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.

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Oxley-Chelmer History Group August Meeting

9.30am Friday 5 August 2022 at the Sherwood-Indooroopilly RSL Sub-Branch, Clewley Street, Corinda. This meeting is our annual members’ day, where several members each present a short talk.

All welcome, but please advise Marion on 0420 350351 if you are coming

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Taringa History Group August Meeting

3.30pm Saturday 6 August 2022 at the Library Meeting Room, Toowong Library, Toowong Village Shopping Centre. This month we will take a look at Perrin Park. All welcome.

Please note new venue and time.

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Station Road, Indooroopilly – behind the facade

Indooroopilly’s first purpose built Post Office in Station Road, slipped back on the block and extended in the early 1970s, and a view today illustrating the transition to high-rise behind (NAA and Author)

Indooroopilly became a destination when the railway arrived in the early/mid 1870s. Isolated, the new station had to be connected with a new road running down from Moggill Road. Station Road quickly became the commercial focus of the district (apparently with a preponderance of butchers’ shops).

In common with other stations along the line, railway staff took on the role of ‘Receiving Office Keeper’ on behalf of the Post Master General. Combined with their ‘day job’ the service was limited, they received and issued mail, could sell stamps and receive letters for posting.

In 1911 the ‘post office’ moved out of the railway station and into leased premises where it would stay until the 1920s when it was decided to purchase a plot of land and construct a new building. Plans were prepared, a tender called and a contract awarded. The new Post Office opened in 1926 and with minor enhancements served the local populace until the late 1960s. By then new business practice and technology required a rethink and an update of the accommodation. The 1920s building was eased back on the block and a large extension constructed on the street frontage.

The original facade can still be seen peeping above the roofline of the ‘new’ extension, already itself over 50 years old. A walk around the rear of the property suggests that there is still life in the old 1920s structure yet, even as it approaches its centenary. It is not alone along this stretch of Station Road, many of the single storey buildings are of a similar and older vintage.

Further reading https://brisbanehistorywest.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/07-posties-cops-and-ferrymen.pdf

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Thomas Lodge Murray Prior – early 1860s St Lucia land owner

Thomas Lodge Murray Prior’s local landholdings in the early 1860s (Parish Map base QSA)

By the early 1860s the majority of the land in what are today’s inner western suburbs had been surveyed, auctioned and sold with freehold title. A continuation of the ‘terra nullius’ doctrine. As part of a larger government offering of ‘Country’ lots surrounding Brisbane, the size of the ‘Portions’ offered in today’s St Lucia averaged around 40acres. With some exception it was offered with a reserve price of £1 per acre.

Government’s intent was to quickly release land for farming to encourage settlement and a degree of self-sufficiency for the newly created Colony. Concurrently it was encouraging immigration from overseas with various inducements including land orders and grants for those individuals and families that could afford to contribute to the cost of their own passage.

There was also latent demand from established businessmen looking for investment opportunities, newly released land had potential, and it was individuals from this cohort who initially purchased most of the St Lucia land. One such individual was Thomas Lodge Murray Prior (TLMP) who purchased seven portions, in the order of 290acres Continue reading

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Toowong Community Meeting Place

Remedial work gets underway following the flooding of the regular meeting place for a number of our local history groups (Courtesy Bruce Sinclair)

Thankfully much less severe than on previous occasions, water ingress this time was only around skirting level, BCC Facilities have advised it will take some months for the building to be made available again. In the meantime keep an eye out for alternative venues being arranged by the local groups and societies

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War and family – childhood recollections

These two personal recollections provide an insight into family life on opposite sides of the world, and on opposite sides of the conflict, leading up to, during, and after the 1939-45 War. One is based in Brisbane, the other in a farming community in northern Germany.

From Migrant Kid to Community Leader outlines the life of Walter Marggraf as seen through his son Eric’s eyes. Born and spending his first Christmas in Berlin, this was the extent of Eric’s life in Germany. He could neither read nor speak German and spent his early life, where this story is based, in Taringa. His father Walter was a long time Secretary/President of the Brisbane German Club.

The son of German immigrants, Walter received his secondary education in Southport, his father establishing the Boot and Shoe Emporium in Nerang Street. After studying accounting he joined the family business which prospered, expanding into property. In his teens Walter had established a six piece band which played at various venues on and around the coast. It was at one of these that he met the local girl he would marry.

Capitalising on their investments the family moved to Taringa, his parents into Princess Street, Walter and family into Manchester Terrace. It was during the mid 1930s that Walter became more involved with the German community, becoming Secretary of the Brisbane German Club. It is this association that resulted him being interned during the 1939-45 War.

By contrast the setting for In the Company of Widows is a long established family farm 70km west of Hamburg. It is the story of Irma Muller’s childhood. She was born during the 1939-45 War and brought up by the women members of her family, her father, grandfather and two uncles all being the casualties of war. She can recall life under Allied occupation, and the waves of refugees, initially escaping conflict and then as the Iron Curtain descended.

Her mother and father, lined up as manager for an agricultural drainage scheme, planned to marry in the autumn of 1939, however, these plans were brought forward following the receipt of his orders to report for active service. He remained on duty to within weeks of the end of war, being killed in action defending the Vistula Peninsula on the Baltic Coast as the Russian Army advanced.

Irma kindly offered to recount her memories of this period during a series of interviews in 2020. She has spent most of her adult life in Australia.

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Commonwealth Rehabilitation Centre, Swann Road, Taringa

May 1977 Front-page story of the St Lucia Gazette. c2018 aerial view of the old Rehabilitation complex site (looking south) bounded by Swann Road, Whitmore Street, Seven Oaks Street and private property. [SLHG archive, Google Earth]

Some time ago a bundle of local newspapers was donated to the St Lucia History Group, copies of the The St Lucia Gazette with various dates from 1975 to 1980. Tabloid size, it was prepared and published by the St Lucia Community Association which was established and evolved from the community effort and response to the 1974 Australia Day floods. Christ Church Hall on Central Avenue became the centre for both immediate and longer term flood relief and welfare for the affected residents. It was ‘manned’ by volunteers, not finally closing until October of that year. Active for a number of years the SLCA would eventually go into hibernation, the current iteration formed in 2002 as a response to the uncertainties surrounding the intended function of the BCC proposed UQ/Dutton Park bridge. SLHG had its initial tentative gathering following the first public meeting of the reinvigorated SLCA.

The Gazette, ‘delivered free to all homes in St Lucia, Indooroopilly East and Taringa East’ had a circulation of 4,500 and provided the opportunity for the Association to promote its agenda to a wider section of the public. In addition it included items of local news, community activities and advertising by local businesses which would have supported its publication.

Armed with the rather grainy image Continue reading

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The Bridges of Radnor Street

Camera shy, a good proportion of Radnor Street can be seen (LHS foreground) on this 1957 image. The main focus is the near completion of the additional railway bridge, part of the upgrade of this section of the railway to provide two further tracks, and prepare for electrification of the suburban system. Downstream (top) on the LHS is Witton Barracks, used in conjunction with the Neilson house on the opposite bank by the Intelligence Services during the 1939-45 War. The barracks was a mix of temporary hutting, purpose built facilities, and existing residences including Tignabruaich and Witton Manor, the L shaped building next to the railway. This had  previously been relocated from the riverbank, a kilometre or so upstream (SLQ IE16732_FL22157) 

Servicing just two driveways, the name Radnor ‘Street’ at Indooroopilly is perhaps a little misleading, particularly as this relatively short roadway, carved out of the riverbank for a good proportion of its length, is used primarily as a shortcut. This was the reason it was constructed, to service the early  residential development of the Witton Flats. Continue reading

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The Dell – A house in Toowong

Author Ruth Sapsford signing copies of her book at the recent launch (John Carter)

What makes this ‘timber and tin’ riverside residence different ? The fact that it has been owned and lived in by by four successive generations of one family. In The Dell author Ruth Sapsford presents its 130 year history, over which time it has been enlarged, modernised and adapted for modern living. She has dipped into the house records and covers its story from the installation of gas lighting to WiFi and the internet.

For further details and how to obtain a copy of the book please refer to the flyer

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Brisbane CBD/Valley 1950s snapshot


Interested in a mid 20th Century snapshot of businesses and buildings in the City and the Valley ? Brisbane City Archives has recently had the Malhstedts Brisbane fire maps digitised and they are available online through the Map room on Brisbane Images https://library-brisbane.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/BrisbaneImages/?rm=MAHLSTEDT%E2%80%99S+BR0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7Ctrue (better quality than the above snip)

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Laurence and Mary West and West’s Furniture

The West’s Furniture showroom on Wickham Street, built in the early 1950s, was so striking the Duke of Edinburgh stopped the royal cavalcade as it passed for a closer look. Functional and eye catching it was constructed for Laurence and Mary West as a purpose built showroom to display their range of contemporary furniture.

Designed by family friend Karl Langer, it was open plan with an abundance of natural light, reflecting the evolving adoption of the ‘modern’ architectural movement. The ideal setting to showcase their array of imported, made under license, and in-house designed furniture. Continue reading

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1920s Goat Cart

Courtesy Bev Walker

Ready for the off, a young Sydney John McKenzie looks the part in the driver’s seat of this early 1920s sleek looking goat cart. The photograph is believed to have been taken at his parent’s home on Moggill Road, a couple of doors up from Rylatt Street.

Whilst racing was part of the scene, goats, often in conjunction with children, played an important role in the life of pioneers and early European settlers. Reference was made to The Indispensable Goat by Errol Beutel & Faye Schutt to see if this could have been a standard rig/set up, but it looks as though it may have been a one off. Nothing has emerged so far as to whether Sydney was involved in the sport or if this was simply a leisure time activity.

As the uncle he was named after, Sydney would be a casualty of war, dying in 1946 from injuries sustained in combat.


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St Lucia History Group Meeting Notes 2005 to 2020

Over the years members of the group have prepared a series of Papers and Research Notes on various aspects of the history of St Lucia. Many are works in progress with periodic minor amendments/supplements as additional information becomes available, which it inevitably does. The various topics have often been the focus of our meetings, however, not exclusively, with discussion covering a wide range of subjects.

Whilst formal Minutes have not been kept, the main points discussed have being recorded in the form of summary Meeting Notes. These are available in a readily accessible electronic format from 2005, and for ease of download are presented here in three separate volumes.

Volume One covers the period 2005 to 2011, Volume Two 2012 to 2016, and Volume Three 2017 to 2020. There is the option to browse, however, if you are looking for a particular topic or subject perhaps start with the Finding Aid. It is in two parts, a quick guide to the more significant topics (by meeting) and a more detailed Index, it covers all three volumes. Download and save a copy and you will be able to search using Adobe Reader’s ‘Find’ feature (microscope with three dots in the tools bar).

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Brisbane History Group Book Releases

For those who may have missed it in the 1990s a second edition of Brisbane: The Aboriginal Presence 1824 to 1860 has been released with some reworking and additional material. BHG’s most recent book release is It all Happened at Brisbane’s Albert Hall a joint publication with author Peter Roennfeldt. Click on the titles for further details.

Purchase your copy from Brisbane History Group and you will be able to make a selection from their heavily discounted older titles priced at $5, refer current price list/offer attached for details. To obtain  your copy or contact BHGBooks2022@gmail.com

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My Early Schooling – Miss Shire’s Kindergarten, Indooroopilly

I started school at the age of three and a half in 1941 by attending a small kindergarten in a private house about 300m from where I lived. I walked there most days. The kindergarten was owned and run by a Miss Shire and her sister who was called ‘Ladybird’.

I can still see Miss Shire in my mind, a thin grey haired lady sitting in the middle of the class room directing us in our lessons. Even then she seemed ancient but she survived to be still playing the organ for at least Continue reading

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