Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cairnsville, New Farm

Here is a photograph of Charles Le Broq - he was a building contractor who built and operated the Metropolitan swimming baths at Petrie Bight in Brisbane's early days.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #)

The baths were a wooden enclosure moored to the river-bank, allowing them to move with the tides. That feature also allowed the baths to be towed to a new position near the Botanical Gardens when their original site was earmarked to be developed into wharves. The next photograph shows the baths at that new site - you can just make out the word "BATHS" on the roof behind the ship. The large building in the centre of the picture is the Smellie & Co building on the corner of Edward and Alice Streets.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #35312)

The Le Broq family lived in the Metropolitan Baths Cottage at North Brisbane, but like other investors, Charles Le Broq decided to build a house to let to well-off tenants in the near-city suburb of New Farm. It was designed by Richard Gailey and Le Broq completed construction in 1889. The first tenant there was Albert Drury, who happened to have been the private secretary of Governor William Cairns. Cairns had passed away in 1888, and Drury named the house Cairnsville in memory of the former governor.

There are a couple of photographs of the Le Broq family at Cairnsville. I love this first one - it shows a girl on a rather up-market kiddie car that looks like it is propelled by a push-pull action of the handle, much like a railway hand cart. The information with this picture says that the two women at the back are Mable(sic) and Alice Le Broq.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #21980)

The next image shows Uncle Milton from Fiji in the white coat at the front, with baby Phil (aged 3 1/2) on the verandah. It took me a while to discover that there are actually six people in the photograph.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #21979)

It looks like the Le Broq family has a bit of fun, doesn't it? I can't tell you how long they owned the house, only that Drury was resident there until 1897 when he moved to Doon in Moreton St. The house has since had many owners and many tenants, and at one time was a boarding house. I believe that it is now privately owned.
(Photo: © 1982 National Trust of Queensland; F Bolt)

(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

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  1. I learn so much from your posts... Cairnsville is a place that I would like to venture in to... wonder if it's as nice inside?

  2. I have never heard of a wooden enclosure moored to the riverbank, moving up and down with the tide. As long as the river water was clean, this was a simple and very clever idea. Being towable made the baths even more flexible.

    When did it all end for these baths?

  3. Crissouli: I haven't been inside, so I am left wondering too. I did note that on the New Farm history walk that preceded the formation of the New Farm Historical Society, the walkers were invited into the residence.

    Hels: I don't know for sure, but the advent of public swimming pools filled with fresh water from the reservoir on a daily basis would have convinced most that swimming in the river was second best. Filtration arrived later and sealed the deal. See the earlier post on the Spring Hill Baths:


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