The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc

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From the President - Apr 2019

2 Apr 2019 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Australian Geography Competition mailout was completed during the week of 12-15 March. Special thanks to Lilia Darii, Kath Berg, John and Mary Nowill for taking on extra responsibilities with this mailout and to members: Ian Francis, Roger Grimley, Neville McManimm, Mary Comer, Kay and Graham Rees, Bob Reed, Catherine Martin, John and Doreen Wilkinson for their help and other RGSQ members for their offer of assistance.

I am happy to report that the fit-out work at our new premises in Fortescue Street, Spring Hill is now complete. Staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly throughout this process to keep RGSQ activities going. I would especially like to thank Bob Abnett and his Gregory House Committee, (Paul Broad, Ian Francis, Chris Spriggs and Bernard Fitzpatrick), for their excellent work in designing, organising and supervising the fit-out, and for many member volunteers who have given their time and effort in setting up our new space. It’s a pleasure to now be able to invite members to visit our new home on Open day on April 9th.

 RGSQ's new home - Gregory House, 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill
[photo: I Childs]

Long-time residents of Brisbane may have memories of Spring Hill. Now an extension of the CBD, many older residential and commercial structures have been replaced by modern office blocks and apartment buildings. Here are some historical snippets which I have managed to dig out about our neighbourhood.

Spring Hill is one of Brisbane’s oldest suburbs, with many houses dating from the nineteenth century. Spring Hill was so named because the hill on which the suburb was built was the source of the creek that was Brisbane's first fresh water supply. Boundary Street was named due to the racist policy of separating Europeans from the Jagera and Turrbal peoples whose territories originally extended from Moreton Bay to Toowoomba, including Brisbane and Ipswich. Aboriginal people were exiled beyond the boundary lines after 4pm, six days a week and completely on Sundays. Police troopers rode the perimeter cracking stock-whips and rigidly enforced the curfew.

Following land subdivisions in the 1870s, the lower Spring Hill slopes became increasingly overcrowded. By the time of the Great Depression in 1929, Spring Hill had become renowned for its seedy cheap rents, crowded boarding houses, high levels of unemployment, brothels and criminals which all helped to give Spring Hill a bad reputation that continued until the 1950s. In the 1960s some parts of Spring Hill began to attract young professionals who were drawn to the character of the area. This heralded an era of gentrification with many of the small timber and tin “workers” cottages and grand historic buildings along Wickham Terrace beautifully restored. Today, Spring Hill is one of Brisbane’s most sought-after places to live. Fortescue Street is representative of these changes.

The Lady in Blue, 122 Fortescue Street
This is the former site of the Presbyterian Mission Hall. Deaconess May Walker gave forty years of her life looking after the poor and needy in Spring Hill, becoming known as the ‘Blue Angel’. She sought to alleviate the poverty and hardship she saw in Spring Hill, particularly women and children. In the 1920s, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church constructed a mission hall on the corner of Fortescue and Wedd streets to assist with her endeavours. The hall became a community centre where those in need could go and be given food, clothing and nursing also. Now the site is residential units.

 Claydon House, 149 Fortescue St
[Photo: R Carlisle]

This building was constructed in 1879 by Irish bricklayer, William Jackson. Upon completion of the building, Jackson ran the unlicensed “Spring Hill Tavern” from the premises. Popular legend has it that it was so noisy and disreputable that a public petition demanded its closure in 1888.

The building was converted to a local store in the early 1900s. Renovations over the years have maintained its external heritage significance. The building is now a legal practice.

 
 In 1968 - Colonial Cottages, 130-146 Fortescue St. The former Main Roads Building now the Johnson Hotel
[Source https://www.facebook.com/
Lost.Brisbane/photos
 Main Roads Dept, Spring Hill, 1968. Photo - Richard Stringer]
And now, 2019 - Park Terrace
[Photo: I Childs]






 

The row of five cottages called ‘Park Terrace’ was built between 1889 and 1890 by local engineer James Anderson as investment properties. Fortescue Street was then a well-established suburban street. Targeted at a professional clientele, the rents for each cottage may have been higher than other houses in Fortescue Street. e.g. in 1890, the cottages were home to an engineer, an architect, the secretary of the Queensland Club and a Madame Boucherville (profession unknown). By 1910, the tenants renting the cottages had changed to artisan and working class people including a shop assistant, tailoress, prison guard and a missionary. Park Terrace had fallen into disrepair by the 1970s and Spring Hill’s character and proximity to the city was increasingly valued. By 1988, all five cottages had been restored and they are still there today.

References
Early Settler Recollections of Bygone Brisbane, http://www.brisbanehistory.com/HAP_recollect.html

Saunter through Spring Hill. Brisbane Heritage Trails. Brisbane City Council https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/20150604_-_saunter_through_spring_hill.pdf
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Brisbane could rename historically racist Boundary streets, Brisbane times January 30, 2016

Dr Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President

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