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Murphy's Gift to Chermside

A Large Block of Land Among Many Small Blocks

On 29/9/1868 William Edward Murphy purchased 509 acres (206 Ha) of land, which became known as Murphy's Paddock . A second survey dated 15/2/1892 showed Murphy Road and stated the area as 506 acres less 4 acres for roads giving a total of 502 acres (203Ha).

Thomas Hamilton in his writings traces the selling of Murphy's Paddock through Michael Ballinger, who used it as a dairy farm, Mr. Cowlishaw, John King of Kedron and Alonzo Sparkes Ltd., when the name Sparkes' Paddock was used.

Map of Murphy's Paddock 1864_540
When Huxtable surveyed the area of the future Chermside he established many small allotments of 10 to 30 acres. Why he left this large space divided by an unnamed creek is a mystery. When Murphy bought it the name Murphy's Paddock was used. Had he divided it up like the rest of the area the results for present day Chermside would have been profoundly different.

Division of Murphy's Paddock

Some time after Murphy died in 1881, the land was sold to Michael Ballinger who divided it into the present two blocks separated by Murphy Road. The smaller, northern block of 101 acres (41 Ha), was given to his son, John.

On 24/8/1899, George Marchant, a wealthy soft drink manufacturer, bought the northern block of 101 acres (41 Ha) to use it as a spelling paddock for his delivery wagon horses. This block became the present Marchant Park.

The larger southern part of 401 acres was sold several times with Alonzo Sparkes (1848-1923) the last private owner paying 2150 in July 1909, ($218,200 in 2004 values) He used the area as a spelling paddock for his stocks of sheep and cattle which were slaughtered there for his six butcher shops in North Brisbane. The slaughter yard, operating as A. Sparkes Ltd, was closed when the Qld Government set up the State Abattoirs at Cannon Hill in 1931.

Alonzo Sparkes' Butcher Shop in Valley C1900
Butchers wearing their striped aprons, white shirts and ties are standing inside the Sparkes Butcher shop at the corner of Brunswick Street and Barry Parade, Fortitude Valley. A suited gentleman is visible in the photograph, possibly a meat inspector. A number of meat carcasses are hanging in rows. Photo courtesy of John Oxley Library.

Commonwealth Moves in During World War II

On the 4th June 1941 the Commonwealth Government resumed Sparkes' Paddock for 10,050 pounds after it was valued at 9,973 pounds and set up the Chermside Qld Camp Site where thousands of young men trained for the New Guinea theatre in WWII.

Chermside Camp WWII Sketch_540
The WWII Army Camp occupied the whole of Sparkes' Paddock but not Earley's paddock in the bottom left corner. The latter was bounded by Banfield and Playfield Streets, Gympie and Hamilton Road. The capital letters mark the sections of the camp with H & G sections on the south side of Hamilton Road.

After the World War II more changes

  • From 1962 to 1964 the Comm. Dept of Housing acquired 70 acres of Sparkes' Paddock to build 320 homes as War Service Houses. Qld Housing Commission built 975 homes during this time, making a total of 1,295 houses. It is not clear if they were all built on Sparkes' Paddock.
  • Meanwhile the open parkland left in what was Murphy's Paddock is:
  • --7th Brigade Park -- 73 hectares or 180.3 acres.
  • --Marchant Park -- 39 hectares or 96.33 acres.
  • Total: 112 hectares or 276.6 acres
Murphy's Paddock - Changes after WWII_540
After WWII Marchant Park remained unchanged but the area of Sparkes' Paddock was reduced by housing. The northern or Geebung section on the south side of Ellison Road was the War Commission area. The South East corner bounded by Hamilton and Newman Roads was taken by the Housing Commission. Map courtesy of Brisbane City Council.

Kidspace, the biggest cubby house in town

This 21st Century giant 'cubby house' was built in 7th Brigade Park off Murphy Road in December 1996 by some 900 volunteers, the Australian Army and the Brisbane City Council personnel; it was a joint project between the Council and Aspley Lions Club.

The concept originated in the USA and in order to build it a group of young Americans came out and supervised the organisation, which was immense, and the building which was done in strictly controlled manner. The author, had several jobs, one being to assemble the chimes which included suspending a series of steel pipes by bicycle brake cable and I ran out of cable. Since it was a Sunday and the bicycle shops were closed, I had to remove one of the cables from my bicycle to finish the job on time.

After the structure was completed it became apparent that a roof was needed to shield the small children from the Queensland sun but this was not done till 1998 when funds from the council became available. The complex includes electric barbeques, shelters and toilets which make it ideal for families with small children to picnic in the park.

In 1999 the newly built toilets at Kidspace were burnt in a $60,000 blaze one night by a group of youths; they were subsequently 'dobbed in' to the authorities by their families for this senseless, vicious piece of vandalism. There has also been some attempts to set fire to the structure itself.

Kidspace in 7th Brigade Park_540
Kidspace is now 10 years old and is one of the most innovative adventure playgrounds devised for public use.

Chermside Hub

The hub grew over a long period of time starting with the building of the Olympic Pool in 1964 which was remodelled into the Aquatic Centre in the 1990s. This gave a much wider appeal with wading pool for the very little, an indoor heated therapy pool people suffering illnesses, a high slippery slide for the young and a pool for swimmers of all ages.

In 1968 the Kedron-Wavell Services club was formed at a public meeting, obtained a lease from the City Council and began building the present Club premises which opened in 1970.

In 1996 the Chermside Library opened in the hub and in 2004 expanded to include meeting rooms, a coffee shop and extensions to the library.

The Chermside Hub consists of the Kedron-Wavell Services Club and its hockey fields, the Chermside Library and the Aquatic Centre.