This page refers to the ways that men, women and children spent their spare time. It covers the years 1870 - 1940 and a surprising number of activities were available. There were few cars and people had to rely on horse transport, or walk, or in later years, the regular but infrequent services provided by trams and buses.
Street lights were few and far between and people carried kerosene lanterns to their venues. Communication was by letter, telegram or personal visits. Kedron had its first public telephone in 1914
Men worked long hours on farms and in factories and women's work in the home had none of the modern appliances that we take for granted. Quite often they also helped on the farm. Children were a source of free and available labour for the family.
Church members were involved in many social activities in their congregations and this included all age groups. The various clubs within the congregations had regular meetings and organized social functions. Children and adults enjoyed the annual Sunday school picnics held in local paddocks. Peggy Ratcliffe remembered "that we always carried a mug with us for soft drinks, and there was plenty to eat, and we had races and other sports."
Music making was a very popular activity in the days before wide access to the wireless. Many homes had a musical instrument - piano, violin, and harmonica - and these were played at sing-alongs around the piano when friends and relatives were invited to be part of making music.
Children learnt to play the piano or the violin from teachers such as Thomas Hamilton and Miss Gunston and in later years they were in demand to play in local orchestras.
The Downfall Creek Musical Society began as a group raising money for charitable purposes and community activities, such as athletics equipment. They were so successful at this that they lost members to these new groups and the Society folded. Many of those members formed the orchestra and choir associated with the Chermside Methodist Church. They presented oratorios such as Esther for their own church, as well as performing in the neighbouring suburbs.
Dances in the local Schools of Arts needed orchestras to play for the entertainment. Mrs McKenzie's band played for the Mad Hatters' Ball in the Zillmere School of Arts in 1931; the Kedron Mouth Organ Band, Miss McGladrigan's Orchestra and Ron Scriven's Merry Syncopaters played for the Zillmere Cricket Club's annual euchre and dance nights in the 1930s. The Sandgate Jazz Band travelled to Kedron to help raise money for a proposed memorial School of Arts in 1922.
Schools of Arts
Schools of Arts were important in the growing communities of Kedron, Chermside and Zillmere. The Kedron School of Arts was part of the Kedron War Memorial and was established after World War 1. Chermside and Zillmere groups were established in the 1890s-1910 era.
Local committees managed them and hired their halls for all kinds of public uses. They were places where people could meet on many social occasions - dances, concerts, fund-raising activities for local schools and churches, farewells and welcomes to soldiers during World War 1, farewells to people such as Mr Menerary when he retired from Chermside School. They must have had busy committees as the Schools of Arts hosted functions such as lectures, weddings, political meetings, horticultural shows, libraries, annual meetings, fancy dress balls, Lodges such as Protestant Alliance Friendly Society.
They also had an educational aspect. Many people left school at the end of primary school and had little chance of further education. The Kedron Continuing Education Classes, a forerunner of technical education, were held in the Chermside School of Arts and there were classes on dressmaking, typewriting, and bookkeeping. It also subscribed to newspapers and magazines which local people would not otherwise have seen.
The Aspley Hall on Gympie Road, was a meeting place for many years. The local ambulance regularly held dances and entertainments to raise money for their work. The Anglican Church met there until they got their own premises.
There were plenty of opportunities to take part in sport. Cricket was very popular and was played in local paddocks - Hamilton's, Bishop's and Staib's - usually on land that was used for farming activities during the week.
Warehouse Cricket, played at Marchant Park, involved teams from all over Brisbane and the Brisbane Courier and later the Courier Mail, published detailed lists of the scores.
Cycling clubs, such as the Kedron Amateur Wheelers, took part in regular competitions with other clubs. Their detailed results were also published in the papers. Jim Hannah was a very successful rider and the locally-made Argo bicycles were used by many cyclists.
Bowls was a very popular sport for men and women. It was usually played on a Saturday afternoon and perhaps one day during the week. Enthusiasts such as Paul Maggs and James Barron at Kedron built their own bowling greens. James Barron's bowling green later became the Kedron Bowls Club. Members travelled by tram to the green at the corner of Gympie and Stafford Roads and carried their heavy bowling bags. Inter-club competition was very popular and their pennants days attracted many entrants.
Fishing was a popular pastime. Locals travelled to favourite places at Deep Water Bend at South Pine River, Brisbane River at Dutton Park, Hamilton Wall, Bribie Island, Margate, and Sandgate. In Depression times, a good catch would have helped a family's budget
Tennis was very popular with women and men. The Chermside Lawn Tennis club played on Mrs A Hamilton's court in Gympie Road. It was one of several clubs who formed the Suburban Lawn Tennis Association. It organized fixtures for weekend matches for players from suburbs as far apart as Zillmere and Ipswich and there were enough players to form 4 grades of tennis. Most matches were played on Saturdays and a suggestion to play on Sundays was not allowed. Very little sport was played on Sundays The Zillmere Church of Christ used a tennis court at the Zillmere Showgrounds for its Young People's Tennis Club.
There were many ways in which to take part in politics at a national, state and local level. Political parties such as Country and Progressive Party, Liberal Association of Queensland, United Party, Australian Labour Party had branches in the district or members went to meetings held in the city. George Reid drove his car into town to attend meetings. The lead-up to elections was always hotly debated in the newspapers and people attended debates in the Schools of Arts at Kedron, Chermside and Zillmere. During the 1890s, there was much community discussion and debates about the merits of Federation.
Kedron Shire Council
The Kedron Shire Council covered a large area and the Shire was divided into three divisions. Councillors were very civic-minded men (always men) who were not paid and donated their time and expertise to the community. The Council's main focus seemed to be on rates, roads and rubbish but its interests in the wider community came to the fore during World War 1. Every man who enlisted from the district was given a civic farewell when he left for the war, also when he returned, hopefully. During the war, the Kedron Shire organized a committee to prepare a memorial for all those who enlisted. Very soon after the first ANZAC day in 1915, the Council voted to remember the battle with a commemoration in April 1916
The Council approved plans to remember all those who enlisted from the area with a memorial which was dedicated by Major General Sir William Glasgow in 1922 at the Marchant Park Gates.
Local option polls encouraged another level of political activity. People could vote for whether they wanted a new hotel to be established but in an area which had such an enthusiastic Methodist Church, such polls rarely resulted in a new hotel.
Some women in the Kedron Chermside area joined The Queensland Women's Electoral League and had enough members to form a branch which met at the School of Arts. One of their activities was to raise money towards a Queensland Women's Memorial in Anzac Square in 1930.
Progress associations were another part of the political activity of the district and they were nearly always organized on non- party lines. There were progress associations at Kedron, Chermside, Aspley, Zillmere and Geebung. Their aim was to work for the betterment of their district.
The Zillmere Progress Association was formed in 1908 and campaigned for the provision of electricity supplies, as did the Geebung, Kedron and Chermside Progress Associations. They all sponsored social activities to raise money for special projects, not necessarily in their own district - Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade, soldiers' memorial, General Hospital were some of the beneficiaries. They agitated for water and electricity supplies, better roads and tram services, destruction of pests such as prickly pear and foxes, and funded the building of tennis courts and Schools of Arts.
Kedron Progress Association was particularly active and prided itself in 1925 for achieving the extension of the tramline, electric light, and a new school in the planning.
Chermside Progress Association celebrated its first year with a concert featuring bagpipes and highland dancing by a champion dancer. Children were also present and competed in singing competitions. The Chermside group maintained constant pressure on Brisbane City Council and the State Government about the need for an extension to the Lutwyche tramway.
For people interested in their local community, there were other ways to be involved. There were cemetery trusts for the Lutwyche and Bald Hills Cemeteries where trustees were appointed by the government and were responsible for the management of the cemeteries.
Public holidays were a great source of entertainment and remembrance of past occasions. Many of these involved parades such as St Patrick's Day, Orangeman's Day, Eight Hour Day, Anzac Day. There were also celebrations for Empire Day, Queen Victoria's birthday, Separation Day, and Foundation Day.
Some people were able to go away on holidays, and staying at the seaside was very popular. Beaches in the Sandgate/Redcliffe area attracted holiday makers who stayed in boarding houses or camped beside the beach. Local residents could catch the train at Nundah and go to Sandgate for day trips, especially on public holidays. Thomas Hamilton had regular holidays at Burleigh Heads
The establishment of new schools was always associated with social activities as local parents tried to raise money for the proposed new schools at Zillmere, Cabbage Tree Creek ( later Aspley), Downfall Creek (later Chermside) and Kedron Schools between 1870 and 1926. Special occasions during the school year involved the local community - break-up days, fancy-dress balls,and sports carnivals. Special occasions such as the silver jubilee of the Chermside School involved many members of the community. School committees were formed to help raising funds for the school.
Photography was a popular hobby and it is thanks to people like James Hamilton and James Youatt that we have so many photos of the early days in Chermside. Edgar Lake-Harcourt, originally from Sydney, was a professional photographer.
Women had many interests to occupy their spare time. Some were involved in community activities, sometimes in a support role but often in a leadership role. Church, school, sport-related activities interested them. Mrs Jesser looked after hockey players at Marchant Park for many years.
Mass immigration over the years resulted in families living all over the world and women kept in contact with their scattered families with letter writing and the sending of photographs to distant places. Margaret Hamilton kept a scrapbook of interesting items, such as poems, stories, recipes, church affairs, patterns and gardening tips. She must have subscribed to many newspapers and magazines as she had cuttings from New Idea, Life, War Cry, Everylady's Journal, Australian Christian World, Telegraph, Courier, The Delineator.
The Exhibition held in August every year gave some women a chance to display their needlework and cooking skills in various categories. They also competed in local shows at Chermside, Zillmere and Kedron. Hannah Cook knitted a huge number of socks and mittens for the troops in World War 1 and she was rewarded with a large photograph.
Mr and Mrs Bennett opened the Wintergarden Theatre on Gympie Road, Kedron in 1923. Like many theatres of the time, it had a tan bark floor, garden seats and canvas chairs. It was very successful until the advent of "the talkies' but the management did not adopt the new technology and the theatre closed. The patrons found other venues to view the latest films at Chermside, Nundah and Windsor.
Maurice Tilley opened the Dawn Teatre in Gympie Road in 1928, much to the delight of local people.