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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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 20 years later at the St Andrews Anglican Church Indooroopilly. I attended this church when I was in my late teens and early twenties so she may not have been so old after all. She must have been an enterprising lady to have conducted the school and carried on her life during the war time.

Her kindergarten was my first taste of ‘formal’ education. I can see in the photograph below that I was wearing shoes but during my primary school days I went barefoot. In consequence my feet became very hard. This was to my advantage because some of the road I had to walk over was gravel and there was some natural bush to walk through.

I have recently been in contact with Lorna Lightowler nee Barrett who helped with a few memories of Miss Shire’s. Lorna lived diagonally across the road from our home in Hunter Street and attended at the same time I did. Her Mother was a good friend of mum’s. She had five siblings and one of her brothers Arnold became a good friend of mine. He attended the kindergarten though not until 1942.

The 1941 class at Miss Shire’s. The pupils I remember are Janice and Margo Feather (back row left) and Lorna Barrett ( 2nd from left mid row). Aged three and a half I am seated far left on the front row. Taken in the front yard of Miss Shire’s Kindergarten in Dennis Street (Rod Foster)

The photo of the 1941 class shows 17 children attended. Lorna said Arnold didn’t start until 1942 when he was aged 3. This to an extent puzzles me because my sister Roslyn turned 3 in June 1942 and she never attended this kindergarten. However it’s possible this would have been too young for kindergarten and with the war then raging it’s more than likely Miss Shire declined to take any more pupils and perhaps she intended closing down some of the school.

There was a spread of ages of the students as Janice and Margo Feather shown in the photo (their father was Dad’s solicitor) were about 9 or 10 years of age. This was not just a kindergarten as Miss Shire taught preparatory classes, taking the Feather girls through their primary school years to the final Scholarship year of Grade 7. These two girls went to St Aidan’s a private church school later.

Lorna went on to Taringa Primary School though the war interfered with this slightly as it closed for a while and she was evacuated to Banoon to live for several months and attended Runcorn Primary School. Lorna said her sister Margaret and an elder brother Raymond attended Sherwood Primary but as Margaret was some years older than me I don’t remember this. Lorna remembers the music at kindergarten and how she enjoyed it. She remembers an English hunting song ‘Do Ye Ken John Peel’. Strangely I don’t have any recollection of this though many years later I sang it to Mum’s accompaniment at our musical evenings. What I do remember is Arnold and me playing the wag in the bush where we travelled every day to the school.

We would enter the school through the front gate then along a short gravel path to stairs at the side of the house and then into the main classroom, a large room which would probably have been the lounge. It had bare floor boards and forms against the walls to sit on. I remember that we sat facing the centre of the room. We didn’t have desks so must have done most of our work on our knees or on the floor as the only benches I can immediately recall were under the house where we had our lunch.

I remember little of what our lessons were but we had copy books in which we copied letters in a cursive style. We were doing cursive writing in 1942 before I was five. Nowadays some children at six or more can’t read this. My grandchildren have difficulty deciphering what I write though that of course may be the quality of my writing, however, my writing skills were passable so I always managed.

Two pages from the copy book are shown above. Note the initials M E S 24 June 1942 and 14 September 1942 on the bottom of the page. Actually when I look at these copies I reckon the writing is pretty good for a young fellow. I say there is nothing to be admired in the modern writing. This tends to be a sort of printing. Some of the old cursive writing by people with a good hand is beautiful and to be admired.

At lunch we would go under the house and again sit on forms around bare wooden tables. This provided an area for the pupils to sit and eat. Mum had a terrible habit of giving me cheese sandwiches for lunch and I hated cheese but perhaps it was just the war time cheese because I’m very fond of it now. Apparently it was one of the foods we could get reasonably easily and perhaps ration coupons were not required. We would play in the back yard of the house but there wasn’t much space. The house was surrounded by bougainvillea and had a huge Poinciana tree in the front yard. Miss Shire must not have required much living space for herself.

In class we must have done our recitation of our tables and spelling, played games, and learned poetry and music sitting on the forms. Arnold could recite Hiawatha and Lorna other poetry. I remember only snippets of this time and whilst Lorna agrees we had no desks, we think there may have been one or two small tables with chairs where we wrote in our copy books. I am not sure what the older children did, they may have been in a separate room. Lorna recalls that when the school was all together the older children would sit at the ‘far end’ of the room.

I recall the black board hanging on one of the walls. In addition a large roll up chart hung on the wall with pictures representing the letters of the alphabet. We learned our alphabet from a picture book with ‘a for an apple on a twig’ and I learned to read and could read very well and so could those other children who attended the school. With the higher level type lessons going on as well some probably rubbed off on us as what we learned ensured that I by-passed preparatory at the Sherwood Primary School going straight into Grade 1 and this applied to Lorna and others who went to Taringa.

I conclude by digressing slightly about my primary school years, and why my Mum sent me to Sherwood. It was likely due to the war. Our parents considered the Indooroopilly Primary School was inconveniently located for we children in Hunter Street, well over a mile. To get there we would have had to cross Coonan Street, the main road leading to the Walter Taylor Bridge, where there were continuous military convoys, and past Witton Barracks, the Military and POW establishments at Tighnabruaich, and then the infamous Indooroopilly Hotel. Too much to  contend with for little children.  Taringa was a similar distance but the main road and military establishments/hotel could be avoided.  Lorna says she walked to Taringa at first and when the school re-opened they rode bikes. Thinking of that time now I have to question why I did not attend Taringa. I think Mum was impressed with a teacher at Sherwood School who lived close by, and who would be able to accompany me from Indooroopilly to Sherwood on the train, then just a short walk from the station. Perhaps Mum also wanted to get as far away as possible from the ‘Taringa influence’.

As it was I didn’t attend school during 1943 because of illness and other factors such as the war, and the time away at Caloundra and we had billets, but I think the kindergarten closed sometime during that year. I was hospitalised with Meningitis and as medical records have been destroyed confirmation of the admission and discharge is not possible. I can only remember lying in a hospital bed and a bare building. After my discharge and while I was convalescing our billet Mrs Scorer read books to me and I absorbed them like a sponge. This disease and the term in hospital probably held me back physically for quite a while.

[ Rod Foster October 2020 – extract from a more comprehensive memoir ]

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Joint St Lucia/Taringa History Group December Meeting

2pm Saturday 5 December 2020 at the Community Meeting Place, Josling Street, Toowong.  This will be our tenth annual joint meeting, however, with a couple of firsts. We have decided against the usual request to ‘bring a plate’, but feel free to wear a mask. In addition to our catch up on history matters Mark Louttit is giving a talk on his family home in Murgon.

NOTE the 2pm Start

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Oxley-Chelmer History Group November Meeting

9.30am Friday 27 November 2020. Whilst we normally meet at the RSL Sub Branch at Corinda, in keeping with our tradition, this months members meeting will be held at a different venue. It will be combined with the launch of our new publication The Oxley Ham and Bacon Factory. Author Peter Brown will give a presentation on the research behind the book. For further details please contact Marion on 3379 1967 or ochginc@gmail.com

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Oxley-Chelmer History Group Book Release

This new addition to the Oxley-Chelmer History Group list of publications is the story of the Oxley Ham and Bacon Factory. One of Brisbane’s pioneering and most successful and enduring businesses, it exported Queensland’s ‘clean and green’ farm produce around Australia, indeed around the world for nearly a century.

Started in 1894, the business struggled for some years before being purchased by a new company, Foggitt, Jones and Co Ltd in 1904. Their ‘Rex’ brand became a household name for quality pig, cooked meat and other preserved products throughout Australia, in Britain and parts of Asia. Over  time Foggitt, Jones worked closely with one of their competitors, JC Hutton, and eventually the companies joined forces.

The factory was situated on rural land at Blunder Road, Oxley, adjacent to a fresh water creek and not too far from the Oxley Station, for the receipt of pigs from the Lockyer Valley. It eventually closed in 1992, forced out by competition, failed take overs, recession and the floating of the Australian dollar. The site was redeveloped for residential purposes and is known as the Oxley Ridge Estate.

For further details ochginc@gmail.com

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Ironside State School Sesquicentenary 1870 to 2020

Ironside State School planned to mark its one hundred and fiftieth year of operation with a whole programme of events, however, the face to face celebrations had to be deferred, or cancelled, due to the precautions introduced to limit the spread of Covid19.

One of the P&C sponsored initiatives that did come to fruition was the preparation of a publication to celebrate the 150 milestone. The book was launched at a school gathering, on the same day as the 1995 time capsule was opened.

Other than a short introduction, outlining the history of the establishment of the school, the content is a collection of contributions from past students (and the odd teacher) who attended Ironside over the last ninety years. The response from the school community when requested to submit their recollections was amazing, and the editors were faced with challenges, mainly to do with space.

Many drawers and old albums were opened as part of the process, revealing school photographs from as early as 1906, and the stories provide an insight into the life of individuals, the school and the wider community over time.

The book is priced at $20 and is available from the school.

A current student ? Put your problem solving hat on and enter the competition below. Good luck – it took me a few attempts to reach a consistent answer !

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Indooroopilly Shoppingtown

Preceded by the overnight removal of houses this photograph from Underhill Avenue shows the bulldozers and graders busy shaping the site for the new Westfield Shoppingtown (Courtesy Dawn Dorman)

This July marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre and to mark the event the Indooroopilly & District Historical Society are looking to gather photographic images and memories of its early days.

If you would like to contribute to this project please contact us on IndooroopillyDHS@gmail.com

The following is an excerpt from the opening brochure:

Another World of Shopping Comfort

Truly, another world altogether – The ultimate in under-one–roof shopping. Indooroopilly Shoppingtown contains a superb balance of ‘comparison and convenience’ shopping. Major Department stores; the largest combined food and variety stores in Queensland, over 70 magnificent stores imaginatively combined in one excitingly different, air conditioned complex. The final word in modern shopping comfort … Another world … Altogether.

Shop now in another world; a gay world; a fun world … where shopping ceases to be a struggle, and becomes an entirely new experience … it’s happiness, being pampered, being cool, getting real shopping satisfaction ! Here, the best there is to be had is gathered together to tempt and delight you. Great stores that are already your friends ! A multitude of gay boutiques. A Roman fountain three stories high with colorfully floodlit falls and cascades ! A fountain as only the Romans could have made it … a liquid art form to fascinate the young and, delight the old


The first I knew that ‘Something Big was Happening’ at Indooroopilly was during a chat over the side fence with my neighbour.  She told me that ‘all the houses on the other side of the street, Musgrave Road, were to be removed so that shops could be built there.  I didn’t believe her.  Where would anyone get such a peculiar idea?  We already had shops at Indooroopilly, some in Station Road and some along Moggill Road.  I tried to imagine shops lining the opposite footpath with awnings across the footpath to the gutter – a whole line of them from Moggill Road to Belgrave Road.  We had no idea that the proposed ‘shops’ might be enclosed inside a large building.

Over the next year, we were frequently disturbed during the night as houses on wheels were transported down Musgrave and Station Roads.  It was sight worth waking up for, flashing lights, police cars, poles lifting overhead wires and an enormous house, or maybe half a house, floating down the middle of the road and disappearing up or down Moggill Road to who knows where.

(Margaret M, June 2020)

The engineer who was supervising the building of the shopping centre knew my dad and he asked him if he could find a use for the temporary site fencing after the construction work was completed. Dad said yes and that material became our yard fence which has served us well for fifty years.

(Phill C, June 2020)

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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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Turtle Soup made in Oxley – really ?

Canning sausages at the Oxley Bacon Factory in 1942
(Oxley-Chelmer History Group, donated by Phil O’Brien)

Yes, made from giant turtles transported all the way from the Great Barrier Reef. Local livestock was used for the more mundane canned sausages, pigs trotters, and pork brawn.

For nearly a hundred years the Foggitt and Jones Oxley Bacon Factory on Blunder Road, or Hutton’s as it was known to baby-boomers, produced hams, bacon sides and a variety of canned products for the local, Australian and International market.

Now with historical records becoming more easily accessible the Oxley-Chelmer History Group has decided to update and supplement The History of the Oxley Meat Factory authored twenty years ago by group member Lona Grantham.

Can you help (no pun intended) ? We are particularly interested in memories of the factory, good or bad, for the period between the Second World War and when it closed in 1992. Also in any photographs or old newspaper cuttings you may have.

For further details or if you have something to share please contact us on  gonebush6@bigpond.com or ochginc@gmail.com and we will be in touch


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Scouting Heritage

The Queensland Branch of the Scouting Association of Australia has taken up the State Library’s ‘Community Heritage Digitisation Offer’ to scan and make available on line a number of their past monthly Scouting magazines. This initiative should be a boon to those interested in researching their local communities and the wider scout movement.

The Branch’s heritage resource centre is at Toowong, for further information contact heritage@scoutsqld.com.au

Link to back copies of the Queensland Scouter 1962 to 1966 – 60 magazines http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=slq_alma21105667380002061&context=L&vid=SLQ&search_scope=SLQ&tab=slq&lang=en_US

Link to back copies of the Totem from the first in March 1937 to 1961 – 270 magazines http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=slq_alma21105638680002061&context=L&vid=SLQ&search_scope=SLQ&tab=slq&lang=en_US

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Muscle Powered Vehicular Ferries

River ferries have long been a feature of the daily life of Brisbane. Prior to the construction of the first bridge connecting North and South Brisbane in the 1860s they were essential for both personal and commercial use. Even after this they proved an economical alternative for government and local authorities looking to avoid significant capital investment, yet still make provision for cross river pedestrian, four legged and vehicular traffic.

Small volume pedestrian traffic could be handled by conventional rowboat with the ferryman at the oars. A simple jetty with steps down to a landing was all that was required in terms of infrastructure. Ferries to carry vehicles, bulky goods and stock required a larger and Continue reading

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