Monday, November 10, 2014

Torwood Police Station (aka Sister Mary Angeline's house)

On the way towards the city, as you ease down the long hill before the old Milton tennis centre, she stands there, still and silent. On the verandah of a triple-gabled Queenslander is a nun, waving at the passing traffic. 

She is wearing a dark nun's habit with a touch of pure white wimple showing around a rather plastic face. 

Plastic face? 

Yes, it is someone having a leg-pull. Not a botoxed nun, but a mannequin dressed as a nun to brighten a commuter's day. She has even made it onto Google Maps - look below - you can just make her out above the red door behind the glass.
(Photo: google.com)

Recently I was browsing through some archived photographs at the BCC Brisbane Images site when I came across a structure that looked familiar to me. I checked the information filed with the image which told me that the building was the Torwood police station, photographed in 1935. This is the photo.
(BCC-B120-80976) 1935

It took me a while to place the building because no address was provided. But the triple gables and the two separate staircases apparent in the old image are still features of this nun's house on Milton Rd. It was a police station that opened in 1898 and operated through to 1992 before being decommissioned. It was purpose-built as a police station and I assume that one staircase led to the official side of the building while the other led to the residence of the officer who probably lived on the premises. Here is a more complete photo from Google. 
(Photo: google.com)

And another photo, this time from BCC where it is listed on their heritage register. The suburb of Torwood that this police station served no longer exists, though - it has been amalgamated into Auchenflower.
(BCC 2011)

And now, as I research the story, I find that the nun is famous. Here is a piece from the Brisbane Times that tells us that she has been delighting commuters for years and often reflects topical stories such as the reminder to vote in an election. 
(Photo: Michelle Smith via brisbanetimes.com.au)
 
If you Google "nun on milton road" you will find further evidence of her sense of fun - for example she donned a pair of floaties in case the 2011 flood reached her door!

Hooray for you, Sister Mary Angeline!

Click here for a Google Map.

tff


8 comments:

  1. I love this post! I never comment and I should. Your blog is wonderful, thank you! Xx
    Could you do a post about the Broadway hotel? What a building!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well thanks for commenting! Hope to hear more from you.

      And yes, we have done a post on the Broadway some years ago. You can find it here:
      http://www.yourbrisbanepastandpresent.com/2009/07/hotel-broadway-woolloongabba.html

      Or, just enter Hotel Broadway in the search box.
      tff

      Delete
  2. Yes the 1935 photo certainly does have the sign Torwood police station. But why would a police station be purpose built in the middle of suburban homes? Imagine the police dragging in a cluster of drunks or criminals in the middle of the night, right next to children's bedrooms.

    I have another concern about the suitability of the architecture for the type of work police did. But that might have been true for police stations all across late Victorian Brisbane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the police station was built in 1899 this position would have been well removed from Brisbane Town. I don't think the tram came to Milton Road until 1903, so at the time of construction this police station would have been on the outskirts of civilisation.

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  3. You're correct in assuming that the officer in charge lived on the premises. This style of police station was quite common in Brisbane in the early 20th century - typical suburban houses that blended with their neighbours. I remember similar style stations at Red Hill, Newstead and Indooroopilly. West End police station, which closed just a few months ago, was the oldest Queensland police station still operating from its original site. It also originally had a residential section, but was built much earlier in the late 1800s. Grab a photo of it while you can - with the state government selling off assets, who knows how long it will last?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Newstead and Newstead police stations can still be seen.

      In those early days I think it was important for the copper to live at the police station in the area of jurisdiction.

      How long the police were forced to work from these premises might be a different argument.

      Delete
  4. Coorparoo Station is a house smack bang in suburbia! New Farm Station still a police owned building, but Newstead Station no longer police owned.

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  5. What is the earliest siting of the Nun. It was first pointed out to me in 1990 and by then it was already well known? But in searching the web some people are saying it has only been there 13 years - is this rubbish, or is it a different nun?

    ReplyDelete

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