• 1 March 1852: Robert Cribb purchased the first allotment of freehold land (2 acres 1 rood in size) offered by the Crown at auction along the Brisbane River between Milton and Toowong and described as Western Suburban Allotment No 1 and located in the Milton area along Milton Reach.
  • 28 January 1854: James Henderson purchases the two allotments of freehold land offered by the Crown by auction in the Toowong area and described as Allotments 25 and 26 (31 acres 5 roods 5 roods in size).  
  • 16 December 1863 Robert Cribb purchased freehold land described as Allotment 28 offered by the Crown by auction (38 Acres 3 roods 30 perches in size) and located on Toowong Creek.

Cribb later acquired neighbouring conjoining properties and established a farm here known as ‘Lang Farm’.  

  • 14 May 1862 Richard Langler Drew purchased freehold land described as Allotments 293 & 294 offered by the Crown by auction and located along Toowong Creek inland from its mouth into the Brisbane River.

Drew subsequently subdivided these properties, setting up a signboard: ‘This is the village of Toowong’.

Drew donated land for the first Church of St Thomas the Apostle, built in Curlew Street, and was one of its original trustees.

When the church relocated and rebuilt on the corner of High and Jephson Streets, the church trustees returned the land to Drew’s widow Mrs Anne Drew. The title deeds had remained in Drew’s name.

  • 5 February 1863: Shepherd Smith purchased freehold land described as Portion 296 (50 acres in size) offered by the Crown by auction and located in the West Toowong area north of Stanley Terrace to Orchard Street and westwards from Bywong Street to Broseley Road, and also located along Toowong Creek.
  • 1876: The construction of the Brisbane to Ipswich railway line
  • 1874: Lawrence Howard Healy acquires a hotel licence for his newly built Regatta Hotel, a singe story wooden building with a general store and butcher shop attached.
  • May 1876: By this date William Munro has opened the Railway Hotel near the Toowong Railway Station on the corner of Booth Street and Moggill Rd. It seems he has purchased the building at auction and relocated it from Curlew Street to the corner of Booth Street and Moggill Rd
  • 1882-97: William Winterford purchases the Regatta Hotel and acquires the lease. In 1886 builds a new three storey building which stands today
  • 1879: Creation of the Toowong Divisional Board

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.

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

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

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

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

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

For more details see Upcoming Events (at right).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what has happened to those trees?

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

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

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

 
   
Sources:

Girl Guides of Queensland Annual Report of 1936/37.

Girl Guides of Queensland Archives – Ms Jill Hogrefe

Brisbane City Archives

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

Compiled by Ruth Sapsford.

Lest We Forget!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Dorothy_Eastaway_1938

Dorothy Eastaway (nee Neal) in 1938

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are her findings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dorothy_Beavis

Dorothy Beavis

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

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

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

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

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

Beavis1_6_tif

Poster advertising the Glen Olive Garden Estate

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

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

Beavis1_8_house

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to Dorothy Beavis for the above reminiscences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Church Street, now Jephson Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elaine_Roberts_with_chooks

Elaine Roberts and the backyard chook pen

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

An article featuring Erl Roberts and Cecily Walker’s memories of Toowong titled Cousins Share Memories of Toowong is published in Toowong: A Tram Ride from the Past, Memories of the Toowong Community Vol. 4, ed Leigh Chamberlain and Lindy Salter, Toowong and District Historical Society, 2008, p.14.

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