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South Brisbane's Cultural Hub: From Post and Telegraph to Griffith Film School

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 December 2012

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Entering Brisbane's South Bank from the Victoria Bridge, we walk past the concrete 1980s Queensland Performing Arts Complex, the brick Queensland Conservatorium and the modern, glass-fronted ABC Broadcasting buildings, then past assorted cafes and pseudo-beaches until reaching the Ship Inn. Here, we enter an enclave of mid- to late-nineteenth-century architectural gems, surrounding and focusing on the small but tranquil South Brisbane Memorial Park (1923). Opposite the Ship Inn (1865), Cumbooquepa (1891) and South Brisbane Town Hall (1891–92), and adjoining the Maritime Museum (1881), at the eastern edge of South Bank Parklands stands a magnificent old building now known as the Griffith Film School. This building has been the cultural hub of South Brisbane for 130 years, and provides a stylish, heritage ‘bookend’ to today's South Bank Cultural and Educational Precinct.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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References

Endnotes

1 Brisbane Courier 29 January 1876: 4.

2 See, for example, Brisbane Courier, 4 June 1881, 6; and 16 July 1881, 6; Queenslander, 11 June 1881, 758; and 13 August 1881, 2; also Fisher, R.et al., Brisbane timeline (Brisbane: Brisbane History Group, 1999)Google Scholar.

3 Watson, D. and McKay, J., Queensland architects of the 19th century: A biographical dictionary (Brisbane: Queensland Museum, 1994), pp. 166–78Google Scholar.

4 National Archives of Australia, J3085, 1883/5068244, ‘South Brisbane Post and Telegraph Office’; Kennedy, M., Conservation plan: Former South Brisbane Library (Brisbane: M. Kennedy, 2005), pp. 49Google Scholar; Brisbane Courier, 4 June 1881, 6; and 16 July 1881, 5 and 6; Queenslander, 25 March 1882, 2; Report of Public Works Department for 1882; and The Week, 3 September 1881, 224.

5 Argus, 26 November 1861, 6; Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, 26 June 1872, 4; Brisbane Courier, 6 August 1866, 3; and 31 October 1870, 5; Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 1916, 9; Favenc, Ernest, The history of Australian exploration from 1788 to 1888 (Sydney: Golden Press, 1888), pp. 419–24Google Scholar; Phoenix, D., ‘John King: an Ulster explorer who became the first person to cross Australia’, Queensland History Journal 21.8 (2012), 517Google Scholar; SLQ Post Office Directory, 1883. Their only child, Edwin Hardman Welch, was born 20 November 1874.

6 Information gleaned from various Queensland government ‘Blue books’, as well as Post Office Directories and electoral rolls.

7 South Brisbane Municipal Council Minute Book 25 May 1888 to 27 October 1890 (Meeting 14 October 1889); Brisbane Courier, 16 October 1889, 4; 16 November 1889, 4 and 5; 4 December 1889, 4 and 5; and 7 February 1890, 4 and 5; and various Post Office Directories. See also Candy, P., Pioneering culture: Mechanics' Institutes and Schools of Arts in Australia (Adelaide: Auslib Press, 1994)Google Scholar.

8 Brewer, F.J. and Dunn, R., The municipal history of South Brisbane (Brisbane: H. Pole & Co, 1925), p. 53Google Scholar; Brisbane Courier, 23 August 1892, 5; 6 September 1892, 6; 26 July 1893, 6; 22 June 1897, 3; and 14 May 1904, 13; and various Post Office Directories.

9 John Burley (1860–1936) was a South Brisbane architect, and this was one of his largest commissions. His design allowed for the future construction of a large Concert Hall, which occurred soon afterwards; however, it was not designed by Burley. See Watson and McKay, Queensland architects, p. 27.

10 Brisbane Courier, 22 June 1897, 3, 4.

11 Brisbane Courier, 22 June 1897, 3. The stone remains but the brass plaque has long since been stolen.

12 Brisbane Courier, 15 February 1898, 7; 16 September 1898, 6; and 17 September 1898, 8 and 9; Evening Observer, 17 September 1898, 6.

13 Kennedy, Conservation plan, p. 11; South Brisbane Municipal Library and School of Arts, Catalogue of books in the library (Brisbane: Cameron, Laing & Co. 1900), p. 3; and Brisbane Courier, 11 May 1897, 3; and 26 May 1897, 6.

14 Knight, J., Historical sketch of the capital of Queensland (Brisbane: Briggs & Morcom, 1897), p. 57Google Scholar. John Knight was a Brisbane journalist, editor and newspaper manager, and a founding member of the Historical Society of Queensland.

15 Alexander Wilson (1857–1938) had trained under F.D.G. Stanley, who had designed the original 1881–82 building, and for whom Wilson then worked as chief draughtsman. Wilson's 1902 addition to the South Brisbane Library had been provided for by John Burley's 1897–98 Jubilee Wing plans. There is no evidence to explain why Wilson rather than Burley was commissioned for the latter work. See Watson and McKay, Queensland architects, pp. 208–10.

16 Brisbane Courier, 20 May 1901, 10. At various times, this was also known as ‘South Brisbane Library Hall’, ‘South Brisbane Technical College Hall’, ‘South Brisbane School of Arts Hall’ and ‘South Brisbane Town Hall’.

17 Brisbane Courier, 26 September 1902, 7.

18 Brisbane Courier, 23 September 1902, 6; 26 September 1902, 7; and 2 October 1902, 7; The Week, 3 October 1902, 25. See also ‘South Brisbane Library (former)’, report by Cultural Heritage Branch, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Government, 4 April 2006.

19 Brisbane Courier, 26 September 1902, 7.

20 Brisbane Courier, 14 May 1904, 13; Daily Mail, 15 May 1906, 2; and 1907 Post Office Directory.

21 Queensland Government Gazette, 81.79 (1903), 636; Brisbane Courier, 6 October 1903, 2 and 6. The other Queensland cities were Brisbane, Rockhampton and Townsville.

22 Brisbane Courier, 14 May 1904, 13.

23 Daily Mail, 15 May 1906, 2; 20 July 1909, 2; and 31 August 1909, 6; Evening Observer, 16 April 1907: 3 and 5; 25 June 1907, 5; and 9 April 1908, 7; and Brisbane Courier, 13 October 1908: 2.

24 Tardent, H., The life and works of Richard John Randall (Brisbane: Anthony James Cumming, 1916), p. 10Google Scholar; Brewer, F.J. and Dunn, R., Municipal history of South Brisbane (Brisbane: self-published, 1925)Google Scholar; and Anon, Catalogue of works in oils, water colours, pastels, black and white etc etc by the late Richard Randall (Brisbane: n.p., 1933).

25 Brisbane Courier, 18 January 1910, 6; 24 May 1910, 5; and 7 July 1914, 4; Daily Mail, 24 May 1910, 6; 8 June 1910, 6; 2 August 1910, 5; and 7 July 1914, 6; Telegraph, 8 June 1910, 5; 19 July 1910, 4; 2 August 1910, 4; 7 July 1914: 5; and 14 July 1914, 4.

26 Brisbane Courier, 4 July 1914, 6; and 6 July 1914, 8.

27 Brisbane Courier, 31 January 1920, 5.

28 For example, see ‘Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage’, City of Brisbane District 5, detailed plan #44, 2 December 1925, from Brisbane City Council Archives; and Brisbane Courier, 26 October 1910, 7; 16 June 1911, 7; 29 July 1911, 4; 5 December 1911, 7; 14 August 1912, 15; 15 August 1912, 15; 23 February 1915, 7; 3 May 1915, 10; 3 June 1915, 10; 12 October 1916, 8; 11 June 1923, 8; 8 October 1923, 9; and 22 October 1924, 21.

29 Queenslander, 9 August 1924, 40.

30 Metcalf, B., ‘The Ship Inn Hotel: A story of South Brisbane and Southbank’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland 20.2 (2007), 3149Google Scholar.

31 Metcalf, B., ‘South Brisbane Memorial Park’, Queensland Review 18.1 (2011), 5472CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32 Metcalf, ‘South Brisbane Memorial Park’, 64–8.

33 For example, Brisbane Courier, 7 October 1931, 9; Courier-Mail, 22 June 1936, 14; 4 October 1940, 4; and 5 December 1949, 4; Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 22 September 1936, 12.

34 Helen Duggan, as interviewed for the documentary film Past forward (2012).

35 Courier-Mail, 23 March 1937: 24, and 22 June 1937: 14; D.G. Sanderson, ‘On air’, unpublished manuscript (1988), presented to Institute of Engineers’ Heritage Panel in August 1993, 27–8; email from Peter Roennfeldt, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, 5 July 2012; Thomas, P., Music in Brisbane and the QSO (Wollongong: Wirripang, 2012), pp. 47Google Scholar; interview with Patrick Thomas, 8 July 2012.

36 Brisbane Courier, 26 May 1933, 14; Courier Mail, 6 November 1936, 23; 29 April 1939, 3; and 12 May 1939, 3.

37 Brisbane Courier, 27 April 1929, 14; 8 November 1929, 7; 30 October 1933, 17; 12 April 1934, 16; 29 September 1934, 10; and Courier Mail, 7 November 1939, 7; Thomas, Music in Brisbane and the QSO, p. 14.

38 Email from and interview with Sam and Meg Rayner in June 2012.

39 Minutes of Committee of South Brisbane Municipal Library and Reading Room, 10 May 1945; 12 July 1945; 12 September 1946; and 12 December 1946, held by Brisbane City Council Archives (#BCA0794); Kennedy, Conservation plan, p. 38; interview with Patrick Thomas, 8 July 2012.

40 Queenslander, 21 October 1922, 31; Courier Mail, 11 December 1936, 23.

41 Emails dated 19 June 2012 and 14 August 2011.

42 Emails dated 20 and 21 June 2012.

43 Alice Blue Gown was written in 1919 for the Broadway hit musical, Irene, and made famous by singers such as Frank Sinatra. Probably the most touching of the lyrics for my informant would have been: ‘In my sweet little Alice blue gown/ When I first wandered down into town/ I was so proud inside/ As I felt every eye/ And in every shop window I primped, passing by.’

44 Email dated 22 August 2011.

45 Thomas, Music in Brisbane and the QSO, pp. 14, 38. The 45-member QSO's first public performance was on 27 March 1947 at Brisbane City Hall.

46 Minutes of Committee of South Brisbane Municipal Library and Reading Room, 10 February 1949, 9 March 1950, 13 December 1951, 13 March 1952 and 18 December 1952, held by Brisbane City Council Archives (#BCA0794).

47 Email dated 16 November 2011.

48 Emails from Barrie Hayne, 7 August 2011 and 20 June 2012.

49 Email from Pat Hunt, 18 June 2012.

50 Email from Peter Roennfeldt, 18 June 2012; and Department of Education letters dated 5 October and 11 December 1959, held by Peter Roennfeldt.

51 Minutes of Committee of South Brisbane Municipal Library and Reading Room, 15 September 1955; 15 March 1956 and 21 November 1957; held by Brisbane City Council Archives (#BCA0794); Courier-Mail, 23 March 1946, 6; 24 July 1946, 3; 17 September 1946, 5; 25 June 1949, 3; 2 November 1949, 9; 15 November 1949, 5; 1 August 1950, 7; 3 November 1950, 8; 12 April 1951, 5; 6 March 1952, 3; 21 November 1952, 6; 2 January 1953, 7; 18 September 1953, 3; and 28 September 1954, 1.

52 Pat Hunt (nee Styles) in an email dated 7 September 2011, and as interviewed for the documentary film, Past Forward (2012).

53 Email from Pat Hunt, 18 June 2012.

54 Minutes of Committee of South Brisbane Municipal Library and Reading Room, 20 April and 25 May 1961, held by Brisbane City Council Archives (#BCA0794); also R. Fisher et al., Brisbane Timeline, Brisbane: Brisbane History Group, 1999.

55 ‘Closure and Demolition of South Brisbane Library’, memorandum dated 28 August 1973, Department of City Administration, held by Brisbane City Council Archives.

56 Courier-Mail, 14 June 1986, 16.

57 Sunday Mail, 15 March 1987, 15 (magazine); and 3 April 1988, 79; and Courier-Mail, 15 April 1987, 11; and 29 April 1988, 78.

58 Griffith University Archives, file 08/05/0078-01, letters dated 9 February 2005, 23 March 2005, and 16 December 2005; and Courier-Mail, 12 November 2004, 10.

59 Courier-Mail, 7 April 2007, 32. See also Kennedy, Conservation plan.

60 Interview with Professor Marilyn McMeniman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Griffith University, 12 April 2011; and Ministerial Statements, Hon. P.D. Beattie, 11 November 2004 and 14 March 2007.

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