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Archive for November, 2011

4BC interview with Ian Maurice

New Farm's past was in focus when 4BC presenter Ian Maurice (left) interviewed Gerard Benjamin

IAN MAURICE of Brisbane’s Radio 4BC 1116 chose New Farm to begin a regular series on the origins of Brisbane suburbs, and naturally asked Gerard Benjamin, co-author of Reflections on New Farm to set the suburb’s scene.

The origin of the name, early citizens, well known street names, the colonial racecourse, the locality’s changing demographics, and the war years were among topics covered during the 20-minute interview.

Ian loves the stories that history produces, and was keen to hear one that Gerard related about Thomas Welsby and George Willcocks, both prominent New Farm identities, whose homes in the locality still stand.

This incident took place in Brisbane’s Queen Street at the Stock Exchange around the 1890s. Willcocks, a wealthy railway contractor, had business interests with Welsby, who was well-known for his love of boating in Moreton Bay and the islands.

A ragged little newsboy with no shoes came up to sell a paper to Willcocks. Welsby watched while his friend exchanged some words with the boy. Next thing, Welsby sees the railway contractor take out his chequebook and start writing. The amount was £200, a very handsome sum.

“Who’s that for?” asked Tom Welsby.

“You,” said Willcocks. “I want you to round up all the newsboys in Brisbane, along with their parents and brothers, and take them for a day out in your boat. I want you to give them good meals, and between meals, give them fruit and soft drink (no hard stuff). Oh, and also get a band for the day.”

Welsby readily accepted the request, quickly rounded up three newsboys and invited them to his home Amity. He asked them to form a committee, and with their help, the task was carried out.

Willcocks’ home, Wynberg on Brunswick Street, is now the residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop. Welsby’s home Amity can be seen from the Riverwalk behind the white picket fence adjacent to Cutters Landing apartments. (Photo kindly supplied by Jamie Wells, 4BC)

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