Category Archives: Brisbane Back

Emma Miller – Mother of the Australian Labor Party

Each March Queenslanders recognise the achievements of women with two important events - International Women’s Day (8 March) and Australian Women’s History Month.

Portrait of Mrs. Emma Miller. State Library of Queensland. Negative number 86511

Through the annals of Queensland’s history there are many women who can be considered trailblazers, women who had the strength and conviction to break the shackles of a male dominated society. Emma Miller is one of these women.

Born in 1839 in Derbyshire, England, Emma Miller, a tailoress and widow, migrated to Brisbane in 1879 with four young children in tow. Emma became a strong advocate for equal pay and entitlements for women. She also developed ties with a number of union movements, including the Australian Workers Union, and was involved in the 1891 Shearers’ Strike.  During her term as President of the Woman’s Equal Franchise Association (1894 – 1905) she advocated for the introduction of legislation to grant women the right to vote.

In February 2012 we reflected on the 100th anniversary of the 1912 General Strike. On 3 February during the “Black Friday” violent clash between demonstrators and the police, Emma Miller led a group of women protesters. During the skirmish with police it was alleged that Emma stabbed Police Commissioner Cahill’s horse with a hat pin causing him to be thrown to the ground.

Workers from the clothing industry form a line at the 1912 Brisbane strikes. Possibly led by unionist Emma Miller who on ‘Black Friday’ of the strike, ‘led a large contingent of women to Parliament House, braving the batons of foot and mounted police. She reputedly stuck a hatpin into the horse of Police Commissioner Cahill who was thrown and injured’ (Information taken from: Australian dictionary of biography, v. 10, 1986.). State Library of Queensland. Negative number 86511

The following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald detailing Emma’s clash with police.

“The funny side of the morning fray was the attempt of a score of tradeswomen to rush the bayonets… The attacks were led by Mrs Miller, an aged spare little lady, who could almost be blown over in a puff of wind. They came along in a kind of sectional rush, and doubtless a little disconcerted the armed men who expected at least to have their faces scratched. The little band was against the wall of adamant. The police squad might have been dead for all the notice they took. They simply stood “eyes front” as the ladies could make no impression either with fierce glances or physical efforts, they beat a slow retreat.” Sydney Morning Herald 3 Feb 1912 p.17

Emma Miller died in Toowoomba in 1917. Her body was brought back to Brisbane and laid to rest in Toowong Cemetery. The epitaph on her gravestone reads, “The world is my country; to do good is my religion“.

The achievements of Emma Miller are still recognised today by the Queensland Council of Unions which annually presents the Emma Miller Award to women who have made a contribution to the union movement. A statue of Emma Miller stands in King George Square in Brisbane.

Statue of Emma Miller in King George Square, the heart of Brisbane’s CBD. Photo taken by the State Library of Queensland        Statue of Emma Miller in King George Square, the heart of Brisbane’s CBD. Photo taken by the State Library of Queensland        Statue of Emma Miller in King George Square, the heart of Brisbane’s CBD. Photo taken by the State Library of Queensland        Bust of suffragette Emma Miller. State Library of Queensland. Negative number 79731

“May the memory of her brilliant life ever remain a source of inspiration and courage to the thousands of her adopted children in the Labor movement who are zealously working for the emanicipation of down-trodden humanity along the lines laid down and faithfully followed by dear old Mother Miller during the whole of her magnificent career.” The Worker, Brisbane, 25 January 1917, p.6.

The State Library of Queensland holds an illuminated address on parchment presented to Sir Arthur Morgan, Premier of Queensland, July 1905 to commemorate the granting of women’s suffrage in Queensland. The document is personally signed by Emma Miller in her role as President of the Woman’s Equal Franchise Association.

6223 Queensland Women’s Adult Suffrage Address 1905. Illuminated address on parchment presented to Sir Arthur Morgan, Premier of Queensland, July 1905. The work commemorates the granting of women’s suffrage in Queensland and is signed by Emma Miller, President of the Woman’s Equal Franchise Association. From the collections of the State Library of Queensland        6223 Queensland Women’s Adult Suffrage Address 1905. Illuminated address on parchment presented to Sir Arthur Morgan, Premier of Queensland, July 1905. The work commemorates the granting of women’s suffrage in Queensland and is signed by Emma Miller, President of the Woman’s Equal Franchise Association. From the collections of the State Library of Queensland        6223 Queensland Women’s Adult Suffrage Address 1905. Illuminated address on parchment presented to Sir Arthur Morgan, Premier of Queensland, July 1905. The work commemorates the granting of women’s suffrage in Queensland and is signed by Emma Miller, President of the Woman’s Equal Franchise Association. From the collections of the State Library of Queensland

You can find information on International Women’s Day and Australian Women’s History Month on their respective websites.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

New Acquisition: James Maccormick Correspondence regarding the birth of World Expo 88

The John Oxley Library recently received a fascinating collection of correspondence, dating from 1976 to 1983, regarding efforts to host World Expo 88 in Brisbane.  The correspondence was collected by architect, James Maccormick, who was principal architect with the Commonwealth Department of Works in Canberra from 1963 to 1970.  He had first hand experience with world expos, designing the Australian pavillions at the 1967 expo in Montreal, 1970 expo in Osaka and the 1974 expo in Spokane, Washington, U.S.A.  After the expo in Spokane he returned to Brisbane, where he was working as an architect with the University of Queensland, and saw the possibilities of Brisbane as a host city for a world expo.  Maccormick believed that an exposition would be the ideal catalyst for the redevelopment of Kangaroo Point and met with representatives from government and business to enlist support for this idea.

The celebration of Australia’s bicentenary in 1988 provided the impetus to push for an expo to be held in Brisbane in that year.  Maccormick lobbied politicians, business and academic leaders, appearing on television and radio to raise public awareness of his dream to stage an expo in Brisbane.  This correspondence, both inward and outward, provides a fascinating insight into the determination and hard work involved in drumming up support for the expo idea. 

Eventually, in the early 1980s, Maccormick attracted the attention of the Queensland Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who was so convinced in the worth of the scheme, that he instigated a direct approach to the International Expo Authority and eventually secured the rights for Queensland to stage the World Expo in Brisbane from April to November 1988.

The site of Expo 88 at South Brisbane, 1983.  Negative No: 61343  The site of expo 88 at South Brisbane, taken in 1983.  Neg No: 61343

The South Brisbane site, later to be known as Southbank, was chosen and Expo 88 started to take shape on the 40 hectare parcel of land opposite the city’s central business district.  The theme of the exposition was “Leisure in the Age of Technology”.  The site incorporated large iconic sun sails to provide shade, with a monorail to transport visitors around the area.  The fair was an unprecedented success attracting more than 18 million visitors and has been credited with transforming Brisbane from a large sleepy country town to a progressive modern city and an international tourist destination. 

Queensland Pavillion, Expo 88, Image No: 154458    Giant echidna in a lunchtime parade at Expo 88, Image No: 156449       China Gate at Expo 88, Record No: 228835      Fiji Pavillion, Expo 88.  Neg No: 190841      Canadian Pavillion, Expo 88.  Neg No: 152338      Interior of the Greek Pavillion at Expo 88.  Neg No: 154751

In addition to this correspondence the John Oxley Library also holds a large collection of Expo 88 photographs, newspaper clippings, publications, posters and ephemera.  The James Maccormick Expo 88 Correspondence may be viewed at the John Oxley Library (Acc: 28309, Box 16430).

Lynn Meyers – Original Materials Librarian, State Library of Queensland

Posted in Brisbane, Collections | 2 Comments

2 comments

  1. It is marvellous to have the nuts and bolts stories about how these important parts of our history actually come into being.
    People today often seem to have lost the confidence to think big and to think well.

  2. This tome of Expo 88 correspondence is a virtual “Rosetta Stone” of the origins of World Expo ’88, and is a significant addition to Australia’s repository of Expo 88 documentation.

    Mr Maccormick is to be congratulated on his initiative to preserve this unique set of documentation and anecdotes, one that will serve the public and Expo researchers well into Australia’s tricentennial and beyond.

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Rare Russian Papers discovered in the Oxley Library

Working as a volunteer in the John Oxley library I was lucky to find some very rare archival documents in Russian that were part of the Beckingham Family and Lane Family Collection. They are the original issues of the newspaper The Paper (Listok ) published by Konstantin Klushin (“The Russian Group of Workers”) and printed by Aleksei Lenin in South Brisbane in 1918. Three issues of The Paper and Letter of “The Russian Group of Workers” to the Comrades from Ipswich have never been translated from Russian into English.

Nataliya holding issue 1 of “Listok” June 1918. “Listok” 23 June 1918

These documents take us to the 1918-1921 years, into the life of the Russian radical socialist community in Queensland, which played a prominent role in the social life of those days. The majority of members of the Russian socialist community lived in Brisbane and exerted the strongest Russian influence in any Australian city during this time.

Two political figures played a leading role in the disturbances of March 1919 known as “The Red Flag riots”, they were Herman Bykov (also known as Aleksey Rezanov) and Aleksandr Zuzenko. A large demonstration occurred on 23 March 1919 against the War Precautions Act. Bykov and Zuzenko were at the head of the march, carrying large red flags, in defiance of an official ban on any such display. For their part in these events, Bykov, Zuzenko and a dozen other Russians, including Konstantin Klushin, the publisher of The Paper, were deported to Russia in September 1919, five months after that event.

The issues of The Paper cover events that happened before “The Red Flag riots”, from June to September 1918. The first issue of The Paper was published on the 23th of June 1918. Konstantin Klushin tries to explain his reasons for leaving “Gruppa russkih rabochikh” and forming “The Russian Group of Workers”.

Konstantin Klushin is mentioned in Australian documents as “Kliushin”, “Klishin” or “Orlov”. He had a long history of political activity in Russia, including imprisonment in a Siberian prison. He founded “Gruppa russkix rabochikh” with Herman Bykov .  This new group was founded in the beginning of the 1918, following disagreements within the “Union of Russian Workers”.

Herman Bykov had been a leading figure in forming a new group (“Gruppa russkih rabochikh”), but by March 1919 he turned back towards the “Union of Russian Workers”. The reason for the formation of “The Russian Group of Workers” in Brisbane was the dissatisfaction of Klushin and other members of the Russian community with the appointment of Peter Simonov (also spelled as Peter Simonff in some documents) as Bolshevik consul in Australia.  Klushin wrote: “Simonoff’s appointment revealed the ideological backwardness of some members. Simonoff’s coming was the formal reason for our split, although there were other reasons.”

Another founder member and  a secretary of “The Russian Group of Workers” Vladimir Pikunoff (Pikunov) described that event in his article “Cause of the new Group in Brisbane”, published in the Daily Standard on the 27th of June 1918.

In the other two issues of The Paper No 5 (published on the 24th of August 1918) and No 6 (published on the 15th of September 1918) Klushin continues criticising Peter Simonov as a Consul General. Klushin named this issue the “Simonoff Affair”.

In his Letter of “The Russian Group of Workers” to the Comrades from Ipswich Klushin writes about the case when he was named a “spy” and talks about the role of the individual in society. The “Letter…” related to another Klushin’s article entitled “No Sympathy for You”, is held in the National Archives of Australia NAA: BP4/1, 66/4/3660.

The article “Unmajestic bombast”: The Brisbane Union of Russian Workers as Shown in a 1919 Play by Herman Bykov” by Kevin Windle helped me a lot to understand this period and characters of the key figures of the Union of Russian Workers. Kevin Windle’s analysis of Harman Bykov’s play also helped me to understand Klushin’s character.

The Paper (Listok) had been mentioned in the article by Kevin Windle. When I contacted Dr Windle he told me that he had not been able to find Listok and just knew about its existence. It was so exciting to realize how important my find was!

I am very grateful to my supervisor, manager of the Arts Porfolio at State Library, Simon Farley for editing my translation and supporting me.

Nataliya Samokhina AALIA Associate

BIBLOIGRAPHY

Curtis, Louise (2006). “First World War Intelligence and the Russian Workers Association in Australia”. In: Bennett, Kate, Jamarani, Maryam and Tolton, Laura Rhizomes: Re-Visioning Boundaries, School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland, (). 24-25 February, 2006.

Evans, Raymond. The Red Flag Riots: A study of intolerance, University of Queensland Press (UQP), Brisbane,1988.

Windle Kevin. “Nabat and its editors: the 1919 swansong of the Brisbane Russian socialist press”, Australian Slavonic and East European Studies, Volume 21, Nos. 1-2, 2008.

Windle Kevin “Unmajestic bombast: The Brisbane Union of Russian Workers as Shown in a 1919 Play by Herman Bykov”, Australian Slavonic and East European Studies, Volume 19, Nos. 1-2, pp 29-51, 2005

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, Guest blogger, People | 6 Comments

6 comments

  1. It’s amazing to find out that this kind of documents have been kept in the State Library. They add another little drop in the ocean of knowledge about different facets of Australian history (Brisbane’s history). And every such discovery that now is translated into English helps us better understand our diverse culture. Thank you Ms Samokhina.

  2. Just shows that we really do not know everything about our history or how many nationalities have contributed to it. One has to wonder what other important Australian historical information still lies hidden in our libraries. Well done Natalia…

  3. It is fascinating to learn about the history of Brisbane, a city of about only 80,000 people in 1919 being the place chosen for a small (although the largest in Australia) but active Russian community challenging the norms of the time. That some of this history was re-discovered in the boxes of the State Library may provide historians further insight or a different perspective on these historical events. Thank you Nataliyia for your interest in opening these boxes and bringing them back to life.

  4. Всем большой привет из России!
    С большим интересом узнала, что моя сослуживица из России , проживающая сейчас в Австралии, открывает забытые страницы мстории наших стран. Узнаю тебя, Наталия и благодарю.
    Ольга. Россия. Рязань

  5. We are very glad that our colleague Samokhina Natalia continues her work in studying and translating documents devoted to our compatriots. Her work is very interesting for us and we are proud of her achievement. We wish her good luck.
    5 April, 2012
    Natalia’s colleagues of Ryazan Regional Children’s Library

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New Acquisition – “Toowong Rowing Club: One Hundred Years (plus a few)”

New Acquisition – “Toowong Rowing Club: One Hundred Years (plus a few)” / Jack Pritchard. Brisbane [Publisher?] 2011

Staff at the State Library of Queensland were very pleased to accept from Jack Prichard a copy of his recently completed history of the Toowong Rowing Club (TRC).  This work charts more than 100 years of one of the premier rowing clubs in Brisbane and provides a companion to his earlier epic work “Rowing in Queensland 1880 -1995” and represents a significant addition to the library’s holdings on the history of rowing in Brisbane.

The author’s latest contribution to the Queensland memory provides an extremely detailed and intimate view of rowing club life in Brisbane.  It reads almost like a diary in which the chronology of events, thoughts and aspirations as well as achievements and failures of the participants are captured.  This is more than just a history of TRC it places the club within the in the history of Brisbane and its mighty and some times angry river.  Indeed the Author’s labours in putting this history together would have been much less onerous if it were not for the January 1974 Brisbane River flood which destroyed much if not all of the Clubs historical records.

Toowong Rowing Club shed at the height of the 1974 Brisbane River flood. This photograph taken just before the shed was swept away down river into Moreton Bay. Photograph supplied by the Toowong Rowing Club.     The Shed. Toowong Rowing Club. Photo supplied with the permission of the Toowong Rowing Club 

Many prominent rowing identities names are associated with TRC such as, for example, Thomas Finney and Dave (“The Fox”) Magoffin.  Indeed while reading this book I discovered that the founder of Churchie (my old school) the Rev W. F. P Morris was a member of the Club and during the 1912 TRC regatta he rowed in the Kibble Cup wining crew and like me he rowed stroke side.

The history of TRC provides a window into the history of rowing in Brisbane and reveals the close association between Brisbane rowing clubs through the mutual occupation of a river, the development of the sport and the core reason for which rowing clubs exist – racing!

Alex Cutts, Senior Project Officer, Public and Indigenous Library Services – State Library of Queensland (practising accredited rowing coach)

Floodlines Tea and Music event Tuesday 10 April

Victoria Bridge 1893 floodJoin us for a special Tea & Music event at 10.30am, Tuesday 10 April. To mark the opening of the Floodlines exhibitions, critically acclaimed pianist Colin Noble will perform J.S. Bach’s technically outstanding Goldberg Variations BWV988 to a slideshow of historical images of the Brisbane 1893 flood and time lapse footage of the 2011 flood.

Brisbane River 2011 flood

Brisbane based pianist and teacher Colin Noble is a student of legendary Australian musicians, Pamela Page and Larry Sitsky, and holds Honours (UQ) and Masters (ANU) Degrees in Performance. He has made a specialty of playing music written after 1900, including six complete performances of Messiaen’s Vingt Regard sur l’enfant Jesus. He has made several CDs to critical acclaim, as a piano solo artist, a chamber musician and as a producer, mostly recently releasing his version of the J.S Bach “Goldberg Variations” on the Centaur Label, and an all-Debussy CD due for release in 2012.

Colin Noble’s Goldberg VariationsColin has worked as an accompanist and a piano teacher at several schools in Brisbane including St Peter’s Lutheran College, All Hallows School and currently works at St Margaret’s as well as guest accompanying for Mt St Michael’s. He has given many national radio broadcasts for the ABC, and his playing has been critically acclaimed for “formidable technique”, “depth and reverence” and simply as “a tour de force”. http://colinnoble.blogspot.com.au/

The “Goldberg Variations” Johann Sebastian Bach’s Aria with 30 Variations or the Goldberg Variations was published in 1741, and is arguably the most important cycle of variations in the history of music before 1800. Technically outstanding, the large-scale cyclical layout (based on a sequence of 10 x 3 movements, incorporating a series of nine canons, one at every third variation, arranged in order of ascending intervals to move towards a climax, with a final quodlibet) is without precedent. The basis of the composition is a ground bass of 32 bars, developed from the Ruggiero and related bass patterns, first presented in the aria and then subjected to free and canonic elaboration in a wide variety of ways. In their monothematic and emphatically contrapuntal conception, the Goldberg Variations set the scene for Bach’s last keyboard works – the Musical Offering and Art of Fugue. Goldberg Variations excerptSome sources suggest that the Variations was a contracted work, but the lack of any formal dedication in the original edition suggests that the work was not composed to a commission. It is conceivable, on the other hand, that after publication Count von Keyserlingk of Dresden , whom Bach visited in 1741, received a copy of the work for the use of his young resident harpsichord player Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, a pupil of both J.S. and W.F. Bach. In his own copy (which came to light only in 1975) Bach added a series of 14 enigmatically notated canons on the bass of the Aria in about 1747–8. They place a special and individual accent on the canonic writing that occupied him so intensively at that period. (Paraphrased from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians).

Tea & Music: Floodlines Tuesday 10 April, 10.30am, Auditorium 1

To purchase tickets for Tea & Music,go to http://www.slq.eventbrite.com/ or call 3840 7768

Embracing the "dark" – Brisbane’s Gothic nightclub scene

Recently we received a fascinating collection of posters and flyers from Gothic music venues in Brisbane during the 1990s. The collection was donated to the library by ex-Abyss DJ, Myles Sinnamon. Brisbane had a reasonably strong Gothic scene which more or less emerged from the Punk scene but without the aggressive protest element, Goths tending more towards artistic and romantic ideals. Brisbane’s Gothic heyday was probably the 80s and early 90s, but the Gothic scene tends to wax and wane and is still alive in Brisbane.

Flyer advertising the Abyss nightclub at Normanby Hotel, Brisbane, c.1996. Abyss was a Gothic nightclub. State Library of Queensland                 Flyer advertising the Abyss nightclub at the Normanby Hotel, Brisbane, c.1996. Abyss was a Gothic nightclub. State Library of Queensland                 Flyer advertising the Abyss nightclub at the Normanby Hotel, Brisbane, 1996. Abyss was a Gothic nightclub. State Library of Queensland

Most of the posters in this collection emanate from the Normanby Hotel, the Abyss Nightclub, Arcadia, London Burning, Midian, Dark Entries, the Bloodlust Ball and the Majestic Hotel. Collections such as these are extremely valuable in documenting Queensland’s music history, and I would like to hear from you if you have Queensland music material of any type, which you would like to donate to our collection. We collect contemporary and older materials. All items in our collections are housed in ideal conditions for their preservation and access by current and future researchers. Please feel encouraged to call me or email me at any time.

Laurel Dingle
Queensland Music Coordinator
State Library of Queensland
Ph: (07) 3840 7835
Email: laurel.dingle@slq.qld.gov.au

The Pearl ferry disaster on the Brisbane River (13 February 1896)

Pearl. Wreck of the Pearl off Hancock Brothers Wharf, South Brisbane. State Library of Queensland, Negative number 103398

TERRIBLE DISASTER – FERRY STEAMER SUNK – MANY LIVES LOST
“A terrible accident occurred on the river a short distance below Victoria Bridge last evening about five minutes past 5 o’clock. All traffic having been stopped on the bridge, the small steamer Pearl left the Queen’s Wharf for the Musgrave Wharf, South Brisbane. The vessel carried a large complement of passengers… On the journey across the Pearl steamed down the river a short distance in order to pass between the steamer Normanby and the Government steamer Lucinda. The Pearl, in avoiding the Normanby, was carried by the broadside on to the anchor chains of the Lucinda. The Pearl suddenly capsized and it is thought that she was almost cut in two by the force of the collision. In a minute or two after the first contact all the passengers were struggling in the water…. A number it is known, succeeded in scrambling up the anchor chains of the Lucinda, and others were rescued by boats… The accident was witness by a large crowd of people who were in the vicinity of Victoria Bridge and William-street at the time. A rush across was made by the bridge by hundreds of people, and as the news of the accident spread rapidly in South Brisbane and the city of people flocked in thousands towards the Bridge to gaze on the scene of the unfortunate occurrence.”
Brisbane Courier, Friday 14 February 1896, p.5.

February marks the anniversary of the capsizing and sinking of the Brisbane ferry Pearl, one of Australia’s worst ferry disasters. Of the 80 plus passengers aboard it is believed that between 23 and 57 people perished on the afternoon of 13 February. Diving operations were undertaken to salvage bodies from the wreck. Authorities were also concerned that debris from the wreck might damage the piles under the Victoria Bridge. The hull was eventually raised from the bottom of the Brisbane River on 6 March. A Marine Board of Inquiry was convened to investigate the incident. The Inquiry found the Captain, James Chard had “displayed a want of skill in navigating his vessel.” Chard’s certificates and licences to pilot steamers was cancelled.

Pearl - wreck. State Library of Queensland, negative number 9319

Below are several personal accounts from survivors/witnesses:

Interview with Captain Chard
“I called out to everybody to grip something, because she was going down. One fellow near me called out “Why don’t you grip hold of something?” I replied, “I don’t want anything; I am going down with her.” Almost immediately afterward she sank. I went down with her. When she reached the bottom I could feel the bridge breaking under me between my feet… When I next came up…I could see two women struggling in the water…I looked round and saw a lifebuoy close to me. I seized it, and got the two women to hold on to it. Three of us were supported in this way, and drifted down to the drydock.” Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 1896, p.9.

Interview with Mr Bell-Booth –
“I saw the sharp nose of the Government yacht cut [the Pearl] almost in two, the steam escaping from the damaged boilers in all directions. I dived over the stern, to where I had dragged Mr Lamond out of harm’s way, and just missed the screw, which appeared to be still revolving. I took a long dive, and rose about twenty yards astern of the Lucinda. I then breasted the current, and attempted to save a woman floating towards me, but when she reached me I found she was quite dead. I then tried to save another woman, but she disappeared from sight before I reached her. I was now fatigued, and turning round swam downstream till I reached McGhie, Luya’s wharf, where I was picked up by a boat.” The Queenslander, 22 February 1896, p.376

Interview with Mr and Mrs Jewell who were watching from onshore -
Mrs Jewell – “The shrieks and screams startled me, and made me feel sick and giddy; indeed, I feel so now, and never shall I forget to my dying day the sight of the poor creatures perishing before my very eyes. I called my husband to see if he could render any help.” Mr. Jewell said: “I rushed out of the workshop on hearing my wife scream out. I saw the accident; the shrieks were fearful for a moment. The boat was against the bows of the Lucinda. I saw a few people jump, and it seemed to me glide (they were so quick) from the Pearl to the Lucinda, then the boat gave a turn and slid on her side, the steam hissing. Dozens of people slipped off as she turned, and were swept under as she sank. To picture what happened is almost impossible; so quick was the scene that I could hardly realize that so dreadful a catastrophe had taken place. I saw about twenty persons, men, women, and children fighting with the debris in the rushing waters, and sinking from exhaustion.” Evening Observer, 4 February 1896

 Earlier image of the steamer Pearl moored above the Victoria Bridge (second temporary structure ) in 1896. State Library of Queensland, negative number 9320
A photo of the Pearl before the disaster.

A special commemoration service was held on 12 February 2012 at the Queensland Maritime Museum. Descendants of those involved in the disaster were invited to attend and share their stories.

In 2011 Paul Seto wrote a book on the tragedy – “1896 “Pearl” Ferry capsizing near Victoria Bridge, Brisbane River : a compilation of newspaper research from National Library of Australia, supplemented by other sources“.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Posted in Brisbane, Collections | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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  1. On Sunday 12 February 2012 the first of what is hoped to be an annual commemoration service was held at the Queensland Maritime Museum, on South Bank, for those some twenty-nine people who perished, as well as in thanksgiving for those sixty people who were saved, and for their rescuers. The first body (Mrs. Nellie Harper), was recovered near the Dry Dock. The last body (Miss Maggie McGee) was recovered on the southern tip of Bribie Island two weeks later. She was identified by a silver brooch she was wearing, which was a gift from Mrs. May Bradshaw-Barker.

    Further inquires to Paul Seto about this event are welcome via the John Oxley library.

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Destruction of the Victoria Bridge : 1893 Brisbane Flood

Illustration of the first permanent Victoria Bridge looking towards the government offices and Queen Street, Brisbane, 1893. State Library of Queensland, negative no. 6734  South Brisbane and Victoria Bridge, ca. 1892. [State Library of Queensland, neg no.146810]
Images of the Victoria Bridge before the flood.

DESTRUCTION OF VICTORIA BRIDGE 

“…it is our painful duty to record the fact that the structure has been completely wrecked. The disaster took place about 4am yesterday [6 February], at which time there was a crowd gathered on the dry land at the bridge approaches. Gallantly as the structure had resisted the enormous weight of water rushing against it all day, when the first inroad was made it soon succumbed. The first portion to go was the second or third span, where the flood waters had probably been running the strongest. There was one loud crash, which shook the very earth, and made the surrounding buildings shake to their foundations; one convulsive heave, and the wrecked portion went down the river. Soon other pieces followed it, until before half an hour had elapsed fully one-half of the bridge had disappeared.”.
Brisbane Courier, 7 February 1893, p.2

February 6 marks the anniversary of the destruction of Brisbane’s Victoria Bridge in the early days of the “Great Flood of 1893″. The bridge was a vital artery connecting North and South Brisbane. The previous day, February 5th, saw the destruction of the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge. The extensive and historic photograph collection of the State Library of Queensland contains a number of images documenting this shocking event.

A view from North Quay of the wooden Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, during the 1893 flood, with the water almost over-running the bridge. An unidentified ship is moored at South Brisbane. A crowd views the scene from the bank at North Quay in the foreground. State Library of Queensland, neg 67645  Large group of people gathered to watch the rising flood waters under the Victoria Bridge in 1893. Half of the bridge was swept away in the flood. Looking south towards South Brisbane. [State Library of Queensland, neg no. 19470]
Views from North Quay of the Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, during the 1893 flood, show the water almost over-running the bridge. An unidentified ship is moored at South Brisbane. A large crowd has gathered in the foreground. If you compare these photos with the one above you can see how high the Brisbane River had risen.

All that is left of the Victoria Bridge after floods washed a section away. State Library of Queensland, neg no. 3993  A view over the Brisbane River to South Brisbane and of the Victoria Bridge after the 1893 flood. Shipping wharves and commerical premises are visible with some flood debris on the river bank. [State Library of Queensland, neg no.172633]
Sections of the bridge have now broken away, watched by a crowd of spectators at North Quay.

You can find further images detailing the destruction of the “Great Flood of 1893″ through our One Search catalogue or check our “1893 Flood” blog article published back in November.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, Events | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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  1. The dattsaevion doesn’t seem to stop with floods now extending south. I am way up north and not affected by the current situtation. This weather system probably started here just before Christmas when on Christmas morning we woke to a cyclone and flooding later that day. It seems to have followed the east coast south and reek it’s destruction. Great, informative post!I love comfort food particularly baking! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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A Hundred Years of the Red Heavies : a celebration

New Acquisition – “A History of the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club: the First Hundred Years” / Peter Meares, John O’Hare and James Meaney. Edited by Vincent Creagh. Brisbane: University of Queensland Rugby Football Club, 2011

Recently staff in the State Library of Queensland were very pleased to accept a handsome two volume work which charts the hundred year history of the University of Queensland Rugby Club. Given its broad coverage and original content, this publication, presented by Gilbert Shearer on behalf of the authors, represents a significant addition to the Library’s holdings on the history of rugby in Queensland.

“A History of the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club” provides the reader with substantially more than a mere chronological account of 100 years of the “Red Heavies”, a significant sporting institution in a significant Australian University.  Between the covers of this work are captured the events and atmosphere of the University of Queensland Rugby Club from its foundation in 1911 to the present day. This work locates the Club’s significance in the history of Brisbane, Queensland and the Nation’s rugby developments in the midst of complex social change.  The Club’s history is certainly larger than the story of the rivalry with the Brothers Rugby Club although this theme too is given its rightful emphasis.

Rugby Union match at Exhibition Oval, Brisbane, 1956. University of Queensland defeated GPS 19-6 in the A Grade Grand Final. State Library of Queensland. Negative no. 185394  Gilbert Shearer presents “A History of the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club: the First Hundred Years” to the John Oxley Library on behalf of the authors

The authors have painted a detailed and intimate portrait on a wide canvas of 100 years of existence.  The brush strokes that define this history are at times necessarily broad and yet there is an intimacy provided by a plethora of photographic images and the clamour of voices in the form of quotes and stories from players, coaches and administrators that reconstruct the character and life of the Club through time.  It is a history of the Club as a whole and not just the elite players and teams (although they get plenty of attention and justly so – there are plenty of them).  From all the grades the voices are heard and images brought into view.

The Club’s trials and tribulations are neither avoided nor neglected.  I was pleased to see that the story was told of the Woman’s XV 2004 Grand Final triumph under unusual circumstances over Norths, the subsequent controversial disqualification and the handing back of the victor’s trophy.  Bill Hind and I coached that team and we all kept the victors’ pennants and the knowledge of who the real winners were.  Bill and I again joined forces to coach the Premiership winning Women’s team in 2006.

The task undertaken by the authors in finding, assembling and organising the data from a myriad of sources was clearly a huge effort and a labour of love.  It is an extremely difficult task to encompass a hundred years of a rugby club’s history in just two volumes.  There is no way to give each year its allotted weight and to include each and every person who helped shape the character of this club.  What can be done is to be faithful to the spirit of the records as they exist and to try to find a way to the heart the organisation.  The end result of the authors’ endeavours clearly demonstrates that Rugby is indeed “more than just a game”.
 
Alex Cutts – Senior Project Officer, Public and Indigenous Library Services, State Library of Queensland

Centenary of the General Strike of 1912

30 January 2012 is the centenary of a general strike in Queensland which began with a Tramways Union dispute about the right to wear union badges and escalated quickly until at its peak up to 25,000 demonstrators and 50,000 supporters were involved.  This was at a time when the total population of Queensland was little over 636,000. 

A General Strike Photograph Album held by the John Oxley Library has compelling images of the strikers and their supporters.

Crowd gathered on a street in Brisbane during the General Strike, 1912. State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0007
Crowd gathered on a street in Brisbane during the General Strike, 1912.
State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0007

Women marching in a strike procession in Brisbane in 1912. State Library of Queensland. Image number 59436
Women marching in a strike procession in Brisbane in 1912.
State Library of Queensland. Image number 59436

Bushmen guarding essential foodstuff in William Street during the General Strike in Brisbane, 1912. State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0011
Bushmen guarding essential foodstuff in William Street during the General Strike
in Brisbane, 1912. State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0011

Black Friday Baton Charge

2 February 1912 became known as “Black Friday” or “Baton Friday” after mounted police baton charged a crowd of men, women and children and then chased them along George Street, Turbot Street and North Quay.  Many people were seriously injured.

This cartoon by Jim Chase became one of the best known illustrations of “Black Friday”.

Published in The Worker, 10 February 1912, p.12 - image taken from State Library of Queensland’s microfilm collection
Published in The Worker, 10 February 1912, p.12 – image taken from
State Library of Queensland’s microfilm collection

Further reading:

Unprecedented Scene: police act firmly, determined baton charges” as reported by the conservative Brisbane Courier, 3 February 1912

Black Friday’s Police Riots: what indignant citizens think”   A different viewpoint from The Worker, 17 February 1912

1912 Brisbane General Strike – Wikipedia article 

Centenary of the Tramways Dispute and Brisbane’s General Strike 1912

The big strikes, Queensland 1889-1965 [PDF ] (St Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 1983) p. 117-131

Joan Bruce, Queensland Literature Coordinator – State Library of Queensland