Botanical Gardens Talk by Ray Seward

Ray Steward came to Brisbane in 1967 and was appointed as Assistant Parks Manager BCC, and then as Parks Manager from 1970 to 1992. Ray had had previous experience working at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and the Albury City Council Parks Department.

After 25 years, he retired in 1992, and became a volunteer guide at Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha.

The following memories of working at the Gardens were presented by Ray to the members of the Toowong and District Historical Society in 24 September 2010. He also shows photos of the gardens on a Powerpoint display.

Ray begins his talk by thanking Guest Speaker Programme Organiser Bruce Sinclair for inviting him to share his memories, and commenting that he had enjoyed the earlier discussion on aspects of Toowong’s history.

Thank you for having me here… and [it’s] great to hear all that history about the Toowong area. I’m only going to talk about the history that goes back to the beginning of the new botanic gardens at Mt Coot-tha.

I can’t do it without saying a little bit about myself and telling you a little bit about where I came from.

I came here in 1967 as the assistant manager to the Parks Department in the City Council. Of course, the Greater Brisbane City existed in those days and I knew nothing about all the councils that were amalgamated. I knew they had been amalgamated, but I knew nothing about it and the job I held was virtually in charge of the operation of the Parks Department; now I held that job for 3 years.

1970 came. The manager that was there left and I became the manager and I stayed the manager for a long time

…For the last 20 years I have been retired, but I have still been interested in the Botanic Gardens because I’m a volunteer guide at the gardens and make it my business to know what’s happening in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha.

Now let’s go back to 1970. In the [Brisbane City] Council, Clem Jones was the then Lord Mayor. The Botanic Gardens in the City was a functioning botanic gardens and the curator was Harold Caulfield.

Harold was one of my staff…and Harold and I talked about a new botanic gardens and never got real serious until the politicians of the day—in fact Clem Jones was the only one that did really show any interest. Politicians of the day decided to let out feelers that we’d have a new botanic gardens.

So we got busy and persuaded the operation to start a new botanic gardens and the first thing that happened—well, there had been moves to make a second botanic gardens in Brisbane at Long Pocket, but that happened many years before when Harry Oakman—do you know Harry Oakman? Have you heard about Harry Oakman? He was director of Parks and Gardens or the manager of parks and gardens for a long time after the war—he was interested in starting a new botanic gardens. But the system was never able to support it and it never happened—and that was to be at Long Pocket.

We actually tried…we put Long Pocket in the system again in the 70s and said, well this is a good site… here is another site. And the site that was chosen was the one at Mt Coot-tha.

‘Coot-tha’ means ‘Honey Bee’—and that’s a honey bee hive that’s being referred to. They are native bees and they don’t sting and they produce honey. The current curator Ross McKinnon has introduced a lot of hives into the gardens.

When the garden first started, it was opened in 1970. We know it was open then because that plaque was unveiled by Clem. I haven’t got a photo of that here today. Now on the rear of that plaque—has anyone ever seen the stone?

Audience: ‘No’

No, I know you haven’t—it’s still there, but it has actually been turned around and put back in and with shrub, with another shrub and trees close by, and you can hardly see it for trees and plants. And that’s what happens to signs in public places when somebody gets re-inventive and they put up another sign, and the other one goes.

But this one is still there. On the rear of this sign there is another plaque with all the names of the citizens of Brisbane that were on a committee that was formed that worked to support the start-up of the new botanic gardens and there were judges and aldermen and judges… I read the names last night so I could remember who they were, but I can’t remember the judge’s name….

There was a landscape architect who lived around this area somewhere by the name of Barbara van den Broek[i]. She went down to Sydney subsequently and worked down there. There was Harold Caulfield and there was me… and that committee met a few times, and we actually had a master plan done of the gardens.

Ray referred to a photo on his Powerpoint presentation, and said:

This is an early aerial photo of the gardens. The master plan was drawn by a man named Dean Miller. Dean Miller was the landscape architect in my department and he drew the master plan. And the actual plan, the design and functioning of the gardens as you see it today is still that master plan. And the master plan included the quarry over the back and it also included Anzac Park. Anzac Park became the first part of the garden that was developed.

I don’t have any photographs of Anzac Park. You will just have to look at this one for a minute while I tell you about Anzac Park. I know you want to know this story…I want to tell it anyway.

…we started work in Anzac Park; we put the roads in; we took out the house; we took out the scout den; and we built a big nursery. It was a very modern first class nursery of that day. Dean Miller, who designed that nursery had worked in England—he’d worked at Kew Gardens and at a lot of nurseries and he knew what he was doing. It was one of the best designed little nurseries of that time. It was the best, there is no doubt.

A member of the audience commented: ‘We had [the smell of] the straw and flies …we lived just down the hill.’ Ray replied, I’ll tell you about the flies later, just remind me, and then continued:

When the nursery was operating, it had a line of glass houses; it had an outdoor area; and a big potting shed—it was right where the dog park is now. It was a great little nursery. However, in the early days of developing Anzac Park as a garden, the plan included a tunnel under the Western Freeway… that’s not unusual for a garden to have a tunnel under a big freeway; it’s been done in other parts of the world and we were keen to do it and Main Roads were ready to do it.

Anyway, one Friday afternoon—this is the start of history, this is—one Friday afternoon Clem Jones said, ‘I want to meet you’. And I met him on the corner of Wool and Dean Street and we had a plan on the front of his car—and there was me and another officer. And he said, ‘why are you developing Anzac Park?’

I, well, I was, you know, an officer—er, does anyone know Clem Jones? I was just one of these junior officers—I don’t know what I said, but we immediately stopped work on developing ANZAC Park. That park never went back into the plan for development.

Subsequently it has been developed into another park—quite a good one. But we would have liked the nursery to stay as the nursery. It was taken down in the 80s when the economic rationalists, accountants in other words, got control of the council and it was costing too much. You could do it another way! You couldn’t do it other ways! I wasn’t the manager by that time; I’d been given another job.

[Showing photo of the sign]: Dean Miller designed the frontage and designed that sign—after Dean was here for 5 years, he went down to Wollongong council as director of parks there, and was involved in the Wollongong Botanic Gardens. If you go to Wollongong Botanic Gardens you will see the same sign. It’s got ‘Wollongong’, but it’s exactly the same: it’s a replica. That doesn’t exist anymore—it’s changed.

[Next group of photos:] That was the entrance in the early days. There’s the entrance now—much more classy, isn’t it? I think it is anyway. The palms were planted by the volunteer guides actually some 20 years ago.

A member of the audience asks: ‘Do you know if the council kept the old sign?’ Ray answers: No it was completely destroyed—that was one of the signs of the day. The standard wasn’t too good—that one was exceptional in those days.

A member of the audience asks: ‘When was the planetarium built?’ Ray answers: The planetarium was built from day one of the gardens—the planetarium went in—one of the early things that went there.

Referring to a photo on the Powerpoint display, Ray says:

That’s one of our rainforest walk signs, and you’ll notice young trees and mulch in behind. That’s part of the Australian rain forest which is just inside the gate on the right hand side.

The first curator of this garden was named Barry Dangerfielfd and he remained in the gardens for 5 years. Barry was a single man who lived in the gardens. He was a very dedicated horticulturalist and a very dedicated man for the botanic garden and he was quite a cultured gentleman. You’ll see him later on. I will show you a photograph of him.

Showing another photo, Ray explains:

That’s early construction and early planting of the gardens included the development of the pathways using granite crushed granite and concrete mix dry and spread and rolled and that’s how these paths were built. Those paths are still there and are the basis for the bitumen sealed paths that are still in the gardens.

[Showing another photo]: Another scene of the Australian rainforest area. The bamboos were just about endemic to that area, but they were planted by one of the families—we say they were planted by the Watkins Family, but whether they were or not, that could be fiction. We don’t know, but they are not native; they were put there. The story is they were put along the creek at shade for the local kids who went swimming in the creek, in that creek there.

Comment from the audience: ‘There are more down at Anzac Park.’ Ray replies: Yeah…it could be that they just spread down. A whole lot was done, but I can’t remember which mayor it was done under. I don’t know that story. I can’t remember it off hand.

Referring to the next set of photos, Ray continues:

Ok, now, that’s at the opening of the auditorium and the administration building on the 28th of June 1975. Five years have moved on from 1970, and in that photograph Clem Jones and the man with his finger pointing is Barry Dangerfield.

Ian Brusasco is the man with the European look and he was fairly supportive of what we were doing—he was our chairman later on. Without Clem Jones, that garden would never have existed because for the whole Lord Mayoralty he was supportive of the garden and what we did. And at his memorial service Ian Brusasco mentioned the fact that Clem had built this garden, and I think that this was a very significant thing. Clem was very much involved—not from the day-to-day action of what we did, but as a policy he supported the idea.

[Next photo]: The Administration Centre: now that’s changed a lot—now there is a herbarium up behind that—another big building.

The planetarium was under construction, finishing up on—I don’t recall the date of the opening of the planetarium, but it was fairly close to ‘75. It looks a lot different.

This entrance Information Centre was built from day one. For many years it had a council officer in that Centre and 20 years ago the volunteer guides started both at the City Botanic Gardens and at Mt Coot-tha. They started manning this particular building and they are there every day except Christmas Day and at Easter, I think—they are the only 2 days there’s nobody there.

Ross McKinnon came in the 80s, but before Ross Mckinnon, Barry Dangerfield. I’ll keep talking about each one of them as we go for a while.

Ross came in the Gardens in 82, and Ross is still there. He’s been Curator for a long time and what we see up there now is result of Ross’s work. [Showing photo]: That’s him there in the tie if you know him…

Audience: ‘Who’s the fellow in the pink shirt?’

Ray replies:

I don’t know! I think the guy with the shorts on is still working there—he’s the only other one I know. The others, I’m not familiar with them, but remember I was Ross’s boss in those days. We had a staff of 300 to 400 depending on what day it was.

The plan for the gardens was divided into zones of the gardens. And this is one of the first zones [showing another Powerpoint slide]: Australian rainforest area which I showed you earlier. [Showing another slide]: This Fragrant Gardens is one of the second areas that we planted—it’s all fragrant plants, and incidentally, a lot of the fragrant plants are all the same plants they used for herbs and medicinal purposes and has been the case for a 1000 years. I say 1000 because 500 years seems a bit short!

[Showing another slide]: This is the fragrant lawn and in behind here is a little water feature that was designed by Dean Miller and it no longer exists. Lovely, isn’t it? But it was just attached to the mains water. There was no pump or anything and water was just running away and it started to leak, so Ross got rid of it. I think it’s got plants in it now.

[Showing another slide]: The exotic rainforest: the big area of the first part of the garden was an exotic rain forest. See the sort of country that is. Now to develop that as a garden, what Barry did—because he supervised all this—Barry Dangerfield supervised the early part, put in the tracks following the contours, cleared some of the site of trees because in those days the usual way to plant rainforest was to plant them under something. Very soon after we started this, that method—we soon discovered—it was not necessary to plant rainforest species under the shade of other things. And nowadays it’s not done. The rainforest goes in, and off they go—but this is where your problem with flies arises.

One of the things we used to do—we used to gather organic matter, no matter where it came from, and a lot of it was sewage sludge. It was spread on the ground in all these places and not little thin layers. It was mulch and the mulch in all these areas was put in that thick. We cultivated it as best we could and then used thick mulch—and part of the mulch was the sewage sludge. And in time, with sewage sludge, were the flies.

And we would get inordinate complaints about the flies, and we would treat the area, and I think it did get rid of the flies. [To member of the audience: Did it get rid of flies in the 80s? Audience: ‘I can’t remember. I can remember before my kids were born, they were pretty bad. Someone said they ripped the straw from the stables full of cow and horse manure and urine and sometimes, you could smell it.]

Ray continues:

It wasn’t decomposed. It was just spread on the ground. You’ll just have to wait till it all breaks down’. Did we say that to you? He was an old hard case type who didn’t mince his words. Said you just have to wait till it all breaks down—we call it ‘tough love.’

One incident in particular—a real bad incident—I was going in my car up Mt Coot-tha and I had an accident in my car chasing these wretched flies.

Anyway, that’s what we used to do—that was our process for getting those gardens underway. It was Brisbane schist on that side of the hill. In fact, it’s all Brisbane schist—probably the poorest country in Brisbane to try and grow anything.

[Showing another slide with a photo from the Powerpoint presentation:] That’s taken in the same spot [as the previous photo]—so you can make a difference, can’t you?

Audience: ‘Crystal Creek…that’s what the locals call that creek. Crystal Creek’. Ray: I’ve never heard that name. Person in audience: ‘Some people have told me that. Ray: You could be right.

Ray shows the next few slides and provides a brief explanation about each:

Right, continuing up the hill from that last photograph, we get to the exotics, then through the exotic rainforest, and there’s a lookout. That was the original lookout designed by Dean Miller and built by Works Department engineers, and it no longer exists because there’s another lookout higher up the hill associated with the big lookout at the top of the hill.

[Next slide:] And it looks like that now—there’s no lookout; there’s trees all around.

[Next slide]: Another spot in the rainforest area. One of the things that Barry Dangerfield did was to build features in the creeks. These creeks were like that top one on the middle right going up the hill, and [next slide:] that’s what they look like naturally. They’ve been cleared a bit. All the creeks were augmented with rock features all the way up and the water reticulated back down.

Keep your eye on that white stone here [pointing to stone]—just keep your eye on that one. [Showing next slide:] That’s what it looks like now.

And you can see that more stone has been put in—the quarry being next door was a wonderful asset. If we’d had to pay to cart stone long distances, then it would have made it a very much more costly job.

[Next slide:] This is the site of the Dragon Bridge just below the exotic garden.

Now this area looks nothing like what you see there now. That was a wooden bridge that went in, and that palm (pointing out a palm tree)—you will see a dual palm in front of the truck that was moved by Barry Dangerfield very early in the life of the gardens from the university—they had it. It was a rare palm and it’s still there.

That’s below the Dragon Bridge.

[Re next slide:] That’s the Dragon Bridge completed, and that palm is on the left-hand side there.

On the right-hand side of that now is a huge fig tree—no, that’s not it! That’s what the creek augmentation stone looked like in the early days. There’s the Dragon Bridge now in 2005.

[Re next slide:] Now that’s Barry Dangerfield—Barry was very interested in singing and when he died several years ago, we suddenly discovered he’d written poetry, and some of his friends put his poetry together in a volume which I’ve got at home and I must get it out. He did write some poems while he lived at the gardens and they’re about the gardens. I must get them out. I should let people hear them.

That’s one of the features of the waterfall—of the rock treatment of the waterfall. It’s there still working like that. One of the features we were pleased with was the water system that was installed in this garden.

Many gardens have water systems installed that break down—and never go again. This one was put in by the Council water supplier and it was certainly over planned—but it still works today and that was Harold Caulfield did! And Harold was instrumental in that. [Re next slide:] After Barry left, Harry was instrumental in keeping the exotic rainforest going and developing—that’s him standing amongst it, and he did a lot of hard work and a lot of planting in that area.

[Quickly showing several more slides]: That’s another scene in the exotic rain forest and another one.

This is taken in the horticultural area—with what’s known as the—on this side it’s all been changed—on this side now, this is South African plants, and this has horticultural plants from all round the world.

Now the first lagoon came in ’75 and was built by engineers who were at a conference. More scenes of the lagoon…lagoon again…wonderful stepping stones… we are not allowed to use anymore because somebody might fall off them.

There’s Harold Caulfield and his team building the pathway around the lagoon. That pathway is still functioning and has not caused any problems, which is very good.

[Final slides]: The glasshouse which was built opened in ’77, and looking at it today from the same spot.

[i] Barbara Ruth van den Broek (22 August 1932 – 24 August 2001) was a New Zealand-born Australian architect and landscape architect.

My Toowong Business

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 (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.

 

Historic Toowong ABC antenna tower demolished

Historic Toowong ABC antenna tower demolished

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trees in Toowong in 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what has happened to those trees?

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

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

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

 
   
Sources:

Girl Guides of Queensland Annual Report of 1936/37.

Girl Guides of Queensland Archives – Ms Jill Hogrefe

Brisbane City Archives

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

Compiled by Ruth Sapsford.

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.

Childhood memories of roaming Toowong’s streets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church_St_Toowong

Church Street, now Jephson Street

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

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