Friday, February 1, 2013

Tighnabruaich, Indooroopilly

I've long wanted to write about this property in the western suburb of Indooroopilly. It's name is Tighnabruaich - I'm told that means "house on the hill" in Gaelic. The reason that I haven't done so before has been the difficulty of photographing the house, but recently I came across a couple of images that will assist me in telling its story.

The history of the house starts with two brothers who came to Brisbane from their birthplace of Edinburgh in Scotland. They were born a year apart and were sons of actor/painter Montague Stanley. The older brother, Francis Drummond Greville Stanley had studied and practiced as an architect in Edinburgh prior to emigrating to Brisbane in late 1861 or early 1862 where he joined the Lands Department, becoming chief clerk of works to the Colonial Architect Charles Tiffin in 1863. His younger brother Henry Charles Stanley, an engineer, joined him in Brisbane around this time. Henry was an assistant engineer on the first railway line, became a railway engineer in 1866 and then Chief Engineer for Railways in 1872, by which time older brother Francis had been appointed Colonial Architect on the retirement of Charles Tiffin.

In 1875 the first railway bridge across the river between Indooroopilly and Chelmer was constructed, but it was destroyed in the mammoth 1893 floods. A new bridge was designed by engineer HC Stanley, and it opened in 1895.  The bridge that HC Stanley designed had only a central pier rather than the multiple piers of the earlier bridge, thereby reducing the risk of damage from floodwaters and debris.

HC Stanley had purchased a large block of land near the railway line at Indooroopilly around 1891 for the construction of his own residence. He had a suitable architect in the form of brother FDG Stanley who had marvellous buildings such as the National Bank, the Queensland Club and the GPO to his credit. He designed the decorative two-storey Tighnabruaich to take full advantage of its river views, with lots of steeply pitched gables containing multiple windows.
(Photo: © 1979 National Trust of Queensland; R Stringer)

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(Photo: DERM)

In 1891, Henry Charles Stanley mortgaged the property to a Solomon Wiseman, and following Wiseman's death in 1901 the Stanley family vacated the house and the property was used as a boarding school until sold to well-known Brisbane solicitor Herbert Hemming in 1904.

The Hemming family owned the house until Herbert's death in 1942; it then was administered by the trustees of his estate. For a good many years in the 1930s it was unoccupied, and rumours spread of it being haunted. During WWII the house was used by joint US-Australian intelligence and translation units and huts, interrogation rooms and cell blocks were constructed for their use. Many American servicemen resided in tents in the grounds of Tighnabruaich, and Japanese POWs were imprisoned and interrogated there.

The trustees of the Hemmings estate sold the property to the Commonwealth government in 1945, and it continued to be occupied by the army after the war ended. It was subsequently used as the residence of Queensland's top soldier, the General of Command, Northern Command. For almost fifty years it was the home of military brass until the grounds were subdivided in 1998 and the house and remaining land was sold to civilian owners. Here is a "before & after" photograph of Tighnabruaich.
(Photo via Lost Brisbane;

Click here for a Google Map.




  1. I really enjoy your blog and the effort that you must go to in order to provide thoroughly researched posts. I had no idea that Japanese POWs were brought to Brisbane.

  2. Thank you!

    Yes, info about Japanese POWs in Brisbane was news to me too.

  3. What an amazing house. I can't believe I haven't seen pictures of it before. I had no idea this treasure existed!

    I agree with Tanya - you do a wonderful job here. Very much enjoy reading your posts.

  4. Hi there, just wanted to let you know that I put those pics on Lost Brisbane page after accidentally finding an article on Tighnabruaich after I had been reading this website of yours. Full circle hey :) I will try to find that article again for you to read....similar info though to what you have here. Keep up your great work.

  5. Here is the website I found the pics of Tighnabruaich, you might find it an interesting read as there are other houses on there too, Cheers

  6. I had no idea about he POW's, either. Wow. A friend in high school used to live near Tighnabruaich and we used to break in on a regular basis (or at least try) in the early to mid 90s. Fantastic work :)

  7. Recent article about Japanese POWs at Indooroopilly:


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