Raymond Dart: Toowong-born world renowned palaeontologist

Researched and written by Peter McNally

Raymond Dart (1893- 1988) was an anthropologist and palaeontologist who realized that a fossilized skull he was examining in 1924 was the earliest example of primordial bipedal man ever found to date, thus proving beyond doubt that human ancestors evolved out of Africa. Dart named the species Australopithecus africanus, the ‘southern ape from Africa’.

Robert Broom (a Scottish doctor who became a professional palaeontologist in 1933 at 67, and who was a long-time supporter of Dart) paid this tribute to Dart:

Raymond A. Dart’s discovery and analysis in 1924 was one of the most important in world history.

Early Years

Raymond Dart was born in Queensland, Australia in the inner western suburb of Brisbane on 4 February 1893. He almost didn’t make it as he, his mother, and her midwife had to be rowed to safety after he was born from the family grocery store in Sylvan Road, Toowong during one the Brisbane River floods of that year. He was the fifth born of nine children of Samuel Dart, a Queensland-born storekeeper, and his wife Eliza Ann, née Brimblecombe, who was born in New South Wales. He had seven brothers and a sister.

Despite being born in Toowong, Dart was raised mainly on a dairy farm near Laidley. His early education was at Toowong State School, which was then located in Aston Street, Toowong. He also attended Blenheim State and Ipswich Grammar schools. He later attended newly established The University of Queensland where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science on 17 April 1914 and a Master of Science, First Class Honours (in Biology), 10 May 1916. He later spent four years at the University of Sydney, studying medicine. All these qualifications were achieved before his 25th birthday.

After graduating, Dart left Australia and served in the medical corps as a captain and medic in the Australian Army in England and France during the last year of World War I. In 1920 Dart was appointed as a senior demonstrator at the University College, London at the direction of Grafton Elliot Smith. A famed anatomist and anthropologist, Smith was regarded as THE eminent anatomist in Britain. Interestingly, Grafton Elliot Smith, who was also a fellow Australian, had moved from Grafton (as in his name), New South Wales, to take up a position in London.

Dart then travelled to Washington University, St Louis, Missouri on a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and then returned to his position at the University College, London,

In 1922, Dart left Britain to take up the position of Chair of Anatomy at South Africa’s newly established University of Witwatersrand’s fledgling Faculty of Medicine (sometimes called ‘Wit’s’ University). He was reluctant to do so, but agreed after encouragement from Elliot Smith and Scottish anatomist and anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith FRS, who was professor of physiology at the Royal Institution of Great Britain from 1918 to 1923 at the time. Dart was just 31 years of age.

Archival photograph of Raymond Dart holding the Taung skull

[Courtesy of WITS University Archives]

Taung Child

In 1924, one of Raymond’s students brought him some quarry rubble containing a skull. After Dart painstakingly cleared away non-essential debris around the skull, he declared : In my opinion it is not a young chimpanzee, as many scientists have suggested. I believe it is a crossover between an ape, and a human, possibly a human ancestor.

Raymond named his skull the ‘Taung Child’ after where it was discovered. Dart then presented his findings to the scientific journal Nature, who published his report on 7 February 1925.

Eventually, the skull turned out to be the earliest example of primordial, bipedal man ever found. It also proved beyond doubt that human ancestors evolved out of Africa.

Back in 1925 Raymond claimed that this genus of hominid would have had a posture and teeth similar to modern humans. It also had a small ape-sized brain. Most importantly, Dart, being an anatomist, knew that the position where the vertebrae entered the skull meant it was bipedal.

Dart’s conclusions were met with hostility from other many anthropologists. It must have been disappointing for Raymond to be challenged by Grafton Elliot Smith, his own professor and mentor, who stated, ‘The Taung skull was more likely to have been a chimpanzee, not a human ancestor’. After a number of years, a disenchanted Raymond gave up searching for fossils, and went back to teaching.

Piltdown Man

Dart had accepted the science of the time, that the earliest human ancestor was indicated by the discovery of Piltdown Man’s skull. It was found in 1912 by amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson in Pleistocene gravel beds near the town of Piltdown in Sussex, Britain, and was regarded as the earliest known record of a pre-human fossil. This proved that human ancestors evolved out of Europe. Grafton Elliot Smith, one of the anthropologists that Dart had observed and admired while working in London, was later called to the town of Piltdown to help reconstruct pieces of the skull that had been found there.

The Piltdown Man was later exposed to have been a hoax, one of the biggest frauds in anthropological science history. The general public were horrified to find out that the hoax had taken place, and even more concerning, that it took 31 years for the deception to be discovered. Today, after much investigation, the fraudster has not been named.

After witnessing the Dart experience following the discovery of the ‘Taung Child’, Robert Broom, a doctor and anthropologist, became interested in the search for human ancestors. He explored dolomite caves in South Africa, particularly Sterkfontein Cave (now part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site). Twelve years later, while continuing his exploratory digs, Robert Broom, found an adult female skull of the ‘Taung Child’s’ genus among other fossils in 1936.

Robert Broom’s discoveries of further Australopithecines (as well as Wilfrid Le Gros Clark’s support) eventually vindicated Dart, so much so that in 1947, Sir Arthur Keith, who had publicly disputed Raymond’s claims, in 1947 made the statement: ‘…I was wrong and Raymond Dart was right!’

Dart, who recalled that back in 1871 Charles Darwin had stated, ‘It was more probable than not, human ancestors evolved out of the African continent’, had the historical sense to remind the world of Darwin’s words. Thus Raymond Dart’s second distinction after realising the significance of the ‘Taung Child’, was that he had turned Darwin’s ‘Probable’ into a ‘Definite!’

Another major contribution by Dart was that he established Witwatersrand University as the epicentre of human evolution science, research and achievement. The Institute for the Study of Mankind in Africa was founded in his honour.

Others who have followed in his footsteps have been Professor Phillip V. Tobias, Dart’s long-time collaborator, successor and biographer. Tobias died in 2012 aged 86. Currently, Professor Lee Berger is a major contributor to ‘Wit’s’ research. In 2013, he and his large team discovered the biggest primitive hominin assemblage in history. Another is Professor Ron Clark, the man who found an almost complete skeleton of a 3.67 million year old human ancestor. It was named ‘Littlefoot’. Berger and Clark, as well as many others, are continuing the tradition of Raymond A. Dart’s work.

Raymond A. Dart died in South Africa on 22 November 1988, aged 95. This year 2018 commemorates 30 years since his passing.

Peter McNally, the author of this article, was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1940. In 1975, Peter, his wife Judy, and their three sons moved to Queensland and over the past 25 years have lived in Brisbane, within 15 kilometres of where Raymond was born.

In recent years Peter has become very interested in researching the evolution of the Earth, and in particular, the evolutionary history of Australia, and human evolution within Australia. Peter further explains: ‘Australian’s evolutionary history goes back approximately 3.4 billion years ago to the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It’s one of the earliest places on earth where microscopic, biological, organism evidence has been discovered, making it one of the earliest places on earth, where life began.’

Thank you to Peter for sharing his research with the Toowong and District Historical Society Inc., and for giving permission for his article to be published.

References:

Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 2, 1985, p. 436hNational Geographic, Volume 168, No. 5 November 1985.

Also the following webpages:

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dart-raymond-arthur-12402

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_Link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Dart

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Dart#cite_note-6

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taung_Child

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Raymond-A-Dart

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/rdart.html

South African History online at http://www.sahistory.za   

 

Image

We’re Building a Better TDHS Experience

Hi TDHS members, It’s webmaster Genean here. Currently I am working in conjunction with a great team to develop a better web experience for you all. Please bear with us whilst we make some changes and upload great new information for our wonderful society.

I found this great image of our first footsteps west… “Milton is where the shire begins”

 

Fond Memories of our family home

Fond Memories of our family home

Ed Faux has provided the following memories about the Faux family residence, which was located at 57 Dunmore Terrace, Auchenflower.

My father, Eric Faux, purchased the home from a friend of his by the name of Arthur Biggs, (which would have been about 1950-51), who ran a printing company located in the city of Brisbane.
Arthur Biggs had two children, Bruce and Nerada. Bruce was to become Dr Bruce Biggs, who partnered two other doctors in a medical practice at the ‘Fiveways’, Gailey Road, Taringa. This would have been in the mid-1950s. In later years (in the 1970s) they expanded their business to include a small medical practice at the shopping centre in Hawken Drive, St Lucia.
Bruce was also at some time president of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Medical Association.
When the eldest three of Eric’s family of five children had left home, he divided the house into two individual areas and rented the southern side of the house to Mrs Negus and her son George, who later became a well-known journalist and TV commentator.
When the house was divided into two sections, my father had the external walls of the house covered in “Faux Brick”
At that time you could sit on the veranda and watch the sailing or rowing races on the Brisbane River below and looking to the northwest you could see the Milton Tennis Courts. There were no high-rise buildings in the area.


Thank you to Ed Faux for providing these memories of his childhood home, and to his sister Shirley for providing the photo. Shirley’s husband Howard Foley assisted by preparing the print for publication.

WILLIAM and MARGARET WINTERFORD

WILLIAM and MARGARET WINTERFORD
Regatta Hotel, Toowong (1882–1897)
William Winterford (1834-1919) was the second son of James and Elizabeth (nèe Gillet) Winterford, Publicans of Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, England. William was christened “Levi” in All Saints Church, Shepreth, on 1st June 1834.
William came to Australia in 1855 on the ship Ballarat arriving at Port Phillip Bay. Records indicate that William paid £18/2/6 as the fare. It would appear that at that time he had no particular trade or calling as he was listed simply as a Gentleman.
William followed his brother John and sister Eliza Gillet Edds who came to Australia as assisted immigrant’s on the Thetis in1849.
William and John are believed to have had a Bullock dray business along the east coast of Australia and we know they were both in Rockhampton in 1863. It may be that John and William were attracted to the area by the Canoona Gold Rush of 1858.
William married Margaret Hannah in Rockhampton in 1863. Margaret was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 11/01/1844)
William’s profession was listed on his marriage certificate as ‘Bushman’.
The newly married couple headed south to the Logan River area which had been opened up for settlement in 1824 and where cotton was now being grown.
It is apparent that John Winterford went his own way prospecting and was to drown alone in a flooded creek near Nockatunga Station in 1882.
William and Margaret Winterford lived and worked in the Logan River area until 1870, when they moved onto their own selection at Pimpama. During their years at Logan River, they started a considerable family.
Arthur James was born on The Albion Cotton Company’s Plantation, Logan River on 8th May 1865. Elizabeth Wilhelmina was born on 14th March 1867 at Logan River. Mary Ann was born at Gympie on 13th December 1868.and Walter John was born at Logan River 11th August 1870.
The family of six took up residence on Block 173 at Pimpama, where in June 1870 William had also selected the adjoining block No.256. The Homestead block, No.173, was 80 acres of first class agricultural land, while the adjoining block 256, consisted of 188 acres overall and made up of 80 acres of agricultural land and 108 acres of second class pastoral land. Record has it that William improved his Homestead block 173 with the construction of a 4 roomed bark house with a bark roof, also a large slab building containing a barn, a cart house and a store, with a roof of bark. There was also a bark hut for workmen. Eleven acres were cleared and fenced with a sapling fence. The crops planted were sugarcane and maize. He also had a few cattle on the property.
On the second block, 15 acres was cleared with10 acres under cotton and the other 5 acres planted with sugarcane. On this block he constructed 30 chains of sapling fencing.
During this period in Pimpama the Winterford’s managed to increase their family with another four children being born. On 25 May 1872, a son, William Henry was born, and on 19 October 1873, another son, Alfred Edwin, arrived. The next arrival was a girl, Alice Louisa, who was born at Pimpama on 12 April 1875.
Another daughter, Beatrice Selina was born 8th December 1876 and in 1878, yet another daughter, Florence Emily, was born on 23 August at ‘The Valley’. It is assumed that the reference is to Fortitude Valley in Brisbane.
William Winterford obtained a Retail Spirit Dealers License in December 1879 for the Beenleigh area and operated his first liquor license at the Ferry Hotel (built in 1871) at Yatala on the Albert River.
William also acquired the Wharf Street Brisbane premises in 1879 which accommodated the family and operated as Public House.
Another addition to the family, Maggie Hannah was born at Yatala on 5 October 1882.
During this period William purchased the original Regatta Hotel on the Brisbane River at Sylvan Road in Toowong.
In 1886 William had great plans for his old wooden hotel. It was removed from the site to make way for a completely new development. He commissioned the architect Richard Gailey to design a much larger building to blend with its position on the bank of the Brisbane River. George Gazzard carried out the construction at a cost of £4,800. The finished product was outstanding in every respect. The new
Regatta Hotel was officially opened in 1887 and enjoyed good trading for 10 years in spite of the big flood of 1893 when the Brisbane River broke its banks.

Proposed new Regatta Hotel, drawn 1887


Another daughter, Clara Isabella was born in Brisbane on 29 May 1884. Unfortunately Clara died three months later on 28 August.
1892, the year before the big flood, was a big occasion for William and Margaret. Their eldest daughter, Elizabeth Wilhelmina, was the first of their children to be married. The wedding was celebrated on 11 March 1892 when she married Thomas Henry Haynes, a pilot at Bulwer Island.
Another wedding was to take place the following year when the eldest son, Arthur James, married Lizzie Elmes on 4 January 1893.


Winterford family
(Photograph taken in the Regatta Hotel, Toowong in 1891 or 1892)
Standing from left to right: Mary Ann, William Henry, Elizabeth Wilhelmina, Alfred Edwin, Walter John and Alice Louise.
Seated from left to right: Florence Emily, Arthur James, their mother Margaret, and father William with Beatrice Selina on the extreme right.
The youngest daughter Maggie Hannah is seated in front of her father.

The date and place of birth of each of the above children is as follows:
Arthur James: 8.05.1865 at Albion Cotton Company Plantation, Logan River.
Elizabeth Wilhelmina: 14.03.1867 at Logan River.
Mary Ann: 13.12.1868 at Gympie.
Walter John: 11.8.1870 at Logan River.
William Henry: 25.05.1872 at Pimpama.
Alfred Edwin: 19.10.1873 at Pimpama.
Alice Louise: 12.04.1875 at Pimpama.
Beatrice Selina: 08.10.1876 at Pimpama.
Florence Emily: 23.08.1878 at Valley. (Possibly ‘The Valley’, Brisbane)
Maggie Hannah: 05.10.1882 at Yatala
Two other children William and Clara Isabella did not survive.
Ten years after the official opening of the Regatta Hotel, there was a downturn in trading, which resulted in the hotel being forfeited to the Mortgagees.
Following the loss of the Regatta, the family moved to the Clarence Hotel in South Brisbane. The move took place in 1897. It was from here that two sons, Alfred Edwin and William Henry, enlisted in 1899 in the Queensland Mounted Infantry, for service in South Africa during the Boer War.
The turn of the century in 1900 was not a good year for the family. Alfred Edwin and William Henry were in South Africa fighting a war, and while they were away, the family lost their mother, and William, his wife of 37 years, when Margaret died on the 3rd of August.
Sergeant A.E. Winterford arrived back in Brisbane with his contingent from South Africa on 3 May 1901, and on the 10th of May, the unit was disbanded, leaving him free to resume civilian life. He returned to the
Public Service as a Crown Land Ranger. On 30 October 1901, there was another wedding being celebrated, when he married Margaret Brereton Robinson in St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane.
The next family wedding was to be celebrated in 1904 when Walter John married Clara Jane Arthur, (nèe Cowl) in Broken Hill. Walter John was active as a miner in Broken Hill for some 35 years and was President of the Barrier Workers Association during a period of turbulent workers disputes.
Alfred Edwin resumed military duties during World War I, attended Duntroon and was promoted to Lieutenant. He was killed in action in France on 10 June 1918.
The interesting life of the family’s foundation member came to a close in the following year when William Winterford died in the Diamantina Hospital on 6 April 1919, and was buried in the Toowong Cemetery the day after. He was 84 years old.
William and Margaret’s descendants are now spread throughout Australia and number in the hundreds. The Regatta Hotel is now heritage-listed and is one of the iconic hotels of Brisbane.

Notes
Some have suggested that Mary Ann and Elizabeth Wilhelmina have been incorrectly positioned in the above caption. I suspect that they are probably right, but leave it to others to decide and comment. I have enclosed some additional pictures below to assist such decision.
Hopefully there are some better pictures to help us.

 


Elizabeth Wilhelmina
                               
Mary Anne

                              Mary Anne as Bridesmaid; Elizabeth Wilhelmina as Bride (standing ?)

Thank you to Bruce Winterford for giving permission for publishing this history of the Winterford family.

 

The 11 December 2015 Re-Opening of Jack Cook Park

It was rather dark for 6 o’clock on a summers evening. Clouds circled above with the promise of rain which did not eventuate. The BrizWest Community Ensemble (about 15 in all) had unpacked their brass & percussion to strike out at Carols for a bit of a sing-a-long.
A film screen had been pitched for the scheduled 7pm showing of “Home Alone”. Lying beyond the screen picnic blankets paraded across the grounds with a few wise old chairs for the older sitters behind. Amid all of this, with the children chasing about, the sausage sizzle began. The crowd had swelled just short of 200 and the queues came to quite a length. All remained very well behaved as free Sausages, Coffee & Hot Chocolate were sought. Free Face Painting was also available.

Early in the evening I was introduced to Rick Hedges, who is the current administrator of Little Athletics and the Toowong Harriers. I took this as a good opportunity to present one of my Dad’s old club badges (pictured right) back to the Harriers as a visual icon of their history. My dad was Harold Cook, youngest brother to Jack. The other person of interest I met was my cousin Denis Cook who was in attendance with his wife Helen. Denis was Jack Cook’s son.
What is now known as Jack Cook Memorial Park was originally land that was established as part of Robert Cribb’s Farm (1852). After WW1 it became known as Heroes Park and transferred to the council as a trust to operate as a park.
Currently the park is often used for sports clubs and by personal fitness instructors. One club meets Thursday nights to play cricket and the grounds are frequented by an older citizens walking group (mainly from the retirement village next door). The Little Athletics and the Toowong Harriers both meet in the park and make use of the clubhouse.
An application for it to be gazetted as parkland was made successfully on 1 May 1984 and it was named as Jack Cook Memorial Park. The submission was made by both the Toowong Harriers and the Toowong RSL Sub-branch. Soon after a clubhouse was erected for the Toowong Harriers after which a dedication was given and Denver Beanland MLA officiated its opening.
The reopening of this park was effected by a speech from the Councillor for the Walter Taylor Ward, Julian Simmons, who outlined extensive work done to remove the hazardous rubbish from the topsoil, seal the base clay pan & backfill with fresh topsoil while also providing an inbuilt irrigation system certain to help save time. The remediation was also important, given the 2011 flood damage to the area.
It was noted that completion of the topsoil had not yet been finalized, with the expectation that all would be well over the next three weeks. The ceremony was finalized with a few words from Denis Cook about his father Jack and his long involvement with the club (since 1923 to his passing in 1984) and his desire that there be a home for the Harriers.
Thank you to Jack Cook’s niece Genean Wildesen for writing this report of the event

Anzac Day Centenary Commemoration (2015)

Anzac Day Centenary Commemoration (2015)

Between 2014 and 2018 Australia is commemorating 100 years since our nation’s involvement in the First World War. All levels of government are actively supporting the commemorations, with the Australian Federal Government, under the slogan, ‘’The Spirit Lives 2014-2018’’, leading the Australian response. Numerous projects have been initiated to highlight aspects of the centenary commemoration, many of which have been financed by government grants. Australians have embraced the centenary commemorations by wholeheartedly supporting the numerous events that have been planned.

Anzac Day attendees using the newly-built pathway to access the Soldiers’ Memorial monument.
[Photograph by Ruth Sapsford]

On Anzac Day 2015 Australians and New Zealanders marked the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli when four infantry battalions of the 3rd Brigade, First Australian Division landed at dawn on 25 April 1915. The 11th Battalion, from Western Australia, came ashore not at Anzac Cove, but on the beach beneath the slopes leading down from Ari Burnu Point and Plugge’s Plateau.
According to The Courier-Mail (23 April 2015), more than 70 events were planned for Anzac Day in the greater Brisbane area alone. In Brisbane, it was later reported by various media sources that record crowds turned out to observe the Anzac centenary. The Federal Government’s website expresses the sentiment as follows:
Gallipoli has special significance to many Australians. For the families of those men who fought at Gallipoli, and in the many other battles and campaigns of the First World War, the centenary commemorations are particularly poignant.

In Toowong, the commemoration of the centenary of the Gallipoli landing was organised by the Toowong RSL Sub-branch, and held at Toowong Memorial Park. Anzac Day has been celebrated in the park since the Soldiers’ Memorial monument, erected on the summit of the hill in the park, was unveiled by the governor, Sir Matthew Nathan, on 2 July 1922. Dedicated to those who had enlisted from the Toowong area, the Memorial was financed by the citizens of Toowong, who gave generously to a public fundraising campaign chaired by Sir Alfred S. Cowley OBE, a former state speaker of the Queensland parliament. At the time, the hill gave extensive views across to Mt Coot-tha, around the surrounding district, and over to the eastern side of the Brisbane River.

The Soldiers’ Memorial illuminated by flood lights recently installed by the Brisbane City Council.
[Photograph provided by Cr Peter Matic.]

In recent years Toowong’s Anzac Day service started after dawn. In 2013, for example, the service commenced at 5.20am. Other years have been even later, at 6.00am or sometimes 6.30am. However, for the centenary year, the Toowong RSL Sub-branch decided that a dawn service should be held, commencing at 4.30am.
This was a return to the tradition of dawn services that the Toowong RSL sub-branch used to hold in times past. Also, there was a time when the dawn service had been preceded by a parade ending at Toowong Memorial Park. These traditions were set aside when their advanced years and increasing infirmity caught up with the WWI veterans, and prevented them from participating in the parade. Climbing the hill also proved beyond their capabilities. Therefore, the Toowong RSL Sub-branch erected a second smaller memorial just inside the repositioned gates of Toowong Memorial Park, and brought forward the starting time for the service to accommodate the aging ‘Digger’ population.
In 2014, the Brisbane City Council (BCC) restored both the Soldiers’ Memorial and the RSL’s Memorial to their original condition. In response to a TDHS submission, the BCC also constructed a pathway to the crest of the ridge to enable easier access to the Soldiers’ Memorial. The late Mr Percy Hanlon, a TDHS foundation management committee member, had spent many years prior to his death unsuccessfully campaigning for such a pathway, and the TDHS applied for it in his memory. The Society is pleased that the pathway that Mr Hanlon had campaigned for has now been built. Mrs Ruth Sapsford, who attended the Dawn Service as the TDHS’s representative, reports that a constant stream of people could be seen in the pre-dawn light making their way up to the pathway to the hill’s summit.
Floodlighting has also been installed at the base of the Soldiers’ Memorial and directed upwards to illuminate the column in the pre-dawn light. Cr Peter Matic of the Toowong Ward Office said he was delighted with the Council’s preparation of the park, and was especially thrilled by the impact of the lighting, describing the spectacle as ‘magnificent’.
This year the crowd attending the ceremony exceeded all expectations, and was estimated at over 2,000 people. The Brizwest Concert Band and the Church of Latter Day Saints choir performed the Australian and New Zealand anthems. Numerous wreaths were placed at the foot of the Soldiers’ Memorial, including one laid on behalf of the TDHS by Mrs Ruth Sapsford. On the conclusion of the service, all those who attended were invited to participate in a Gunfire Breakfast held in the park and hosted by Wests Rugby Union Club. A family day arranged by Wests then followed from 11am, and included a derby match between Wests Bulldogs and the Queensland University, followed by entertainment.

The Soldiers’ Memorial bathed in the soft dawn light and surrounded by wreaths
The Soldiers’ Memorial bathed
in the soft dawn light and surrounded by wreaths
Wreath laid at Soldiers’ Memorial by the Toowong and District Historical Society
Wreath laid at Soldiers’ Memorial by
the Toowong and District Historical Society



A BCC CityCat featuring the slogan ‘’Brisbane Remembers its Anzacs ‘’
travels downstream along the Toowong Reach of the Brisbane River.


The Soldiers’ Memorial bathed in the warmth of the morning sun on Anzac Day.

Wreaths laid at the base of the Soldiers’ Memorial

[All of the above photographs provided by Ruth Sapsford.]

At the Ithaca War Memorial, Paddington, Dr Steven Miles MP, Minister for the Environment and the State Member for Mt Coot-tha, hosted Paddington’s Anzac Day’s Citizens’ Morning Service, which started at 7.30am. Again, a huge crowd attended. A highlight was the participation of children from local organisations and schools in the proceedings. Before the service commenced, the Bardon State School choir performed on the footpath adjacent to the park until the arrival of the Anzac Day parade. Marching in the parade to the accompaniment of the Boys’ Brigade Band were schoolchildren from Red Hill State School, local scouts and girl guide troops, and the Enoggera Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades units. After the arrival of the parade, Dr Miles awaited its formal dismissal before commencing the Anzac Day Service. Participants who gathered around the base of the Memorial were bathed in delicately dappled morning light which filtered through the canopies of the park’s fig trees and added a tranquil quality to the solemnity of the occasion.
Mrs Leigh Chamberlain, who represented the TDHS, read the Act of Remembrance. Her reading was followed by Dr Miles inviting attendees to join in the singing of the hymn, ‘Abide with Me’. After the playing of the Last Post and Reveille, the service concluded with the laying of wreaths by representatives of local organisations and personal tributes laid by individuals. Among the wreaths were those laid by several local politicians, including Dr Miles and Cr Peter Matic, of the BCC’s Toowong Ward.
Afterwards, people lingered to look at the wreaths and to greet friends, thus giving the occasion a sense of community. Gradually the crowd dispersed, leaving the Ithaca War Memorial to sit peacefully in the morning sun, surrounded by the numerous floral tributes laid reverently at its base.


The Bardon State School Choir performing
at the Ithaca War Memorial.

The Anzac Day Parade being dismissed.
Music was provided by the Boys’ Brigade Band


The Guard of Honour at the Ithaca War Memorial.

The flag at half-mast while the packed crowd
listens to the audio operator( front left)
playing The Last Post and Reveille.

[All of the above photographs provided by Leigh Chamberlain.]

Written by Leigh Chamberlain

Historic Toowong ABC antenna tower demolished

Historic Toowong ABC antenna tower demolished

That’s it—the ABC has really gone now!

While the ABC’s empty and neglected buildings and its transmission tower still stood on the Toowong site at 600 Coronation Drive after staff left the property in 2006 following a cancer cluster scare, locals still tended to associate the property with the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and its activities.

So while the ABC may have physically gone, spiritually it was still here.

But on Monday, 2nd February 2015, the fact that the ABC had actually ceased to be a part of the fabric of the local landscape really sank in when the iconic ABC transmission tower was dismantled. The tower, symbol of more than fifty years of broadcasting, was pulled down in just one day!

The ABC’s transmission tower awaiting demolition amid adjacent partly demolished buildings.[Photo courtesy of the Sunland Group]

The ABC’s transmission tower was the visible symbol of the ABC’s presence in Toowong. It was one of a series of landmarks along Coronation Drive that greeted passers-by, whether travelling by foot, train, car, bus or ferry. But after the demolition of the Toowong Swimming Pool directly across the road, the tower was one of the few local well-known landmarks left within a block or two of the High Street rail overpass bridge. It announced that you had indeed arrived in Toowong. (Motorists too relied on the tower and the ABC buildings to warn them that the Toowong High Street traffic lights were just ahead, and to ensure they were in the correct lane before it was too late!) Others took advantage of the presence of the ABC’s buildings and tower as a place marker when giving directions to visitors to the suburb.

The ABC had been located in Toowong for over fifty years. The ABC (formerly known as the Australian Broadcasting Commission until 1983) had purchased both “Middenbury” and the adjacent property, “Sidney House”, in 1957 and established new adjoining Queensland facilities for radio and television production and broadcasting here. When the ABC commenced its television broadcasting activities, its Brisbane channel, ABQ2, was opened on 2 November 1959. Unlike the three commercial television channels, who had both their recording studios and transmission towers on Mt Coot-tha, ABQ2 established its studios in the suburb of Toowong, but located its transmission towers on Mount Coot-tha. The Toowong tower was used to connect to the actual transmitters on Mt Coot-tha.

The Sunland Group, creator of Palazzo Versace and Q1 on the Gold Coast, bought the property in 2013 for $20 million. The demolition of the ABC’s Toowong transmission tower is part of Sunland’s preparations to clear the site in readiness for its proposed $420 million “champagne flute towers” development to be named ‘’Grace on Coronation’’. Preliminary demolition work commenced in November 2014. It was expected that another two to three weeks of work remained to be completed.

It took the efforts of eight construction workers to bring down the tower. The nostalgia of the occasion was not lost upon long-time local residents. The dismantlement of the transmission tower was seen as an historic occasion as it meant it was actually the end of the ABC’s presence in Toowong. To these people, it is indeed the end of an era! Some also commented that they will miss seeing the tower while driving outbound from the City down Coronation Drive.

Equipment being positioned in preparation for demolition of the ABC’s transmission tower.[Photo courtesy of the Sunland Group]

Most will agree that it’s sad seeing the ABC’s buildings and its symbol go. Often, the ABC would need generic visuals as background for a story, and from time to time, filming would take place at locations in Toowong and nearby inner city suburbs. People experienced a sense of pride that the suburb was chosen for this purpose, and delighted in identifying the locales used in such stories. Therefore it is not surprising that residents felt a sense of ownership of the ABC. The locals here also missed the ABC staff, some of whom used to meet colleagues after work at the RE (Royal Exchange Hotel).

‘’Middenbury’’ [Photographed in 2003 by heritage architect Michael Michaux].

The former ABC site also features a single-storeyed brick house called ‘’Middenbury’’, which Sunland has promised to protect. This undertaking is in accordance with the ABC placing a condition of sale on the property requiring the home be nominated for listing on the Queensland Heritage Council. This listing is also in accordance with the BCC 2012 Toowong Auchenflower Neighbourhood Plan. The building was recognised by the National Trust in 1969, and subsequently by Brisbane City Council’s heritage register. In an interview with The Brisbane Times on 22nd July, 2014, Sunland Group Executive Development Manager David Brown said the company always wanted to preserve the home. “It was always our intention to do something that respected the heritage building within its original context,” Mr Brown said. “The listing boundary ensures ‘Middenbury’ will remain in a park setting—this is a great outcome for the city and the development.”

The stately Queensland villa-styled house, thought to be the oldest surviving residence of its type in Toowong, was constructed for Mrs Eliza Rogers, ca. 1865. The residence was designed by architect James Cowlishaw, who, after his arrival in Brisbane in 1860, had established himself as being one of Brisbane’s first private architects. ‘’Middenbury’’ is rectangular in plan and surrounded by verandahs on three sides. Mrs Rogers, the widow of an officer of the Tasmanian Commissariat who had moved to Brisbane with her four children after the death of her husband, purchased the site of just over 6 acres (2.4 hectares) in 1865. She resided in the house until her death in October, 1875 when the property passed to her four children, Eliza, Minnie, Frank and Lewis. It was subsequently let to a number of prominent Brisbane families.

The home and the property was eventually subdivided and bought by Brisbane merchant Timothy O’Shea in 1891. It remained with the O’Shea family for 59 years. The O’Shea family hosted the Price of Wales at ‘’Middenbury’’ in 1920, in an era when the home had become one of the most respected residential properties on Brisbane’s riverside.

After the deaths of the O’Shea family the property was sold. Since then ‘’Middenbury’’ has been used for a time as a meeting place of the Friends of the ABC, and also as offices for the ABC.

The top section of the ABC‘s transmission tower being lowered to the ground after being detached from the tower’s base. [Photo courtesy of the Sunland Group]

The ABC may have been physically gone from Toowong for some time, but now that the symbolic transmission tower has been demolished, with its rubble dumped into skips in readiness for disposal, the fact that an era has indeed come to an end, will begin to sink in. This will be reinforced when the rest of the buildings follow suit, and no familiar features are left on the site.

In pondering this event, one could ask whether in another fifty years locals will continue to identify Toowong with the presence of the ABC, symbolised by its tower, or will time replace it with another ‘’iconic’’ symbol?

References:
Commonwealth Heritage List, Australian Government Department of the Environment, Australian Heritage Database, extracted on 3rd September, 2014 from website at:
http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=105421
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection; Queensland Heritage Register entry for Middenbury (as published in The Government Gazette, 1 August 2014).
Queensland Heritage Council, Media release, extracted on 11 November 2014 from website at: http://www.qldheritage.org.au/600330-middenbury.html
Michael Michaux, Toowong – Heritage Architecture and Street Art: A self-guided tour of Toowong, 2003, Toowong and District Historical Society Inc., p. 19.
Jorge Branco, Historic Toowong ABC antenna tower demolished published in The Brisbane Times, 3 February, 2015 and extracted on 3 February 2015 from website at:
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/historic-toowong-abc-antenna-tower-demolished-20150202-1340d1.html
The Courier-Mail, Thursday 7 July 1949, p. 4.
The Queenslander, Thursday 21 January 1932, p. 35.
Written by Leigh Chamberlain. Thanks to Ruth Sapsford for her assistance with proofreading. Thanks also to the Sunland Group for their assistance and for providing photographs, and to Michael Michaux who also provided a photograph.

Somewhere for women in distress

For almost a century St Mary’s Home has been located at Mount Street, Toowong. It has been a part of the local streetscape for so long that many people are unaware that St Mary’s wasn’t always situated here. Most people would also be unaware that the Home is an amalgamation of two former institutions, the Female Refuge and Infants’ Home and St Mary’s Home, which after joining together, chose to retain the name of St Mary’s Home.
St Marys's Home
The original St Mary’s Home, which had its official entrance in Bent Street, Toowong, had been demolished after extensive damage by while ants.

Join historian Leigh Chamberlain as she traces the story of these two institutions from their inception until amalgamation, and outlines the Home’s subsequent history.
Today, the Home continues to meet the needs of those women who have ‘nowhere to go’. Leigh will explain how the home has adapted since moving to Toowong to enable it to assist women who need its support today.

The talk will be presented on 22 May at the BCC Toowong Library, Toowong Village, from 9.30am till 11.30am.

All welcome! Please stay and join us afterwards for morning tea.

For inquiries, RSVP and apologies: T: 040 1180 0921 or E: tdhsoc@gmail.com

For more details see Upcoming Events (at right).

Trees in Toowong in 2014

The Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place on Wednesday May 12th 1937. This was the date set for the Coronation of King Edward VIII, but upon his abdication the date was retained for George VI’s Coronation.

Australia was then part of the British Empire, and the King’s Australian subjects looked forward the forthcoming Coronation, embracing the occasion warmheartedly. Patriotic fervour ran high as people enthusiastically planned projects to commemorate the historic occasion, and the occasion was underpinned with widely-held notions of ‘’God, King, and Country’’. One such project — that of the Queensland Tree and Forrest League — was described in The Courier-Mail:

The Queensland Tree and Forest League decided last night to suggest to the Lord Mayor that a comprehensive scheme of tree planting be undertaken by the council to mark Coronation week, such as an avenue of shade trees along the highway extending from North Quay to St. Lucia. It was also recommended that citizens should apply to the council for trees, and that at least one be planted in front of each home as a Coronation commemoration. (1).

On the day of the Coronation a tree was planted by the Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson, on North Quay, Brisbane on Wednesday, May 12th, 1937 at the commencement of the River Road. The name of the River Road was also changed from then on to Coronation Drive (2).

Prior to the Coronation the Brisbane City Council had agreed to provide trees to be planted in avenues along Brisbane streets or in local reserves by the Girl Guides (3). Approximately 1400 trees were to be planted by the Guides in Brisbane and 4000 throughout Queensland (3). The council also agreed to supply relief staff to dig the holes, to set up stock-proof tree guards and provide assistance, when necessary, to plant the trees (4). The trees to be planted included bauhinia, bottle brush, tulipwood, tamarind, Indian laburnum, Buchinghamia celsissima, hibiscus, Bat’s wing coral tree and jacaranda (4). Tree planting was to be commenced around 2pm on Saturday, May 15th, 1937(4).

In Toowong, 61 red bottlebrush trees (Callistemon Viminalis) were to be provided and planted along Sylvan Road and Church Street (4). Church Street had its name changed to Jephson Street in 1940. A report in The Courier-Mail on 17th April, 1937 mentioned only Sylvan Road for the proposed plantings in Toowong (3).

Trees were also planted in the grounds of St John’s Cathedral, with assistance from the Guides’ State Commissioner, Lady Macartney, and the State Secretary, Miss N Edwards (5).

All avenues of trees were named with a tin plaque, but none of these have been detected on trees in Toowong. Only two plaques has been photographed — attached to hibiscus shrub branches, one of which was found in the Auchenflower Girl Guide Hut and another near to the Guide Hut at the time of the 1974 flood. These plaques were labelled St John’s, and one was reported to have been found in ‘Anzac Park’, Toowong. This may have been misreported as Toowong Memorial Park, and not Anzac Park in Dean Street, Toowong. There were Guide, Brownie and Ranger companies attached to the St John’s City Guide Group. That guide group were scheduled to plant trees to commemorate the Coronation in Gotha and Warren Streets in Fortitude Valley. It is a mystery how the plaque labelled St John’s found its way to Toowong.

Since that time the genus of the Callistemon Viminalis, which were planted in Toowong, has been reclassified as Melaleuca Viminalis. This has been confirmed by the horticultural department of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.

So what has happened to those trees?

In November 2014 no bottlebrush trees could be detected in Jephson Street, but 28 have been counted along the footpaths in Sylvan Road. These trees are now between 4-6metres in height and many have been trimmed to prevent entanglement with power lines and road traffic. There are some large trees in adjoining gardens which may have been planted at the same time.

Trees have been recorded along the southern side of Sylvan Road between Jephson and Quinn Streets — 11 trees; western side of Sylvan Road between Quinn Street and Milton Road — 2 trees; eastern side of Sylvan Road between Milton Road and Quinn Street — 9 trees and northern side of Sylvan Road between Quinn Street and Jephson Street — 6 trees. An example of this type of tree, not in Sylvan Road, is included. Further photos will be taken of a representative Sylvan Road tree in the next flowering season in September, 2015.

I would like to thank Ms Annabel Lloyd, Archivist, Brisbane City Council for assistance with the research.

 
   
Sources:

Girl Guides of Queensland Annual Report of 1936/37.

Girl Guides of Queensland Archives – Ms Jill Hogrefe

Brisbane City Archives

  1. The Courier-Mail, Thursday, April 8th, 1937; p. 13
  2. The Courier-Mail, Thursday, 13th May, 1937
  3. The Courier-Mail, Saturday, 17th April, 1937
  4. The Courier-Mail, Friday, May 14th, 1937
  5. The Courier-Mail, Monday, 17th May, 1937

Compiled by Ruth Sapsford.

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget!

At the TDHS’s Meeting on 24th April, guest speaker Mr Fred Whitchurch will share his recollections of the Toowong RSL Sub-branch. The sub-branch was one of the oldest in Queensland. A brief history of the sub-branch’s formation is as follows:

The Returned Services League was originally called the Returned Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), but later adopted a more simplified version of the name.

After the Queensland State Branch of RSSILA was formed, the decision to form the Toowong RSL Sub-branch was taken on 9th April 1919. Mr Sanderson became its Hon. Secretary.

The Toowong sub-branch was formed on 15th April 1919, and Captain Binnie, a well-known and respected Toowong resident, was elected as its first president, while well-known public identities Messrs Hicks and East were elected as vice-presidents.

By 7th May 1921, A J Servin had been elected as president, while Mr Fraser East was re-elected as vice-president. In 1924, on 21st February, Mr Fraser East was elected as the RSSILA’s State president.

Today, and several wars later, the Toowong RSL Sub-branch continues to serve the needs of its members. At 89, Mr Frederick (Fred) Whitchurch is the oldest member of the Toowong RSL sub-branch. A natural raconteur, Fred has a wealth of stories about the sub-branch, especially the renovation of the old hall after WWII, and later, the building of the new Toowong RSL Memorial Club building in Sherwood Road under the leadership of its then president, the late Mr Jack Cook.

The building had played host to many local community groups who used its rooms to meet in, and later, clubs for golf, darts, and billiards club were established under the auspices of the sub-branch. Next to the clubhouse was an old artillery gun, which children loved to run around and play on.

Alas, after a court case to determine whether the Toowong RSL sub-branch or the members of the Memorial Club actually owned the building, the property was sold to meet financial obligations and pay the costs of the court case. The court case’s decision had far-reaching ramifications for the operations of community organisations in Queensland, as it determined all assets were owned by the parent body. Afterwards, the Queensland State government passed the 1992 Act of Incorporation and thus, the court determination is now incorporated into Queensland law.

Thus, today, alas, the building is no more, and Toowong lost one more valuable community amenity. A set of townhouses has been erected on the site of the former RSL Sub-branch, and is named to honour early Toowong resident Richard Langler Drew (1823–1869). Next door, on the corner, Jack Cook’s garage has been replaced with the Jephson Hotel.