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.

Badger’s house ‘Arlington’; now known as ‘Endrim’

Badger’s house ‘Arlington’; now known as ‘Endrim’

Address: 28 Woodstock Road, Toowong

‘Arlington’ was built in 1905 for American Joseph Stillman Badger. Badger named the house ‘Arlington’ in honour of the United States National Cemetery. He became known as ‘Boss Badger’.

Badger, a qualified electrical engineer, came to Brisbane in 1896 at the age of forty-five on behalf of the General Electric Company as its chief engineer to oversee the electrification of Brisbane’s out-dated horse-drawn tram network for the Brisbane Tramways Company (BTC).

After the sudden resignation of BTC project manager, Mr Walklate, due to ill health in 1897, the BTC directors approached Badger to become not only BTCs Chief Engineer but also as to assume the duties of General Manager as well. Badger consequently resigned from GE. A proud American , Badger named the house Arlington in honour of the United States National Cemetery.

Arlington, 1906

Photographed by Frederick Munro Hull and courtesy of Genevieve Kennett

[Toowong and District Historical Society Inc.]

Well-known local Toowong resident Percival Hanlon, who used to work at the BTC workshop prior to assuming the lease of the Toowong cross-river ferry, always maintained that the house sat upon tram tracks which were used as bearers. Speculation and rumour circulated Toowong as to whether this story was correct, so when the property eventually came up for sale many locals attended to check this out for themselves. As Hanlon’s son, also named Percival (‘Percy’), later related, ‘I went under the house and there it was!’

Verification that Badger had used tram tracks as bearers for his house did not dispel speculation, but instead added to it. As a result, particularly more recently, locals wondered whether he was using his position at the BTC to cream off monies from the Tramway Company for his advantage. Badger acquired a reputation which could be described in common parlance as being slightly ‘smelly’ and eyebrows were slightly raised at the notion of Badger’s integrity. The speculation resulted in an article being written a couple of years ago in the local newspaper Westside News which described Badger as being ’notorious’, which was the first time such speculation actually was recorded in print as being a fact (and without any supporting primary documents or evidence). Formerly, it was suggested in verbal asides only.

However, reminiscences collected by TDHS in 2003-05 from several elderly former residents, aged between their late 90s to over the age of 100, do not include a suggestion that Badger had a tainted reputation. These included the childhood memories of99 year-old Len Hall in 2003-4 whose parents operated the local shop in Woodstock Road across the road from Badger. So the speculation seemingly appears to be more recent in origin, gaining more credence since the decade 2000-10 when the earlier generation of residents had by this time died.

To further investigate these innuendoes, TDHS examined the title deeds for the property. One person keen to know the truth was Percy Hanlon who did the legwork. The information was passed onto Badger biographer David Burke (then researching for his book titled One American Too many Boss Badger and the Brisbane Trams). David kindly provided the information that the names on the title deeds were board members of the BTC.

This implies that ‘Arlington’ was financed by the Brisbane Tramways Company, possibly as part of an executive salary package, but Badger appears to have had a free hand in the house’s design as the architecture has an American flavour. It would seem that more than half a century later speculation fueled by ignorance has sullied Badger’s reputation. But at the time the house was built, the fact that the BTC owned the house was well-known, and hence no eyebrows were raised at the mention of Badger’s name at that time. Otherwise, why would the upper echelons of Society so admire Badger, socialize with him, queue up to pay patronage to him and do business with him? Badger’s business acumen was admired far afield, not only in Brisbane, but also in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide and also as far afield as in London and New York.

Prior to living at Arlington, by 1900 Badger and his family (who had joined him from America) lived at ‘Belle Vue’, a large house and property on the hill in Miskin Street, just short distance from where the construction of the tramline along Milton Road to terminate at the Brisbane General Cemetery was in progress. This tramline opened on 22 July 1904. Then Badger moved his family to ‘Arlington’. This was when work commenced upon the extension of the tramline from the gates of Brisbane General Cemetery, down Dean Street, and into Woodstock Road to terminate at the (Toowong) Tram Terminus situated just near his front gate. The Toowong Council had campaigned to extend the tramway down to terminate at Toowong, and there were plans to build more termini along Sherwood Road. But to protect its suburban railway traffic, the Railways Department made sure the track was kept apart from Toowong station and so the extended tramline and termini did not eventuate.

Badger used a gate built into his side fence to walk down concrete stairs built into the steep slope of the ridge to access the tram stop near to his residence where his private tram collected him to go into work. Claims published recently (in 2018) by The Courier-Mail that the Woodstock Road terminus is built upon Badger’s property are incorrect, as the terminus has been built behind the footpath at the base of the hill upon the publicly –owned Miskin Street road reserve.

 

Above: Steel tram track floor bearers in the undercroft of ‘Endrim’ (2016)

 

 

Below: A recent photo of the residence now known as ‘Endrim’ (2016)

Photographs courtesy of Christopher Sapsford {Toowong and District Historical Society Inc.]

Badger was partial to moving. Between 1913-15, he moved again to Hargreaves Road, West End, and later elsewhere. He liked to move to an area where the tramway was being constructed so he was immediately upon the spot to supervise. Badger was very much hands on!

Due to both his role in the electrification and extension of the Brisbane tramway network and his hardline opposition to unionism and the role he played in the lead up to the General Strike of January 1912, the residence has ever since been associated with his name. However, people refer to it as ‘Endrim’, the name the property was later called, and not as ‘Arlington’.

‘Endrim’ has attracted more controversy lately with plans to build a childcare centre being lodged with the Brisbane City Council (BCC). Concerns have been expressed over a wide range of issues, with one being an expected increase in traffic and the another being the impact upon the heritage of the house.

 

References:

Leigh Chamberlain and Lindy Salter, Toowong; A tram ride from the past, Toowong and District Historical Society Inc., 2018, p.124.

Leigh Chamberlain, Interview with Len Hall, ca. 2003

David Burke, One American too many. Boss Badger and the Brisbane Trams, Queensland Museum, 2012.

Certificates of Title and survey plans, Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying

The 11 December 2015 Re-Opening of Jack Cook Park

It was rather dark for 6 o’clock on a summers evening. Clouds circled above with the promise of rain which did not eventuate. The BrizWest Community Ensemble (about 15 in all) had unpacked their brass & percussion to strike out at Carols for a bit of a sing-a-long.
A film screen had been pitched for the scheduled 7pm showing of “Home Alone”. Lying beyond the screen picnic blankets paraded across the grounds with a few wise old chairs for the older sitters behind. Amid all of this, with the children chasing about, the sausage sizzle began. The crowd had swelled just short of 200 and the queues came to quite a length. All remained very well behaved as free Sausages, Coffee & Hot Chocolate were sought. Free Face Painting was also available.

Early in the evening I was introduced to Rick Hedges, who is the current administrator of Little Athletics and the Toowong Harriers. I took this as a good opportunity to present one of my Dad’s old club badges (pictured right) back to the Harriers as a visual icon of their history. My dad was Harold Cook, youngest brother to Jack. The other person of interest I met was my cousin Denis Cook who was in attendance with his wife Helen. Denis was Jack Cook’s son.
What is now known as Jack Cook Memorial Park was originally land that was established as part of Robert Cribb’s Farm (1852). After WW1 it became known as Heroes Park and transferred to the council as a trust to operate as a park.
Currently the park is often used for sports clubs and by personal fitness instructors. One club meets Thursday nights to play cricket and the grounds are frequented by an older citizens walking group (mainly from the retirement village next door). The Little Athletics and the Toowong Harriers both meet in the park and make use of the clubhouse.
An application for it to be gazetted as parkland was made successfully on 1 May 1984 and it was named as Jack Cook Memorial Park. The submission was made by both the Toowong Harriers and the Toowong RSL Sub-branch. Soon after a clubhouse was erected for the Toowong Harriers after which a dedication was given and Denver Beanland MLA officiated its opening.
The reopening of this park was effected by a speech from the Councillor for the Walter Taylor Ward, Julian Simmons, who outlined extensive work done to remove the hazardous rubbish from the topsoil, seal the base clay pan & backfill with fresh topsoil while also providing an inbuilt irrigation system certain to help save time. The remediation was also important, given the 2011 flood damage to the area.
It was noted that completion of the topsoil had not yet been finalized, with the expectation that all would be well over the next three weeks. The ceremony was finalized with a few words from Denis Cook about his father Jack and his long involvement with the club (since 1923 to his passing in 1984) and his desire that there be a home for the Harriers.
Thank you to Jack Cook’s niece Genean Wildesen for writing this report of the event

Recollections of Toowong Hardware in the 1950s and 60s

Martin Maguire

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

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

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

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

Lambretta colour

The Lambretta motor scooter with passengers

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

J. Caldwell Hat Factory

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

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

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.

Keeping adoption in the family

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

Dorothy_Beavis

Dorothy Beavis

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

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

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

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

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

Beavis1_6_tif

Poster advertising the Glen Olive Garden Estate

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

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

Beavis1_8_house

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to Dorothy Beavis for the above reminiscences.

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

Childhood memories of roaming Toowong’s streets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church_St_Toowong

Church Street, now Jephson Street

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

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

Christmas at the Walker and Roberts households

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

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

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

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

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

Elaine_Roberts_with_chooks

Elaine Roberts and the backyard chook pen

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

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

To order see details on the Publications page.

Elizabeth Harpur (Tabb) Bailey: Toowong’s first lady of real estate (1885-1965)

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 … Continue reading

Charles Patterson

You can read more about Charles Patterson and his family and some of the history of Patterson’s Sawmills in the TDHS publication Charles Patterson: Toowong resident, sawmiller, contributor. [Note: In many of the Scottish documents, the name is spelt as … Continue reading