Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Then and Now - A Walk in the Cairns CBD - Part Two

Cairns is home to many wonderful heritage buildings in its central business district. A stroll around the CBD provides a glimpse into the city’s rich and diverse history.

Former Public Offices
Former State Government Offices, corner Abbott & Shields Streets, Cairns, c. 1936.
Photo:  State Library of Queensland.
Former State Government Offices, now the Cairns Regional Gallery, 2014.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding.
Designed by architect RC. Nowland of the Government Architects’ Office, construction on this building began in 1934. Nowland also designed the Cairns Post building and the former City Council building, and similar design elements can be seen in all three buildings, most noticeably the classical columns. When it was officially opened in 1936, it housed the State Government Insurance Office, Government Tourist Bureau, Land Commission, Agricultural Bank, Forestry Office, Public Curator, District Foreman of Works, various Government Inspectors and visiting Tax Inspectors and parliamentarians. In 1995 the building opened its doors as the Cairns Regional Gallery.  The intersection this building is located on was the original location for the Cairns World War One Memorial, which has since been moved, and is now located on the Cairns Esplanade, opposite the RSL.

Dr Koch Memorial
Dr EA. Koch Memorial, in original location, corner of Spence and Abbott Streets, Cairns, 1903.
Photo:  State Library of Queensland.
Dr EA. Koch Memorial, Cairns, 2014.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding.

This memorial honours the work of a beloved Cairns doctor - Edward Albert Koch, who died in Cairns in June 1901, at the age of 57.  In the 1880s Dr Koch had been among the first to recognise the role of the mosquito in transmitting malaria, and his fever remedy and preventative measures played a significant role in controlling malaria in far North Queensland in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century.

Designed and built by Townsville monumental masons Melrose & Fenwick, the top half of the memorial is made from Italian marble, and sits on a granite plinth. The memorial was paid for by public subscription and as was fashionable at the time, designed to be both functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing. The memorial was a functioning drinking fountain. 

The memorial had a lamp on top because it was originally located in the middle of an intersection.  It remained in its original position until the mid-1960s.  It was moved to its present location next to the Casino in the mid-1990s.

There are some design similarities with Dr Koch’s memorial and the WJ. Castling memorial, on The Strand, in Townsville, (also by Melrose & Fenwick) although the Castling memorial was erected five years after the Koch memorial, in 1908.  For more info, see Castling Memorial

From the Cairns Morning Post, 16 June, 1903: 
The Unveiling Ceremony His Excellency, Sir H. Chermside, on Saturday afternoon unveiled the handsome memorial to the late Dr. Koch, which has been erected by the citizens of Cairns at the intersection of Spence and Abbott Streets. The ceremony was an impressive one and fully 600 people were present, including members of the Oddfellows, Hibernians, and Druid Friendly Societies.
Former Cairns City Council Chambers

Former Cairns City Council Chambers, c. 1932.
Photo:  State Library of Queensland.

Cairns City Library, 2014.
Photo: Trisha Fielding.
The Cairns City Council Chambers were constructed in 1929-30, and replaced the timber council chambers. The building, designed by architects Hill and Taylor, reportedly cost £15,000 and was and built by Mr Alex McKenzie. The foundation stone was laid by Mayor Alderman WA Collinson on 20 November 1929. 

The Council Chambers originally comprised a T-shaped plan with a central columned vestibule to Abbott Street, flanked on either side by three bays of verandahs (now enclosed) with each section having a separate hipped roof.  In about 1961 the building was extended by a further three bays to either side with matching facade detailing. The rear verandahs were also enclosed, and the original timber floors were replaced with concrete slabs.

It is now home to the Cairns Library.

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Old Quarantine Station - Pallarenda

In the 1880s a quarantine station was established at West Point on Magnetic Island for the purposes of isolating sick passengers on passing ships.  This station was damaged by severe cyclones Sigma in 1896 and Leonta in 1903 and owing to a lack of water and the difficulty of the distance from the mainland, the government decided to build an alternative station on the mainland.
Former Quarantine Station, Pallarenda, Townsville, 1976.
Photo:  CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection
The new Quarantine Station built at Pallarenda commenced with the construction of a timber jetty, which was completed by early 1914.  Over a period of seven months, commencing in November 1915, buildings at West Point were systematically dismantled and the building materials transported by barge from Magnetic Island to the mainland, for re-use at the Pallarenda station.  

Buildings that were moved included the hospital building, the married quarters, the hospital kitchen and the dining room.  These buildings had new functions at the new Quarantine Station at Pallarenda, which was in use by 1917.

Although materials from the old station at West Point were used at Pallarenda, new buildings were also constructed at the Pallarenda station, including a Disinfecting Block.  This building had tram tracks running through it.  Luggage was brought from the jetty on a trolley via the tracks through to the disinfection block where it was fumigated.  In contrast, the quarantined passengers had to walk from the jetty to the bath house, where they showered and changed.

Passengers were segregated according to the same class system that had divided them on board their ship.  There were separate quarters for men and women and the first and second class passengers had separate living and dining facilities.  In keeping with the racial attitudes of the day, there was a separate area for Asian passengers.  Housed in what was called the “Asiatic Shelter Shed”, these passengers slept in hammocks suspended under a shed with a concrete floor. 

The station was put to good use in the early part of the twentieth century, particularly during the Spanish Influenza epidemic in 1919 and during sporadic outbreaks of bubonic plague that occurred until the early 1920s.
Signage at the former Quarantine Station, Pallarenda.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding.
In August 1920 the steamer Roberto Figueras was on its way to Noumea when it arrived in Cleveland Bay carrying 1000 Vietnamese, 32 of whom were ill with suspected typhus.  Those who were sick were transferred to the quarantine station, while all others remained on board the ship, which took in supplies of coal and fresh water while it sat idle. 

The illness turned out to be meningitis, and 13 of those who had fallen ill, died at the station, and were buried there.  These were the only deaths to occur at the quarantine station during its use.        

During World War II the Quarantine Station continued its quarantine function, whilst also being used as an army hospital.  At this time a number of fortifications were built nearby, including two gun emplacements, two searchlight installations and a command post. 
The remains of WWII fortifications, Pallarenda.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding.

In 1974 the newly-formed Australian Institute of Marine Science moved into the site, bringing six temporary laboratories with them.  AIMS relocated in 1977 and in 1986 the area became an environmental park.  The Department of Environment and Resource Management have also been housed at the site.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Prelude to Peace

The signing of the Armistice between Germany and the Allies on 11 November, 1918 signalled the end of the First World War and sparked a celebration in Townsville, the likes of which the city had never seen before. 
A float outside the Railway Station, ready to celebrate the Armistice signed between Germany and the Allies on 11 November 1918.  Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection
The first news about the signing of the Armistice reached Townsville on Friday, 8 November, and the Mayor, Alderman J E. Clegg, invited the public to gather together at the Town Hall at noon the next day. However, this news turned out to be premature, as the agreement hadn’t been signed yet. 

Considering that the events of the previous few days all pointed to the likely cessation of hostilities, Alderman Clegg felt it was only a question of hours before the German command gave way, so the celebration went ahead anyway. At the Mayor’s request, all businesses closed at 11.30 am, and a procession was organised by the Returned Soldiers’ Association which marched from the Post Office to the Railway Station and back to the Town Hall. 
Floats in Flinders Street, celebrating the signing of the Armistice, November 1918.
Photo:  CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.

The signing of the Armistice remained unconfirmed until the night of Monday, 11 November. The following day there were jubilant celebrations in Townsville. Most of the workers in the railway workshops, the waterside workers and employees of local traders, marched in Flinders Street from 9.30 am until noon. The City Council’s regular meeting was postponed. 

At 3 o’clock a crowd assembled in front of the Railway station, with all sections of the community eager to participate. The procession was made up of an estimated 55 motor vehicles, 36 motor and horse lorries and about 100 cabs, buggies and spring carts, all of which were elaborately decorated. 
Crowds assemble outside the Town Hall in Flinders Street, celebrating the signing of the Armistice, November 1918.
Photo:  CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.
The procession stretched over a mile and a half and passed through Flinders Street three times. Celebrations went on into the evening and included a huge bonfire on top of Castle Hill, and a patriotic concert held on The Strand. 

The Cairns Post considered Townsville’s enthusiasm for the celebrations “unprecedented”, and described all the colour and noise of the celebrations on 12 November. 

“Early in the morning the whistles of vessels in the harbour were set going and continued for hours. The waterside workers took up the movement by ceasing all work, and headed by two motor lorries bedecked with flags and accompanied by a couple of pipers, marched into town and along Flinders Street.” 
Parade celebrating the Armistice in Flinders Street East, Burns Philp building on the left, 12 November 1918.
Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.
“One by one the business places closed and bevies of girls rushing into the street with flags of all sorts, commandeered whatever vehicles were available, delivery vans, motor and horse vehicles, and tradesmen’s carts, and within an hour the main street presented an unprecedented spectacle.” 

“All sorts of toy trumpets, bullock bells, kerosene tins, dinner gongs and anything that could produce a noise, was called into requisition, and the din was continuous, until lunch.” 

“An adjournment was then made until 4 pm, when the most remarkable procession ever seen in Townsville paraded the main street, accompanied by three bands, two orchestras, pipers and a bugle band. The decorations of all conceivable kinds of vehicles were brilliant, and the throngs lining the streets were immense.”
Women and children crowd on to a motor vehicle in the parade to celebrate the Armistice that ended World War I.
Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.