Francis Edward Bigge - squatter, timber merchant, parliamentarian, erstwhile publican - was an enthusiastic supporter of the Cleveland area in its early development. He was convinced that it made more sense for sheep and cattle products from the Darling Downs and the Brisbane Valley area to be sent to Cleveland for export rather than to Brisbane. There was a track from Ipswich to Cleveland via Coopers Plains, and Cleveland was situated right on Moreton Bay, as opposed to Brisbane which was some 25 km up a river that was guarded by a treacherous sand bank. Consequently, Bigge used all of his considerable energy and plenty of financial resources in promoting Cleveland. We have already seen Bigge's Folly, or the Grand View Hotel, built by Bigge around 1850. In 1853, he built another structure near the hotel, this one to house the workers from his various businesses in the area. Here is a photograph of the building from around 1871, showing a Sunday school gathering. The building was used as a Sunday school prior to the erection of St Paul's Church in 1874.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #40564)
The growth of Cleveland as the area's main port was initially quite slow, and it got slower. Bigge's hotel foundered and closed, and this staff building was leased to the police as the local courthouse and lock-up. It was eventually on-sold to a private buyer in 1882.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)
The staff residence turned courthouse became a normal residence through to the early 1960s, when it became a commercial entity in the form of a tea house. In 1977, it was modernised and converted to a restaurant by well-known heritage restaurateur Ann Garms, who used sandstone and porphyry from the old Supreme Court in the alterations. It operates today as The Olde Courthouse Restaurant, under the auspices of the Maclean and Gibbs families. My recent photograph (above) shows that it has maintained its functional exterior appearance. It is heritage listed.
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Next: St Paul's