Price Family & Clifton Villa

The Price Family - Research by Marion Eaton.

Located in the heart of Zillmere, a mere 200m from the train station.

The original land grant, c1865, on the corner of Handford and Zillmere Roads was Lot 222 of 12 acres bought by J L Zillman who also bought several similar lots nearby. Clifton Villa stands on a 2 acre section of Lot 222 east of the above intersection. It was inherited by Augusta Beckman from her mother who inherited it from her parents (Zillmans?) Augusta's mother married Carl Beckmann the owner of another block of 12 acres, Lot 233 on Handford Road.

Augusta Beckman married William Price in about 1907 and, since William worked on the railway, they moved around the State. Consequently their first child, May, was born in Gladstone c 1908 and their second child, Jean, at Mt Morgan c1914. William, their first and only son, was born in Brisbane 1917 when his father was working for the Water and Sewerage Board.

The family moved into the $759 newly built Clifton Villa at 395 Zillmere Road on April Fools' Day 1916 and the children attended Zillmere State School in Murphy Road. The house was named after William's birthplace of Clifton, Bristol, England.

May Price went to work at the office of Rhodes Furniture Store in the Valley and used to travel to and from work with her boss, Mr Kidd in his car. He encouraged her to learn to drive and she became his driver, staying at the furniture company until she retired which may have been in about 1968.

May used to play tennis and one of the courts she used was "Hillvue" at 79 Murphy Road, the Alfredson property which also housed a nursery named "Save the Trees". Both have gone and the latter has become a housing development in Alfredson Close opposite Sollis Street near Robinson Road West.

Jean Price married a local man, George Lever, in 1942 during some of the 'darkest days' of World War II and went to live at Kedron where they had two children, Ian and Lynette.

William Price Junior left school in 1930 just before the Scholarship Exam because the offer of a job appeared at J C Hutton Pty Ltd, the ham and bacon factory that stood on Zillmere Road, west of the railway line. He stayed there 10 years and played in the company cricket team. In 1940 Bill went to work for Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing (C.O.D) otherwise known as the Markets at Roma Street, Brisbane where he stayed till he retired in 1975 aged 58.

Neither May nor William Jr. married and both continued to live in Clifton Villa where May died in 2003. William stayed on and lived there for 88 years until 2005 when he moved into the Freemasons Aged Care Home at Sandgate, where he died in 2007 aged 90.

Built in 1916, Clifton Villa is showing signs of age, the roof needs replacing, the front steps need mending and many other effects of time are showing. One effect that has buyers interested is the large vacant block on which the old house stands.

Clifton Villa - A Memorial to Old Zillmere.

A Brisbane City Council Heritage citation of 2007 states that Clifton Villa was heritage listed because it demonstrates the changing pattern of Zillmere's culture and history. It is one of the last surviving examples of the early Queenslander-style left in Zillmere and still stands on its capacious block with a stand of old growth eucalypts in the backyard.

The old house was empty for some years and some local residents became concerned that it might be demolished or moved or vandalised so, organised by Marion Eaton, a member of the Chermside and Districts Historical Society, they agitated for its protection by the Brisbane City Council. It was obvious that someone would buy the property and build apartments as had already happened along Zillmere Road.

Finally, the property, of 7,138 square metres, was sold for $2.8m in September 2007 and the new owners intend to build apartments while retaining and renovating Clifton Villa; an all round good outcome.

Clifton Villa is bounded on the left by a lane and an apartment building. On the right is the large open space of its own block while behind can be seen the red brick shopping centre. The side veranda has been closed in at some time.

Reconditioning of Clifton Villa

Photo dated 25-3-2010 shows the old house raised on new steel and timber supports. The rubbish has been cleared from underneath.

The first step was to raise the building on temporary supports and remove the front steps along with the tank at the back. It remained this way for some months.

In about February 2010 the temporary structures were replaced with timber posts under the outside walls, in keeping with the custom of 1916, and steel staunchions under the interior.

Renovation of Clifton Villa

Clifton Villa 21-8-2014
Clifton Villa is undergoing renovation while the rest of the land is being covered with apartment blocks. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Lewis 21-8-2014)

Medium rise apartment blocks have been appearing along Zillmere Road for years and the Clifton Villa block is going the same way. The photo shows new apartments behind and to the left of the villa, a striking contrast between the building style of a hundred years ago and that of the 21st Century.

The story will continue.

Zillmere School of Arts when Zillmere was Young.

Zillmere School of Arts C1923
The Zillmere School of Arts was the social centre of Zillmere for the latter 19th and early 20th Centuries. This was before the motor car age when entertainment was organised on a local basis. (Photo courtesy of John Oxley Library. 193071p)

Almost opposite Clifton Villa, on the corner of Jennings Street, stood the Zillmere School of Arts built in the 1890s by Carl Beckman on land donated by the Staib family. It became the social centre of Zillmere where dances were held, moving pictures shown, and the horticultural, cooking, needlework, knitting and craft exhibits of the annual Zillmere show were displayed. Meetings were held, wedding receptions, concerts, Balls, 'Send Offs and Welcome Homes' were held for the local soldiers during the great wars; it was the social centre of the village.

In 1969 the Brisbane City Council took the old building over to use as a library and finally replaced it with the existing modern library building in 1971. The new library houses the large Roll of Honour listing the names of the soldiers who went to the Great War 1914-1918 which was in the old School of Arts.

Beside the old School of Arts was the large Zillmere Showground, the site of the local show which, some claim, was second only to the Brisbane Exhibition. Like all the local suburban shows the Zillmere show is long gone and the area is now O'Callaghan Park, the Northside centre of Australian Rules and the large Police and Citizens Youth Club.

William Price had a "very fancy sulky" that was borrowed by friends who wanted to put their horse in the Zillmere Show.

The Centre of Zillmere

This photo of Zillmere station was taken in World War I and shows Australian troops arriving on the station. They would probably have marched from the Chermside Army camp and they were going to war. About 20% of them would not return home.

In the 19th and early 20th Centuries the centre of the town was either the Railway Station and/or the Post Office. Often they were close to each other and the shops grew around them.

So it was in Zillmere and Clifton Villa was at the centre of the village where the action was. Especially when one notes that scarcely 100 metres on the western side of the railway line on Zillmere Road was the biggest employer in Zillmere, J C Hutton Pty Ltd., the Bacon Factory.