Wednesday, March 31, 2010

South Brisbane Town Hall

Late in the nineteenth century, South Brisbane was a separate borough from (North) Brisbane, and for a time was jockeying for the prime position in commerce, having plenty of both retail and industry. A town hall was constructed in 1891-2 on Vulture St, not far from the Stanley St intersection. Below is a photograph of the town hall from 1948.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #33647)
There is interesting history to this building. Built in 1891-2 at a final price of £11,000 (from the initial contract of £7,000 - the original tenderer went broke) to a design by Mr John S Murdoch from the architecural firm of John Hall & Son. He subsequently became the Chief Architect for the Commonwealth. In 1904, Australia's first electrically-driven clock was installed in the tower. In 1925, the Brisbane City Council was formed and the South Brisbane Municipal Council was no more. The Brisbane City Council assumed ownership of this building, and it became the office for the city engineer. During the war years, the building was occupied firstly by the Australian Army, and then by the American Military Police.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

After the war, the building served as a number of flats until purchased in 1955 by the State government for use by the
Queensland Conservatorium of Music. It was subsequently an adult education office, and was then purchased in 1999 by Somerville House, a leading Brisbane girls' school. It now forms part of the school's campus, which also contains the heritage listed house, Cumbooquepa.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: The Truth

There will be no posts over the Easter break - look for the next post on 7 April.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Plaza Theatre Paddington

I lived and worked in the Queensland mining town of Mount Isa for a couple of years in the early seventies. I was single, and apart from football and cricket, there was not a lot of social activity other than the pub. The hotels were heavily populated with other single males, there being a dearth of single women in the place. As a result, I arranged to get myself a second job as a driveway attendant at a service station for the dual purposes of saving money and keeping out of the hotels (which also saved me more money). There was no self-service concept at a servo then, and my job was to refuel the vehicle, clean the front and rear windscreens, check the oil and water, and also check the tyres. We stayed open until 10pm, and the night shifts were OK, but the weekends were a hard slog in the heat of Far North-Western Queensland. I remember working at the servo one Christmas Day when the ambient temperature was over 45 degrees - stepping onto the cement driveway was like walking into a pizza oven. The most popular town picture theatre was the drive-in. Most vehicles contained two or more males, and were often utes or flat-tray trucks - that way you could reverse into the spot and set up deck chairs and eskies to watch the film in suitable comfort in the warm open air. One year, Queensland trialled daylight saving for the first time, and the drive-in couldn't commence screening much before 10 pm because dusk was so late. If you check a map of Australia, you'll find that Mount Isa is actually further west than Melbourne (almost as far west as Adelaide, which is a half-hour behind AEST), a fact that has won me a bet or two over the years!

That rather drawn-out story brings me to today's post, which is about the suburban picture theatre, the Plaza Theatre at Paddington.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #110851)

Pictured above is a newspaper advertisement for the opening of the Plaza in 1929 or thereabouts. "Queensland's Only Atmospheric Theatre", it trumpets. I thought that meant that the movies were accompanied by rolling jaffas and the stifled farts of teenagers, but what it really means is that the interior of the theatre was decorated in an exotic manner to create an outdoor atmosphere. A couple of other things about the poster: the main feature Gold Diggers of Broadway was apparently Warner Bros' second ever "talkie" and became a smash hit, making the song Tiptoe through the Tulips a favourite as well; the supporting feature was Mickey the Mouse; and admission varied between 10 cents and 23 cents, depending on your required level of comfort. Note too, the old-style telephone number: F9683.

I went to the Plaza a lot. But not to see the movies - the Plaza I remember was in the mid-to-late sixties, and by then the movie theatre was finished and it had become Brisbane's basketball centre. I played high school basketball there, and then played in a commercial league after finishing school. In between, I visited to watch the top mens' teams slog it out for the premiership, with North-West Districts and Lang Park being the perennial finalists. If memory serves me correctly, Brian Kerle, erstwhile coach and general manager of the now-defunct Brisbane Bullets, was one of the stars of the Lang Park club in this pre-professional era.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The Plaza now is the home of an antique store, and continues to attract the citizens of Paddington and wider areas through its doors. Its picture theatre dimensions can be seen in my recent photograph above.

Click here for a Google Map.


South Brisbane Town Hall

Friday, March 26, 2010

Masonic Temple

Here are some Corinthian columns, pictured here in Brisbane. Impressive, aren't they? They are the work of architect and freemason Mr LL Powell, and they adorn the front of the Brisbane Masonic Temple, which is situated at 311 Ann St, right in the heart of the CBD. The building was constructed between 1928-30, and opened in December 1930 by the governor of Queensland. The photo was taken in 1950.
(Photo: National Library of Australia; #an23478016)

Like most of the English-speaking world (and also many who don't speak English!), I have read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. I enjoyed it. But it is a work of fiction. The furore that surrounded it left me quite unmoved, save for the cynic in me that noted that all the fuss couldn't be harming sales of the book. I'm not a freemason, I've never thought about becoming one (being an atheist probably would exclude me anyway), and I only know a couple of people who have divulged to me that they are or have been Masons. Yet I shudder at all the conspiracy theories that plague them. The Masons build hospitals and nursing homes, for goodness sake. I just saw on a news program that the Masons are going to be more open about their role in the world, and I think that is a good thing. Similarly, I have never been a Catholic, and I deplore some of the past practices of most religions including the Catholic church. The Catholic church, it must be acknowledged, has also done a tremendous amount of wonderful humanitarian work. I don't subscribe to the secret societies and other extraordinary practices that are present in Brown's book. None of that stopped me from enjoying the riddles and twists in the plot and the way the story unfolds. Of course it's not one of the great novels of this millennium, let alone those previous, but enjoy it I did.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Lange Powell's design for the Masonic Memorial Temple has withstood the tests of time and Brisbane's burgeoning population. Ann St is now one of the city's busiest, being the main thoroughfare from north to south through the city. My recent photo of the temple, now displaying the Masonic emblem suspended between the columns at the front, indicates the queues of vehicles that pass it each day. I haven't been inside, but I'd like to. The Masons' web site indicates that tours are available - and you can even learn a bit more about the Masons by looking through their web pages.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: The Plaza

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cycling at Toowong

Cycling has been a method of transport, a relaxing form of exercise and also a fully-fledged sport for many years. Like many kids, I longed for a bicycle when I was younger. I landed a part-time job at the local grocery store when I was in high school, and it helped to fund the purchase of a bike. My parents funded the other part, bless them. Cycling at that age was as natural as walking - I didn't even use my hands to steer most of the time. When I rode into the yard at home, I could slide the bike around in a 180 degree arc, get off it, and then kick it up on its stand - all in one fluid motion. I thought it was the epitome of cool, and of course it drove my father mad. "Don't do that on the grass!", he'd call out. As if our grass was a sacred prayer mat - not. The only water it got was when it rained, and I was the one who mowed it (at least until I flicked that job onto my little brother!)

Brief interruption to story: here is a photo of a velodrome at Toowong, taken in 1885. The records show that the photo was taken outside a house in Union St, which runs off Moggil Rd just before you get to the Brisbane Boys College as you travel towards the city.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #72980)

Here is today's photo, taken from the same vantage point. Although still a sportsground, the cycling track has gone. Now we have an Aussie Rules football oval and cricket pitch, positioned in a lovely bush setting. An excellent green spot for the locals.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

I'm continuing with my bicycle adventures for those of you who are prepared to follow on:

I decided recently to take up cycling again in an effort to increase activity and decrease waistline. How hard could it be - you never forget, right? Wrong! Totally wrong! OK, I could remember how to mount the thing; I could manage to ride it at a snail's pace without falling off; I could stop it and dismount. But everything else was totally foreign. Where once I used to steer with subtle movements of my body, I was reduced to frantically tugging at the handlebars like a three year-old on his first trike. Turning corners involved having to avoid getting my foot caught in the spokes of the front wheel. Taking even one hand off the bars to make a hand signal prompted a wobbling, shaking, teetering movement that I was hard pressed to correct. While once I would have sneered at wearing a stack-hat whilst riding, I thought seriously about buying a motor-cycle helmet, such was the certainty that one day I would crash. Although I persisted for a while, a series of events finally led to the banishment of the bike. Those of you who need to know what happened can read it here
, in an email I sent to a cycling friend. Warning: there is some very salty language - if that will offend, do not open the link. And readers - every word is true!

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: A different temple

Monday, March 22, 2010

501 Ann St

There aren't too many Art Deco buildings left in Brisbane these days. The McWhirter's building in the Valley is an obvious one, and there is another further down into the Valley that we'll see in a later post; but a lot of the Art Deco inspired picture theatres and hotels have bitten the dust. The building below is one that remains, prominently situated on the corner of Ann and Boundary Sts at the top of the Valley, just over the road from Centenary Place. Nowadays it is simply known by its address - 501 Ann St - but it has also been known by other names in the recent past. This is a current view of the building (click for a larger image).
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

I first remember this building as the administration office of the RACQ who bought the building in 1966, and then after being sold again in 1983 it became the Credit Union Australia building. Even as a teenager I liked this building because it was different from most others.

Constructed during the war years, the building was originally the head office for Queensland Brewery Company, who moved here from their earlier headquarters in Queen St. The design was from Mr HS McDonald of Addison & McDonald. The Queensland Heritage pages say this about it: "
The design was a departure from accepted forms for commercial buildings in Queensland at the time. McDonald fused the assertive curves and angles of the Art Deco with the flowing horizontal lines of the Functionalist movement. This latter style was characterised by its simple geometric shapes, its light colours and large glass areas. The building also exemplified the use of new materials like the original glass brick of the circular entry tower and the synthetic stone of the original signage. Both these elements have since been removed."
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #104944)

The photograph above was taken not long after the completion of the building in 1942, and shows a military parade passing by on the way up Ann St towards the city.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: The truth about bicycles

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Deanery, St John's Cathedral

We have looked at a couple of versions of Queensland's Government House before - the current one at Paddington, and also the earlier one in George St that now sits in the grounds of the Queensland University of Technology. But the very first Government House was originally a private residence called Adelaide House, owned by a Dr Hobbs, and it sat in a prestigious position at the top of a hill between Ann St and Adelaide St. Here it is, pictured in 1882.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #21925)

Dr Hobbs had the residence constructed by master stone-mason Andrew Petrie in 1855. Petrie built the house using local porphyry rock from Kangaroo Point. The house became part of Queensland's history when the state's first governor arrived in 1859. As the new Government House to be built in George St was still being planned, the state leased Adelaide House from Dr Hobbs to house the governor and his family. In fact, on landing in Brisbane, Governor Sir George Bowen was transported to Adelaide House, where he was officially installed as governor and the letters patent announcing the separation from New South Wales were presented. The following photo, taken in 1971, shows the house from Adelaide St, featuring the balcony that had the starring role in the formation of the state.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #199632)

When the construction of Government House at the river end of George St was completed in 1862, Governor Bowen moved there; this allowed Dr Hobbs to return to his house. He decided to rename it Bowen House in honour of the governor. Dr Hobbs sold the property in 1883 to the then wealthy dentist-entrepreneur Moses Ward, who decided to call it Adelaide House once again. Ward never lived there - he preferred instead to lease the house to well-off tenants, but an unfortunate investment in an Ipswich coal mine decimated his fortune and the property was taken over by the mortgagor, the National Bank of Queensland, upon his insolvency in 1895. In 1899, the property was acquired by the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane for the new cathedral. Originally to be demolished, the house ended up being used as the residence for the deans and their families. Robin Dods was engaged to renovate the house for this purpose, and that was completed in 1910. The house is still standing in the grounds of the now-completed cathedral, but it is very difficult to see and photograph because of the terrain and the now flourishing greenery on the Adelaide St side. Here is a glimpse of a stone wall and a verandah though.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)
There are a couple of reminders of the birth of Queensland - outside The Deanery are a sculpture and a plaque (below - click the pic to see a larger image) commemorating the event.

(Photos: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Ann St Art Deco

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Royal George Hotel

We've previously looked at the Empire Hotel on the corner of Ann and Brunswick Sts in the Valley, and there is an even older hotel right across the road. On the south-western corner of Ann St is a site that has had a hotel on it since 1850, nine years before Queensland's separation from New South Wales. It has had a long and chequered history. In its earliest form it was known as the Bush and Commercial Inn, then the licence changed hands and the hotel became known as the Freemasons Arms. It was then rebuilt (or at least renovated) as the Lamb Inn, and in 1863 was renamed the Royal George by its new licensee George Dickens. Dickens became ill, and advertised in July 1864 for a new licensee, describing the hotel thus: "The Royal George Hotel fronting Ann and Brunswick Streets Fortitude Valley. Comprising 18 rooms, out houses, good stabling, spacious yard, and capital cellar. The above is a corner allotment fronting Ann Street being the main road to Breakfast Creek, Eagle Farm, German Station, Bald Hills, Sandgate, and Pine River with a frontage to Brunswick Street leading to Bowen Bridge, Kedron Brook & c. The House is an old established one, and doing a good business, and the proprietor's reason for relinquishing business is on account of ill health in his family ..."
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1888)

The photograph above dates from 1876 according to John Oxley Library. The date in the lower right corner is 1854, which probably indicates the date of the construction of the hotel in this form. By the time this photograph was made a second storey had been added, the property was owned by the Church of England and the licensee was William Ruddle. Ruddle purchased the property from the church in 1885, and engaged prominent architect FDG Stanley to carry out some renovations. Stanley removed and replaced the roof, extended the hotel along the Brunswick St side, constructed a cellar, and added some verandahs around the building. The hotel would remain like this through to the 1960s, and the photograph below was taken in 1939, in which the hotel looks quite prosperous.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1889)

In 1901, Robin Dods was engaged by Ruddle to design the gabled two-storey building next door on Brunswick St known as Ruddle's Building, and that also remains today.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Further changes in ownership have followed over the years, and this has also meant more changes to the structure itself. In the sixties, the verandahs were removed (it seemed to be a common theme of that decade - perhaps to do with the introduction of commercial air-conditioning?). My recent photo (above) shows the old girl today. Part of the Valley's thriving night life, it has an outdoor bar area in the Brunswick St Mall which seems to attract a lot of back-packers. Unfortunately though, it doesn't retain the ambiance of yesteryear.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Adelaide House

Monday, March 15, 2010

Palma Rosa

One of Brisbane's magnificent old homes went under the auction hammer over the weekend. Currently the home of the English Speaking Union, beautiful Palma Rosa at Hamilton was sold to local buyers for $3.715 million, according to a television news report on Saturday night. Apparently, there was action at the auction - and not only in the bidding. The same news story indicated that the auction was delayed because of protests against the sale, and even that police were summoned as a result of items being misappropriated from the property on the day.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Palma Rosa (my picture, above) was designed by Italian-born architect Andrea Stombuco and built in 1886-7 on the hill in Queens Rd Hamilton. Stombuco seems to have had a varied and interesting career, stretching from gold-miner to stone-mason and finally architect. He designed several buildings for the Catholic church, including St Patrick's in the Valley, but Palma Rosa has been described as his "most flamboyant" creation. Click here to go to the web pages of, where you can see further images of the interior of this lovely property. Be quick though - I don't know how much longer they'll be there.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #92286)

I found an old photograph (above) of Palma Rosa at John Oxley Library. The picture is undated, and it shows the rear view of the building. A current photo of the rear follows.(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Originally named Sans Souci, it is not clear whether the house
was built by Stombuco for his family to live in, or as a speculative investment. Stombuco's fortunes declined in the years shortly after the completion of the house, and he left Queensland for good in 1891. This is how the house is described in Queensland's Cultural Heritage pages: "Original plans indicate that the sub-floor contained a generous L-shaped dining room, kitchen, scullery, pantry and servant's room; the piano nobile contained a drawing room and library [connected by folding doors] over the dining room, a boudoir and two bedrooms on the east side of the hall, and a main staircase off the vestibule to the west; and the upper floor accommodated 5 bedrooms and a bathroom. The three floor plans virtually replicated each other, and included a generous hall, 10 feet wide, running centrally north-south on each level. Initially, verandahs across the whole of the southern and western elevations were intended, but only sections of these appear to have been built" The house was constructed from sandstone that came from a nearby quarry. As well as being a substantial private residence, this building has had several uses over its 120-year history: it has been converted to flats; a boarding house; a private hospital; a US Army Intelligence HQ during WWII; an art gallery; a reception and function venue and club rooms. It is hoped that the new owners will once again use it as a private residence.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: The RG

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gas Stripping Tower

This is unique - it's the only one of its type in Australia. It was constructed in 1912, and although the other infrastructure that once surrounded it has gone, this tower is listed on the Heritage Register, and therefore protected from demolition. What is it? Read on!
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

In 1911, the South Brisbane Gas & Light Company, which provided gas to the south side of the river, decided that it needed to upgrade its facilities. They sent their engineer to England to look at the most current technology, and his recommendation was to install this tower. It was built in Yorkshire in 1912 by Robert Hempster and Sons, and sent to Brisbane in sections to be erected at the South Brisbane Gas & Light Company's gas works on Montague Rd, West End.

I still haven't told you exactly what it is, have I? :-) Back in 1912, the gas that was being used here in Brisbane was coal gas, not the natural gas we use today. Part of the process that was needed for the gas to be used in homes and businesses involved the removal of ammonia and tar, and this tower performed that function. The gas was piped in at the bottom of the tower, and as it rose to the top it passed over baffles where it was sprayed with water to remove these contaminants. The clean gas was then removed at the top of the tower, and the water drawn off at the bottom could be sold as ammonia liquid. The tower has been moved slightly from its original position - it was originally situated on Montague Rd - but in 1979 its new owners, the National Trust, relocated it to its current site at the rear of Davies Park on Riverside Drive .

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Upper house and lower house

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dornoch Terrace Bridge

We've been a bit bridge-crazy in Brisbane recently: the Green (Eleanor Schonell) Bridge; the not yet completed Hale St (Go-Between) Bridge; the Kurilpa Bridge; all constructed over the past few years. Why? Well, the function of a bridge is fairly self-evident - to get people from one side of the Brisbane River to the other ;-) Why so many lately? There's nothing new in the discussions, they have been going on since before Brisbane was a proper city. When this bridge was built at West End in 1941, it was part of a plan to build a bridge across the river from West End to the University.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The overpass in my photograph is the Dornoch Terrace Bridge, where Dornoch Terrace crosses over Boundary St in West End, and it was constructed by the Brisbane City Council. Unfortunately the plans for it to be part of a river-crossing came to nought. The depression put the building of the University on hold, and then WWII forced cost reductions to the whole project. As a result, the bridge proposal was scrapped. Pictured below in 1940 is some of the work that was carried out before the project was abandoned.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #191071)

However, Brisbane's growth in population and the resultant strain on infrastructure eventually led to the construction of the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, more commonly known as the "Green Bridge" because it caters only for buses, bicycles and pedestrians. The long dreamed of cross-river link to the university finally became reality when the Green Bridge opened in December 2006.

Click here for a Google Map.



Monday, March 8, 2010

Whiskey au Go Go

This rather low-res black-and-white image records the scene at one of Queensland's most violent crimes. It is a nightclub, burning out of control in Fortitude Valley in the early hours of the morning. It is 8 March 1973, thirty-seven years ago today. It is the Whiskey au Go Go. 
 (Photo at

This photograph shows police inspecting the scene on the following morning.
(Photo: Courtesy Queensland Police)

In the late sixties and early seventies, Brisbane's Fortitude Valley was the equivalent of Sydney's Kings Cross - illegal gambling, strip clubs and prostitution - all of which existed because of police corruption that was finally uncovered by the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Drugs, protection rackets and all sorts of other seedy activity were not only rife, but also condoned by Queensland "wallopers" (police) right to the very top of the organisation.

Fifteen people died at the Whiskey au Go Go on that fateful night. This was Australia's worst mass murder before the dreadful Port Arthur shootings occurred in 1996 (NB: of white people - there have been horrific massacres of Aboriginal Australians by whites - see the comments below this post and here is a link to the one discussed there). 

Two men, John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch, were convicted of murder as a result of the deaths that were caused by the fire, and they were sentenced to life imprisonment in Brisbane's Boggo Road jail. The prosecutors alleged that, as part of a scheme to terrorise and extort Valley business operators, Stuart and Finch had thrown two cans of petrol into the Whiskey au Go Go building and set them alight. The nightclub was on the top floor of the building, and the unfortunate patrons were trapped by the inferno that started on the ground floor. 

The two accused men denied all charges and claimed that they had been "verballed" by police. The sensational trial was delayed when it was discovered that Finch had amputated a finger and swallowed wire while in custody. 

After conviction, both men took part in a hunger strike which cost Stuart his life. Finch was released from prison in 1988 and deported to Britain. It is claimed by interviewer Jana Wendt that Finch had admitted his crime, but upon realising that he could perhaps be extradited back to Australia to face more charges of murder, he once again swore his innocence.(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The building that housed the Whiskey au Go Go is this one
in St Paul's Terrace, still standing after what must have been major refurbishment following the fire.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: West End to University link

Friday, March 5, 2010


Now that I'm a committed apartment dweller, I got to thinking about how popular apartments are these days, particularly in those areas close to the city. If people don't mind medium density living, they can be close to the city and near public transport. Back in the recesses of my memory, I recalled that the first high-rise apartment complex was Torbreck at Highgate Hill, built in the late fifties. A quick Google search soon dug up some facts: completed in 1960; built by Noel Kratzman; modern automatic lifts. Here is a drawing held by the John Oxley Library - the architects were from Brisbane, WH Job and RP Froud - and I assume that the drawing came from them originally.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; P 728.31 rei)

And here is one of the first photographs of the completed project, taken in 1963.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #19468)

When the building was under construction, there was no City Council legislation governing home units. The state government, then headed by Frank Nicklin, heavily supported the concept. As the project was developed before the advent of Strata Title ownership, buyers became investors in the Torbreck Home Units Limited company, and received shares based on the purchase price of their apartment. The promotional literature boasted that: "Each of the 150 home units was designed with at least one private balcony, and was fitted with built-ins, electric kitchen, two telephone connections (bedroom and lounge), sewerage and garbage disposal facilities, washing machine and clothes drier. Water, pumped from the city reservoirs to large storage tanks on the roof, was treated by the latest in American water-softening equipment. Television reception was available, and a swimming pool was constructed in the grounds." An interesting aspect to the project was that the slabs for the floors and roof were pre-fabricated and then lifted into place by cranes. One of the clever innovations that came from the architects was the installation of these vertical louvres to control light and heat on the decks that had eastern or western walls.
(Photo: Courtesy Leo Tsimpikas Real Estate via

It is no exaggeration to say that this development paved the way for Brisbane's current apartment-mania. The prime position and extensive views made Torbreck popular from the get-go, and apartments there are still highly sought-after. Here is how the apartment block looks now.
(Photos: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Whiskey au Gogo

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

BAFS Building, George St

Here's another of those little buildings that no-one notices. This one is in George St at the Turbot St intersection, and the narrow construction says, at the top, "BAFS Dispensary". Underneath that are two dates: 1885 and 1915.

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

As Australia developed, there sprang up various unions, co-operatives and friendly societies that were formed to allow groups of individuals to pool resources to help each other. The Brisbane Associated Friendly Society was one such group. They formed in Brisbane in 1885, and were prominent in health care for the next sixty years or so. The foundation stone of this building was laid in 1915, and it opened in 1916 as the main dispensary and their first owned premises. Membership was then 13,000 and the cost of having the building constructed was raised by a debenture issue. The building was designed by Lange Powell (the Ann St Masonic Temple and St Martin's House, also in Ann St are other examples of his work) and erected for just over £11,000. As well as being a dispensing pharmacy, this building acted as the head office of the group and also provided facilities for meetings of other lodges and friendly societies.

This building is still the head office of the group of Friendly Societies, now operating as Friendly Care Chemists. It seems that they have about eight Queensland locations, and still provide discounted services to members. Good on them!

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: First of many

Monday, March 1, 2010

Royal Exchange Hotel Toowong

The railway reached Toowong in 1875, and by 1876 there was a Railway Hotel across the road from the station. The hotel changed its name in 1884, and became the Royal Exchange. It is pictured below from around 1908. The structure next to it is the lookout for the fire station.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library)

I'm guessing here, but perhaps the most important thing to happen to the hotel was the building of the new University of Queensland just down the road in the early 1930s. Having a hotel at the rail access point that serviced the uni would have been a blessing to the students and the hotel. It has become a favourite student hangout. The RE has seen some changes - the photo below shows an extension has been added to the left side.
(Photo: wikipedia)

My more current photo (below) shows the latest view of the RE after a recent paint job.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Unfortunately the hotel was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons. Usually a place where people go for a drink and a game of pool, or a bet at the TAB and a round or two on the pokies, the RE found itself in the news as two of its security people were charged with murder after the death of a patron who was ejected from the premises. They were found not guilty.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Friendly
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