- ca 1867 - The Receiver of Mail - John Patterson
- 1889 - The Post Office Agency - James Hamilton
- 1892-3 - 1898 - The Post Office Agency - Little Information.
- 1898-1918 The Post Office Agency - William & Mary Sammells
- Telephones and Telegraph at Sammells
- The Chermside Communications Revolution of 1909
- 1-5-1918 to 31-10-1935 Five Changes - Rapid Turnover
- Sometimes Mistakes Were Made
- 1-11-1935 to 29-6-1962 - George Reid & Family
- Chermside Technical Training Centre - Banfield Street
- 1962 The First Purpose Built Post Office in Chermside
- 1993 The Current Post Office - Australia Post
- The Smaller Agencies of Australia Post
ca 1867 - The Receiver of Mail - John Patterson
When the first white settlers appeared in the Chermside area there probably was no mail delivery at all. The earliest population figure we have for Downfall Creek-Chermside was in the 1871 Census when 103 persons were recorded. This was for a district about five times larger than the present area of the suburb of Chermside.
John Patterson was appointed Receiver of Mail sometime before 1884, which meant he collected the mail from the passing coach driver and gave him any outgoing mail from the local area. Cobb & Co were running regular coaches from Brisbane to Gympie from 1867 so he could have been appointed by that date.
He was probably appointed because he was the first known shop keeper in the area. His shop was located on the present site of the Green Motel near the corner of Gympie Road and Banfield Street.
People would come to Patterson's shop and collect their mail and leave any outgoing mail. He probably sold postage stamps as the Penny Post had been in operation since 1840 in England. For more information on Patterson see Chapter 3 of the New History of Chermside.
1884 - The Post Office Agency - Andrew Hamilton
In 1884 Andrew Hamilton was appointed Post Master which meant that more Post Office business might have been conducted. Possibly Registered Mail, Money Transfer, Licences Issued and Postage of letters and parcels. By this time the population of Downfall Creek had risen to above the 181 of the 1881 Census and the volume of traffic on Gympie Road whould also have increased.
Andrew was paid a salary of 12 pounds ($24) for his part time work in the Post Office which was in a skillion or lean-to attached to his Fivemiletown Blacksmith's forge.
1889 - The Post Office Agency - James Hamilton
When James Hamilton (Separate family, same name) became the Post Master the population of the area exceeded 400 and by the Census of 1891was 498 and growing steadily.
James Hamilton was a keen photographer and recorded most of the photos that we have today of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He was born in Ireland in 1861 and died in Brisbane in 1921.
1892-3 - 1898 - The Post Office Agency - Little Information.
1892-3 Gottleib Conradi is listed in the Qld. Post Office Directory as being the Postmaster during this time. The Post Office would have been in his shop, the Polsloe Store on Gympie Road.
How long Conradi was Post Master is not known but he may have been until Sammells was appointed in 1898
David Teague (p.46) notes that by 1892 David Goodwin of the Edinburgh Castle Hotel had the contract to deliver the mail daily to several places including Downfall Creek from the General Post Office in Brisbane. As Cobb & Co stage coaches were gradually declining smaller local carriers were carrying the mail to the local Post Offices.
1898-1918 The Post Office Agency - William & Mary Sammells
William Sammells built the Downfall Creek Furniture Bazaar on the south corner of Hall Street and Gympie Road. The agency was transfered there but it is not clear who was Post Master. Probably William was but David Teague lists Mary as Postmistress in1917/8.
During the Sammells' tenure population of the Chermside area rose from 694 in the 1901 Census to 1,113 in the 1921 Census.
Telephones and Telegraph at Sammells
The Telegraph service was available in Sammells' shop from 1908 and messages were relayed by phone line to another centre, possibly Albion or Brisbane GPO.
By 1909 the telephone was available for public use also but, according to the above letter, only when it was not being used for telegrams.
Although the letter recommends setting a telephone outside the shop in a telephone box it seems that there would only be one line from the Post Office.
It is not known how long this situation persisted, probably not long as businesses would be anxious to be connected.
The phones were not automatic, they were staffed by operators who would answer the caller and connect them with the person they wanted. Long distance calls were more complicated, and cost more, because the caller had to book the call and then wait to be connected. The operator would have to connect with all the exchanges from for example, Chermside to Sydney; this could take a lot of time.
The Chermside Communications Revolution of 1909
The first Post Office was opened in Brisbane in 1829 and the Electric Telegraph arrived in 1860 soon after its invention in the USA. The latter was like an email. See Side Bar.
Prior to 1909, if a person in Chermside wanted to make a telephone call or send a telegram s/he would have to harness up the sulky and spend a day travelling to and from Brisbane.
So when the telephone and telegraph arrived in Chermside it was the first time both could be done by simply riding a bike or walking to the Post Office Agency; the time saving was enormous - sixty times faster.
Post Office Records during 1909 show:
52 telegrams were lodged at a total cost of two pounds six shillings ($4.60) and 82 were received.
Local Telephone calls totalled four pounds twelve shillings and five pence ($9.25).
Trunk (long distance) calls totalled four shillings and four pence ($0.45).
Total Telegram and Telephone revenue for 1909 was seven pounds and nine pence ($14.10).
- The Basic Wage (Labourer) was $4.40 per week.
- You could only make a phone call or send a telegram at the Post Office Agency.
- The Post Office was only open during daylight trading hours and closed on Sundays and Saturday afternoons.
1-5-1918 to 31-10-1935 Five Changes - Rapid Turnover
James C Argo purchased Sammells store and the Post Office Agency towards the end of World War I and his daughter, Christine, became Postmistress so it was a family affair. Christine received an annual salary of sixty pounds ($120) for her work.
1/12/1926 - Mr. R.E. Hall became Postmaster
1/11/1928 - Mr. J.H. Gordon became Postmaster
14/10/1929 - mail being delivered to 133 houses by Postman on bicycle.
1/9/1930 - Mr. Gordon Postmaster died and Mrs. Gordon carried on for a short while.
1/10/1930 - Mr. G. Jeffs appointed Postmaster. According to Teague (p.47) Jeffs purchased adjoining shops and moved the Post Office to Ida Grantham's old shop on 18-10-1933 where he remained till he sold out in 1935.
Sometimes Mistakes Were Made
This cutting gives some insights into the value of the business and the inflated value of the newspaper. Since this was in the Great Depression the amounts mentioned were considerable as wages were very low and many were still unempolyed.
1-11-1935 to 29-6-1962 - George Reid & Family
1/11/1935 - Mr. Jeffs sold his business to Mr. G.B. Reid of Sandgate who then became the Postmaster.
The Reid family managed the Post Office Agency until the first purpose built Post Office was opened in Chermside in 1962 on the opposite side of Gympie Road.
The population of Chermside had risen to 2,319 by the 1933 Census and to 5,055 by the 1947 Census. So the business of the Agency was also rising.
Reid's shop was a general store supplying groceries, small goods, fruit and vegetables. It served the households and was not a produce store like Hacker's further north along Gympie Road. It had a milk bar and catered for the patrons of the Dawn Theatre on the other side of Gympie Road.
George Reid was also the Newsagent who had to deliver the Brisbane papers, morning and evening, in his car to Chermside homes. This was on every day with only two days off each year, Christmas Day and Good Friday. They were the only days he could take the children to the beach.
On the 1-8-1949 Beresford Arndt, Son in Law to George Reid took over the role of Postmaster and ran the Post Office Agency till 1962.
When this photo was taken the Agency was catering for a much larger population as the Chermside area was experiencing the post World War II building boom. Houses were being built in their hundreds; new streets and new suburbs were appearing.
There were 5,055 persons recorded in the 1947 Census and 15,215 in the 1954 Census. The Agency was growing with the population and other Agencies and Post Offices were being opened.
Chermside Technical Training Centre - Banfield Street
A major expansion of the services took place in 1948 when the Post Master General acquired land on the north side of Banfield St 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 linesmen.
This took place when the house building boom was beginning in the Chermside area and before the need for parkland became urgent. The land was originally Murphy's Paddock but by this time had become Sparkes' Paddock.
Like most modern organisations Telstra was constantly updating its facilities. A major building project was underway on the site.
Youngman House is still untouched but in 1990 the land had already been sold and the buildings were demolished to make way for the Australian Tax Office and the Commonwealth Building.
From 1992 till about 1995 a major rebuilding of the area took place. Telstra built the very larg white building in the middle while the to the left is the Australian Tax Office, which is probably the largest single building in Chermside. Beside it is the Commonwealth Building.
There had been no change in the Shopping Centre until Westfield bought it and a doubling in size took place in 2000 followed by another doubling in 2006. This latter expansion completley obliterated the Telstra complex.
1962 The First Purpose Built Post Office in Chermside
With the continual growth of population, 19,972 at the 1961 census, it was inevertable that a bigger Post Office would be built. While much of this growth would be served by new Post Offices in the surrounding suburbs, the area served from Chermside was also growing.
The new Post Office was officially opened by Mr. R.C. O'Brien, M.P. for Petrie with Mr. E C 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 just an agency working in a shop. It was very much a 20th Century office with a wide drive to allow vehicles to drive off Gympie Road around the back to unload or load. The staff were members of the public service in the Post Master General's Department.
The new Post Office was on the west side of Gympie Road a little south of the Dawn Picture Theatre which is now gone.
This Post Office was a traditional one providing postal, telegraphic, telephonic, banking and many other services until 1975 when the Post Master General Dept was broken up into two separate firms:
- Australia Post to deal with Postal matters
- Telecom Australia, now Telstra, to deal with Telephone and Telecommunications.
So the Chermside Post Office became Chermside Australia Post and continued operating. But like the Dawn this office also closed on 7-6-1993 and is now occupied by Ray White Real Estate. At least it wasn't demolished like the Dawn.
1993 The Current Post Office - Australia Post
In 1975 the government rezoned the boundaries of the suburbs of Brisbane. Chermside was reduced in size to one fifth of its original size and its population reduced to 7,666 in the 1976 Census
However this population was generating sufficient business to keep the the Post Office operating and then move to the new location on the eastern side of Gympie Road. It is now refered to as Chermside South as there is another Post Office in Westfield Shoppingtown. Both are large offices and sometimes have long queues of customers waiting to be served.
The Smaller Agencies of Australia Post
These local post offices are managed by private individuals instead of the public servants. While still known as the local Post Office these small agencies provide services of postage, financial services such as payment of bills and banking, licencing, J.P. services while selling a wide variety of stationary and other goods; some resemble the earlier Post Office Agencies in the grocer's shop.
Post Office at Wavell Heights on Hamilton Road was opened in July 1956 and was operated by a Mr Smith who also owned the next door grocery shop which was managed by Mrs Smith. The area had a creek running through it and there was a Melaleuca Swamp on the other side of Hamilton Road. The old grocery store is now a Pool Supplies Store for swimming pools.
It was a Post Office Agency and dealing in all the functions of post, telegraph, telephone and all the other servicesis of the old Post Office. Now it is still a Licenced Post Office operating within Australia Post as well as having a wide variety of items such as stationary for sale. It is a two peson operation, fully computerised and has the personal relationship with the customers that is characteristic of small businesses.