Guest blogger: Julie Hornibrook, 2015 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellow.
The anniversary of the opening of the Hornibrook Highway, in 1935, is coming up on 4 October – this year the 82nd anniversary, yet new aspects of the history continue to unfold.
The Bridge itself was demolished in 2010 when it was found that the timber pylons were affected by white ants and could not be restored. The beautiful art deco portals still remain on both the Sandgate and Clontarf sides and on the north side there is a fishing platform as a remembrance of the old Bridge.
The portals were designed by the architect John Beebe, and with their heritage listing have no advertising on them now. However, soon after their completion in 1935 they were noticed for their advertising potential! I came across a blueprint copy of the dimensions for the Castlemaine-Perkins XXXX sign that was erected as advertising on the Sandgate portal in 1937. This find was from combing through old papers related to the building of the highway that were kindly given to me by Margaret Harding from the Redcliffe Museum. The blueprint was for a large 19’ x 5’ neon sign in red tubing, of the four X’s of the Fourex beer, which would have really stood out in the local surroundings and for cars driving over the Bridge. Although neon was first invented in 1910 in Paris, it was still early days for expansion of the big signs in Brisbane and a new factory had just opened to make signs in Brisbane rather than bringing them in from Sydney.
In 1928 Perkins brewing company was purchased by Castlemaine Brewing to form Castlemaine Perkins Limited, better known as Fourex, so by 1937 the company was really expanding and doing a lot of advertising. I have a letter from IonLite ( 28.10.1937), ‘specialists in neon advertising’ to M.R. Hornibrook which says the sign would be erected opposite to the existing sign, which is likely to have been the one on a postcard from 1938 which showed a neon sign for Dulux paints. The specifications for the ad are very precise and would have been erected exactly as prescribed.
In the letter from IonLite there is no mention of payment for erecting the sign on the portal so it could be that early the negotiation was about getting approval to put up advertising and they hadn’t yet thought about leasing value etc for ads. Alternatively there was a leasing cost and the letters specifying the cost have not been found.
Finding the blueprint dimensions for the XXXX advertising fills in some gaps in the black and white photo of the art deco portal with the advertising above, adding information on colour, dimensions and development of neon signs!
Julie Hornibrook was the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellow in 2015 and is the granddaughter of Sir Manuel Hornibrook.
Discover more of Julie Hornibrook’s research –
- Showcase – William Jolly Bridge – contains historical photographs and an in-depth essay about the building of the William Jolly/ Grey Street Bridge
- Showcase – Hornibrook Highway – contains historical photographs and an in-depth essay about the building of the Hornibrook Highway
- Showcase – Story Bridge – contains historical photographs and an in-depth essay about the building of this iconic Brisbane landmark
- Brisbane Mementos of Sir Manuel Hornibrook– article published in the John Oxley Library blog
- Hornibrook Highway – article published in the John Oxley Library blog
- Past and Present – William Jolly/Grey Street Bridge – article published in the John Oxley Library blog
- Sir Manuel Hornibrook – Father of the Australian building industry – article published in the John Oxley Library blog
- 51st Anniversary of a 100 Year Old Time Capsule – article published in the John Oxley Library blog