Hawken Village, St Lucia

To celebrate the substantial completion of the Hawken Village streetscape upgrade, Brisbane City Council organized a popular and well attended opening event on Saturday 2 August 2014. The St Lucia History Group’s input into the redevelopment was to provide historical background for two history signs to be installed as part of the works. The wording used on the signs was somewhat distilled so a flyer was distributed on the day and is reproduced below to provide a more complete picture. This summary is compiled from the extensive research undertaken by members of the group.

EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT OF ST LUCIA

John Carmody and Robert Cribb were the first to establish farms in what is now the suburb of St Lucia. In the early 1850s John Carmody ‘squatted’ on land in the river pocket, now part of the university campus, and businessman Robert Cribb set up Lang Farm on the south bank of Toowong Creek. By 1859 all of the land in St Lucia had been sold in 22 Portions, primarily to investors, a number of whom subsequently sub-divided these into more affordable smaller lots.

By the 1860s there were around thirty immigrant families making a living farming the area, , with a similar number at Long Pocket. After clearing the land, garden produce was grown for family needs and to sell at the markets in Brisbane, which was transported to town by row-boat. More intensive crops of cotton and sugar cane followed. William Dart built a mill on the river bank to crush and process his and other local growers sugar cane.

The St Lucia and Long Pocket farmers combined in 1867 to build a chapel, and in 1870 a public school where Ironside State School is today. In those days the school was the only one between Spring Hill and Sherwood. To access the chapel and school the farmers, made their own unofficial tracks to get around, one of which we know today as Hawken Drive.

In the boom years of the 1880s many of the farms were sold to residential developers with William Alexander Wilson at the forefront. Born whilst his parents were posted to the Caribbean island of St Lucia he used the name in marketing the St Lucia Estate and his wife’s maiden name for marketing the Ironside Estate.

Relatively isolated, compared with contemporary estates along the line of the expanding rail network, the developers promoted the establishment of ferry links to West End. The vehicular punt crossing to Montague Road, jointly established by the two local authorities, was Brisbane’s first free ferry service. The lease holder of the rowboat service to Boundary Street also operated a postal service, The St Lucia Ferry Receiving Office, the first formal government use of the name St Lucia.

Land sales were sluggish and combined with the floods and banking crisis of the early 1890s there were a number of bankruptcies, causing much of the area east of Ryans Road to lay dormant for many years. The Carmody family, continued to farm including running a dairy herd.

The land south of Carmody Road attracted the next active phase of residential sub-division. In the 1920s the St Lucia Heights Estate was developed around Ironside State School, and the Coronation Park Estate was developed on either side of the original farmers track which became Coronation Drive. This was renamed Hawken Drive in 1950 following the death of Professor Roger Hawken, recognising his close involvement in the establishment of the University of Queensland at St Lucia.

Funds for the purchase of land to enable the expansion and relocation of the University from Brisbane were donated by Dr James O’Neil Mayne and his sister Miss Mary Emelia Mayne in 1926. Building on the new site commenced once the State Government secured funding in 1937. Temporarily occupied by the Australian Army during the Second World War, the progressive transfer of the University in the late 1940s was the first real catalyst for an intense period of residential development.

By the 1960s St Lucia had four Churches, two Schools, a Bowls Club, a Golf Club, its own newspaper The St Lucia Gazette, and many shops. The residents were involved in Scouts and Guides, School Parents Committee, Red Cross, Lions, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Garden Club, Meals-on Wheels and many other activities, many of which continue to this day.

RETAILING IN ST LUCIA

Around 1890 David Guyatt built and opened the first shop in St Lucia – the Ironside Post Office and Store at what became Guyatt Park. Following the 1893 floods the store was moved further uphill on St Lucia Road, re-named Sir Fred Schonell Drive in 1970, to the corner of Ryans Road where it remained the only store for twenty years.

As the population gradually increased other shops opened at convenient locations, setting the pattern for our current day retail hubs. In 1913 Albert Davies opened a General Store on the corner of Gailey and Swann Roads, in the 1920s J&A Allen on the corner of Mitre Street and St Lucia Road and in 1940s a store opened on Hawken Drive near the Ironside State School. Less enduring locations include the shop opened in 1930 on Laurence Street to serve passengers on their way to and from the West End ferry.

Back then many goods such as eggs, bread, fruit, vegetables, ice and newspapers were delivered by local traders using a horse and cart. Milk was delivered from the local dairy herds in Depper and Warren Street. Hawkers of patent medicines, soft drinks in bottles, clothesline props, firewood, fish etc. called door to door, and mail order catalogues provided access to fashion items. In the shops, goods such as sugar were weighed into paper bags and if you wanted ice cream you brought your own bowl for it to be scooped into.

The growing prosperity of the early 1950s and associated changes in life style, overlaid on the residential dynamic following the opening of the University, heralded a change to the face of retailing in St Lucia. In 1952 Bob Browning built a shop on Hawken Drive and opened one of Brisbane’s first self-serve grocery stores. He became a local identity participating in the development of commerce in the area for more than twenty years. The site is still occupied by a supermarket today. With further shops and a petrol and service station adjacent, and ten years later more shops across the road, including a Post Office in 1964, Hawken Village became the main retail hub of St Lucia and is still serving the residents and the University students today.

[For further detail refer to the SLHG research papers and notes, copies in the Local Studies section of Toowong and Indooroopilly Libraries]

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