Beating Heart: exploring the role of the main street in the life of a regional Queensland city.

This month’s well attended Out of the Port session was Beating Heart: exploring the role of the main street in the life of a regional Queensland city.

Flinders Street occupies a significant place in the hearts and minds of the people of Townsville. It has been the hub of public celebrations, social struggles, conflict, commerce, war and change. Beginning with Robert Towns’ dislike of the muddy dirty pathway, Flinders Street has been the location of many of the major events held in Townsville.

Beating Heart’s presenter Trisha Fielding, who works for CityLibraries Townsville, shared Flinders Street’s journey through photographs and memoirs, many of which are available from the Townsville Library image collection, published in her first book Flinders Street, Townsville: A Pictorial History which was awarded a High Commendation at the National Trust of Queensland Awards in 2010.

Guest speaker Trisha Fielding and Louise Denoon, Manager Queensland Memory at Beating Heart , Out of the Port  Trisha Fielding presenting at the Out of the Port session on Flinders Street, Townsville,  Trisha Fielding at the Out of the Port session

Flinders Street has been the home of cafes, theatres, hotels, royal visits, jubilant celebrations for the end of WWII and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It was even reputedly, on 16 September, 1901, the place of the first ever unfurling of the new Australian flag.  It was also the scene of  destructive fires,  weekly communist party meetings under their own Tree of Knowledge, gunfire and political protests such as on Bloody Sunday when 3,000 meatworkers protested over their wages and conditions.

Lower Flinders Street, Townsville, ca. 1873 - John oxley Library image number 24406  Eastern end of Flinders Street, Townsville, ca. 1889 - John Oxley Library Image Number 204805  Federation parade in Flinders Street, Townsville, Queensland, 1910 - John Oxley Library Image number  111681 Townsville Railway Station at the western end of Flinders Street, 1924 - John Oxley Library Image number 242508

The fabulous photos in Trisha’s book chronicle the changing times and fashions, the style of buildings including the iconic ‘sugar shaker’,  car models  and the look of bygone eras.  After years of Flinders Street being a pedestrian mall, it has recently re-opened to traffic and is again a busy thoroughfare for the people of Townsville and its visitors.

Variety of stores and hoardings in Flinders Street, Townsville in front of Carroll’s Drapery Store, 1927  - John Oxley Library Image number 259305 Busy scene on Flinders Street, Townsville, 1929 - John Oxley Library Image Number 62507 Laying concrete in front of the Central Hotel, Flinders Street, Townsville, 1924 - John oxley Library Image Number 259241 View of shopping complex, ‘The Mall’, Townsville, Queensland, 1986 - John Oxley Library image number 228153

Join us next month for Beneath the veneer: furnishing Queensland interiors in the late 19th century.  Using a number of case studies for Brisbane, Tracey Avery will focus on the complex issues of politics, climate, labour and economics that had an impact on the furnishing choices of Queenslanders.

Tracey is Director, Strategy and Policy at Heritage Victoria, a Victorian State Government agency within the Department of Planning and Community Development. She was a Co-Project and Curatorial Manager, James Cook Museum, Cooktown for the National Trust of Queensland and was Cultural Heritage Manager at the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). A PhD candidate in Architecture at the University of Melbourne, she has published on interior and object design history, most recently a chapter in the Design History Reader (Berg, 2010).

This is an Out of the Port free lunchtime talk, presented by the State Library’s John Oxley Library and the Department of Environment and Resource Management,  12.30 – 1.30 on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the State Library.

Karen Hind

Librarian – John Oxley Library