Hello and welcome

Brisbane History West is a collaborative resource set up to provide an internet presence for the history groups in the inner south western suburbs that don’t have their own dedicated website.  Its purpose  is to supplement existing activities and encourage community awareness and participation in the study and recording of local history.

Each of the groups focus on specific geographical areas which jointly cover the present day suburbs of Chelmer, Corinda, Graceville, Indooroopilly, Oxley, St Lucia, Sherwood and Taringa. Arbitrary boundaries aside, with some subtle variations the area shares a common history.

If you are unfamiliar with the blog format this Home page has all the articles uploaded to date in chronological order. Each has been categorised so if you are looking to minimise scrolling click on the relevant Topic (right hand side margin for PC users). The articles are a mix of frequently asked questions, meeting notices, research notes and papers,  and general news items.

Please feel free to contact us if you are working on a project and are wondering how to share your research effort, contributions are welcome. The site is self-funded and supported by the participating groups and societies which rely solely on volunteer resources. The individual groups retain their independence.

The publication Brisbane Spreads West– A local history 1840 to 1901 is the combined work of a number of local groups and societies, drawing on their research of the history of the western and south western suburbs of Brisbane. It is available from the participating groups or from the State Library Book Shop

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Local History Group Meetings

Please note that the scheduled meetings for the Indooroopilly, Oxley-Chelmer, St Lucia and Taringa groups have been cancelled until further notice as a precaution against the spread of the Covid19 virus. For other groups in the area, please check their websites.

For further information on the virus please refer to the government website

Time on your hands, why not browse the website or pen an article to share with our readers ?

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Land Resumptions – UQ’s move to St Lucia

It was generally accepted that when the University of Queensland (UQ) was established in its first home at Gardens Point, based in the 1860s Government House, this was an interim arrangement. It didn’t take long for teaching space to become a problem and residential student accommodation was spread around the city. The Senate soon had their feelers out for a new site.

In the 1920s enter Dr James Mayne, who, at odds with his medical colleagues, believed the St Lucia Pocket would be an ideal location for the permanent site of the university campus. Walking the area from the family residence Moorlands at Toowong, he believed it would be preferable to the land offered by the Brisbane City Council at Victoria Park. Continue reading

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Serviceton/Inala Built Environment

View over Inala to the City (AD 2018)

The residential suburb we now know as Inala owes its beginnings to a group of  ex-servicemen who on return from the 1939-45 War set up a cooperative to purchase land and construct new homes for themselves. They were foresighted and engaged Hennessey and Hennessey, the Architects for the University of Queensland’s new campus at St Lucia, to develop a masterplan for their scheme. Stage One of Serviceton Garden City soon got underway with a relatively modest subdivision allowing the early shareholders to get on and build their houses.

Concurrently the state government established the Queensland Housing Commission, its sole purpose to relieve the post-war housing shortage. They instigated a number of initiatives throughout Brisbane and the State including house building for sale and rent, and temporary accommodation for home seekers and new arrivals.

When the Cooperative had financial difficulties the QHC stepped in and purchased their assets. They extended the land holding, let large house building contracts and developed a satellite town of 14,000 in around 10 years, maintaining some of the principles of the original concept.

Over the last couple of years Peter Brown has made a number of presentations to local groups on Inala, and in particular its built environment, his area of interest. His research is set out in these three volumes of Papers and Notes.

Volume One covers the development of the residential estate, an introduction to the naming of the  streets and the growth of retailing including the local shopping centres. Volume Two * covers the Civic Centre, Inala Plaza, the Civic Precinct and other commercial buildings. Volume Three focuses on community buildings, places of worship (the number might surprise you), and the change of the name from Serviceton to Inala.

* A large file – available in two parts on request

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Warner’s Road north of the river

Diagram illustrating the provision made for road reserves as part of the initial sub-division of the area that would become St Lucia. 22 lots would be offered for sale (‘Portion’ numbers shown)

There has often been discussion at St Lucia History Group meetings about the reported difficulties experienced by the early European settlers accessing Brisbane in the late 1850s/early 1860s. The requirement to deliver their produce to market in town by rowboat is well recorded and reflects on the state of early road making.

When the surveyors prepared the original sub-division plans for St Lucia they included for ‘Government’ roads. In reality these were merely identified road reserves. They were provided to enable free access to each of the lots offered for sale, without the need for easements,  and in addition, common access to the riverbank. The individual lots (Portions) were in the order of 40 acres each and dedicated roads were kept to a minimum, road reserves generated no income. Interestingly the first lot offered, which was purchased in 1852, is described as Portion 7 of the Parish of Indooroopilly. It had no nominated road access. Continue reading

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St Lucia Farm School- ‘The gate of opportunity is wide open to the boy who passes through St Lucia’

The St Lucia Farm School was established as one of the state government’s responses to the 1930s economic depression brought about by the world wide slump in trade. Post Federation Australia was still reliant on its major trading partner the UK (60% of trade) and when demand there for Australian goods plummeted thousands were thrown out of work. Up to 27% of the Queensland workforce was out of a job by 1932 and others were on part time.

The rapid rise in unemployment coincided with the election of the first ‘conservative’ government in Queensland for 14 years. The Labor party had held office since 1915 headed successively  by TJ Ryan, Ted Theodore, William Gilles and then William McCormack. They were elected on a platform of improving the lot of the working man and introduced a number of social reforms. Perhaps one of their most significant actions during this period  was the abolition of the Queensland Legislative Council, arising from their refusal to approve legislation assented by the lower house (some sources suggest up to 200 Bills and Regulations returned).

By 1929, however, the Labor governments appear to have run out of steam and AE Moore became Premier when the Country and Progressive National Party (relatively short lived coalition) won the election. Timing is everything Continue reading

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A Taringa Childhood

Mid 1950s view from the southern end of Manchester Terrace overlooking Moggill Road and its intersection with Musgrave Road. Today’s outlook from the same position is now dominated by the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre
(Walter Marggraf)

Much has changed in the neighbourhood Eric Marggraf grew up in in the 1930s and 40s.

In Wounded in the trenches Eric presents his early childhood memories of Taringa and beyond. Starting with the Manchester Terrace environs, the family home was No 62, his horizons gradually extended to include the Princess Street home of his paternal grandparents, and Taringa State School where he was enrolled in 1935. Then he got ‘wheels’ and his adventuring extended along Moggill Road, from Toowong to Brookfield, and over the Indooroopilly Bridge out to Chelmer and Graceville.

As with his description of the Victory Picture Theatre, Eric demonstrates his builder’s eye for detail and provides us with a snapshot of some of the characters and businesses operating in Taringa Village and beyond. From the early days of European settlement Taringa had been a commercial and social hub for the local community, and the seat of local government until 1925.

Eric’s contemporaries will recognise this glimpse into everyday life, many aspects typical of a Brisbane suburban upbringing of the times, a period when being home for meals and in before dark set your boundaries.

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Charles Street, a shopkeeper of nineteenth century Brisbane

View along Queen Street c1864
(State Library Queensland Neg 139497)

In 1865 Devon born Charles Street was 42 when he and his wife Elizabeth (nee Stanton) boarded the Flying Cloud  bound for Brisbane. He had spent the previous 20 years in America. Initially employed there as a clerk, by the time the 1860 US census was taken he had obviously prospered, his profession being described as ‘Merchant’.

He was a self-funded migrant, travelling saloon class, and on arrival was eligible for government land orders for himself, his wife and accompanying children. They had a comfortable passage and settled in Brisbane on arrival where he opened his drapery business in Queens Street. He used his land orders towards the purchase a number of large blocks of land at (what would become) Taringa and Indooroopilly, Continue reading

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