sees itself as the most catholic of Brisbane's Anglican churches, and the State Government's EPA site describes All Saints as high Church of England and St John's as the low church. Whilst I may find this slightly mystifying, I'm sure that Anglicans have it all sorted.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Anzac palms

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Naldham House

The early settlement of Brisbane depended entirely on travel by ship from places far away, and it required sailing up the Brisbane River to the present site of the city. As the settlement grew, wharves were constructed at various points along the river. One of those areas was the bottom of Eagle St where the Eagle St Pier complex is presently situated. Naturally, shipping companies were essential and profitable businesses, and one of the earliest companies of that ilk was the Australasian Steam Navigation Company, later to become the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (AUSN), a very well known and dominant shipping conglomerate. In 1864, the original company ASN built its headquarters on the corner of Eagle and Felix Streets. The building was subsequently extended and redesigned to become this building, here pictured sometime around 1935.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #168436)

In 1915, the building was taken over by the firm McDonald Hamilton, from where the building received its current name - Naldham House. "Naldham" is a corruption of the names McDonald and Hamilton, and was actually the firm's telex address. (Remember telex machines?) McDonald Hamilton remained in the building until 1986, after which the interior of the building was completely refurbished to become the home of the Brisbane Polo Club. Today, the building is securely nestled in amongst high-rise office towers and apartment complexes, and this is how it looks.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The Polo Club borrowed heavily from the history of the shipping companies that had traded extensively with India, and sported a Raj-liveried doorman, complete with a scarlet coat and white pith helmet, and a lavish wood interior, complete with bearskin rug. Remnants of the original building dating back to 1864 are still visible in the Club's cellar. The exterior of the building is now largely shaded by trees and palms, which I find a tad disappointing in that the lines of the building are shielded from view. It's not terribly PC to criticise trees, but the palms are untidy and unattractive, in my view.

Naldham House also has some historical significance as a marker for the depths of Brisbane floods. Click on my fellow blogger Cara's recent post in her Brisbane Daily Photo blog here.

Click here for a Google Map


The catholic Anglicans
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