Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Karen, a regular reader, alerted me to the fact that one of Brisbane's showpiece houses is up for sale. It is Boothville, situated in the near-city suburb of Windsor. Here is a recent photograph, and below it, a picture from 2007.
 (Photo: www.couriermail.com.au; The Sunday Mail)

(Photo: homezonewindsor.com)

The house was built on a hilltop in 1887 for the manager of the Queensland National Bank, Mr Henry Wallis Glenny. Some suggest that the home may have been designed by architect FDG Stanley, who won several commissions for the bank including its landmark building in the city. Here is an early photograph of the area taken from nearby Eildon Hill, and the house (originally called Monte Video) can be seen on the right side of the picture.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #APE-047-01-0018)

After Glenny retired, the house was acquired by the bank and let to various bank officers until it was occupied by the bank's new manager, WV Ralston, in 1896. Ralston purchased the building from the bank in 1918, and it remained in the Ralston family until 1923 when it was purchased by William Bramwell Booth, the son of the founder of the Salvation Army. In 1924, the Salvation Army Mothers Hospital moved from Breakfast Creek to this house, which was then named Boothville. The following photograph shows the building when it was operating as a hospital.
(Copyright DSEWPaC; 1985)

More than 80,000 babies were delivered at Boothville prior to its closing in 1994. I can recall that there was a fair deal of controversy about the closure, as many women were passionate about its facilities and reputation as a maternity hospital.

The building reverted to being a family home in the 1990s, and the interior features such as cornicing, ornate plaster ceilings and crafted timber work were retained.  At the time renovations were completed the home had 29 rooms including six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, a gym and a home theatre. It changed hands in 2008 for $4.1 million, and is now for sale by tender. If you are interested, tenders close on 2nd March. Here is the current photo from the real estate advertisement.
(Photo: Ray White Paddington; www.brisbanenews.com.au; Feb 2012)

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Wilston House, Wilston

In the early years of settlement in Brisbane, the well-to-do built their houses on the numerous hills and high spots around the settlement. I often try to imagine what the vista would have been like in various places - like the area we are looking at today, Wilston. Wilston House was built on a hill around 1876; its nearest neighbour was probably Judge Cockle's house Oakwal, on another hill about 1.5 kilometers to the east. In between were a couple of farms with a cattle sales yard and a tannery along Enoggera Creek to the south.

Wilston House was built by businessman William Wilson to a design by busy architect James Cowlishaw who had also designed Oakwal. The house is a low-set brick construction with wide verandahs and bay windows. Here it is, pictured circa 1880.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #7251)

William Wilson owned land of more than 35 hectares (87.5 acres in the old money) here, but it is possible that he hit hard times in the mid-1880s because the property was sold to a John Stevenson MLA, who subdivided a portion of the large land holding. The first allotments were sold by auctioneer John Cameron in May 1885.
(Photo: NLA; Map RM3692)

At the time of the auction, the house was described this way:
"drawing and dining rooms elegantly finished, entrance hall, library, breakfast room, five bedrooms [all lofty, spacious, and well ventilated] - verandahs, kitchen, servants' quarters, scullery and storeroom. The grounds contained stables, carriage-house, buggy-shed, harness-room, man's room and hay-house - [possibly housed in one or two structures] - underground tanks holding a domestic water supply, and a flower garden."
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #162788)

Either politicians had money or men with money became politicians, because John Stevenson MLA sold the house and remaining property to soon-to-be premier Boyd Morehead MLA in 1898. From then the house was owned for extensive periods firstly by Major WG Cahill, (formerly the Commissioner of Police and then the governor's aide-de-campe); followed by Major A Wynyard Joss, veteran of the Boer War and WWI. It is possible that the house is still owned by his descendents.
(Photo: © National Trust of Queensland and Richard Stringer)

The stately house remains on land that is little more than an average suburban lot, the interior apparently still virtually intact, surrounded by trees that were planted around the beginning of the twentieth century.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Caloundra Lighthouses

A couple of posts previously, we saw some evidence of the life of Captain George Poynter Heath, the port master of Queensland at the time of secession. Today we will hear a bit more about his work, thanks to a chance encounter I had last week.

The tricky entrance to the Brisbane River to commence the upstream journey to the port of Brisbane had confounded mariners since Captain Cook's voyage up the east coast of Australia. If Brisbane were to become a port of note, then it was imperative for a safe means of entry to be navigated and charted. This is where Capt Heath comes in. In 1879, he sounded a deep water entry from Caloundra, through Moreton Bay to the east of Bribie Island, then into the river. It became the principal route into Brisbane, and is known as the North West Channel. It is still used by vessels today, even though they are of dimensions that would have been unimaginable to Heath.

Once the channel was charted, the next task was to provide lighting to mark safe passage for vessels entering the channel at night. This was completed in 1896, when lighthouses were constructed at Caloundra (to mark the entrance) and on Bribie Island. The lighthouse tower at Caloundra was based on an earlier design by Robert Ferguson of the Colonial architect's office under FDG Stanley, and was constructed with a timber frame covered by corrugated iron sheeting. For those of you interested in the development of lighthouses in Queensland, I commend this paper written by leading Brisbane conservation architect Peter Marquis-Kyle.

Here is an early photograph of the Caloundra lighthouse, with the lighthouse-keeper's cottage in front. 
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #181344) 

The lighthouse gradually became the symbol of Caloundra, with local schools and sporting clubs including it as a part of their name or logo.  And this is what the original lighthouse looks like today.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

Last week I happened to be travelling past the lighthouse, so I stopped to take some photographs. Then I noticed that someone was inside - that someone was local volunteer Wayne, of the Friends of the Caloundra Lighthouses, who cheerfully showed us around.

Lighthouses? Yes, there are two lighthouses situated next to each other atop the highest point in Caloundra.
(Photo: www.lighthouse.net.au; rtodd)

The original lighthouse, having guided thousands of ships into Brisbane, and having given valuable service during WWII as an observation post, was replaced by a concrete structure in 1967. The intention was to demolish the original tower, but it was saved by community pressure and removed to another site in 1970. The second lighthouse operated until 1978 when its duties were passed to a new lighthouse at Point Cartwright.

In 1999, the old lighthouse was restored to its original site, and the two towers now operate as a historical tourist attraction. Click here to see a pictorial of the lighthouses from the local newspaper, Sunshine Coast Daily.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cleveland Police Station & Court House

Earlier in this series we saw Ye Olde Courthouse Restaurant at Cleveland, which was originally built in 1853 or thereabouts by Francis Bigge as a residence for his Cleveland work force. It later served as the local police station, lockup and court house through until around 1880. By that time a new purpose-built police station and court house had been built in a different location - an area at the end of Passage St that became the government precinct, and later included the railway station that was erected nearby.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #98838)

Government buildings often outlive their use-by date, and by the mid-1930s there were rumblings that the police station and court house were showing their age. Here is a photograph of that building that was taken in 1932.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #102901)

The government architect's office drew up plans for a new building with expanded space, but reusing the cells, stables and earth closets (toilets) from the older structure. The building was completed around 1935 at a cost of £1500, and was typical of suburban and country police stations of the time. Although there were later additions and modifications, that building survives in its original location, and here it is.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

The police moved out of the building in 1998. The building is now the headquarters of the Redlands RSL which has a modern club facility across the road.

Click here for a Google Map.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eskgrove, East Brisbane

This is a current photograph of one of Brisbane's oldest houses - a low-set stone dwelling situated on the river at East Brisbane. It is known as Eskgrove. Unfortunately you can't see a lot!
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)
The property was recently listed for sale, and although I do not know for certain, I think that was sold. There is a recently lodged Development Application seeking to change the property by demolishing outbuildings and replacing them with living spaces connected by verandah to the main residence which is heritage listed. The following images from the real estate listing give an idea of the position of the property - situated on one of Brisbane's most prestigious streets, and a short ferry ride to the CBD.

(Photos: homehound.com.au)

Eskgrove was constructed in 1853 for bank manager Archibald Hutchinson who came up to Brisbane from Sydney. His near neighbours at that time would have been Rev Robert Creyke at Ravenscott (now Shafston House) and Rev Thomas Mowbray at Riversdale. Riversdale was demolished years ago and is now Mowbray Park, a lovely near-city green space and ferry stop.

Poor Mr Hutchinson did not have long to enjoy his new house, because he died there in 1854. The indications are that his wife returned to Sydney with their children and the house was let to tenants. One of those tenants was the Queensland port master George Heath, who lived there while his own residence Hanworth was being constructed just up the road.

A later owner was Joseph Walter Tritton, probably part of Brisbane's Tritton's furniture family. He bought the property in 1910; he and his family lived there from 1920 onwards, and it remained in the family until 1960. Subsequently the place was converted to flats and then became a nursing home before once again being returned to a house.

Click here for a Google Map.


Edit 9/12/12: Here is another article about this property -it's still for sale.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hanworth, East Brisbane

One of the things that intrigues me as I research these blogs is the relativity of class to where and how people live. For example, the type of house that a school teacher might buy; or a bank manager. These occupations seemed to be rather further up the social ladder than might be the case today.

Today's building is another that piques my interest. It was built in 1864-5 for Captain George Poynter Heath, RN.
 (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #18171)

He purchased a sizable block of land on Lytton Rd in 1863, and had prominent architect of the day James Cowlishaw design this U-shaped single-storey house that was named Hanworth after the town in Norfolk where Heath was born. The house was built using hand-made bricks. Here is a photograph of the residence from 1930.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #114857)

After George Heath left the Royal Navy he applied to become the marine surveyor in the brand new colony of Queensland and moved to Brisbane in 1860. He then became Queensland's first port master in 1862. Evidently, he made a fair fist of that job, overseeing the construction of 13 new ports and 33 lighthouses (like this one at Cleveland), as well as the marking of the navigation of the inside of the Great Barrier Reef. Legend has it that Heath used to watch for sailing vessels coming up the Brisbane River from the dormer windows in Hanworth's attic.

(Photos: © 1982 National Trust of Queensland; R Sumner, F Bolt)
George Heath and his family became fairly well-connected in Brisbane's social life too. At the marriage of his eldest daughter the guests included the governor and the premier, as well as the state's treasurer and the auditor-general. This piece in The Queenslander of 27 May 1930 painted a quite romantic picture of entertainment in those times: 

As was customary with the prominent residents in old Brisbane, Captain Heath and his wife held enjoyable social gatherings in their big home, to which the guests hied them in carriages, gigs, and dogcarts, and some on horse-back. 

(I had to look it up in the dictionary, but the verb "to hie" means "to go in haste".)

Hanworth was home to the Heath family for almost 25 years until Heath retired from his position as port master. He packed up and returned to the old country, leaving Hanworth to be leased out to tenants. After tenant Alexander Hudson, a bank manager (see what I mean!) left the house some 22 years later, the surrounding land was subdivided and Hanworth was put up for sale. The following report of the auction appeared in the Brisbane Courier on 25th March 1912:

Sale of Hanworth Estate:  

Messrs. Cameron Bros., auctioneers, report the successful sale by auction on Saturday afternoon of the Hanworth Estate, East Brisbane. Every allotment, with the exception of the house, was disposed of for a total of £2807. The highest price reached was £163, which was realised for lot No. 1. The best offer for the house was £1280, but it was passed at £1400. There was a large attendance of buyers and spectators at the sale.

In the following year, the house was sold. It was purchased by Mrs Mary Weinholt, a member of the Theosophical Society and a philanthropist who, in memory of her mother, established a home for elderly women called The Hospice. The property was later handed over to the Theosophical Society, and then in 1995 was bought by the Anglican Church, who renamed it the Hanworth Home for the Aged. It still operates as a home for women only. Here is a photograph of it, but the high wall and mature trees that shelter the residence from the heavy traffic on Lytton Rd hide much of the property.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

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Edit: This house caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday 19 March 2013 - see this newspaper report. The extent of damage is not yet known.The owners had intended to pass the house on to the people of Queensland. 

Further Edit: Restoration to Hanworth following the disastrous fire have now been completed by present owners, the Vecchio family. In fact they have won an award from the National Trust of Australia. Further details here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mowbray Park, East Brisbane

This recent story in a local newspaper alerted me to the fact that there is growing support for a name change in the suburb of East Brisbane. Proponents say that an area of the suburb between Lytton Rd and Mowbray Terrace formerly known as Mowbraytown should be returned to its previous status as a suburb. Having only recently been through the same process where I live, I wish them every success.

Mowbraytown was named after the Reverend Thomas Mowbray, a minister who arrived in Moreton Bay in 1847 to start the first Presbyterian church in the little town. The church's archives show that Mowbray and eleven others met at Kangaroo Point in December 1849 to discuss the establishment of the church. These embryonic actions led to Rev Mowbray being known as the "father" of the Presbyterian congregation here. In 1851 Mowbray and his wife purchased a fairly sizeable plot of land to the east of Brisbane, and there they built their large stone house Riversdale - just downriver from Ravenscott (now known as Shafston House), the Kangaroo Point residence of Anglican cleric Robert Creyke. The Rev and Mrs Williamina Mowbray are pictured below.
 (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #64775)

Thomas Mowbray died in 1867, aged only 55. He was buried at the Paddington Cemetery (now Lang Park), but his remains were later transferred to the cemetery at South Brisbane. Mowbray's poor health had been the reason for leaving his native Scotland with Williamina to emigrate to Australia, where they produced nine children; the last four of them being born at Riversdale. His obituary in The Queenslander of 28 December, 1867 indicated that his health had deteriorated over the previous twelve months, so much so that he was unable to go outdoors.  After Thomas's death, Williamina sold the area of land south of Lytton Rd up to Mowbray Terrace for subdivision, with the estate being named Mowbraytown.

The family retained the residence and the land between Lytton Rd and the river until 1904, when it was offered for sale to the South Brisbane City Council. The riverfront property, until then known as Mowbray's Paddock was renamed Mowbray Park. The house was demolished in the same year.

Since then, Mowbray Park has assumed a recreational air. Croquet and tennis lawns were produced initially, and later came a lawn bowls club. It is pictured here in  1925.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #109585) 

In the early 1920s, the council constructed a swimming enclosure in the river next to the park. It became very popular to swimmers of all ages. A manager was appointed to run the pool and the nearby kiosk, as well as to supervise the separate bathing hours for males and females. 
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; # 68958)

The swimming pool led to the formation of a surf life-saving club that still exists, now associated with Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast as the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park SLSC.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #59938)

As befits Brisbane's climate, boating and sailing regattas became popular, and many of these events were held in the Humbug Reach of the Brisbane River, right at Mowbray Park. This photograph is from 1913.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #24217) 

These days, the bowls club has prospered and been enlarged. The swimming pool enclosure has gone as has the kiosk. What remains is a lovely verdant riverfront space, complete with a children's playground. One hundred and sixty years ago, Thomas Mowbray could not have imagined how the house that he built for his young family would have become one of Brisbane's favourite recreation spots.
(Photo: John Mowbray; panoramio.com)

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Friday, February 3, 2012

East Brisbane State School

From about the age of nine, I desperately wanted to attend this school, situated on the corner of Stanley St and Wellington Road at East Brisbane. No matter that I lived many kilometers away. It wasn't because of the curriculum or the facilities at the school, but rather what lies behind it in my photograph below. The Brisbane Cricket Ground, better known as...

 The Gabba...
the home of my heroes, the Queensland Sheffield Shield team, and occasionally the home of my super-heroes - the Australian cricket team.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The kids at this school could walk into the Gabba after school and see three hours play.  Plenty of time to see a Slammin' Sam Trimble century or a Peter Allen swing bowling display. Or, if the Gods were generous, a visiting state side, having been put in on a Gabba green-top in the sweltering Brisbane heat, struggling to reach a satisfactory score before the obligatory afternoon thunderstorm. To make matters worse, I don't think those kids had to pay! Meanwhile, I would have to race home on my bicycle to turn on the wireless (that means radio!) and listen to Clive Harburg or Alan McGilvray describe the action. At least I could go to the Gabba on the weekend to soak up the action, and I did that many, many times.
(Photo: Queensland Government; "The Pocket Queensland", 1921)

The East Brisbane State School was built in 1899 for £1800. There must have been a degree of embarrassment when the school opened though - the state government had estimated that it would need to accommodate 350 students, but on opening day in July 1899 there were more than 800 pupils; by the end of that year the number was in excess of 1,000!

It was clear that extra room was required, and a further £2,323 was spent over the next two years to add more classroom space as well as the bell tower visible in the photographs. The bell tower contains the bell from the SS Melbourne, donated to the school by the shipping company AUSN in 1910.

The school continued to grow in the early twentieth century, with an infants' wing being added in 1910-11 and further classrooms constructed at the end of the 1930s. 

The suburb surrounding the school has changed over the ensuing decades, and so has the school. The school's web site says that the current enrolment is about 240 students from 35 different cultural backgrounds.

Click here for a Google Map.

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