Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bishopsbourne, Hamilton (formerly Eldernell)

In my previous musings here, I have wondered about the vast property holdings of some religious organisations. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church are two that spring readily to mind, but there may well be others too. The Catholics and Anglicans have amassed huge portfolios of property over time, and in this era of reducing religious attendance at churches, I have asked whether these holdings are still relevant. Not that it has anything to do with me, since I am not part of either community, but that doesn't stop me from having an opinion! And I hasten to add, I come from a position of curiosity, not mean-spirited envy.

Well, it appears that similar questions have been asked internally within these organisations, and indeed I would be surprised if they had not. But it appears that change is afoot. The home of the Anglican Archbishop in Brisbane has traditionally been known as Bishopsbourne. The original Bishopsbourne was situated in the inner-city suburb of Milton, and for years it has been known as Old Bishopsbourne. In 1964 the Anglican primate of Brisbane was moved a to new Bishopsbourne, a huge (the land area is 5600 sq metres!) property that overlooks the Brisbane River at Hamilton that had been known as
Eldernell, and Farsley prior to that. The house was designed by James Cowlishaw and built in 1869 for William Hemmant, a well-known Brisbane draper and politician. Prior to its purchase by the Anglican church, the residence was home to some of Brisbane's most prominent citizens: Premier AH Palmer, Judge CS Mein, as well as businessmen and philanthropists GH Gray of Castlemaine Perkins and Edwin Tooth of Austral Motors. Here are a couple of photographs from around 1915.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #110112)

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #110105)

In April 2007, this property was sold to Brisbane businessman John George for a then record $11.2 million. The current archbishop, Dr Phillip Aspinall has moved to Bishopsbourne III, situated in the neighbouring suburb of Ascot - it only cost $2.6 million. The Australian, our national broadsheet newspaper, reported that the proceeds of the changeover (more than $8 million) would be spent by the Anglicans on new schools, chaplaincies and community services. Hooray for them, I say.(Photo: www.boostcruising.com)
(Photo: couriermail.com.au; 26 March 2007)

This is the former Bishopsbourne II now - I haven't heard whether the house has been renamed by its new owner.

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, March 25, 2011

The Waters Family - continued

Continued from the previous post...

Although the fire that destroyed their home and business may well have also destroyed lesser mortals, Fred and Frances were made of tougher stuff - they simply picked themselves up and got on with life. Fred built his own premises across the road from the burnt out wreck of his business and started again. These premises still exist, now being a late-night fast food store catering for the revellers from the nearby hotels, who can buy a kebab there and then catch a cab home from the taxi rank right outside.
(Photo: Courtesy A Waters)

Here is a photograph (above) showing the redoubtable Frances at a family wedding - she's second from the left at the back. The photo was taken in October 1909, when Frances would have been about 61. The marriage was between Frances' daughter Flo Waters and Albert Quaife. Albert and another son-in-law, George Wixon, joined Fred's sons George Waters and Frederick Amies Waters as drivers and furniture makers. Wixon and Quaife had also been members of the Queensland Defence Force, based across the road at Victoria Barracks. Young Edward, too, had military training as an artillery gunner at the same Barracks, but it still must have been a shock when he asked Fred for permission to join the AIF when the rumblings of WWI were first heard in Australia. Here is his enlistment record, and a photo of Edward in uniform.

(Photos: http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au)

My correspondent, Anthony Waters, is Edward's grandson. Edward was almost immediately sent overseas as a gunner, the job he had trained in at Victoria Barracks. This entailed dragging artillery pieces into position using horses, and it made him a sitting target for enemy snipers. Anthony provided the details of Edward's war service, but didn't call him a hero. I will. Read this summary of his WWI service (click to view it in a larger size) and see whether you agree with me. (Photo: http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au)

Look at where this young man was sent - only twenty years old when he landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, he was hospitalised in Alexandria and England before being sent on to fight in Egypt; then he was sent to Europe and endured battles at Frommelles, Ypers and Villers Brettoneux, among other places. It's virtually a list of WWI horror spots. Anthony reports that Edward was exposed to mustard gas in the Somme, causing the loss of a lung. The call to service was strong in the family - George Waters Jr, Albert Quaife and George Wixon enlisted in 1916 and were also sent to France. All returned, although George Jr came back with tuberculosis.

Despite his illnesses and the terrible sites of conflict that he endured, Edward survived, and after the war ended, he returned home in 1919. Still in the army, he was sent to Victoria Barracks where all soldiers were meant to be confined because of a Spanish Flu scare in Brisbane at the time. Edward's family home was in nearby Caxton St, so Edward decided one night that he might as well go and see his family. Unfortunately, as far as the army was concerned, this meant that Edward was AWOL. Edward's night off with his family, about 100 metres from Victoria Barracks, cost him two days' detention and the loss of twenty days' pay. He was finally discharged from the army in March 1919. That wasn't the end of Edward's conflict though - Anthony describes Edward as having to fight "tooth and nail" to retain his medical and pension entitlements following the army's eventually unsuccessful attempt to deny them.

Edward returned to civilian life, but not in Fred's business. He retrained as a wool classer under a government scheme for returned diggers, and worked for the pastoral company Goldbrough Mort until retirement. Unfortunately, around this time he became a little estranged from the rest of the Waters clan. As happens in families at times, Edward's wife and other members of the Waters family didn't see eye-to-eye. Old Fred died in 1925 at the age of 82, and Frances lived to be 97, passing away during WWII. The business was passed down to Fred's other sons George and Tom. Edward died in 1968 at the age of 73, survived by his wife and five children. At his funeral were representatives of the Scouting Movement, as Edward was one of Brisbane's first Boy Scouts.
He had also been an active member of the Buffaloes lodge, and had been instrumental in opening several lodges in Brisbane. Here is a photo of Edward, taken at his Norman Park home. (Photo: courtesy bonzle.com)

The old saying "the apple never falls far from the tree" proves apt, as Edward's son Bevan also got into the trucking business. Bevan's son Anthony, the family historian and my correspondent, took over from there and renamed the business Fred Waters Transport in honor of his great-grandfather. The business now specialises in transporting pallets under the name Pink Pallets, and their web page is here - check out the history page there too. The current managing director is Anthony's son Matthew.

Well, there you have it. The history of a family that arrived in Brisbane only a decade after the colony of Queensland came into being. They coped with the tragedy of infant deaths, a fire that destroyed their home and business, and sons being sent off to foreign wars to emerge in the twenty-first century with a business still bearing the name of its nineteenth century founder. Their story is compelling, and I'm sure gives us insight into the harsh nature of the lives of our forebears in those early times. It is probably representative of many such stories.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Waters Family, Petrie Terrace

A few weeks back, I received an email from a reader with some brief details about his family's history, starting with emigration from England to Australia in 1870, through to the present day. He asked if I would be interested in reading more of it, and I am glad that I agreed, because it is emblematic of many such stories. Many of us don't have this level of detail about our families, unless, like my correspondent Anthony, we are prepared to do the necessary research. Anthony had thought that his grandfather arrived in Australia as an orphan after WWI, but found out otherwise. This is the story of the Waters family, as uncovered by Anthony Waters. The story reaches across six generations, so I'm splitting it into two instalments, starting today and concluding in our next post due out on Friday.

In the late 1860s, Fredrick Waters was a porter on the docks in London. He had a hand barrow, and he would contract to transport luggage and goods from the docks on the River Thames, on foot, all over London. He was 25 years old when, in March 1869, his wife Elizabeth Waters died whilst delivering their second child, a son named Frederick Thomas Osborne Waters. Father Fredrick was left with a two year-old daughter, Eliza, and the baby to care for, at the same time needing to work at the docks. A nanny, Frances Amies, was employed to care for the children in their home in the London suburb of Hackney, thereby allowing Fredrick to continue his carrying business. The nanny proved too good to let go, and Fredrick married her in September 1869. By 1870 the Waters family, now numbering five following the birth of Herbert to Frances and Fredrick, were in the fledgling settlement of Brisbane, having emigrated on the ship Light Brigade. Fred brought his tool of trade, the hand barrow, with him on the voyage.

Fred and Frances, as industrious in their new location as they had been in London, were soon working at a sugar plantation called Ormeau,
south of Brisbane. Tragedy again struck Fred and the young family when their youngest child, Herbert, died on 11th April 1871 from "water on the brain" - what we now know as hydrocephalus. As was necessary, a magistrate was summoned to perform an inquest into the death. This is the report from the Brisbane Courier of 15th April, 1871:

A Magisterial inquiry was held on Thursday, before Mr J. Gibson, at the residence of Mr F. Waters, Pimpama, touching the death of a little child, the son of Mr Waters, who died suddenly two days previously. The evidence was to the effect that the child had died from water on the brain. At the conclusion of the inquiry Mrs Waters intimated to the presiding magistrate that she had another child sick, and she would like him to see it. They adjourned to the adjoining room, and no sooner had the mother entered it than she exclaimed, "The child is dead!" On examination, this was found veritably to be the case, the poor little sufferer, a boy about two years old, having apparently breathed his last about an hour previously. It is almost unnecessary to say that the greatest sympathy is felt for the parents.

The boys were buried together in the Pimpama Church cemetery, although no records exist
of interments prior to 1891. Frances later wrote "Father had built a slab coffin and buried the boys embracing each other, next to the creek at Pimpama". There is a memorial to the two lads at the family grave site at Toowong Cemetery.(Photo: bonzle.com)

Shortly after the boys' deaths, Frances, evidently and understandably in a state of depression after losing both her son and her step-son within a couple of days, was "severely reprimanded" by the plantation's owner, a Major Boyd, for her melancholy disposition, as reported to him by Frances' supervisor. Enraged by this, Fred settled the matter with the supervisor using his fists, causing the supervisor to have to "take to his bed for a period of six days" according to the Police Gazette.

Fredrick and his remaining family left the sugar plantation following that incident. Anthony next traces them to Brisbane in 1872, where once again, Fred is working as a porter. Now putting their considerable energies to use for themselves, they were able to build several businesses in the Petrie Terrace area of Brisbane. They were fruiterers, furniture manufacturers and dealers, and they also ran a boarding house and a transport business that had grown from Fred's humble hand barrow into several horse-drawn wagons.
(Photo: www.pinkpallets.com.au)

While they were building businesses, Fredrick and Frances were building a family, in all producing thirteen children. The youngest of the children was Anthony's grandfather, Edward Harold Waters, who was born in 1895. Fred Waters established his furniture factory in the back of the old jail on Petrie Terrace. The jail had been vacated on the completion of the new facility at Boggo Rd, and so was being used for other purposes.

However, in those early days, disaster seemed never to be too far away. Fred and Frances also lost a three year-old daughter to typhoid in 1888, as well as another adult daughter who died in childbirth. Then, they had their lives once again turned upside down when the factory and their residence next door to it were completely destroyed by fire in 1899. Here is the report from the Brisbane Courier, dated 22nd November, 1899:

About half-past 2 yesterday afternoon the Metropolitan Fire Brigade received a call from Mr Ayscough, chemist, to a fire on Petrie-terrace, and the firemen with the superintendent and two reels, proceeded to the spot at once. On arriving they found two wooden buildings occupied by Mr Fred Waters, furniture dealer, at the rear of the old gaol, fairly ablaze, while the adjoining building was also well alight. One of the two buildings was Mr Waters’s furniture shop and the adjoining one was his residence with stables, offices &c. Both buildings were completely destroyed, and unfortunately for the owner the furniture was only insured for the sum of £100 in the Commercial Union. The adjoining house was owned by Bridget Cahill, confectioner, and was insured in the South British Company for £250 and a portion of it was let to Mr George H Cameron. The ceiling of this building was burned somewhat, and the furniture suffered both from water and from hasty removal. The next building was occupied by Legg and Co., tailors, whose stock and furniture were, it is believed, uninsured, and both roof and ceiling were destroyed and the contents damaged by water. In the next building, owned by Mrs (Dr) Comyn, the line roof and ceiling were slightly damaged. A strong north-easterly breeze was blowing, which made the work of extinguishing the flames extremely difficult and no fewer than eight buildings caught fire from the sparks and had to be extinguished. In one instance a house caught fire at a distance of no less than 200 yards from the main conflagration. The South Brisbane Fire Brigade was summoned, and sent a reel, under the assistant superintendent; and a member of the Milton Fire Brigade also gave assistance. The fire originated in the back premises of Mr Waters, but the cause of the fire is unknown.
Immediately on the fire being made known at Victoria Barracks, the trumpeter was ordered to sound the fire alarm call, followed by the “Double”, and in a few moments the men of the Permanent Artillery were out on parade with hydrant and hose. They proceeded at the “double” to the scene of the fire, and with their own appliances set to work to cope with the flames. Those men who were not needed for the hydrant were placed at the disposal of the superintendent of the Metropolitan Brigade. Very good work was done by Sergeant Smith (of the Royal Marine Light Infantry), who form the ridge-capping of one of the houses handled the nozzle of the barracks hose. The men were under Master Gunner Cooney and Quartermaster-sergeant Newton. About twenty-five men of the Permanent Artillery were in attendance. Both Fire Brigade and Defence Force men deserve every credit for their work in stopping the fire before it reached the corner of the street.

What happened after the fire? Look out for the rest of the story in our next post...


Friday, March 18, 2011

Baroona, Paddington

William Draper Box was a member of Queensland's now defunct upper house of parliament from 1874 to 1904. When he wasn't a parliamentarian he was described simply as "gentleman", although he was involved in the family mercantile business. He bought land at Milton from architect Benjamin Backhouse in 1865, and engaged Backhouse to design a house for the property. Box lived in the house, Baroona, until 1885 when he moved to Hamilton, renting Baroona to another politician, John Donaldson.
(Photos: Courtesy UQ Library)

The house that Backhouse designed was a single-storey masonry residence with a corrugated iron gabled roof. The photos above are annotated that they were taken in 1866, and seem to indicate that the man in the images is William Box.

Brisbane is quite a hilly city, and in its early days, the wealthy chose to build on hilltops in various locations. Baroona is perched on a ridge in what used to be known as Rosalie, now called Paddington. It is situated on a large section of land which also holds a lawn tennis court.
(Photo: Courtesy DERM)

(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

If Brisbane's western tunnel proceeds, it will pass directly underneath this house. That will no doubt be causing the present owners some degree of concern.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Old Bishopsbourne, Milton

Way back in 1862, a large block of land on Milton Rd was donated to the Anglican Church by a certain Emmeline Leslie. The site was earmarked for a See house - a See being the traditional name for the throne of a bishop. Brisbane's first Anglican Bishop was Edward Wyndham Tufnell who had arrived in the town in September 1860. Although Tufnell brought with him some funds and the promise of more, he found that the Anglican church here was in dire need of capital. He returned to England to raise money, and came back to Brisbane with further funds, including £3,000 that he intended to use to construct the bishop's residence on the land reserved for that purpose. The resultant structure was designed by Benjamin Backhouse, and came to be known as Bishopsbourne; it remained the home of successive bishops and archbishops until 1964. I have had a look inside the sandstone and porphyry building, and it is an opulent structure of rich cedar panelling (including some intricate sliding doors, original fittings, that can be completely hidden away); with a fireplace in almost every room. Here is a photograph of Bishopsbourne from 1870, also showing the original timber chapel that had been designed by RG Suter. It is followed by a recent photograph of Bishopsbourne.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #4325)

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

In 1912, it was decided to replace the chapel as it had fallen into disrepair, and Robin Dods was engaged to design a new stone chapel for the site. Photos of both the exterior and interior of the chapel follow. The last photo in the group shows a triptych by William Bustard that is on the chapel wall behind the altar. It was commissioned by Archbishop Wand in memory of his son Paul, who died in an accident in Switzerland. Paul's likeness is used as the face of a shepherd boy in the middle panel.

(Photos: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

In 1936 St Francis' Theological College, the Anglican training facility for clergy, transferred from Nundah to this site at Milton, requiring the construction of accommodation and classrooms. Then, in 1964, Archbishop Strong decided to move to a new residence at Hamilton, Eldernell. That property then became known as Bishopsbourne, and the former Milton bishop's residence became part of the St Francis' Theological College, and was referred to as Old Bishopsbourne. Here are some more old and new views of Old Bishopsbourne.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #190313)

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #190316)

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Both Old Bishopsbourne and the chapel are now heritage listed buildings. They are hidden away from sight on busy Milton Rd, right behind the Fourex Brewery as you travel out from the city. I have to thank Stephen Clarke from St Francis' College administration area who gave me a personalised tour of the property, saying that Old Bishopsbourne belongs to Brisbane as much as it belongs to the Anglican Church. Hear, hear.

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Life in Brisbane - 1959

I found this on YouTube and thought that it was worth sharing. You will need to have your speakers turned on.

Regular readers will see many of the buildings and locations that have featured in this blog. How many can you recognise? (Look out for the Mirimar, whose name is reflected back-to-front in the Brisbane River!)



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nellie McCredie & Uanda, Wilston

Today is International Women's Day, and I story that I uncovered recently fits just nicely.

While thinking about this blog and the information that I have trawled through to be able to produce some cogent thoughts for those who read it, I realised that practically all the buildings that I have presented here have been somewhat grand in one way or another - perhaps the size, maybe the purpose, or even a notable owner or resident has been a feature.

But where are the other parts of the Brisbane story? Where are the workers' cottages? Where are the affordable housing projects? Where are the dreams of the ordinary Brisbane dweller like you and me? Well, I'm going to show you a few over the next little while... read on!

Wilston is a northern suburb, close to the city, that has a lot of character. It is now being gentrified, of course, as happens to these types of areas. My Dad worked at a hardware store in Wilston from when I was a little kid right up until he became ill and had to retire. We lived close to his work for a little while when I was about ten, and then, as a newly-married couple, mrs tff and I lived there for a couple of years until we built our first home. So, I am quite familiar with the area.
(Photo: Courtesy BCC; BCC-CD1-10)

Until now, I knew nothing about the house above though. It is called Uanda, and it was designed by architect Nellie McCredie in the 1920s, and pictured here in 1928 according to the BCC web page, where it is described as a "Queensland Style Bungalow". It is a tiled and hip-roofed timber residence with bay windows at the front, set on concrete stumps. The house is included in the state government heritage listings, which say that it is the only known remnant of her work in Brisbane. They say:

The career of Nellie McCredie is typical of the careers of women who entered the architectural profession prior to World War Two. These early women architects were rarely able to sustain their careers and as a result, examples of their work are extremely rare."

I found a blog called "Two Tree Hill" that is written by Nellie's great-niece, and it provides some further information about her. I quote from that blog (where she refers to Nellie as "Nen", a family nickname):

"She was one of the earliest graduates from the architecture programme at the University of Sydney. I say, earliest graduates, not earliest women graduates because the Bachelor of Architecture programme was in its infancy. Nen graduated in 1923 and the faculty had only been established in 1919. Leslie Wilkinson after whom the faculty building was named, was one of her teachers and mentors."

This is a photo of Uanda from that web site, dated September 2007.
(Photo: Courtesy twotreehill.blogspot.com)

After graduation, Nellie worked in Sydney for a time and was a draftsperson on the Sydney Harbour Bridge project. After a brief stay in Cairns, she moved to Brisbane where she worked for the Workers Dwellings Branch of the state government from 1925 to 1929. Uanda was designed as a private commission during this time. I think it is likely that she designed other houses then, but it was not the practice of the time for the designer to be noted on the plans. The Workers Dwellings Branch was part of the State Advances Corporation, and was the forerunner of the Housing Commission. Nellie McCredie was concerned with improving the quality of life of the average Australian, notes the heritage listings. A splendid aim, that - her thesis for her bachelor degree advocated simple, chaste buildings in appropriate settings.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Nellie left architecture around 1932, when she returned to Sydney and set up a pottery business with her brother Robert. She was a good potter, too - her work is still around in museums and private collections where she is usually referred to as Nell McCredie.
(Photo: http://www.shapiroauctioneers.com.au)

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Cook Terrace

Coronation Drive, formerly known as River Road, is one of the main exits from the city to Brisbane's Volvo-belt, the western suburbs. Being so close to the river has both advantages and disadvantages - for advantages, consider the views and the cool breezes; the main disadvantage is (of course) the possibility of flooding. The 2011 floods saw Coronation Drive closed for a couple of days as water coursed across its surface, but previous floods have left more destruction than that. The 1974 flood levels rose to the first floor of the Regatta Hotel, and I can recall that Coronation Drive traffic was diverted further inland for many months following because authorities were wary of erosion. Here is a picture of erosion from even further back, possibly following the 1893 floods.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #6288-0001-0003)

The building in the old photograph is Cook Terrace, named after the builder Joseph Cook, who erected the terraces in the 1890s. Subsequently the building was known as Milton Terrace and Gloralgar Flats, but is now once again known as Cook Terrace. Cook bought the land from John McDougall, who sliced it off his holding at Milton House estate. Here is another flood photo of the area with a dinghy sailing past the roofline of some Milton houses. The caption on the photo says "Milton Cook Terrace ". Ever-alert reader Peter reckons that the photo doesn't include any part of the Cook Terrace building, however. I'm letting him sort that out with the holders of the image. At least it gives an idea of the extent of the flooding of the Brisbane River.
(Photo: collection of Fryer Library, UQ.)

The following sketch was made by Lefevre James Cransone, a Canadian artist, in 1890, and it shows the original form of the building.
(Photo: © 1982 National Trust of Queensland)

Originally home to many of Brisbane's professional residents, the building was used by the armed forces during WWII, and then converted to flats afterwards. For many years they were rather unkempt in appearance, but they had a full makeover in 1984. At that time, the interiors were gutted and the building was converted to offices, with a restaurant at the western end. This is still the current layout, and my recent photo is shown below.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

As far as I am aware, the building was unaffected by the recent flood. I took the photograph after flood waters had receded and the restaurant was operating as normal. The giant fig tree, partially obscured at the far left of the image, and the building itself remain as significant landmarks in this part of the city.

EDIT: Click here to see a recent real estate listing for one of the terraces.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Raymont Lodge, Auchenflower

Mining entrepreneurs were as ostentatious in the early twentieth century as they are today, it seems. Back around 1904, William Davies, a gold-mining magnate, sponsored a competition to design a house to be built on his property at Auchenflower. The winning architect was Claude Chambers, and pictured below is the finished product, then called Drysllwyn.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #72171)

Davies left his native Wales for Australia when he was eighteen, firstly attracted to the gold fields at Ballarat, then moving to Gympie. The land at Auchenflower was purchased when Davies moved to Brisbane with his wife and son around the turn of the century. In the 1930s, the title of the house was transferred from William Davies' wife Eliza, to Isabel, the wife of his son Maldwyn, who was an insurance attorney. During the years of WWII, the Davies family leased the property to elite Brisbane girls' school, Somerville House, whose South Brisbane property had been taken over by the US Army. At the end of the war, the property was acquired by the Methodist Church, and converted into a hostel for country girls who came to Brisbane to work. It was renamed Raymont Lodge after a Mrs Raymont who had made a substantial bequest to the church.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

A recent photograph of the building is shown above. It is retained by the Uniting Church, and houses a theological college as well as offices and meeting rooms.

Click here for a Google Map.

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