Archive for the ‘Reflections on New Farm’ Category


Artists David Hinchliffe and Jan Jorgensen at the Art Exhibition complementing the launch of “Homes with History”.

THE New Farm and Districts Historical Society’s book launch and art exhibition on Saturday 28 February was lauded as being successful in every respect. Around 250 attended the debut of Gerard Benjamin’s book Homes with History – on the New Farm Peninsula, and many more paraded past the artworks of six artists’ renditions of views and streetscapes of New Farm and nearby.

The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC with author Gerard Benjamin.

The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC with author Gerard Benjamin.

Kindly agreeing to do the honours for the book was former Governor of Queensland, The Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley AC, who travelled from Canberra for the event. In her keynote speech, Ms Wensley indicated that the book offered broad appeal: “The individual stories are absorbing and the wealth of detail used to construct each chapter… is sufficient to impress and satisfy the most demanding of professional chroniclers, architects, archivists, historians and conservationists.” She agreed with the author’s Introduction, that this book is really about people: “All who take the time to read the book will enjoy the parade of personalities that pass through its pages – their diverse interests and occupations mirroring the development of the colony, state and city,” she said.

The book sparked immediate interest…

The book sparked immediate interest…

On behalf of the Society, Lois Kennedy offered an overview of the Society’s activities, and touched on the broad range of topics covered in monthly meetings in recent years. Other distinguished guests who addressed the gathering included newly-elected State Member for Brisbane Central, Ms Grace Grace MP; Brisbane City Councillor Vicki Howard; and Life-Member of the Society, artist David Hinchliffe.

Almost 250 attended the launch and art exhibition.

Almost 250 attended the launch and art exhibition.

Author Gerard Benjamin briefly outlined the chronology of the project, and remarked about how circumstances had conspired to include a never-before-published 1850s sketch, plus letters from the same period. He took this opportunity to read out a letter from Tom Gibbon of London who had generously supplied five letters (1848-1852) written by his ancestor James Gibbon, builder of Teneriffe House. IMG_5213-GThe art show curator, Judi Kahn, exhorted attendees to view the works of David Hinchliffe, Philippa Webb, Liesbeth Thie, Stewart Free, Trevor Downes and Jan Jorgensen, and she also emphasised that the artists would gladly receive commissions. As it transpired, eight commissions eventuated on the day. Also present were National Trust of Australia (Queensland) President, Dr Ian Galloway, and other NTAQ members, along with many of the owners of houses mentioned in Homes with History.

The author lost count of how many books were signed…

The author lost count of how many books were signed…

Following the cutting of the “Homes with History” cake, afternoon tea was available for all, and books were still being signed by the author at 5.30pm. Music was supplied by multi-talented Stewart Free and Col the Accordian player. Congratulations to all who contributed to this truly impressive event – and thanks to Chris Derrick and Gayle Martin for the photography.

Newly-elected State Member for Brisbane Central, Ms Grace Grace (left), presents The Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley AC, with a painting of "Santa Barbara" by New Farm artist Stewart Free, on behalf of the NFDHS.

Newly-elected State Member for Brisbane Central, Ms Grace Grace (left), presents The Honourable Ms Penelope Wensley AC, with a painting of “Santa Barbara” by New Farm artist Stewart Free, on behalf of the NFDHS.

“Homes with History” is available in both soft back and hard back, and may be purchased at • Mary Ryan New Farm • New Farm Editions • Merthyr Road News • Ollie and Lloyd Gift Shop, Gasworks, and • the State Library Bookshop.


POSTSCRIPT about the Annie Street house in Homes with History, from the Courier Mail (7 March 2015): WHEN Channel 9 newsreader Melissa Downes inspected a New Farm house more than a decade ago, she had no idea she had found a missing piece of her family’s history. Read the full story here.


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Gloria the sculpture

Adjusting Gloria’s corsage were (from left), Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Her Excellency Penelope Wensley Governor of Queenland, the ewe’s creator sculptor Mark Andrews, and originator of the concept artist David Hinchliffe.

ONE of the highlights of the 2013 Teneriffe Festival on 6 July was the dedication of a plaque for the sculpted ewe named Gloria.

At a happy informal event under a glorious sky, the officiating party included Graham Quirk the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Her Excellency Penelope Wensley the Governor of Queensland, Brisbane sculptor Mark Andrews who painstakingly completed the impressive work of art, and artist and retired Councillor David Hinchliffe, who came up with the original concept.

Named after the late Gloria Grant (1929-2011), co-author of the popular Reflections on New Farm, the beautifully crafted whimsical merino is fast becoming a Teneriffe riverfront landmark, symbolising as she does the remarkable prosperity of the local precinct’s wool past.

For the occasion, Gloria Ewe was adorned with a hibiscus bloom named ‘High Voltage’ which came from Gloria Grant’s garden.

Gloria near Teneriffe Woolstore

Gloria mixes with the crowd at the 2013 Teneriffe Festival in front of one of the many historic woolstores.

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Gloria in situ at Teneriffe (Photo courtesy of Village News, Oct 2012)

SEPTEMBER saw the arrival not only of ‘Gloria’, the sculptured ewe, in front of Eve’s Restaurant at Teneriffe, but also the publication of a book written to mark Gloria’s passing in January 2011.

In the quest for an artistic depiction of why Teneriffe has inherited the invaluable legacy of so many wool stores, then Councillor David Hinchliffe worked with well-known Brisbane sculptor Mark Andrews to come up with the whimsical design of a ewe awaiting a ship to take her across the seas to where her fleece would be prized.

‘Gloria’ the ewe was installed on 19 September 2012, and has been a hit ever since—but she’s only half the story. Her outstretched arm points to the other planned figure in the duo, her taller ram companion, gazing through binoculars in search of that elusive ship…

When the idea was conceived several years ago, the duo were informally known as Gloria and Gerard, considered an appropriate reference because of their co-authorship of Reflections on New Farm, the local bestseller which stirred an upward trend in local historical awareness.

When and if Gloria’s companion will be completed is yet to be decided by Brisbane City Council. Those who knew Gloria could well imagine that she’d be bemused by the attention. As David Hinchliffe pointed out, “Gloria’s sense of the irreverent would have been tickled.”

Early in the Mourning_______________

PEOPLE react to the loss of a loved one in different ways. Gerard Benjamin’s immediate impulse was to take up his pen and keep a journal, not only during Gloria’s illness but also in the period following her passing. Nine months after the event, he compiled the narrative in a little monograph–which was a recuperative exercise in itself–and put it on the shelf.

There it might have remained, except for an email on 1 August from Ashgrove counsellor Jeanelle Bergin, asking if his account had been published, since it would be useful at a bereavement workshop that she was conducting on 1 September.

Some prompt editing and printing resulted in the delivery of the 80-page book, entitled Early in the Mourning, just two days before the Workshop.

“There are lots of books about bereavement,” said Gerard, “but apparently there are relatively few personal accounts.

“This is a snapshot of how it felt in the months after my loss. I’m sure that it could be of benefit to others who find themselves in that zone.”

Copies of Early in the Mourning may be obtained from the author <gerard.ggbooks-at-gmail.com>. The book is also available at online bookshops, and from New Farm Editions and Mary Ryan’s Bookshop, both in Merthyr Village, New Farm.

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Co-author Gerard Benjamin with Reflections at No. 2

Gerard signs copies at Mary Ryans, New Farm, where the book is No. 2.

MORE than three years after its publication, Reflections on New Farm is still a best-seller at the local Mary Ryan’s bookshop.

Maybe the book’s popularity has something to do with New Farm’s old world charm and the fact that it is Brisbane’s most densely-populated suburb (5,900 people per sq km, June 2010).

According to co-author Gerard Benjamin, the book inevitably sparks a string of memories with readers who once lived in the locality.

“Here’s a typical reaction,” Gerard explained. “A daughter shows her mother the book. The mother recalls living on Merthyr Road first at No. 116 then No. 34 (referred to in Reflections as the Penton house), then came the 1974 flood. This dramatic event made such an impression on the mother, that her daughter made it the subject of a school assignment…”

It’s no wonder that there are whispers on the grapevine that a new New Farm book may be on the drawing board for 2012… (Photo courtesy of Holly Keys)

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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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Booksigning at New FarmLAST Saturday morning’s book-signing at New Farm Editions in Merthyr Village brought lots of interesting conversations, particularly with people who love books and good stories, and are intrigued with the publication process.

On hand to assist Gerard were his mother Vivienne Benjamin and his middle sister Leonie McEniery. All the way from Ballarat (though not just for this event) was Sandra. She and her mother Aline were interested in Ethel Monk, grand-daughter of the novelist JCW. An enlarged family tree came in handy in order to plot the connections.

Tom Hurstbourne at New FarmJohn Clavering Wood's descendants celebrate his bookFamily meet-up at booksigning
Local New Farm resident Tamsin O’Connor, having grown up on the edge of Shropshire, obliged listeners with an ‘accent sampling’ of how both John Clavering Woods may have sounded.

Almost all who lingered to chat at this busy spot in Merthyr Village, knew about or had read Reflections on New Farm, but had not necessarily connected it with the editor of Tom Hurstbourne and A Shropshire Squire.

Many thanks to Chris Derrick for taking superb photos on the day.High traffic area for New Farm booksigning

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Queensland University of Technology "Links Alumni Magazine" Aug10SPRING’S arrival has given Gloria pause to recall her start at Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College 65 years ago, a milestone marked in the latest QUT Alumni Magazine with an interesting story and superb photo. (Thanks to Sandi Hutchinson and Erika Fish).

August 28 was the day for book launches, including the very handsome volume Brisbane: Houses, Gardens, Suburbs and Congregations, edited by Rod Fisher. We contributed Chapter 9: “Reflecting the suburb… New Farm”. Also on the day’s program at the Merthyr Road Uniting Church Centre, was Gerard’s talk which sketched our approach to writing the continuing local best-seller, Reflections on New Farm.

Patrick Leslie BookletAt the same time, further up the peninsula at Newstead House, a booklet entitled Patrick Leslie Started Something Great, was enjoying its debut. Helen Gregory’s text and historic photos portray Newstead House’s first owner, as well as the remarkable social network surrounding subsequent residents of Brisbane’s oldest remaining home. Our job was to typeset, design and produce the booklet for Friends of Newstead.

Research never quite stops even once the book is published. You’ll note from recent posts (below) that intriguing links have been established between John Clavering Wood, the diarist of A Shropshire Squire, and the prominent Quaker, anti-slavery Rathbone family of Liverpool.

This connection in turn leads back to Shropshire and the ironmasters of Coalbrookdale, a spot on the Severn River which played such a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution.

Family features...

Family resemblance after 5 generations?

August also saw us signing books at Angus & Robertson, Carindale in Brisbane, ably assisted not only by Boolarong Press publisher, Dan Kelly, but also by another kinswoman in the Wood family, Pam Cosgrove of Brisbane. In fact, Pam’s daughter Janice was particularly struck by the photo of her ggg-grandmother, Emilia Horsman (1809-61). Is it our imagination or is there a resemblance there?

Another happy encounter at Carindale was meeting Peter Collins of Garrison Communications, the well-known Brisbane Family History research service. Peter’s enthusiasm for the genealogical quest is truly infectious. In fact, his forebear and Tom Hurstbourne’s author are likely to have rubbed shoulders in the colonial outpost of early 1860s Brisbane. With Peter’s encouragement, we’ve taken the plunge into the Twitterosphere, as per <twitter.com/GGBooks>. The brave new world of Facebook is the next challenge…

New Farm Village News article - September 2010

Thanks to "New Farm Village News", as well as Anna Stewart's 'Village Voice', for great local support.

We also signed books at Angus & Robertson Victoria Point, where there was no shortage of people wishing to talk history. Another happenstantial encounter had us chatting to the descendant of Mabel Forrest (1872-1935), a Queensland poet who lived in Bowen Terrace, New Farm in 1902. Her most successful work was The Wild Moth (London, 1924), filmed by Charles Chauvel as The Moth of Moonbi. Chauvel chose for one of his locations, Teneriffe House in Brisbane.

Who can forget 21 August, Australia’s hung-parliament Election Day? We were on duty at the Merthyr Road polling booth, where lots preferred to talk books and history, rather than discuss their ballot paper. There was no shortage of appreciative feedback about Reflections on New Farm, plus we were kept busy signing copies and taking note of fresh stories…

On the subject of fresh stories, there are some intriguing epilogic notes to be offered on Tom Hurstbourne, including a detailed physical description of the author, but let’s leave them for another time…
Our next exciting project is to plumb the mysteries of Gloria’s Nonmus forebears which even take in a slave-ship captain and privateering on the high seas…

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