Monday, June 29, 2015

Warriston, Red Hill


Most people who have lived in Brisbane for a reasonable time would have passed by this building - it is quite a landmark near a major intersection at Red Hill. 

A man named David Pringle Milne bought the land that contains the structure in 1866 and 1874, according to the state's heritage listings. I'm not sure when Milne arrived in Brisbane, but going by the name of his boot-making business it would appear that he came from Scotland. Here is an excerpt from the classified advertisements in the Brisbane Courier dated 12 March 1867.  
(Image via

In 1870 David Milne ran for local government and became the alderman for the West ward of Brisbane. From the Brisbane Courier dated 8 February 1871:
 (Image via

And here is a photograph of the man.
(Photo: BCC-B120-33468)

Adding further to Milne's presumed Scottish beginnings is the name of the structure he built on that land circa 1886 - a wooden building comprised of two semi-detached two-storey residences that he named Warriston, after a suburb of Glasgow. The Milne family lived in one and the other was made available for tenants, who were mainly middle class males.
(Brisbane Courier 25 June 1902 via

After David Milne's death in 1897 the dwellings went through a series of changes - at various times it has been a private school; a boarding house; converted to 12 flats; and split into a number of offices. In 2010 there was a serious fire at the premises which were described in the press at the time as "a cheap rental property". The owners were subsequently fined for a number of safety issues.

Despite these travails the place still stands near the Normanby fiveways, and I hope it remains there for a good while yet.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Newstead Police Station (former)

Brisbane Courier, 29 February 1924:
New Police Station At Breakfast Creek
Breakfast Creek is to have a new police station on a more central site than the present one. The Home Secretary (Mr. Stopford), in making this announcement to-day, said that the Brisbane City Council was resuming the present station site which adjoined Newstead Park. The idea was that it should he included in the park area. The Home office consequently had to look for another site, and on the previous day, accompanied by the Police Commissioner (Mr. Short) and the Under Secretary (Mr. Gall), he had inspected some land not far from the present station. The department had an option over this land.

Brisbane Courier, 8 March 1926:
On and after Wednesday next, March 10, the Breakfast Creek police will be stationed in a house alongside the Booroodabin Bowling Green. The reason for the change is that the Brisbane City Council has resumed the land on which the present station is built alongside the Newstead Park, so that the land could be used in extending the area of the park. The Government bought a house and land formerly belonging to Mr. Thomas Barry, alongside the Booroodabin Bowling Green. The house, which contains nine rooms, stands on stumps 12ft. high. The space beneath the house will be converted into offices, and the rooms and the house will be used for the men stationed there. The site is a particularly good one, for it is handy to the new bridge which is being built at the Five Ways, Albion, over which there will be a great amount of traffic. The site is also a much more central one. Another feature of the change is that instead of paying rent, as it has been doing for several years, the new station will be Government property.

Breakfast Creek Police Station opened on July 5, 1889; closed on September 20, 1904 (when the Hamilton Police Station was opened) and then reopened on September 6, 1905. The initial house rented as the Breakfast Creek Police Station in Newstead Avenue, near Newstead Park. In 1926 when the City Council expanded the park the police had to move to a timber dwelling purchased by the Queensland Police on a block which sat between Roche Avenue and Breakfast Creek Road at 96 Breakfast Creek Road near the Bowling Green.
The station was renamed Newstead Police Station in 1963 and operated as the local police station from 1926 until it closed in 1995. The property was owned by the Queensland Police until 2006.
The original house, built about 1919 for Brisbane tailor, Thomas T. Barry, was one of a number of houses in the area at that time following suburban expansion after World War 1. It is the last remaining dwelling on Breakfast Creek Road, now the main commercial artery between the Valley and Breakfast Creek Bridge. The building, initially used as married quarters for the police, is a typical example of the ‘Queenslander’ timber-framed and elevated dwellings of the period. It was first enclosed underneath with an office in 1939.
The small, timber building at the rear of the property, built pre-1914, was relocated from the old Breakfast Creek Station near Newstead Avenue. It included single-men’s quarters and a police cell.
Although the police have left and the government has sold the building, it still stands on Breakfast Creek Rd, passed by thousands of vehicles daily. Do you recognise it?
(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Nundah Fire Station

Here is another of the old suburban fire stations that have been decommissioned and phased out of their original purpose. This one is at Nundah, and it has been absorbed into a new apartment complex - this is an artist's impression of the finished product.

And a recent photograph of the frontage.
(Photo credit: Shiftchange via Wikimedia Commons)

This is the way it was looking prior to renovation.
(Photo: © Queensland Government)

Fires in the Nundah area are now responded to from the fire station at Hendra, pictured below. It is able to house the much larger and more modern appliances used by the fireys today, but it lacks the street appeal of the original Nundah station that was decommissioned in 1999.

The  Nundah Fire Brigade was formed in 1916, originally storing its equipment at the Royal Hotel until a shed and bell tower were erected in Union St in 1917. Then the fire station was built in 1936 to a design by Atkinson & Conrad using a template shared with other stations including those still standing at Wynnum and Coorparoo (both also decommissioned). The two-storey building provided room for equipment on the ground floor and accommodation for the superintendent on the upper floor.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Royal Hotel, Nundah

A couple of weeks ago we had a family meal at one of Brisbane's oldest hotels. I'm not a restaurant reviewer, but I have to say that I was very impressed with the venue and the food. I am talking about the recently refurbished Royal Hotel at Nundah, which happens to be on the BCC heritage list.

The suburb now known as Nundah started out as German Station, a place established by  Lutheran missionaries who were among Brisbane's first free settlers. They arrived in 1838 and the mission lasted until 1843. A railway station was opened in 1882 and with that came a new name for the suburb - Nundah, an adaptation of the name that the Indigenous Turrbal people had for a chain of waterholes in the area.

The Royal Hotel was designed by architect GWC Wilson and built on Sandgate Road around 1888. It has remained a Nundah fixture since that time. Here is the earliest photograph of it that I could find - it was taken around 1929.
(Photo: SLQ 1868)

Prior to a makeover last year, the hotel had marketed itself as the Royal English Hotel and it looked like this. Fortunately all of that faux-Tudor cladding is now gone.
Photo: 2013

And here is its most recent appearance. Now known simply as The Royal, it has embraced the gastro-pub concept with an Italian flair. Judging by the full-to-capacity crowd, the changes have met with instant approval and The Royal has regained its mojo.

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, June 1, 2015

State butcher shops

"Mum - what does 'expectorating' mean?".

This was a question I asked when, as a child, I accompanied my mother to the local butcher shop. On the wall there was a big sign that said "No Expectorating" - I hadn't a clue. When I found out that it meant "No Spitting" I wondered who would spit on the floor of the butcher shop anyway.

From what I remember of a 1950s butcher shop, it looked a lot like this one, although the photograph was taken at Wondai in 1935.
 (Photo: SLQ 149488)

Large wooden cutting blocks standing on sawdust covered floors. Meat hanging by butcher's hooks from a rail that ran along the back wall. Much of the butchery was done in plain sight of the customers - carcasses sawn or chopped on those blocks, which were then rubbed down with salt to clean them. The sawdust floor caught any escaping blood or scraps and was swept up at the end of each day; fresh sawdust was spread over the floor on the following morning. I would imagine that things were even more primitive around the time of WWI - certainly commercial refrigeration would have only been in its infancy.

Many readers will be surprised to learn that, in the years during and after WWI, Queensland had butcher shops that were owned and operated by the state. The war time Labor government under premier TJ Ryan and treasurer EG Theodore wanted to ensure that Queenslanders were not disadvantaged by capitalist exploitation, so between 1915 and 1929 there were a total of 90 butcher shops that were government controlled. This enabled the government to fix the price of meat. Here is a photograph of one such store, this one at Albion around 1925.
(Photo: SLQ 57672)

And this is a butcher shop that was built in James Street New Farm in 1901 for Baynes Brothers. It was purchased by the state government in 1918 to be run as the New Farm state butchery.

The government's foray into staple products was never really successful. The butcher shops lost money and the government began to close them in 1926. The New Farm state butchery was closed in 1929 and the premises were sold to investors who leased the shop to butcher George Lemke. Ten years later the shop was onsold to Burrows Brothers who renovated the shop and installed a large refrigerated cold room.

Burrows Brothers survived WWII rationing and subsequent price fixing, then sold the business to the Petersen family in 1971. This is the shop, still bearing the Petersen name, pictured in 2009.  Although the Petersens sold to the George family in 2012 the shop remains, possibly the oldest traditional butcher shop in Brisbane.

Click here for a Google Map.

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