Before the coming of the Europeans this land was occupied by the Aboriginal people who had been here for thousands of years. They were a people who lived in relative harmony with the environment, taking what they needed without destroying it needlessly.
Unfortunately when the Europeans arrived they had no understanding of the Aboriginal people and simply took the land. There were no houses, no fences, no crops, nothing to indicate ownership of the land. Very quickly an ancient society was destroyed.
We acknowledge the people of the Barrabim Clan of the Turrbul Tribe who owned and cared for this land over thousands of years.
The local government area, Kedron Shire was proclaimed in 1879 and, in the Census of 1911 had a population of 2,400 persons. The shire covered an area of 111 sq kilometres from South Pine River in the north and west, Kedron Brook in the south and Boondall wetlands in the east. It included the present suburb of Chermside as its headquarters and practically all of the 18 surrounding suburbs.
The village, or hamlet, of Chermside was a tiny settlement made up of a small business centre along Gympie Road between the present Banfield Street and Rode Road. Surrounding this was a scattering of houses and very small farms.
The properties in the area were small, usually from a few acres to maybe 30 acres. Farming in the area consisted of small family run farms producing Sugar Cane, Pineapples, Corn, Bananas, Dairy Products, Pigs, Vegetables and Fruit. The products were processed in tanneries, sawmills, a butter factory, Hutton's Small Goods at Zillmere and Gern's Small Goods at Geebung.
In many ways Chermside was a much harder, tougher place than today. Wages of around 40 shillings ($4) were paid by the boss on a Friday. They lost up to one in every 10 children born, from TB, typhoid, whooping cough, gastroenteritis, diphtheria, and the occasional outbreak of bubonic plague.
The average family in 1901 was four children; they ate meat every day, and they had a bath once a week and boys often skinny dipped in the creeks. Average life expectancy for men was 50, while for women it was 60; work was hard and heavy.
The Anglican Church
The provision of the Anglican ministry in the Chermside district followed the settlement of Church of England lay people in the area. Like many early settlements, they depended on a visiting priest who came from time to time. The early Nundah-Chermside area had a significant German settlement, which brought an abiding Lutheran interest. The Nundah area was known as German Station from the early missionary activity and part of Chermside on Downfall Creek became known as German Town.
The Methodist Church was also very strong in the area having been established in 1873 on Gympie Road near Banfield Street which was then called Church Street. The Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Fortitude Valley was responsible for supplying clergy to St Andrew’s Lutwyche, from its opening in 1866 until Lutwyche became a Parish in 1882. In 1873, under J.S. Hassall, the Northern Mission attached to All Saints’ Wickham Terrace, had responsibility for Grovely, Samford, North Pine, Sandgate and German Station (Nundah).
With the appointment of Rev E.C. Osborn to Lutwyche in 1890 more interest seems to have been taken in this (All Saints’) area. The first recorded service in the Downfall Creek area was on April 19, 1891, at the home of Mrs Schmid (site unknown). On March 10, 1896 St Matthias’ Church, which held about 50 people, was dedicated at Little Cabbage Tree Creek, the original name for Aspley.
In 1906-7 St Matthias’ Church was moved and set up in its present position on Murphy Road, near the intersection with Robinson Road, Zillmere. At the same time, the Parochial District of Zillmere was recognized within the Parish of Nundah.
About 1906-7 services began at Chermside in the Public Hall, later School of Arts, on the corner of Hall St and Gympie Road where the original Council Library was built in 1952. The services were conducted by the Rev Cyril Mahew from St Francis’ College at Nundah. The church paid a rent of ₤1/5/0 ($2.50 or $115 in 2001 values) per quarter for the use of the hall.
Sunday School was operating as early as 1909 when ‘a combined Sunday School treat’ was held at Nundah. A report mentions:
The thanks of the Chermside parents are due to Mr Burgess for conveying the children to Nundah.The Church Chronicle records that by 1913 Sunday School was being taught in the Hall. However, going by the experience in later daughter churches, it was probably being taught there or in homes long before that date.
The Brisbane Theological College at Nundah occupied the site of what is now the Anglicare Complex , Buckland Road, Nundah. It was named St Francis’ College in 1910 and had a long association with the neighbouring parishes by supplying visiting clergy. Church life in the surrounding area was strengthened through the ministry, not only of the College clergy, but also of the College students. To some extent All Saints’ and other churches were helping the College by providing a “work experience” training ground for future clergy.
In February 1914 the Church Chronicle gives an insight into the way the Chermside people coped with the shortage of priests in the early days. It recorded that the Rev F Knight, a former student of St Francis’ College, had kept up the full number of services over the Christmas period of 1913. He also trained some Sunday School Teachers for their exams. Additionally, Mr R Holtham, an ex-master at Southport High School, had taken some services.
When the land in Hamilton Road, the present site of All Saints’, was paid for in January 1913, many activities were held to raise money for the new church building fund. A children’s Cantata or Choral work,
presented by the Sunday School under the direction of Mrs Sneyd, was held in the Chermside School of Arts.
The following comment appears in the Church Chronicle of September 1913 “The last few Sundays have seen a disappointing falling off in the congregations at the Chermside services; it cannot be without the effort and co-operation of all that these services can be made as hearty as they have been and should be.(sic)” In October the follow up comment was “We are very glad to note already a great improvement in the congregation at the Chermside services, and hope that this will be maintained.”
From these simple beginnings the pioneer church began to slowly grow and extend its ministry. Through the generosity and hard work of a handful of dedicated people a small wooden church was eventually built.
Early in 1914, special endeavours were made to raise the sum of money needed for the new church. Special concerts were organized in February and May to support the building fund. A coin evening was held in Easter Week. Another method of fund raising was to distribute collection boxes during Lent so that money saved by the parishioners’ austerities would find its way to the building fund.
By Easter the minimum amount to erect a church had almost been raised. They were thinking of a date for the Stump Capping. Also a Chermside Branch of the GFS, which may have been meeting for the previous year, was officially formed on 19/4/1914. The members were looking forward to a joint meeting with the Nundah branch.
The June 1914 report for Nundah-Zillmere-Chermside in the Church Chronicle says that the month had been an eventful one in the history of the parish. The Easter, or Annual, meetings of parishioners had been held in the three centres, and each one showed a credit balance. The wardens appointed for Chermside were Mr F. Hackett and Mr J. Kemp. The parishioners were ‘heartily congratulated’ on having raised the minimum amount required by the Diocese to raise a loan.
While steps were being taken to draw up plans and raise money for the new church the routine activities were carried on. Among other things, the Chermside Sunday School children held their Picnic in Mr Rainey’s paddock with special thanks to Mr Rainey for his permission to use his grounds and for his careful preparation of the area for the picnic. The location of Rainey’s paddock is now the site of Prince Charles Hospital and there is a Rainey Street nearby.
The St Francis’ College Church of England Men’s Society Branch, CEMS invited men from the parish (Chermside) to the College to hear ‘an interesting talk’ by the Reverend W. Scott on church work in the bush. This indicates some of the cross parish activities that took place even when transport was much more difficult than today.
The Church Chronicle concludes with the note that the Nundah and Chermside GFS were entertained in the grounds of St Francis’ College.
By July 1914, plans for the new church had been drawn up, approved and tenders called for the erection of the building. A tender for the building work was accepted and plans made for the stump capping ceremony on St James’ Day, July 25, 1914.
The stumps were capped by the Rev Canon Micklem, Vicar of Nundah, Mr Kemp for the Wardens and Council, Mr Light for the students of St Francis’ College, Arnold Williams for the Sunday School, and Mrs Chester for the congregation. Canon Osborn, from Lutwyche, came and spoke a few words of good wishes. The ladies provided tea, and a collection of ₤24 (pounds) ($1,900 in 2001 values), was realized. Gifts of altar linen, a cross and vases for the church had already been promised.
Just what form the ceremony took is not clear but it was, at least, partly a money raising venture and partly a type of foundation stone laying activity. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the person who capped a pier with a galvanized iron ant cap would place money underneath the cap.
The new church, which measured 36 feet by 30 feet (11m x 9.2m), was completed by early October. A Reading, or Prayer Desk, from which the office of the day was read for Morning and Evening Prayer was presented. Also, Mr Pluknett and his son promised a Lectern which would hold the Bible.
The Register of Services records that the first service in the new church was held for children on the 11th October 1914. Canon P A Micklem conducted it at 3.00pm and there would have been adults present because the offertory amounted to 5 shillings and 3 pence (53cents or $20.75 in 2001 values).
On the 25th October 1914 the first Holy Communion was held at 9.30am conducted by Canon Micklem (or P.A.M as he used to sign himself). There were 12 Communicants; the text for the day was on Faith and the Offering was 9/3d (93cents or $36.40 in 2001 values).
Des Lee describes the church he knew in the 1940s which was largely the same as the one of 1914 except for the porch which was added in 1927:
Our Church building was a small timber frame building with weather boards on the outside, corrugated iron roof, timber stumps and a small porch on the front with a set of steps one to each side. The ceiling and the Sanctuary area were sheeted with pine VJ sheeting but the nave was not lined until sometime after WWII when the original casement windows were replaced with louvers.The dedication of the new church, comprising the chancel, sanctuary, vestry areas and nave, was held on Sunday, November 15, 1914. His Grace, Archbishop St Clair-Donaldson conducted the Dedication Service and separately dedicated the Font of carved sandstone, made in Italy, and the altar. In his address, he dwelt specially on the obligation of worship. The Church Chronicle goes on to say that the Archbishop went on to Nundah where at 3.00pm, he confirmed 39 candidates, 9 of whom came from All Saints’, Chermside.
This was followed on Wednesday, November 18, by a lantern service, illustrating scenes from our Lord’s life, held in the church. It was well attended and reverently followed. This would have been as impressive as a Power Point presentation or a Video in 2004.
On January 24, 1915 a new altar, a gift from the Campbell family of Geebung, was presented to the church. Mr. Campbell, a carpenter, made this very handsome work of silky oak with carved panels, which was dedicated on Sunday, January 24, 1915. In 1962 the carved panels from this original altar were retained and used on the front of the present altar. It was consecrated by Wilfred John Hudson, Bishop Administrator of the Diocese of Brisbane, on October 14, 1962, in memory of the original Campbell family.
Services in the Early Church
On the 22nd Nov 1914 the second Holy Communion was held at 9.30am with Canon Micklem who preached on the Feeding of the 5,000. There were 25 Communicants and the offertory was 17/3d ($1.73 or $68 in 2001 values)
The 27th Dec 1914 saw the third Holy Communion at 9.30am. Canon Micklem led and there were 17 Communicants with an offertory of 14/- or $1.40. ($55 in 2001)
The fourth Holy Communion was on the 24th January 1915 at which the altar was dedicated. There were 21 Communicants and 17/- ($1.70) in the offertory.
The pattern seems to have been Holy Communion once a month with a priest, Canon Micklem, and Evensong on the other Sundays possibly led by a student from St Francis College at Nundah. Sometimes there would be a Children’s Service at 3.00pm or 3.30pm and later, Evensong at 7.30pm.
On the 14/11/1915 a Dedication Festival or Building Fund Gift Service was held. Canon Micklem presided with three assistants, probably students. The day started with Holy Communion at 9.30am, there was a Children’s Service at 3.30pm and the day concluded with Evensong at 7.30pm. The offertory was £2/14/10 ($5.50 or $188 in 2001 values). This contrasted with offertories of as low as 3/- at a poorly attended Sunday service.
The number of Communicants varied over the 15 month period from the first Communion service to the end of 1915. In that time there were 17 services averaging 16 people per service. This indicated a small congregation, but not how small, because little is known of how frequently people received Communion at that time. However, it would be another 40 years before the parish would be large enough to support a full time Rector.