Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Toombul Shire Hall

Earlier in this blog we discussed German Station, the site of the first free settlement at Moreton Bay. The mission was inaugurated by a group of German clergy who came here in 1838. Later, the area around the station became known as Toombul shire and then Nundah. In a somewhat confusing situation, Nundah is now a suburb and Toombul is what is known as a "residential locality", meaning that it does not have full suburban status, but for historical reasons the name remains in use. Toombul shire came into being around 1883, and in 1891 the municipal offices for the shire were built, to a design by the firm of John Hall and Son who had designed the South Brisbane Town Hall. The following photograph was taken in 1993.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; BCC-L11-936)

The Toombul Shire Council ceased to be upon the formation of the Greater Brisbane Municipal Council in 1925, and that body took over the custody of the former shire offices. The Brisbane City Council undertook heritage renovations in 1987, and the building is still a community hall to this day. Here is my recent picture of it.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The busy Sandgate Road traffic which once passed by the front door has been diverted by a tunnel, and so the old building is quite accessible now. The building to its left, which houses an accounting office, has been built in a similar style, giving the area a nostalgic look.

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Fire station, Fortitude Valley (former)

Fortitude Valley's first fire station was located at Ballow St. One of Brisbane's biggest fires occurred a couple of blocks away at the Overells department store in February 1904, and unfortunately a person died in the blaze. The proprietor of the store, Mr Overell, was critical of the response time of the brigade; however an inquest into the death, after considering telephone records and log books, found that there was no unnecessary delay. During this time planning was already underway for a new and larger station to be built on the corner of Chester and Harcourt Sts. The land had been purchased for £400 in the previous year, and the new premises were opened in January 1905. This is what it looked like.(Photo: "Brisbane Ablaze"; K Calthorpe & KD Capell)

When it was no longer required as a fire station, it went into private enterprise, firstly as a milk depot around 1929, and subsequently as a fruit market. Milkman Harry Broadrick and his horse Psycho, who pulled the milk wagon around the streets, were local identities in the Teneriffe and Newstead area. In the 1990s, the building was converted into flats, pictured here in 1998.
(Photo: "Brisbane Ablaze"; K Calthorpe & KD Capell)

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The building is still with us, which is quite remarkable when one considers the rebuilding that has occurred in this area. After a recent makeover, it looks quite inviting too.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shafston House, Kangaroo Point

Here's a building with an interesting history, and it has also been linked with some interesting people. Robert Creyke, an Anglican cleric, commenced the building originally called Ravenscott around 1851 on a riverfront property at Kangaroo Point. But before it was completed, the property was acquired by grazier Henry Russell in the following year. Russell finished the residence, renaming it Shafston, and lived in it for a time; then it was bought by Louis Hope, a grazier from Kilcoy, who apparently didn't ever live there - he rented the house to tenants. One of his tenants was Dr Henry Challinor, who was the medical officer aboard the ship Fortitude that brought Dr Lang's immigrants to Brisbane. Challinor later became a member of the Queensland Parliament.

The next owners, Charles and Mary Foster bought the property in 1883, and are reputed to have demolished the original structure and commissioned FDG Stanley to design a new house on the land. This was the basis for the Gothic structure that stands there now. Charles Foster remained at Shafston until 1896 when it once again was rented to tenants for several years. The next resident owners were Mary & James McConnel, son of David McConnel of Bulimba House where James was born. The McConnels called on RS Dods to make some further alterations to the interior of the building. The McConnels remained at Shafston until 1913 or thereabouts, and it then became a training centre for the Creche and Kindergarten Association.

After WWI, the property was acquired by the Commonwealth who renamed it Anzac House, using it as a repatriation hospital until around 1969. Here is a photograph of Shafston that was taken in 1930.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #65163)

After 1969, the property was used by the RAAF as offices and a mess, and a lot of internal restructure occurred at that time. The next photograph is from around 1979.
(National Trust of Queensland, "Historic Homes of Brisbane" by Janet Hogan; photo R Stringer)

In 1988, Brisbane entrepreneur Gary Balkin leased the property, hoping to convert it into a hospitality venue to run in conjunction with his paddle-wheelers the Kookaburra Queens. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to obtain the necessary government approvals for this venture, and the building was converted into a residence again.

Then, in 1994, the lease was transferred to another entrepreneur, Keith Lloyd. Lloyd had been variously an insurance agent, a night-club proprietor and a ship-builder before redeveloping Shafston House into a college that was mainly intended to cater for international students. Now known as Shafston International College, it is freehold property once again - here is a current photograph. The building is a landmark feature for Brisbane's ferry and CityCat passengers.

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Queensport Rocks Park

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #191799)

Time was that the Brisbane River was lined with industry. Boat-building, petrol refineries, meatworks and all manner of other businesses made the riverside home over decades. Access to water would be the main reason; whether for transport purposes or for use in their manufacturing process. Another reason, in the city's early days, was so that rubbish could be chucked into the river. The photo above was taken in 1908 and shows a fellmongery and wool-scouring plant on the river at Murrarie.

Around the same time, a meat works was operating in the area of Murrarie where the Gateway Bridge crosses the Brisbane River. Some photographs of that enterprise from the 1890s are shown below.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #203981)
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #37706)

Recently, a beautification process was completed on the former site of the meat works. In conjunction with the upgrading of the motorway by erecting a second bridge, funds were provided to convert the area to a park. Here it is.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Now a place of picnic tables and playgrounds, the Queensport Rocks Park is a welcome change from the former industrial site it once was.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eulalia, Norman Park

You probably think that taking the photographs for the "Present" part of this blog is pretty easy - just swanning around with a camera, firing off shots here and there. For the most part that's true, I'll admit. But there are problematic parts to this endeavour too. Rain, for one. The rain we get in Brisbane tends to be the tropical downpour rather than the drizzle you might see elsewhere, so it's almost impossible to make a decent image, as well as being dangerous for photographer and camera alike. Then, of course, there is the ubiquitous white vehicle parked in front of the structure to be photographed. A giant white expanse can ruin any picture. But for today's post, I faced a different problem, and here it is. A dog. A very big dog. Who was hiding behind the gate while I approached, and then stood up on his hind legs with front paws on the gate just as I was about to click the shutter. And barked - not just a yap, but a deep, loud, spine-tingling BARK - the sort that makes the hair on your neck stand up. Scared me witless, it did!
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

It's a pity that's as close as I could get to a picture of today's subject, because it is one of Brisbane's loveliest homes. But as well as a patrolling dog, the property is surrounded by mature trees, so taking a photograph of the building is very difficult. You can just make out some of the timber fretwork and a pavilion in the background of the photograph.

The house is called "Eulalia", and it was built in 1889 for Judge Patrick Real. It was a lavish house built on the crest of a hill in an area of 22 acres owned by Real that must have had great beauty at the time. Here is picture of the house taken in 1932,
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #19262)

Patrick Real's story is one of those that show that a poor immigrant with intelligence and a healthy work ethic can make a great deal of himself, despite the challenges that life can bring. Born in Ireland in 1846, he emigrated at age four with the rest of his family, but his father died on board the ship before arrival in Australia. When they arrived here in 1850, Patrick's mother took the family to Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane to live. Patrick finished his schooling at age twelve and was apprenticed to a carpenter, then he worked in the railway workshops at Ipswich.

His biography says that he became interested in the law around 1870. Because of the family's financial constraints, Patrick was forced to study whilst working and supporting his mother. Unable to pay a fee to join the Bar, he truncated five years articles into three, and was admitted to the Bar in 1874. Patrick Real was a lifetime teetotaller and non-smoker, about 191 cm (or 6'3" in the old language) tall, combative and intelligent. He quickly became a barrister of note, being one of the highest earners of his time, and in 1890 he was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court.

Eulalia was designed by John Hall and Associates and built by Ipswich builders Morley Whitehead. The luxurious property contained a croquet lawn and tennis court, and reportedly held many fine gatherings. The area around the property still bears several reminders of Patrick Real - Patrick St, Real St and Judge St are legacies of the man who became Queensland's Senior Puisne Judge in 1903. He retired in 1922 and died at Eulalia in 1928.
(Photo: Copyright DSEWPaC)

After the judge's death, Eulalia had a mixed history. It was vacant for many years, even regarded by the locals as a haunted house. Subsequent owners the Hancock family, successful timber merchants, restored the house and then converted the grounds into a museum, the Early Street Historical Village. The Hancocks were supporters of the National Trust of Queensland, with Mr Stanley Hancock being president for a time. Regrettably, Early Street closed some years ago - I don't know who owns the property now.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; BCC-L11-959)

The state's Heritage Register describes the property this way:
"It has several rare and highly decorative architectural features, including the verandahs surrounding the bay windows and their finely detailed verandah posts and brackets. These features, combined with the fine quality of interior finishes and fittings, including cedar joinery, internal pilasters and columns, and flooring of tessellated tiles give Eulalia considerable aesthetic significance."

It's just a pity that the house is now so difficult to see!

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, August 12, 2011

St Brigid's Convent, Red Hill

In 1877, the first St Brigid's Church was built at Red Hill. A few years later, the Sisters of Mercy established a school there, and they made the daily trek from All Hallows' in the Valley to the church to teach the students. In 1902 the Sisters of Mercy purchased, in Upper Clifton Terrace near the church, land that included a residence known as "Kenilworth". The purchase price was £1610, and the Sisters intended to construct a convent there.

Architects Eaton and Bates were commissioned to construct the convent, and work commenced in mid-1902 and was completed the following year. Records show that the construction cost was
£3100, and a further £500 was needed for furnishing the building. This is the result, as photographed in 2000.
(Photo: DERM)

Eaton and Bates had quite a successful practice, including many works for the Catholic church. As evidenced by this building, they favoured wide verandahs, important for fighting the hot Queensland sun.

The convent evidently housed up to eight or nine Sisters of Mercy at any one time. The school closed in the mid-1980s, and nuns remained in residence at the convent until the building was sold in 1999.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

I'm not sure how the building is being used today - in fact, it looked as though it may have been vacant when I took the current photo above. The well-positioned block and nearness to the city are apparent. The web pages of conservation architect Robert Riddel (who has also worked on St Brigid's Church) indicate that conservation work and improvements were performed for the new owners after the sale by the church.

It would be a superb family home.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Walter Hill Fountain, Botanical Gardens

The Moreton Bay penal settlement moved to the present site of Brisbane in 1824. By 1828, a site bordering the Brisbane River had been earmarked for a Public Gardens, and it also served as a farm to produce food for the colony. In 1855, several acres were declared as a Botanical Reserve, and the man pictured below was appointed as its first curator. He was Walter Hill, and he remained in this role until 1881.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17483)

Walter Hill was responsible for the original laying out of the area known today as the Botanical Gardens. He was born in Scotland in 1819 and came to New South Wales in 1852, originally intending to be a gold miner. But that didn't last, and Hill accepted the position of curator in Brisbane. He was not without experience - back in Scotland he had been an apprentice gardener at Balloch Castle, and also worked at the Edinburgh Gardens and Kew Gardens before emigrating.

As well as being the curator of the Gardens, Hill was also appointed as Queensland's first Colonial Botanist when secession occurred in 1859. This involved expeditions to the far north of Queensland, searching for native plants. He was also responsible for introducing the Queensland icons of jacaranda and poinciana, now beloved by gardeners. Perhaps his biggest contribution to the State's economy was his belief that sugar cane could be successfully grown here, and he was responsible for its introduction. Hill conducted his own experiments in crushing the cane and boiling the resultant juice to prove that it could be granulated into sugar. He was also credited with bringing mango, pawpaw, ginger, tamarind, arrowroot and cotton to these shores; as well as cultivating the Queensland nut.

Despite all his fine works in Queensland, he was regarded as somewhat of a prickly fellow, and it was after a falling out with superiors in 1881 that he retired from his government positions.

When reticulated water from the Enoggera Dam first reached Brisbane, Colonial Architect Charles Tiffin designed a drinking fountain which was erected in the Botanical Gardens to provide fresh water to the public. It was built by renowned stone mason John Petrie in 1867. Here is a picture of it from 1910.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #24215)

Some time later, the fountain was named the Walter Hill Fountain, in honour of the irascible curator and botanist. Whilst it no longer provides water, it remains as a monument to Hill in today's Botanical Gardens which owe so much to his planning and work. Here is a current photograph.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Story Bridge Hotel, Kangaroo Point

As befits one of Brisbane's oldest suburbs, Kangaroo Point has had its own hotel for many, many years. Originally called the Logan Hotel, after a reconstruction in 1886 it became known as the Kangaroo Point Hotel. Then, when the Story Bridge was opened in 1940, it was renamed the Story Bridge Hotel, the name it is still known as today. Here is a photograph of the Kangaroo Point Hotel that was taken in 1915.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #111182)

The family of the current owners purchased the hotel in 1967, and since then it has become a well-recognised, multi-award winning hospitality venue. It was awarded "Best Bar Presentation and Service" at the AHA's recent awards night, having bested such luminaries as the Shangri-La in Sydney and Melbourne's Hilton Hotel. A list of earlier awards can be seen here - not bad for a pub that was once the home patch of wharfies and labourers, and had the reputation as one of the toughest pubs in town. The change has coincided with the trend towards inner-city living and the gentrification of riverside suburbs.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The recent photograph shows the current appearance of the hotel with the Story Bridge in the background. Although extensively renovated in 2003, the original appearance of the hotel has been retained. The large number of nearby apartment buildings should ensure that it does not run short of clientele.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cliffside Apartments, Kangaroo Point

Now that Brisbane styles itself as "the river city", riverside land and buildings have assumed great status. Apartment buildings now line every reach of the river, upstream and down.

An early trendsetter in recognising the potential of the river for upmarket accommodation was the remarkable Mrs Doris R Booth, who, in 1935, commenced construction of Cliffside Flats at Kangaroo Point. Before we look at the building, I think we should consider the woman. Her biography makes fascinating reading, but it's too long to reproduce here - this is the summary of her career(s) from that source:
  • autobiographer/memoirist
  • general merchant
  • goldmine owner
  • goldminer
  • Member of Upper House
  • nurse (general)
  • women's activist
That list does not mention the hospital she set up in New Guinea to treat dysentery cases (as a result of which she was known as "The Angel of Bulolo" and received an OBE), or the landmark court case she fought and won in order to protect her property from her estranged husband. What an extraordinary woman! She published her memoirs, Mountain Gold and Cannibals, in 1928.

Doris Booth (nee Wilde) was born at Kangaroo Point in 1895 in a house named Cliffside. Following their marriage in 1919, she and her husband moved to New Guinea, where they managed a plantation and then mined for gold. Over time, the marriage deteriorated and Doris gradually assumed control of the family businesses. She left her husband in 1932, but was forced into court in New Guinea in 1933 when her husband sued for restitution of property. Following the conclusion of the matter in her favour, she purchased land adjacent to the family home at Kangaroo Point, and in 1935 requested architect/engineer R Martin Wilson to prepare plans for a multiple dwelling complex on that site. Tenders for the construction of the building were called in 1936, with a warning that contractors must visit the site to ascertain the degree of difficulty, including the use of an air-compressor for drilling the rock, as no explosives would be permitted. The successful tenderer in July 1936 was George Mitchell, and the building was completed in June 1937. At the opening of the building the Telegraph newspaper described it as being an example of the most advanced flat design in Australia. Here is the architect's drawing of the proposed dwelling.
(Drawing of proposed flats, Kangaroo Point, 1936. Architect: RM Wilson. Wilson Collection, UQFL 112, 588. Fryer Library, University of Queensland Library. Used by permission.)

And here is my recent photograph of the building today.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Despite the present proliferation of apartment blocks in this area, not to mention the nearby presence of the Captain Cook Bridge and the freeway, this attractive building still holds its own. Doris Booth sold the apartments in the mid-sixties, a few years prior to her death. Anyone who lives there now would be extremely fortunate, I think. Here is a photograph that I found on Google Maps that was taken from the building and shows its fantastic views.
(Photo: Google Maps and summer.a; "View from Cliffside Apts")

Click here for a Google Map.

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