by Leigh Chamberlain
The first block of freehold land was sold to Robert Cribb in December 1853. It was named Lang Farm in honour of John Dunmore Lang who brought out immigrants on the Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima as ‘Lang Farm’. At times it was leased to various people such as Mr Payne, Mr Adsett, and then later for a while by Robert Cribb’s son, William.
When Separation of Queensland from NSW was announced, Robert Cribb traveled to Sydney to escort Governor Bowen to Queensland prior to Governor Bowen’s taking up office as Queensland’s first governor. To ride out along the Moggill Road (now called Coronation Drive) to as far as Taringa was a favourite weekend pastime for Governor and Lady Bowen.

Robert Cribb is featured in TDHS’ logo

Toowong has been described very as ”an eclectic and interesting socio-economic and ethnic mix” and is widely regarded as a nice place to live. But in the late 19th Century, 19 year old Millias Culpin, the son of the Taringa doctor who had emigrated to Queensland and who had settled in Taringa with his family, wrote to a friend in England that Toowong was the place ‘where the nobs live’. Upon reflection one would have to agree that, while succinct in nature, this comment was at the time very apt.
It is one of the preferred areas where the socio-economic and political leaders of our state lived, such as T.E. White, of Mercantile Insurance, and his extended family; the East family; Hon. W.H. Wilson and his son W.F. Wilson, and their numerous descendants, the Mayne family, the Kibble family; the Darley and Armstrong families, including Government Printer Mr Belbridge, who had married into this family group; Mrs Mr & Mrs William Landsborough; William Richer and his family; Mr William Pears and his wife, son and daughter, and sister-in-law Miss Maria Carver; the sapsford family; Sir Ernest Savage; the Bennett family; the Morrows (of Morrows biscuits); and the Morrises of Morris’s Boot Factory). The Elliot family, stockbrokers, lived here, as did Commissioner Ryan, of the Police Force and the Macdonnell family.
Queensland premier Sir Thomas McIlwraith lived in the district. His residence Auchenflower gave the name to the subsequent suburb. His brother-in-law Sir Arthur Palmer was also a premier of Queensland and lived at Easton Gray, now the site of the Toowong Science Mathematics and Technology Academy (SMT Academy). A third premier of Queensland was Sir Robert Philp. Sir Robert and Lady Philp lived at Mallow on Kensington Terrace. The property and house was later donated to Brisbane Boys College by his daughter, Miss Ivy Philp. In 1969, Mallow was subsequently burned down.
Sir Arthur Fadden, a former Prime Minister of Australia and also Treasurer for numerous years, lived in Aston Street, and his home was built upon the site of the first Toowong State School (which later relocated to Kate Street).
Politically the district is of significance. Nigel Drury was elected as the first member for the newly created electorate of Ryan and held it for the Liberal Party for over 20 years. He became the Speaker of the Federal Parliament. Former alderman Denver Beanland became Brisbane’s Deputy Mayor and then ousted sitting MLA Earle Paige to become our state member. He subsequently held the office of Attorney-General.
The area, once a blue ribbon stronghold, is changing demographically. This is evidenced in the fact that Toowong became the electorate of state treasurer and Labor politician Andrew Fraser. Former Federal member for Ryan, Leonie Short was the first Labor politician to hold the Ryan electorate federally, being elected after John Moore, the former Liberal Party Defence Minister, resigned from parliament after a falling out with John Howard. Labor politician Ronan Lee changed political sides to become the first Green MLA to sit in the Queensland parliament.
In the history of early Queensland, many government heads of department lived either in the Toowong area or in nearby suburbs. These include Richard Langlar Drew, the first Shipping Master: William Leworthy Drew (Treasury Department); Ramsay Macdonnell (Education).
Citizens display an immense energy in establishing and supporting local community organisations, schools and churches. Brisbane Boys College, Sommerville College and the Anglican Grammar School all have their cradle in Toowong and its nearby district. There were several private schools as well, such as Linville; a private school operated “near to the Toowong Railway Station” by Mrs Williams and her daughter in ca. 1878; another school later operated at the Toowong Institute by Miss Althea Fewings, daughter of JB Fewings (headmaster of the school on Milton Road); and of course, the famous Miss Brown’s Kindergarten.
Wests Rugby Union Club is the crèche of many a Rugby career internationally; Toowong Senior Citizens Club was the first such organisation to be set up by Rotary International; and Toowong Bowls Club celebrated their century milestone in 2003, and before its closure in 2019, was the oldest affiliated bowls club in Queensland.
One of the suburb’s main streets was called Church Street, due to the fact that all the churches were either in it or just around the corner from it. The street was later renamed as Jephson Street, after Mrs Jephson, a widow who built Mallow, later purchased by Sir Robert Philp. One local wag said that ‘the affairs of Queensland were often settled while standing on the steps of St Thomas’s Anglican Church after service of a Sunday.’
With the strong historic link to Lang’s protestant activities, it is of no surprise that Temperance issues were on the political must-do list for a long time in Toowong. In the 1890s Sir Alfred and Lady Cowley were on the receiving end of a determined and concerted public campaign during a state election to prevent hotel hours being eroded by Temperance supporters. While one could espouse Temperance ideals, it didn’t do to be too impractical and local Temperance supporter William Winterford had to choose between his Temperance beliefs or a livelihood derived from operating the exclusive Regatta Hotel. Winterford family members were subsequently denied membership of the Temperance League, a fact that family bitterly regretted. (Temperance beliefs did not save William Winterford from alcoholism and ironically he died as a result of this affliction.) A hotel application for Taringa in the 1920s was defeated by petition, and Taringa has never had a hotel since the Robin Hood Hotel on Moggill Road burned down in around 1865-66.
Local Baptists ran foul of the Wests Rugby Union Club in the mid-60s when a complaint from them regarding Bingo being held on Friday night resulted in the Toowong police force conducting a raid. Many of the club’s elderly grandmothers either spent the night ‘locked up’ or had to apply for bail. Questions asked in parliament the next Monday brought uncalled for scrutiny upon the police force, and shortly after the policeman who called the raid received a punitive transfer out west.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

by Leigh Chamberlain

From the early 1860s West Toowong was initially known as the Broughton Estate, named in honour of Queensland politician Alfred Delves Broughton.

Alfred Delves Broughton’s career was initially as a stock and station agent and general merchant in Ipswich. Then he was appointed the police magistrate for Drayton and Toowoomba, which position he held from 1855 to 1860.

Prior to this, on 24th September 1851 a notice by E. Deas Thomson of the Colonial Secretary’s Office included in the New South Wales Government Gazette announced Broughton had been appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General to be Clerk to the Assistant Commissioner of Crown Lands at Sofala.

Broughton was elected in the Queensland 1860 colonial election for the first Parliament of Queensland as a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly. The first elections after Separation from New South Wales in 1859 for the Queensland Legislative Assembly were held between 27th April and 11th May 1860 across 16 electorates, with 26 MLAs elected. The electoral districts of The Town of Ipswich and of West Moreton were both multi-member electorates with three members elected for each seat.

Broughton represented the electoral district of West Moreton and he took office on 3rd May 1860 and served with George Thorn, William Nelson and Joseph Fleming (who was elected in a by-election on 9th July 1860). Parliament met for the first time on 22nd May 1860 in converted military and convict barracks in Queen Street, Brisbane. The term of the first parliament lasted until 20th May 1863.

Broughton resigned the seat of West Moreton on 21 December 1860 to take up the position of police magistrate in Drayton. Henry Challinor won the resulting by-election on 12 January 1861. By 1862 Broughton had moved to Ashfield, New South Wales, and was an estate agent.

Personal Life:

Broughton was born in England on 20 November 1826, the 15th of 18 children of Sir Henry Broughton and his wife Mary (née Pigott).

On 16 March 1858 Broughton married Clemence La Monnerie dit Fattorini at St James’ Church, Sydney, New South Wales. The couple had 2 sons and 2 daughters:

• Vernon Lamonnerie Delves (1859—1935)

• Dora Ethelind Lamonnerie (1861—1864)

• Mary Clemence (1862—)

• Ernest Clement Vermont (1865—1917)

Broughton’s religion was Church of England.

According to his biography on the Queensland Parliament website, Broughton died on 10 March 1895 in Sydney, New South Wales. However, Wikipedia claims he died in England on 10 March 1895 in Surrey, England.

The local streets of West Toowong

The Broughton Estate was one of the first subdivisions in the West Toowong area.

West Toowong is bounded to the east by Miskin Street, named after William Henry Miskin (1842-1913), the founding President of the Shire of Toowong in 1880. He was the President of the Royal Society of Queensland in 1890 and a member of the board of trustees of the Queensland Museum. He lived at Dovercourt, Sherwood Road until he left his wife and eloped with his servant.

Bywong Street is used as a major thoroughfare in West Toowong and the below 1904 map shows streets in its vicinity.

Map Source: Extracted from QSA Item ID 634549 Brisbane & Suburbs Street & Road A1A 1904

In 1904, Bywong Street was then named Grosvenor Street. Grosvenor Street may have been named for Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, KG, PC, JP (13 October 1825 – 22 December 1899), the 1st Duke of Westminster. He was known as the Marquess of Westminster. His titles were Viscount Belgrave between 1831 and 1845; Earl Grosvenor between 1845 and 1869; and 3rd Marquess of Westminster between 1869 and 1874. He was created the first Duke of Westminster, the most recent dukedom conferred on someone not related to the British royal family, and created by Queen Victoria, in 1874.

He was an English landowner, politician and racehorse owner. Although he was a member of parliament from the age of 22, and then a member of the House of Lords, his main interests were not in politics, but rather in his estates, in horse racing, and in country pursuits. He developed the stud at Eaton Hall and achieved success in racing his horses, winning the Derby on four occasions. Grosvenor also took an interest in a range of charities. At his death he was considered to be the richest man in Britain.

The street name ‘’Grosvenor’’ seemed to be still in use in 1944, and the change to ‘’Bywong’’ most likely occurred because of the Brisbane City Council’s policy of removing duplicate street names across Brisbane.

Bywong means ‘’Big Hill’’, and the word appears to be sourced from Bywong, a rural residential area in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia in the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council LGA. It is approximately 24 kilometres north-east of the Australian city of Canberra on the Federal Highway. It is also traversed by Macs Reef Road, Shingle Hill Way and Bungendore Road, the last two roads connecting Gundaroo and Bungendore. Its name is derived from an Aboriginal word for “big hill”.

Bywong Street adjoins Orchard Street to the north and Stanley Terrace to the south.

Bywong St, Toowong. August 1967. BCC archives. Accessed via Trove.


The street named Water Street is the short dead-end street that today borders the northern side of West Toowong Bowls Club. If required, Water Street enables WTBC access to its grounds from this end. The origin of the street name as Water Street is obvious as it ends at the water’s edge of the local creek. It may have had a small creek flowing along it in earlier times.

Two of the neighbouring streets on the western side of the West Toowong Bowls Club are Duke and Camp Streets.

The 1904 map shows Duke and Camp Streets running parallel to Bywong Street. There is a third street, named as Glower Street marked on the map, which also runs parallel to Grosvenor Street. Unlike Grosvenor Street, Camp and Duke Streets have retained their 1904 names to this day, but by 1905, Glower Street had morphed into Gower Street. The origin of this street name is also not known at this stage.

An old-time resident claimed that Camp Street was used in earlier times as a camp by drovers taking cattle across the district. There were at least 5 recorded drovers trails down from the Brisbane Valley through the foothills of Mt Coot-tha where the cattle was agisted before being taken along Milton Road and Sylvan Road to River Road, and thence to the cattle slaughter yards on the north side of Brisbane. The drovers then proceeded back to the Brisbane Valley to Nanango via Caboolture. This saga was captured in Sali Mendelsohn’s ballad Brisbane Ladies (or alternatively titled Augathella Station or Ladies of Toowong).

It was said that the streets in the area followed cattle trails. More information is not available, and the statement is based upon hearsay passed down from older residents.

However Toowong butcher William Land, of Lands Butchers, owned a 40 acre-sized holding paddock fronting Stanley Parade, Taringa. He also owned a property in Toowong (where Land Street is now located) close to his Sylvan Road Butchery premises. Prior to the 1900s William Land may have moved cattle through west Toowong between these two properties.

There was a dairy farm situated further towards the west that owned by the Dempster family. Dempster Street takes its name from the owners of the farm.

Duke Street was possibly named after Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Albert was the first member of the Royal Family to visit Australia in 1867, and did so during his ’round-the-world’ voyage. Stops were made at Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The Duke was shot by Henry James O’Farrell in an assassination attempt while picnicking on the beach in the Sydney suburb of Clontarf, on 12 March 1868. The Duke recovered fully and continued on to New Zealand seven months later.

If one looks closely at the above map, one note notices that Gower Street was marked as Glower Street. At this stage the source for this street name is not known.

Gower, Duke, Camp and Grosvenor Streets all run off Stanley Terrace, which runs along the top of the ridge from Miskin Street to Taringa where it adjoins Taringa Parade. Stanley Terrace is named after Brisbane architect Francis Drummond Stanley (1839-1897). Stanley had purchased a large property off Stanley Terrace and built a house upon it where he resided. He sold the property to Sir Arthur Palmer, and relocated to a house he built in Jephson Street called Ardencraig.

Sir Arthur Palmer retained Stanley to make modifications to the house, and to enlarge it. The property was renamed as Easton Grey. Later Palmer subdivided a large section of the land to form Mossman, Hunter and Palmer Streets. Today these streets all run downhill from Stanley Terrace to the vicinity of the current QSMT Academy.

The choice of street names are pertinent to the Palmer family history. Sir Arthur Palmer’s wife, Lady Palmer was Cecilia Jessie Mosman before she married. She was also the sister of North Queensland identity Hugh Mosman for whom the town of Mossman was named. Note how both the street name and the township’s name has erroneously acquired an extra ‘s’. Hugh Mosman lived at Easton Grey and continued to do so after the death of his brother-in-law, and later, his sister. He also agisted his racehorses here. ‘’Hunter’’ is Sir Arthur’s second name, named for his mother’s maiden name, Emily Palmer nee Hunter. Of course, the source of name of Palmer Street is self-explanatory.

Ecksleigh, a property bounded by Camp, Exmouth, Duke, and Market Streets, was owned by JB Fewing’s daughter, Ethel Charlotte Maud Munro Hull and her husband George Munro Hull, and included a farm. Later, the family moved to first to Dean Street, and then to Eumundi and operated a banana farm. It is possible that Camden, the property across the road from Ecksleigh, had been carved off the original Ecksleigh property. It is suggested that the street named Market Street is related to the farming activity in the area, and that Orchard Street’s name had the same origins.

When Exmouth Street was formed is still to be researched, and the origin of its name to be explained, as is the street name of ‘’Kapunda’’. Both may be the names of immigrant ships that carried immigrants to Australia, or have as yet unexplained associations to places elsewhere in Australia, such as Exmouth Gulf and Kapunda in South Australia.

Soudan Street’s name reflects the siege of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon. In 1884 Gordon was sent to the Sudan for the second time by the British government to evacuate Egyptian forces from Khartoum, which was threatened by the Mahdists, followers of Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahd. Reappointed governor-general, Gordon arrived in Khartoum in February. Khartoum came under siege a month later, and on Jan. 26, 1885, some 50,000 Mahdists, taking advantage of a gap in the ramparts along the White Nile and bursting through the Masallamiyyah Gate, stormed the city, overwhelming the defenders, and killed Gordon and the other defenders. The British public reacted to his death by acclaiming “Gordon of Khartoum” a martyred warrior-saint and by blaming the government for failure to relieve the siege. However, some biographers, such as the noted Lytton Strachey, have suggested that Gordon, in defiance of his government’s orders, had deliberately refused to evacuate Khartoum, even though evacuation was still possible until late in the siege.

Researched and written by Leigh Chamberlain.


Re-Member Database: Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 10 August 2023.

Wikapedia: (Australian_politician) retrieved 10 August 2023

NSW Govt Gazette, 108, p.1529 Friday, 26 September 1851·


Our Secretary Leigh Chamberlain was visiting Toowomba recently when she noticed a rocking horse in an antique store on Ruthven Street. On further inspection she discovered that it was made by Lou Peets, a name that was well known to the earlier children of West Toowong. In Leigh’s  words: “He made rocking horses in his factory under his house in Market Street. The bus stop was outside his house so kids would wander in and watch him while they waited for the bus to go to school.”

rockinghorseshed.Com describes Lou Peets as Australia’s third largest Rocking Horse manufacturer, 1915-1964. According to their site Lou Peets was a blacksmith who came to Australia from England. His shop was underneath his family home in Market Street, Toowong, near the corner of Duke St. Others have identified that it was near Billy Ireland’s house. After Lou died in 1964 his son Laurie and then his nephew, Syd, continued to make Rocking horses until 1972. It seems these rocking horses are still highly valued and valuable with restored horses being offered for sale for around $2000.


Photo Taken by Leigh Chamberlain October 2023

Leigh shared this story and photo on our Facebook page which elicited a huge response and was shared wide and far by other groups and individuals. There were lots of interesting comments with a few former connections reestablished between people. Many people had one of these rocking horses at one point in time and others had fond memories of watching Mr. Peets at work.

One woman, Heather, had lived across the road from Mr. Peets and had been “fascinated by his artistry”. Barry grew up living next door to Mr Peets and said “Under his house was a wonderland for a youngster like me who loved making things. Apart from the woodwork he did all his own leatherwork and metalwork. Such an inspiration! I became and still work as an engineer.”

Christina remembers him well, “we loved to sit on the horses and help out where we could, loved the smell of the sawdust that covered the floor under the house, the leather for the bridles & saddles, he would hang the horses from the hills hoist in the back yard after painting”.

Many people shared pictures of their rocking horses and there was an interesting discussion about the characteristics of a genuine Lou Peets horse and the differences in style between Lou, Lawrie and Syd’s designs. Katie was very knowledgeable and shared a few specific things that identified them:

Lou’s horses have rather square open mouths compared to many and the front swinging iron is approx 1” shorter than the rear from cleat to hoof rail (bend to bend). The shape of the front legs is also very different to other makers, they’re “flatter” in the angle of their front legs where the knees bend.  The pillar design is specific to him as well. Nephew Syd made the rumps in a flatter style he would also engrave a very subtle s on the underside somewhere.

Katie and Elizabeth shared details of an article about Lou from The Sunday Mail, Brisbane, November 24, 1929 which gives some interesting background about how Lou came to be making rocking horses under his house. The text is below.

Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1926 – 1954), Sunday 24 November 1929, page 23



THE Rocking Horse King! It is the nickname given him by his neighbours at Toowong. His real name is Peets, L. Peets, and he loves to carve in wood. Horse figures emerge — horses -with graceful, strong lines, with fluttering cow-hair manes and tails. He calls himself a toymakcr, a humble constructor of wooden rocking horses, but his use of hands and plane bespeaks the delicate touch of the real artist. And while he is creating his rocking horses for the Christmas shopping rush he likes to talk about the things he has seen and done — about industry, and the joy his rocking horses give to children.

Peets understand, is a cheerful fellow. His eyes are full of friendliness His mouth is a continuous pucker of amused admiration for life find sun light and children’s toys. His workshop, in the yard of his home, is little more than a tin shed, but his tools are sharp and his gift for carving in wood is there. What does the workshop matter? He declares, smilingly, that at Christmas time some 200 children in Queensland will be playing with his rocking horses — riding them to rescue fair maidens from turreted towers, tiny knees gripping their pic-bald withers. ”Yes, I only make rocking horses,’ he says. ‘But last year I made toys — many different toys. Tricycles and motor cars! Big and small ones. ‘All kinds of toys! But, now, no, they will not have my toys, only my rocking horses.’

Then if you are sympathetic he will tell you his story, a toy-maker’s story of a dream that was shattered against the concrete walls of commerce.  Back in Lancashire Peets’ parents make toys, and their parents before them made toys in the big factories that are there. Peets, however, did not like the sweated labour of the Lancashire mills and factories, and came to Australia in search of sunshine. He found it in Queensland, and obtained work as an engineer’s black smith. He worked hard, and saved, and at night time dreamt of starting a toy factory of his own in his adopted country.

Then came the war. He enlisted and served with the ‘Australian Imperial Forces. He was wounded and sent back to Australia. He made his home at Toowong under the shadow of the tree-covered slope of One Tree Hill, but his wound prevented him from seeking work in his old capacity. Again he dreamt of making toys. Then he made his dreams come true. With his small savings he bought timbers and started to make and carve wooden toys for children. He did fairly well, and built his factory — a spacious tin shed in the yard of his home. Children loved his piebald rocking horses with their fluttering cow-hair manes and tails, and gradually the big city firms heard of him and his wares.

The postman began regularly to bring him orders. He worked hard, some times well into the night, making rocking horses in an attempt to cope with the orders for more — at the price. And the more rocking horses he made the more orders came in. Peets was glad, and he employed labour. He worked with four assistants, making nothing but rocking horses for children. He continued to prosper, and at night to dream of owning a big toy factory — a factory that made many toys — mechanical toys — as well as carving rocking horses out of hunks of wood.

He talked with local business men, showed them samples of his toys, and, they too, became enthusiastic and dreamt, of sharing in the ownership of a big toy factory. They gathered together and formed a company, and Peets put his savings of £600 into the fulfilment of the dream. Machinery and electric motors were installed; his tin shed was enlarged almost to the size of his modest home. For many months his yard clattered with the activity of whirling wheels and flapping belts, and the buzz of timber be ing planed. Neighbours even complained about, the noise! Hundreds of pounds’ worth of toys were made. On paper the garden of toys was lovely. They were acclaimed as cheaper and better than those imported from America and the Continent. The shopkeepers and public alike were pleased with the samples submitted, and at least one big retail establishment took a considerable stock.

Then trade difficulties of one kind and another arose to block the expected developments. Distribution was more and more hampered, and, like other returned soldiers who had taken up this means of livelihood, Peets found himself baffled and beaten. Disappointed but not discouraged, Peets courageously returned to his first love, and restarted the making of rocking horses.

He is still a cheerful fellow. He is busy carving in wood; busy catering for the Christmas de mand for wooden chargers. The firms that would not or could not buy his mechanical toys now send him orders for wooden rocking horses, and he hopes by next year to have rebuilt his industry to such an extent that he will once again be working busily with, four assistants. ‘Children love to ride on my, rock ing horses!’ says Peets, while his cutting tool goes gently, ever so gently, over the graceful neck of what is to be a piebald pony.

Roy Hanson: My Toowong Business

In about 1947 Roy Hanson rented premises in High Street, Toowong and opened an electrical retailing business. This is his story:

I rented a shop off Miss Brownsdon and ran my business from here. It was an electrical retailing store, selling small appliances such as irons, toasters and stuff like that.

I also did electrical installations — doing light switches, household electrical repairs and wiring etc. The store was more a shopfront than a store, really — an electrical shopfront — and was more of a storeroom than a shop.

I don’t remember much about who else lived along that part of the street as it was so long ago. I don’t remember Miss Brown’s Kindergarten at all, so may be she had retired by then.

I did electrical work in the suburbs, particularly around the western suburbs. I remember I had a Morris Z utility and I went along to my jobs in this. Getting it up what is known as ‘Government Hill’ was difficult because it was so steep, and we went up it backwards!

I don’t have a lot of memories about the time because I was only there for a couple of years, and then I moved.

Thank you to Roy for this contribution given on 15 November, 2009

Brisbane General Cemetery ca 1889 courtesy SLQ

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. It’s 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.

For more information about the history of the Toowong Cemetery please visit Friends of the Toowong Cemetery.


Raymond Dart

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.

Raymond Dart

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.


Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 2, 1985, p. 436hNational Geographic, Volume 168, No. 5 November 1985.
Also the following webpages:
South African History online at   


Fond Memories of our family home

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

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

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

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

Toowong A Tram Ride from the past - books about Toowong by TDHS

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 a copy of Toowong: A Tram Ride from the Past, please see details on the Publications page.

Elizabeth Harpur Toowong Historical Society

When widowed with three small children, Elizabeth Bailey set out to earn a living and to provide for her family’s financial security. During her lifetime she displayed drive and a willingness to work hard; showed resourcefulness and initiative and was ambitious for her children.

Elizabeth Harpur Bailey (née Tabb) was the daughter of William Whitford Tabb, a Cornish mining engineer, and his first wife, Joanna Trevanna. Various records spell the name as ‘Harpur’ also as ‘Harper’ and ‘Harpeur’. Friends and relations of her generation gave her a pet name and to them she was known as ‘Birdie’. William had migrated to Australia from Cornwall where he managed a number of mines in Cobar. Prior to her marriage to William, Joanna had managed a guest house in Cobar where William had stayed.

Joanna having died, William Tabb re-married, to Mary Ann Johnson and, upon his retirement, bought a property on the northern bank of the Logan River which he called ‘Cornubia Park’, no doubt named after his family home in Cornwall. ‘Cornubia’ is Celtic for ‘Cornwall’ and the Tabb family, a prominent Cornish family from Wennap, Cornwall, held property in Cornwall called ‘Cornubia Park’. Today the suburb of Cornubia is part of the subdivision of the original property.


Elizabeth Bailey

Elizabeth married George Livingstone Bailey, one of ten sons of Southport pioneers Alfred George and Sarah Bailey (their only daughter not surviving childhood). He was a plumber by trade.

Little is known of Elizabeth’s childhood and life as a single woman. She lived and worked in Mitchell or on a property just outside. This is how she met George.

After their marriage, Elizabeth and George Bailey lived at Mitchell where their eldest son, William Whitford Tabb Bailey, was born here on 22 July 1913. George worked as a plumber for a few years there before the family moved to Brisbane in 1915. They had two other children, George Lenova Bailey (b. 25 November, 1915) and Edris Adelaide Bailey (b. 6 May 1918). Only sketchy details about this period are available to the family from this time.

Elizabeth and George settled for a time at Dutton Park and then re-located to Toowong where they lived at 109 Sherwood Road, not far from the then Salvation Army Hall. Sadly, George died of tuberculosis in 1921. Because he died while so young, not much is known by his children about his early life. He seems to have had difficulty finding congenial employment (no doubt exacerbated by the health problems he faced) but he was employed at one stage as a debt collector.

Her son-in-law Ron Archer points out that:

…Life wasn’t very easy for Elizabeth Bailey after she was widowed, as she was left to raise three very small children, aged eight, five and three. She had to battle on, mainly without help. Her eldest son William (known as ‘Bill’) assisted where possible and he had this weight on his shoulders from a very early age. There was no Widow’s Pension in those days, and Elizabeth had to become the breadwinner. While her husband had taken out a life insurance policy, it wasn’t enough to live on, so Mrs Bailey decided to open her own business. She successfully ran a real estate business in Toowong for many years which, as well as bringing up her family, was no mean feat.

Mrs Bailey initially entered into a real estate partnership. The business was located in premises in an arcade situated in the front of the Jubilee Picture Theatre which fronted Jephson Street, Toowong. Later this site became the BP service station in Sherwood Road, Toowong but this has now been demolished. Elizabeth moved her family from the house near the Salvation Army in Sherwood Road to 109 Sherwood Road. This was a large, grand old Queenslander converted into five mainly self-contained flats (with two toilets downstairs). She herself lived in one of the flats. Although it was only a relatively small flat, she took in Ada, her older widowed sister who had lived in Vera Street. The other sister Nell lived next door in a house fronting Warrawee Street. At one time, after she had married, her daughter Edris (along with husband Ron Archer) also lived in one of the flats.

When her real estate partnership broke up, she decided to shift her business office out of the arcade and she transferred her business operations to her residence at 109 Sherwood Road, where she turned the front room into an office, and ran her business from here. In addition to sales, Mrs Bailey’s business offered a property management service which included collecting rent. She traded under her own name, ‘E. H. Bailey’, and she was the first local real estate agent in Toowong. It was not until some time after World War II that suburban real estate agencies started to become established.

Elizabeth Bailey set about securing her family’s long-term financial security by developing an investment property portfolio, and in the process showed great shrewdness and business acumen. By the time she retired, the Bailey family owned a significant investment property portfolio in Toowong, with at least six properties identified (including the house at 109 Sherwood Road). All of the titles were bought as joint-tenants, as she placed her children’s names on the title deeds. Two of her children Bill and Edris, with their respective spouses, bought their family homes from properties which were part of this portfolio.

All of Elizabeth Bailey’s children are now deceased, and of her children’s spouses, only her daughter Edris’s husband Ron Archer is still alive. Her daughter-in-law Pat Bailey died just recently. She is survived by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Both Pat and Ron referred to their mother-in-law as ‘Mrs Bailey’, a reflection of a time of more formality in inter-personal relationships than at present when people are more likely to be on a more informal first-name basis with their in-laws. Ron and his sister-in-law Pat were interviewed in 2003 and their memories about Elizabeth not only reveal interesting facets of her personality but also the depth of the respect and fondness that her children’s spouses have for their mother-in-law.

Ron (who was also in real estate) recalls:

Mrs Bailey was very ambitious for all of her children and she did all she could to assist them. My wife used to learn music from a music teacher who lived near Toowong State School in St Osyth Street.…She also learned Art of Speech.

My mother-in-law had shares in Blocksidge and Ferguson…Because of these shares she had a close association with the company. Her family had some shares too…and I attended a few of their Annual General Meetings on behalf of the family.

Mrs Bailey persuaded Bill to stand (I think Bill was reluctant) as an Independent candidate for the Ward of Toowong in the Brisbane City Council election. Although he did not win the ward, he had the highest vote of any independent in that election, so he was well supported and therefore did not forfeit his deposit! The Bailey family was well-known and it was felt generally that Bill would have made a good alderman and would do a good job if he was elected.

With a view to retiring, Mrs Bailey bought a block of vacant land on the corner of Dean and Elizabeth Streets. She built two two-bedroom maisonettes on it and lived in one and let the other. Later she bought the very old colonial cottage next door, the total land (including what had been a tennis court at the back) fronting Dean Street.

Pat Bailey (who married Bill) during WWII adds these memories:

When I first knew her, she operated her office in her house in Sherwood Road…My sister-in-law Edris, who later became Mrs Archer, used to do quite a lot of the work for her.

I had been training as a nurse in the General Hospital but, in those days, if you got married, you had to leave. I wasn’t very happy as a nurse so I wasn’t at all sorry to leave. Some months after I left, a law was brought in that, if you married a soldier, you simply had to go on with your training — but I didn’t finish my training! However, my mother-in-law, who was really very clever at this sort of thing, got me a job in the Taxation Department, so I worked there for the rest of the war. Bill’s mother was very resourceful!

[She] was indeed a very resourceful lady — she would let nothing beat her! She was very, very keen on politics. She belonged to the Queensland Women’s Electoral League (QWEL) and whenever there was an election, she used to go and help, and so on. She was, in fact, the first female member of the REIQ.

She was very good at managing. She could manage anybody’s life — and she did! I found that a little bit difficult to get on with but many years later, I became very fond of her. As a matter of fact, in 1953, Bill stood for the council election as an independent. His mother, of course, supported him in that and quite a lot of the people who had previously supported the Liberal party, came over and supported him. I did a trek all around Toowong knocking on people’s doors…I was a bit scared about the door knocking but I did it anyway. We apparently got quite a lot of votes. Bill didn’t get in…Anyway, we did well enough and Bill didn’t lose his deposit. That was when my mother-in-law and I became real friends — I realised what a fine woman she was.

Elizabeth Bailey passed away in March, 1956.

Plaque honouring Elizabeth Bailey

Plaque honouring Elizabeth Bailey

On 14 March 2012 the Toowong and District Historical Society placed a plaque honouring Mrs Bailey’s achievements at 109 Sherwood Road, Toowong, and Mrs Bailey’s descendants were invited to attend.

Afterwards, Mrs Bailey’s son-in-law, the late Mr Ronald Archer hosted TDHS members and guests to morning tea at the Toowong Uniting Church, the church attended by Mrs Bailey when she was alive.


Ron Archer, Elizabeth Bailey’s son-in-law and Pamela Bennett, Chair REIQ