Brisbane General Cemetery (aka Toowong Cemetery)

The Brisbane General Cemetery’s picturesque setting maintains the visual allusion of the Victorian concept of a mortuary park on the outskirts of the city. After a sizable portion of land was set aside for cemetery purposes at Toowong in 1861, the appropriateness of the site at Toowong for the purpose of a General Cemetery was an issue contested for the next two decades. Its isolation and doubts about the suitability of its site, with a lack of access and public transport, fuelled dissent and debate while the public continued to use the cheaper, more accessible familial grounds at Paddington.

The State government passed the Cemetery Act in 1866 providing the means to establish general cemeteries under the control of government appointed trustees. In 1868, a further portion of Crown land, 53 acres in area, north of the cemetery reserve was added to fulfil of the Trustee’s requirement for the entire cemetery to be surrounded with public roads. The reserve was gazetted and the Cemetery Trust established in October 1870. The grounds at the Cemetery were laid out by the prominent surveyor, George Phillips and the Cemetery was officially opened on 5 July 1875.

The first burial here was that of Colonel Samuel Wensley Blackall (1 May 1809-2 January 1871), an Irish soldier and politician who served as Queensland’s second Governor. He served from 14 August 1868 until he died while in office. As his health was declining, in 1870, he selected the highest burial site at the new Toowong Cemetery. Shortly after, he died in office on 2 January 1871. His memorial is the largest and most prominent in the cemetery with commanding views of the city and surrounds.

Between Governor Blackall’s burial and the official opening of the Cemetery, there were six burials. The next interment was Ann Hill, wife of Walter Hill, superintendent of the Botanical Gardens on 2 November 1871. Thomas and Martha McCulloch were buried in November 1873, Teresa Maria Love on 16 March 1875 and Florence and Ethel Gordon on 4 July 1875.

The distinctive Cemetery gates are an example of the Victorian concept of a mortuary park and were designed by F.D.G. Stanley, who later resided in Church (now Jephson) Street, Toowong. The gates were erected in 1873-74.

Just inside the gates is the Temple of Peace. This memorial was erected by Richard Ramos as a memorial to his four sons, three of whom had died in WW1. Victor Ramos died at Messines, his brother Henry died of wounds in Belgium, and the youngest son, Gordon was killed at Gallipoli. An adopted son, named Fred, was killed in an accident in 1923. Ramos’s grief was so profound he designed and built the temple for his sons in 1924, and also for the family dog which was poisoned.

 

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   

 

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.

Recollections of Toowong Hardware in the 1950s and 60s

Martin Maguire

I have attempted to recall aspects of Toowong Hardware store owned and operated by my father, Alan Maguire, in the 1950s and early 1960s. After 50 years, my memory is far from clear. Apart from providing a snapshot of a Toowong business of yesteryear, I have presented an analysis of three important innovations during this time which have revolutionised the industry until this present time. I hope to prompt the memories of some of those who may have had dealings with or recollections of the store at that time. Those who remember ‘the way that it was’. With their input our understanding of the underpinnings of the present Toowong business precinct may be better understood.

My father was a metallurgist who worked in the steelworks in Port Kembla in NSW during the war years. After the war ended in 1945, he moved back to Brisbane with his new wife, Jean, and two young sons (Adrian and Martin). He took residence in the family home at Highgate Hill. There he worked in the air-conditioning industry, and then for the company which was the distributor of Kelvinator refrigerators. Within a year or two of shifting to Tarragindi in 1951, he made the  decision to go into partnership with my mother in his own business. By now three other children had joined the family (David, Helen and Judith).

From memory, my mother never took part in the actual hands on running of the business, so my (natural) understanding was that it was my father’s business. Only now while researching this account, did I notice that the photo of the sign outside of the Sherwood Road store was styled ‘AE & JE Maguire’s Toowong Hardware’. Forgive me then for using ‘he’ and ‘my father’ as the proprietor in the following account.

Toowong Hardware: Toowong Hardware was an existing business which came all stocked up and ready to run. It was operated by my father in three locations in Sherwood Road and Jephson Street, Toowong in the 1950s and early ’60s. Dad commuted each day to Toowong via Rocklea and Sherwood Road across the Walter Taylor Bridge. First of all he did this in his 1940s Wolseley 6 motor car and then later by his three-wheel Lambretta motor scooter, with a tray in the front to carry goods.

Lambretta colour

The Lambretta motor scooter with passengers

The original and largest store was located on the south-eastern corner of Sherwood Road and Jephson Street, hemmed in by a Shell Garage. The site was leased to him by the Shell Oil Company. When the lease expired and Shell took over the whole corner site, the business relocated to the opposite side of Sherwood Road to premises owned by a Mr Gittoes. Finally, as business declined further, Toowong Hardware moved to quite small leased premises in Jephson Street within the Jubilee Theatre building.

J. Caldwell Hat Factory

Eris Jolly’s aunt, Miss Dorothy Neal, came to Toowong in the 1930s to work for the Caldwell family who operated a hat factory.

Eris provided the following information about her aunt’s time of employment at the hat factory.

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Dorothy Eastaway (nee Neal) in 1938

My aunt, Dorothy Neal was born in 1904, and came to Brisbane with her parents and siblings from Blackbutt in 1920. They settled at Rode Road, Nundah. Dorothy was apprenticed as a milliner with the firm of Pettits in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

Dorothy later moved to Overells Department Store which was also in the Valley — though it may have been known as Whincups Department Store, as I know the family were friends of Mr and Mrs Whincup.

Dorothy’s father was appointed as the caretaker of the Orient Line building and as a comfortable residence on the top floor was provided for him and his family, in 1930 her parents, along with their two daughters, Dorothy and Joan, moved from Nundah to a flat on the seventh floor of the Orient Line building in Eagle Street, City. Dorothy sought to change her employment to a closer position and she moved to Toowong to work for Caldwell Millinery, where she stayed until she married Wiliam Eastaway in September, 1938.

Dorothy was the ‘Head Girl’ and was in charge of the factory. She travelled by train from Central Station every day to her place of work. Her husband, William Eastway, worked as a porter at Central Station.

J. Caldwell Hat Factory was located just outside the Toowong Railway Station in River Road, Toowong. The Caldwell’s residence was situated in Coronation Drive, between Booth Street and Paradise Avenue, next door to the Brisbane City Council sheds. It was on high stumps and looked over the river. Mr and Mrs Jas. Caldwell had two children, a girl named Elsie and a boy whose name I don’t recall, and who both died of lead poisoning in the early 1930s. I know that Elsie died in 1931.

Eris thought that this was why Mr and Mrs Caldwell grew so fond of her aunt and she said:

The death of the couple’s children from lead poisoning was very sad. They were young adults when they died, aged in their early twenties. They kind of adopted my aunt, who became very close to Mr and Mrs Caldwell, and they came to regard my aunt’s family as a substitute family. They were very good to my aunt.

I have a signet ring, with an ‘E’ on it, which my aunt gave it to me when I was a child. It belonged to Elsie and Mr and Mrs Caldwell gave it to my aunt when their daughter died. Because my name starts with an ‘E’, my aunt gave it to me.

Eris shared this special memory of Mr and Mrs Caldwell from when she was a child:

Mr Caldwell drove a car and on the occasional Sunday would drive Dorothy to visit my mother (who was her sister) and father and our family at Eagle Junction. My mother’s name was Rene and my father’s name was George Bond. My father worked for the Queensland railways. My mother was the eldest in her family of five girls and one boy. Cars were a novelty to us children as we certainly did not own one and sitting on the running board to have our photograph taken would have been the nearest we ever got to travelling in one.

Jolly, Eris_family_in_carThe accompanying photograph was taken in 1935 or early 1936; my Aunt Dorothy sitting in the driver’s seat; my mother, Rene in the passenger seat; her brother-in-law, George Bond (who was my father), leaning on the bonnet and Mr Caldwell (or ‘Jimmy’ as he was called) being the photographer. There were seven children in my family, one being born after this photograph was taken. My eldest brother must have scampered off to visit a mate the Sunday morning this was taken. I am the girl in the middle, sitting on the running board. The original of this photograph has been donated to the John Oxley Library.

Recently, while she was visiting the John Oxley Library, Eris had a half hour to spare, so she decided to consult the Post Office Directories to research the entries for Caldwell Millinery and for the Caldwell’s residence.

These are her findings:

In the Post Office Directory for 1934, commencing at the Regatta Hotel and going towards Toowong, the entries read (with the original spelling and punctuation as is): ‘Regatta Hotel; Robinson A. Mtr. garage & ser. Station; Paradise Ave.; Barr Alex.; Caldwell Jas.; City Council sheds; Dunn Ben J.; Henderson Mr. M.; Booth Street; Toowong Swimming Baths.; Railway Station.’

Then Eris checked the entry for the hat factory in the 1936 Post Office Directory for Sherwood Road, and it read: ‘Right from Railway Station: Toowong Post Office; Cmth Bank; Amor Hat Co., Hat mfrs.’

To Eris, this 1936 entry came as a complete surprise, so now she ponders several possible explanations. Did the death of their children cause the Caldwells to sell out to the Amor Hat Company, and continuing on as managers? Or did they decide to limit the liability of their business in the event of possible failure in these times of depression by restructuring the firm to create a company? If so, were they the only shareholders?

Whatever the circumstances were, Eris is definite that her aunt worked at a hat factory which was located next to the Railway Station and also that her aunt worked there at the factory for the Caldwell family until she married in 1938.

Consequently, Eris feels that further research is needed, whether in the trade directories, the phone books of the time and in the Post Office Directories, to answer these questions. She concluded her covering letter by saying, Maybe at some future time, when time permits, I will complete the research, for my own satisfaction.

Then the whole history of the Caldwell family and their millinery factory will be known!

Thank you to Eris Jolly for providing this contribution, written on 17 May 2008 and published in 2008 by the Toowong and District Historical Society in ‘Toowong: A Tram Ride from the Past’, p.24. 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.

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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.

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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).

Christmas at the Walker and Roberts households

The Walker and Roberts families lived next door to each other in Sylvan Road, Toowong. Cecily Walker moved to here with her parents in 1929, while her cousin Erl Roberts and his family, didn’t come to live there until the 1940s. Erl was born about 15 years after Cecily.

When Erl and Cecily were interviewed in 2003, Erl provided the following memories of how his family celebrated Christmas during his childhood (from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s). Erl remembers:

I can remember the ice cream—people considered it a treat to obtain ice cream but there was no way of keeping it without freezers. We eventually bought a big flash refrigerator called a ‘Silent Night’. It had a freezer and then, of course, Mum could make ice cream. You could buy a cardboard cup of ice cream like Peters from the shop next door and take it home. You couldn’t buy chicken commercially like it is now. It was something you had at Christmas and Easter.

We used to go to Maroochydore. My grandparents on Mum’s side, the Smiths, had a little house they owned at Maroochydore and so Mum and Dad had the old Chev ‘ute’ (which we covered in at the back for holidays) and we’d take most of the baggage up there. We used to stop at Burpengary on the way up to have a cup of tea and a break.

We used to go up there every Christmas and every Easter with a couple of chickens on the running board—that was Christmas dinner! At the time, chicken was a luxury and you only had it at Christmas and Easter. [Cecily says: We all looked forward to that chicken twice a year.] The same with ice-cream — you only had it at Christmas and Easter. Mum used to make ice-cream, but prior to that, we used to buy it from the shop.

Elaine_Roberts_with_chooks

Elaine Roberts and the backyard chook pen

Dad used to kill the chooks, then we would pluck them, clean them—and those sort of things! Dad used to get young chicks and fatten them up for Christmas and Easter. Of course, I used to give them all names and got to love them all—nurse them and everything. And then the time would come! ‘You can’t kill Susie!’; ‘You can’t kill Betty’ and ‘You can’t kill Sebastian’. And he’d have to go and buy a chook! He spent all those months fattening them up and then he had to go and buy one! Uncle Dick used to buy the chickens from the Chinese market gardener down at Sylvan Road. You could buy ducklings from him and day-old-chicks.

An article featuring Erl Roberts and Cecily Walker’s memories of Toowong titled Cousins Share Memories of Toowong 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.14.

To order see details on the Publications page.