Monday, July 27, 2015

Electricity Substation 210, Coorparoo

Electricity is one of those ubiquitous utilities that we just expect to be available 24/7. Lucky us - there are many places in the world where this is not the case.

Apart from the very occasional blackout, usually the result of an electrical storm (of which there are many in a Brisbane summer), most of us just take the service for granted. Of course it wasn't always so - electricity came slowly and intermittently to Brisbane street lights and houses. The tram service also became a reason for electric power to be expanded from its central city beginnings.

Brisbane's first street lights were operational in 1882 as the result of steam power generated by a steam engine provided by JW Sutton & Co in Adelaide St. Then in 1888 another company, Barton & White, constructed a powerhouse in Edison Lane at the rear of the GPO.

Electric trams came into service in 1897, and powering these vehicles meant the construction of new and bigger powerhouses. From these infant steps evolved the efficient electricity service we take for granted today.

Over Coorparoo way is an electricity substation that is actually listed on Queensland's heritage register, and deservedly so too. It is this Spanish Mission designed structure built in 1930 to plans by Reyburn Jameson, BCC assistant architect of the time. 
(from Courier-Mail 12 May 1930 via

Here are a couple of photographs of it.
(Photo: Heritage Branch staff, Queensland Government)

(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

The substation is situated on Main Ave near the bowls club. It hasn't operated since 1977 or thereabouts as larger, more modern substations have taken over the ever increasing load. Fortunately for us it has been preserved as a remnant of a time when public utilities could be beautiful as well as practical.

As a point of comparison, here is today's Coorparoo substation. Nothing to see here - move along!

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Kelvin Grove

Here are a couple of buildings in Kelvin Grove that have been around for a while and about which I have only sketchy details. First up is this substantial structure on Kelvin Grove Rd that I first knew in the 1980s as a restaurant run by Bill Cunliffe who was previously the proprietor at popular Spanish restauraunt Tortilla in Elizabeth Arcade in the CBD. He called this place Kelvin House, as I recall, and here is a photograph of it from 1986.
(Photo: BCC-T54-229) 

I'm not sure what has transpired since then, but the building is once again a restaurant, this time featuring Thai cuisine. Their web site says they have been in operation since 2009. It also throws a little light on the origins of the building, stating that it was built in 1880 and known as Stone House. Although the web site notes it as a "heritage building" I have not been able to find it on any of the usual registers.

The second building is not that old - it was constructed in 1930 to be a teachers' training college, but as a result of the Depression it was initially used as a school. In 1942 it achieved its primary objective as the Queensland Teachers' Training College when the previous facility moved to this location from the city. Here is a photograph of it from 1936.
(Photo: BCC-B120-81044)

Since then there has been a plethora of name changes. Here is a list that comes from a Wikipedia page:
Senior Teachers' Training College (1944), and then to the Queensland Teachers' College (1950), Kelvin Grove Teachers' College (1961), Kelvin Grove College of Teacher Education (1974), Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education (1976), Kelvin Grove Campus of the Brisbane College of Advanced Education (1982), and Kelvin Grove Campus of the Queensland University of Technology (1990). 
Fortunately the building remains the same and appears to be in good order - here are some more recent photographs.
 (Photo: BCC-T120-93313.42) 1993


The building is now part of the large QUT campus at Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Macquarie St, Teneriffe - then and now

(Photo: BCC-T120M-1264.2) 1989

(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

(Photo: BCC-B54-21454) 1967

(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Monday, July 6, 2015


Recently I was researching my grandfather's role in WWI, and I came to wonder how he actually arrived at the Western Front in 1916. I discovered that he sailed out of Brisbane on the ship Commonwealth, departing from Pinkenba on 28 March 1916. I couldn't find any images of his particular departure, but the following two photographs show WWI troop carriers crammed with servicemen departing the wharves at Pinkenba.

(Photo: SQL 73331)

Pinkenba - from the Indigenous Turrbal dialect, meaning "place of the tortoise".

The name is unusual, and so is the suburb now. The wharves are idle - most passenger liners pull in at Hamilton and cargo vessels at Port of Brisbane on Fishermans Island.

The railway station is idle too, shut down by Queensland Rail in 1993 after 111 years. During the Boer War, WWI and also WWII departing troops were transported on trains to this station then marched to the wharves. My grandfather was probably brought down to Commonwealth this way, and my father may well have travelled this way to serve in Borneo and PNG in WWII. The railway station structure remains, but is now surrounded by shrubs, grass, weeds and rubbish.
(Photo: Seo75 via

Pinkenba State School has closed and was offered for sale in 2013. I can't tell you whether or not it was sold at that time, but the buildings were still there the last time I looked. There is a set of memorial gates at the school's entrance that commemorate those from the suburb who served in WWII.

There is another memorial in a nearby park that remembers those who volunteered for service in WWI. This memorial was unveiled in 1925 and is held on the state heritage list.  Here is a current photograph.
(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

Here is the memorial at the unveiling in 1925.
(Photo: SQL 16691) 

And they are not the only monuments down this way. On 6th March 1963 the Queen opened a plaque commemorating the completion of the Moonie pipeline that brings oil to Brisbane's refineries.

This monument is stuck in the middle of nowhere, its only surroundings a desolate reserve of sorts and a heavily industrialised background. I wonder what the Queen thought when her vehicle pulled up here? There's the monument - set on a brick plinth between the trees at the end of the pathway that cuts in from the right of the picture.

Recent estimates indicate that the population of Pinkenba is around 350. Although only a few kilometers from the centre of Brisbane, it is a suburb constrained by industry and the Brisbane River on one side and Brisbane Airport on the other side.

Click here for a Google Map.

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