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Archive for May, 2012

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TENERIFFE’S impressive woolstores offer dramatic testimony that Australia’s prosperity once rode on the sheep’s back.

Thanks to urban renewal, these woolstores have survived. They were under discussion on Radio 4BC 1116AM on Saturday 26 May, when John Scott asked ‘history guru’ Gerard Benjamin to spell out why they were built.

“At Brisbane’s first public auction of wool in 1898, Moreheads offered 357 bales for sale. The next decade saw remarkable growth. There were soon nine wool brokers in the market, and woolstores capable of holding 14,000 bales were being built,” said Gerard.

London Woolstore (pictured above) is the area’s second oldest remaining woolstore, and it turns 100 this year. The milestone is being marked by an historical plaque which Gerard is preparing, to be unveiled at the forthcoming Teneriffe Festival, which takes place on Saturday 7 July 2012. (Photo: The Capricornian, 14 Dec 1912).

Of course, long-time residents of Teneriffe/New Farm can never forget the woolstore fires. Timbers saturated with lanolin (wool grease) for so long make them highly flammable. Dalgety’s Woolstore (in Macquarie St not far from Florence St) burnt down in 1984. In January 1990, there was another dramatic fire, this time on the site of present-day “Nouvelle Apartments” in Skyring Terrace.

These days, Teneriffe woolstore apartments are highly sought-after abodes. What is it like for people living in such historic buildings? “On very hot days, I can still detect a whiff of lanolin,” one woolstore resident told Gerard.

For more information, Tides of Teneriffe, published by the New Farm & Districts Historical Society, is available from Mary Ryan’s bookshop, Merthyr Village, New Farm, and the State Library of Qld bookshop.

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