Friday, January 29, 2010

Queensland Country Life Building

A tourist or an infrequent visitor to Brisbane might look at the building in the image below and congratulate Brisbane for at last seeking to preserve its older buildings. This building has been known as the Queensland Country life Building or the United Graziers Building, or even the Hill's Building, depending on which era you are referring to. It stands at 432 Queen St, seemingly surrounded by modern high-rise developments.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The building was constructed in 1888-9 to a design by prolific Brisbane architect, Richard Gailey, and was originally part of a group of warehouses cleverly positioned at the port entrance to Brisbane and opposite Customs House. It was known then as Hill's Building, after one of the original owners, investor Charles Lumley Hill. Towards the turn of the new century, the warehouses were tenanted by the United Graziers Association and the Queensland Country Life Newspaper, which by 1964 was the principal tenant. In Brisbane's "redevelopment" frenzy of the early seventies, part of the original construction was demolished to allow the construction of a high-rise building.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

And now, if the tourist were to look more closely, she would notice that the building hasn't been retained. At least not in full - the wonderful architecture on display is what the developers refer to as a facade, meaning the front of the building. I also refer to it as a facade, meaning a superficial appearance or illusion. In the photo above, you can see the truncated former building stuck on to its modern usurper as if by super glue.

Would I rather have the facade than no remnant at all? Undoubtedly yes. But it's a bit like kissing your sister - it is not fully satisfying. Other cities have managed to construct their new buildings without terminating their history. Brisbane's history is brief enough - let's not obliterate what little of it remains. But I fear that we have not learned from our past errors. Watch out for my post on the Regent Theatre in Queen St, appearing here next.

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Next: Picture palace

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Barnes Auto

In earlier days in Brisbane, anything that needed towing was a job for Barnes Auto. Nestled into the rock face of Adelaide St, with their proud motto "We Never Sleep" above, was their garage - combination of service station, mechanics' workshop, parking station and tow truck depot. The following photograph shows the premises in 1935.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #151079)

The proprietor, Luton White, must have been quite an entrepreneur as well as a mechanical marvel. He built his own tow truck on a Dodge chassis to enable him to haul vehicles back to his workshop. Here are its classic art deco lines, as photographed around 1938.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #104172)

Barnes Auto is still listed in the Yellow Pages, operating out of a building at Rocklea, but I can't recall having seen one of their tow trucks for many a year. As for their former Adelaide St premises, they have disappeared, replaced by an office tower and a mobile coffee shop.(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

I did find some images of a rather large Barnes Auto truck at (the internet never ceases to amaze me!), and here it is, still in the
historical Barnes Auto yellow and black livery. A tad different from the early custom built Dodge, and obviously designed for heavy lifting!
(Photo: Courtesy G Kircher)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Merely a facade

Monday, January 25, 2010

Australia Day Floods 1974

People who were around in Brisbane thirty-six years ago will still remember the Australia Day Floods. It rained and it rained, and then it rained some more - about three weeks of rain (1.5 metres or 60 inches in the old scale) led up to the Australia Day weekend and the fatal floods where sixteen people perished. The Brisbane River burst its banks in many places including the CBD. Damage estimates were up at around one billion dollars in 1974 terms, or about seven billion of today's dollars. (For reference: I bought a 1,000 square metre block of land at The Gap in 1975 for $9,000 - my father told me it was too expensive! - and these days you would be hard pressed to buy a similar size block there for less than $450,000.) 

Anyway, back to the floods - workers were unable to get to their jobs, public transport was hamstrung and thousands of homes were inundated. The nightly news bulletins were full of home evacuations and rescues of stranded people and animals. In the CBD, water entered lots of buildings and destroyed the records and stock of many businesses. Here is a picture of Edward St, showing men wading through chest-deep water at the Port Office Hotel on the corner of Margaret St - at the peak of the flood, the water here was 6.6 metres above normal levels.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #lbp0008)

Thankfully the deluge finally stopped. People set about cleaning up, and that was a backbreaking job that was taking place all over Brisbane. I remember Channel Nine's newsreader at the time, Don Seccombe, crying on location as he described the devastation experienced by some.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Now it's all just a memory. The Port Office Hotel is dry (by that I mean no floodwater rather than no beer!) and still functioning - see my recent photo above. There are buildings that have recorded the height of the floodwater as their own memory.

Naldham House, home of the Brisbane Polo Club, has markers showing three momentous Brisbane floods, as seen here on the Brisbane Daily Photo blog. Anyone wanting to know more about the floods and their aftermath could read this detailed report from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: "We never sleep"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Treasury Hotel

Diagonally across the George and Elizabeth St intersection from Queens Park is one of the oldest hotel sites in Brisbane. The first hotel generally thought to have been built on the site was the Dunmore Arms, built by Robert Cribb in 1865. In fact, it may have been built as a replacement for an earlier hotel destroyed by fire. This is what the Dunmore Arms looked like then.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #153755)

Once one of nine hotels in George St (now there are only two functioning hotels), the property passed to James Hunter, who engaged the near-ubiquitous Richard Gailey for a new design which was constructed in 1888. Here is a drawing from 1889 of the completed premises, renamed the Treasury Hotel.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #2900)

In 1997, the building was refurbished as the Treasury Tavern; now it is an Irish Murphy pub. But having a look at its current silhouette, it at least passes resemblance to its former Richard Gailey being.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Australia Day, 1974

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Queens Park (2)

We previously had a brief look at Queens Park from the perspective of it being an oasis in the middle of the city, but it is a site that, being so integral to the early days of Brisbane, has a lot of history. Let's take a leisurely stroll around the park to see what's there. Firstly, the reason it is called Queens Park is as a tribute to Queen Victoria, and her statue has pride of place in the park. The statue was partly funded by public subscription, and was unveiled in 1906 in front of the Executive Building (now the Conrad Hotel), and the then Executive Gardens were renamed Queens Gardens, but known these days as Queens Park. Facing the statue, with your back to the Treasury Casino across the road, presents this view.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Now we are going to move around the park in a clockwise direction, coming firstly to this plaque set into the ground to the right of the statue of Queen Victoria.

That's right - the Anglican Parish of St John stood in this park during the time frame shown on the plaque, and it became the pro-cathedral when the Diocese of Brisbane was created in 1859. There are a couple of old photographs of this church, and here they are. Firstly, the exterior of the church as seen from William St in about 1876; then the interior photographed around 1889.
(Photos: State library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #64578)

(Photos: State library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #19041)

The foundation stone for the present Cathedral of St John in Ann St was laid in 1901, and the congregation eventually was able to move there.

As we continue our clockwise journey around the park, we come to a statue of TJ Ryan, who was Premier of Queensland from 1915 to 1919. The statue was sculpted by Bertram MacKennal and was commissioned by public subscription. It is situated at the entrance to the park on the corner of William St and Elizabeth St, and here it is.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Moving down the Elizabeth St frontage to the park (still going clockwise), we come to the newest monument - one dedicated to the servicemen AND servicewomen who sacrificed so much during WWII - that was erected in 1990 by the Queensland Service Women's Association.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

This area of the park originally held the Church Institute and Synod Hall buildings associated with St John's, and when the State Government bought the land from the Anglican Church in 1899, these buildings were used by the Criminal Investigation Branch of the police. The buildings were demolished in 1962. This is what they looked like just prior to destruction.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #lbp00193)

Our final walk is up the George St side of the park, where, on the left of the statue of Queen Victoria is a Krupp 77mm field gun that was captured from the German Army in France in 1915. The inscription reads "On 18th August 1917, His Excellency Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams GCMG unveiled this Trophy of British Valour. Presented to Queensland by His Majesty King George V. at the request of Hon T.J. Ryan (Premier) through Lord Kitchener."

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Over the years this park has also been the focal point of gatherings and protest meetings, the most recent being a gay and lesbian demonstration in favour of same-sex marriages.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Across the road

Monday, January 18, 2010

Corner Adelaide & Edward Sts (2)

Can you imagine what schooling would have been like in Brisbane 150 years ago? Neither can I, actually :-) But at least we can glimpse something about the venue.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The next time that you are walking down Edward St towards Adelaide St, take note of a group of plaques on the wall of the building on the left side of Edward St just before you reach the corner- check my photo above (click for a larger image). They are a reminder of the Brisbane Normal (meaning non-denominational) School, built on this site in 1862. The top plaque is set into three of the stones used by Andrew Petrie in the construction of the school, and is a dedication to the school and its first two headmasters. A picture of the school building is below, and underneath that is a picture of school students from around 1872.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; # APO-004-0001-0021)

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #53775)

The site then became the home of Brisbane State High School in 1921 (refer to the bottom RHS plaque in the top picture) until it moved to its present site at South Brisbane. The original building was demolished in 1927 to enable the construction of the buildings that adjoin Anzac Square, originally designed as State government offices. The following image shows the new building in 1933 after its completion, taken from the Prouds' Building diagonally across the road in Adelaide St.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #290)

The building is now Anzac Square Arcade, containing retail tenants on the ground floor, and also an entrance to the remodelled Central Station. My more recent photo is below.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: From cathedral to cop shop

Friday, January 15, 2010

Brisbane School of Arts

Completing our trilogy of posts about the Brisbane School of Arts, we now look at where the School of Arts moved to in 1878, after leaving the property that it had sold to the Queensland National Bank. The new premises were in Ann St, in a building then known as the Brisbane Servants Home, which was built in 1866 to house and train "young women of good character to work as servants." A former patron of this home was Lady Diamantina Bowen, wife of Queensland's first Governor. The home had closed in 1870, and it was purchased by the School of Arts in 1873 for £1,000. Below is a drawing of how it looked then.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; BCC-B54-A582)

The School of Arts let the building until they were ready to move into it in 1878. By then, Richard Gailey had renovated the building to make it suitable for them, including the addition of some verandahs. A picture from around 1900 shows the improvements.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17027)

The building was later modified again to include a technical college as well as some shops to provide an income - this necessitated the removal of some of Gailey's verandahs. Here it is pictured in 1937.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #78179)

Ownership of the building passed to the Brisbane City Council in 1966, who, in 1983, commenced restoration work. In 1985, the School of Arts was reopened and is currently used by community groups. A recent photograph is shown below - see how closely it once again resembles its earlier Richard Gailey form.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: A normal school

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NAB, Queen & Creek Sts

Following on from the last post, we continue to look at the site on the south-western corner of Queen St and Creek St where the first Brisbane School of Arts stood. The site was purchased for £8,000 by the Queensland National Bank in 1872. The bank was operating out of leased premises where it stayed while the plans for the construction of its new head office to be built on the site were developed. It appears that this process was somewhat convoluted. The Queensland Cultural Heritage web pages report that the bank initially wanted Mr FDG Stanley to design the bank. Stanley, the Colonial Architect at the time, was about to resign from this post to take up private practice, but there was some delay and so the bank contracted Messrs Reed and Barnes from Melbourne for the job. After they had completed their plans, the bank found that Stanley had become available, and Reed and Barnes were paid off without having to release their plans to the bank. Stanley then designed the building, which was built by Southall and Tracey for £33,997, and the bank was completed in August 1885. It is pictured below.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #91938)

The State Government's Heritage site describes the building thus: "The former Queensland National Bank building is a three-storeyed brick structure with sandstone facings, built in the Classical Revival style which was common in bank architecture of the period. The building has a distinct Palladian influence with careful classical detailing and giant order columns. It is built on a corner, and the two facades are dominated by bays of Corinthian columns which rise through the upper two storeys." The building was constructed from local sandstone together with limestone imported from New Zealand, and local cedar. The Queensland National Bank became the National Australia Bank, which still owns the building - a recent photograph is shown below.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

That the building survived the frantic "redevelopment" surge of the seventies is due to the commitment of the owners, and as a result, the National Australia Bank received an award from the National Trust of Queensland in 1976. There was considerable restoration of the building in 1981, and ongoing minor work has enabled the building to continue its role as one of the city's landmarks. It even features prominently in a current television advertisement for Allen's sweets - you can see a YouTube video here.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: School for servants

Monday, January 11, 2010

School of (the Dark) Arts

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome back.

An essential requirement for any community is a public meeting place. Sometimes hotels or churches fulfilled this role, but there were disadvantages with each. Many Australian localities built a School of Arts as a
library as well as a place for community activities. Brisbane's first School of Arts was constructed at the corner of Queen St and Creek St (now the site of the National Bank, which will be the subject of the next post) in 1851. The Brisbane History Group's publication Sites of Separation says that the North Brisbane School of Arts "...played an important part in the social and cultural development of the young town, as a venue for musical and dramatic performances, lectures, debating classes, church services and public meetings. It became a centre for public discussions of Separation and the municipality of Brisbane. Rev. John Dunmore Lang gave several of his favourable addresses here from 1854 onwards." The original building was outgrown, and a larger premises was erected over two years and completed in 1866. Here is a photograph from around 1877, showing a couple of carriages waiting outside the Eagle St entrance to the second building.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #61249)

One of the purposes for which the building was used was as a meeting hall for the North Australian Lodge of Freemasons. That Lodge boasted members of the like of Sir Charles Lilley, John Petrie and Ratcliffe Pring. A photograph of the hall decorated in the regalia of the Freemasons is shown below - it dates from around 1872.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #20187)

I don't know what government financial support existed for these community-based operations back then. If there was any at all, it was insufficient, because the School of Arts had to sell these premises to the Queensland National Bank under a lease-back arrangement which allowed them to remain in the building for a few more years. In 1878, the School of Arts moved to Ann St, in the building below which still stands - we'll look further at it in Friday's post.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: NABbed by the bank
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