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Chapter 6 – Post World War II – Rapid Expansion – Social Change 1946-1969


This period sees Chermside undergo a very rapid change, from a semirural to a suburban setting in a matter of a few decades. It was so rapid that people were very well aware of the changes taking place. Streets appeared in the bush rapidly followed by houses in large numbers lining the new streets while new people were appearing, some from nonBritish countries. Small local creeks were disappearing into pipes but flooding still occurred when the heavy rains came.

The trams carried large numbers of people to and from work daily; the pace of life was speeding up as more cars appeared and new shops were built culminating in the first drivein shopping centre in Australia. Chermside must have seemed like a mini New York ‘down under’.

The school enrolment climbed like a fireman racing up a ladder and infrastructure was struggling to keep up. People were buying new products and new versions of old products in unprecedented quantities.

The boom times had arrived and skilled labour was scarce; prices were rising and shortages were disappearing; credit was available and borrowing became common for all types of goods other than the traditional mortgage on the house.

A new generation, the ‘baby boomers’, was born and they greatly increased the demand for children’s goods and services, many of which their parents never experienced; a new way of life was emerging.

The early postwar period marked a turning point in the steady change from what had been the traditional way of life existing in Chermside from the time of white settlement, into a new life style which would evolve over the coming decades and generations. Chermside had been part of the rural urban fringe of a small northern coastal subtropical collection of suburbs, called Brisbane which was variously described as a ‘large country town’ or ‘a collection of suburbs in search of a city’. But Brisbane was changing into Australia’s subtropical capital city. In turn the whole coastal strip was evolving into central part of the large conurbation which was developing from south of the New South Wales border to Gympie and further north. The region was moving from the era of the corner store to that of the Shoppingtown.

Until the end of the war Chermside had been a retail and small workshop centre. The post war period was to see it metamorphose into a commercial centre with a variety of services such as legal, financial, banking, wholesale, medical, dental, recreational clubs, sporting clubs, taxation centre, and a Federal Government services centre.


The figures in the table show clearly the dramatic growth of population in Chermside during the postwar building boom. The 1971 census was the first modern census in which the Indigenous people were counted. These figures were all assessed under the old boundaries of the suburb and dropped dramatically when the boundaries were changed in 1975.

Year Population

1947 5,055

1954 15,215

1961 19,972

1966 26,189

1971 29,542

Change from Semirural to Suburban

In 1945 when the war ended Chermside and the surrounding area was still semirural with small farms, a lot of bushland and small local industries. It was a small town where little had changed and families were long settled, as Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) describes it:

I was born in 1951 and my childhood memories of Chermside bring images of people who passed through all our lives on a daily basis. Because there were many ‘old’ families in this suburb, there are many people who intermingle in my memories. There are often several layers of families and extended families with whom I grew up in Chermside, and so at one time I would have been friends with a ‘‘babyboomer’, their parents, their grandparents, and possibly greatgrandparents .

Chermside was on the growing edge of north Brisbane and ready for a surge of population with all the development that would follow, but there were problems. There was the shortage of all sorts of materials and labour as Lord Mayor Chandler at the 1946 election remarked:

We are still dreadfully short of materials and plant ….Strikes and shipping holdups have played havoc with our supplies, and have delayed important work for months. We are short of planners, designers, draughtsmen, and almost all skilled labour .

This was to be a constant refrain till well into the 1950s as the scramble continued to overcome the wartime shortages, especially in the housing sector.

In order to produce more houses the State Government introduced the Housing Commission to provide cheap serviceable houses on blocks of newly cleared land for people to buy and own. The Federal government continued the War Service Homes Authority to provide home loans to exservice personnel at favourable interest rates. These were large organisations and built on a large scale providing thousands of new homes many of which were built in the Chermside district.

Gradually the shortages were being overcome; the population was rising, industry was gradually diversifying and a much wider range of goods was appearing on the market, especially in the area of domestic white goods and automobiles. Prosperity was creating more consumer demand and more people came to Australia. Immigration was changing the face of Australia and Chermside was ideally positioned to benefit from the changes.


Successive Federal governments fearful of having to again defend Australia tried to build up the population by bringing out very large numbers of people from Europe; many of these people were skilled workers, who were badly needed in Australia to overcome the skill shortage. They had to be housed, fed, clothed and supplied with a wide range of goods so that demand for consumer items rose strongly and investment in industry rose creating new capital equipment so that productivity rose also.

On the 29 October 1956 the Brisbane Daily Telegraph reported on Chermside’s first naturalisation ceremony held in the Kindergarten Hall beside the new Methodist Church on corner of Hamilton and Gympie Roads, presided over by Alderman M S Duus.

The 60 candidates for naturalization were natives of Albania, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Poland, Russian, Sweden and Stateless. The last category knew where they came from but they had no papers to prove their nationality being some of the millions of people displaced by the war in Europe. These people were herded into Germany, by the Nazis, in cattle trucks as slave labourers to work under appalling conditions, not least being the Allied bombing raids which must have killed many of them.

The newly proclaimed Australians varied in age from 17 to 71 years with occupations of labourer, master mechanic, manufacturing jeweller, home duties, carpenter, welder, student, tailor, accountant, truck driver, architect, glazier, trimmer, bus driver, painter, shop assistant, soldier, nurse, clerk, tramway conductor. Not only were these people welcome to a country crying out for population but they were already trained and skilled at great expense by their native countries; Australia benefited enormously from such immigrants.

Most had lived in Australia for only four and a half years having migrated in the postwar period but some had been here as long as 32 years. No matter, as the popular Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, used to say after he had presented citizenship papers and administered the oath of loyalty to groups of new Australians, “You’re all Bloody Australians now”, laugh and lead the clapping.


By the standards of 1946 Chermside was still remote from the city as there was no train connection with the area but that was finally overcome by the extension of the tram line. This was the last piece of infrastructure needed for the long housing boom of the post war period; cheap mass transport finally arrived in Chermside. On the 30 March 1947 the extension of the tram line from Lutwyche Cemetery to Hamilton Road Chermside, a distance of one mile was opened . This was 22 years after the line reached Lutwyche and is an indication of the slow growth of the Chermside area over that interwar period.

Without the tram ordinary working people could not travel freely and the tram would not be extended until there were sufficient customers in the Chermside area to justify the cost. With the demand for house building land increasing strongly, the Brisbane City Council decided to build the line hoping that people would use it. The double line was laid and rose beds were planted on both sides. Such ‘extravagance’ was possible because there were not many motor vehicles using the road; the tram was king of the road. Chermside marked the permanent end of the tram line along Gympie Road and the furthest north that the trams reached in Australia.

But even such a welcome improvement as the trams were there was a ‘down’ side or a price to pay. Des Lee remembers: “One of the saddest events was the cutting down of the very old and large gum trees that were growing down the centre of Gympie Road to make way for the trams and the rose garden beds.” The trees were not continuous but scattered all the way from the Lutwyche Cemetery to about Murphy Road at Chermside.

The end of petrol rationing in 1949 possibly marks the beginning of the motor car age in Australia. This meant that cheap fuel was available and full employment enabled many working people to buy cars on time payment or using wartime savings. However cars were not cheap and in 1948 the first Holden, the 48215 (FX), cost about 80 times the average weekly wage. This price was to reduce dramatically as mass production developed and by 1981 the Holden Commodore was costing about 30 times the average wage.

As more people moved into the area, the roads were improved with sealing, kerbing, guttering and street lighting. But the price of land was rising and so were the rates. As more people bought cars, the use of trams declined until the trams were taking up space needed by the cars. Finally on 13 April 1969, the tram made its last journey to Chermside.

The lines were ripped up, the electric wires taken down, the rose gardens vanished and asphalt covered the entire Gympie Road. The motor car had won and it only took 22 years, indeed Chermside was changing rapidly.

Maura Tuite remembers that there was a sense of panic when the last tram came to Chermside and was replaced by buses. People liked the trams which had been around as long as they could remember and life without them was going to be uncertain. But people survived and gradually forgot the old rattlers.

A significant change was taking place in the oil business during the 1950s when the oil companies bought up many small multi brand garages, as they were then called, and replaced them with single brand service stations. This was another intrusion of large outside firms into the local area and was aimed at securing or increasing the share of each company in the growing local market.


1947 – Early postwar development.

That year in a newspaper report, announcing “Model Planning in estate at Chermside”, the Housing Minister, Mr Power, noted that a 106 acre (43ha) estate at Wavell Heights had been subdivided into 410 building allotments and would provide housing for about 2,000 people. The scheme featured reservations for shopping centre, parks, sports ground, State School and a Child Welfare Centre.

This was the largest town planning scheme of its kind undertaken by the Housing Commission to that time. The Rode Road section of 36 acres (14.5 hectares) with 156 building allotments was the first section to be built. There were eight shopping sites in this section and 1.2 hectares of park land. Streets and drainage had been constructed and housing was well underway; the area was well served by the Chermside tram.

On the 6 March 1949 Sergeant Perry applied for an additional constable at Chermside Police station and in it he wrote that in the 30 miles² (77.6 km²) of area covered by his station the population was estimated at 11,000 and had risen by 4,000 in the past four years while, in the last two years, 20 new streets had been made; only half had been named but houses were going up in all of them. The Queensland Housing Commission had built about 300 houses while private builders had built about 100 houses with all being occupied and more were under construction; much of this activity seems to have been in Chermside itself.

Sergeant Perry continues the Chermside Military Camp Area had been turned into a temporary housing area, with 80 families present, “half of whom are no hopers, continually squabbling amongst themselves, and their neighbours…..I have been called to this area several times of late, at night, to settle or prevent quarrels between drunken husbands and their wives and neighbours.”

Some people, often with only handyman skills were building their own houses by firstly erecting a shed, which would eventually become a garage, and living in it while they built their house. When the house was partly built they would move in and continue building, sometimes for years, till it was completed; or maybe they would get a builder when it all became too much for them. Dr Ford notes that this situation improved when the War Service and Housing Commission began operations.

The building continued unabated and in 1952 Police SubInspector C. Sullivan noted “800 new houses have been built along, or close to Hamilton Road, Chermside in the past three years” In 1954 the Sergeant at Chermside Police station reported that in the previous four years 665 houses had been built in Chermside. While these figures overlap it does give some idea of the pace of house building in the area; Chermside had never had seen anything like it.

From 1962 to 1964 the Department of Housing acquired 28 hectares the northern end of Sparkes’ Paddock to build 320 (my count is 335) houses as War Service Homes; the area is bounded by Ellison Road, Newman Road, Delaware Street and Murphy Road. In the same period the Qld Housing Commission built 975 (my count is 522) homes in the south eastern end of Sparkes’ Paddock. In 1963 Brisbane City Council acquired the remaining 71 hectares of Sparkes’ Paddock from the Government which became the Hamilton Road Reserve and in March 1996, 7th Brigade Park.

At about the same, time housing spread over the area known as West Nundah, which developed into the suburb of Wavell Heights. So great was the demand for skilled labour that workers came from Germany and Italy to work on the projects and finally to settle in the area permanently.

Added to the influx of new residents there was the maturing ‘baby boomers’ as Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) comments:

Many of us girls born 1941 – 1955 were married by the time we were 21 and again the baby boomers created a need – this time for housing estates and so came Albany Creek, Chermside West, the Pie Estate on Webster Road, and on out to Hamilton Road and Rode Road, into Everton Hills, Arana Hills, Ferny Hills and Ferny Grove, and the expansion goes on, and on, and on, even today (2006).

Ron Goward, brother of Jennifer, born 1948, in his essay ‘Some Things I Remember about Chermside’ describes his family house built after the second war in which his father served:

Mum and Dad built a house in Kingsmill Street. I remember it as lowset, with a corrugated fibro roof, and its colour was a kind of very dark brown, almost black. I now know that building materials, including paint, were scarce in the postwar period. The black colour was because the weather boards of the house had been painted with linseed oil. It must have been slathered on because all along the bottoms of the boards there were dried up drops of oil. They had hardened and we would pull them off with our finger nails. Inside, the walls were of a mixture of masonite and fibro, and in each room there were different mouldings and trims. It seems the builder would put an order in and, again due to the postwar building boom, take what he could get!

There were no gutters along the footpath outside number 31, just a hollow depression in the dirt between our fence and the narrow bitumen strip down the middle of the road, although there was a concrete channel across the end of Miller Street, where it met Kingsmill Street. I remember that every now and then the dirt edges would be graded. Mr Barker from our church was the grader driver: I remember he had very thick, bottlebottom glasses.

I can remember milk being delivered in a horsedrawn buggy. We would leave a billy on the front step, and the milkman would pour the milk from a much bigger billy from his cart. Bread was delivered each day (“two loaves on Friday”), and I remember the horse slipping on the concrete at the end of Miller Street, and the sulky overturning: bread everywhere! A large block of ice was delivered every day for the ice chest in the kitchen.


The following two couples were in many ways typical of the hundreds of young marrieds in the early post World War II period setting up house in Chermside. Lyn and Allan Currie arrived in 1947 to what became Eastleigh Street when the area was just bush and a wheel track about 200 m long on the south side of Hamilton Road. The second couple, Maura and Kevin Tuite came in 1954 to a ready made Playfield Street with cleared sites on each side; the Brisbane City Council was tightening the regulations and demanding higher, and more costly, standards of developers.

Eastleigh Street

Lyn Walsh from Townsville married Allan Currie from Kangaroo Point at Saint Mary’s, Kangaroo Point in 1947. They were living at the Bulimba Hostel when they met; Allan had served in the Army in New Guinea. Their three children were educated at Wavell Heights State School and Wavell High.

Lyn Currie (nee Walsh) writes in July 2001

The same year, 1947, we purchased 24 perches (607 m²) of land which eventually

became 9 Eastleigh Street, Chermside at a cost of ₤87 ($4,250 in 2004 values) and a receipt of ₤40 ($1,950 in 2004 values) was given by the vendor, a woman in Townsville. There were price restrictions at the time.

When the land was bought it was covered in native timbers, which were cleared by my husband, using an axe on weekends. We had a motor bike, and were able to travel along Hamilton Road, with me riding pillion, to the bottom of Eastleigh Street, where I had to dismount and walk the rest of the way, as the street was just a bush track.

However, with a few exceptions, the Housing Commission bought up most of the remaining land around us and came out and bulldozed all the trees in about one week. We could not believe our eyes when we came out the following weekend; it looked like the surface of the moon!

The original plan was drawn by Theo Hutton of Ford, Hutton and Newell. It started off as a two bedroom home, with an extra long second bedroom, part of which would become a hallway leading to the third bedroom when it was built on.

Built by a Scotsman, Jack Dobson, who had already built his own home near the end of Miller Street where it joins Kingsmill Street. There have been units there now for many years. Jack’s brotherinlaw, Spencer Garden was his partner. Spencer had built his own house near the bottom of Greenbank Street where it joins Hamilton Road. This is also now units.

Materials for No. 9 Eastleigh Street were hard to come by in 1947. The roof was to have been corrugated fibro, but that was unavailable, so a concrete tiled roof was substituted. Also, an enamel bath was not available when needed, so a concrete one was installed instead. (Very cold on the rear end when the bath water started to cool down) The children were always told to “sit on the washer”.

No hot water system of course. An electric bath heater was installed at the end of the plunge bath, and water for washing up in the kitchen a few steps away was carried out from the bath heater.

The builders had no trenchdiggers of any sort. Everything was done by pick and shovel, manually. Also no nail guns and the hammers would go all day driving in nails. Saws were manual, no electric ones.

Mixing concrete was done without even an electric mixer. No such thing as a truck of liquid concrete for a pour; all done on a slab on the ground, with the hose going for added liquid when needed.

Jack Dobson was a real craftsman. He built all the kitchen cupboards himself and they are still going strong. Pine was used for the shelving no premade fixtures at all.

An excellent floor was laid. This was polished professionally and used that way for many years; just a few scatter rugs.

Although there had been lots of delays for lack of materials, the house was ready for moving into by August 1948.

The lawn was started by taking a pushcart up to what is now Burnie Brae Park and bringing back little clumps of grass which were planted then rolled with a tennis court roller, and watered regularly. Hard Work!

In the 1950s there were lovely polyanthus roses grown on both sides of the tramline — which ended at the Uniting Church, Chermside. Every year the bushes were trimmed by the City Council gardeners, and any branches cut off were allowed to be taken by the public for planting in their own gardens. We had very nice roses growing in our garden after striking them from the off cuts. This went on for a number of years.

Originally the toilet was the traditional closet down the back yard which was a pan service provided by the council which was inconvenient in the dark or wet weather. This was changed in 1965 when the sewerage was connected.

Playfield Street, 410m long off the north side of Hamilton Road into the bush with 27 houses on each side was developed in about 1952 with the houses probably being built over the years 19531955.

Maura Drew from Kedron, and Kevin Tuite, from Kingaroy, were married in January 1954 and moved in to No. 34 Playfield Street in August and were among the first half dozen couples to settle in the street. The builder was M Marchand, a Frenchman, who built several other houses nearby. Possibly the first house in Playfield Street was No. 39 built in 1953/4. A number of the homes were financed under the War Service Homes scheme for those who served in World War II.

With only about one family in three owning a car the area was heavily dependent on public transport which, at the time was the Brisbane City Council tram system. Since the trams travelled along Gympie Road and terminated at Hamilton Road it was only a short walk to catch one for a visit to the city. In addition there were all the usual tradesmen calling such as the baker, butcher, milkman, iceman, fruito and the door to door salesmen.

Practically all of Maura’s shopping could be done within an area of a couple of hundred metres from the house so transport was not a problem. They owned a little Austin A40 car which Kevin used to drive to his job as a butcher at Pinkenba and which could be used for the occasional trip to places off the tram line.

The area only had the one street which was sealed, kerbed and guttered and had lighting as the Council required the developer to do all this before any houses could be built. The surrounding land was covered by low scrub with more substantial timbers around Somerset Creek which was behind the house to the west and curved to the east about 150 metres beyond the northern end of the street. Today it is channelled underground beneath the Westfield Shoppingtown but in the 1950s it used to flood regularly.

The area where the RSL, Library and Aquatic Centre are located had been cleared, probably for the wartime army camp.

Their house was typical of the time with chamfer board walls and cement tiled roof, the internal linings were plaster and fibro and the floors polished. The kitchen had builtin cupboards and was equipped with electric stove and refrigerator; the laundry had a washing machine with wringer on top and a Malleys hot water system was located in the bathroom. There were five power points installed at strategic points throughout the house to serve all the electrical appliances. Gas was available for those who preferred it, likewise the telephone could be, and was, connected in 1959.

Maura and Kevin had three children, which was about the average for the area, born at Brisbane Hospital and educated at Wavell Heights, Our Lady of the Angels Primary and the family attended the adjacent Saint Pascal’s Catholic Church.

The nearest doctors were on Gympie Road with Dr. Parer beside the Methodist Church, Dr Ryan on the western side and another one on Hamilton Road at Wavell Heights. A dentist, Stan Walsh, was located at Corrie Street and later moved to Gympie Road.

Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) adds:

My earliest memory of doctor’s visits was to old Dr Parer, when he lived in his home beside the Chermside Methodist Church and held surgery in his home. Eventually, the house became the surgery and he and Mrs Parer moved to another home. When that happened, he and Dr Pozzi Snr expanded the practice and we got to know Dr John and Dr Stephen Pozzi. Dr Stephen had qualified as a vet first, and then trained as a human doctor, before coming into the practice. When the new twostorey surgery was built, one of the other doctors to come was Dr Scanlan.

The Sixties saw the arrival of Dr Anderson who opened his own surgery in premises on the city side of the Commonwealth Bank, and for a period of time Mrs Gertie Born from Western Ave, was his receptionist.

West Chermside

By the early 1950s the character of West Chermside was beginning to change. The small farm sector was fading, as economies of scale began to drive industries like dairying and poultry farming towards larger production requiring bigger land holdings .

However there was a problem. The Brisbane City Council Town Plan which divided the city into nine zones, involved the development of separate satellite towns and suburbs separated from the main city and each other by continuous open spaces called green belts; these were to be part parkland and part farming areas all zoned as rural.

The postwar reconstruction of roads and infrastructure, along with the huge housing boom and the lack of planners, meant that the growth of the city outstripped the development of the plan and it became more of a dream as the future unfolded.

In 1956 William Basnett, a dairy farmer of West Chermside, challenged the Council in the Land Court and won the right to subdivide his property into building blocks instead of being part of the proposed Green Belt. This case played a part in ending the Green Belt plan and opened the way to develop his property; others soon followed.

Since the new suburb grew out of the small farms and bush that covered most of the area it enabled the Council and developers to make it a completely planned modern suburb depending on the motor car for transport, as automobiles were becoming commonplace by the late 1950s.

The Telegraph, Saturday 14 June 1969, reported that the settlement was referred to as Nappy Valley by many people till a more elegant name was chosen; West Chermside was gazetted in 1975. But the colloquial name aptly described not only the new arrivals but also the new area with its modern houses, shopping centre and churches. The writer commented, “It is not a suburb of corner stores and scattered shops, but has a compact drivein shopping centre offering most of the facilities needed – this type of shopping is ideal for the predominance of young families who live in the area.”

A resident, Mrs Clegg, noted “The development in this area has been fantastic, particularly in the past two years. When we came to live in Maundrell Terrace, eight years ago (1961), it was just a bush track. Ours was the only house in the area; we had no neighbours or transport services.”

Another resident, Mrs C J Quinn, moved from Aspley on to a large block which gave the family the feeling of living in the country.

The trees were preserved as much as possible, land set aside for parks, the average house block was 25 perches (632 m²) and most were sewered. The writer commented they “have transformed an area of cow sheds and pig farms into a modern, growing suburb in just a few years.”

By 1973 the Telegraph reported that “Craigslea State School, which has carpet on the floor and acoustic tiles on the ceiling, was begun in 1972 with 469 pupils and now has 604 with 18 teachers”. Saint Gerard Majella Church built mainly by weekend voluntary labour opened in 1972 to join the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints; the area was young vibrant and growing like a mushroom. Adult education classes were being held and a Senior Citizen’s Club was operational.


In 1947 enrolment at Chermside State School stood at 300 pupils which was a slow but steady increase over the original enrolment of 90 in 1900. This gives an idea of the growth of Chermside population over the first half of the 20th Century. There had been steady building of new classrooms and the previous year a play shed, built in 1906, was converted into two classrooms for 80 infants, which was partly a reflection of the shortage of materials in the early postwar period.

By 1954 enrolments reached 600, a doubling in seven years, caused by the massive increase in houses and families and peaked when enrolments reached their maximum of 810 in 1959; Chermside had become a major suburb of Brisbane

The whole area around Chermside was also growing with new schools opening up at Wavell Heights in 27 January1948, Somerset Hills on 24 January1966 and Craigslea at West Chermside on 24 January 1972.

While enrolment at Chermside School grew very rapidly the decline was equally rapid and by 1969 it was 418, half of the 1959 peak. The local building boom was over and the population was beginning to age while the younger, child bearing group was moving away to outer suburbs where building land was available.

Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) describes her experience of school:

My peers had the postwar opportunities our parents did not have and we ‘boomed’ through the ‘50’s and ‘60’s creating new classrooms at Chermside State School and Wavell Heights State School. My brothers, Ronald and Lindsay, and I went to Chermside State School (my mum had gone there years and years earlier!!) and our Headmaster, Mr Haupt, lived in the School House, which was where Aldi (Supermarket) now stands.

In 1962 the last Scholarship Examination in Grade 8 in primary schools was held. All Grade 8 students in 1963 were still in primary school but did not do Scholarship. Then in 1964, they went to Grade 9 at high school, and I was in the first year of Grade 8s at High school that year as well. At Wavell High there were 10 classes of approx. 30 Ggrade 9s. High school was very big, very scary, very foreign, and oh so many subjects to study. Kedron High School went through the same processes, and Aspley and Hendra also. In my Junior year, 1966, there were over 1500 students at Wavell High.

Post Office

In 1947 the Post Office agency was still in Reid’s store between Hall and Kuran Streets and the first Telephone Exchange in Chermside was set up in Mermaid Street with 400 lines. Previously the local area was connected through the Albion exchange.

A major expansion of the services took place in 1948 when the Post Master General (PMG) acquired land on the north side of Banfield Street to use as a training depot for linesmen. Building took place in 1949 to accommodate 100 trainees and staff and extensive open areas were used for outdoor practical experience in training.

The local agency continued until the new Post Office building was officially opened on the 30 July 1962 by Mr R C O’Brien, M P for Petrie with Mr Edward Carol McLean as Postmaster This would have been a ‘coming of age’ in the growth of Chermside to have a fully operational Post Office and not agency working in a shop. The Post Office was on the west side of Gympie Road and was closed 7 June 1993 when the new one opened in the Chermside Place Office Block on the eastern side of Gympie Road. The earlier office is now Ray White Real Estate.


In 1947 the Chermside Police station still had a horse yard which contained a stable/feed shed and an air raid shelter. The paddock fronting on to Gympie Road contained the office and dwelling with a pan lavatory well away from it and a cell for probably only one prisoner and a pan lavatory beside it. (Did the prisoners mind the smell?)

As with the rest of Chermside the police presence was growing. In 1940 there was one constable but with the presence of the large army camp it was increased to two. With the postwar expansion Sergeant Perry obtained a third one by 1949 and a fourth one in 1952 and by the inspection of 1960 there were two sergeants and three constables. This does not seem many men when they had to police an area of 30 miles² (77.7 km²)

In 1949 motor cycle patrols were being used but Sergeant Perry had to use his own vehicle for police business “when I have sufficient petrol” as petrol rationing was still in force.

There were several hotels in the district and the one at Bald Hills, the Railway Hotel, was a particular problem because the police had to be there every Friday and Saturday night. It seems that it was trading till 10pm every night whereas at the time all hotels had to close at 6pm, the socalled “6 o’clock swill”; people were coming “from all over Brisbane” to the Railway Hotel. On the above nights the sale of beer would reach 90 gallons (409 litres) and 120 gallons (545.5 litres) respectively with “upwards of 250 persons” in attendance.

The inspector who read the report indicated that the matter would be investigated but, although there is no record of the results, the licensee would have been in trouble.

Generally there seems to have been a low level of crime in the district and police work was associated with routine matters such as preventing crime by being visible and dealing with problems before they became serious. Over the years from 1950 to 1954 there were 8,858 reports written, of which, only 6% were crime reports.

What seems to have been an exception to this rather tranquil scene was a tragic incident, possibly manslaughter, which occurred towards the end of the 1950s as Jennifer Blakey recounts:

Our other neighbours were the Foy family. Jack Foy had an enormous veggie patch along our shared side fence. When I was 7 or maybe 8, history has recorded that sadly Mr Foy argued with Mrs Foy one Monday morning and attacked her with an axe, killing her as she fell down the back steps.

Jack made a bit of minor legal history. He pleaded guilty, but could have pleaded diminished responsibility – he had a silver plate in his head due to World War 1 injuries and suffered occasional epileptic fits. The Foy children went to live with relatives and we never saw them again.

The inspection for 1960 noted that: “Crime is on the increase and the reason for this is due to the fast growing population of the division. A good percentage of the crime is of the petty nature.” The report outlines the nature of the crimes – With the Drive in Shopping centre came shop lifting by adults and children which resulted in arrests and convictions – Disorderly conduct at the Aspley Drivein Cinema of youths on foot and in vehicles – Traffic problems at the hotels when they closed – An increase in clerical work at the police station because of shoppers coming to the Drivein Shopping centre and calling at the station to conduct routine business such as learners’ permits, drivers’ licences, enrolment on electoral roll, vehicle inspections and other matters – As much as 50% of this business was conducted by people living outside the Chermside police district because it was convenient for those people. It seemed that the Police business was growing along with the other Chermside businesses.

As new police stations opened at Zillmere and Stafford in the late 1950s there may have been a reduction of the work at Chermside.

The 1968 Inspection Report listed a growing staff of 2 sergeants and five constables equipped with two vehicles, a Cortina Sedan and a Ford Falcon Sedan. The only police accommodation was for the senior sergeant who lived in a substantial wooden residence on the Police Reserve close by the fibro Station office. The small well separated weatherboard and iron roof Lockup was being used as a storeroom.

Fire Brigade

Prior to the first Fire Brigade Station in Hamilton Road Chermside the nearest station was in Nundah with another at Albion. By 1949 the police were no longer using horses for transport so the Police horse paddock was vacant and approaches were made to set aside part of the land for a Fire Station. After much letter writing and consideration the idea was approved and the eastern end of the police property of “about 39.4 perches” (996 m²) was set aside for the station in 1952 ; two years later on the 12 February 1954 the new Fire Brigade Station opened .

In 1954 there was one fire engine and 2 or 3 officers worked on the three shifts making a staff of between 6 and 9 men. The shifts were 3pm – 11pm; 11pm – 7am; 7am – 3pm. In the 1970s the shift lengths were changed to the Canadian Roster system which works on a 10 hour day shift from 8am to 6pm and a night shift of 14 hours from 6pm to 8am. With 6 men on each shift the staff is 12 officers four days on and three days off each week. In an emergency they may be called in at any time.

The station operated from this site for 44 years when it closed in September 1998 and moved to the new site at 550 Hamilton Road near the Webster Road roundabout in the grounds of The Price Charles Hospital. By this time the station had expanded and had a staff of 24 officers.

By 2005 the station was responding to 750 emergency situations and these involved not only fires but also emergency rescues of people trapped in various situations especially motor accidents hence the modern name of Fire and Rescue Service.

In May 2007 a state of the art fire engine arrived at Chermside station equipped with imaging cameras that enable fire fighters to see through thick smoke. An incident management system was installed that can provide a live feed of events to the command centre so that the operational commander can make quicker and more informed decisions for fire fighting or rescues. In addition there is the emergency tender for road accidents and other incidents covering chemical, biological and radiation sources which have to be neutralised.


Public concern about the need for an ambulance station in Chermside was being expressed by the Progress Association and at least as early as 1952 they were conducting door knock appeals to raise funds to establish a local station. At the time the State government subsidised the ambulance service and local committees were expected to raise the rest of the money needed and often the ambulance officers took part in the fund raising.

In 1953, a Carnival in aid of the Ambulance, was to be held on Saturday 24 October from 2pm till 10pm at Chermside. It was to include Square dancing on Gympie Road. Traffic would be on the outbound lanes while the inbound would be used for the carnival. The Progress Association Committee organising the event hoped it would become an annual event.

At the 1957 Annual Meeting of the Progress Association in the presidential address given by Mr McGee, he mentioned that the second major achievement of the year was the decision, by the government, to establish a Sub Centre of the Q A T B in Chermside for the Northern Suburbs at a cost of ₤8,000. ($180,800 in 2004 values)

Finally, on the 12 September 1959, the Ambulance Transport Brigade opened a station on the south side of Banfield Street near the present tyre service of Bob Jayne with three vehicles and a staff of nine which, by 1966, had risen to five vehicles and a staff of twelve.

The present ambulance station on Hamilton Road near the Webster Road roundabout opened on 18 October 1987. The old system of government subsidy and public contributions financed the Ambulance service and was not changed till about 2005 when the present system where all electricity users make a payment on their power bill each quarter.

In the year ending June 2005 Chermside officers attended 19,000 cases and the station received a new Mercedes sprinter ambulance costing $125,000 and a fully equipped emergency response vehicle (ERV).

Staffing in 2007 is 32 officers and the Station Officer. They work 10 hour shifts keeping the station open 24 hours 7 days per week. The staff is made up of two groups ‘Acute’ officers who attend emergency cases and administer first aid plus ‘Non Acute’ officers who drive people to and from appointments.

The equipment consists of six ambulances which are classed as emergency or acute vehicles, one patient transport which can carry two stretcher patients with one sitting patient and a sedan for general use.

Health Services

The records of the Chermside State School show that many, if not all, of the childhood diseases of preceding decades were still prevalent in the postwar period. However a new era was beginning in Medical Services as John Tyrer notes:

For those who had practiced medicine in previous decades, it was like passing through golden gates into an age of miracles. A large part of infectious disease was soon vanquished.

The age of antibiotics had begun with penicillin leading the way and an increasing flow of new drugs coming on to the market . Surgery went through a similar advance and both were costly but the benefits were incalculable. Penicillin, the wonder drug, discovered by the Australian Alexander Fleming in 1929, was developed during World War II and used for antibacterial work on a wide variety of diseases. After the war it became available for general use and the effect was dramatic in reducing the effects of many diseases.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which subsidises certain prescribed pharmaceuticals was introduced in 1948.

One disease that it did not prevent or cure was poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis as it was often called and much work was done by Sr Elizabeth Kenny to mitigate it effects on children. In 1951, the year before she died, there was a polio epidemic which caused disruption in the schools such as the cancellation of sporting fixtures. Ironically in 1953, the year after she died, Dr J E Salk produced the injection that immunises against the disease and in 1956 Dr A B Sabin produced the oral vaccine which did the same.

Three years later, in 1956, another outbreak of polio occurred which again caused misery and disruption to many but soon the vaccine was made available through the schools and most if not all children received it, a spoonful at a time.

These vaccines were followed by many others and children were immunised on a large scale with doses of multiple vaccines for just about all the previously accepted childhood diseases; later girls received Rubella vaccine for the hitherto ignored German measles.

The Prince Charles Hospital

The land presently occupied by The Prince Charles and Holy Spirit Hospitals was originally occupied by small farms and was resumed by the State Government between 1946 and 1948. The original intention was to establish a hospital on a 77 acre block and, a school on a contiguous 12 acre block, but in 1959 the decision was taken to use the entire area of approximately 90 acres (36.4 hectares) for a hospital.

The Prince Charles Hospital was originally a tuberculosis hospital known as the Chermside Chest Hospital and was established in July 1954. It consisted of four prefabricated army huts and in 1955 housed 182 patients. The buildings were located near the Wallace Street entrance, which is now a car park.

At the time a concentrated effort was being made to eradicate the disease in Australia. People were expected to visit mobile Xray units to be screened for signs of the disease; the campaign was so successful that the disease is virtually unknown in Australia today.

The eight level main brick block housed 412 patients and was opened in September 1959 at a cost of $4m. ($87m in 2004 values) The TB patients from the prefabs were moved in on the ground, first, third, fourth and fifth floors while the second floor catered for thoracic and cardiac patients.

A Nurses’ Home with a basement and six floors gave single room accommodation to 152 nurses, a Matron and Deputy Matron and eight Medical Officers. Dr Alan Ashworth the Medical Superintendent and Miss I E Grigg the Matron were appointed in 1955.

It was still a TB hospital and strict isolation of the patients was observed during their stay of from six to twelve months. Children could not come into the wards but the patients could talk to their children from the veranda while the children would be on the lawn outside. At the time there were 490 patients with a nursing staff of 115 working on site.

When the TB patients moved into the main block, several other groups of patients moved into the prefabs. One group came from Wilston and was made up of handicapped children aged from babies to 10 year olds. Many of them were virtually abandoned as the parents rarely, or never, came to visit them. Another group was made up of geriatric patients from Eventide at Brighton. Quadriplegic patients made up the final group and they came from the Diamantina, now Princess Alexandria Hospital, at South Brisbane.

In about 1967 the Outpatients Department was established on the second floor of the main block. It was to give the thoracic and cardiac afterhospitalisationcare such as regular check ups. The discharged TB patients had to go into Brisbane for their check ups at the Chest Clinic.

In 1970 the first coronary artery bypass graft operation in Queensland was performed and in about 1974 Prince Charles came to officially open the building and, presumably, to name it after himself. At one stage he quipped that he would have to come back and rename it when he became king; 2008 and it still hasn’t happened!

Chermside Shopping Centres

The 1954 report to the Commissioner of Police notes that:

During the past four years, the Chermside shopping centre has been greatly extended. About six new business premises are under construction, including a branch of the Brisbane Cash and Carry. A new shopping centre, consisting of about six shops, was created in Corrie Street, Chermside, and the number of shops in the Aspley shopping centre increased from one to about eight.

In August 1955 a branch of the Brisbane Cash and Carry opened on the north west corner of Hamilton and Gympie Roads making it the first large supermarket in Chermside. This firm pioneered the idea of selling prepackaged foods in the 1920s which was an essential first step in the development of the supermarket where the customers served themselves.

The supermarket was a major break from the traditional retail stores where the customer, on one side of a counter, was served by a store assistant or clerk on the other side. The customer told the assistant what was required and the assistant went and got the article, often having to weigh out or cut off the amount ordered.

The lot was then wrapped in a parcel or parcels, tied with string and the customer carried the lot away in a string bag or a basket or a sugar bag after paying the assistant who ‘rang up’ the money in the cash register or ‘till’. Often straight backed chairs were provided for the customers while they waited to be served, all very time consuming and belonging to a more leisurely age.

In 1957, when the Drivein Shopping Centre started, Brisbane Cash and Carry transferred across Gympie Road to the new site where parking was abundant.

The Drivein Shopping Centre

The establishment of the centre by the firm of Allan & Stark marked a seminal change in the history of Chermside and district as well as in retailing in Australia. It was a new method of retailing tailored to take advantage of the major change that was taking place in private transport in Australia. The age of the motor car had begun and Allan & Stark was putting their future on the line with their pioneering venture and they were going to change the face of retailing in Australia.

Allan & Stark was a long established city firm and people travelled by train or tram to shop there. After World War II the motor car became more common and customers wanted to drive in to do their shopping but lack of parking space was preventing them.

Mr Weedman, a director, on a visit to USA, saw how retailing was developing and decided that his firm had to follow. There, the motor car was already common and people were using it for weekly shopping, rather than make a daily short walk to the corner store.

A survey showed that there were 100,000 people living within 3 miles (4.8km) of the centre of Chermside which made it an ideal site for a major shopping centre. Tram and bus services were available and many suburban people were buying motor cars. Also, Chermside was one of the most rapidly growing areas in Brisbane. The factor which finally made Alan & Stark choose Chermside over other possible suitable sites was, according to T J Weedman, “In October 1955 the block of land upon which the Centre now stands became available – 28 acres”. (11.8 hectares) This area, Early’s Paddock, had remained vacant but George Watts recalls that Bullen Brothers Circus used to pitch their tent there when they came to town.

The proposal to build was opposed by many and the Brisbane City Council recorded:

Separate petitions on 1st November, 1955 and again on 8 November, 1955, were presented to Council protesting against the establishment of the above proposal on the ground that the existing shopping centre would deteriorate, and requested that the Board reconsider its decision.

Also some of the Valley shops, WaltonsSears, McWhirters and T C Beirne, began to fight against the new competition from the Drivein, probably by reducing prices.

The new airconditioned centre contained the Allan & Stark department store of 3,791m², the Brisbane Cash and Carry store, which transferred from across Gympie Road, and 25 shops in the Arcade and Mall. Surrounding the buildings was space to park 700 cars and it was described as “An island of retailing in a lake of parking”.

Drainage of the 28 acre site was expensive and four sixfoot (1.82m) diameter pipes were laid from Hamilton Road to carry Somerset Creek beneath the parking area into Downfall Creek to the north; later however they proved inadequate and serious flooding occurred in the centre.

The entire cost was ₤600,000 ($13.6m in 2004 values) which was split into ₤250,000 for buildings and ₤350,000 for site development. In 1957 it was an astronomical amount and represented a make or break risk for Allan & Stark because this was the first drivein shopping centre in Australia with a huge parking space; it was unheard of! It was a success and it grew rapidly.

A measure of the success was in September 1959 Allan & Stark sold out to the Melbourne based Myer Emporium and in 1961 Sergeant D P Mahoney, in an application for additional police at Chermside, mentions that there were 240 persons employed in the complex and the parking space had expanded to hold 900 vehicles.

Come 1965, Myer upgraded the centre with extensions, escalators and a restaurant costing some ₤1.25m ($24m in 2004 values). The following year Woolworths opened in July at ‘Australia’s Most Progressive Shopping Centre” at a cost of more than ₤250,000 ($4.8m in 2004 values).


The Legacy of Murphy’s Paddock

Marchant Park

The smaller, north west block, owned by George Marchant was extensively used by the Army in World War I as a training camp and a remount centre for the Light Horse as well as a Signallers school. In World War II a fuel dump was situated near the corner of Ellison and Murphy Roads.

In 1918 the Kedron Shire Council was instructed by the State Government to increase the area of parkland in the shire so an approach was made to Marchant for 4 hectares, but thinking the price was too high, an attempt was made to get him to lower the price. Marchant’s reply was to offer the whole lot to the Council, free, provided they gave Vellnagel an equal amount of land on the other side of Gympie Road and shifted his forge on to the new site which was inferior in that it was more prone to flooding.

Even then some Councillors were not in favour of the deal as it would mean lesser rates would be collected. Also in the Queensland Parliamentary debates it was noted that Kedron Shire Council had wanted to return Marchant Park to Mr Marchant because there was a requirement in the agreement with him to the effect that the Kedron Shire had to fence the property.

The State Government insisted and, in 1921, the Council accepted the land, named it Marchant Park and recorded the gift on a stone obelisk just inside the Memorial entrance gates off Murphy Road; Alf Vellnagel, son of August, still reminds people in 2006 that the monument is on Vellnagel land.

The World War I Memorial Gates at the entrance to Marchant Park were dedicated on 3 May 1924 and still stand. Probably during the 1970s new gates were fitted when the sandstone posts were shifted widening the opening to allow larger vehicles easier access.

The gates were vandalised in the 1970s and several of the marble plaques with the names of the servicemen were smashed. These were restored by the Chermside and Districts Historical Society with the aid of a State Government Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant in 2002 and a rededication was carried out on Saturday 30 August 2003. One of the active Society members present at the ceremony, Vivian Heiner (nee Marquis), was also present at the 1924 dedication with her father Arthur Marquis, who was a Kedron Shire councillor.

Warehouse Cricket

In 1927 Marchant Park was fenced and hedged in fields and a representative of Warehouse Cricket saw the possibilities of using the park. Negotiations with the Brisbane City Council followed and resulted in the setting out of half a dozen ovals.

It is not clear if voluntary labour was used or Council workers, maybe a combination of both, but as unemployment rose there would have been plenty of labour available. Pitches were formed and fenced in to keep the grazing animals out, top soil was carted in using horse drawn drays, grass seed spread, water was laid on and horse drawn mowers and rollers worked on the growing grass. All this was done in 1927; the following year three more ovals were laid out, dressing rooms and a kiosk were built and playing begun.

The Courier report continues stating that there were 18 teams of 198 players in action simultaneously while thousands of spectators looked on. “The energy in flannels was highpowered and sparking on all cylinders. Yet with all this abundance of energy there was no overcrowding.”

In 2008 there are 10 ovals and, on the western end separated by a small creek, a soccer field is used by junior players. Cricket is played all year round with a break or two at the end of season.

Brisbane Women’s Hockey Association

The Association had its beginnings on the 4 September 1933 and, after negotiations with Brisbane City Council, began using the playing fields at Marchant Park which they shared with the Warehouse Cricket till 1959.

Today, 2009, cricket is played all year round but earlier, the year was divided into summer for Cricket and winter for Hockey; the changeover could be a little tense at times. Mrs Jesser, the park caretaker, acted as a mediator between the Cricketers and the Hockey players especially at the Hockey grand final time when the cricketers were getting ready for the summer season, as Eileen Grealy writes:

The best part of the park was staked out for prime cricket wickets, with their covering of black sticky goo. They were almost sacred sites, and woe betide the hockey girl who ventured on them; it was pointed out, ad nauseam, how damaging it was to the pitch preparation. Come to remember, it wasn’t so good for us either – we came off it a bit like the Footrot Flats Dog after a saunter through a stock paddock.

The hockey players were enamoured of Mrs Jesser who ran the canteen and was the caretaker of the park. She used to keep a slice of cake under the counter for her favourites among the players and made tea in a large pot with hot water from an old fuel boiler near the rainwater tank. She was a legendary Jelly Cake maker, won a Cook of the Year competition and her picture appeared on Gold Crest SelfRaising Flour for a number of years.

When Mrs. Jesser retired in 1966 she was hailed as “the grand old lady of Marchant Park” She completed almost 40 years in the job, having started in 1928. In the early days she even helped to prepare the wickets by catching the horse and harnessing it to the heavy roller. Mrs Jesser continued to live in her house in a corner of the park.

Although “dressing facilities were rather sketchy at Marchant Park” the girls were under strict instructions “no dressing outside shed, and no player to use public transport unless tunic was completely covered by a long coat” The ambulance men used to attend to injuries and the Redcliffe buses used to transport the players from Eagle Street, City, to the park in the premotor car days. The buses were just able to squeeze through the narrow entrance gates which were built in the days of smaller vehicles and all limbs and hockey sticks had to be tucked safely inside the bus.

The A team would play on the field (No. 10) behind the weatherboard canteen and two good fields, Nos 1 and 4, were alongside the gravel driveway just inside the main gates; these were used by cricketers in their season. One field, (No. 3) came to an abrupt end along the sideline and, if players were not watching where they were going they could disappear over the edge on the way down to the little creek. Even by 1959 the lower field, No.7 on Murphy Road, had “no tap, no shelter no anything.”

By February 1942, with the war into its third year, petrol rationing prevented the players from getting to Marchant Park. Also a great number of the players were already involved in war work so the sport was discontinued but resumed when the war ended and, in 1951, the first postwar intercity carnival was run at the park.

In 1958 Downey Park at Windsor was installing lighting for night sports and the Association decided that it was a better venue, so on the 4 April 1959 they commenced playing there.

7th Brigade Park

Sparkes’ Paddock

In 1941 the Commonwealth Government negotiated to buy the whole 401 acres and 31.8 perches (162.5 hectares) of Sparkes’ Paddock from the firm of Alonzo Sparkes Ltd. On 28 February the Company was

offered a price of ₤10,050 but they wanted ₤12,000 and refused to budge. The Commonwealth had a valuation done on the property which came in at ₤9,973 ($580,000 in 2004 values) but the original offer still stood. More wrangling followed and on 12 June 1941 the Commonwealth resumed the property.

After the war 89 hectares of the property were used for building some 850 houses in two lots. In 1959 the Brisbane City Council paid ₤14,000 ($305,000 in 2004 values) for the remaining 73 hectares for use as parkland. This area became known as Hamilton Road Reserve and still later, in March 1996, was named 7th Brigade Park.

What would have happened to this area if Murphy’s Paddock had been broken up for small holdings in the 19th Century? Would it have been covered with houses?


One of the great improvements to the standard of living, the sewage system, arrived in Chermside when it reached the primary school in September 1961 . This meant the end of the smelly sentry box at the bottom of the back yard and the weekly pan collection; now local people could begin to install the water closet inside the house.

This was followed up by the announcement that the Council had allocated ₤53,453 for reticulating sewage for between 300350 homes in the Kedron Wavell Heights area .

Another eagerly sought amenity was the Council swimming pool on Hamilton Road which opened in December 1964 . Gradually, the schools were also acquiring pools all of which were a great improvement on the old swimming holes in the creeks which were used by earlier generations of children.

The Council pool reduced the number of drownings that occurred in the many creeks of the local area. Lindsay Staib, a long time resident tells of one very deep swimming hole in Somerset Creek which now flows under the Shoppingtown. The local boys used it a lot and one day they were joined by a local girl who didn’t know how deep the pool was and couldn’t swim. She jumped in and only the quick action by the boys prevented her from drowning; others weren’t so fortunate.

School of Arts and Library


The School of Arts handed over its assets, including the land, to the Brisbane City Council on 9th September 1952 and officially ceased to exist. The Committee at the time was Messrs. G Lemke, Sam Harris (secretary for 22 years), W Hacker, W Mills, F White, Alec Hamilton, Bill Argo, Mrs J White (librarian for 30 years), Mrs J Smith and Miss Massey. The Hamilton family had been continuously associated with the institution from 1898 to 1952 a total of 54 years.

First Chermside Municipal Library

An advertisement appeared in a local paper in 1953 headed “Chermside District Municipal Library” and gave the Subscription Rates which were ₤1 ($25 in 2004 values) per annum – 5 books; 10/ half year – 3 books; 5/ per quarter – 3 books; 2/6 p a and 3d per book; fees continued to be charged until 1978 when they were discontinued.

The opening times were 7.30pm to 9.30pm on Tuesday nights and 10am to 12 noon on Friday mornings. This clearly shows that the Library carried on and was the first Municipal Library in Chermside although it was open for only 4 hours per week and a fee was charged.

The election of Officers for 19531954 resulted as follows:

Chairman: Ald W C R Harvey; Secretary: J B Macarthur; Committee: Mesdames J E White, J Smith. Messrs W Argo, P J Bredhauer, B R Galvin.

After the handover the School of Arts Hall still stood in the same spot but was then known as the Chermside Library Hall ; the old Library continued functioning until the new Library opened in 1958. A local newspaper reported that the new Library would not be built in 1957 due to shortage of funds even though “the old Library Hall had been moved back recently to make way for the new building.” It also quoted Alderman Duus as saying “the administration considered its deferment would not greatly interfere with Library facilities in Chermside. The old Library is at present serving the great proportion of the need that exists.”

Second Chermside Municipal Library – The First Purpose Built Library

At the Annual Meeting of the Chermside School of Arts in 1944 Sam Harris, Secretary said that he was “looking forward to the day when the Library would be in a building of its own.” On Thursday night 20 March 1958 his dream was realized when the new 300 m² library complex, built on the site of the old School of Arts and costing ₤13,000 ($288, 800 in 2004 values), was officially opened by the Lord Mayor Ald T R Groom. The old School of Arts building had been shifted back to allow the new building to be sited on Gympie Road.

The new library contained 11,000 books of which 4,000 were for children while the old library held only 3,000 books. The staff consisted of: Miss Ellen Scott, Librarian Secretary; Assistants, Mrs J E White (School of Arts Librarian), Miss Lurlene Caffery and Miss Shirley Dacey. The committee was Ald M S Duus (Chairman), Messrs A H Powell, W McGee, F Kimlin, J Myles, E Ladley.

Ald Duus said that a new civic centre would be built containing municipal offices and a modern subtropical public hall with a garden in between it and the library. However he did emphasise that this development was dependant on the local community getting together and assisting the council; but something went wrong and the building never eventuated.

The old hall stood behind the new Library continuing to be used by local people until it was demolished in about 1980 to make room for a parking area; Chermside had lost one of its traditional meeting places.

Community Groups

With the increasing population and changing nature of the area many old groups continue while new ones, such as the small sample below, emerge.

Chermside Bowling Club

In 1948 soon after the end of World War II the club was formed at a meeting in the School of Arts, which was the most popular meeting place in Chermside. Almost three years later in 1950 the club was opened on Hamilton Road. Membership reached 97 in the first year and peaked at 360 in 1986 and then slowly declined “due in part to a general decline in popularity of our sport and the age of our immediate community”. In 2003 the club amalgamated with the Kedron Bowls Club, which was unable to continue on its own due to ageing membership; the amalgamated club is still very active in 2008.

Youth Club

The earliest reference to this group is an invitation card to a Christmas Party to be held in the Library Hall (old School of Arts) on 11 December 1953. The next is the Progress Association was negotiating for permission to build a youth club house in Kidston (now John Patterson) Park which was unsuccessful but at the same time fund raising was being pursued and ₤99/4/6 ($2,250 in 2004 values) had been raised by 1957.

Eddie Kann wrote in 1964 that, the Chermside Progress Association started a gymnasium in the Library hall for the young people in 1956 and, by June 1957, a committee was formed to take over the running of the gym. This became the Chermside Youth Club with a membership of over 100 girls and boys training in gymnastics.

The club formed the Chermside Rugby League Football Club, the Chermside Judo Club and the Chermside Marching Girls. They continued fund raising for the ₤7,500 ($158,440 in 2004 values) needed to build a permanent hall and they were hopeful of getting Council land set aside for sporting activities.

The Club continued fund raising throughout the 1960s while using the old Library hall as a base. At one time they hoped to use the new KedronWavell Services Club premises but could not afford the outlay. In 1978 they were allocated land in Annand (now Burnie Brae) Park but were unable to raise the $20,000 ($73,432 in 2004 values) needed so the Library hall remained their base.

There they catered for both girls and boys from age 5 to 20 by providing gymnastics, gymnastic ballet, boxing, Judo training and trampolining classes. They were finally notified by the Council that the Library hall was to be demolished for a car park and they had to be out by the end of 1980. So early in that year the gymnastics were moved to the gymnasium at Craigslea High School while the boxing continued at the Library hall.

The Club continued into the early 1990s to serve the needs of many young people in the area but other, better funded, clubs were appearing and attracting sponsors.

Rotary Chermside

Chermside Rotary was founded from Nundah when the new Drivein Shopping Centre was built in 1957. Twenty one business men met in the staff cafeteria at the new shopping centre because there was no restaurant in Chermside at the time.

The Club was very prominent in organising the provision of many important services such as building a scout hall, a car for the Blue Nursing Service, an ambulance car, a Red Cross rest room, mealsonwheels service, helping establish Burnie Brae Senior Citizen Centre, running the Polio Plus program.

After 46 years of community service the club closed in 2004 due to lack of new members, caused by the ageing of Chermside, but the clubs at Mitchelton and Aspley, started by Chermside, are doing well.

Lions Chermside

Lions, founded in 1961, set out to serve the community, build friendships, develop leadership and make things happen.

Its activities included establishing playgrounds, helping local organisations and people in trouble, working at youth development through Lions Youth of the Year and International Youth Exchange program and providing computers for special needs students at Craigslea State School. Fund raising was undertaken for The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation, Lions Medical Research Foundation, Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Welfare Association, Queensland Cancer Fund, Blind Welfare Organisations and many others.

For the past 46 years Lions had served Chermside community and, with difficulty, survived in 2006 but finally closed in about March 2007 when membership had dropped to a critical level as it was not attracting new members; at least two of the members joined Aspley Lions.

Service Clubs such as Rotary and Lions need a minimum of about 15 members to do the work expected of them. Below that level there is too much work for the members who grow tired, disillusioned and finally give up. Some of these clubs are ageing and young people in their 20s and 30s do not tend to join organisations where the members are in their 60s and 70s. Perhaps the time to recruit young members is before the older members get too much older than the new recruits.


Guiding began in Chermside on 11 April 1956 when the first Brownie Pack, which met at the home of Mrs White in Sparkes Street, was officially registered. Expansion was rapid as the following year saw the second Brownie Pack and two Guide Companies commence along with the necessary leaders .

The Guide Hut in Bradbury Park was opened in 1960, financed by a loan from the Commonwealth Bank plus an interest free loan from a parent, and was expanded as the enrolment rose to a peak of almost 100 in about 1972. However, membership declined rapidly but then by 1978 it had stabilised at 50.

In 2006 there were 35 guides, ranging in age from 6 to 16, and 5 leaders making a total of 40 girls, the small numbers being due, in part, to factors such as:

A much wider range of activities available including well organised sporting activities.

Part time jobs and the extra pressure of school homework.

Population ageing in the local area.

Chermside Sea Scouts

In 1959 the 3rd Chermside Scout Group was converted to Sea Scout Group, East Chermside with Ted Ebb as the first Scoutmaster. They received permission to name their land ship (Scout Hall) ‘Voyager’ after the RAN destroyer; during its years of operation the land ship ‘Voyager’ had the distinction of being located several miles from a navigable waterway.

After the disaster on 10 February 1964, when the RAN Voyager was rammed by the aircraft carrier Melbourne and many lives were lost, East Chermside dedicated their land ship to those who lost their lives thus making the land ship a living memorial.

They observed many naval traditions such as when they first boarded land ship Voyager on meeting nights they would salute the Quarter Deck, “ which was designated by the picture of the Queen and the Australian flag hanging on the back wall.”

The group continued until at least the mid 1970s when Graham Dixon was the Scout Leader but eventually the building was acquired by KedronWavell Services Club to use as a Craft Centre.


They were active in Chermside as early as 1910 as shown in a photo of a large number exercising in the playground of the Chermside State School under the supervision of a teacher. Unfortunately I have no information on this early phase but from the material above regarding the Sea Scouts there must have been a flourishing scout presence if there were three Groups in Chermside in the 1950s.

Keith Tune recalls that he and his brother, Colin, were scouts in the late 1950s and their den was located in what is now John Patterson Park facing Norman Drive; their father, Norm, was the Assistant and later, Scoutmaster, of the group.

In 1974 a news item and photo were published showing Peter Smith, a Scout (Not Sea Scout) from the East Chermside Group, meeting Dr Lazlo Nagy at Brisbane Airport; Dr Nagy had been attending the 10th Australian Jamboree at Adelaide .

Later the Norman Drive den was abandoned and after the Brisbane City Council took it over, Terry Hampson, local Councillor at the time, while inspecting the place, unlocked the door, then gave it a push to open it and it fell off its hinges. He went inside and opened another door, it also fell off and a set of shelves crashed when he touched them. Termites, the place had been eaten out, so Council demolished the building in about February 1996.

The modern scouting scene is one of many changes in line with the changing society in which the members live .

One of the biggest changes is the admission of girls, who now are fully integrated at all levels. In the Burul (Chermside) group the girls are least represented in the younger groups but more numerous in the Venturers and Rovers. This is partly caused by the generally higher proportion of older people, including children, living in the local area.

While the uniforms have changed from the traditional khaki to blue colours, the various age groups are largely the same: Joeys 68; Cubs 811; Scouts 1115; Venturers 1518; Rovers 1826.

The electronic age has introduced such things as Jota, or Jamboree of the air, along with Joti, or Jamboree of the internet. These two events enable scouts from all over the world to meet on their ham radios and computers. Additionally, various branches have their own websites.

Safety precautions limit much of the activities, e.g. a flying fox can be built but the scouts cannot travel on it and bridge rope activities are limited by height restrictions. Leaders have to sign a duty of care with the onus on the leader for safety.

Money Raising is limited to supervised group activity such as Sausage Sizzles, BBQs, catering for morning teas, concerts and reviews. The old doortodoor activities such as BobaJob during Scout Week and bottle collecting are banned.

Scouting like Guiding is now recognised by education authorities as a training organisation with the right to issue externally recognised certificates of competence. Leadership training courses are conducted leading to Certificate and Diploma of Adult Leadership similar to TAFE courses.

Chermside Cooperative Housing Society

The society was formed before the end of 1964 when it applied to borrow ₤100,000 from the Commonwealth Bank to provide 30 new homes in the Chermside area.

A non profit organisation, the society had three such projects in operation in and around the Chermside area. The Chairman Mr F A Campbell (State Member for Aspley) said the society had lent a total of ₤250,000 to home builders and thus had provided finance for 80 homes.

Queensland Country Women’s Association On 7 February 1961, the Chermside Branch was founded in the Methodist Church Hall at a time when there was a great influx of new residents to the area. Amongst them were people of country origin, or folk with relatives and/or friends, who were country dwellers; membership rose to a peak of about 110 in 1965.

The members met regularly to socialize, listen to speakers and organise charitable work along with fund raising for charitable causes. Activities included visiting the sick in hospital, the residents of Wheller Gardens and prisoners, assisting country people who have to come to the city for medical treatment, finding accommodation for country students and many other activities.

As the name implies, the organisation is basically country oriented and the branches in the cities depended for their membership on the country people coming to live in the city. Then as the local members aged the membership declined because their daughters found their social life in city organisations rather than joining the CWA Younger Set.

After 43 busy years, with an aging membership of about 18 active members, unable to fill the executive positions, the branch finally closed on 30 June 2004.


On the 6 March 1949 a Police Report written by Sergeant Perry noted that entertainment in the local area was centred around the picture theatre, The Dawn showing films on four nights a week along with dances held at the Chermside School of Arts and the Aspley Progress Hall. Road cycling is also mentioned starting and finishing in Chermside from March to September each year.

While there were no hotels in Chermside, due partly to strong local objections, there was the Royal at Aspley and the Edinburgh Castle at Kedron both of which would supply liquid entertainment to their patrons. However at that time there was not much beer available and the hours were strictly limited with closing at 6pm.

There was competition cricket and women’s hockey at Marchant Park and a lot of impromptu cricket and football on any of the many paddocks around the district. Swimming in the local creeks was supplemented with that at the popular Cash’s Crossing (Albany Creek) which could be reached by bicycle. Fishing must have been popular as the McPherson family set up their business of manufacturing linen fishing lines off Rode Road beside Bradbury Park.

Tennis was played on private courts and the school had two courts which were used by local people. Lawn bowls was played and one house, belonging to Paul Maggs a tannery owner, had its own three rink bowling green beside it.


The Chermside district had many small manufacturing firms operating from the earliest times and this continued into the post World War II period but changes were underway. Large manufacturers, using mass production techniques, were able to undercut the small local manufacturer. Also the last of the local noxious industries, tanning, moved on or closed down in this period.

6 March 1949 Sergeant Perry lists the manufacturing in the area as a tannery, a wool scour, a dripping factory, a fertilizer factory, 2 canneries, a furniture factory, a leather manufacturing factory, a textile factory employing over 400 hands and 5 sawmills. While he is describing the police district of Chermside which stretched from Lutwyche cemetery to Bald Hills some of the industries were in the immediate vicinity of Chermside.

The manufacturing activity was, with the major exception of the textile firm, Bruce Pie Industries, largely processing farming products. For some reason he does not mention Hutton’s at Zillmere and only one tannery when there were several tanneries in Kedron.


This industry flourished in the local area as there was a good supply of hides from the local slaughter yards until 1930, when they were closed, and then from the government abattoirs at Cannon Hill. Small creeks provided water and Brisbane provided a market and export facilities through the port. The local area was only sparsely populated so the smell from the tanneries did not worry people but as housing moved steadily northwards the tanneries were forced to move or close.

Lindsay Packer commented that the Brisbane City Council would not allow the firm to upgrade their tannery as an encouragement to them to move on which they did in 1972. Today, 2007, there are only two tanners listed in the Yellow Pages telephone directory, both are at Narangba; it is possible that a lot of the work has gone offshore.

A major problem that the tanneries faced was the pollution of the local creeks when they released the water from their settling ponds. In 1922 a dam burst at Gibson’s Stafford tannery and a large amount of polluted water went down Kedron Brook which was in addition to the usual 250,000 gallons per week that they normally discharged . This volume may seem large but the tannery would have been using Council water at that time as well as creek water.

The State Government banned the discharge of chemicals into Kedron Brook and a deputation from the Kedron Shire Council waited on the Acting Home Secretary to petition for a stay of proceedings. They argued that some unscrupulous tanners polluted the creek but that the majority did not and the Secretary agreed that they would be given two months to make concrete proposals to remedy the problem. However the problem continued and possibly got worse as unsewered housing encroached on the creeks and the Kedron Shire Council was continually investigating complaints from residents.

Packer and Knox, Fellmongers and Tanners

Joseph Packer worked at Maunsell’s Tannery at Stafford for 13 years with David Knox and they started their own business in1891, possibly at Cox’s Paddock but this is not clear; in 1898 they moved to Hamilton Road, Downfall Creek. In 1924, the Knox family sold their interest to the Packer family and went to Belmont while the Chermside firm became known as G W & J Packer Pty Ltd.

They had about 22 hectares of land along Downfall Creek at the intersection of Hamilton and Webster Roads. The water supply was good, local slaughter yards supplied hides and employees were local men from the surrounding area.

The fellmongery was where the wool was sweated off the hide using the natural enzymes in the green pelt, then the pelt went to the tannery; the wool was scoured (washed) and dried on the greens (grass) then baled and marketed.

The scouring was done in four troughs or bowls each about 15m long: The first one was a dirt bowl with hot water but no soap, it loosened up the wool, got the dirt out, and then squeezed the wool through rollers into a second bowl. There soap was added and the wool scoured or washed and then through rollers to the third bowl for a second wash and rolling. Finally the fourth bowl was just warm water rinse after which another rolling and then out to dry.

Drying consisted of laying the wool out in the open on hessian sheets with the drying time depending on the weather. If rain came then it was all hands to roll up the wool quickly and when night came it would be rolled up anyway; next day roll it all out again. The drying area covered an acre of land which gives some indication of the work involved since it was all manual. In later years this whole process was mechanised using dryers.

The tanning of the pelts followed standard tanning procedure of washing the pelt and putting it into lime paddles (tanks) for a couple of days and then through the fleshing machine to remove any flesh still adhering. It was washed again to clean off any lime, pickled and stored before going into the bark tanning process. The tanning took 23 days while the pelt soaked in the liquors made from imported wattle bark. Much of the smell of the old tanneries came from the dead flesh and the chemicals used in the process.

At peak production in about the 1950s there were between 2 to 3 thousand pelts being processed per day with the best leather going into shoe lining and the lower grades into industrial gloves. There were about 5060 employees, mostly living in Chermside and many of them spent their whole working life with the firm which contrasts with the situation in 2006 when keeping an employee for about 5 years is regarded as good.

Finally in 1971, with housing encroaching on the area and the Brisbane City Council not allowing them to upgrade, the company ceased production at Chermside. The land was sold for development, a new firm, G W & J Packer (Tanning) Pty Ltd was formed and opened at Boundary Road, Narangba in 1973. In 2007 the firm, now known as Packer Leather, operates successfully with 180 employees specialising in kangaroo hides which it started to use in the 1960s.

Leather Belts

Alexander Sayer Dewar manufactured industrial leather belts behind the Edinburgh Castle Hotel using leather from the local tanneries. The business was sold in 1969 to Olympic General Industries and moved to Geebung.

Bruce Pie Industries Ltd. Textile Manufacturers, Araluen Street, Kedron

Arthur Bruce Pie came from Melbourne where he was associated with the textile industry. He first moved to Bohland Street Kedron in 1948 and then to Araluen Street, Kedron. He was probably attracted by the availability of suitable land, a supply of local labour and the existing infrastructure.

He established a major textile manufacturing company with five departments; scouring, spinning, knitting, mattress and make up; the coil springs for the inner spring mattresses were also made in the makeup. According to a 1949 report it was estimated that 400 people were already working there.

Harold Waldren writes that he arrived in Kedron on 4 February 1948 to install a Worsted spinning mill. It was one of the wettest Februarys on record; the factory at Araluen Street was only partly constructed and there was a wharf strike so the machinery was held up. It took three years to install the machinery and train the staff for the new industry which became the largest knitting plant in the southern hemisphere.

Arthur Bruce Pie died of a heart attack while in Sydney on 31 July 1962 but the firm continued production and by 1964 was employing 837 employees. That same year the plant was sold and the machinery dismantled with most of it going to New Zealand or Melbourne. However the bedding section, on a reduced scale, was bought by some of the old employees and they continued to operate until they were bought out by the New Zealand owners in 1999.

Note: On 3 March 2007 the author noticed the name BRUCE PIE INDUSTRIES PTY on the brick wall of a building beside the main factory of Bruce Pie on the corner of Tanimbla and Yiada Streets, Kedron; the letters were faded but still clearly visible 45 years after Pie’s death. The building is occupied by EDSCO an education supply firm, another example of tertiary industry replacing the manufacturing industry in the area.

Box & Beck Pty Ltd, Kedron

In 1940 Arthur Box, a saddler, began working under his house, located where the current (2008) Post Office is sited on the east side of Gympie Road between Kuran and Mermaid Streets. In 1942 he formed a partnership with Stan Beck and the firm of A. Box & Beck, Saddlers, began. They concentrated on harness making and employed a saddler to do that line of work.

Arthur made a pair of sandals for a customer and wondered if there might be a market for such products, so he made another pair and took them to a city department store. The store was interested and so, in 1948, the new line of business began for Box & Beck.

The business prospered and by 1955 they had bought land at 37 Kate Street, Kedron and built a small factory and employed more staff. A photo, taken the next year shows a staff group of 32 people, 12 males and 20 female, in front of a the newly built factory. Further expansion in the form of another building adjacent to the first was built until about 70 people were employed.

The business supplied both children’s and adult’s sandals to markets in all states of Australia and New Guinea. They were not sold under a brand name but each article was stamped with the name of the maker on the soles.

In 1967, due to ill health, Arthur sold the business to the firm of Michaelis Bayley Footwear, a larger business with a factory in the Valley employing some 600 workers. They bought the business as a going concern since they produced similar footwear making leather thongs, sandals and scuffs for men and women using kangaroo leather supplied by Packer Bros Tannery of Chermside.

The business prospered during the 1960s and into the early 1970s but then cheap imports of footwear began to affect the sales. So they switched to producing high quality ladies footwear which could sustain the higher wages paid in Australia and also cover the increasing cost of leather.

The move was successful and in the mid1980s the Chermside firm was employing 150 workers and producing 2,000 pairs of footwear per day. However the effect was not long lasting and by the 1990s the import of high quality footwear was taking over the Australian market and by the mid 1990s the firm ceased production at Chermside.

For the last 15 years the Chermside firm, under the name of The Bare Traps Shoe Company Pty Ltd, has continued to operate as a totally retail establishment selling imported footwear with a workforce of only 5 people. It is part of a larger organisation and is one of seven outlets operating under this name.

What began as a manufacturing firm in 1942 adapted to changing circumstances by changing products. Sold to a larger firm the business prospered by making more changes until cheap imports took over the local market. The firm survives but the cost is in the loss of local jobs as the economy changes and the workforce moves from secondary industry into service industry.

Mick Simpson – Saw Miller

Mick, born in 1913, left school when he was 13 and lived on the family farm but he had a mechanical bent and was more interested in making things than working on the land. He had many jobs and always tried to understand any mechanics associated with them. He read mechanical magazines such as Popular Mechanics to learn more about making all sorts of machines including the then new wireless sets (radios). In about 1928 he bought an old single seater Chevrolet (Chev) car for ₤10 ($580 in 2004 values) and when he was sleeper cutting he converted it to a utility to cart sleepers.

He got a job driving a truck; he had never driven one, and so it was learn on the job. First he had to grind new valves for the truck, crank it up, no self starters, and drive the solid rubber tyred, five ton truck with a load of logs and bad brakes to the railway at Yarraman; he managed.

He built a mobile winch out of a ships winch, a quarter mile of steel rope and a bull nose International truck with solid tyres, all second hand. He took the lot to a welding works and learned to weld watching the tradesmen at work. Cost ₤50 ($3,500 in 2004 values) and a lot of hard work.

In 1934 he commenced driving for Bob Stephens who owned a saw mill in Mermaid Street Chermside and, financed by Stephens, he bought a new truck and went into business, buying and cutting timber and hauling the logs to the mill. By 1941 he was able to buy a part share in one of Stephens’ mills and in 1945 he bought a half share in the Chermside mill for ₤5,000 ($130,000 in 2004 values).

That year Mick and Jack Sanderson went to Darwin to buy surplus army machinery. They finished up driving four large trucks, loaded with machinery and drums of fuel, all hitched together in convoy fashion, 2,300 miles (3,710 km) to Brisbane in 13 days.

In 1947 Mick took full control of the Chermside mill and began to rebuild it according to his own design. The mill at that time employed 3 or 4 men, the office was a table with a few drawers in the planing shed and the business operated on a cash basis because he did not have enough money to give credit.

In 1952 he was employing about 25 30 men in the mills at Chermside, Mt Mee, Dayboro and Nundah and a fleet of 14 trucks of all sizes which were fully serviced and maintained in the Chermside mill workshop. This workforce was maintained until 1976 when the government cut down on the number and size of the timber licences which reduced the flow of logs.

The Chermside mill closed down in 1982 when he moved his operations to Virginia and the Chermside site of 1.6 hectares was sold to the Housing Commission.

In about 1980 a salesman tried to sell him a calculator but the mill foreman, George Peterson, could work out measurements, orders and costing faster than the calculator. When Mick finally sold the Virginia mill in 1997 he did not have a fax, the letters were written on a 30-year old Remington typewriter and George Peterson was still working out the sums in his head.

After selling the Virginia mill site to AllJap Auto Parts on 23 March 1997 Mick finally retired at the age of 84 and George Peterson, also retired even though he was only 67 years old.

This was the end of handson saw milling in the Brisbane area as giant, fully mechanised mills, now process the timber without its being touched by human hands and the whole operation is computer controlled. Once Mick was at the cutting edge of the sawmilling industry with his machines, now the mill workers often sit in offices working the computers.

Mick Simpson lived through a time of transition when much of the Australian economy was changing from a strongly, if not predominantly labour intensive one, to a capital intensive one. When he started in the industry bullocks were used to snig, load and haul logs from the bush to the steam driven mills or the steam driven railways. This involved hard labour on the part of the workforce and a lot of ingenuity to be able to make repairs and solve problems on the job, in sometimes very isolated places. It was a time when the worker had to be a ‘Jack of all trades’, literally, because there was often no help available nor was there means to summon help quickly.

At that time machinery was still at a stage where a smart mechanic could often design and, with the use of second hand parts, make a machine to do a particular job; machinery was still relatively simple and not the complicated, highly technical, computer controlled type which is often the norm today.

Mick Simpson died, at his home in Mermaid St, Chermside, on Sunday 9 March 2008 aged 95.

Other Changes

The large firm of J C Hutton Proprietary Company operated a bacon factory beside Zillmere rail station since 1888 and was processing 3,000 pigs a week in 1912. It finally closed in 1962 and transferred to Oxley; jobs were lost but some employees transferred to the new site.

M J Gallagher’s Kedron Tannery opened in 1887 on Gympie Road, Kedron. It closed and was replaced with George Weston Food Ltd manufacturers of biscuits and cakes in 1966; Weston brought some 450 jobs to the local area.

In 1946 Ron Rice, son of Joe Rice Head Teacher at Chermside in the 1930s, opened Chermside Radio on Gympie Road near Rode Road where he and his family sold and repaired radios but soon expanded into white goods such as washing machines and the new wonder of television. The firm prospered employing the three Rice boys and their families for the next 56 years until closure in 2002.

The Clothes We Wore in the Fifties

Carol Cunningham comments on the formality of clothing:

Women were expected to dress for their age. Each segment of 10 years had a style that was appropriate to their status amongst other women. Those women who dressed in younger styles were criticized by other women as “mutton dressed up as lamb”. Women dressed for other women’s approval and it would be better not to attend a function than wear inappropriate clothes. This may have applied to men, but if a man dressed inappropriately it was always the wife who received the blame.

In the fifties trousers were quite uncommon attire for women. It was seen occasionally but this was regarded as not quite right; trousers were for men.

There were Occasion outfits:


Bride’s Dress – white, full and flattering, but never revealing.

Going Away Outfit — a tasteful outfit usually a suit, shoes, bag to leave the reception to officially begin married life and a very important part of the ceremony.

Men wore a black suit and white shirt and tie. They were expected to be smartly dressed but not outshine the women on the day.

Mother of the Bride and Hat — this was an entire industry and could only be purchased with a great deal of discussion and care. She could not outdo the bride but had to shine nonetheless. Both mothers had to be careful not to clash with the Bridesmaids or other mother. The Bridesmaids colour was always supposed to be a secret so it was with great tact that the mother of the Groom decided what colour to wear.

Evening Wear

Wonderful fabrics of silk, chiffon or satin — often beaded with matching evening shoes and small evening bags of beading or shiny material. Dresses were always floor length.

Day Wear

Floral waisted dress with a full gathered skirt and matching belt. Young women wore light pastel colours or bright happy colours with lower necklines, while over 30s wore more subtle colours and the older woman wore darker and darker colour patterns.


Slowly coming out towards the end of the fifties with Rock and Roll influencing fashions with full flared skirts and bobby socks and wanting change.

Working Women

The new breed of woman quietly entering the workforce, although few in number, tended to wear tailored dark suits, high heels and gloves. Leather bag and shoes to match completed the outfit.

A good number of women began entering a wide range of employment where uniforms were worn, a strategy to keep them in their place. Office employees, factory employees, nurses, and many more trades had uniforms distinguishing clearly the status of women workers.

Sports Wear

Every sport had a uniform to wear, i.e., whites for tennis even if it was a social game, basket ball outfits, soft ball outfits, whites for cricket. Uniforms are still a major part of the sporting life, but far more flexible with individual pursuits.

Good Clothes

For going to town, church and out to lunch plus hat, gloves, matching bag and shoes, and always stockings. Girls wore sweet dresses puff sleeves, waisted, full skirts, flared skirts and frills. Boys were not expected to remain tidy and got away with just beginning the day in a clean tidy state. Girls were expected to return home in the same clean tidy state they left; it was quite unfair.

Dinner Wear or After Five Wear

Finer fabrics, worn to the middle of the knee plus accessories. This was always stated on an invitation as either “After Five Wear” or “Black Tie”.

The House Dress

Loose fitting suitable for hanging heavy wet sheets on the line and scrubbing floors. Usually made in cotton for coolness and sturdy wear; no stockings were required for this.


Play Clothes, School Clothes or Uniforms, Sports Uniforms, Club Uniforms, Going to Town / Sunday school clothes and hat. Every child had at least one Good Outfit at all times. Often this one outfit visited Sunday school every Sunday.


Strong work clothes for manual labour, would often change into a suit to travel on public transport and change at work. Men going to work carried a small bag with their lunch and work clothes. Canteens at work were uncommon and these bags would have to carry their entire food and drinking requirements for the day. Many trades had uniforms, i.e., tram drivers, but the bulk of men wore the work suit.

Men wore a lot of suits — often suits had 2 pairs of trousers. Always white shirts with tie. Black suits were worn for most outings of importance. Shoes had to shine and be polished at all times, unpolished shoes distinguished a man who lacked something. I remember that men were colourless, but well ironed and polished. Vests under the jacket appeared for evening wear or the tuxedo outfit.

The short sleeved white shirt did not appear in Queensland until the Sixties and it must have been incredibly hot at times for them.

Shorts were worn with long socks for open air outings.

At the Beach

The beach was the only place where everybody could ‘veg’ out and wear the minimum of c1othes. Full piece swim suits for women and to the waist swim shorts for men.

Social Changes

The postwar period was one of great social changes some of which probably began as early as the First World War and slowly developed in succeeding generations.

The fearful shock of the Great War made many people resolve that never again would Australia go to war. This was followed by the Great Depression which pushed people’s thinking further to resolve that Australia would never again allow such unemployment. Unfortunately, for both these ideas the Second World War – sometimes called the Hitler war – broke out and we faced possible invasion in Australia. So, fearfully and reluctantly, Australia went off to war again and got an awful fright when the Japanese bombed Australia and, as was widely thought, threatened invasion.

When the war ended in the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers the government set about building a new Australia, free from war and unemployment; successive governments implemented policies to achieve these ends.

The policy of full employment, which was relatively easy to achieve because of the labour shortage, aimed to raise the standard of living by enabling people to be able to earn their living by regular work and provide for the needs of their families. This was coupled with better education of children in schools and adults in technical colleges and universities. The better people are educated, the more highly skilled they become and the more likely they are to develop their lives and live a full and happy life; also the better they can partake in the government of the state and nation.

Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) outlines her early post education experiences:

High school opened up a whole world of possibilities that our parents never had, and in many cases could not fully comprehend. Many of my peers became university graduates in all walks of life – teaching, engineering, architecture and nursing. Many grew ‘wings’ and for the first time we saw a major exodus of young people going overseas – on working holidays; some even backpacked through India to get to England. Others got into the “Hippy” generation – bought a COMBI (shock horror) and opted for travelling around Australia. Others just opted out of the family home and into sharing FLATS!!

The immigration program which aimed at increasing the population and bringing more skills also had the effect of bringing many new ideas and people who saw the world through different eyes. They brought many changes that are now seen as commonplace such as new kinds of food and drink, religious ideas, bonds with other countries, new cultures involving their families, new languages and bilingual speakers, a lot of very innovative talent, intermarriage between new and old Australians cemented these changes into the mainstream.

Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) as a young girl sees, and accepts, the migrants:

The barber Mr Pradella and his family were another family whose home was attached to the business. The barber shop had its’ door on Gympie Road, and their home front door was on Norman Drive. Mr Pradella seemed to be a mystery to me because he was not Australian, so therefore was ‘an immigrant’, as was Mr Nick who ran the milk bar beside The Dawn Picture Theatre and from the sixties onwards there was also Nick the Dry Cleaner. They were Aussies, just the same.

In 1948 the 40hour week was phased in amid the predictions of some that the country was 'going to the dogs' because the workers were too lazy. It was a regular refrain by employers each time there was a wage increase or some other improvement in working conditions of employees; something like the generation gap between different age groups.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) which subsidises certain prescribed pharmaceuticals was introduced in 1948 and is now administered by Medicare. This was, and is, to assist people to be able to afford medicine especially the very high cost of essential drugs.

Changes were also taking place in the world of women who had experienced working in factories or the forces during the war and with the postwar labour shortages many were able to continue working even while raising children; this was to develop much more in their daughters, the ‘baby boomers’. Also women were gaining more control over their own fertility and the size of the family was steadily declining; this also gained momentum with the development of the contraceptive pill.

During the 1950s the female wage rose to 75% of the male wage and by 1959 New South Wales female teachers were awarded equal pay with their male counterparts.

In 1950 war broke out in Korea and Australian troops were sent to the ‘forgotten war’ which at one stage, people were afraid that it was the beginning of World War III. While this war was in progress National Service was introduced on 17 March 1951 with 3 months full time training and 21 months part time. Thousands of young men, including many from Chermside, took part in this phase of Australian defence policy which, to some extent, set the tone for the next conflict in the 1960s.

The Women’s Liberation movement grew and put forward feminist views with a new confidence that shook the previously unchallenged male domination of society. Germain Greer was prominent in the movement and became an outspoken critic of male domination, to the admiration of many, particularly young women. The female wage rose to 85% of the male wage and the pressure continued for ‘equal pay for equal work’.

The children of the postwar period, the baby boomers, were unlike their parents in that they had, until Vietnam, never been through the traumas of war and unemployment so they expected that life would be good and getting better. This was the atmosphere in which they were raised and what they were taught to expect.

They quickly adapted to whatever was new in the world and there was plenty of that especially when the electronic industry developed. This was the age of the radio, the transistor (or trannie), the electric record player, the radiogram and long playing records, Handset telephones were common, most families owned a car and, in the 1960s, television became common, the age of rapid communication was well under way; and the teenagers were in their element.

The lifestyle of the teenager developed in a way that only the children of the wealthy had been able to experience previously. This tended to increase the generation gap between the experiences of the parents and their children.

A new form of music, Rock and Roll, appeared, it was lively and, aided by electronic speakers, loud. It gave rise to a new form of dancing, which resembled couples shuffling around one another, in discos which were really upgraded dance halls with fancy lighting and lots of noise they called music.

Exponents of the new entertainment appeared in the form of the American Elvis Presley and the English group, The Beatles, both of whom influenced clothing, hair, singing and behaviour styles in teenagers.

In addition to the old drugs of tobacco and alcohol, new drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin appeared on the streets and were all illegal even though the old two socially acceptable drugs were responsible for vastly more disease and misery than all the new ones.

Adults were also changing as divorce and remarriage became more common and single mothers began to be more obvious as they did not give up their babies at birth.

War in Vietnam

The war commenced for most Australians when combat troops were committed in 1965 and became more intensely debated than any other war in our history. By December 1972 when it ended, 7,672 Australians had fought in Vietnam, 512 had died and 2,400 were wounded.

The Vietnam War became the first television war and many people, especially the younger ones, did not like what they saw. Anger mounted and was expressed in defiance and massive street protests. The conscription of young men in the ‘birthday ballots’ further escalated the protests and violent clashes took place with people being arrested resulting in a divided nation.

The extension of the war into Cambodia further inflamed the protest movement and led to the Vietnam Moratorium of 1970 when hundreds of thousands of people marched against the war.

Jennifer Blakey comments: by the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s (many) were caught up in THE DRAFT – with boyfriends and brothers in the lottery that would see them in National Service for 2 years. My brother was called up in 1968 and my boyfriend in 1969. Both served twelve months in Vietnam. (They would have been 18 years old at the time.)

By late 1970 Australia started to reduce the number of soldiers in the war and by the end of 1972 the last Australian troops were brought home with many of them traumatised and others suffering from the effects of the chemical warfare.

To some extent Vietnam changed the public awareness of war and made it more difficult for governments to take Australia into future wars because people could actually see the results of the fighting as it was happening and its effect on people and property.

Aboriginal Rights

A major turning point in Aboriginal rights occurred in 1966 when Aboriginal pastoral workers won equal pay with their white counterparts and the Gurindji people on Wave Hill and Newcastle Waters stations in the Northern Territory went on strike for land rights; they won but it took seven years. While this did not happen in Chermside it had an affect there because it encouraged Indigenous people everywhere to stand up for their rights and take a higher profile in Australian society.

Slowly whitefella attitudes were changing towards the blackfella. The dramatic freedom ride of 1965 organised by Charles Perkins, the first Aboriginal to graduate from university, raised the consciousness of many whites to the extreme discrimination and segregation the blacks suffered in country New South Wales. It encouraged the local Indigenous people to stand up for their rights and many whites began to offer support. The bus ride through rural New South Wales was shown on TV and featured in the newspapers, the media was giving publicity to what had been covered up for generations; times they were a' changing, slowly.