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

A history of cricket in Toowong

When interviewed in 2003 Warwick Torrens had been researching the history of Queensland cricket for 30-odd years. He is particularly interested in the statistical and historical side of cricket and began collecting information after World War II about the first class game played in Australia, especially in Queensland. In 1974, he became a member of the newly formed English-based Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Warwick has written many books about the history of cricket in Queensland and was a major contributor to the publications ‘History of the Sheffield Shield’ and the ‘Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket’.

Explaining that ‘cricket was the main game played in Queensland at the time of separation; there was also horse racing and a little bit of athletics, but not much else’, Warwick sidetracked to tell us where the first football club was formed:

I have it here in my notes from 1865-1870. [After consulting his archives, Warwick continues:] It was formed at a meeting held at Brayshers’ Metropolitan Hotel on 22 May 1866. They decided to play in accordance with the Melbourne Rules. There was no football club whatsoever in Queensland until the first football club, called Brisbane Football Club, was formed.

There are some quite well-known names elected onto the committee: S. Hart; W.G. Macnish, who was a cricketer; W.H. Ryder, who married McNish’s sister; C.E. Wallen; George Cowlishaw, who came up from Sydney where his father operated a fruit farm at Surrey Hills; and T.A. Board, who was elected Honorary Secretary. (Brisbane Courier, Wednesday, 23 May 1866.)

The Metropolitan Hotel, owned by Mr Amos Brayshers, was located in Edward Street, Brisbane. This hotel became the Brisbane Football Club’s meeting place. The Tattersalls Club also met here, as it did on 29 May 1866, a week after the Brisbane Football Club’s inaugral meeting, for the purpose of the settling-up of the Brisbane Turf Club’s previous race meeting and presentation of trophies. (The Brisbane-Courier, 30 May 1866, p.2.) Mr Braysher was the proprietor of Tattersall’s Subscription Room.

Moving on now from football to cricket, Warwick explains how Electorate Cricket originated:

In 1897 the Queensland Cricket Association decided to move away from a system of administration based upon a club system, such as that of the Graziers or the Alberts—these sorts of clubs—to that of Electorate Cricket which had already started in Sydney and Melbourne. In Electorate Cricket, cricket districts coincided with the electorates of the State Parliament. Consequently, there were a number of clubs formed, such as North Brisbane and South Brisbane. But the one we are particularly interested in here is Toowong and the western suburbs. The Toowong state electorate—or colonial electorate it was initially called—stretched from the Taringa area right across to Paddington and Kelvin Grove and bordered on the city of Brisbane.

The Toowong Electorate Cricket Club was quite competitive. There were quite a number of well-known players. In particular for a time, Jack Hutcheon, who, for a long time was president of the Queensland Cricket Association, played for Toowong; so too did his brother Ernie. There were the brothers Armstrong. They lived at ‘Fernberg’, Milton, the sons of George Joseph Armstrong who was born in Brisbane shortly after the arrival of his parents in 1853. Three Armstrong brothers played for Queensland and one of them, William Anthony, continued to play until he was well into his fifty years. He finished up playing for Western Suburbs.

The Toowong Electorate Cricket Club in 1921 held a joint meeting with the Oxley Electorate Cricket Club and they decided that they would amalgamate to become the Western Suburbs Electorate Cricket Club. Electorate cricket clubs existed until the very early 1930s when they all became district cricket clubs. Toowong really disappeared in 1921, but Western Suburbs is still with us today. It is now called the Western Suburbs District Cricket Club.

Oxley commenced their playing in the Brisbane competition in 1903. We find some clubs with very short existences. There were Ipswich clubs that came in and played for one season or, in the case of one of them—I can’t remember the name of it now—for about three seasons. We had Enoggera play one season. Bulimba played two matches in 1897 and then folded up because they could only get about five players along to their first match and eight to their second, so they didn’t keep going.

Warwick provided the following biographies of people associated with the Toowong area:

George Murray Colledge:

George Colledge was born at Stewarton in Ayrshire on 11 May 1873. He arrived in Australia at quite a young age. He was educated at the Toowong State School and the Brisbane Normal School. He played cricket for the Toowong Electorate Cricket Club and probably also there was a Toowong club playing in the junior division prior to the establishment of electorate clubs. He was the secretary of the Queensland Cricket Association from 1897 to 1908. He was also a member of the QCA Executive for a short time. He was an Australian Cricket Board delegate for Queensland from 1905 to 1907 and he was granted life membership of the Queensland Cricket Association on 17 August 1909. George died at the Beerwah Private Hospital at Gregory Terrace, Fortitude Valley on 18 June 1951. That’s on the corner of Brunswick Street and Gregory Terrace.

George’s parents were Matilda Ann (nèe Broomfield) and George Murray Colledge, Stationmaster and I understand George Jnr also worked in the railways.

At least one of his sons played quite good cricket but moved around the State quite a bit and played in country areas. I think Warwick is one where I’ve come across him playing.

James William Adams:

As a Queensland cricketer I suppose you could say of not great note, but he did play one game for Queensland. James William Adams was born at Toowong on 22 February 1904. Adams was educated at the Brisbane Grammar School, but didn’t play cricket seriously for a number of years until he was getting up towards his mid-20s because he was quite involved in the Citizens Military Forces.

Adams was the son of Herbert James William Huxtable Adams and Lillian Kate (nèe Frost). His father was a tailor in Toowong. Jim Adams worked for a time for Finney Isles & Co. and, just prior to the Second World War, moved to Melbourne, and later to Sydney where he died on 9 January 1988.

He was 12th man for Queensland in the game when Eddie Gilbert dismissed Bradman, caught by Len Waterman, without scoring. That game was in February 1931, and was the first Sheffield Shield match played at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.

He had played for Queensland against the West Indies in the previous season. That was his game. He missed a game after that West Indies game when the match between Queensland and Victoria was completely washed out by continuous rain. That game was to be played at the Brisbane Cricket Ground and should have been the first Sheffield Shield match at the Brisbane Cricket Ground. The next game was in November 1931.

Adams, at one stage, lived at Victoria Crescent, Toowong.[i] I believe he attended Toowong State School.

Bill Abell:

Bill Abell was born in Leeds in England and came out here, quite obviously, at a fairly young age. I do find him on the electoral rolls being aged 22 on 23 March 1897. Bill’s mother was listed as Mrs Lonsdale Abell living at Stanley Terrace, Taringa. There was a Lonsdale Abell who died on 20 May 1884 and so I can only assume that this is the husband of Mrs Abell. There was a Henry Lonsdale Abell who died on 10 August 1912 and who is shown in the Queensland death indexes as the son of Lonsdale Abell and Mary Slater. So that would be Bill’s brother and his parents.

Mrs Mary Abell is shown as the proprietor of a private school in Toowong.

I haven’t really gone very much further than that except that we know Bill enlisted in the Boer War as a private in Unit 6 of the Queensland Imperial Bushmen Contingent. And he also went off to the First World War. I’m not quite sure if he was the one who joined the 11th Light Horse or the 14th Battalion, presumably the first. It does seem that he altered his birth year by a couple of years because records do show that he was born in 1876, but the correct year would appear to be 1874. Bill died in 1960 at the War Veterans Home at Caboolture. I just haven’t got a date here for that at the moment.

Dixon family:

Joseph Black Dixon moved to Brisbane in 1860 as the accountant of the newly opened Brisbane branch of the Bank of Australasia. He was the son of a banker, Joseph Dixon in Hobart, and he came up here and virtually stayed here except in 1869 he moved for a short period to accountant at Sydney, and within 12 months was transferred back to Brisbane as the manager of the Brisbane branch. In 1869 he married Louise Jane Sloan[ii], who came from Maitland and there were six children. Now Joseph had a health problem and he died in 1881, the youngest of his family was just over 15 months old at the time of his death. Mrs Dixon had to find an income to look after her six children and so she took on a boarding house at Toowong. This was apparently a place that was quite well known. She did quite well with the family. Four of the boys attended Brisbane Grammar School and did quite well. One became a doctor, one became a banker and the one who became a banker was Joseph Eric. His son, Patrick Leslie Dixon (‘Les’), played cricket for Queensland and also rugby and, in fact, was in line for an Australian Rugby cap when he was injured and decided that cricket was more to his liking than the injuries of Rugby. Les was a prisoner of war of the Germans in the Second World War. He joined the RAAF and was shot down over Germany.

Two of Joseph’s brothers came to Brisbane, Laurison and Grahame Dixon, who worked for the Bank of New South Wales. Then there was Russel (with one ‘l’ in Russel); at least, I believe that is correct. He worked in the Queensland Civil Service as it was called back in those years, and lived in Brisbane until his death in 1922. Laurison died in 1932. Both actually played cricket for Queensland in the pre first-class days, Russel actually appearing against the first ever English team that visited Queensland. I don’t know where Russel lived. I haven’t located that at this time, but Laurison lived at Auchenflower and that was where he died.

The four sons of Joseph attended the Brisbane Grammar School and this is probably where they obtained a lot of their sporting prowess but, quite obviously, it was also a natural talent. Two of them were quite good rugby players as well as being cricketers. One of Laurison’s sons was quite a good cricketer and played grade cricket for Woolloongabba Electorate Cricket Club, and his life was lost in the First World War. William Stewart Dixon was the one who lost his life in the First World War. I don’t know anything about the family of Russel except that I have some names, but no other information about them.

Les Dixon—all of his children were quite good at sports, the girls included. They played hockey. His son was the captain of the University of New South Wales cricket team in the Sydney grade competition. He represented New South Wales Colts and was at one time a member of the New South Wales squad. He was also a very good rugby player so that the sporting ability continued down. I haven’t heard anything about it continuing to a next generation as yet.

Thank you to Warwick Torrens who was interviewed by Leigh Chamberlain on 28 January 2003

[i] Victoria Crescent runs between Milton Road and Morley Street.

[ii] Mrs Dixon’s death entry gives her name as Louisa Jane Dixon. She died in 1939, and her parents were David Sloan and Isabella Augusta Phillips. Extracted on 4 August 2014 from https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au

Sojourn in Toowong–the Lahey Story

Shirley Lahey’s grandparents leased ‘Sidney House’ in 1905 for a short period of time before moving to Indooroopilly. ‘Sidney House’, which boasted a prime riverfront position, was located on River Road (now renamed Coronation Drive) and has since been demolished. In common with many descendants of Toowong’s early families, Shirley has returned to the area and now lives in Taringa.

Shirley’s reminiscences include these family memories:

My paternal grandparents were David Lahey and Jane Jemima (née Walmsley). David was born in 1858 in County Westmeath, Ireland, and Jane was born in Maldon, Victoria, in 1860. They were married in Brisbane in 1881 and had twelve children. One boy died, aged one month. Another son died of wounds in France in 1917, during World War I. Of the remaining ten children, the best known ones are the eldest child, Vida (a noted Australian artist, art advocate and educator) and Romeo, who was known for his lifelong interest in national parks. This included his work towards the reservation of Lamington National Park and the Windsor Tableland and Upper Daintree area of the Daintree National Park as well as being the founder of the National Parks Association of Queensland, the first of its kind in Australia.

David Lahey’s parents and ten siblings migrated from Ireland in 1862. His father Francis was a farmer, first at Coopers Plains, and then at Pimpama, where he was a successful arrowroot farmer. His five sons became interested in sawmilling at Waterford and then, in 1884, David and three of his brothers built a sawmill in Canungra, which developed into the largest softwood mill in Queensland. Later mills were built in other parts of south-east Queensland. Initially, the partnership was called Lahey Brothers, the name later changing several times, but when the company went into voluntary liquidation in 1921, it was named Laheys Limited. Earlier, in 1910, David had set up a sawmill in Corinda, Brisbane, so that his sons would have business opportunities. This company was called Brisbane Timbers Limited.

When David and his wife came to Brisbane to live in 1899, they leased ‘Yeronglea’, the home of the late premier of Queensland, T.J. Byrnes, at Yeronga in Brisbane, where they lived until 1905, when they moved to Toowong and leased ‘Sidney House’, which had been built for Thomas Finney. I believe Finney was the partner in Finney Isles, the store that is now David Jones in Queen Street. The architect of the house (which was named for Finney’s wife, Sidney) was F.D.G. Stanley and its extensive grounds went down to the river.

When the David Laheys lived at ‘Sidney House’, there was a total of about twenty-five people under its roof. Apart from the immediate family, Jane’s mother, unmarried brother and at least one half-sister lived with them. Also there were some of David’s nephews (whose mother had died) and staff (who included a Kanaka who had worked for the Laheys at Pimpama and who stayed with them for the rest of his life, declining to return to his island home). From ‘Sidney House,’ they moved to ‘Greylands’ at Indooroopilly, which they leased for about three years, before building their own home at Corinda, which was called ‘Wonga Wallen’, near the sawmill.

An article featuring more of Shirley Lahey’s memories titled Sojourn in Toowong–the Lahey Story is published in Toowong: A Tram Ride from the Past, Memories of the Toowong Community Vol. 4, ed. Leigh Chamberlain and Lindy Salter, Toowong and District Historical Society, 2008, p.1.

To order see details on the Publications page.

Keeping adoption in the family

Mrs Dorothy Beavis and her husband Kevin Beavis were interviewed by Leigh Chamberlain in November, 2000. Adopted as a child, Dorothy recalls the circumstances which led to her adoption. At that time it was legal for adoption to be privately arranged.

Dorothy_Beavis

Dorothy Beavis

Dorothy Beavis (née Harper) was born in 1931 and is the only child of Mr Ben and Mrs Alice Harper. Mr Harper, who was a returned serviceman from both the Boer War and WWI, worked for the Queensland Railways at Ipswich as a foreman coppersmith.

Dorothy lived with her family at 15 Sandford Street, which at that time was in Toowong. Dorothy recalls:

I have lived in the house for 69 years, and my dear beloved, [indicating Kevin], for 52 years. I was brought here as a baby, adopted by my parents who brought me here. I was only 2½ lbs when born and was ten weeks ‘premmie’ when my mother brought me down from Townsville on the train.

My real mum died when I was only five days old. Her name was Violet Ethel Drewett (née Harper). She was unconscious when she had me and didn’t even know that I had arrived. This is what I was told. My parents had me wrapped up in cotton wool and had newspapers around the bottom of a washing basket — you know, the old cane washing baskets. That’s how I came down from Townsville.

And I believe — it was really funny — there was one old busybody on the train, and she came up to Mum, and she said, ‘I had heard that Ben Harper had had a child but I didn’t believe it.’ No way I could have been Ben Harper’s child — he was the father who adopted me — but there was no way that I could have been his blood because we are altogether different. He was tall and as broad as anything, while I was a skinny little runt. My real father was a tall man too. His name was Edwin George Drewitt. As a matter of fact, I’ve got a brother who was over six feet tall.

Beavis1_6_tif

Poster advertising the Glen Olive Garden Estate

In 1924–25, Mr and Mrs Ben Harper had purchased a double allotment in a new development called ‘The Glen Olive Garden Estate’. They had a house built which they then rented out. After the Harpers returned from Townsville with their new ‘bundle of joy’, they were not able to live in their Sandford Street property because it was still tenanted. Therefore, they rented a house in Aston Street until their tenants were able to vacate. The Aston Street house was the one later purchased by Sir Arthur Fadden. So Dorothy was about six months old when the family finally moved into their Sandford Street house.

Dorothy wasn’t initially told that she was adopted, or that she had brothers and sisters. This important piece of information was disclosed to her much later, and contact with her real father was restored. There was a history of adoption in the family as Dorothy’s biological mother was herself adopted. Violet was adopted by Ben Harper’s parents, Mr and Mrs Ben and Elizabeth Harper, a stone mason who lived in Townsville.

Beavis1_8_house

Residence of Dorothy and Kevin Beavis in Sandford Street, Toowong. The tree at the back of the house is the last remaining olive tree from a grove which was planted in the area. (Photographer not known.)

According to the story handed down through the family, Violet’s mother was a servant girl who worked for the Harper family and when she became pregnant, the father abandoned her and her unborn child. Desperate for assistance, she turned to her employer, Mrs Harper, as she didn’t know what else to do. Although they already had two children of their own, Benjamin John and Louis Arthur Milton, they offered Violet’s mother a lifeline by deciding to adopt the baby. (The ‘Milton’ in Louis’ name was a family surname in the Harper family). When Violet died, her brother, Benjamin John, and his wife, Alice, decided to adopt Dorothy.

By adopting Dorothy when her mother died, the adoption was kept within the family. Alice Harper had a history of stillborn births, so the new-born baby gave Ben and Alice Harper a chance to enjoy parenthood that would have been denied them otherwise and she was their ‘only child’.

Dorothy had lots of extended family, both biological and adopted. Holiday time was a time for the extended family and Dorothy explains that when the family went to Scarborough:

…other children came with the family too. There were four kids, and Mum and Dad. Now, these other children that I’m talking about, who lived with me for years (I was thirteen at the time), were my brothers and sisters. I didn’t realise this at the time, as we were all brought up as cousins. This was only because my mother died while giving birth to me.

Thank you to Dorothy Beavis for the above reminiscences.

You can read more of Dorothy’s reminiscences in the Toowong and District Historical Society’s publication, Toowong: A Tram Ride from the Past, 2008, p.41. To order see details on the Publications page.

Childhood memories of roaming Toowong’s streets

Roden_smlStuart Roden’s family came to settle in Toowong in about 1919 or 1920 when his father Olof Clarence (‘Clarrie’) Roden purchased land at 8 Augustus Street, three doors up from Bennett Street, and had the family residence built on this land.

Starting with memories of his childhood home, Stuart recalls nearby local streets and the people who lived here, and concludes at Toowong Memorial Park, the source of many wonderful childhood memories for Stuart.

According to McNaughts, our topside neighbours, the 1893 flood just reached the bottom side fence. Extensions were later added to the house. It was the place of birth for all three of us — Clarence James, who was known as ‘Jim’, born in 1921 Stuart (me), born in 1925 and my sister Eleanor Vera, born in 1926. Dr Wheeler, of Sherwood Road, delivered all three.Sherwood_Road

Originally, there was an ‘out-house’ dunny in the backyard. Augustus Street was one of the earlier streets in Brisbane to be connected to the main sewer to Pinkenba. The street was bituminised during the Great Depression by ‘Relief’ workers. The milkman, whose name was Mr Shields, delivered milk in big quart metal pots and pint pot. He had a utility truck covered at the back, with two big milk cans with taps on them and he’d fill our containers.

Delungra Street, off the north side of Augustus Street, was an easement which was lined with huge old gum trees on its eastern side and belonged to the Swain family who lived in a large old house down the easement. There was a white picket fence with double gates on Augustus Street. The hearse with the body of the grandfather of my friend, Wally Swain (full name: Walter Edward Swain) came out those gates, probably around 1937.

In Golding Street, that part of the street east of Earle Street was opened up in the mid-1930s with five look-a-like houses built on the north side. The area covered by the five houses and the extension of Golding Street was previously a big paddock which belonged to the Swain Senior family.

My friend Wally lived in a house on the eastern end of the old Golding Street, on the topside, with their northern fence on what was then a paddock. Cowboys and Indians and building cubby houses out of small trees in the paddock were what sometimes occupied my friend Wally and me. My mother took me to school (at the Toowong State School) on my first day and I was expected to find my way home. But Wally’s mother brought me home on the first day of school (along with Wally) from Toowong State School through their yard, the Swain Senior’s yard, the easement and the double gates on Augustus Street. Wally was a life-long friend until the day he died! He was my best friend at school and later I was his Best Man.

Next door, on the top side of Wally’s place, were the Fardons. Then there was a pedestrian lane here between Golding Street and Augustus Street. The lane is now closed. Then there were the Cribbs (he was a dentist); the Steers (and this house was later bought by the McGregor Lowndes) and then Charles Elliott, who was on the corner of Golding and Jephson Street. The latter was a stockbroker. On the right-hand side was the fire station, which I will discuss later. There was an easement from the lower end of the new part of Golding Street to Standring Street, which ran eastward to Bennett Street.

Church_St_Toowong

Church Street, now Jephson Street

Earle Street ran from Golding Street to Sylvan Road. Sylvan Road met Croydon Street at the corner with Church Street (now Jephson) and ran westwards to Milton Road. Just near the corner of Croydon Street on Milton Road was the Elite Picture Theatre where I used to go to the pictures with the family on Saturday nights. My father used to ring up and book our seats and we used to walk down and home again. Your eyes became accustomed to the dark and you didn’t really need a torch. You could see the Milky Way clearly in those days and it was beautiful to see!

Lands’ Wholesale/Retail Butcher Shop and Ice Works was on the corner of Earle Street and Sylvan Road. Augustus Street and Golding Street joined Jephson Street, formerly Church Street, as did Sylvan Road, which continued westward to Milton Road near the Brisbane General Cemetery (or Toowong Cemetery).

The Ferris family of 102-104 Sylvan Road

[Click on the thumbnails for larger images. There are additional photos of the Ferris family in the Gallery.]

Both these allotments belonged to Mr Thomas ‘Tom’ Ferris, the Toowong Station Master. Mr Ferris’s residence occupied allotment 104. Thomas Ferris had married Bridget Morton on the 9th April 1895.

Tom Ferris

Tom Ferris

When Tom and Bridget arrived in Toowong, they rented a house down by the railway line in Sylvan Road until they could afford to buy a property. Then at last they decided they could afford to purchase a block of land upon which to build their home. Tom had heard that there were blocks for sale around the Kate Street area, but when he went to inspect these, he found that there were only two blocks in the street available for sale. One was on the eastern side situated next door to the school on the top of the hill while the other was on the western side at the bottom of the hill.

Tom was enthusiastic about the block at the top of the hill because of the beautiful view it had. However, his wife reserved her opinion and declared that she wanted to have a look at the two blocks herself. So the next day, she walked around there to have a look and when Tom came home from work, she declared, ‘No way! You can buy the block on Sylvan Road, but not up there!’ She would be the one that would be pushing the stroller and carrying the groceries home, and there was no way she’d be carting them up the hill!

In his retirement years, Tom’s great source of pleasure was to sit in his squatter’s chair on the verandah, and watch the daily funeral processions make their way past his home along to the Toowong Cemetery. He would have his newspaper handy so he could look it up and see whether he knew the person about to be interred—and what religion they were! If it was a member of the Catholic Church, he would send for the children to come and stand erect beside him as a mark of respect, with hats off and the boys with a hand over their chest. He wasn’t so concerned about the Protestants in his midst. If he had gone ahead and bought on the top of the hill, this delight would not have been his.

When Tom’s son, William Ferris was to be married, Tom arranged for his block to be surveyed for re-subdivision. On 23 May 1939, the survey plan of allotment 102, which was a 16 perch block, was prepared and Mr Tom Ferris subsequently sold the allotment to his son, William ‘Bill’ Ferris. Sadly, Mrs William Ferris died, and later, Bill re-married. His second wife’s name was Mary. After she was widowed, Mrs Mary Ferris lived at 102 Sylvan Road until 2003.

Ferris house

102 Sylvan Road

Bill Ferris applied for permission to build his house on allotment 102 at a time when City Hall was in the final stages of a process of conducting a civic survey. This civic survey had been commissioned in 1934 when Alfred Jones became the Lord Mayor of the Brisbane City Council (BCC). One of his first acts as the new Lord Mayor was to re-institute a civic survey, which had almost completed when the City of Mackay and Other Town Planning Schemes Approval Act was passed in 1934. This act required elaborate definition of the area to be zoned and also required Ministerial approval of any town plan prior to publication in the Government Gazette. As result a new survey was instituted and R. A. McInnes was appointed on a part-time basis to prepare a new survey which would form the basis of ‘a living scheme’ to ‘shape, control and idealise the growth of Brisbane’. McInnes was appointed to the permanent staff as City Planner in April 1938. Eventually, the project was completed in May 1939 and zoning boundaries were defined thereafter.

Ferris_Blueprints_Sylvan_Rd_Subdivision_sml

Blueprints for subdivision

Thus, when Bill Ferris applied for permission to construct a house on the block, initially the BCC had reservations. It appears that under the BCC’s new Town Plan, which had to comply with the guidelines of the new Act, the block was considered too small to build a house on. Mrs Mary Ferris’ understanding was that this was the first time that the BCC was asked to approve the building a house upon a 16 perch block (probably in the Toowong area). It would seem that the difficulty resulted from the adoption of the new Town Plan. Lord Mayor Alfred Jones wrote a letter to the family (which Mrs Ferris still had) and proposed a truncation of the corner of the block. It seemed that permission to build on the 16 perch block was dependent upon the provision that the BCC be allowed to truncate the corner of the block. Lord Mayor Jones felt that truncation of all corners was necessary so that car drivers could have a better field of vision and thus prevent accidents. He could foresee that in future, car usage of the road would increase. This was done in this case and was probably the first truncation to occur in Toowong, and maybe even in Brisbane. In retrospect, it seemed that Lord Mayor Jones’ dream to introduce truncation all over the city of Brisbane did not eventuate. The reason is not hard to explain. The Jones’ administration used a financing strategy based upon debt, rather than rate increases which was electorally popular and the increasing levels of debt was causing significant disquiet in some quarters. The issue came to a head when war was declared and of avenues of debt raising through loans available to Council dried up completely. The Ferris family are of the opinion that their truncated corner was the first and probably the only one in Toowong – part of Alfred Jones’ grand vision for the future of the City of Brisbane, for which the necessary underlying financing was not forthcoming.

Bridget died in 1951 and Thomas died in 1954.

Mrs Mary Ferris was interviewed by Leigh Chamberlain on 25 February 2003.