Friday, February 25, 2011

Leckhampton, Kangaroo Point

Are you cashed up? Looking for a real estate bargain? Want one of Brisbane's delightful old homes? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might be interested in this real estate advertisement - check out the video for some great aerial views of Brisbane.

The large combined area of real estate sites features the heritage listed house Leckhampton as its headline act. Leckhampton was built around 1889 for a Charles Snow, a Brisbane jeweller. Although the state governement's heritage listing refers to him as the founder of the Boy Scouts movement in Queensland, I believe that it was actually his son, Charles Jr, who was the first Chief Scoutmaster and subsequently the first Commissioner of the scouting movement here. This is what Leckhampton looks like currently.

(Photos: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

There isn't all that much information about the history of the house. The Snow family remained there until 1924. The house was converted into flats in the 1960s, and then had a rather extensive internal makeover in 1984, when it was transformed into office accommodation. This is what it used to look like around the time of its construction.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #68750)

At the time of the 1984 renovation, another building in similar style was constructed on the property at the rear of Leckhampton. It too is office space, and the combined floor space is quite large. It seems that the opportunity exists to buy a consolidated area of land that extends right through to Main St - I'm sure that if this transpires it will be one of Brisbane's most significant real estate transactions.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fire Brigade 2

Brisbane's old fire stations have been phased out of service. The older stations are not suitable for the large modern appliances used by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service. Pictured below is the last of the older stations to operate, the Wynnum Fire Station, originally built in 1922 (below,top) and upgraded in 1938 (below, bottom).
 (Photo: BCC)
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; #BCC-B54-1798) 1951

The Wynnum Fire Brigade was established in Mountjoy St, where building was erected on land purchased in 1921 for that purpose. The brigade operated from this building until a new fire station was constructed in 1938, and the older building was then retained as a storage shed. The new building had a ground floor designed for the brigade's equipment and an upper floor to house the superintendent and his family. Fire stations similar to this design were also established around this time in other suburbs, and other decommissioned buildings can still be seen at Nundah, Yeronga, Morningside and Coorparoo. The picture below is of the now-decommissioned Wynnum building, which I understand is now the home of a plumbing company.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

A new, modern facility for the Fire and Rescue Service at Wynnum was commissioned on 30 May 2004. It was built at a cost of $1.5 million, and with it came a brand new fire truck worth another $550,000. The new truck was dedicated to Fire and Resue Service member Jeff Penfold, who lost his life in a serious blaze at Fishermans Island in 2001. Here is a picture of the new Wynnum Fire and Rescue headquarters.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Albert Railway Bridge, Indooroopilly

Queensland's first railway line was built between Ipswich and Grandchester, and it opened in July 1865. A rail connection between Ipswich and the state's capital wasn't possible until a bridge was built across the Brisbane River between Chelmer and Indooroopilly. That happened originally in 1876, but it had to be repeated in 1894 after floods damaged the first bridge. Here is a colour postcard showing the second bridge, from around 1911.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #7838)

Both rail bridges were named the Albert Bridge in honour of the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert. The second bridge was designed by engineer Henry Charles Stanley, the Chief Engineer of Queensland Railways. He was the brother of Colonial Architect FDG Stanley, who has also left a legacy around the state. The bridge took some time to complete, mainly owing to strikes overseas, and it did not open to traffic until 1895. Henry Stanley must have taken a liking to that part of the river, for he had his brother design a riverfront home near the bridge. Henry lived in that house Tighnabruaich from its completion around 1889 until 1891. A current photo of the bridge is shown below.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The increase in rail traffic as Brisbane's western suburbs expanded meant that a second rail bridge was needed, and it was built upstream of the first in 1957. It is known as the Indooroopilly Rail Bridge.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic) 

The photo above shows one of Queensland Rail's electric trains in the process of crossing the Albert Bridge. This site now has four bridges side by side - the Walter Taylor Bridge, the Indooroopilly Rail Bridge, the Albert Bridge and the Jack Pesch Bridge. The photo below shows the bridges, and the house in the top left corner is Henry Stanley's former residence Tighnabruaich, which is now heritage listed.
(Photo: Courtesy

The Jack Pesch Bridge is a pedestrian and cycle bridge erected on the downstream side of the Albert Bridge (top bridge in the photo above - it has a tall steel tower at each end). The Walter Taylor Bridge provides for only two lanes of traffic, and is a severe bottleneck for traffic in this western corridor. One would imagine that it would need to be replaced at some point in the future. It will be a real jumble then!

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Walter Taylor Bridge, Indooroopilly

The Indooroopilly Toll Bridge, crossing the Brisbane river between Indooroopilly and Chelmer, was opened on this day seventy-five years ago. The Indooroopilly crossing was the long-held dream of Brisbane engineer and builder Walter Taylor. Here is a photograph of the opening that shows the official party, including the governor Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, walking across the bridge after the opening ceremony. The bridge's designer and constructor, Walter Taylor, is on the far right.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17900)

Walter Taylor had approached the various authorities as far back as 1924 for approval to bridge the river at Indooroopilly, but hadn't received the go-ahead. Then, in 1929, he presented a plan to the Brisbane City Council that used surplus steel cables from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and his plans were finally approved. Click here for technical information on the bridge, held at a German engineering site - there are a bunch of photographs too. The point chosen for the crossing was next to the Albert Railway Bridge, which had been reconstructed in 1894 after an earlier version had been wrecked in the 1893 floods, and which provided the rail link between Brisbane and Ipswich.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #168323)

Like the Hornibrook Bridge that had been opened just a few months earlier down at Redcliffe, the Indooroopilly Bridge was built as a private venture, and it ran as a toll bridge for almost thirty years after its opening in order to repay the construction company of which Taylor was a director. I can remember my father muttering "How many times do we have to pay for this bloody bridge!" as we crossed it in his employer's little Morris utility that he drove to and from his work in the sixties. The toll was removed when the bridge was taken over by the Brisbane City Council in 1965.

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

My recent photo of the Indooroopilly side of the bridge is above. The towers at each end contained accommodation that was originally provided for the toll collectors, and it was not uncommon to see washing fluttering outside on the balconies. People lived there until recently - a couple of years ago, rescue workers were called to remove an ill resident of the apartments who was unable to exit the building because of his size. Take a look at this quaint YouTube video of the life of a toll collector on this bridge.

Walter Taylor died in 1955, and in 1956 the bridge was renamed the Walter Taylor Bridge in his memory.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Corner Vulture St and Stanley St, South Brisbane - revisited

It is unusual for there to be two posts on the same day, but it is occurring today for a very special reason.

Recently I posted a blog on this building at South Brisbane:

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

In my original musings, I thought that the structure had replaced a shop, but was informed by reader Peter that that was not the case. A couple of readers let us know that the building was formerly a bank, but I had been unable to dig up any further particulars.

And then... I opened my email this morning to find that a very thoughtful reader had done her own research on the building and kindly supplied the following information for us all to share. Thank you Kerry - I am exceptionally grateful!

Kerry wrote that she used to catch a bus from right outside this building, and that she was sure that it had been a Bank of New South Wales. So, she contacted the bank (now Westpac) and received a reply from their Historical Services section that confirmed her thoughts. Bless them (and Kerry), they even supplied background information and some photos.

The original South Brisbane branch of the Bank of NSW opened in Stanley St on 3rd April 1877. It was the second branch of the bank to be opened in Brisbane (the first was on the corner of George and Queen Sts in Brisbane Town); and it was a simple timber and iron structure. In 1894, the land on the corner of Vulture St and Stanley St was purchased for
£1250. The site had previously been a horse sale-yard. Then the bank erected this building in 1921 at a cost of £8720/7/4. Here it is, as photographed shortly after opening.
(Photo: Courtesy Westpac Banking Corporation)

And here are a couple of other photographs of this lovely building - the first from 1939, and the second from 1969, by which time it had been renamed as the Mater Hill Branch of the bank, following the establishment of a nearby post office with that name.

(Photos: Courtesy Westpac Banking Corporation)

I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am at this community action. Firstly, for someone to understand that there was an error and to take the time to let me know so that it could be corrected. Then for another reader with some different knowledge to go to the trouble of seeking confirmation of her thoughts, and then emailing me so that all readers could share. Not to mention the staff at Westpac who generously supplied the historical information.

Thanks to every one of you!

Click here for a Google Map.


Fire brigade 1

(Photos: m schafer (left); (right)

Queensland's first fire brigade was a volunteer service that commenced in Brisbane in 1860 and has grown to an organisation that employs 2,000 permanent and 2,000 auxiliary personnel, together with a further 35,000 volunteers. The current operating budget is $350 million, according to the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service web site. Queensland is one of only two states that administers both metropolitan and rural fire services from one central body.

The Brisbane fire service operates out of suburban fire stations and regional stations in the city at Kemp Place (above left) and Roma St (above right), and operates an academy at Whyte Island, close to the Port of Brisbane.

It wasn't always like this, of course - here's a picture from around 1911 of the purpose-built fire headquarters on the corner of Ann St and Wharf St. That's All Saints' Anglican Church in the left background. The building was opened in 1908 and remained in service until 1964. A plaque
in the area now known as Cathedral Square marks the location of the station.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #187174)

Early fire-fighting appliances were somewhat different too. Here is a photograph of the New Farm Volunteer Fire Brigade with the quadricycle that transported them to local fires.
(Photograph: "Brisbane on Fire"; K Calthorpe & K Capell)

The quadricycle has been preserved in the Queensland Museum.
(Photo: Courtesy flickr; m cook)

Like our other emergency personnel, the "fireys" would have been more than busy over this monsoon season. We depend on these people so much, yet we do not give them the kudos they deserve. My hat is off to them.

We have all been donating to assist the victims of recent events, and there may yet be more that we have to face. But if you still have a wish to help people in a smaller way, the Queensland Firefighters produce an annual calendar that raises funds for the Royal Childrens' Hospital Burns Centre. The calendar features some of Queensland's firefighter heroes out of uniform (don't worry, certainly not adults only!) and has been extremely popular for some years.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Milton House, Milton

As you leave Brisbane's CBD travelling outbound on busy Coronation Drive, a quick glance to the right just before you reach the Park Rd intersection will reveal a glimpse of this old building, Milton House, sandwiched between the new high-rise office towers and apartment buildings.

(Photos: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

In 1851, Brisbane chemist Mr Ambrose Eldridge bought 30 acres of riverfront land just beyond the northern boundary of Brisbane. He called it Milton Farm, naming it after Greater Milton, near Oxford in England, where he was born. Although he had never been a farmer, Eldridge's ambition was to grow cotton on the property and export it to England where he was sure it would fetch good prices. By 1853, his ambition had been realised, at least in part. Five acres of his ground had produced 20 bales of cotton that he did indeed sell in England for a handsome profit over production costs. It is also recorded that he won a £30 first prize from the NSW government in a competition, as well as receiving meritorious mention at the 1855 Paris Exhibition. Eldridge retired from his chemist shop and expanded his farming interests with some land leased at Eagle Farm. He sold Milton House, the homestead on the farm, to pastoralist and parliamentarian John McDougall in 1856. Unfortunately, Eldridge's early successes were not replicated in his later endeavors, and he was forced to return to being a chemist in Ipswich prior to his death in 1860, reportedly leaving his family penniless.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #63477)

These photos, taken in 1868 (above) and 1863 (below), show Milton House when it was being leased from the McDougalls by Arthur Manning, the Colonial Under-Secretary, and his family.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17392)

Milton House and Milton Farm provided the name for the present day suburb of Milton, and Milton Farm was sub-divided into housing allotments. Milton House was purchased in 1904 by grain merchant William Siemon, a prominent River Drive (now Coronation Drive) inhabitant. The house was donated by the Siemon family to the Methodist Church in 1955. During the 1990s, the property was incorporated into the development of King's Row, a large office block, and at that time the exterior was refurbished to represent its appearance from the 1860s.

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, February 4, 2011

King George Square revisited

Amid the renovation of City Hall, the remodelled King George Square is undergoing some enhancement too. Recently some mature trees were planted in an attempt to soften the area and also provide some much needed shade. Negative comments from residents have abounded since the new Square was opened, and much has been said about the heat and glare reflecting up from the paved surface. I don't know why it is that Joe Blow can spot these deficiencies in public works, but well-paid architects and engineers seemingly cannot.

Meanwhile, some old friends have returned too. The group of three statues known as Speakers' Corner has been replaced in the Square. Here is a recent photograph of the trio.

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The statues are, from left to right:
  • Steele Rudd, author and storyteller
  • Emma Miller, trade union organiser and suffragist
  • Sir Charles Lilley, former Premier and Chief Justice of Queensland
Steele Rudd wrote the popular On Our Selection that featured the quintessential Aussie bush characters of Dad and Dave. This book was published around the turn of the twentieth century and has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. It has also morphed into a radio show, a play and a film, not to mention scores of corny "Dad and Dave" jokes. Steele Rudd was a pen-name; the author's real name was Arthur Hoey Davis. He died in 1935 after writing 24 books and 6 plays, and he is buried at Toowong Cemetery. He is pictured below. (Photo: courtesy wikipedia)

Emma Miller, pictured below, emigrated to Brisbane from England in 1879. She was a seamstress who was employed to make shirts in Brisbane. She was instrumental in the formation of a female workers' union, and a campaigner for "one adult, one vote", a movement that sought the vote for women and the cessation of multiple votes for squatters. Emma Miller led a group of female workers on a protest march to Parliament House on the Black Friday of the general strike in 1912. When she died in 1917, the flags at Trades Hall were flown at half-mast.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #86511)

Sir Charles Lilley was a prominent lawyer and newspaper proprietor who became a politician and then a judge. He arrived in Brisbane in 1856 from England, and after joining the bar, became a QC in 1861. He also bought an interest in the local newspaper, the Moreton Bay Courier. After his marriage to Sarah Jane, the daughter of Joshua Jeays, he lived for a time in Joshua Jeays' Bardon House. He stood for and won the seat of Fortitude Valley in Queensland's first Legislative Assembly in 1860, to become known as "Lilley of the Valley". He was premier of the state from November 1868 to May 1870, remaining in the parliament until 1874 when he accepted a position on the bench. Lilley became Chief Justice in 1879, and he was knighted in 1881. He retired from the bench in 1892, following the decision of the Full Court to reverse a decision made by Lilley in a trial in which his son, a barrister, had been engaged. Sir Charles Lilley died in 1897, and is buried on the most prominent hill in Toowong Cemetery. Here is a portrait of him, taken in his later years.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #69369)

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bridges, ferries and floods

When I started this blog two years ago, Queensland generally was in severe drought - those on the land in the country, whose livelihood depends on the crops they can grow or the animals they can produce, were feeling it really badly. Even city folk were on severe water restrictions and gardens, lawns and the family car were being neglected, and we were being urged to monitor water usage inside the home too. Circumstances were so bad that Toowoomba's dam was vitually empty, Brisbane was going to use recycled water, and a desalinator was being built on the Gold Coast. At the time we thought that the drought was permanent - ten years of worsening conditions had introduced us to a new paradigm, to steal the most overused business cliche. Memories of rain were fading; thoughts of events like the horrendous 1974 Brisbane floods were forgotten.

Inevitably, the recent Queensland floods renewed the lessons of the 1974 Brisbane floods and their aftermath, which I experienced, and also the history of the 1893 flood, which I've only read about. That one must have been calamitous indeed.

During the 2011 floods, I lost count of the number of pontoons (some with boats and jet skis still attached) that floated down the river towards Moreton Bay, and I started to think about the infrastructure damage caused by the various floods.

The original Victoria Bridge was Brisbane's first bridge, built in 1865 to link Brisbane Town with South Brisbane. It was made of wood, and it collapsed in 1867 because it had been attacked by wood worm. It was replaced by an iron structure in 1874, and operated as a toll bridge so that the government could recoup its construction costs. This is a photo taken of that bridge just after it was finished.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #46973)

This iron bridge was destroyed in the 1893 double floods that remain as the highest recorded in the Brisbane CBD. The photo below shows the remains of the bridge after its collapse.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #91660)

A second permanent bridge was completed in 1897, and here is it on the day of the official opening. Note the archways over the pedestrian paths on each side of the bridge - one of these has been preserved, even though the bridge has again been replaced.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #22212)

The increasing population of Brisbane was responsible for the end of this bridge - it could no longer cope with the volume of traffic, including heavy trams, that crossed it each day. A new permanent bridge was built alongside, completed in 1969. The following photos were supplied by reader Mary, and were taken by her father. The two bridges operated in tandem for a brief period before the older one was destroyed.
(Photo: © H Finn, M Phillips; date unknown)
(Photo: © H Finn, M Phillips; date unknown)
In the 1974 floods, disaster was averted when a large vessel that was moored at the Kangaroo Point shipyards was perilously close to breaking free and floating out of control down the river. The Robert Miller was the largest ship ever built in the country, and had just been completed at the Evans Deakin shipyards. Such was its length that there was concern that it could wedge itself across the river, creating another barrier that would have wreaked far more havoc than had already occurred. The engine-less ship was pointed upstream by a couple of tugs, their engines running on full power for the best part of a day to prevent it from being swept away. The huge vessel is shown in the background of the photo below, in the far reach of the river.
(Photo: ©
In 2011, disaster was again averted when the $23 million New Farm Riverwalk broke loose under the force of the current and floated downstream. Once again, there was concern that it could jam the river, this time across the Gateway Bridge pylons, causing damage to or even the collapse of the structure. An alert tug master heard of this in a news bulletin in the early hours of the morning, and of his own volition, raced his tug out to the floating boardwalk and massaged it through the Gateway, much to the relief of Brisbane.

The floating walkway will cost a motza to replace. In addition to that, Brisbane's ferry network has been brought to a halt, crippled by severe damage to its terminals and jetties. The total repair bill for the ferry terminals and the walkway is likely to exceed $120 million.

Click here for a Google Map.


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