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)

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  1. What a thoroughly interesting story about Uanda! I'm amazed at how little it has changed.

  2. Yes, it looks great. It is a really tidy, symmetrical residence.

  3. It is small world, every now and then I read one of your posts and feel I have some connection to the place in Brisbane you feature beyond just driving past it once or twice a year. (As you know, just think Tingalpa Anglican Church !)
    This post is no exception and I thought I would comment, as I feel I can add to the blog/internet history of Nell McCredie. I have owned for a few years now a jug that was made by her in 1933. It is inscribed on its base "N Mc G hand built 1933 Q" This I believe places Nell in Queensland at the School of Arts past 1932. The plot thickens .....

  4. Thanks for that!

    Are you keeping it?

  5. Yes, I have a bit of a collection of prewar Australian Pottery.

  6. How wonderful! I love learning things like this about Brisbane. It's a city full of amazing history.


  7. Hi This is such a beautifully proportioned and classic house. There is a house in Kurrajong near where I live that I wouldn't mind betting was also McCredie designed.I might do a little research.It is times like these that tempt me to go back to my birthplace Brisbane, if I could convince my family.

  8. Thanks Foto Fanatic for the post and links about my great-aunt. If people are interested, there are a number of house she designed still standing in Sydney. When she returned, she mainly designed houses for family members but also did a few private commissions. Last time I visited, the pottery in Epping was still standing although it had been reworked in Mediterranean style.


    Blithe of twotreehill.blogspot.com

  9. Thought you might be interested ... Uanda is now for sale.

  10. Hi Foto Fanatic. I am the designer of the renos that were done on Uanda from 1999 to 2007. So i'm rather familiar with the place! Would you be interested to know that I'm giving a talk on Uanda & Nellie McCredie, in May 15, at the Windsor & Districts Historical Society? Great to see your post.

    1. Hi Peter
      Thanks for that info - I have made a diary note.

  11. Hi again Foto Fanatic - I should have said the actual date, not the year. 17th May, 3pm, at the old Windsor Council Chambers.

    1. Thanks for the update. Unfortunately, on checking my diary, I find that I have a previous engagement.
      I hope your talk goes well.


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