Home - Chermside & District History

Alonzo Sparkes - Master Butcher and Grazier.

Newspaper Sources

I have used the Trove website to access a range of newspapers in tracing the story of Alonzo Sparkes and his father.

Especially important are the Court Cases which both men experienced, more or less, continuously throughout their lives. In the following narrative unless otherwise stated the source is the Brisbane Courier (B.C. 1864-1933) which in 1933 became the Courier Mail. Both were preceded by the Moreton Bay Courier (1846-1861)

For William Jackson Sparkes in Sydney I used several newspapers but mainly the Sydney Herald which later became the Sydney Morning Herald

Parents 1839 to pre-1848 Sydney


Alonzo Sparkes parents were: William Jackson Sparkes - Merchant - Shopkeeper and Mary Ann Sparkes nee: Bowers - they landed in Sydney in 1839 and stayed there till some time prior to 1848 when Alonzo was born in Brisbane.

Mary Blond states: It is my opinion that the following information is about the parents of Alonzo Sparkes, William Jackson Sparkes and his wife Mary Ann.

On 17th March, 1839, the "Achilles" departed the port of Plymouth, England.

The "Achilles" was a barque vessel weighing 335tons. Its master was Mr. Veale. The "Achilles" was bound for Sydney and arrived on 24th July 1839.

On board were 14 passengers (including 5 children). Records show that in steerage were a Mr. and Mrs. Sparks who were were unassisted migrants.

According to his Baptismal Certificate Alonzo was born on 24th August 1848 in Queen Street, Brisbane , "somewhere in the vicinity of where the "Telegraph" Newspaper offices now stand." (Obituary 1923) He was baptised in St. Johns Church of England, Brisbane.

William Jackson Sparkes - Bush Tavern 1841 Sydney


The first two records appear in the Sydney Herald on the 13 April and the second 1 May 1841. The first is W.J. Spark applying for a liquor licence at the Bush Tavern, the second item records that he was refused but no reason was published. However the issuing Magistrates made it abundantly clear they thought that there were enough liquor vendors already in the Colony.

WJS - Highway Robbery - 1841 Sydney


The next record comes from Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser 9-8-1841 p.2 News of the Day

COMMITTAL for HIGHWAY ROBBERY - Eight convicts who were assigned servants to Mr. Johnson of Annandale were committed for trial for the robbery on W.J. Sparke of George Street South who was returning from Bathurst driving his horse and cart. The assigned servants who were driving a horse and dray accosted Sparke near Prospect and made him buy about twenty native cats, a dozen opossums, and a magpie for thirty shillings; they also made him buy 'five shillings worth of Colonial Beer' .

Following this one of the convicts, on his own, demanded Sparke's watch and money whereupon Sparke knocked him down, drew a pistol and marched him off the Parramatta lock up. Here Sparke was arrested for being drunk and spent the night in the lock up at Parramatta and was fined five shillings the next morning. In the meantime the horse and cart, which had been left on the road, was stolen but later recovered. The charge of Highway Robbery was dismissed by the Parramatta police and the convicts proceeded to Sydney Town. And, this sounds like an Agatha Christie detective story, Mr. Johnston, their employer, suspected that the convicts were guilty and so informed the Sydney police who investigated, and a witness to the incident appeared who confirmed Johnston's suspicions. Result the convicts were fully committed for trial. And, unfortunately there the matter rests, for the moment.


The incident indicates that he had some sort of business partly because of the quite considerable sum of money, £16 he was carrying and owning a horse and cart. N.B. the spelling of the surname leaves out the final s.

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WJS - The Tread Mill Incident - 1841 Sydney


Windmill in Brisbane photo 1885
The Windmill on Whickham Terrace built in 1828 with convict labour had a treadmill installed about ten years later. It was used for punishment of the convicts. In 1861 it was used as a signal station for shipping in the Brisbane River. It was connected by electric telegraph with Fort Lytton at the river mouth for information of ships entering or leaving the river.

This next section I will record in full because it describes WJ Sparkes' occupation where the business was located and the customs of the time at the Tread Mill in Sydney Town.

Sydney Herald 6-9-1841 p. 2
A TREAD-MILL CASE.-On Friday last William Jackson Sparkes, grocer, opposite the House of Correction, George street south, appeared at the Police Court, on a warrant to answer a charge of receiving stolen property. From the evidence it appeared that the prisoner had bargained with some of the convicts belonging to the tread-mill to receive their ration of maize meal at one penny per pound, the quantity bargained for being about eighty pounds weight. It was also proved that it was customary for the parties who are being worked there to sell their breakfast meal, and, with the proceeds, to purchase tea and coffee. The case came on again for hearing before Mr. Windeyer on Saturday when he dismissed the charge, at the same time informing the defendant that there was nothing in the depositions which led him to believe that he had any criminal end in view by agreeing to purchase "the maize meal, but it was an irregularity that might be attended with very serious consequences, but in order to get it immediately put an end to, he directed that copies of the depositions should be immediately forwarded to Captain Innes. The man Kennedy, who was miller at the House of Correction, has been sent to an ironed gang for his conduct in the affair.

WJS - Financial Trouble - 1842 Sydney


In August and September 1842 it appears that WJS was in financial trouble and owed fifty five pounds, 6 shillings and 4 pence to two creditors, his business apparently was not profitable.

He had to appear in the "insolvency business" of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Sydney in a series of what were called "Third Meetings". In fact there were four meetings, the final one concluding that "the following debts (were) proved: William Fisher, £10 15s 6d; Tucker & Co, £34 10s 10d".

This would have meant he was insolvent or bankrupt. The reporting of this case involved three newspapers in what was then a town which implies that the competition must have been intense. Only one, the Sydney Morning Herald, survived to the present.

WJS - Itinerant Hawker - Door to Door Salesman - 1844 Sydney


In December 1844 the following notice appeared in the SMH

To WILLIAM JACKSON SPARKS, NOTICE

To WILLIAM JACKSON SPARKS, |licence d hawker, Sydney - Unless the amount due to me for board and lodging, and horse meat, is paid within ten days from this date, the pony left by you in my charge will be sold to defray the said expenses.

WILLIAM THOMPSON, Cricketer's Arms, Liverpool December 16 8223

This indicates that WJS was no longer a grocer but an itinerant door to door salesman, possibly going the round of the outer settlements of Sydney Town and having to lodge there from time to time.

WJS - The Case of the Horse and Cart - 1845 Sydney


Sydney Morning Herald 20-5-1845 p.2

In May 1845 WJS borrowed a horse and cart from a publican, Mr. Maddox, to make a delivery of maize (wheat). He took the horse and cart to Sussex Street and left it near the Labour-in-Vain (public house) while he went to Jaques' Wharf but on returning the horse and cart were missing. He informed the police and offered a reward of ten shillings.

About 10 am that night a man, Thomas Davis, called at Hanslow's public-house in Parramatta Street claiming that when he was sitting in his horse and cart near Jamie the Jockey's (public house?) on Parramatta Street two men robbed him of three pounds and ten shillings. He had no money and asked for credit till Monday on security of his horse and cart outside near the door. Mr. Hanslow directed him to report to the police, which he did after drinking several glasses of rum and ale.

About ten minutes after Davis left the police station and returned to Hanslow's public house, Sergeant Burke, having a description of the horse and cart belonging to Maddox went to look at the one Davis had left there and recognized it as belonging to Maddox. He immediately arrested Davis who was brought before the Police Court the following day and remanded till Maddox could be brought to identify the horse and cart. Davis, who had recently obtained his certificate of freedom as a convict, claimed he found the horse and cart straying in the street.

There the matter must rest because I have not found any more news but the future for Davis did not look too good.

Watch this space for the latest news of 1845!

WJS - Arrival in Brisbane - Pre 1848 to 1851


The Sparkes family arrived in Brisbane some time before 1848 when Alonzo was born in Brisbane.

There is nothing more about W J S in Sydney but in May 1850 his name appears in the Morton Bay Courier which reported "The Magistrates assembled at the Brisbane Police Office last Thursday, for the purpose of revising the electoral list of Brisbane".

The name William Jackson Sparkes appears as a householder on a freehold site.

In September 1851 the Morton Bay Courier announced "Title Deeds-The Government Gazette notifies that title deeds of the following lands, purchased in these districts, have been made out in favour of the persons named, and forwarded to the Supreme Court for enrollment:" William Jackson Sparkes was listed as having a 32 perches block in the vicinity of Ipswich.

However does the following note casts doubt on the identity of the W.J.S. above?

Note: Mary Blond writes: W J S died in January, 1851 according to the Qld. B D M. He was buried in the Paddington Cemetery now Lang Park.

Alonzo Sparkes - Butcher-1862 Droving -1865


Drovers camp in NSW 1919
Although this photo was taken in NSW in 1919 it well could be similar to one taken of Sparkes in 1865. Change was slow in the bush. Two tents with saplings for structural support, a fire place, bush table, couple of horses and two men. (Courtesy of John Oxley Library Image No. 148085)

Very little is known about Sparkes' early life but two incidents give some insights into his character. Both are recorded in some detail in the Brisbane Courier.

According to his obituary (1923) Alonzo Sparkes "first encountered the commercial arena in the butchering business, when there were tree stumps and tents in our now busy metropolitan thoroughfare, and later took to droving."

Droving (1865)

It seems that in the course of droving he encountered James Cash.

Alonzo Sparkes and John Thomas Cockerell were engaged to look after cattle on the South Pine River. James Cash had a grazing property on the South Pine River at a ford called Cash's crossing, today's suburb of Albany Creek, where he threatened them with a loaded pistol.

The men took Cash to Court and asked for protection so they could continue their work. The Court ruled in their favour and bound Cash over to keep the peace for three months. (Report of the trial in the Side Bar)

A S Prospecting for Gold 1866


Gold Miners 1870
This photo captures the primitive nature of a mining camp. Everything is temporary, the miners are ready to move on at the next news of another gold strike. The dream was to 'strike it rich' and retire to 'live the life of a lord'. Few ever did, including Alonzo. (Courtesy of John Oxley Library 71854p)

Gold Prospecting (1866) (Obituary)

"Tiring of this (droving) and being infected with the gold fever, which had broken out in Queensland he (Alonzo), in company with Zac Skyring, J. Woodard, and Mike Quinn, went prospecting in the vicinity of Kilcoy Creek. Here they fell in with (James) Nash, who was on his way to the diggings, and advised him where there was gold. Shortly after Nash and his party discovered the Gympie field, but the late Mr. Sparkes and his colleagues having struck gold remained where they were in the hopes of picking up the main reef. As with most prospectors, funds at the time ran low, and Sparkes supplemented the exchequer of his party by working at his old trade of butchering." (See Letter in Sidebar)

So Alonzo started in butchering and returned to it, this time it was to be his lifetime work.

A S 1867-1878


Spaarkes - Notice of Sale of butcher shops 1867
Sparkes seemed to sell and buy shops as well as meat. This notice appeared in the B. C. 18-6-1878. It seems that he had them back by 1844.

By 1867 Sparkes had at least one butchers shop, probably in Brisbane as shown by the following article in the Queenslander 12-1-1867. Sparkes was taken to court by Donald McPherson who had been hired by Sparkes to go to the Mary River on the hinterland of the now Sunshine Coast to purchase fat cattle for slaughtering. McPherson had done so but did not find any suitable beasts. When he returned he was sent to other stations; he was employed for sixteen days and was paid two pounds with Sparkes refusing to pay any more. The court decided in favour of McPherson and Sparkes had to pay another two pounds. Sparkes must have had to pay court costs.

A S First Marriage 1870-1885


Alonzo Sparkes - a young man
Alonzo as a young man is one of the few photos I have found. If he is only 22 then he must have kept his mustache all his life. This one is courtesy of Mary Blond.

In 1871 Sparkes, aged 22 married Catherine Roy aged 19 in Brisbane. They had seven children three of whom were still alive when Sparkes died in 1923 viz Alonzo 50, Arthur George 47 and Sydney 43 - two males and two females having died. (Death Certificate)

On the 12th Feb.1876 the Brisbane Courier reported that a slaughtering Licence was granted to Alonzo Sparkes at Sandy Creek which is 92km from Chermside via Caboolture and Woodford, north east from Kilcoy. This seems a long way from his butcher's shop in Brisbane; perhaps there is another Sandy Creek closer?

Sparkes forfeited an area of 1,084 acres somewhere in the Brisbane District according to the Government Gazette and reported in the B. C. dated 6th March 1876 however no indication is given to the exact location.

In the same year he obtained a decision in the Debt Court for £180/8/10½ for meat sales; such a large amount indicates that Sparkes was a prominent butcher at the time.

1886 Death of Catherine


1886: 10th July - Catherine Sparkes nee Roy died aged 35 and Alonzo aged 38 (Death Cert.) Alfred, Earnest, Alice and Alice Rose. (From Web)
Living Issue at time of Alonzo's death: Alonzo 50, Arthur George 47, Sydney 43 - Deceased: Two males Alfred and Earnest, two females Alice and Alice Rose. (Death Cert)

School - At least two of the Sparkes boys went to Mr. Boyd's Eton School at Nundah; Master Alonzo was reported as playing the maid Anna Maria in the half yearly presentation and was repeatedly applauded. (BC 2-7-1887 p.7) At end of the year at the presentation of prizes and break up Alfred Sparkes who was in Form 5 won two books, Tales of a Grandfather and Captain Trafalgar. (BC 16-12-1887 p.6) Both boys were from the first marriage.

A S 1884-1887 Manumbar


Manumbar Station Sale Notice 1880 3rd January
This detailed description of Manumbar Station gives us a glimpse of the scale of such enterprises. Completely isolated in the bush they had to be highly self dependent. Supplies of food and manufactured goods would come in by bullock wagon once a year or every six months. Emergencies such as accidents had to be managed on the spot, they could set broken limbs and treat skin cuts with alcohol as a disinfectant. No surgery, except maybe amputations, could be done. For timber resources of Manumbar see Side Bar.

1884: 1st August (B. C.) Sparkes and L. McKinnon entered into a partnership with their Butcher Shops in Leichardt Street Spring Hill and George Street, Brisbane to operate as Sparkes & McKinnon Wholesale Shipping, Retail and Family Butchers. It seems Sparkes must have got his shop in Leichardt St back from Bonney?

On the 25th February (B.C.) Sparkes was back in court but this time on an assault charge and found guilty of assaulting Joseph Madded (who seemed to be an employee). Sparkes was fined five shillings.

1885 23rd December a slaughter yard licence was granted by Licensing Board in the Police Court but there is no mention of the location. Sparkes already had a slaughter yard at Sandy Creek from 1876 and this could be a second licence; it was probably the one at Enoggera which is mentioned below 1898.

Dulcie Logan in her book "Where Two Rivers Run" subtitled "History of Kilkivan Shire" p. 27-29 notes that Manumbar Run was first taken up in 1848 by John Mortimer. In 1875, following the Land Act of 1868, resumption of leasehold land for further settlement commenced. A letter dated 8th July 1887 states: "Your uncle (J. Mortimer) has sold out of Manumbar …to Messrs Sparkes and McKinnon, Brisbane butchers." Manumbar is on the Burnett River about 100km west of Noosa Heads, 200km from Brisbane via Caboolture & Kilcoy. Cattle would probably be drafted due south to Kilcoy and then via Caboolture to Brisbane. Later they probably would be entrained from the rail at Kilkivan. Manumbar was held on lease from the Government of Queensland (BC 18-7-1908 p. 33)

By at least 1887 Sparkes was recognised as a leading business man in Brisbane when he was called as an expert witness in a court case involving a lot of Chaff from New Zealand which he examined and found it to be of good quality. (BC 25-11-1887 p.7)

Location and Isolation of Manumbar


Manumbar Station Map showing location

When Manumbar was first taken up in 1848 it was really 'the back of beyond'. Gympie and Maryborough would still be in the future and Brisbane was a very long way off. Roads would have just been bush tracks if they existed at all. Judging by the description of the property above, when Sparkes bought it in C 1887 the pioneering work would have been done.

1888 Second Marriage


Alonzo Sparkes - a mature man
Alonzo Sparkes, a mature man of 40 years with 'mutton chop' wiskers and a stylish suit. A wedding photo? (Courtesy Mary Blond)

C 1888 Sparkes married the second time at Gympie, Qld. Age: 40 years to Pauline Dorothy Sophia Heller (Death Cert.)
Living Issue at time of Alonzo's death in 1923: Eric 33, Pauline Esmie 31, Gwendoline Wilhelmina 28, Alfred Roy 26, Theodore Lionel 22, Zoe Eveline 17 (Death Cert.)

A S 1889-1893


Sparkes Butcher Shop in the Valley Inside C1900
This was probably a large shop as it had four butchers as well as other staff. The display of meat is rather impressive. The floor may have been concrete with a drainage grid enabling it to be washed. There is a large chopping block on the right side background. (John Oxley Library 159738p)

Sparkes, having previously taken Mr. McKinnon into partnership in the Brisbane butchering business, then dissolved the partnership and went to take charge of the station, McKinnon having the Brisbane business

NOTICE is hereby given that the PARTNERSHIP hitherto existing' between the undersigned as Grazier and Butchers, at Manumbar Station and Brisbane respectively, under the style of Sparkes & McKinnon, has This Day been DISSOLVED by effluxion of time. Mr. Sparkes will continue the Grazing Business at Manumbar, and will pay and receive all debts due by or to the late firm in respect thereof Mr. McKinnon will continue the Butchering Business in Brisbane and suburbs, and will pay and receive all debts due by or to the late firm in respect thereof.
Dated this 31st day of July, I889. A. SPARKES. BC

After about three years he (Sparkes) returned to Brisbane and took over the butchering business, which under his supervision flourished, and in 1920 he converted the enterprise into a limited liability company, and at the time of his death in 1923 was governing director. (Obituary)

Dulcie Logan writes that Alonzo Sparkes managed the family interests, including Manumbar operating both his business and his pastoral interests under the name of A Sparkes Pty Ltd. He lived there till his death in 1923. This means the family lived on Manumbar from about 1889 till 1923.

However the following item agrees that the family was on Manumbar in 1892.

Queenslander 21-5-1892 p.969
SPARKES - On the 22nd April 1892, the wife of Alonzo Sparkes, Manumbar, of a daughter.

But by 1895 the Sparkes family were living in Leichardt Street, Spring Hill according to a newspaper report (BC 12-1-1895 p.2) announcing the birth of a girl.

On the 6-4-1893 p.4 the Brisbane Courier reported that Alfred, son of Alonzo Sparkes, (first marriage) drowned while crossing Kilcoy Creek on the previous Wednesday with a mob of cattle on his way to Brisbane and was buried in a private cemetery at Kilcoy. Mr. Sparkes was a young man of great promise, a splendid athlete, a strong swimmer, and a good all-round bushman, and it seems almost inconceivable that he could have perished as he did in about 4ft. of water. He was barely 21 years of age at the time of his death.

1893: 3rd November - Lachlan McKinnon sold the Leichardt butchering business to Alonzo Sparkes. Sparkes transferred the George Street business to James Howatson and Lachlan McKinnon jnr. B.C. 4-11-1893 p. 8


A S 1895-1908


Alonzo Sparkes Butcher Shop Valley 1908
This coloured photo reflects in a subtle way,the prosperity of the sparkes' firm. (Origin unknown)

1895: B.C. 16th January reported p.5 - Alonzo Sparkes ordered to pay £3 to Samuel J. Tricker for wages with £1-9-6½ costs. It would be interesting to know the facts of this case, was Sparkes trying to drive his employees too hard? What was his relationship with his employees?

1898: 12th March B.C. reported p. 1 the funeral of Mrs. Mary Anne Rosetta would leave the house of her son Alonzo Sparkes for the Toowong Cemetery. Mother must have remarried as her first husband was William Jackson Sparkes died January 1851. (Mary Blond)

Sparkes was using the railway to bring frozen beef from the Elliott River station near Bundaberg to Woolloongabba according to a long report of a court case where the Dept. of Railways sued Sparkes for payment. The refrigeration was done with ice sent, it appears, from Brisbane but the meat was spoiled by the time it arrived in Brisbane. The slaughtering must have been done at, or near, the station and is an early example of the use of refrigerated train cars. The court found in favour of Sparkes so the railway had to dispose of a load of bad meat. (B.C. 13-5-1899 p.3)

According to a Court report in the B. C. 21-7-1898 Sparkes had leased a 'mountain property' at Enoggera, possibly a holding paddock. The court case was about Sparkes charging another man with stealing logs from his leased property. This property is probably the one mentioned above for which he obtained a slaughter licence in 1885.

Sparkes' property at Samford Road Enoggera must have had a public house which the Licencing Court approved in 1901 (BC 3-1-1901) and renewed in 1909 (BC 7-1-1909) which was when he bought his property at Chermside.

A slaughtering licence was approved in 1903 (BC 7-1903) by the court so that could be his first local slaughter yard. Then in 1907 the B. C. 5-12-1907 reported that a new Rifle Range was going to be built at Enoggera which "will mean the resumption of some or all of Sparkes property in the area - near the Railway Station." This could have been the reason why Sparkes moved his slaughtering to Chermside.

1901: 3rd January B.C. reported p.8 Alonzo Sparkes bought the business of Trayton, Austin and Co. (Meat mentioned in a court case - would Alonzo buy any other business? Maybe he was expanding the business.)

1908: 18th July B.C. reported P.33 The Government and Alonzo Sparkes had reached agreement on a resumption of 22½ square miles (58.24 square kilometres) from the Manumbar property which was held on lease by Sparkes. This was probably to encourage closer settlement and increase the state population. I think he was able to use the land before it was to be sold.)

A S 1909-1912


1909: according to the National Archives of Aust. J56/11 QL135 Sparkes purchased the paddock at Downfall Creek, Chermside for £2150, July 1909, Transfer No. 485219.

1909: 29th November the B.C. reported p.7 - Alonzo Sparkes was found guilty of employing men on three occasions before the legal time (indistinguishable) at his slaughter yard and fined (indistinguishable) for each offence, paid £1-1 shilling (a Guinea) as costs and 15 shillings as witness expenses. This probably applied to the Enoggera slaughter yard.

1910: 7th July the B.C. reported p.3 - Alonzo Sparkes was licenced to operate a slaughter yard at Downfall Creek.

A S The Slaughter Yard - Barry Brewer


Sparkes' Slaughter Yard at Chermside
Sparkes probably had the largest area of any slaughter yard in Chermside and, as the map shows, he used it effectively. It acted as a holding paddock, slaughter yard and racehorse training tracks.

Sparkes' Paddock compromised 400acres (162Ha) of the 506acre (205Ha) Murphy's Paddock, the remainder being Marchant Park. The paddock was bisected by Downfall Creek and Sparkes mostly used the southern part for his activities. Early's Paddock was never part of Murphy's and became the site of the present Westfield Shoppingtown.

The main entrance to the slaughter yard was via the track that became Corrie Street off Hamilton Road and the holding yards were grouped around the buildings. Barry's grandfather, Tom Dawson used to go to Sparkes' station, Manumbar near Gympie and select the cattle for killing; they were shipped by rail to Strathpine and then walked along the road to Chermside.

The sheep were bought at Newmarket sale yards and walked along the roads to Chermside. While the pigs were also bought at Newmarket they were herded on to a horse drawn lorry and carried to Chermside as they were almost impossible to drive them.

The animals were stunned by a man wielding a heavy piece of timber or steel and striking the animal on the head. The unconscious animal's throat was then cut by the slaughter man and it quickly bled to death without waking up. Next the butchers took over, removed the hide and entrails and then dismembered the carcass.

The hides and skins went to the tanneries in the local area. The organs such as the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, gut, stomach, brains etc., went to the casing factory behind the abattoir and were processed for sale.

The offal or viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal, often considered inedible by humans, was boiled up in a digester and fed to the pigs.

Sparkes had six butcher shops on the north side of Brisbane; one in Leichardt Street, Spring Hill, one in the Valley near the Civic theatre and one near the Valley Baths.

It is not known how many men were employed at the slaughter yard but they only killed enough to provide meat for a day or two because there was no refrigeration although ice might have been used at times.

Some information regarding output and employment Sparkes' slaughter yard but can be inferred from the report of the Queensland Cattle Industry Commission of 1928. The Chermside State Butchery was examined and produced the following details. It supplied about 10 butchers' shops in Brisbane and its average weekly kill was 163 cattle, 100sheep, 46pigs and 95calves by 1manager, 4slaughtermen and 8 offsiders. Since Sparkes supplied six butchers' shops its production and workforce would probably have been comparable but smaller.

Once a month a Jewish Kosher killing was held at the slaughter yard but just how they kept the meat fresh is a mystery. Maybe they held such a killing at other slaughter yards once a month but on different weeks.

Alonzo Sparkes used to keep race horses and Tom Dawson used to train them in the two courses on the property. When the time came to take a horse to the races, it was just hitched up behind the sulky and trotted off. If the distance was long then the horse would need to be spelled before racing. He was a keen sportsman, and bred a large number of blood horses, of which Donald Durham, Black Donald, and Bold Boy won many races at Albion Park.

Sparkes died in 1923 but the firm, A. Sparkes Ltd, continued slaughtering on the site until all the private slaughter yards were closed down in 1931. All slaughtering for the Brisbane area was then carried on at the state owned abattoirs, Cannon Hill.

How many butcher shops did Sparkes have? The 1928 Royal Commission mentions six - in 1878 he had four shops Leichardt St. Spring Hill, Caxton St., Petrie Terrace, and Paddington which he sold to C & H Bonney. Barry Brewer names two more; one in the Valley near the Civic theatre and one near the Valley Baths. He seemed to buy and sell butcher shops as well as the meat in them.

Lorna Anderson adds: My grandfather, Thomas Dawson, was Alonzo s head slaughterman. He transferred from Enoggera to Chermside in 1901 (approx.) and lived in what appears to have been a grace-and-favour rambling old farmhouse where the Taxation building now stands. His daughters helped riding horseback in getting the stock from railway sidings to the Sparkes slaughteryard...quite a few interesting stories. My mother was one of them.

Eight Hour Day Parade Float


Butcher's Float May Day Parade (Sparkes)
Butcher's float for Eight Hour Day Procession Courtesy John Oxley Library No. 20668p

A photo of Alonzo Sparkes entry in an early 20th Century procession exists but I was not given permission to use it. So this one will have to do; all it lacks is Sparkes' name. I wonder if the bull's head, behind the driver, is real or stuffed.

1913-1940

1913: 17th December B.C. reported p.9 - Alonzo Sparkes told the court he had "bought the right of all dead or crippled sheep which might come from the trucks at Newmarket Railway Station." Nothing was wasted but where would the meat be sold except on the local market for human consumption?

The Queenslander 3-8-1912 reported that Alonzo Sparkes gave evidence as an expert witness to the Queensland Meat Commission. He was critical of the transport of live cattle especially on the Kilkivan line due, he thought, to the sharp curves; they were probably his cattle from Manumbar. He said he had seen up to five dead cattle in one truck.
In 1920 he converted the enterprise into a limited liability company, and at the time of his death was the governing director. (Obituary)

Alonzo Sparkes managed the family interests, which included Manumbar, operating both his business and his pastoral interests under the name of A Sparkes Pty Ltd. Manumbar was finally offered for sale by the firm in 1974.

The cause of the late Mr. Sparkes' sudden demise was haemorrhage. He was taken ill suddenly at the sale yards on Friday, and it was not thought that the attack would prove fatal. (Obituary)

He died 2nd August 1923 (Midnight) at Tavanghi, Langside Road, Hamilton - Age: 74 years. B C 2-8-1923 p.6 and was buried 2nd August 1923 Toowong Cemetery (Obituary)

1931: With the establishment of abattoirs at Cannon Hill in 1931, Sparkes' slaughter yard along with all slaughter yards, was closed. Sparkes' Paddock probably remained vacant till the early 1940s.

1936: 28th March C.M. reported the Granting of Probate of the will of Alonzo Sparkes. Why did it take 13 years after he died?

1940: 6th March C.M. reported the death of Pauline D. F. Sparkes relict of Alonzo Sparkes - funeral from her home at Tavanghi, Yabba Street, Ascot for Toowong Cemetery. It would appear that Pauline moved from the earlier Hamilton home to Ascot but retained the name of the former home.

A S 1941-1996 From Sparkes' Paddock to 7th Brigade Park


7th Brigade Park 2014 - the remains of Sparkes Paddock
Sparkes Paddock was bounded by Ellison Rd. (North), Newman Rd. (East), Hamilton Rd. (South), Murphy Rd. (North-West) and a small part on the west by Gympie Rd. The two large housing blocks facing Ellison and Newman-Hamilton Rds have some 850 homes. Westfield has a small part on its northern section. 7th Brigade Park is only a remnant of Sparkes Paddock.(Photo courtesy Google 1914)

In 1941 the Commonwealth Government negotiated to buy the whole 401 acres, 31 perches (162 hectares) of Sparkes' Paddock from the firm of Alonzo Sparkes Pty Ltd. Leichhardt St, Brisbane on 6 February.

The Company was offered a price of 10,000 pounds but the firm wanted 12,000 pounds and refused to budge. The Commonwealth had a valuation done on the property which came in at 8,200 pounds but the original offer still stood. (National Archives of Australia J56/11 QL135)

More negotiation followed and on 12 June 1941 the Commonwealth resumed the property. The compulsory acquisition was computed as: Amounts paid - compensation £10,000, interest £46/17/0, legal costs £1/11/6 total £10,048/ 8/6. (Commonwealth of Australia Gazette -No. 114, 12.6.1941)

The area was occupied as camp site since 7/8/1940. The camp site cost £35,000 and had a capacity of 3,500 persons.

1959 after World War II 89 hectares of the property were used for building some 850 houses in two lots. In 1959 the Brisbane City Council paid 14,000 pounds for the remaining 73 hectares for use as parkland. This area became known as Hamilton Road Reserve and later, in March 1996, was named 7th Brigade Park.

The name is to commemorate the men of that brigade who trained there and, with the 18th Brigade, went on to halt the Japanese Imperial Army at the Battle of Milne Bay, New Guinea, 25th August - 7th September 1942. This was the southernmost point reached by, and the first defeat of, the Japanese Imperial Army in WWII. Killed 167 Australians, 14 Americans (U.S.A.) and 84 Japanese Marines. (Milne Bay Memorial, Nundah RSL)

A S Dates of Purchase and Cost of Downfall Creek property


1. The National Archives of Australia J56/11 QL135 record that Sparkes (1848-1923) was the last private owner of the remaining 401 acres of Murphy's Paddock which he bought for £2150 in July 1909, transfer 485219.

2. From the Royal Commission of 1928 record:
ROY/87 Queensland Cattle Industry Commission - Transcript of evidence 5/1/1928-6/2/1928 p.1051: A Sparkes Ltd, has 6 shops in North Brisbane. Has 400 acres, purchased 1922 at 13 pounds per acre; (Total price £5,200) slaughtering buildings erected 1908, total investment 8200 pounds.

Both sources should have the same data? Why the difference? However both agree that Sparkes was at Downfall Creek at the same time.

WWII Army Camp Chermside


Chermside Camp WWII Sketch_540

The camp in Sparkes' Paddock was divided into Blocks from A to J. Each one was more or less complete in itself with facilities of Sleeping Quarters, Mess Huts, Kitchens, Latrines, Ablution Blocks, Guard Houses, Workshops, Administration, Q M Stores, Laundries, Clothes Lines, Recreation Huts, etc. The exception was Block J in Marchant Park which was a Petrol Dump.
Blocks A to F housed the Infantry which was training, and then moving on to the front in the north. Block H housed the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) the members of which could also be sent wherever they were needed. Block G was the location of the 20th Works Company. All blocks, except J which is No. 9 Cricket Oval in Marchant Park, are now occupied by housing.
Block I, located on the north side of Ellison Road, was the site of the Civil Construction Corps made up of civilian tradesmen who were engaged in military construction. They were occupied locally but could be sent anywhere in Australia to work on military sites.
The internal roads were of a temporary nature and have mostly disappeared. The numbered roads are: 1 Wallace & Kuran Streets, 2 Hamilton Road, 3 Gympie Road, 4 Banfield Street, 5 Murphy Road, 6 Ellison Road, 7 Piccadilly Street, 8 Buhot Street, 9 Main Avenue, 10 Newman (Geebung) Road, 11 Pfingst Road, 12 Corrie Street with Hodgkinson Street on the T piece.
Downfall Creek, flowing from east to west, divides the Paddock into two parts while Somerset Creek flows in from the south coming in under Gympie Road near Wallace/Kuran Streets.
LO marks the Army Look Out which was in a large gum tree, since felled, in the present Geebung State School grounds; they could see across to the bay.

Chermside Camp WWII Parade
This photo of some of the camp personnel on parade must have been taken by an official army photographer. In the background are some of the tents used by the men. It was probably near Ellison Road. (Courtesy of Kath Ballard)

Practically all the CDHS Inc information on the Chermside Camp in WWII was provided by Kath Ballard who is regarded as the Chronicler of Geebung and surrounding areas. Kath grew up in the area and, with her family, frequently visited the camp to watch the 'Changing of the Guard' and watch the open air movies.

As an adult she has written three books on the history of the area. The work she did on the Chermside Camp is the result of personal memories, countless interviews and meticulous research at the Cannon Hill Army Archives. On one visit she was shown a map on brown paper and wrapped around a broom handle. She identified it as the Chermside WWII Army Camp.

Epilogue 1970


Sparkes 100 Years On - 1970

This excerpt is from a notice published by A. Sparkes Pty. Limited in 1970. It is a brief summation of the decline of the firm from its 'heyday' in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It suited the circumstances of the time and as changes in society took place, such as the development of 'drive in' shopping centres in outer Brisbane, upgrading of health regulations and changing consumer tastes the firm did not change.

The Final Phase to the Sparkes Saga? 1974


Manumbar Station Sale Notice 1974
Manumbar was finally offered for sale by the firm of Alonzo Sparkes Pty Ltd in 1974. (Photo of sale notice of Isles Love & Co. with the Q'ld Primary Producers Co-op Assn. Ltd)

Manumbar was offered for sale in 1974. So far I have not found any information on this information. Was it sold and when?