Friday, April 5, 2013

Athol Place, Spring Hill


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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #57297)

One of Queensland's early medical pioneers was Dr Joseph Bancroft (above) who migrated here from his native Manchester in October 1864, seeking a warmer climate for health reasons. From all reports Bancroft had a nimble mind and an enquiring nature, particularly regarding flora and fauna - on the trip out to Brisbane aboard Lady Young, he dissected flying fish, examined albatross and collected botanical specimens from the ports at which they stopped on the journey.

In one of his first activities here, Bancroft built a house on Enoggera Creek that he called Kelvin Grove Park after gardens near Glasgow. Here is a photograph of that residence from 1868. The house gave its name to the suburb of Kelvin Grove we know today.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #6713)

In 1866 Bancroft commenced his medical practice on Wickham Terrace in rooms rented from Alexander McNab, a builder who had constructed three stone terraces there called Athol Place. McNab lived next door in Athol Cottage that he had also built. In this photograph from around 1882, it is stated that Athol Place can be seen in the background behind Roma St railway station - possibly the building with two chimneys above the RHS of the long structure in the foreground. Below that is a current photograph of Athol Place - still standing on Wickham Terrace and now owned and occupied by a group of doctors. 
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #6410)
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(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)

Bancroft worked out of Athol Place for a couple of years before becoming the house surgeon at Brisbane Hospital in 1868. He went on to research such diverse subjects as wheat, grapes, oysters, bananas, sugar-cane as well as traditional medical areas such as leprosy and filaria disease. He also worked on a potential solution to the rabbit plague.

It is no wonder that the main building Queensland Institute of Medical Research is named the Bancroft Centre in his honour.

Bancroft was also the European pioneer of the Deception Bay area, where from 1881 he developed a 3000-plus acre site to continue his botanical interests. He also built a plant that processed and dried meat as pemmican and then canned it for sale. Dr Bancroft's wife Anne suffered from a medical condition that was helped by salt water baths, so he constructed sea baths for her - there are remnants still in existence, listed on the state's heritage register.

There is also a monument to Dr Bancroft at Deception Bay - here is a photograph.
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(Photo: monumentaustralia.org) 

Bancroft died suddenly in his city residence, this two-story house on the corner of Ann and Wharf streets on 16 June 1894 at the age of 58.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #265)

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