The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc

Log in

Brisbane in the 1890s, Ronald Lawson

  • 27 May 2019 4:42 PM
    Message # 7448436
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Brisbane in the 1980s, Ronald Lawson
    University of Queensland Press, 1973
    RGSQ Library 994.3 LAW

    Synopsis by Rob Simson

    This is indeed a history book but the geographical setting is clearly woven into the presentation through the text, maps, diagrams and photographic illustrations.

    The 1890s was a most significant decade in the growth of the city and the development of Brisbane society. It is the decade of the monster floods of early 1893 with much of the city centre and all of South Brisbane under water. There followed the impact of the depression and the closing of eight out of eleven banks in May that same year, as well as the strengthening of the Labour Union movement with the resulting workers’ strikes around the State. The success of the suburban railways and the new electric tramway system allowed the beginning of the urban sprawl into the suburbs. Housing estate were lavishly advertised in the newspapers. The politics of the Australian Federation movement stirred up community debate, and the growth of a more active middle class came about in response to the School of Arts adult education system. Brisbane Grammar was the leading secondary school but several rival schools emerged during the decade — education at last being truly valued. Then came the establishment of the Brisbane Technical College, the emergence of the University Extension service and a push towards giving women equal opportunities to pursue University careers. (Despite several bills going before the Queensland Parliament the UQ was not founded till 1909).

    It was during the 1890s decade that some of Brisbane’s most attractive architecture emerged — the Treasury Building, Parliament House, Government House and the Exhibition Building being amongst them. Large sporting complexes were established at Albion Park and Woolloongabba with spectator facilities for Rugby Union football, cricket, lawn tennis, swimming, hockey and cycling. Sailing and rowing were also major sporting or leisure activities on the river. However it was Horse Racing that remained the most popular spectator sport with the premier venue at Eagle Farm.

    I personally found the sections on Sport, the Theatre (including the Brisbane Opera House), Music halls and pantomimes, gala Balls for the elite and Dancing halls for the less affluent, most interesting. A bequest of the Thomas Murray-Prior collection towards establishing an Art gallery, didn’t lead to much progress possibly because, unlike Victoria, the latter suffered from the lack of wealthy patronage in Queensland.

    What may be of more interest to RGSQ Members is section on Public Meetings and Lectures (p 228-229), where the Royal Society of Queensland and our own society had regular lectures and talks which were also printed in both society’s proceedings. The two societies overlapped in their membership, drawn from diverse professions, including the clergy, solicitors, judges, parliamentarians, pastoralists, medical practitioners and professional scientists.

    Last modified: 27 May 2019 4:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc
Gregory Place, Level 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill Qld 4000
Tel 07 3368 2066
ABN 87 014 673 068

Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  © RGSQ

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software