Category Archives: Brisbane Back

80th anniversary – First women’s international cricket test match was played in Brisbane

Souvenir and official programme of the visit of the English Women Cricketers to Queensland 1934-35

Souvenir and official programme of the visit of the English Women Cricketers to Queensland 1934-35

On 28 December, 1934, Queensland hosted the very first women’s international cricket test match. This historic match, Australia vs England, was played at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds over three days.

From their arrival by the Kyogle train on 20 December until they left on 1 January, the English team had a busy schedule, conducting radio interviews, a reception at the Town Hall and a dinner at the Belle-Vue Hotel. The team did have some free time to explore, including a specially arranged visit to Southport.

Visitors Itinerary from the souvenir programme

Visitors Itinerary from the souvenir programme

Visit to Southport by the English Women's Cricket Team - Courier Mail, 20 December 1934, p.16

Visit to Southport by the English Women's Cricket Team

A warm-up match between England and Queensland was played at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds on 22 and 24 December. The visitors thrashed the locals by an innings and 41 runs.

Queensland women's cricket team, December 1934 - Sunday Mail, 16 December 1934, p.5

Queensland women's cricket team, December 1934

On 28 December, over three thousand curious spectators turned out on the first day of the test match. Australia batted first and were bowled out for 47 runs off 49.3 overs, with a very slow run rate of 0.94 runs per over. The Aussie side struggled against some of the English bowling attack and at one point there were 11 consecutive maiden overs. England followed with 154 runs, scoring slightly faster at 2.10 runs per over.

The Aussies fared slightly better in their second innings with a total of 138, leaving the visitors to chase 34 runs for victory. The England team easily compiled the necessary runs with 9 wickets to spare.

The State Library of Queensland is very fortunate to hold a souvenir and official program for the English cricket team’s visit to Queensland. The start of the program contains a welcome from the President of the Queensland Women’s Cricket Association, stating that although the Queensland association was not “strong numerically” and in its “infancy”, that their “enthusiasm [is] keen and sincere”. Within the program is an article titled “Women in sport”, which highlights the rights of women to compete in previously male dominated sports – “…the entry of women into cricket is but another instance of the modern girl’s challenge to the supremacy of the male”.

Two members of the English cricket team - taken from the souvenir programme

Two members of the English cricket team

The program also provides an overview and profile of each English player. For instance, J. Lidert – according to her brief bio- “May be called the Bohemian of the party, as she is an art student in London. When not wielding the brush or holding the palette she wields a flashing bat and is a useful change bowler.”

England eventually wrapped up the 1934/5 test series against Australia 2 nil. In a Sunday Mail interview with the England captain, Dot Waldron, she commented on Australia’s attitude towards the game of cricket – “Our aim is to play the game for the game’s sake, and give our opponents a good game. The trouble with Australians as a whole, is that you take the game too seriously”.

Kath Smith - Sunday Mail, 2 December 1934, p.9

Kath Smith - vice-captain and Queenslander

The Australian team featured one Queenslander, Kath Smith. Smith was the vice-captain and an all-rounder. Kath Smith top scored in the first innings with 25 runs. She was the only Australian player to reach double figures in that innings. In the second innings Smith scored 12 runs. Smith went on to play 6 tests in her career with a batting average of just under 28. She also has taken 13 wickets at an average of 31. Kath Smith continues to be a source of inspiration for Women’s Grade Cricket with the Kath Smith Medal awarded annually to the best and fairest women’s cricketer of the season in first grade cricket.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Queensland Government Steam Yacht Lucinda

Guest blogger: Jo Seccombe – Senior Reference Archivist, Queensland State Archives

150 years ago this month, the QGSY Lucinda steamed from Dumbarton, Scotland bound ultimately for Queensland. This extract from the Chief Engineer’s log records an estimated 80 tons of coal on board for the journey on 30 December 1884.

Extract from the logbook of the Queensland Government Steam Yacht Lucinda kept by the Chief Engineer on a voyage from Dumbarton towards Brisbane, 30 December 1884 - 2 January 1885. Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 2788

Extract from the logbook of the Queensland Government Steam Yacht Lucinda kept by the Chief Engineer on a voyage from Dumbarton towards Brisbane, 30 December 1884 - 2 January 1885. Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 2788

The QGSY Lucinda arrived in Brisbane on 7 May 1885. Named for Lady Jeannie Lucinda Musgrave, the second wife of the then Governor Sir Anthony Musgrave, the QGSY Lucinda was built for government business. A sad duty was when she helped to rescue passengers from the Pearl ferry disaster on the Brisbane River in 1896. A highlight of her service was accommodating the Constitution Committee during the drafting of the Australian Constitution, as documented in the caption of this photograph.

Queensland Government yacht Lucinda, Brisbane River. Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 8326

Queensland Government yacht Lucinda, Brisbane River. Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 8326

Read more about the officers who served on the QGSY Lucinda in the Register of public servants and the Queensland blue books held at Queensland State Archives. More detail about the voyages of the QGSY Lucinda can be found in the Log Books of QGSY Lucinda.

Building Costs for the Julius Street Flats at New Farm

Receipts for Julius Street Flats

In a year when there has been much interest in Queensland architecture and of house design and building costs in Brisbane. It is interesting to find a time capsule for the 1930’s in the State Library of Queensland’s collections. The Julius Street flats at New Farm, was heritage listed in 1997 and built by E.W. Mazlin and is a rare example of a group of highly intact 1930s flats /apartment buildings.

For a tantalizing look at construction costs of the past visit the State Library of Queensland to discover more about the social and economic history of a particular time. Through the collections of the John Oxley Library, it is possible to delve deep into the past and explore what life was like in a particular era.

The land in New Farm where the properties are located was originally part of a larger parcel for which a Deed of Grant was issued to John McConnell, in January 1845.

Julius Street, is a short and narrow cul-de-sac that is surrounded by a highly intact group of 1930s buildings, and as such is recognised as having a distinct sense of place.  They have considerable aesthetic significance as a highly intact group of 1930s flat buildings, designed in a range of fashionable styles favoured by architects of much of the more prestigious domestic housing in Brisbane during the interwar period.



The flats, consisting of seven properties comprising of Ardrossan, Green Gables, 5 Julius Street, Syncarpia, Ainslie, Pine Lodge, and Evelyn Court, are located fronting Julius Street.  They were constructed between 1934 and 1938 on a parcel of land that was subdivided in 1933 by Julius Rosenfeld, who had operated Rosenfeld’s Sawmill on the site from c.1924. The place is important in demonstrating the pattern of residential development in Brisbane, and in particular New Farm, between the wars.

This collection of material for the Julius Street build showcases the construction costs of the day but also a closer look at a more personal view.


Grocery receipt


Some other items of interest are the household accounts for Mr. Mazlins family, in the form of their grocery account for April 1943. This captures a glimpse of what was being purchased by this household during a time when there was shortages because of the Second World War and It is interesting to see the cost of such things as 50lbs of sugar at 16 shillings and 8 pence, 1lb currents 10 pence and 1 bar of kerosene soap at 8 pence.

This collection captures not only the cost of construction but the types of materials used and also the businesses from whom the materials were sources. There are beautifully presented art works on the stationary whether it is plumbing supplies or the new stove. All this material tells a story while capturing the essence of the day during a time of unrest in the world. This building was heritage listed in 1997 and

a full history can be found here.

To view this collection ask for the Julius Street Building, New Farm Records

Janette Garrad – Original Content Technician, State Library of Queensland


Ludwig Leichhardt III Visits The John Oxley Library

On Wednesday, 15th October, the John Oxley Library, had the pleasure of hosting a visit from Mr Ludwig Leichhardt from Berlin.  Ludwig Leichhardt III is the great-great-grand-nephew of the famous 19th century explorer and naturalist who disappeared in Australia in 1848.  Mr Leichhardt, a retired engineer, has been fascinated by his famous forebear since his teens and has written four books on the topic.  He last visited Australia in 1988 for Australia’s bicentenary, giving a speech about the renowned explorer at a University of N.S.W. conference to mark the 175th anniversary of Leichhardt’s birth.

Ludwig Leichhardt Lithograph, 1846. Acc: 6415

Mr Leichhardt’s visit to Southeast Queensland is an initiative of the Office of the German Honorary Consul to Queensland, Professor Michael Schultz, with the support of the German Australian Community Centre, Queensland, and marks the 170th anniversary of the start of Leichhardt’s great overland expedition from Moreton Bay to Port Essington in October 1844.  Mr Leichhardt’s programme included visits to the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, John Oxley Library and the Queensland Museum, to view collection items relating to his famous ancestor.  He also attended the German Unification Day reception in Brisbane and visited schools across Brisbane and the northern Gold Coast to speak with German students and their teachers.  The climax of the visit culminated on the 27th October at a reception given by the University of Queensland in honour of the visiting President of the German Parliament, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert.  The following day Mr Leichhardt and Dr Norbert attended a ceremony at Brisbane Airport where the newest Qantas Boeing 737-838 VH-XZO was named “Leichhardt”.

Whilst at the John Oxley Library Mr Leichhardt, accompanied by Royal Historical Society of Queensland President, Helen McMonagle, viewed significant Leichhardt collection items, including an 1839 letter written by Ludwig Leichhardt while he was a student in Paris, various rare Leichhardt maps and charts, and a lithograph portrait of Dr. Leichhardt.  As you can see there is an uncanny family resemblance between the two men.

Mr Ludwig Leichhardt viewing the 1839 Leichhardt letter which is currently on display in the Treasures Wall, John Oxley Library.


Mr Leichhardt in the John Oxley Library Reading Room viewing rare Leichhardt maps and charts.

The John Oxley Library holds a significant collection of Leichhardt material including maps, charts, published works relating to his explorations, biographies and photographs which may be located through our catalogue.

Lynn Meyers

Original Materials Librarian

Q ANZAC 100 Fellowships

On the 26th September, CEO and State Librarian Janette Wright announced four Fellowships as part of the Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation commemorations. The announcement was made at the Serving Country Forum.

State Librarian Janette Wright at the Serving Country Forum.

The four fellowships valued at $15,000 each are on offer in 2014 to fund research projects relating to Queensland’s role in, and experience of, World War One, both at home and abroad.

The fellowship program aims to uncover and explore the lesser known or untold stories, and foster new research, interpretations and knowledge about the Queensland experience of the First World War.

These fellowships are proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

For more information about these fellowships or to apply please visit the Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation website.

To view a recordings of the Serving Country Forum please visit State Library of Queensland’s webcast page.

Lara Shprem, Project Support, Queensland Memory.


The great and not so great fires of 1864

Guest Blogger: Susan Boulton – Queensland State Archives

Fire presented a grave risk to the timber-built shops which were commonly built in Brisbane 150 years ago. Three separate fires occurred in the centre of Brisbane city in 1864 and inquests held at Queensland State Archives provide details of the origin of the fires, property lost or destroyed and witness statements.

On 11 April 1864 the Queen Street business partnerships of Frazer and Buckland’s, R A & I Kingsford, Bulcocks and Fegan, and the one-man businesses of Mr Jost, Mr Berkley, Mr Mandell, Mr Keith, Mr Thomas and Mr Markwell were either damaged or destroyed. This fire was investigated by Coroner Justice James Wilson. The inquest file includes this plan of the damaged or destroyed buildings.

Plan of damaged or destroyed buildings

Plan of damaged or destroyed buildings

On 4 September, the second fire of 1864 was discovered by Constable Blake in Refuge-Row. Blake was on duty inEdward Street when he noticed a light in the shop know as the Little Wonder. The inquest held at Queensland State Archives records that Blake heard a crackling sound and raised the alarm. The Little Wonder, the business of Mr Francis Marriott, and the adjoining Bulcock’s vegetable store were destroyed. Sadly, Mr Marriott had relocated his book business after the April fire in Queen Street to Refuge-Row.

And what about the third fire in Brisbane? This fire began in Stewart and Hemmant’s drapery warehouse on 1 December 1864. It blazed through the centre of the city destroying many business and houses in Queen, Albert, George, and Elizabeth Streets.

Fire fighters in the 19th century would have relied on early maps such as Mckellar’s official map of Brisbane and suburbs to find and identify the buildings under threat in the 1864 fires. You can view these maps online in Image Queensland on the Queensland State Archives’ website here. You can also learn about the work of volunteer fire brigades including those who dowsed the flames in 1864 on our website at Fiery beginnings .

Newspapers of the day document that many of the store keepers and retailers impacted by the 1864 fires had insurance for their stock. In later years, insurance for the buildings was informed by risk rules and regulations such as those written by the Fire Underwriters’ Association of Queensland. You are welcome to visit Queensland State Archives to explore records relating to early Brisbane.

Forgotten Australians: Micah Pilot Oral History and Digital Story Project

“[f]ar from being simply complementary to each other, memory and history tell of very different relationships to the past than we can or do possess” – Dipesh Chakrabarty*

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” – Czesław Miłosz

This week marks Queensland Child Protection Week (7-13 September 2014) which seeks to promote the “value of children” and  highlight “issues of child abuse and neglect” in order to foster a network of support and create a framework around child protection across the State.

When we think about child protection, one of the major advancements in this area was around the acknowledgement of Forgotten Australians. It is timely then that a collection donated to us called the “Forgotten Australians: Micah Pilot Oral History and Digital Story Project” has recently gone live on the State Library on line catalogue.

This contemporary collection includes two oral histories and one digital story exploring the experience of individuals who identify as Forgotten Australians. The stories can be accessed here: link to the item.

The oral histories and digital story were recorded as part of a pilot project in 2011 for Micah Projects Inc and their Lotus Place Micah Projects Forgotten Australians Services. It was achieved in collaboration with Red Thread Stories, through a Forde Foundation grant.

The services provided for Forgotten Australians through Micah Projects are based at Lotus Place. Lotus place is a dedicated support service and resource centre for Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.

Lotus Place, South Brisbane

The term, “Forgotten Australians”, refers to the more than 500,000 Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care for a number of reasons during childhood for most of the 20th Century. They include Indigenous children, non-Indigenous children and child migrants. Many of these children were the victims of abuse and assault as identified by the Senate inquiry into institutional care.

A page from The Lily Pad, Forgotten Australians Support Services Newsletter, Micah Projects Inc

Lily Pad

In their 2004 report, the Senate Community Affairs Committee explained that through their inquiry, they “…received hundreds of graphic and disturbing accounts about the treatment and care experienced by children in out-of-home care. Many care leavers showed immense courage in putting intensely personal life stories on the public record. Their stories outlined a litany of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and often criminal physical and sexual assault. Their stories also told of neglect, humiliation and deprivation of food, education and healthcare. Such abuse and assault was widespread across institutions, across States and across the government, religious and other care providers.” (p xv)

Forgotten Australians: a report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children (2004), State Library of Queensland, Open Access, level 2, G 362.730994 2004.

Forgotten Australians Report

The library holds a hard copy of the report as well as the 1999 Queensland report (The Forde Report) into the Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions and subsequent follow up reports.

Youth Justice Commemorative Artwork, Kurilpa Point, South Brisbane. Several commemorative memorials were established to recognise the experiences of former residents of Queensland institutions. This artwork, which is a short walk away from the State Library includes rosemary - which has been an emblem of love and symbol of remembrance for thousands of years.

Youth Justice Commemorative Artwork

The  powerful stories captured through this important Micah Pilot project reflect on these difficult histories. Participants in the project recounted their experiences from childhood into adult life with deep honesty and openness including their attendance at the Federal Government’s apology on 16 November 2009. This was when the Australian Government acknowledged and apologised for the experiences of Forgotten Australians, their treatment and ongoing trauma.

The State Library of Queensland holds a DVD copy of the apology and it can be viewed on site.

On 16 November 2009, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, along with then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull apologised to the Forgotten Australians on behalf of the Australian Federal Government.

Apology to the Forgotten Australians, Canberra 2009

The stories unearthed through the Micah Pilot project continue to add to the important record of these traumatic experiences as part of our understanding and reconciliation of the past. As a repository offering access to these histories, the State Library continues to provide an opportunity for the public to hear the voices of Queenslanders once forgotten.

As issues arise for Forgotten Australians in terms of identity and piecing together the past, records and other materials become an important component in that quest. The State Library provides a list with links to organisations holding records and to materials relating to orphanages, institutions and child migrants, to assist those attempting to locate such records.

At times, however, access to official records can be restricted. Thus other materials become important when people such as Forgotten Australians look for ways to reclaim their past. This excellent blog story by my colleague Brian Randall provides an example of such material.

Zenovia Pappas – Contemporary Collecting Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


Dipesh Chakrabarty, ‘Reconciliation and Its Historiography: Some Preliminary Thoughts’, The UTS Review, vol. 7, no. 1, 2001, pp. 9–10.


A long ride on a tall bicycle : Sydney to Rockhampton in 1884

No doubt many readers have been following the recent Tour de France but the impressive performances of the riders in that classic event in many ways pale to insignificance when compared to the epic ride of George E. C. Timewell in 1884.  The ‘road’ from Sydney to Brisbane and on towards Rockhampton was dreadful enough in the 1930′s, as described in Blue Coast Caravan.  That trip being undertaken by car.  How much more difficult must the journey have been in 1884, travelling by penny-farthing bicycle?

Long distance cyclist, G. E. B. Timewell, 1885, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 41581

Long distance cyclist, G. E. B. Timewell, 1884

Timewell was an 18 year old Englishman, originally from Bristol, and a member of the Suburban Bicycle Club in Sydney.  It seems that a number of Sydney cyclists were planning to go to Brisbane for a competition against the Queenslanders.  Most would travel by the usual means and board a steamer for the journey by sea but Timewell and his friend E. C. Hughes decided to attempt the overland journey on their trusty bicycles.  Timewell set off from George Street, Sydney on Saturday, 30th August, 1884 but his friend Hughes was delayed and then suffered a broken bearing in his rear wheel which required him to return for a spare machine.  He then took a steamer to Newcastle and caught up with his friend at Singleton, from which point the two traveled together as far as Brisbane.

The Brisbane Courier covered the long trek in some detail in an article published on 15 September 1884, shortly after the arrival of the adventurers in Brisbane.  This section picks up the riders as they approach the Queensland border.

The men were in excellent spirits, but Timewell was suffering from a cough and cold, contracted a few days before. The dust of Tenterfield was shaken off at 7:15, and along bad roads they went on their way anything but rejoicing. Bonoo-Bonoo was passed at 10.30, London Bridge, Tenterfield Gap, was crossed about noon, and Bookookoorara was reached at 1.30. Whilst at dinner they hear the pleasant news that several teams were on ahead cutting up the track. The knowledge that the Queensland border was two and a half miles away bore down everything else. A race to the border line now took place, and at 3 p.m. they passed over the invisible line which separates New South Wales from Queensland. Timewell being about half-a-dozen yards ahead of Hughes. They appear to have rather astonished the teamsters on the way, and one or two of the “oldest inhabitants” stared blankly at the “‘new-fangled machines,” for it was the first time a bicycle bell had ever wakened the echoes in the bush thereabouts. Having carved the rough initials of their names on one of the border posts, they made tracks for the Hawkesbury Hotel, Sugar Loaf, and their “first drink in Queensland.” Stanthorpe was reached at 4.45 p.m. on Wednesday last, and that evening the first news of their progress reached Brisbane. The last four miles to Stanthorpe were covered during a heavy shower which made the cyclists wet through. Warwick was reached on Thursday afternoon at 3.30, and Allora at night, but not the latter until the trials of travelling through black soil had been experienced. In consequence of this pleasant road they had to walk for four and a quarter hours, and it was pitch dark before they reached the town. 

Once in Brisbane the intrepid travellers took part in the annual sports day of the Brisbane Bicycle Club, on this occasion taking the form of an inter-colonial competition.  Hughes took out several handicap events and subsequently returned to Sydney by steamer, Timewell continuing his journey in the direction of Rockhampton.  The Rockhampton Capricornian has a description of the event.

The annual sports of the Brisbane Bicycle Club, held here on Saturday last, were by far the most successful of the kind which have ever taken place in Brisbane. They were witnessed by between three and four thousand people. The unusual interest taken in these sports was due in a great measure to the presence of six or seven cyclists from Sydney, two of whom — Timewell and Hughes — have accomplished the unprecedented feat of travelling overland on their machines, the former from Sydney, and the latter from Newcastle. Mr.Bennet, the New South Wales champion, won all the principal events with comparative ease, and his clever and graceful riding was greatly admired. There is, however, a fly in the ointment. Amongst the prizes contested for, was the St. Jacob’s Oil Trophy, which has to be won three times in succession, each event to take place within six months of the other. Mr. Johnson, the Brisbane champion, has already won this trophy once ; and as the New South Wales men are not at all likely to comply with the conditions and win it three times it was thought that it would have been a graceful act on their part to stand out. But they are the guests of the Brisbane Club, the members of which have “a down” on Johnson, who is a seceeder from their ranks ; and in consequence of the pressure brought to bear by that club, Bennet started in the race, and of course won it. This morning Timewell started from Brisbane on an overland ride to Rockhampton.

Queensland cyclists G. H. Perry and J. E. Harris with friends posing with a penny-farthing, ca. 1884, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 41542

Timewell and Harris reclining with two other Brisbane cyclists standing behing

George Timewell continued his journey north in the company of the president of the Brisbane Bicycle Club, J. E. Harris, who accompanied him as far as Maryborough.  The Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser reported their arrival on October 1.

Messrs. G. E. B. Timewell (Sydney) and J. E. Harris (Brisbane), amateur bicyclists of considerable repute in the respective southern cities to which they belong, arrived in Maryborough last night. The first-named gentleman has pedalled overland all the way from Sydney, and was met in Brisbane by Mr. J. E. Harris, who accompanied him to this town via Gympie. Although they had been ‘pegging away’ continuously all the day from Gympie they appeared not to be in the least fatigued, which speaks well for their powers of endurance and skill. They have kindly furnished us with a copy of their log from Gympie, and also a statement of their future plans, as follows Left Gympie at 6 o’clock ; made 7 mile gate (railway crossing), at 7-10, and arrived at Gunalda for breakfast at 9-25, distance 20 miles ; left again at 10.15 and made Gundiah at 12-30 for dinner, distance 31 miles ; left at 1.45 , reached Tiaro 3 o’clock, had a refresher and some fruit at Victoria Hotel, and left again at 3.30 and reached Maryborough 6.30. Were met about 3 miles from town by several local cyclists, and escorted to Melbourne Hotel. Mr. Waller, a Gympie cyclist, accompanied them all the way. The roads throughout were quite a treat after the very hilly and stony country between Brisbane and Gympie. The machine ridden by Mr. J. E. Harris is a 56 inch club roadster, and Mr. Timewell’s a 52 inch special club, both from Messrs. James Martin and Co., George street, Sydney. We must not forget to mention that before leaving Gympie the cyclists were presented with a splendid specimen of gold at the Theatre on Monday 30th inst. Mr. J. E. Harris will not be able to travel farther north than Maryborough as he is obliged to get back to business ; however, we are pleased to state that Mr. Godson will accompany Mr. Timewell as far as Bundaberg rather than allow the Sydney cyclist to travel alone. Mr. Timewell intends starting hence to-morrow (Thursday) morning, and is due at Bundaberg that evening.

Overland rider, Mr Timewell posing on a penny farthing at a photographic studio, Brisbane, 1884, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 7610

Overland rider, Mr Timewell posing on a penny farthing at a photographic studio, Brisbane, 1884

Timewell’s arrival in Rockhampton at the end of his epic ride appears to have be somewhat anticlimactic according to this article by a Rockhampton reporter in the Brisbane Courier.

Timewell, the bicyclist, arrived here on Friday afternoon, and owing to local cyclists not being apprised of the hour or probable time of his arrival, they did not turn out to meet him, as it was their intention to have done. He arrived here unannounced, but soon the news spread that he had at last reached the end of his long over- land journey from Sydney. On Friday evening he was interviewed by several prominent supporters of sport, and on Saturday evening was entertained at a luncheon in the Belmore Arms. There were about twenty-five gentlemen present, the mayor in the chair, and  the evening was passed pleasantly. The mayor  was not backward in eulogising the youthful  adventurer, and he congratulated him on the accomplishment of a feat that had been unknown hitherto in the annals of cycling.  The evening was most enjoyable, and the reception accorded Mr. Timewell was most cordial. His visit to Rockhampton will give an impetus to wheeling in Rockhampton, and  as a track has been formed at the Cremorne Gardens I have very little doubt a club will be formed at an early date. The first sports on wheels open here to-morrow afternoon, the proprietors of the gardens having offered a five-guinea prize for a five-mile race. Timewell will remain here a few days longer, and will probably take passage by steamer for Sydney. It is rumoured he is willing to reside here for a few months if a situation is offered him, and if such is brought about cycling will become as popular almost as any other sport.

Timewell had traveled over 1300 miles (2100 km) in 22 riding days, averaging 57 miles per day (92 km) over rough tracks and barely formed roads still having the energy to win the 5 mile race in Rockhampton as reported in the Brisbane Courier during a stopover in Brisbane while returning to Sydney by steamer.  Timewell’s feat was certainly an Australian record for distance cycling but not a world record as an American cyclist had previously ridden from San Francisco to New York although you could certainly argue that Timewell’s was the tougher journey.

MR.G. E. B. Timewell returned from Rockhampton by the steamer Eurimbla, en route for Sydney. He completed his long overland ride of 1360 miles from Sydney to Rockhampton on Friday, the 10th instant. The average for twenty-two days’ actual travelling was about fifty-seven miles. Mr. Timewell speaks highly of the hospitality he met with in Gympie, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, and indeed at every township and station along the road. Notably among the latter he refers to a hearty reception he met with at Rodd’s Bay Station (Mr. A. Norton’s, M.L.A.), in the Gladstone district, where his arrival had been anticipated in consequence of special instructions from Mr. Norton. Before reaching Rockhampton he had to wade the Boyne River. At a bicycle sports gathering at Rockhampton last Wednesday, Mr. Timewell won the five miles race, and was second in a mile handicap, in which he gave Letsom – an English medal bicyclist-about 200 yards start. He leaves for Sydney on Wednesday.

G. E. B. Timewell with a penny-farthing, 1885, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 41582

George Timewell - overland cyclist, 1884

George Timewell returned to Sydney and out of Queensland history but not before visiting a Brisbane photographic studio where he was immortalized in the portraits that inspired this article.

You have the opportunity to get on your own bike and learn more about Queensland history and shop for retro outfits by joining one of the library’s Retro Rides events in September.  These events are part of the Hot Modernism exhibition currently showing at the Library.

Simon Miller – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland

Brisbane City Botanic Gardens and the New National Trust Significant Tree Database/App

Guest blogger: Margaret Munro – Volunteer, City Botanic Gardens

National Trusts of Australia: Register of Significant Trees

App for National Trusts of Australia: Register of Significant Trees

Queensland has many outstanding trees. The 2,000 year old Antarctic Beech Trees (Nothofagus moorei) on the Springbrook plateau – relics of Gondwana, beautiful Norfolk Pines (Araucaria heterophylla) which cluster along the coastline and 500 year old Strangler Figs (Ficus macrocarpa) in the Atherton Tableland rainforests are just a few examples. However, to see some of our state’s significant historic trees, one needs to go no further than the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens – sometimes referred to as the ‘Cradle of Horticulture in Queensland’.

A visit to the Gardens in Alice Street could find you standing under the first cultivated Macadamia Nut Tree (Macadamia integrifolia) which resulted from trials in 1858 and lead to the development of Australia’s only native plant-based export industry. A stroll along the river path will find you gazing up at more than a score of mature Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) which were planted between 1858 and 1867 by the Garden’s first curator, Walter Hill, to honour John Carne Bidwill who is commemorated in their scientific name.

On the opposite side of the Gardens, adjacent to Gardens Point QUT, the path leads past a Cook Pine (Araucaria columnaris) which, at approximately 45 meters, is the tallest tree in the Gardens. This tree was planted in 1868 by Queen Victoria’s oldest son, Prince Albert, later King Edward VII. Following its planting, Prince Albert survived an assassination attempt in Sydney on his journey home. Also along this path you will pass one of the most magnificent tree that you could ever hope to see. It is an Indian Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis) whose large prop roots have spread out and entered the ground to support its new branches forming a forest of interconnecting ‘trunks’ altogether measuring an astounding 49 meters in circumference.

National Trusts of Australia: Register of Significant Trees

App showing significant tree in the City Botanic Gardens

The National Trusts of Australia have developed a new database/application to be officially launched in Melbourne on 11 August. This app is for use on all computers, tablets and mobile phones and its purpose is to help people locate, find information about, or nominate for identification, significant trees around Australia. Volunteers and staff at the National Trust of Queensland have uploaded approximately half of the known records of significant trees in Queensland and hope to encourage individuals and groups to submit new nominations to the website. The website’s address is

Electric city : trams and power in Brisbane

Brisbane in the nineteenth century was in many ways a primitive, frontier town with unpaved streets and an unreliable water supply but in other ways it was in the forefront in adopting new technology.  I have previously described Brisbane’s early and enthusiastic adoption of the new telephone technology.  The Brisbane Gas Company was incorporated in 1864 to supply gas for street lighting and domestic and commercial purposes which it manufactured from coal.  Gas lighting soon had a competitor in the form of electricity.  The world’s first public electricity supply was delivered in Godalming, Surry in 1881 and Thomas Edison opened the world’s first steam driven electricity generation plant in London in 1882.  The first public electricity supply in Brisbane followed less than a decade later in 1888 when Barton White & Co. was contracted to provide electricity to the G.P.O. from their building in Edison Lane.  Brisbane was not the first Queensland town to have established electric street lighting however, that honour went to Thargomindah in the west of the state.

Advertisement for Barton White & Co, manufacturers of electrical equipment, Brisbane, ca. 1890, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 167304

Advertisement for Barton White & Co, manufacturers of electrical equipment

C. Frank White was one of the first electricians in Queensland, taking up the agency for the American Edison Company around 1881 and operating as an electrician and electrical supplier from a shop in Creek Street before forming a partnership with Edward Barton in 1888 with financial backing from his brother Thomas.  Edward Gustavus Campbell Barton was a pioneer of the electricity industry, having supervised the first commercial electricity supply in Godalming in 1882.  After working as an electricity consultant in New Zealand and Australia, Barton was engaged by the Queensland Government to complete the installation of electric lighting equipment in the Government Printing Office and parliament buildings in 1886 and was appointed Government Electrician.


 Formal portrait of Edward G. Campbell Barton, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 187003

Formal portrait of Edward G. Campbell Barton

The depression years of the 1890s proved to be a tough time for developing a new industry.   Uptake of electric power was slow and running cable over the roofs of city buildings was expensive.  The Queensland Government was slow to respond to the new technology and the first legislation for the control of electricity supply was not enacted until 1896.  Transmission of electricity by overhead cables was illegal until 1898.  In 1896 Barton, White & Co. was declared insolvent and the partnership was dissolved.  Barton formed the Brisbane Electric Supply Company to carry on the business.  The original powerhouse in Edison Lane was abandoned in 1898 and a new powerhouse opened at 69 Ann Street.  A unique personal perspective on the early development of  the Brisbane electric industry comes from F. R. L’Estrange who’s presentation to the Post Office Historical Society on Brisbane’s early electricity supply was published in 1954.  L’Estrange joined the company as a 14 year old apprentice in 1904.  In that year the company was renamed the City Electric Light Company.

Brisbane Electric Supply Co. employees in Brisbane, 1904, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 39117

Brisbane Electric Supply Co. employees in 1904. 14 year old apprentice F. L'Estrange is third from the right in the front standing row.

In the mean time another player had come on the scene.  Since 1885 the Metropolitan Tramway and Investment Company had offered a horse-drawn tram service in inner Brisbane from Albion Park and New Farm to West End and Buranda under the Tramways Act of 1882.  An amendment to the Act in 1890 allowed for the sale of the company and electrification of the line.  The 20 miles of track and 51 cars were sold to the Brisbane Tramway Construction Company, the owners also registering the Brisbane Tramways Company to operate the electric trams.  American company General Electric were chosen for the task of electrifying the tramways and Joseph Stillman Badger was sent out as Chief Electrical Engineer to oversee the work.  Badger would stay in Brisbane until 1922, transfering from GE to work directly for the Brisbane Tramway Company as Manager, then General Manager and ultimately Managing Director.

Badger family, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 7557

Joseph S. Badger, of Belle Vue, Miskin Street, Toowong with his wife Carrie and sons Arthur and Richard

To provide the electricity supply for the trams a new powerhouse was built on land at Countess Street bordering the Roma Street goods yards.  Three Robey cross-compound, horizontal, non-condensing, steam engines were installed, each driving a 300 kW, 550-volt DC generator.  The engines were supplied with steam from four large boilers under a 150 ft. high brick chimney.  Alongside the powerhouse, additional land provided space for the offices and workshops for tram maintenance and manufacturing.  In 1902 the installation of more powerful generating equipment meant that the tramways now had excess power which could be sold off to homes and businesses adjoining the tram lines.

View of the Roma Street Railway Station, Brisbane, ca. 1900, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 6408

Roma Street goods yards with the tramway Power Station behind

As well as distributing electricity the tram service had an important role in distributing mail.  This began in the horse tram era when the trams were contracted to transfer mail between the G.P.O. and suburban post offices at Breakfast Creek, South Brisbane and Woolloongabba.  This arrangement was continued and expanded when electric trams were introduced and continued until 1934.  As well as transferring mail between post offices the trams also served as mobile post boxes with posting bags being carried on trams from 1894 until 1916.

Described in the Australian dictionary of biography as able, courageous and ruthless, Joseph Badger oversaw the expansion of the tramways into a profitable company able to pay handsome dividends to its stockholders.  He was implacably opposed to trade unions and his hard line approach led to the General Strike of 1912 after union members were locked out for wearing union badges on their uniforms.  The Labor Party remained hostile to Badger and when a Labor government of T. J. Ryan was elected in 1915 they began planning a government takeover of the tramways.

Boss Badger

'Boss Badger' a cartoon from The Worker, Saturday, 7 January, 1905

The government put plans in place to buy out the Brisbane Tramways Company and at the same time sought to limit the company’s profits by legislating to control fares in a bid to reduce what they would ultimately have to pay for the company.  At the same time they raised doubts about the legality of the company’s electricity supply sideline.  The government did not want to have to compensate them for their electricity distribution assets as well as their core tramway business.  The Tramways company’s electricity distribution assets were sold to the City Electric Light Company in 1921 when the company realised that its aging generating equipment limited its capacity.  Conflict between the government and the company continued with the government attempting to devalue the company and refusing to include tramlines it claimed were built without permission.  The company struck back with its London based investors urging a boycott of lending to the Queensland Government.  In the meantime the company refused to invest in new lines or equipment and the network was becoming run down.  Eventually a compromise valuation was agreed and the company was purchased by the Brisbane Tramways Trust before being handed over to the newly formed Brisbane City Council in 1925.

The City of Brisbane Act of 1924 created what is often known as Greater Brisbane from two former Cities, seven towns, ten shires and parts of two other shires.  Section 36 of the Act gave the city council the authority to generate electricity for light and power.  The only generating capacity in the control of the council was that of the tramways which had three small and obsolete power stations in Countess Street, Light Street and Logan Road.  Much of the city was already being supplied with electricity by City Electric Light Company.  The Council had to decide whether to continue buying electricity from CEL or to go into competition by generating its own electricity.  Firstly, however, the council decided to try to purchase the City Electric Light Company.  The council had turned down the opportunity to purchase the company when Barton & White was declared insolvent in 1894 and on a number of occasions since the idea had been put forward but no agreement had been reached.  In 1926 the council made an offer to by the company’s assets for £1,500,000 but the company was not impressed, making a counter offer to sell at £2,500,000.  The distance between the two parties proved to be too great and the BCC resolved to build their own power station.

Construction of the boiler house at New Farm Power Station, ca. 1926, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 90744

Construction of the boiler house at New Farm Power Station, ca. 1926

The New Farm Power Station was opened in 1928 with two units generating less than 10,000 kW although the capacity would rapidly increase.  The new power station was controlled and operated by the council’s tramways department, supplying in bulk to the electricity department, the tramways and the council’s workshops.  The bulk supply required by the tramways was essential as the council was unable to supply the industrial and commercial customers in the city centre which were supplied by CEL under franchises it owned under the terms of the 1896 Electric Light and Power Act.  City Electric Light had opened its new Bulimba power station in 1926.

The existence of two major power stations in Brisbane where one would have been sufficient was just one example of the inefficiencies that had developed as a result of the piecemeal and patchy development of electricity generation and supply throughout Queensland and in 1936 the Queensland Government established a Royal Commission on Electricity chaired by J.R. Kemp, the Main Roads commissioner and a well qualified civil engineer.  The commissioners gave their prime attention to ‘ensuring the orderly planning of the electrical supply industry in Queensland’, to the elimination of waste and duplication, to the economic development of the state, and to rural electrification.  The end result of the Royal Commission’s work was the formation of the State Electricity Commission.  They undertook to implement a scheme for the electrification of south-east Queensland with the City Electric Light Company playing a leading role with a plan for the government to purchase the company in 15 years time.

Eventually instead of the government purchasing the company a compromise was reached.  The company was converted from a privately owned company into a public authority under the Southern Electric Authority Act of 1952.  The company’s directors would remain in charge, supplemented by the electricity commissioner and an official from Treasury.  There would be no cash payment and the shareholders would have their investments converted into stakes in a public loan.  In 1962 a further rationalization occurred when agreement was reached for the Brisbane City Council to relinquish its power stations and instead take over electricity distribution for the whole Greater Brisbane area.

 Night view of Queen Street, Brisbane, ca. 1959, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Image number: lbp00005

Night view of Queen Street, Brisbane, ca. 1959

The ownership of Queensland’s electricity generation and distribution infrastructure remains a contentious issue with moves by the current government to privatize parts of the network generating a lot of discussion and conflict.

A very thorough description of this history can be found in A history of the electricity supply industry in Queensland by Malcolm I Thomis.  The story of Boss Badger and the Brisbane trams can be found in One American too many by David Burke.  The last Brisbane trams ran in 1969 when they were replaced with buses, however trams are making a return to south east Queensland with a new light rail service carrying its first passengers on the Gold Coast this week.  See an album of Queensland trams on SLQ on Flickr.

Simon Miller – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland