Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Amity, New Farm

Back in the sixties and seventies when I was avidly playing and watching rugby (these days it's watching only!), I was aware of a part of the Brisbane premiership competition known as the Welsby Cup. It still exists, and is played between the first and second placed teams at the end of the first round. The cup was donated by and named after Thomas Welsby, a former half-back for Queensland in the first inter-colonial rugby match. He was a president of the Queensland Rugby Union for ten years, and later a life member. He was a keen sportsman, loved sailing and fishing, and is pictured here at Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17123)

Thomas Welsby was also an accountant, author, company director and politician. He built a house on the river at New Farm in 1892, just prior to his marriage, and called it Amity, probably after John Oxley's ship of that name. It is not known who designed the house or who the builder was, but Welsby moved in good circles - his friends included the Petrie and Stanley families, so it is quite likely that friends helped with the planning and constuction of the house. Welsby grew up in his parents' house in New Farm, and after moving to Amity, that house became his home for the rest of his life; so his whole lifetime was spent in the suburb. The disastrous 1893 floods came within inches of the house, but fortunately left it undamaged.
(Photo: Copyright DSEWPaC; rt21570)

Amity remained within the Welsby family until 1952 when it was purchased by CSR, who operated the nearby sugar refinery (now an apartment complex), and for some years it was used as the residence for the refinery manager. On the other side of Amity to the refinery was the Brisbane naval base HMAS Moreton (now demolished), and eventually Amity was sold to the commonwealth government for the use of the base commandant. It is pictured above when it was in that stage of its life - there is no date attached to the image - and I suspect that we are looking at the southern side of the building. (Photo: © 1979 National Trust of Queensland)

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

I'm pleased to say that Amity is still standing - it's only about 500 metres south of my place. A busy river walkway passes right in front of it, and it is dominated to the left and right by tall residential buildings. It appears to be privately owned once again, and although still in that wonderful riverfront position it is now sheltered by shrubbery from the river traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. That makes it a tad hard to photograph, but the pictures above shows the eastern aspect as viewed from the river boardwalk.

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. What a fantastic blog you have here!

    We looked for Amity while wandering around New Farm recently but we had no idea, really. Next time I'll refer to this!

  2. Amity is hard to find unless you know where to look. The only place that gives you a view of the house is the boardwalk.

    Good luck for next time!

  3. I found this interesting. My father was also a founding member of the QRU. He was the treasurer for a number of years.
    He later became president and as I read a newspaper article it was he that donated the cup in recognition of Tom Welsby.

  4. John
    Thanks for your comments.
    Regarding the Welsby Cup - I was quoting from Thomas Welsby's biography:


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