Category Archives: Brisbane Back

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.


“…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

One comment

  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

New Accession: John A. Crawford Architectural Plans and Drawings

This week’s ‘New Accession’ story is not strictly about a new accession—it is about a very exciting collection of architectural plans and drawings recently discovered in our Sorting Room. So, this item could be called a ‘Sorting Room Backlog Story’ (Sorting Room Story No. 1–more to follow).

The collection dates to the 1930s and 1940s and it consists of architectural plans and some amusing sketches by Mr. John A. Crawford, an Engineering Consultant. Mr Crawford’s address in the 1940s was ‘Ingleneuk’, 55 Paradise Street (off Dauphin Tce), Highgate Hill, Brisbane.

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about John Crawford. However, I cannot help but wish that I had known the man who drew these:

Hangover chart:

Hangover Chart.JPG

Potto’s Patent Beer Pot:

Potto’s Patent Beer Pot.JPG

There are many plans relating to Crawfords’ house, the ‘Ingleneuk’, as well as plans for alterations; additions to the house; the garage; double gate; furniture, even a stainless steel tray:

“Ingleneuk”, Paradise Street, Highgate Hill.jpg Improvements to Ingleneuk.jpg Stainless steel tray.jpg

As I said, I haven’t been able to find out more about John Crawford, but from some of the drawings in the collection I gather that he was in the Scouts in the mid-1930s and that his group was called 1st Hamilton Scouts.

There is a drawing by John Crawford of an ‘Australian Boy Scouts’ Tent’ (1931). The tent required Japara silk, 15 3/8 brass eyes and some rope:

Australian Boy Scouts’ Tent (1931).jpg

1st Hamilton Troop undertook a hike from Blantyre to Gleneagle (Queensland) during Easter 1933. The map of the hike, drawn by Crawford, shows the names of the Scouters, as well as the orders for the hike and the 1st Hamilton Troop badge:

Hike from Blantyre to Gleneagle, Easter 1933.jpg Blantyre-to-Gleneagle-Scouters-and-Orders.jpg 1st-Hamilton-Troop.jpg

At Easter 1934, 1st Hamilton hiked to Villeneuve (Queensland) and camped there. We have a map of that expedition as well, complete with the names of the Scouters:

Camp-at-Villeneuve, Easter-1934.jpg Villeneuve-Camp-Participants.jpg

In February 1935, the representatives of the 1st Hamilton attended the Australian Jamboree. John Crawford drew a map of that camp:

Jamboree-Camp-Site-Layout, February-1935.jpg

On 30 May 1934, three patrols of the 1st Hamilton undertook a hunt for the Kelly Gang, recorded for posterity by John Crawford. Portraits of Dan, Ned and Joe Kelly are included:

1st-Hamilton-Hunting-for-the-Kelly-Gang.jpg The-Hunt-for-the-Kelly-Gang-by-the-1st-Hamilton, June-1934.jpg

Accession 28226 abounds in plans and drawings for sailing boats and sailing equipment. For want of more information about John Crawford, I can only assume that he was either a keen sailor or that his engineering practice included sailing-related projects.

Here are some examples of plans and drawings of sailing ships and equipment:

1st-Hamilton-Sea-Rovers-Boat-Shed-Plan.jpg Detail-of-a-plan-for-a-sailing-boat.jpg 


Steering-wheel-for-a-boat.jpg Drawing-for-bronze-rudder-fittings.jpg

Veronika Farley, Librarian – State Library of Queensland

150 years ago in Brisbane: the evolution of the Queensland Museum

On Friday January 20, the Queensland Museum opened its doors again, several weeks after it closed for major renovations.  Just in time to celebrate the Museum’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Once again children and their families can visit the dinosaurs. However, this is not the first time in Brisbane’s history that we have been without a museum.

Once upon a time Brisbane had no museum. The newly created  colony of Queensland had a couple of  newspapers and a  newly created local council in Brisbane, but it was distinctly lacking in many other important things that we take for granted now. Much in the way  of infrastructure, for instance. And there was no museum. 

  Observatory (Windmill) on Wickham Terrace in Brisbane, Queensland. State Library of Queensland, image number: 4831-0001-0002 Queensland Museum in Brisbane, ca. 1879. State Library of Queensland, image number APU-049-0001-0014 Silvester Diggles. State Library of Queensland, image number 63784 Queensland Museum on Gregory Terrace, Brisbane. State Library of Queensland, negative number 203544

However, within a relatively short time, the citizens  of Brisbane did have a museum, even if it  was a small one.  On March 1, 1859, even before Queensland  became a separate colony, the Queensland Philosophical Society had been formed for scientific purposes. Prominent in the foundation of the Society were (among others)  Charles Coxen and Silvester Diggles, who remained actively involved in the Society and, subsequently, its Museum. On 20 January, 1862, a room of the Windmill (on Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill) became the home of the museum collection acquired by the Queensland Philosophical Society; the Government also made a grant of 100 pounds by way of financial assistance to the Society.  Karl Theodor Staiger was the first professional curator of the newly created Queensland Museum.

The fledgling Museum moved to the Parliamentary building in Queen Street in 1868, and three years later the Queensland government assumed primary responsibility for it. The Museum  was on the move again in 1873, when it was relocated to the old Post Office building.  By now a permanent, somewhat more adequate, home for the Queensland Museum had become highly desirable, not to mention urgent; in 1879 the permanent home became a reality. It moved into a dedicated building in William Street , which became part of the State Library’s history in 1899; the Public Library of Queensland   inherited the William Street building (then minus the extension and its mural) when the Queensland Museum moved again, this time to the Exhibition building. Where it remained for 86 years.    

The final change of address came in 1986, when Brisbane’s Cultural Centre complex became a reality. The following year the State Library moved out of the Queensland Museum’s old home to join the Museum on the South Bank.

 Trudy Bennett, Librarian – State Library of Queensland

Aboriginal boundary posts

Entrance to old Cumbooqueepa, the residence of Thomas Blacket Stephens, South Brisbane, ca. 1872. State Library of Queensland, negative no. 20289

The above image is of the entrance to old Cumbooqueepa, the residence of Thomas Blacket Stephens, South Brisbane. The photograph is from GS-66 William Boag Photograph Albums, held by the John Oxley Library.

I was shown this photograph 15 years ago by a good friend and SLQ colleague, the late Loris Williams. Not knowing which collection it came from, I have been trying to find it again ever since, and finally rediscovered it yesterday (18 January 2012). Loris told me that in Queensland white poles [marked in red] were placed in front of properties to inform Aboriginal people and police that Aboriginals were not allowed to venture further.  These poles were known as boundary posts.

Dr Ros Kid’s “Aboriginal History of the Princess Alexandra hospital site” (2000, p.17), provides further insight into the restriction of movements facing Moreton Bay Aborigines.

“During the last decades of the nineteenth century Aborigines were increasingly marginalised on their own lands. Although they were allowed into Brisbane town during the day, they had, since the early 1850s, been the targets of a curfew, which was enforced after 4pm and on Sundays. Rev Henry Stobart, who arrived in 1853, remarked that the blacks seem to leave this town at one regular hour each day, and one of the boundary posts was at Cumbequepa (Somerville House), South Brisbane. The major demarcation south of the river operated along Vulture and Boundary streets. Charles Melton wrote that police were empowered by regulation to drive them out of town at nightfall, but because police were so greatly outnumbered by Aborigines in the town the regulation was difficult to enforce. By 1877 it would appear the curfew was more efficiently applied. Recalling the forced expulsion of all Aboriginal men and women at sundown, one traveller wrote: After 4pm the mounted troopers used to ride about cracking stock-whips to notify the Aboriginals to get out. Those whose lands lay south of the river would have retreated beyond the town boundaries to the camping areas of Woolloongabba, Dutton Park, Fairfield, Annerley and the Coorparoo watercourses.”

These boundary posts are a sad reminder of the treatment of Aborigines in colonial Queensland.  Images of these boundary posts are rare and the reason for my search over the past fifteen years.

Tania Schafer, Librarian – State Library of Queensland

A brief history of Hotel LA (Lord Alfred Hotel), Petrie Terrace

The hotel was originally called The Prince Alfred Hotel and was probably named in honour of Queen Victoria’s son, Alfred. His Royal Highness, Prince Alfred toured Australia in the 1860’s. The original builder of the hotel was Robert Brady, who bought the corner block of land from John Dowling in September 1867, and took out a mortgage, for one hundred and fifty pounds. The original premises was a simple rectangular wooden building with a gable-end, and was presumably replaced by the present building around 1887-88 when Castlemaine Brewery bought the property. The two storied brick building with stone cellars was redeveloped and the bull nosed street awning and corner entrance were removed, as well as the upper verandah, cast iron balustrade, French doors and chimney stack.   The Prince Alfred was renamed in late 1988 (BHG 1989). I was unable to verify when the hotel’s name changed to “Hotel LA” as it is known today.

Prince Alfred Hotel, Brisbane, ca. 1929. State Library of Queensland, negative number 1873

Photo: Prince Alfred Hotel, Brisbane, ca. 1929. State Library of Queensland, negative number 1873

This information can be found in the collections of the John Oxley Library:-

  • Queensland Post Office Directories
  • Brisbane Hotels and Publicans Index 1842 – 1900.
  • Views of the Prince Alfred, P  647.94  vie (short history of the hotel) by Base Line Books
  • The Ups and Downs of the Petrie-Terrace Walk/Drive Heritage Tour / by (BHG) The Brisbane History Group, which is held in the John Oxley Library collection.

Recent donation: Zip memorabilia from Brisbane's alternative music and art scene

The State Library of Queensland embraces Brisbane’s alternative music and art culture

We are very excited to have received recently by donation a collection of Zip art and music packages and memorabilia from the private collection of Matt Mawson.
The Zip collective was formed in Brisbane in 1982 by Irene Luckus, John Willsteed, Terry Murphy, Matt Mawson and Tim Gruchy. Zip was active until 1986, producing video art, dance and other live performances. Zip was part of an active alternative music and art culture in Brisbane, and was prolific in its output. Zip was partially inspired by a worldwide interest in self-produced cassette music and postcard/booklet art. Packages were exchanged with like-minded artists all around the world. Zip was never intended to be a commercial enterprise. It was propelled by creative enthusiasm. The Zip tracks were all produced on home recording equipment and much of the printing was labour-intensive screenprinting.

The collection comprises the complete four music and art releases by the Zip collective – ZipStart, ZipTOO, ZipIII and Zip-Eye-Ear – as well as an album of correspondence and press clippings. Also included is a CD which contains all the music tracks as well as radio interviews and excerpts from a live performance.
This collection is a valuable addition to our collection of materials documenting Queensland’s cultural history.

Zip art and music packages and memorabilia - donated to the State Library of Queensland

I’m very interested in collecting material of significance to the cultural history of music in Queensland. If you have any items which you think might fall into this category, please get in touch with me.  All items acquired by the State Library are housed in ideal conditions for their long term preservation and use by current and future generations of Queenslanders.

Laurel Dingle
Queensland Music Coordinator
Ph: (07) 38407835

New Accession: Brisbane River Flood in January 2011 and The South Brisbane Sailing Club (Photographs taken by Mr Steve Fletcher)

Every afternoon, on my way home from work, I walk past The South Brisbane Sailing Club, situated at Orleigh Park in West End. As I look at the recently renovated clubhouse, I find it difficult to imagine that a year ago the building was affected by the flood, suffering a considerable damage.

A recent addition to the State Library’s Original Content collection documents a difficult period in the history of the Club—the month of January 2011.

A year ago, the Brisbane River flood caused damage to the clubhouse, with the disability access pontoon braking loose and floating down the river. The harm would have been much worse if volunteers hadn’t helped to save boats, memorabilia and other items from the clubhouse.

the-flood1.JPG    the-flood2.JPG

South Brisbane Sailing Club began its life in 1903, as the Victoria Sailing Club. Several years later, in 1906, the Club was reformed and continued to exist as the South Brisbane Sailing Club. In 1908 the Club had its rooms in Stanley Street, South Brisbane, with a very popular billiard table contributing funds to the Club’s revenue.

Sailing boats from the South Brisbane Sailing Club on the Brisbane River, off Orleigh Park, South Brisbane. State Library of Queensland, image number 41907

The clubhouse at Orleigh Park was officialy opened on 9 June 1956. In late January 1974, during the flood, the building narrowly escaped being washed away by the force of the river. Club members, some of whom had their own houses and businesses damaged by the flood, worked hard to save the boats and equipment and clean the mud from the clubhouse.

The Club’s attractive position in the park on the bend of the river unfortunately makes it vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, such as the 1974 and the 2011 floods.

The clubhouse has recently been renovated thanks to the financial help from the Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Bank of Queensland and McDonalds, as well as the efforts of volunteers.

The South Brisbane Sailing Club is holding a ‘Relaunch Day’ on Saturday 21st January to mark the official re-opening of the Club after the flood. Everyone is welcome to join the members for a barbecue and a tour of the clubhouse.


Helen Gregory, A century of sail: the South Brisbane Sailing Club 1903-2003

South Brisbane Sailing Club website:

Veronika Farley, Librarian – State Library of Queensland 

Surf Life Saving

The Tweed Heads Surf and Life-Saving club was the first official Life Saving club in Queensland and was formed in 1909 to patrol the Greenmount Beach .   It was initiated in 1908 by Sydney dentist Harold Bennett who brought an old line and belt to Tweed Heads from New South Wales for the purpose of forming a life saving club.

The first recorded rescue was on February 21, 1909, when lifesavers used a lifesaving reel off Greenmount Beach to rescue four young women and a young man who had been swept away by a rip. The iconic Aussie image of the Australian lifesaver with the red and gold cap has been as much a part of the Austrian ethos as the digger’s slouch hat.  Queensland has 59 surf life saving clubs and in the 2010/2011 period recorded saving 3,610 lives on Queensland beaches.

Surf lifesavers at Burleigh Heads, ca. 1935 John Oxley Library Image number 93832

Kirra Surf Life Saving Club, Kirra Beach, ca. 1946.  John Oxley Library image number 203635

Surf lifesaving boat, Coolangatta, ca. 1933.  John Oxley Library image number 171167

If you’re spending New Year’s Day at the beach in 2012 have a terrific time…and remember to swim between the flags :)

Happy New Year from all of us at the John Oxley Library.

Karen Hind, Librarian – State Library of Queensland

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, Events | 1 Comment

One comment

  1. According to my records, the THS&LSC was formed after this recue on 21/2/1909, and was affiliated withe the RLSS of Qld, which had formed in 1905. Surf Life Saving Qld formed around 1930. The number of clubs (59), does not take into account 10 Life Saving Clubs that remain affiliated with RLSSQ, two of which patrol beaches.

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