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Queenslanders, Origins, Examples, Details by Peter Latemore, Editor P. O'Shea


Peter Latemore, a Chermside & Districts Historical Society member, is a local Building Designer specialising in older buildings especially Queenslanders. He presented a talk to the society in June 2018. This is a synopsis of that talk.

Bardon Queenslander

Latemore Bardon - Brown

This is a building I worked on 10 years ago in Bardon. The photo is from 1925, just after it was built and has the current owner's grandparents standing at the windows and in the porch.

I use this photo to illustrate how suburbs were cleared completely of vegetation, and Queenslanders were usually painted in dark colours with white accents. The red rooves we associate with these buildings came later, with it remaining galvanized iron for some years.

What Makes a Queenslander?

Latemore - What makes a Queenslander

What makes a Queenslander? They usually had:

Timber Frame, Corrugated roof.
High-set on stumps
Single Skin walls
Decorative features
Picket fence, palm trees

Portuguese Colonnaded Verandas.

Latemore - Portuguese Colonnaded Verandas

Queenslander origins essentially emerged from British Indian colonies, where Portuguese colonial era buildings had experimented with colonnaded verandas.

Georgian Symmetry.

Latemore - Georgian Symmetry.

Queenslanders initially followed a Georgian Symmetry with a square core and verandas front and rear sometimes fully wrapping.

Queenslanders were prefabricated from the earliest days, starting with galvanised corrugated rooves which came to Australia in ships as ballast. The style took 80 years to develop.

Why so much timber in Queenslanders?

Latemore - Timber Getters

x There was very little masonry available for decades.
x Plentiful timber in local forests.
x There were both soft and hard woods available.
Softwoods included the classic hoop pine that was
used for floors, internal walls and ceilings.
Hardwood framed the buildings and was used for
weatherboards and stumps.
x So in effect, nearly the whole building was timber,
which suited the skills of the European settlers like
these timber getters.

Paddington - High Stumps

Latemore Paddington High Stumps

How did high stumps come about?
x Originally an English idea, with blocks on the
ground to raise building.
x First true use of stumps was in the Northern
in 1838.
x Originally it was considered a good idea to lift
buildings above the'miasma' that was thought
prevalent in warmer climates.
x The stumps grew taller over time, as the space
under the houses was found useful.
x Stumps really suit hilly land of which South East
Queensland has a lot, just like this old photo
taken in Paddington shows.
x Flooding, especially the floods in the 1880's
pushed the stumps even taller.
x Termites were a scourge, and having stumps with
ant caps was a cost-effective innovative solution.

Single Skin Wall

Latemore Single Skin Wall in House

Why the single skin walls?
x Here is a photo of a classic inner Brisbane cottage
with exposed cross framing and single skin boards.
x The idea came from the English Half-Timbered style
of the 1500[s.
x New Zealand experimented first with single skin
timber walls.
x It was cheaper than a double clad wall, plus the internal 1" V J's are quite strong.
x Having no wall cavity was thought helpful in the
Tropics and Subtropics.
x Local Architects experimented with the idea from
the earliest days.
x Verandas were adopted early on, and this
encouraged some external walls to be single skin.

Detail of a Cross Section

Latemore - Cross Section of Wall

Detail shows the Roof rafters, room ceiling, the wall studs, the windows and sills, the weather boards on the inside, floor boards on veranda and room, floor joists and floor boards bearer and stump.

Queenslanders were Kit Homes

Latemore - Queenslanders Kit Homes

Queenslanders were Kit Homes.

From the earliest times, colonial buildings were pre-fabricated to some extent, and this carried on into the Queenslander era. Here is an example of a standard 1938 plan, Design 84 from the government State Advances Corporation. This one was costed at 600 pounds and you went to your bank and builder with nothing else. The builder ordered the design from the hardware and everything was delivered to the site including the window sashes. It was a truly efficient system with expert architects creating the designs every year.

Hardware Shop

Latemore - Hardware Shop

Queenslanders Can be Divided into Four Broad Periods

Colonial 1840-1890

Latemore - Queenslander 1

Classic cottages are the major style of pre-1890 Queenslanders. The major clues are the four room 'box' with dropped front verandah roof, usually curved.

Federation 1890-1920

Latemore - Queenslanders Federation

The Federation era brought in the pyramidal style of roof and usually a bigger house. Many of the grander houses of inner Brisbane were built during these thirty years including Rangemoor which is a beautiful examples of Robin Dods work.

Interwar 1920-1940

Latemore - Queenslanders Interwar 1920-1940

In spite of the Great Depression, a large increase in Queenslanders occurred, mainly driven by the designs from the State Advances Corporation. The biggest style influence was the asymmetrical gable and multi-gable rooves. These suited the classic 16 and 32 Perch blocks (405 sq.m and 810 sq m).

Post War 1940-1960

Latemore - Queenslanders Post War - 1940-1960

One of Australia's biggest building booms. Houses needed to be built and fast. As a consequence, verandas disappeared and houses became more modest. Terracotta roof tiles were introduced in large numbers.

Innovative - 1928

Latemore - Queenslander - Innovative

I always mention Uanda, by Nellie McCredie. The only standing pre WWII house by a female architect. It is Heritage listed, not just for Nellie, but also because of the innovative design that was 24 years before the style became more common. It is thought that her design was the precursor for many houses in the post-war period.