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South Sea Islander boarding house in South Brisbane

In South Brisbane, on the corner of Russell and Grey Streets, there was a South Sea Islander (SSI) boarding house run by the Church of England. This boarding house is documented in The Church Chronicle between the years 1891 and 1892 and the Church of England Year Book of the Diocese of Brisbane for 1893, after which I could find no further mention of it. However, the snippets of information found give interesting glimpses of the urban life of the SSI. It seems it opened in June 1891 and a letter to the editor of the Chronicle, penned by the manager at the time, Mr C.E. Boorman says that there were nine SSI living in the house and a further twenty ‘avail themselves of coming to dinner and tea on Sundays…’[1] But Boorman complains bitterly of the ‘evils’ of grog, gambling ‘the crafty lying tongues of drunken women’ and other ‘crafty boarding house keepers’.[2]

We can see from The Church Chronicle that SSI were moving quite freely around Brisbane, coming and going from the sugar cane fields and even arriving independently from home islands. In the August 1891 issue Mr Boorman says that the number of SSI in the boarding house will be quite small for the next three or four months as it is the time of year they head to the sugar cane fields to work and, in the same issue, he makes ‘the pleasant announcement that some cabmen, who meet vessels arriving from the South Seas, were in the habit of driving the islanders to the Home when they asked to be taken to lodgings’.[3]

Night classes in reading, writing and arithmetic were held there, with an average of twenty SSI attending, hospital visits to sick SSI were made, there was a cricket club, music lessons and a brass band. In early 1882 the SSI had collected, amongst themselves, £1 and 6s towards having the gas laid on in the house. New Year’s Day 1892 saw thirty-six SSI, the manager and a minister spending the afternoon playing cricket and football in a South Brisbane paddock. Easter Monday was celebrated with a cricket match between the clergy and the SSI. ‘Refreshments were provided in the tent, and a most enjoyable afternoon was spent’[4]. The Sunday of Queen’s Birthday weekend, 1892, fifty SSI participated in the celebrations and ‘enjoyed themselves thoroughly during the day at various games, such as cricket, sports, jumping, running’, the winners receiving ‘some very nice pipes and a tobacco pouch as prizes’. [5] However, one SSI, Willie Mallicolo, was quite ill but had recovered and ‘the health of the inmates has been invariably good’.[6]

Needless to say, as it was a Church of England-run establishment, religious classes were held regularly and the number of SSI baptised and confirmed is often mentioned. There were also SSI who went from the boarding house to the mission fields :- in 1892 Willie Ambryn volunteered for the Bellenden Ker Aboriginal Mission and in April 1893 Harry Mark and Willie Miwa went to the mission in New Guinea.

Brisbane floods around Stanley Street South Brisbane 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 199297

Flood waters in South Brisbane, 1893. This terrible flood saw the boarding house move, temporarily, to North Brisbane and then back to new premises in South Brisbane

It was on this corner that the South Sea Islander Boarding House was situated either on the site of the Playhouse Green, The ABC building or Ollo’s Café. Photograph by Kathleen Mary Fallon

It was on this corner that the South Sea Islander Boarding House was situated either on the site of the Playhouse Green, The ABC building or Ollo’s Café.

Listen to Kathleen discussing her research with ABC Local Radio Queensland’s Rebecca Levingston


1 The Church Chronicle, July 1, 1891, p13
2 Ibid
3 The Church Chronicle, August, 1891, p4
4 The Church Chronicle, May, 1982, p4
5 The Church Chronicle, July 1, 1892, p4
6 Ibid

Kathleen Mary Fallon – John Oxley Library Fellow, State Library of Queensland

John Wayne spends Christmas in Brisbane

Colonel William Jefferson Bleckwenn with actor John Wayne at Albion Park races, Brisbane, 1943. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 102486

Colonel William Jefferson Bleckwenn with actor John Wayne at Albion Park races, Brisbane, 1943

In 1943, a few day prior to Christmas, a Hollywood star arrived in wartime Brisbane. The actor John Wayne, most noted for his roles in Hollywood westerns, such as Stagecoach and The Big Trail, travelled to Australia with accordion player and singer Vikki Montan. “I never knew there was so much water in the world till we crossed that great Pacific,” he remarked on his voyage out. As fellow actor Gary Cooper had done a month earlier, Wayne was in Australia to entertain American troops. Wayne told reporters his stage performance for the tour was not overplanned – “I’m here to entertain the troops. I have no special act but hope to get by on appearances.”

Telegraph newspaper, 24 Dec 1943

John Wayne with Vikki Montan in Brisbane, pub. Telegraph newspaper, 24 Dec 1943

On Christmas day John Wayne spent four hours at a military hospital near Brisbane. The Truth newspaper reported the actor signed autographs and swapped yarns with the patients, many of whom were wounded while fighting in New Guinea. Vikki Montan joined him, entertaining those present by playing requests on her accordion, with “White Christmas” being one of the most popular tunes.

When a reporter questioned Wayne about why he visited the hospital prior to his scheduled tour to entertain US troops in “northern battle zones”, he replied, “It was Christmas, I was here and I wanted to say hello to some of the boys in hospital. That’s all there is to it”.

Truth (Brisbane), 26 Dec 1943, p.7

John Wayne with Vikki Montan in Brisbane, pub. Truth newspaper, 26 Dec 1943

A few days later on 27 December 1943, John Wayne made an appearance at Albion Park Raceway at Breakfast Creek, Brisbane. The top photograph shows Wayne, dressed in military uniform, with Col. Blackwenn.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


Edward Hudson and family of Albion

The name, Hudson has some prominence in Albion. It is the name of a main road and the first stage of the recent apartment development is named The Hudson. Who was he?

Edward Hudson was born in Wootton in the Ellastone parish of Staffordshire in 1824, the son of a farmer, Samuel Hudson and his wife, Elizabeth Ball. Edward’s father declared in the 1851 census that his farm in Waterfall, where the family then lived, was 79 acres. In the 1861 census the Hudson family was in Tittesworth Staffordshire on a farm of 216 acres. Edward Hudson, aged 37 years was a carter living at home.

In the early 1860s he moved to the young colony of Queensland where he worked at Kedron Brook ploughing land for Judge Lutwyche. Relatively old for a new immigrant, he progressed speedily, purchasing 10 acres for £10 in 1863 at Albion. On 3 June 1865 he married Margaret Common; they had six children. From 1866 to 1870 he became the fourth licensee of the Albion Hotel taking over from Judge Lutwyche’s step-son, Fred Morris. The photograph of the hotel shows what Albion was like when he was a publican – a basic bush settlement.

Albion Hotel Brisbane ca. 1866. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 99714

Albion Hotel Brisbane ca. 1866

A successful fruit farmer specifically of pineapples, he later purchased Reid’s paddock along Bridge Street adding to his growing wealth. The Railway Department resumed part of this land for Hudson Road and for the new railway line but he continued to acquire land so that his estate became a landmark as various large properties were sold around it for housing. The local sketch of the Albion Hill estate map in 1899 illustrates where his property was and indicates its importance.

Albion Hill [Estate] : being re-subdivisions 1 to 60, of subdivision of section 3 of portion 162, Parish of Enoggera. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Estate map of Albion Hill showing E Hudson’s land, north of the “land to be sold”

Edward Hudson participated in community affairs. He signed the petition for the districts of Lutwyche and Albion to be constituted a Municipality, to be called a Shire in January 1880. It was eventually formed as the Shire of Windsor. In January 1893 he was sworn in as a magistrate.

In the Brisbane Courier 26 July 1895 he publicly thanked the Manager of the New Zealand Insurance Company for “prompt settlement” and assistance in dealing with the fire at his premises, Thomas Street, Albion.

In 1906, the Brisbane Courier acknowledged him as being the longest established pioneer after Robert Lane who had arrived in 1854. He died in 1908 aged 84. His era in Albion saw huge changes in the area from his time as publican in 1866, as the 1909 photograph of Albion shows.

Tram halted at the Albion Corner March 1909. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APO-034-0001-0026

Albion corner 1909 with the Albion Hotel on the left

The Hudson Estate known for the “famous Hudson pineapple gardens” was advertised for sale in the Brisbane Courier for 3 June 1911. Hudsons continued to live in the area. William Hudson, Edward’s son, and his family, resided in the family home. In 1922 they all gave their address on the electoral roll, but not in the post office directory, as Henley Old Sandgate Road.

In an era when most people entertained at home and the “tea” was often the significant social event, the Brisbane Courier provided accounts of the “smart teas”. On 13 March 1926 it reported that Pearl Hudson, William’s daughter, had a tennis tea at Henley for her friend, Lyn Fotheringham who had recently married. At this time the Henley-on-Brisbane was a popular rowing regatta and carnival held annually so the name was a familiar one.

William Hudson’s unmarried daughters, Mabel and Pearl stayed in the family residence until the 1960s. The family had lived in the area for over 100 years. The name of the house changed to Hudson. It was no longer needed in directories or electoral rolls to locate a particular address but along with the road and the new building development, it was an acknowledgement of early pioneers with a long-standing presence in the area.

Hudson, Albion. c2012. Image courtesy of Adrian and Moyra Ryan; Judy Newlands, Place West Realty

Hudson, Albion. c2012. Image courtesy of Adrian and Moyra Ryan; Judy Newlands, Place West Realty

Hudson, Albion. c2012. Image courtesy of Adrian and Moyra Ryan; Judy Newlands, Place West Realty

Hudson, Albion. c2012. Image courtesy of Adrian and Moyra Ryan; Judy Newlands, Place West Realty

Stephanie Ryan – Senior Librarian, State Library of Queensland

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  1. I saw photos of Albion on Brisbane Past and Present but it’s good to find out about the people of the area. I love the sense of the changes over the years in this blog.

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MacArthur prepares for air raid, civil defence

Guest Contributor:  Lise den Brok –  MacArthur Museum Researcher

MacArthur Museum Brisbane is on the verge of a long-awaited refurbishment. This includes an exciting update of collection displays and the creation of two new educational panels about civil defence and air raid precautions in the Second World War. Despite the name, MacArthur Museum’s focus is mostly on wartime Brisbane and the new panels will be designed to complement this message.

Air raid warden testing equipment in Brisbane, October 1942, John Oxley Library, State Library Queensland, Neg. 102772

Air raid warden testing equipment in Brisbane, October 1942

Civil defence in the Second World War was administered in Queensland by the city councils and included anti-air raid measures, salt water pipes, trenches, black outs, air raid shelters, first aid training and evacuation. After Townsville and Broome had been bombed by the Japanese, Brisbane citizens prepared themselves by signing up for Air Raid Precaution units, erecting shelters in their backyard and blacking out their windows.

The materials at the State Library Queensland have been a huge help in discovering the realities of wartime Brisbane and the restrictions posed on daily life by civil defence measures. The John Oxley Library’s extensive digital image collection is a treasure trove of wartime photographs, each allowing us to travel back in time to experience Brisbane in the Second World War.

The booklet ‘Protective measures against Air Raids’  gives us an clear insight into the historical training and duties of air raid wardens. It  prepares the reader for any eventuality during an air raid, urging them to keep calm at all times.  As quoted,  “Panic, as you are well aware, is as destructive as the munitions of an enemy.”

Air raid warden and members of the W.A.A.F in a Brisbane air raid shelter, 1942, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg.102818

Air raid warden and members of the W.A.A.F in a Brisbane air raid shelter, 1942

This booklet will be used to inform the new panels in the MacArthur Museum and will be printed so visitors can peruse the material themselves and see if they would have had the mettle to become an air raid warden during the Second World War.

Santa Claus entertains wartime Brisbane and Ipswich in 1940

Christmas present from Santa 1940. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 193132

Santa Claus visits the Red Cross Fete held at Government House in Paddington, 15 December 1940

During December 1940, Santa Claus was run ragged bringing joy to little Queenslanders with non-stop appearances at hospitals, fetes, retail stores and other functions. One of his most important jobs is to cheer children less for tunate at Christmas time. Santa’s visit to the Hospital for Sick Children at Herston in Brisbane’s inner north was anxiously awaited by all its young patients. Presents were distributed from under the Christmas tree; for those too ill to be moved from their beds, Santa went from ward to ward. In the children’s ward of Ipswich Hospital a special meal of turkey, plum pudding and Christmas cake was served to celebrate Santa’s visit. On December 15, Santa also made an appearance at the Red Cross Fete held at Government House, Paddington (pictured above), in the city’s inner west.

Headline from The Courier-Mail, 21 December 1940, p.3

Headline from The Courier-Mail, 21 December 1940

On December 20, Santa decided to give his reindeer a rest, choosing to arrive by aeroplane at the Christmas party for the children of RAAF personnel at Archerfield, in the city’s south. This grand entrance backfired somewhat as the children appeared more interested in the plane than Saint Nick. “What does it matter how he comes so long as he brings something with him?” said one nine-year-old boy. “Planes or chimneys, it’s all the same to me.”

Santa Claus on his plane as he entertains the children of RAAF personnel stationed at Archerfield. Image from The Courier-Mail, 21 December 1940, p.3

Santa Claus on his plane as he entertains the children of RAAF personnel stationed at Archerfield. December 1940

Santa made a different entrance at the yuletide party for the Queensland Musical Literary and Self-Aid Society for the Blind, this time arriving by goat cart. Also keen to support local businesses, Santa made an appearance at T.C. Beirne in inner-city Fortitude Valley. This allowed the retailer to promote the perfect Christmas gift: fur-covered animals and mechanical toys for the children, and beachwear, shoes and sandals in contrasting colours for the adults.

Santa Claus arrives by goat cart at the Queensland Musical Literary and Self-Aid Society for the Blind yuletide party. Image from The Courier-Mail, 14 December 1940, p.5

Santa Claus arrives by goat cart at the Queensland Musical Literary and Self-Aid Society for the Blind yuletide party, December 1940

Santa Claus with the children of the members of the Incapacitated & Wounded Sailors and Soldiers Association at the Trocadero. The Courier Mail, 13 December 1940, p.11

Santa Claus with the children of the members of the Incapacitated & Wounded Sailors and Soldiers Association at the Trocadero. December 1940

State Library of Queensland holds a number of collections documenting how Queenslanders have celebrated Christmas over the years, including digitised photographs and Christmas cards which can be perused online.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


The history of the Belvedere

Crawford & Mann perspective of proposed residence for J.W. Laurie, 1889. Image of courtesy of Malcolm Elmslie

Crawford & Mann perspective of proposed residence for J.W. Laurie, 1889. Image of courtesy of Malcolm Elmslie

Guest blogger: Don Watson – historian and architect (2012 John Oxley Library Fellow)

27 Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane
BANDARRA – 1901 CARLNER – 1917 DEVON – 1940 – and BELVEDERE – 13.11.2013

Belvedere, which was destroyed by fire on November 13, was an unoccupied rooming house at 27 Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane. Owned by Greek Orthodox Community of St George whose premises it abutted, the house was listed as having local heritage significance. It was subject of a court action by the owners to overturn rejection by the Brisbane City Council of an application for its demolition. Despite the suspicious nature of the fire, ‘a Queensland Fire and Rescue Services spokeswoman said due to the intensity of the fire an investigation could not take place, and for safety reasons the building was demolished the day of the fire’.

The site of the house was part of land granted by the Queensland Government to the Brisbane Municipal Council to offset the considerable cost of the first permanent Victoria Bridge. For much of the history of the house, the site comprised two nearly equal allotments, back to back in Section 47 – Allotment 8 of 36 perches (approx. 225m²) with a frontage of 1 chain (approx. 20m) to Edmondstone St and overlooking Musgrave Park; and Allotment 17 behind, with an equal frontage to what was known originally as Stephens St, now Browning St. In 1936 Allotment 17 was subdivided and approx. 6 perches added to Allotment 8 making it almost 300m².

In March 1880, the original owner of the land, Ebenezer Hooker, auctioneer and real estate agent paid £125 for Allotment 8 and £105 for Allotment 17. Hooker sold both allotments in January 1882, to Mary Jull Collings Ham, widow of the engraver and lithographer, Thomas Ham. She mortgaged the allotments in April 1886, for £1,150 (or maybe double this), sufficient for the erection of a substantial dwelling, but apparently not spent on such. The sites were sold in August 1888 to John Worden Lawry, accountant to the Queensland Post and Telegraph Department. The architects for the house were Crawford & Mann who called tenders in October 1889 for erection and completion of a villa residence, Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane (Brisbane Courier, 14.10.1889, p.2). Intending to erect the house of brick, separate quotations were called for: drainage and brickwork; carpentery and finishing trades; as well as for the entire house. The tenders may have been high and new tenders were called for a villa residence (wood) (Brisbane Courier, 14.12.1889, p.5). The completed timber house was called Bandarra. An architects’ perspective view of the proposed house is held by a descendent of J.W. Lawry.

Crawford & Mann was a partnership of Edward James Frederick Crawford (1864-1942) and Gother Victor Fyers Mann (1863-1948) who were in practice in Brisbane from 1888. Mann is well known with an entry by Richard Haese in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB 10). There are entries for both architects and the firm in Queensland Architects of the 19th Century (1994) p.49, p.121; but more is now known about Crawford. He was born at Sandhurst, Victoria, the son of Sidney Malone Crawford and Blakely Robson. Sidney died soon after the birth, but the family who had been brewers in South Australia were well known and Edward’s education was probably supported by his uncles. Nothing is known of his training but it may have been in Sydney where by 1885 he was working as an architect and where Mann trained with the architect Thomas Rowe. Crawford & Mann were late arrivals for the boom in building which occurred in Queensland in the 1880s, but were soon successful with a variety of commercial and private commissions. The firm promoted their work in the Building & Engineering Journal. When economic conditions declined in 1891, the partnership was dissolved on June 30th 1891. Mann returned to Sydney but Crawford remained in practice in Brisbane as conditions deteriorated further. In September 1891, he called tenders for what may have been alterations to Bandarra (Brisbane Courier, 5.9.1891, p.4), possibly for work deleted in the original contract. As for many Brisbane architects, Crawford’s practice concluded in the recession which occurred from 1893, in his case, not helped by an action brought by the Municipal Council over an alleged infringement of the Council’s provisions relating to first class construction in the city centre. By 1903, Crawford was living at St Kilda, Melbourne, working as a draftsman. By 1913, he was a civil servant, working as an inspector for the Board of Public Health, Melbourne, remaining with them possibly until at least 1937. He died unmarried at St Kilda, Melbourne.

When in June 1899, Lawry sought to sell Bandarra, it was described as having: “ten large rooms, with a magnificent entrance hall and solid carved staircase. Ceilings of the main rooms are the most handsome in Brisbane, being of wood, panelled with heavy mouldings. The Drawing-room is very highly finished, and contains two handsome and beautifully carved Mantelpieces. The Offices consist of two large bathrooms, pantry, storeroom, lavatory, large kitchen, servant’s room ; also, Stables, coachhouse, and man’s room, and many small conveniences seldom if ever met with in Brisbane” (Brisbane Courier, 24.6.1899, p.12).

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle

Two photographs of Bandarra (an exterior and interior) are held by the National Library in an album: Chillagoe Railway and Mines Ltd., views, [ca. 1903-1922]. The photographs were taken by the engineer/architect Thomas Clive Groom (1874-1953). Within the album, they occur close to two photographs of Mrs A.E. Allen, the wife of another architect/engineer Albert Edward Allen (1864-1929), the Queensland manager of Wildridge & Sinclair, refrigeration engineers, with whom Groom had been employed previously. Mrs Allen may have stayed in the house while her husband was overseeing the erection of meatworks in South America or the Far East.

The panelled and heavily moulded timber ceiling can be glimpsed in the interior photograph – it shows more clearly in recent photographs taken by the conservation architect Peter Marquis Kyle. A descendant of J.W. Lawry holds a photograph of Musgrave Park taken from the upper balcony.

Bandarra, South Brisbane, [Queensland, ca. 1905]. National Library of Australia. 3311316

Bandarra, c.1905 (later called Belvedere). Image courtesy of National Library of Australia

The suggested date of the National Library’s photographs (c1905) may be incorrect as by then, the name of the house had changed to Carlner, after its purchase in September 1901 by Carl, jnr, Albert and Emma Klingner, the children of Carl Klingner snr, a merchant. As a focus for social activities, Carlner was regularly reported in the press. In 1904, Sam Klingner (another son of Carl Klingner) married Davina Jones, daughter of the Mayor of South Brisbane. Parties at Carlner, included one for the bride’s party (Queensland Figaro, 11.8.1904, p.18) which was extensively reported: “The two large drawing rooms were charmingly decorated, snowdrops being largely used. The catering was in the hands of Eschenhagen, and included every imaginable delicacy, strawberries and cream, Charlotte Russe, oyster patties, ices, and lovely French confectionery”.

Drawing room, Bandarra [showing seated man and woman and family portraits, South Brisbane, Queensland, ca. 1905]. National Library of Australia, 3311313

Drawing room, Bandarra [showing seated man and woman and family portraits, South Brisbane, Queensland, ca. 1905

In 1907, the property was transferred to Emma and Charlotte Klingner. The Klingners were of German descent, and during World War 1, the Misses Klingner moved to Redcliffe and by 1917 Carlner had been renamed Devon. It was being used as a high quality rooming house for permanent residents and visitors, with large verandah and balcony rooms overlooking Musgrave Park. In May 1920, the Misses Klingner sold the house and auctioned the contents. It was purchased for the same purpose by Charles and Louisa Vaughan with Mrs Vaughan as proprietor of Devon by September 1920, although settlement of the sale did not occur until July 1921. A mortgage from the Queensland Bank in 1930 may have paid for changes to make the rooms into more self-contained flats. After Charles’ death in 1934, the house reverted to the sole ownership of Louisa Vaughan. The rear portion of the land (Allotment 17 less 6 perches which were added to Allotment 8 ) was sold in 1936.

Devon Flats were sold in 1940 to Alexander Inglis jnr. When the name changed to Belvedere is not known but the house regularly changed hands: in 1949 to Benedetto Norbis; in 1953 as half shares to Edgar Roy McIlveen and Eliza McIlveen (who died in 1954); in 1959 to Arthur Gordon and Isabel Grace Marshall; in 1971 to David Allen and George Robert Townsend; in 1972 to Brisbane Building Centres, a company owned by the architect Edward James Archibald Weller; in 1978 to Allen Oaken; in 1980 to Paul Gaugain McPhee; in 1981 to Ian and Ruth Gough; and finally in 1982 to the Greek Orthodox Community of St George. How and when the verandahs were enclosed and the house renamed Belvedere is not known. A quick search of the Indexes to the Brisbane City Council’s Building Registers (now online, but slightly incomplete for the period 1926-1943) to identify any renovations to facilitate the use of Bandarra as flats was unsuccessful.

Crawford & Mann is an architectural practice which is not a well-known. Despite its short duration, it was successful at a time when opportunities were declining. If Bandarra was indicative of their ability, they were capable designers. The destruction of this major commission is to be greatly regretted as a loss of cultural heritage and as impairing the residential character of Edmondstone Street, overlooking Musgrave Park.

The following photographs of the Belvedere were taken by conservation architect Peter Marquis-Kyle in June 2012. These images are licensed by CC-BY-NC.

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial

Inside the Belvedere. 28 June 2012. Image courtesy of Peter Marquis-Kyle. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial

Don Watson, historian and architect (2012 John Oxley Library Fellow)

with information from Peter Marquis-Kyle, Val Dennis, Malcolm Elmslie and Stephanie Ryan


Who owned the properties known as Malvern, Lauriston and Killeen

Killeen Estate

Recently a Brisbane resident asked the John Oxley Library for help in solving a few mysteries about three properties that used to be in Paddington called Malvern, Lauriston and Killeen. He was searching for photographs and information about either or all of these houses as to ownership and why these names were selected for the properties.

I did some preliminary searching of our collections but was unable to find images of these properties. However I did locate some information that related to the houses and the people who had resided in them.  The house called Killeen was occupied by Mr and Mrs George Joseph Armstrong. From a land selection file held at the Queensland State Archives, one sees George listed as a selector of land in 1868. In the Queensland Post Office Directories he is described as a merchant and a resident of Killeen, Milton.  The Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages Index lists George Joseph Armstrong marrying Elizabeth Mary Killeen, on the 11 August 1875.  Their son Edward Killeen Armstrong was born on the 15 February, 1881. The Killeen Estate was eventually sold at auction and on the 4 November 1911, Cameron Brothers Auctioneers advertised in the Telegraph, the sale of the Killeen Estate, on behalf of Mrs. George Armstrong who occupied the premises at that time.

It appears from information contained on an old paper title deed held by the inquirer, that confirms his current home is on land originally subject to the Deed of Grant, No. 943, which was issued to Edward Armstrong, son of George and Elizabeth. This suggests that a title for land passed to Edward from his parents at some stage. The Killeen Estate was situated across the street, opposite the site of Malvern and Lauriston and consisted of 18 residential sites with a fine residence (Killeen) containing 10 large rooms.  Edward Killeen Armstrong continued to prosper in the district and was the proprietor of an ironmongery business in Milton. Sadly Killeen House was pulled down in early 1960 and replaced by multiple units known as Cambridge Court which has been run by the War Widows Guild.

Paddington, Brisbane, ca. 1902. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 39215

View from the vicinity of Great George Street, looking towards Enoggera Terrace, Paddington

One can only speculate on how the home known as Lauriston came to be. Was it named after the four masted barque called Lauriston that came to Australia carrying immigrants under Captain W. A. Armstrong? Lauriston the house stood on the corner of Fernberg Road and Moffatt Street (formally Killeen Street).  After a quick search of Trove  historical newspapers online, I located advertisements announcing land for sale at the Lauriston Estate – “Six magnificent building blocks and a substantial residence of eight rooms on a corner site of 38 perches”. Lauriston had once been the residence of the Hon. Albert Norton until his death in 1914.  It would appear that Lauriston Estate was subdivided by the Late Archbishop Duhig on behalf of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, most probably after the death of Mr Norton in 1914.

Courier-Mail 26 Sept 1934

Hon. Albert Norton. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 68256

Hon. Albert Norton

The third property known as Malvern was in the vicinity of Lauriston and Killeen. I have not found evidence to prove how this residence inherited its name, but it is possible that the name was chosen from a place name, possibly where the original owners hailed from.   I discovered several places called Malvern in various locations around the world, again it is only speculation but possible that its origins were location based.  Malvern can be found in Worcestershire, UK, Barbados, Jamaica and South Africa.

Through the use of estate maps, newspaper clipping files and ephemera, a valuable clue was discovered about Lauriston in the collections of the John Oxley Library.  The original auction catalogue is held and reveals a complete inventory of the items sold at the Lauriston auction.

Auctioneers, Isles Love Pty. Ltd., placed an advertisement in the Brisbane Courier which announced “On Tuesday, 2nd October, 1934, at 11 o’clock, Antiques for Sale at Lauriston, under instructions from Dr. Arthur Murphy”.  Lauriston was situated across the road from the present Roman Catholic Church of Sacred Heart, Rosalie.

This information was gathered from the collections of the State Library of Queensland, Queensland State Archives, Trove and clues supplied from the local community.

Titles and information about historical property searches can be obtained by contacting the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

The Brisbane City Council has produced a free research guide called, Your house has a history: keys to unlocking its past

Janette Garrad – Original Content Technician, State Library of Queensland

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Albion Flour Mill

View of the Albion Flour Mill, Queensland, ca. 1930

Sadly another piece of Brisbane’s history has been destroyed by fire. The former Defiance Flour site that was due to be redeveloped was demolished overnight after an extensive fire destroyed the derelict building. Almost 30 firefighters battled the blaze. The demolition crew moved in late last night and started to bring down the remnants of the old mill. The Albion Mill was one of the most iconic sights of inner city Brisbane. It was a familiar site on the Albion landscape and will be missed by many local residents.

On the 7 November 1930, the Brisbane Courier newspaper advertised a proposal for a new flour mill at Bridge-street, Albion, it was to be erected for Messrs Gillespie Bros. (Queensland), Ltd. The architect was Francis B. Hall. The Albion flour mill was built in the depression in the 1930′s. It began packaging self-raising flour for ‘White Wings’ in 1957 and the two silos, those tall, white and blue cylinders that defined the local landscape came along in the 1960′s. Many local people were present last night to see this Brisbane icon bite the dust.

Janette Garrad – Original Content Technician, State Library of Queensland

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Charlie Olsen : one-legged champion swimmer

The State Library of Queensland has a large collection of photographic images, many of which have been digitized and made available online through Picture Queensland.  One image that caught my eye earlier this week features a group of serous looking swimmers, the muscular chap in the front missing his left leg above the knee.  He is identified as Charles Olsen, champion Queensland swimmer.

Competitors at the Australasian Swimming Carnival, Queensland, 1914, , John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg:39253

Competitors at the Australasian Swimming Carnival, Queensland, 1914

Further investigation revealed several more pictures but who was Charles Olsen?  A short notice in the Courier-Mail of November 2 1948 gives us some information.

Mr. Charles Olsen, one-legged city newsvendor, has died in the Mater Hospital, aged 59. His paper stand was at the corner of George and Queen streets. He leaves a widow, a son and a daughter.

Other, earlier articles suggest that Olsen, in addition to various athletic endeavours, worked in the news vending business for most of his adult life.  In 1909, Sydney sporting newspaper Referee describes an unusual contest that took place in Brisbane.

A novelty event between Olsen and Roughsedge followed. Both lads are one-legged news-vendors, and their bout created roars of laughter. Roughsedge was declared the winner after three short rounds had been contested, and they were rewarded with a very liberal shower.

So we know that Olsen was working as a news-vendor in 1909.  This is not the only occasion that Charles Olsen took to the boxing ring, although he was chiefly known for his swimming.  The Brisbane Courier reported on a similar event in 1923.

A most novel boxing contest will be staged at the Stadium on Monday, when the well-known athlete, Charlie Olsen, will meet E. Holmes in a four-round bout to determine the one-legged boxer’s championship, of Queensland. Olsen is a fine all-round athlete, and Holmes has had wide experience of the boxing ring. Some little time ago a similar contest was held in America among disabled soldiers. A large and varied programme of amateur challenge four-rounders, professional ten-rounders, and vaudeville items will also be presented. Harry Holmes will give an exhibition of skipping. The proceeds will be devoted to the Queensland Olympic Fund, and his Excellency the Governor has extended his patronage to the function.

A report after the event tells us that the match was declared a draw after the scheduled four rounds which caused much amusement.

As a swimmer, Olsen competed in many carnivals in Queensland and several interstate championships.  He mostly competed in handicap sprint events against able bodied swimmers, being described as an ‘expert’ or ‘crack’ swimmer.  In 1914 he travelled to Adelaide and Perth to compete in the Australasian Championships with a Queensland team.  In Perth he won the Consolation Handicap over 50 yards as reported in the Perth Sunday Times.

This was a close race, Olsen, the one-legged Queensland crack (who was giving the limit man a second start) being first, with very little to spare, after a stubborn struggle with Knox.

Olsen also competed in the Australasian Championship in Brisbane in 1914 which was the occasion that the photograph that first caught my eye was taken.  This event was held, as were a number of other major swimming events over the years, at the South Brisbane Dry Dock, now the site of the Queensland Maritime Museum.

Brisbane River Dry Dock, ca. 1913, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 69253

The Brisbane River Dry Dock used as a competition venue in 1913

Although mainly specializing in short sprint events, Olsen also took part in a three mile marathon event held in the Bremer River.  Olsen won the handicap event in 1915, no doubt in a field reduced by many men serving overseas, but also including one other one-legged swimmer.  This event was also reported in Referee.

The winner of the race was C. Olsen, who is well known in this and other States as a very fine one-legged swimmer. Olsen is a regular visitor to the championship carnivals for the handicap racing. He had a good start, and made the best of, it, and the result shows that he possesses no small amount of grit. Another swimmer who has only one leg also competed and swam the whole distance on his back. He is a fine exponent of backstroke swimming, and the distance of three miles covered by means of this method only seems surely a record. Two one-legged swimmers in the one race and accomplishing such good swims provides quite a unique happening. The event drew a big field, and the second prize was gathered by A. Wood, who is only 13 years of age.

Olsen took part in tours of regional Queensland with teams of Brisbane swimmers, not only competing in swimming races but also putting on exhibitions of fancy swimming and diving.  Olsen is mentioned in The first 100 years : a history of the Queensland Swimming Association 1898-1998 as having a key role in promoting diving in Queensland.

A diving troupe under the leadership of Charles Olsen was formed in the 1916-17 season and the Valley Ladies Club was given permission for them to give a “Fancy costume” display at the Club’s carnival.  This troupe was also called on for a display at the Australian Ladies Championships in Brisbane in February 1917, and they performed on a fairly regular basis after that.

Perhaps developing from the diving troupe, Olsen seems to have been part of an acrobatic troupe in the 1920s.  We have several photographs of Charles Olsen performing with this group including this picture of Olsen balancing on a stack of chairs.

Charles Olsen performing an acrobatic manouvre, Brisbane, ca. 1924, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg:39257

Charles Olsen performing an acrobatic manouvre, Brisbane, ca. 1924

I expect that I was drawn to this picture because my own Great Grandfather, George Tobitt, was also a keen swimmer despite losing an arm in an accident.  He was a leading light in the Bunbury Amateur Swimming Club of Western Australia and was described in the Bunbury Herald in 1900 as the one-armed champion swimmer of the  world although I don’t know the basis of their claim.  I have tried to build a portrait of Charlie Olsen beyond the sketchy details that are included with the few intriguing photographs in the collection.  Perhaps there are readers out there, possibly descendants of Charles Olsen who can fill in some of the many gaps.  For the story of a fast man on two legs see my blog story about Arthur Postle, The Crimson Flash and for a fast mover on four legs Gunsynd : The Goondiwindi Grey.

Swimmer Charles Olsen, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 38530

Swimmer Charles Olsen with trainer George Wallace Snr

Simon Miller – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland

1800s dream of SECESSION creates new knowledge about Rockhampton

Guest blogger: Kristin Hannaford, artist

Artist's rendering montage of Central Queensland Separation League Petition, 1892-1893. Photographer - Jo Kurpershoek

Artist's rendering montage of Central Queensland Separation League Petition, 1892-1893. Photographer - Jo Kurpershoek

Our exhibition in Rockhampton called Trace: Poetry, Art and the Built Environment recently took our community via a bus tour to historically significant sites. Two poets, Paul Summers and I, were commissioned to write a series of poems about the sites and to uncover intriguing stories behind them. We were then to work with selected artists to develop site specific art installations that embodied those stories. We looked at Rockhampton in the late Victorian age of the 1890s, a town caught in boomtown glory days of mining and pastoral wealth.

One site was Kenmore House, a grand building once known as ‘The Mansion’ – now functioning as part of the Mater Misericordiae hospital. The opulent house, originally built by ‘Honest’ John Ferguson in 1894, was intended as a home for the Governor of the colony of Central Queensland. Central Queensland has considered the benefits of becoming a separate state entity, or seceding from the greater state of Queensland, many times over the course of settlement history.

In reading some of Lorna McDonald’s writings on the history of the secession movement, I became aware that men were not the only ones actively involved in the secession movement. In 1892, the women’s branch of the Central Queensland Separation League petitioned Queen Victoria for a separate state of Central Queensland. That proceeds of ‘land sales swept into the Brisbane treasury’ and that there was ‘excessive taxation of breadstuffs’ were just a few of the qualms cited. The State Library of Queensland holds the original petition (Accession OM 86-05, Central Queensland Separation League Petition, 1892-1893) and provided images for use in the art installations that would embody the story and create new knowledge.

As a writer I became interested in the fact that this petition of over 3,000 signatures was signed in 1892, well before women achieved national suffrage in 1901. This seemed a very interesting and clear expression of political awareness and intent. In discussion with the other artists involved in the project, the idea of re-presenting the scroll as part of the site specific installation evolved and thanks to State Library of Queensland, images were able to be used for the reinterpretation of these significant heritage materials.

Thanks to sculptor Brendon Tohill, a 2.5 metre tall sculpture of a woman emerged. Fabric artist Julie Thornton constructed a Victorian era dress, in the colours of parchment and linen, with a 25 metre train incorporating scroll images to recreate sections of the 1892-93 petition. As viewers walked up the stairs they read of the societal status of women signatories as ‘married’, ‘single’ or ‘widowed’. The upper part of the train contains a poem of mine, ‘Song of Separation’, which was written in response to Rockhampton poet Lala Fisher’s 1890s poem of the same name; commissioned over a hundred years earlier.

In today’s political climate, it is useful to reflect on the important political issues of the past and to consider how they may have shaped current relations or sentiment between the Brisbane capital and her regional outposts. The petition represents Rockhampton’s somewhat idealistic vision of distinctiveness – its dream to claim independence from a southern capital that it felt did not represent its best interests at the time. Perhaps best of all, it can remind us of the spirit and history of women’s involvement in political endeavours in Queensland’s early history.

With contribution from C. Cottle, Digital Collection Curator, Queensland Memory