We have published a series of historic walk brochures to assist visitors wanting to explore the city's heritage. The collection includes walks through Queens Park & Surrounds, East Creek Park & Paddington Estate, Mort Estate, Caledonian Estate, Newtown, Russell Street; and Cultural and Legal Precincts. These brochures explain the history of the area and include many of the prominent buildings scattered throughout the city. Brochures are available at customer service centres and visitor information centres in the region.
The path of each historic walk is detailed below, and includes the PDF brochure in case you would like to print out a copy to take on your walk.
In the 1870s the land from the gaol to Herries Street, between Burstow and Lindsay Streets, was used by the Caledonian Society for its sports. The name was retained when the first residential land sales took place in 1904. We hope you will enjoy your walk through this historic area with streets named Stirling, Burns and Bruce reflecting the city’s Scottish connections.
Allow approximately 30 minutes at a brisk pace or about an hour at a leisurely pace to complete this walk.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the Caledonian Estate historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The Caledonian Estate walking path
- 1 Burstow Street - This is the site of the Caledonian Store near the Gallipoli Pines. Before the re-siting of the Mothers’ Memorial in 1985, there were a number of cottages between here and Margaret Street. Burstow Street was named after Thomas Burstow who was mayor in 1904, 1907 and 1919. He was also a member of the first Austral Association Committee.
- 9, 7 & 5 Stirling Street - In Stirling Street, houses numbered 9, 7 and 5 are examples of the housing styles common in Toowoomba early in the 20th century. Note the moulded bargeboards (see image on right), metal window hoods, finials, ridge cresting and iron lace. Fairly intact collections of houses of a similar age and style to these are a significant feature of our heritage precincts. Many of the verandahs were closed in during World War II when accommodation and materials were at a premium.
- 1A Stirling Street - At the eastern end of Stirling Street are the massive foundations of the Toowoomba Gaol. These basalt rocks were quarried at Picnic Point and supported high walls made from bricks manufactured at nearby locations such as Queens Park. Some of these bricks were used in constructing the Boer War Memorial gateway to the Mothers’ Memorial.
The gaol opened in 1864 in time for the first execution, which was the hanging of Alexander Ritchie. Ritchie was convicted of robbery under arms and murder. The gaol closed in 1904 and the main building was converted into a hall for the Austral Association.Under the leadership of poet George Essex Evans, an annual festival was held promoting music, art, literature and science. The sudden death of the poet during the festival in 1909 marked the decline of the Austral Association.
- 3 Stirling Street - Austra at 3 Stirling Street was the home of Dr and Mrs MC Brothers, whose daughter married Hubert Allom, a well respected teacher. Mr and Mrs Allom subsequently lived here, with the same family continuing to own the house since 1921.
- 17 Burns Street - Follow Stirling Street back to Burstow Street, noting the pine trees (Cedrus deodara) planted in 1914 at no. 7, the holly bushes at no. 9 and the fine London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia) at the junction of Burns and Burstow streets (17 Burns Street).
- 15 Burns Street - On the left in Burns Street, four workers’ cottages form a group similar to that seen previously but more modest in design. In 1922 Mr and Mrs HF Saffery bought no. 15 through the Darling Downs Building Society. Their address in the loan repayment book includes a reference to the estate name, long after the first sales of land in the estate. Again, notice the window hoods (see image on right), gables and similar features which make these buildings so special.
Many early residents walked or rode their bicycles to work, in, or near, the centre of town at locations including the post office, Empire Theatre, gasworks, foundry and the railway.
- 14 Burns Street - No. 14 Burns Street was named Grantleigh by its second owner, James Grant, when he moved here in 1913. He had been postmaster at Kingaroy prior to his transfer. In the 1930s his daughter Eleanor married a pharmacist, Cecil Sinnamon, and they lived at no. 12. When the young family needed extra space, they swapped houses with her parents.
The gable of no. 12 with its distinctive pressed metal infills is worth a look. It is now named Brora after the Scottish birthplace of James Grant’s father.
- 10 Burns Street - No. 10, a typical early cottage, was built in 1910. Whilst its first owner was a labourer named Henry Moffat, railway worker Herbert Apelt lived here for many years. Its fretwork entry adornment is quite unusual for this area; the only other being at Grantleigh.
- 9 and 9A Burns Street - Nos 9 and 9A were built during World War II, when an older house, was demolished.
- 7 Burns Street - Kinlossie, at no. 7, is one of the few houses to remain unaltered since it was built in the 1900s.
- 3 Burns Street - Bramhope at no. 3 was built in 1907 by pharmacist Frederick Thornley, who had a business in Ruthven Street.
Mrs Thornley enjoyed an important social position. The Darling Downs Gazettes in 1908 and 1909 contained notices informing that “Mrs Thornley, ‘Bramhope’, will not be ‘at home’ tomorrow”. In the 1960s, owners named Fraser built no. 3A for their son.
- 4 Burns Street - No. 4 was built on the first land sold in the Caledonian Estate. Its style is from an era earlier than those houses with protruding front gables. For many years it was the home of the McDonald family, still associated with the printing industry and sport in Toowoomba. The brick flats to the east were built on its tennis court.
- 1 Burns Street - The Inter-War style house at no. 1 was built in 1935 by Mr and Mrs Ernest ‘Billy’ Benson. For many years he worked at TT Hardware when it was in the city centre.
- 89 Lindsay Street - Oscar Muller was the first owner of 89 Lindsay Street in the 1930s. He later built and moved to 2A Burns Street. At no. 89 there is an interesting attempt to design a garage in a similar style to the house. It was later modified to provide an extra room.
- 91 Lindsay Street - No. 91 Lindsay Street, Rothesay, was built in 1905 for Mr and Mrs John Provan. He was a partner in the Ruthven Street newsagency, Robertson and Provan. The house is an excellent example of an Edwardian Era house. To celebrate moving into their new home, Mrs Provan planted the red cedar tree (Toona ciliata) on the corner. It is now an outstanding feature of the Caledonian Estate.
- 86 Lindsay Street - The area on the eastern side of Lindsay Street, originally named the Paddington Estate, was first offered for sale in 1866.
- 99 Lindsay Street - The house which formerly occupied the tennis court site has been relocated to the rear of the existing dwelling at 99 Lindsay Street. The house at no. 95 was removed in 1999 and later replaced with a new house in 2014.
- 103 Lindsay Street - The gates of the Caledonian Sports Ground were opposite Queen Street at the junction of Lutwyche Street (later named Lindsay Street). Between 2000 - 3000 people attended the sports here on New Year’s Day 1896. After a march from Ruthven Street, led by a standard bearer carrying the flag of Scotland, the crowd including many Highlanders in their different tartans, enjoyed a varied sports program for old and young alike. It included a Highland Fling competition, tent pegging and lemon cutting by the Mounted Infantry as well as handicap foot races and a one mile bicycle race. £80 was taken at the gates and the celebrations concluded with a ball at the Masonic Hall. We now see an unbroken streetscape of modest Queensland bungalows built between World War I and World War II.
- Avenue of trees - Turning into tree-lined Herries Street, one immediately notices the avenue of camphor laurels (Cinnamomum camphora) above bluestone kerbing (see image on right) on the southern side of the street. These features are part of Toowoomba’s heritage.
- 74 and 72 Herries Street - James Renwick, builder of the Masonic Hall and St Stephen’s church, constructed Blink Bonny at 72 Herries Street and Bonnie Doon at no. 74 in 1893. The bricks used are marked with his name.
- 2 Kitchener Street - bridge and ponds - Prior to being drained in 1874, the area between the Herries Street bridge and the Mothers’ Memorial was part of the East Swamp. In the 1970s the water was channelled underground providing the open space as we see it today. Murray Clewett designed the bridge and the ponds.
- East Creek cycle path - Along the cycle path towards Margaret Street look out for the bird life – red wattle birds and thornbills in the eucalypts and swamp cypresses; and black ducks in the ponds. Horses from a bakery once located where the Transport Department building now stands, were pastured here prior to the underground channelling. Locals remember the mad rush to take them to higher ground when a sudden storm caused flooding. There was a horse trough where the picnic table stands at the end of Burns Street.
- Peace garden - At the conclusion of the walk you may enjoy a rest beneath the Trafalgar oak in the Peace garden near the Gallipoli Pines. On the nearby Mothers’ Memorial are the names of two former residents of the Caledonian Estate, Glen Saffery and Colin Apelt.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Eleanor and Peter Cullen, Beris Broderick, John Clements, Bob Dansie, Stephanie Keays, Ivan McDonald and the residents of the Caledonian Estate.
The Mort Estate is Toowoomba’s oldest subdivision. It was established in 1862 when well-known colonial identity Thomas Sutcliffe Mort offered it for sale in 100 allotments.
Allow approximately 1 hour at a brisk pace or over an hour at a leisurely pace to complete this walk.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the Mort Estate historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The Mort Estate historic walking path
Starting at the Railway Station (Railway Street) walk up Taylor Street and turn right into Mill Street.
- 3 Mill Street - Carlton House stands at no.3. Built in 1877 for James Augustus Pearson, this early brick building has grandscale living areas, two attic bedrooms and is encircled by verandahs. The original brick stables, kitchen-house and servants’ cottages appear to be standing at the rear of the house. The building later operated as a boarding house. Continue along Mill Street and turn left into Campbell Street.
- 127 Mort Street - Turn left into Mort Street. The house once known as Dr Roberts’ Cottage Hospital is situated at 127 Mort Street. It was thought to have been connected by a bluestone path to the nurses’ quarters at no. 129, known as Margate Cottage c.1866.
Nos 121 to 131 Mort Street have been constructed on the site where three near identical cottages once stood. Fire destroyed all but Margate Cottage, which has retained two original attic bedrooms. Railway worker Henry Hilder purchased the property in 1893. The original cottage (see image on right) at 131 Mort Street was the likely birthplace of the famous local watercolour artist, Jesse Jewhurst Hilder. The eighth child of Henry Hilder, Jesse was born in 1881. A shy man of modest means, Jesse died in 1916 from tuberculosis. Australian painting legends Sir Arthur Streeton and Lloyd Rees regarded Jesse Hilder as a genius.
The present c.1900 worker’s cottage at no. 131 was moved from Wetalla, north-west of Toowoomba.
- 10 Taylor Street - Turn right into Taylor Street which was named after the prominent early citizen James Taylor. The Mort Estate School which opened in 1869 originally stood on the southern side. The current Toowoomba North State School brick building was opened in 1938 and had many noted students including former Mayor, Nellie Robinson and artist Jesse Hilder. This 1930s school is one of three built in Toowoomba before World War II.
- 23 Taylor Street - Mrs Dray’s store on the corner of Taylor and Gowrie streets was popular with school children who loved her homemade cider. Her husband was a butcher in Pobar’s butchery.
- 47 Taylor Street - St James Lodge c.1880 at 47 Taylor Street was originally called ‘Inverleigh’. It was occupied by Richard Hodgson who became headmaster of the Mort Estate School.
- 53 Taylor Street - No. 53 Taylor Street c.1885 was first occupied by John McKenzie, who was the Queensland National Bank Toowoomba branch manager from 1872 until 1898. James and Elizabeth Blackburn owned the property from 1888 until Elizabeth died in 1932. James Blackburn was a prominent saddler in Toowoomba. This elegant Victorian Era house presents a generous front verandah entrance to the street.
- 57 Taylor Street - Roseneath c.1870 at 57 Taylor Street was built for JC Robertson, a stationer whose business was ‘Stationer’s Hall’. Some building materials came from the United Kingdom, including the Welsh slate used on the roof. It is the only Toowoomba house that still has its original and complete slate roof. The former residence at 65 Taylor Street has a picturesque front verandah with symmetrical gables and memorable stained glass windows.
Turn right into West Street.
- 64A West Street - Donegal at 64A West Street has a very distinctive entrance.
Turn right into Campbell Street.
- 15 Boulton Terrace - Turn left into Boulton Terrace (see image of Boulton Terrace streetscape on the right). Bendemere, on this corner, has an original coach house/stable at the rear and was part of the original Mort Estate. This street was named after Martin Boulton who reputedly bought all the allotments, keeping the eastern side vacant to maintain his views to the creek. Around 1864-65, Boulton had five double-brick houses built on the western side (nos. 15, 13, 11, 9 & 1). They had hardwood shingle roofs, pit-sawn hardwood floors, cedar joinery and plaster and lath ceilings. The bluestone kerbing and the tranquillity make this street unique.
- 9 and 11 Boulton Terrace - At 11 Boulton Terrace the unusual triple-sash windows and curved entrance way are distinctive. Built in 1865 it was once a guest house for bank staff of Toowoomba and may be one of Australia’s oldest and longest running, purpose built guest houses. Next door at 9 Boulton Terrace is Tawa (see image on right). This is the most original of the Boulton houses and it still has the original plaster and lath ceilings as well as cast iron verandah posts. Built around the mid-1850s, it is believed to be one of the oldest surviving residences in Toowoomba. There is a relatively recent two storey rear extension, built of recycled materials.
- 4, 8, 10 and 12 Boulton Terrace - Until the turn of the century, the eastern side was a fenced paddock with a well. The street now has a wide array of houses, including a fine row of early Toowoomba workers’ cottages. Examine nos 4, 8, 10 and 12. Although they are of similar design, each has different features.
- 1 Boulton Terrace - Boulton Villa at 1 Boulton Terrace is where Martin Boulton lived with his wife Henrietta who remained there until her death in 1910. Boulton was a butcher and was also involved in several other successful businesses. He was a local identity with many civic roles, including being a member of the first municipal council. Through his sisters’ marriages, he was connected to many of the prominent Darling Downs squatters including James Taylor; however, despite his local prominence, he later became bankrupt. Note the fine stand of bottle trees on the southern fence line near 3A Boulton Terrace.
Turn right into Norwood Street.
- Norwood streetscape - Norwood Street was declared a public thoroughfare in 1866. The streetscape includes examples of various types of ‘Queenslander’ houses built before World War II. The house styles are described as Early, Post War and Inter-War in the book The Toowoomba House: Styles & History. This street has fine examples of bluestone kerbs and camphor laurel street trees.
- 16 Norwood Street and 8 Norwood Street - The Brachychiton in front of 16 Norwood Street is over 120 years old. It was a gift to pioneer John Ware from local aboriginal identity Paddy Perkins. Known as a Stunga tree, the bark was used for shields and head gear. Norwood Cottage c.1880 at 8 Norwood Street has an original wine cellar and ornate features on the verandah roof (see image on right).
Turn left into Gowrie Street.
- 174 and 172 Bridge Street - At the end of Gowrie Street (172 Bridge Street) is Corrawee. It was built in 1917 for the newly married TP O’Brien (an important local family best known for their ownership of Defiance Flour Mills) and his wife Muriel. It was extended several times to cater for their eight children. Note the beautiful stained glass windows in the Inter-War western extension and the early garage.Kanowna, to the west of Corrawee, was built in 1905-6 for Marmaduke James Wilkins, manager of the nearby butter factory. It was named after a coastal steamer on which Wilkins had travelled to Western Australia. The house is an example of the Edwardian style.
Walk back down Bridge Street and turn right into Mort Street.
- 91, 93 to 99 Mort Street - The large building on the right (now MacDonald Printing) was a brewery until 1976.
Turn right up Norwood Street.
- Price Lane streetscape - Walk past Price Lane, which was named after an early landholder in the Mort Estate.
- 26 to 28 Gowrie Street and 34 and 36 Gowrie Street - Turn left into Gowrie Street. Nos 26 and 28 Gowrie Street are on the site of the original Felix Pobar’s butcher shop, which opened in 1888. During their business peak, the Pobar’s owned five shops in the area.
Gowrie Cottage at 34 Gowrie Street was built in 1892 by Mr Reilly. In 1898 it was enlarged by the addition of a small cottage which was moved by bullock team from Drayton. No. 36 Gowrie Street c.1880 is an early, simple form of Victorian Era house with a side-to-side ridge. The front section of the house has a matching form behind it creating twin side gables. This form was sometimes called a railway worker’s cottage.
No. 35 Gowrie Street (see image on right) is a timber cottage with the distinctive high-pitched roof, wide weatherboards and curved iron verandah roof that were typical of pre-1900 Toowoomba cottages. It was owned in 1917 by Mr Baxter who was a railway worker.
- 1 Snell Street - Turn left into Taylor Street and right into Snell Street. The north-western corner of Finchley and Snell streets is the site of Toowoomba’s first hotel, the Seperation (see image on right). Built about 1856 by William Horton, it was renamed the Royal in 1860 and known as one of the finest in the colony in 1864. A plaque commemorating the building is located on this corner.
Continue back to Taylor Street, turn right and return to the Railway Station.
- 73 Russell Street - Toowoomba Railway Station - Complete the Mort Estate Historic Walk with a stroll around the railway station which was opened in 1874. The station was designed by colonial architect FDG Stanley and built by Richard Godsall.
Refreshment rooms opened at the station in 1902 and the Honour Roll Pavilion for World War I railway men was added in 1918. There is also a World War II air raid shelter set into the bank opposite the station entrance.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Ros Crank, Fiona Darroch and Janice Swannell for compiling the information and Val Russell for the cottage illustrations. Sketch of Seperation Hotel reproduced with kind permission of the artist, Bob Dansie.
Russell Street was originally known as Farm Road. It was a dirt track used by squatters from the west to transport their sheep and cattle to Brisbane for sale and return with supplies to their properties. By 1854 it was renamed Russell Street after Henry Stuart Russell. Russell was an early Toowoomba resident whose various occupations included grazier, explorer, politician, author and gentleman.
Allow approximately 1 hour at a brisk pace or over an hour at a leisurely pace to complete this walk.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the Russell Street historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The Russell Street historic walking path
Commence the walk at the railway station.
- 73 Russell Street – Toowoomba Railway Station - The original railway station was opened on 1 May 1867. It was a major engineering feat to build the line up the Great Dividing Range from Ipswich. The present building was opened on 26 October 1874 and was completely renovated in 1998/9. It is constructed in a classical revival style using Murphy’s Creek stone. The station was the centre of trade for many years with governors and royalty travelling to Toowoomba by train. Just across from the station there is a solid brick structure constructed during World War II for use as an air-raid shelter. Walk up the stairs to Station Street and turn left. At Russell Street turn right and commence walking up the hill.
- 145 Mort Street - St James’ Anglican Church (see image on right). The foundation stone for this church was laid by the Governor of Queensland on St James’ Day, 1 May 1869. The church is reminiscent of an English parish church. The tablets inside the church are reminders of Toowoomba’s most famous families including the Taylors, Renwicks and Grooms. Note the beautiful stained glass windows throughout the building. The windows along the centre aisle were erected by the parishioners in memory of those who died in World War I. A window in the baptistry commemorates a former parish priest, Rev. John Barge, who was killed by the Japanese in New Guinea during World War II.
Continue west up Russell Street to the next site.
- 129 Russell Street - No. 129, formerly Wislet, was designed by William Hodgen Jnr and built in 1908 by Harry Andrews for Dr Hinrichsen. It served as both home and medical rooms for successive families of Dr Connolly, then Dr Hulme. From 1963-1998 Wislet was the Wesley Hospital.
- 135 Russell Street - Vacy Hall at 135 Russell Street was designed by architect James Marks in the late 1880s for Mayor, Gilbert Gostwyck Cory. The property was built of double cavity brick and has many attractive internal features. The original house was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt in 1900. The Marks family had a significant role in designing buildings in the area. James’ sons, Henry (Harry) and Reginald, and his grandson Charles, also became architects. The firm practised from c.1881 until 1962 and favoured red brick buildings with white painted/rendered detailing.
Cross Russell Street before the intersection with Kingston Street to view the next property.
- 126 Russell Street - Kensington at 126 Russell Street was built in the early 1900s and renovated for commercial use. The property has many features including metal cresting on the ridge of the roof and landscaping appropriate to the design of the house.
Continue down Russell Street to the following sites:
- 120 Russell Street - Clifford House at 120 Russell Street is a magnificent sandstone building (see image on right). It was built in the early 1860s as a residential squatters’ club but never fulfilled that purpose. The Lands Office later occupied the building. In 1869 the property was bought by James Taylor who was at various times Mayor of Toowoomba, Member of Parliament and Minister for Lands. He was often described as the ‘King of Toowoomba’ because he was involved in many major developments in Toowoomba during his lifetime. Features of Clifford House include cedar doors and huge landscaped gardens.
- 112 Russell Street - Taylor Memorial Institute. This Anglican hall at 112 Russell Street was built from funds provided by the Taylor family in memory of their parents, James and Sarah Taylor. The hall was opened on St James’ Day on 1 May 1912. The hall was designed by James Marks & Sons and is unusual in style. The external walls were made of concrete covering over wire netting. The recently replaced terracotta tiled roof is spectacular.
- 80 Russell Street - The hotel at 80 Russell Street (corner of Station Street) was the site of the first hospital in Toowoomba. The hospital was a four-roomed cottage, owned by James Taylor, when it opened in 1859. Much of the old hotel building is now hidden.
- 78 Russell Street - Matilda House, on the corner of Station and Russell streets, was built between 1885 and 1890 and was known as The Coffee Palace. This building has a post-World War II front. The building was owned by Francis Schaffer who placed the sign Schaffer’s Boarding House on the arc across the roof. The arc is still visible today. The stables were located where the liquor barn now stands in Station Street. In 1919 Mrs Ada Cross purchased the business and renamed it The Central Coffee Palace. She advertised accommodation (bed only) for two shillings and meals for one shilling and sixpence.
- 76 Russell Street - Hotel Norville, formerly the Grand Hotel, was designed by James Marks & Sons. It was completed in early 1903 and described as the first 3-storey building in Toowoomba. The balconies are interesting and guests must have enjoyed seeing passengers arrive and leave from the busy railway station nearby (this building is best viewed from the northern side of Russell Street).
- Queensland Rail deviation line - Queensland Rail built a deviation line in 1915, which cut across Russell Street as well as other streets and changed the nature of the street.
- Russell Street Men’s toilet - The men’s toilet and urinal was constructed in 1919 and is believed to be the first sewerage connection in Toowoomba in 1926. Note the close proximity to several hotels and the train station. It should be noted that the building has no roof.
- West swamp - The toilet is located at the area previously known as West Swamp. The Premier Bridge was opened over the swamp on 25 February 1862. Water is now channelled through the area.
Cross Victoria Street.
Look at the side of the Rowes building taking particular note of the rear of the buildings. Many of the buildings in this section were built between 1890 and 1903 and can be viewed better from the opposite side of the street. This is a good place to get a better view of some of the features of sites 15 and 22.
- 58 Russell Street - This area was occupied by the police station, the courthouse and a paddock in the 1860s. In 1898 the first Defiance Flour Mill (originally known as Crisp & O’Brien’s Flour Mill) was built on this site. It was designed by James Marks, as was the 2-storey flour mill storage built at the rear in 1897. After the flour mill machinery was moved, the property was subdivided internally and became known as the ‘People’s Palace’ c.1915 and provided inexpensive accommodation and meals. The buildings were then sold in 1958. Following remodelling the building commenced its current use. Rowes Furniture had operated from an adjoining site since c.1927. The business expanded into adjoining premises as the need for space grew in the 1950s/60s.
- 26 Russell Street - Originally built for TJ Keogh, the building at 26 Russell Street was Mr A Gaydon’s saddlery for many years. Note the date 1892 on top of the building. The building was designed by well-respected architect, HWK Martin. Regrettably, he died in Toowoomba in 1897 from typhoid aged just 36 years.
- 353 Ruthven Street - In September 1865 the Toowoomba Post Office was opened on the south-west corner of Russell and Ruthven street and was moved to Margaret Street in the late 1870s.
The present corner building was later known as Jubb’s Corner for many years after the pharmacist whose shop was located there. Cross Russell Street to the NW corner before walking towards the railway station.
- 33 Russell Street - The former National Australia Bank, built in 1961, replaced the building designed by colonial architect FDG Stanley (1839-1897) and built by James Renwick. William Henry Groom, our first Toowoomba mayor in 1861, established a store called The Corner Mart on this site. In 1870, Groom converted the building and advertised it as The Commercial Hotel having “one of the coolest and most capacious cellars in the country”. A Council directive in 1953 resulted in removal of verandah posts to provide tie suspended metal street awnings.
- 37 Russell Street - No. 37 Russell Street, formerly HG Wyeth’s hardware store, was designed by Henry Marks and opened in 1907. At the time the facade was described as ‘elaborate’ with natural lighting being given priority. Note the cast iron verandah supports, which are also used as downpipes.
- 37-53 Russell Street - There are many progressive commercial buildings in this block of Russell Street from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- 55 Russell Street - The National Hotel at 55-63 Russell Street was originally the European Hotel, built c.1883. In 1893 floodwaters were 4 feet 6 inches deep inside the hotel. The building has been renovated over the years, with major changes in the 1930s. Inside are numerous old photos and intricate ceilings.
- 65 Russell Street - The Cossart family has continuously owned Cossarts Saddlery at 65 Russell Street since 1906, when they bought the business from McDonald & Quinn. The current façade was built in 1958.
- 67-71 Russell Street - The ornate appearance of 71 Russell Street, c.1906, again reflects the Marks family architectural influence. Originally the site of Neden Bros Flour Mill, the present building has housed cafes, dentists and many shops. The site is featured on the front cover of this brochure with original verandahs shown.
Return to the railway station.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to John Clements for preparing the text and Ivy Lindsay for providing the drawings.
Around 1858, George Thorn, an Ipswich merchant bought land known as Thorn’s Paddock. By 1861 another landowner, John Shipman, had established a reputation as an outstanding farmer. In 1865 Newtown was surveyed as town lots and offered for sale, making it one of Toowoomba’s older suburbs. In 1879, when Gowrie was gazetted as a shire, it contained much of the present Newtown. The Shire of Gowrie was abolished in 1913 and part became the Town of Newtown. It remained a town in its own right from 1913 until 1917, the first Mayor being Alderman James Hagan.
Allow approximately 45 minutes at a brisk pace or over an hour at a leisurely pace to complete this walk. A self-directed drive is included as point 29.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the Newtown historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The Newtown historic walking path
The walk begins on the opposite side of Holberton Street from Newtown Park’s State Rose Garden.
Walk towards Campbell Street.
- 147 Taylor Street - Newtown Park - Newtown Park was formally opened in 1913. Its perimeter was planted with two hundred camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) trees donated by Queensland’s Department of Lands. The park has a history of cultural, sporting and military use. Rose Cottage is a reminder of occupation by the United States Navy for ‘Rest and Recreation’ during World War II. Other huts that were removed from the park after the war may be seen on the Newtown drive (West and Fanny streets).
Turn right into Campbell Street.
- 247 Campbell Street - The house at no. 247 dates from the period after World War II when materials were at a premium and accommodation shortages had reached a critical point. Both the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments legislated to ensure fair access to materials and labour by allowing smaller dwellings to be built without permits. Despite earlier settlement, enough land was available to enable rapid growth to occur during the decade following the war. Therefore the area has homes from a number of eras including houses built before World War I (1890-1918); the Inter-War Period (1920s-30s) and houses built after World War II (1940s-50s). The latter are recognisable in age and style and form a significant part of Newtown’s character.
Some post World War II homes are built of brick with tiled roofs. They vary from single, double to triple fronts with moderately pitched roofs and generous roof overhangs. Windows are often casements, sometimes at corners. The house at 247 Campbell Street is clad in fibro with decorative cover battens. Others are clad with narrow chamfer boards. Typically these homes have low to moderate roof pitches in a stepped hip form and are low-set on stumps. Sash windows (see image on right) with horizontal mullions on the top sash were commonly used.
Turn right into Bernard Street.
- 4 Bernard Street and 8 Bernard Street - Homes at no. 4 and no. 8 are Post-World War II houses, free of the ornamentation of earlier styles.
- 12 Bernard Street - Burwood at no. 12 is an older home with a decorative front verandah, central passage and coloured glass sidelights around the front door.
Turn left into Taylor Street.
- Mature pin oak tree - A mature pin oak (Quercus palustris), contributes greatly to the streetscape.
- 119 Taylor Street - In the 1940s the high-set building at no. 119 was a police station and residence.
Turn right into Clairmont Street.
- 5 Clairmont Street - No. 5 was built around 1912 for Mr Jim Humphrey at a cost of £240. Mr Humphrey worked for Castlemaine Perkins brewery, retiring as foreman when the business closed. Grand Central Shopping Centre occupies the former brewery site. Mr Humphrey was a life member of the Newtown Progress Association and caretaker of the Newtown Hall. The house is a remarkably intact example of an early cottage from the Victorian Era (19th century) with bullnose front verandah roof and ogee gutters (see image on right). Note the verandah brackets and simple balustrade typical of 19th century cottages. Its timber sash windows with coloured glass sidelights are typical of this style, as are the metal window hoods.
Turn left into Rome Street.
- 49 Rome Street - Newtown Hall at 49 Rome Street was formerly the Council Chambers and was later used as a picture theatre until after World War II. Chairs from this theatre were reused at the Newtown theatre ‘Fiveways’. From mid-1995 until December 2003, the Newtown Progress and Hall Association, led by Des and Karen McLucas, acted as caretakers. It is currently a valued Council community facility.
- 33 Rome Street - No. 33 Rome Street was the police constable’s home in 1914. Its chimney is decorated with contrasting string courses (see image on right).
- 31 Rome Street - In 1950, no. 31 was built for ex-western graziers. Art deco style plaster ceilings and cornices are similar to those used in Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre. Leadlight windows are silky oak with green and yellow glass. In 2003 the original tiled roof was replaced.
- 27 Rome Street - The house at no. 27 is depicted on the brochure cover. It was built in the 1950s by Colin Barlow for a Mr Wishart who supplied timber from his country property. The home features leadlight casement windows and unusual diagonal brickwork panels below the windows and on the fence.
Like no. 31, this house was built later than the ‘austerity’ homes immediately following World War II. Luxury touches are a sign of greater affluence and availability of materials.
- 30 Rome Street - Spreydon, at 30 Rome Street, is the southern portion of a house built for Robert Filshie, timber merchant, c. 1896. In 1908 it opened as Spreydon Girls’ College with Misses Beth and Jessie Thomson as co-principals. Within two years it became a Presbyterian Ladies’ College, the forerunner of Fairholme College. Spreydon was separated and moved to its present location in about 1922. Turn right into Warra Street where the other section of ‘Spreydon’ remains at 7 Warra Street.
- 7 Warra Street - Oak Lodge, at 7 Warra Street, is believed to take its name from the century-old silky oak (Grevillea robusta) planted in Spreydon’s school yard. The home’s architect, James Marks, was a member of the Toowoomba sawmilling firm of Filshie, Broadfoot & Co. His design in the Victorian manner features ‘Gothic’ forms and decoration made possible by generous supplies of fine timber.
Turn right into Russell Street.
- 156 Russell Street - No. 156 is a good example of the Post-World War II brick and tile home with metal fence panels and gates of the era. It was built by Mr Charles Higgins c. 1950 and has had few changes since.
- 177A Russell Street - The Art Deco style house at no. 177A was occupied by its builder, Mr William Brose, in 1939. The following three houses were built before World War II, in the 1920s or 30s.
- 164 Russell Street - Jasmine, at no. 164 was the home of Archdeacon WP Glover. In 1933 he laid the foundation stone for planned extensions to St Matthew’s Church, Drayton.
- 166 Russell Street - At that time, a blacksmith named Arthur Higgins lived at Clontarf, no. 166, a pretty Victorian Era house. Note the name in the fretwork entry pediment.
- 170 Russell Street - Boyanup, at no. 170, was named by its original owners after the Western Australian town where they had lived. Between World War I and World War II a new style of housing, the Inter-War (see image on right) or Bungalow style became popular in Queensland. Three common styles are reviewed in Council’s publication, ‘The Toowoomba House – Styles and History’.
- 205 Russell Street - No. 205 dates from that era, the 1920s-30s. There have been additions to the house and garden.
- 209 Russell Street - In 1921 Miss Mary Butterworth used the two front rooms of no. 209 for music lessons. She left her sulky in rear stables and tethered her horse in the yard.
- Camphor Laurel trees - Camphor laurel trees enhance the southern side of the streetscape. They appear to be remnants of an earlier avenue.
- 202 Russell Street - In 1951 the building at no. 202 replaced a church which was officially opened by Rev. Richard Dunstan in 1911 as Newtown Methodist Church. It has been the Russell Street Uniting Church since 1977.
- 229 Russell Street - Kymoria, at no. 229, was a private hospital owned by Dr Alex Horn who was the medical officer for the Town of Newtown. The brick cross on the chimney, ridge cresting (see image on right) and mature silky oaks are noteworthy.
- 214 Russell Street - No. 214 is a typical Inter-War house featuring battened gables, weatherboards and a distinctive front verandah (now enclosed).
- 216 Russell Street - Many corner and small stores contribute to Newtown’s character. The florist shop at no. 216 was a store and post office in 1921 with the shop residence next door.
Turn right into Holberton Street.
- 141 and 139A Holberton Street - At 141 and 139A Holberton Street the butcher’s shop and post office remain but with new uses. The street is named after Frederick Hurrell Holberton, Toowoomba businessman and member of the Queensland Legislative Council whose home, now Ascot, was built in 1876.
- 102 Taylor Street - The former convenience store at 102 Taylor Street, on the western corner, dates from at least the 1930s. Walk to the State Rose Garden in Newtown Park.
- 147 Taylor Street – State Rose Garden - Gowrie Shire Council purchased land from Henry Pottinger for the Park in 1912. In 1913 the 11th Infantry Regiment of the Citizens’ Forces and in 1923 the 11th Light Horse Regiment camped in the park. Plaques on site record the rose garden’s history.
Self-directed drive suggested places of interest:
• Weetwood – 423-427 Tor Street
• Ascot – 15 Newmarket Street
• Tor – 7 Devon Street
• Clifford Park racecourse – 37 Hursley Road
• Newtown State Primary School – 24 Albert Street
• Old picture theatre, shops & hotel – 65 Anzac Avenue
• Elphin house – 24 Anzac Avenue
• The Glennie School – 246A-248 Herries Street
• St Mary’s College – 129 West Street
• Kerrilaw building – within St Ursula’s College, 38 Taylor Street
• World War II huts –2-14 Fanny Street
• St Rest house – 3 Gladstone Street
Acknowledgement: Sketches by Ivan McDonald. Thanks to residents and contributors for preparing the text.
Allow approximately 1 hour at a brisk pace or over an hour at a leisurely pace to complete this walk.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the Queens Park and surrounds historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The Queens Park and surrounds historic walk
Commence the walk at the park’s entrance arch in Lindsay Street.
- Queens Park 43-79 Lindsay Street (alt 77 – 119 Margaret St) - Work commenced on the Botanic Gardens in 1875 and planting has continued steadily since then. This area is now known as Queens Park Gardens. The entrance arch in Lindsay Street is made of local Helidon sandstone and was erected in 1987.
Walk into the gardens, noting the nearby pillars donated after the removal of the National Australia Bank in Ruthven Street.
Queens Park was originally the Government Camping Reserve covering 60 acres. Toowoomba’s Christmas races were held on the grounds in 1860 and clay was dug from the ground for brick making. The early curators, Way and Harding, were faced with the mammoth task of creating a park from an area covered with fallen trees, clay pits and general rubbish. Mr Way established a botanical garden in this corner of the park. He also planted 11 acres with experimental crops of new cereals, fruit trees and other crops. Most of the trees were planted c. 1900 but some are well over 100 years old.
Alfred Thomas memorial - The Alfred Thomas Memorial (see image on right) was erected in memory of Alfred Thomas, who had been the supervisor of the Southern and Western Railways in the 1870s. His drowning in Sydney Harbour in 1881 shocked the local community, who donated the money to build this memorial. The structure was originally located on the corner of Margaret and Ruthven streets but was relocated during the 1890s. Wander around and enjoy this formal garden area and then walk to Campbell Street to view the next site.
- 80 Campbell Street - Turn left into Campbell Street. On your right, note the windmill display, Cobb & Co Museum, the National Carriage Factory and the TAFE College. On the left, Whyembah (see image on right) is located next to Queens Park at 80 Campbell Street and was built around 1890 on one acre of land. The property previously included a bowling green and tennis court. Thehome has wide verandahs and elaborate Edwardian details. Itfell into disrepair in the late 1940s, losing much of its original
stained glass, cedar joinery and colonial hardware. It hassince been restored, with a two storey rear extensionof interest.
77 Campbell Street and 94 Campbell Street - While walking down Campbell Street, don’t miss the beautiful Spanish Mission style house at no. 77 called Casa Mara. This style was popular in the 1920s and 30s. Kimblehurst at 94 Campbell Street was owned at one time by Mr BJ Beirne, who became the city’s first Toowoomba-born mayor.
91 Campbell Street - Claremont at 91 Campbell Street was built around 1905 with a coach house and stables at the back. It has elaborate iron lacework around its bull-nosed verandah. Continue down Campbell Street noting the many historic homes, bluestone kerbing and mature camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) street trees.
Turn left into Hume Street.
Eleanor Street - Hume Street runs along the western edge of Queens Park. The two streets on the left side are thought to have been named after the Godsall family. The father, Richard, and two sons were former mayors of the city. Eleanor Street is particularly interesting because it is lined with palm trees marking an earlier entrance to the Botanic Gardens. Eleanor Godsall, Richard’s wife, was later married to Alexander Mayes who was Mayor of Toowoomba in 1896, the year Eleanor died.
Continue along Hume Street and turn left into Margaret Street.
Vera Lacaze Park cnr Hume and Margaret streets -Vera Lacaze Park is on the corner of Hume and Margaret Streets. With its well-laid out gardens and fountains in 1960s style, it recognises the contribution of Vera Lacaze, who was the first woman elected to the Toowoomba City Council and who served on Council from 1952-62.
121 Margaret Street - No. 121 Margaret Street, on the north-western corner of Margaret and Hume streets, was formerly the Canberra Private Hotel. It was built and operated by the Temperance Society and became the place to stay. Many retirees from the land made the hotel their permanent address. As times changed the hotel was converted to a motel, and it continued in that capacity until it was sold to the Grain Growers Association about c. 1970. It is now used as offices and known as Canberra Place.
Cross Margaret Street to view the next site.
124 Margaret Street - The first section of the Technical College, on the southeastern corner of Hume and Margaret streets, was completed in 1912. Mr Alexander Mayes, who was also the president of the Technical College, was the successful tenderer at £7,000. The front façade of the building features brown glazed bricks known as ‘brown teapot bricks’ which were specially imported from Yorkshire, England and may be the only example of these unique bricks in Queensland. The other bricks and the sandstone used in this building are of Australian, mostly local, design.
106 Margaret Street - At the corner of Margaret and Burstow streets are East Creek Park, the Boer War Memorial Gateway and the Mothers’ Memorial. When the gaol was converted for use as the Austral Hall, the building was dedicated as a memorial to those who served in the Boer War. The Austral Hall was later demolished and some bricks from the hall were used to construct the memorial gateway. Refer to item 14 also.
The Mothers’ Memorial was originally constructed in Margaret Street, near the intersection with Ruthven Street, and officially unveiled by the State Governor on 28 January 1922.The mothers of local men who were killed in World War I erected the memorial. It was relocated in 1985 to East Creek Park causing great controversy at the time. A plaque (to the north-west of the intersection) denotes the original site. Other memorials, commemorating the involvement of Australia’s Armed Forces in conflicts around the world, are also located in the park.
100 Margaret Street - The fine, two storey, verandah fronted building at 100 Margaret Street was built c. 1910 as a residence for the father of Fred Crook-King, a well-known Toowoomba photographer.
96 & 94 Margaret Street -Two delightful Edwardian Era buildings exist at 96 and 94 Margaret Street. No. 96 houses a café and no. 94 the Repertory Theatre. Both buildings feature curved bay windows and picturesque roofs.
92 Margaret Street -No. 92 Margaret Street was originally the hospital for the women’s gaol. Today it houses a café.
90 Margaret Street -DeMolay at 90 Margaret Street was the 1864 Court House which was converted to a women’s reformatory in 1882. It was adjacent to the gaol walls. The gaol covered the area now occupied by the Park Motor Inn. You can still see the solitary confinement cell beneath the rear of no. 90. After the closure of the gaol, the building was used for the annual science contest held in conjunction with the Austral Festival. It later became Rutlands Guest House and was purchased in 1967 by the DeMolay Order.
Cross Margaret Street, opposite the Park Motor Inn, to a path leading into the park and the Richard Ross Harding commemorative avenue of trees. Continue up Margaret Street.
- 73 Margaret Street -At 73 Margaret Street is the Bishop’s House. Originally called Killalah, it was designed by Harry Marks and built c. 1911 for William Charles Peak, a prominent businessman. Its construction is unusual as each brick wall in the building has individual foundations to counter soil movement. The house was purchased about six years later by a Mr Horrigan and given the name of Dalmally. The house had a number of other occupants before it was acquired by the Toowoomba Catholic Diocese in c.1944 as a residence for Bishop Roper. It was recently restored for the Catholic Education Office.
Cross Lindsay Street to view the next site.
- Queens Park corner of Margaret & Lindsay – drinking fountain -A drinking fountain was placed in the corner of Queens Park in 1936 to recognise William Charles Peak’s service to the community. Mr Peak ran a grocery business and was Chairman of the Board of Directors of both the Darling Downs Building Society and Security Trust Co. as well as being on the executive of the Royal Agricultural Society and Chamber of Commerce.
Continue down Lindsay Street toward the starting point of the walk.
Queens Park Toowoomba Historical Society - The Toowoomba Historical Society occupies the building beside Queens Park Gardens. Opening times are indicated on the outside of the building. While you are in the area, consider visiting the Cobb & Co Museum café at 21-27 Lindsay Street.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Beris Broderick for assistance in compiling the information and sourcing illustrations from the Toowoomba Historical Society Inc. and Bob Dansie.
The cultural and legal precinct is bounded by Margaret, Neil, Herries and Ruthven streets, an area rich in history of institutions on which the cultural, spiritual, legal and social life of the city is founded.
Allow approximately 45 minutes at a brisk pace and longer at a leisurely pace to complete this walk.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the Cultural and legal precinct historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The cultural and legal precinct walk
Commence the walk at the former Post Office building at 136 Margaret Street.
- 136 Margaret Street, former post office - This fine building was built between 1878 and 1880 to replace a smaller one on the south-west corner of Ruthven and Russell streets. Designed by government architect FDG Stanley, and built by John Garget in creamy white sandstone quarried at Spring Bluff, the post office was responsible for mail and telegraph services, and from the early 20th century, the telephone exchange as well. The clock tower was set forward of the building alignment so that it could be seen from the junction of Margaret and Ruthven streets.
142 Margaret Street, former Court House - The Court House (see image above) was built in 1878, replacing the former court house at 90 Margaret Street, now named DeMolay. The new court house was also designed by government architect FDG Stanley in the Classical Revival style, and was built by John Garget. Of interest is the annex in Neil Street, which is of later construction and made of Helidon sandstone. It was in the court house that George Essex Evans worked in his capacity as registrar of births, deaths and marriages.
Turn left into Neil Street.
50 Neil Street, police station complex - In 1866, the colonial government built police barracks on this site to replace the police station on the south side of Russell Street, west of Ruthven Street. The present building designed by government architect RC Nowland, dates from 1936. It is of historic interest as one of four substantial brick buildings erected by “relief workers” during the depression of the 1930s to provide employment. Other buildings are the schools at North, South and East Toowoomba.
51 Neil Street, St Stephen’s Uniting Church - Across the road is St. Stephen’s Uniting Church (see image on right) . This former Presbyterian Church was established in 1863 in a wooden building in James Street. In 1884 the congregation moved to this building designed by James Marks and built by James Renwick. A fire extensively damaged the building in 1989 but it was lovingly restored.
54 Neil Street, the Empire Theatre complex: Wesley Uniting Church, Armitage Centre, Empire Theatre - The Empire Theatre Complex. The Armitage Centre, a contemporary ‘black box’ flexible performance space, was designed by James Cubitt Architects. Built in 2014 by Hutchinson Builders, it contrasts with both the adjoining Wesley Church Theatre and the Art Deco Empire Theatre.
The former Wesley Methodist Church (see image on left), later Wesley Uniting Church, was built in 1877 by Richard Godsall to a Gothic Revival design by the Brisbane architect Willoughby Powell, who also designed the Town Hall. The Wesley Theatre has significant stained glass panels by Ashwin and Falconer.
The original Empire Theatre was built in 1911 by a group who had been showing ‘moving pictures’ in the Austral Hall from 1907. The Empire was designed to present both vaudeville and motion pictures until it burnt down in 1932. The north and south walls remained standing and were incorporated into the rebuilt Art Deco theatre, used as a picture theatre until the early 1970s. During the mid-1990s the theatre was refurbished and reopened as a performance venue in 1997 as Australia’s largest regional theatre.
58 Neil Street, Masonic Temple - The Masonic Temple was built by James Renwick and was completed in 1886. It was set well back to allow for a circular driveway from Neil Street so the gentlemen of the Masonic fraternity could be driven to the door. There was a paddock provided where horses and carriages could be safely left during meetings. Augustus Charles Gregory, a distinguished gentleman, noted explorer and engineer (whose residence was Harlaxton House), was the Grand Master in the 1880s.
Turn right into Herries Street.
152 Herries Street, St Lukes Anglican Church - James Renwick constructed the first stage of St Luke’s Anglican Church by 1897. The traditional Gothic Revival design by diocesan architect John Hingeston Buckeridge replaced an earlier timber slab building constructed in the mid-1850s. The eastern end of the building including the northern transept and chancel, designed by Charles Beresford Marks, was completed by 1959. Adjacent to the church, facing Ruthven Street, is the church hall built in 1911 to a distinctive Harry Marks design.
Turn right into Ruthven Street and continue down the eastern (right) side.
149 Herries Street, Soldiers Memorial Hall - The Soldiers’ Memorial Hall was erected in three stages: 1923-24, 1930-31 and 1957-59 as a memorial to the participation, and loss, of members of the Toowoomba community in WWI and later wars. Local architectural firm Hodgen & Hodgen designed all three stages of the building. Features of the interior include a memorial vestibule, honour rolls, offices and meeting, recreation and dining rooms as well as a former dance hall.
541-543 Ruthven Street, City Hall - A School of Arts building established on this City Hall site in 1861 was replaced with a more substantial building in 1877. This second building was demolished due to a fire in 1898 and the Town Hall was erected in 1900 by builder Alexander Mayes to a Willoughby Powell design. This design didn’t include a clock and this feature was added as work progressed. A School of Arts library and a Technical College were included on the first floor and various Council offices were located on the ground floor.
From 1937 to 1994 the art gallery was also housed at this site. On the western end of the building is a theatre which has been used for cultural and social events. This section has undergone more changes than any other part of the building. Renovations have occurred in the 1940s, 1970s and 2016.
525-529 Ruthven Street, Regional Art Gallery - The Toowoomba Art Gallery was established in 1937, making it Queensland’s oldest public regional art gallery. The present building, designed by Allom Lovell Marquis-Kyle, was opened in 1994. The southern section had formerly been offices for the Toowoomba Electric Light and Power Co. The old building was adapted for re-use and a contemporary wing added as Council’s good example of maintaining community buildings with strong heritage values. The Art Gallery Park is designed around the aboriginal theme ‘Sacred Journey Home’.
Kwong Sang Walk, completed in 2015, recognises the contribution of the Chinese community.
Lanes off Ruthven Street have large murals painted as part of the First Coat Festival.
451-455 Ruthven Street, Alexandra Building - The Alexandra building was constructed by James Renwick to a design by prominent Toowoomba architect Henry James (Harry) Marks (1871-1939) for local caterer and businessman, Thomas Kelsall Lamb (1856-1913). The building has a decorative three-gabled face-brick parapet with the words ‘Alexandra Building’ in honour of the Queen, wife of Britain’s King Edward VII. It originally comprised an upper floor banquet/concert hall and pre-dated Toowoomba’s Austral Hall on the old Toowoomba gaol site and also the Empire Theatre. The Alexandra hall opened in 1902 with a seating capacity of 2200.
More about 451-455 Ruthven Street, Alexandra Building
The Alexandra Building, a two-storey masonry building in Ruthven Street Toowoomba, was constructed in 1902 to a design by prominent Toowoomba architect Henry James (Harry) Marks (1871-1939) for local businessman Thomas Kelsall Lamb. Marks also designed a 1905 extension at the rear of the building. The building originally comprised a banquet/concert hall on the upper floor and two retail spaces on the lower floor.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Toowoomba had established its position as the administrative and commercial centre of the Darling Downs, one of the first regions to be settled in Queensland. Squatters entered the rich pastoral region even before Moreton Bay was opened for free settlement in 1842 and by the mid-1860s Toowoomba had eclipsed its main rival, Warwick, as the largest town on the Downs. Located on the main route to Brisbane, it was a conduit for produce being hauled to the coast and the main source of supplies for the western pastoralists. By 1891, Toowoomba contained nearly twenty per cent of the population of the Downs.
As Toowoomba developed, a commercial centre emerged in the blocks bounded by Russell, Ruthven and Margaret streets. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Ruthven Street was redeveloped with substantial masonry buildings and its pre-eminence as the centre of the city was confirmed with the construction of the third Town Hall in Ruthven Street in 1900. The Alexandra Building, erected in Ruthven Street between Russell and Margaret streets in 1902, contributed to the consolidation of this street as the city centre.
The Alexandra Building was constructed for TK Lamb and Co., a well-established Toowoomba firm of confectioners and pastry cooks. Lamb had operated from at least two previous premises in Ruthven Street as a confectioner, baker and caterer with associated refreshment rooms, since 1885. Lamb also had a separate bake-house in Bell Street and a second confectionery shop in another part of Toowoomba. Like many merchants in Toowoomba, TK Lamb and Co. supplied not only the town of Toowoomba but the Downs and many other parts of western Queensland through a very successful mail order business selling hams, small goods, dressed poultry and Christmas cakes. In the 1890s and early 1900s he also conducted a drapery business, TK Lamb & Co. (The Busy Drapers), in addition to his catering, confectionery and baking concerns.
In 1901 TK Lamb acquired title to the Ruthven Street site of the future Alexandra Building and engaged HJ (Harry) Marks to design a building incorporating street-level shops and a hire-hall for balls, banquets and other large public functions such as public meetings, wedding receptions, parties and concerts. In addition he planned to build a new, modern cake factory and bakery at the rear of the building.
Harry Marks was one of a family firm of architects which had a lasting effect on the appearance of Toowoomba, being responsible for a large number of the city's public, private and commercial buildings. Born and trained in Toowoomba, he entered into partnership with his father James, in 1892. James Marks arrived in Queensland in 1866 and first set up a practice in Dalby, moving to Toowoomba in 1874. As James Marks and Son, Harry and his father dominated the architectural profession for more than half a century. Although Harry spent his entire career in Toowoomba and was responsible for designing many buildings on the Darling Downs, including Rodway and St Luke's Church Hall, he also designed St James Parish Hall at Coorparoo and another Roman Catholic Church at Bulimba in Brisbane. His brother Reginald joined the practice in 1910. Harry was made an associate of the Queensland Institute of Architects in 1925 and a Fellow in 1929. His son, Charles Beresford Marks, became a partner in 1925.
Harry Marks was described as being ‘gifted with inventive genius’. He was particularly interested in providing good ventilation and natural lighting and these are features of buildings designed by him. He devised and patented a number of architectural elements, including roof ventilators, a reversible casement window which provides optimum directional ventilation and a method of stucco wall construction using a hollow wall to give the appearance of a solid wall, but cheaper to construct than brickwork.
The Alexandra Building was completed in 1902 by Toowoomba builder James Renwick. Various sub-contractors worked on the building including Wheatcroft and Co. (painters), TS Burstow (fittings) and Keogh and Co. (suppliers of the dining tables and other furniture). Its construction reflected local confidence in the continued prosperity of Toowoomba and the surrounding district during a period of widespread drought. It spanned two allotments and had a prominent two-storey frontage to Ruthven Street, considered ‘uncommon and particularly striking’ at the time, with an upper floor verandah with cast-iron balustrade, over the street pavement, and a decorative three-gabled face-brick parapet with the words "Alexandra Hall" in relief on the middle gable. The building was named in honour of Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII of Britain and of Australia. Edward had succeeded to the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in January 1901 and the coronation of Edward and Alexandra was conducted in August 1902 around the time that TK Lamb's new building was opened.
The ground floor was divided into two shops, each 100 ft (30.5m) long by 30 ft (9.1m) wide, with plate-glass front display windows. The ceilings were high and additional natural lighting was provided from high-level windows in the front and rear elevations. The northern shop was occupied initially by GP Merry's Drapery Emporium. The southern shop was occupied by TK Lamb and Co.'s Cafe Alexandra, which had counters and fittings in oak-grained pine, including a timber screen which separated the shop at the front from a dining room, being 63 ft (19.2m) by 30 ft, at the rear, capable of seating 180-200 persons. Kitchens, pantries, storehouses and out-buildings were located beyond the dining room.
The Alexandra Hall, which occupied the entire first floor, was accessed via a 7 ft (2.1m) wide timber staircase from a separate entrance off Ruthven Street, located between the two shop fronts. It was a high space, 60 ft (18.2m) wide by 100 ft (30.5m) deep, lit by windows in the Ruthven Street and rear elevations, and six large lantern lights in the roof. At night the hall was lit by gaslights with ’beautiful multi-coloured globes’. Reputedly the hall was capable of seating 900 persons, and when first opened seats for 600 were provided. Facilities included cloakrooms, dressing-rooms and water closets.
Four staircases led from the hall to front and rear verandahs, 12 ft (3.6m) and 8 ft (2.4m) wide respectively. These were located 4 ft (1.2m) below the level of the hall, so that the retail spaces below were lit from windows front and rear, between the floor levels of the hall and verandahs. Another staircase led directly to the Café Alexandra dining room below, which could function as a supper room during concerts or other entertainments.
According to The Queenslander of 20 December 1902 construction of the hall supplied a much-felt want in Toowoomba, demonstrated by the almost continuous use of the hall in the first few months of opening. Toowoomba had lacked a large public assembly hall, and the Alexandra Hall's Ruthven Street location, in the centre of Toowoomba, made it especially attractive as a venue. The Alexandra Hall post-dated Toowoomba's third Toowoomba City Hall, constructed in 1900 in Ruthven Street on the site of the former Toowoomba School of Arts (destroyed by fire in 1898), but the City Hall theatre, with a seating capacity of 789, had a raked floor and could not accommodate banquets or dances. The Alexandra Hall pre-dated Toowoomba's Austral Hall, a large structure erected in 1904 by the Austral Association on the site of the Old Toowoomba Gaol in Margaret Street. It also pre-dated the Empire Theatre in Neil Street, which opened in June 1911 with a seating capacity of 2,200.
The Cafe Alexandra was said to be a great success and the Alexandra Hall was popular for dances, concerts and banquets. According to the Darling Downs Gazette rarely a night passed that it was not occupied. The venture proved so successful that in 1905 TK Lamb & Co. erected additions to the rear of the building, comprising a pavilion 32 ft (9.75m) by 26 ft (7.9m) and a promenade balcony. The pavilion was accessed via a flight of stairs from the Café Alexandra on the ground floor, and could be used as a supper-room, banquet hall, or meeting room. The ceiling was of pressed metal and the room was lit by reversible casements (recently patented by Harry Marks). The promenade balcony was located at the rear of the pavilion.
In 1913 Thomas Kelsall Lamb died, and the title to the property was transferred to trustees: Queensland Trustees Ltd and Lamb's two sons, Arthur Kelsall Lamb and Herbert William Lamb. In 1947 title was transferred to TK Lamb & Co. Pty Ltd (TK Lamb Estates Pty Ltd from 1949).
A number of long-term tenants occupied the building. JM Harris (draper) occupied the northern shop from 1906 until 1935. In 1938 Gold Radio Service and 4GR broadcasting moved into the building, where they remained until the 1970s. The upstairs hall appears to have been sub-divided and used for offices by the late 1930s, but the Café Alexandra continued to operate on the lower floor.
Sometime between 1937 and 1943 the front verandah was removed and replaced by a cantilevered street awning, in line with a municipal policy that verandahs and street awnings supported on posts be removed as a road safety measure. Below the parapet the front of the building was rendered and painted when the verandah was removed. About this time the lettering on the building appears to have changed from ‘Alexandra Hall’ to ‘Alexandra Building’.
In 1973 title to the property was transferred from TK Lamb Estates Pty Ltd to the Master Builders Permanent Building and Bowkett Society. The Café Alexandra appears to have closed about this time.
When Brian Hodgen, grandson of well-known Toowoomba architect William Hodgen, purchased the building at auction in 1976, it housed Palmers Silk Centre, McKinstry and Somerville trading as Chas Sankey Fraser (optometrists), and Music Houses of Australia trading as Palings on the ground floor. The first floor was unoccupied. Brian Hodgen conducted his architectural practice, Hodgen & Hall, from the first floor space, later practising with his son as Hodgen and Hodgen Architects.
Acknowledgement: Historical information provided by Eleanor Cullen
433-437 Ruthven Street, Harrison Printing Building - A new, purpose-built Harrison Printing building with strong Scottish Arts and Crafts influence was designed for Mark Harrison in 1912 by architect William Hodgen and built by William Penhallurick. In 1906, printers Robert Weston and Mark Harrison dissolved their partnership and the Harrison Printing Co was established, continuing for decades. Mark Harrison had learned his trade at the Darling Downs Gazette’s office and had worked with printer Job E. Stone, Toowoomba’s mayor in 1909.
Cross Ruthven Street to the former Bank of NSW building.
431 Ruthven Street, Bank of NSW Building - In 1940-41, during a nationwide Bank of New South Wales building program, Helidon sandstone was used in the construction of this building in Victorian Free Classic Revival style. The Bank of NSW, Toowoomba’s first bank, was located south of the current building in a timber house with slate roof from 1860. Its manager, RHD White, was instrumental in providing the infant Municipality of Toowoomba with bridging finance until rates could be collected.
456-460 Ruthven Street, White Horse Hotel - The White Horse Hotel façade can be viewed from the old Bank of NSW. A hotel was established on this site in 1866 and replaced by the present two-storey brick building which was erected in several phases with the ornate façade completed by 1912. This upgrade is thought to have been designed by Reginald Marks who worked in a Toowoomba architectural firm with his father, James and brother, Harry. The façade included a deep verandah which was removed in the early 1950s to comply with council regulations to remove verandah posts and provide tie-suspended metal awnings. The hotel continued trading until 1986.
Retrace your steps back across Ruthven Street and continue along the southern (right) side of Margaret Street.
209-215 Margaret Street, Niddrie House - Niddrie House takes its name from Niddrie Marischal House four miles from central Edinburgh, Scotland and home to the Wauchope family until 1944. The Toowoomba building was occupied in the 1930s-40s by L. L’Armand Fruiterer & Milk Bar, YWCA rest rooms, outfitters and dry cleaners.
178-180 Margaret Street, Tattersall’s Hotel - Tattersall’s Hotel was built by Richard Godsall in 1883 to a design by James Marks for Austin Carigg. The two storey brick hotel featured cedar joinery and a five stall stable. Across the street was TG Robinson & Co’s Tattersall’s horse bazaar. This was a major commercial enterprise in the last half of the 19th century and the street served as a thoroughfare for beasts on the way to and from market. For at least one day a year, horses for auction were paraded and prospective buyers gathered on the hotel balcony to make their bid.
Cross Neil Street.
40 Neil Street, Strand Theatre - The Strand theatre is the longest continually operating purpose-built cinema in Queensland. In 1914, James Newman, owner of the corner Crown Hotel, opened the Crystal Palace Picture Gardens next to his hotel on the site of the present Strand theatre. Toowoomba’s first Congregational Church, 1864-1889, had formerly occupied the site. Originally unroofed, the theatre catered for 1000 patrons for movies, boxing and concerts. In 1915 Mr Newman built the New Crystal Palace Theatre and lessee Senora Spencer renamed it The Strand. In the early 1930s Birch, Carroll and Coyle took over and, with the building owners, arranged a redesign in Art Deco for the theatre’s interior. Architect, Guy Crick, used fan shapes as the dominant motif seen in the wall friezes. The Cinema 4 complex was opened in 1992.
More about 40 Neil Street, Strand theatre
On 15 May 1864 Toowoomba’s first Congregational Church opened on the NW corner of Margaret and Neil Streets. In 1889 after years of disuse it was sold and Frederick Buss built a hotel on the site.
In 1902 William Smith, previously licensee of the Union Hotel, built a new hotel on the site which he named the Crown.
On 21 January 1914 James Newman, an Alderman of the Toowoomba City Council and owner of the Crown Hotel, opened the Crystal Palace Picture Gardens next to his hotel on the site of the present Strand Theatre. It catered for 1000 patrons and in addition to showing movies, boxing and concerts were also staged there. Reservations could be made at Palings: Deck Chairs 1/6, Folding Chairs 1/-, Gallery 6d.
Realising that he had competition from the newly constructed Empire Theatre and in 1915 Mr. Newman built a new Crystal Theatre on the site and extended the Crown Hotel to provide rooms above the theatre. It had a solid masonry facade with marble facings and on the front of the building there was to be a large monogram “S.T.” in front of the projecting biograph box set with no fewer than 44 coloured lights. There was also a female figure set in a niche and holding a globe of light. Additionally, there were leadlight windows featuring vines and red flowers.
Renovations were almost complete when it was announced that Senora Spencer would lease the theatre and name it the Strand like her theatres in Brisbane and Newcastle.
The first performance in the greatly renovated theatre took place on 15 April 1916 with the opening ceremony performed by the Mayor Al McWaters. The program included a film ‘The Men who made Australia’ featuring footage of the ANZACs and the Gallipoli campaign and also Mary Pickford in her famous movie ‘Rags’, with appropriate accompaniment from the Strand Symphony Orchestra. The event was such a success that ‘hundreds were turned away’.
Senora Spencer gave up the lease in 1918 which was taken over by Union Theatres but the theatre was closed for a few weeks in early 1919 because of the influenza epidemic during which it was re-painted and decorated.
The death of JP Newman, “former licensee of the Crown Hotel and member of the CID”, was announced on 8 June 1930 and he was buried on 9 June 1930.
In the latter part of the 1920s Mr Bushby operated the theatre for several years until the lease expired in 1929 when he shifted operations to the Princess Theatre in Russell Street. Plans were in hand for the installation of ‘talkie’ equipment and the promise that films would come direct from the Regent in Brisbane.
In the early 1930s Birch, Carroll and Coyle took over and with the major rebuilding of the Empire going on after the fire in 1933, the owners of the Strand and BCC arranged a redesign for the theatre’s interior.
The architect selected was Guy Crick and the work was completed for a re-opening in early December – a couple of weeks after the opening of the Empire. While the renovations were going on, screenings continued.
Crick’s design featured fan shapes as the dominant motif clearly seen in the wall friezes. The shape is repeated in the wall lighting fixtures while two ceiling lights shaped like inverted pagodas adorned the ceiling. These were removed in 1942 for fear of air raids and never replaced. Above the proscenium was a large design of a rising sun with ram’s horns on each side. A deep blue curtain with a stripe of gold was effectively lit by trough lighting.
The mid to late 1930s were the golden age of the Strand with musicals, westerns and dramas featuring stars like Shirley Temple, Errol Flynn and Bing Crosby. The theatres catchphrase was “Always first with the latest and greatest”; and during Toowoomba winters “as warm as your own fireside.”
In 1937 the old building adjacent to the Strand was demolished to make way for two new buildings providing office accommodation on the ground floor but permitted the extension of the first floor of the theatre’s lounge and manager’s office. Later still, an awning was added to protect people queuing from the elements.
After almost 40 years BCC left the Strand which was taken over by the Sourris family. More alterations followed to the entrance and more seats were installed in the Dress Circle, new lighting replaced the fan-shaped ones and some of the proscenium’s border frieze was lost when it was widened.
The theatre is the longest continually operating purpose-built cinema in Queensland and was placed on the Heritage list in 1990.
The Cinema 4 complex was opened in 1992 retaining most of the heritage features while introducing more theatres and choice.
On January 24 1917 Mrs. Emma Miller, often called “the mother of the Labor movement” died in Toowoomba. The report in the Toowoomba Chronicle of January 25 indicated that she died at the Crown Hotel where she had been staying. There is a monument to Mrs Miller in the Queen’s Park Gardens where she spoke to her supporters on the day before she died.
Acknowledgement: Historical research provided by Eleanor Cullen.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Bob Dansie, Eleanor Cullen, Pat Murphy and Michael Scott for preparing the text.
Allow approximately 45 minutes at a brisk pace and longer at a leisurely pace to complete this walk.
Browse the interactive online map.
Download the East Creek Park and Paddington Estate historic walk brochure (PDF for print).
The East Creek Park and Paddington Estate walk
From the Information Centre the cycleway is used to approach and leave this historic area.
82-86 James Street, Toowoomba Information Centre - Start the walk at the Guide to Toowoomba map. To the rear of the centre pass between a large swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) and a tall eucalypt. Notice two tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) and a mature camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) as you make your way to cross at the James Street lights.
54 Kitchener Street, cycle path - This street, named after King James I of England, was once Toowoomba’s main thoroughfare and where our first town hall was sited. Bullock teams were a common sight on their way to and from the coast before the coming of the railway in 1867. Follow the cycle path beside East Creek with its willows (Salix babylonica) and swamp cypresses.
Trees - Cross Mary Street. Here a large she-oak (Casuarina) overhangs the creek. Among the trees in the small park opposite are three chestnut-leaved oaks (Quercus castaneifolia), also found in Horton Street and a carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua).
Horton Street entrance - Enter Horton Street, named after one of Toowoomba’s colourful characters, William Horton, nicknamed Bill the Fiver because of his love of gambling. His origin is somewhat obscure but it seems that, at the age of thirteen, he was transported as a convict for stealing a coat. In 1847 he built the original Bull’s Head Inn, Drayton and the current building in 1859. Horton made many investments in Toowoomba prior to his death in 1864 at the age of 47.
15 Horton Street - No. 15, a Victorian Era house, was built between 1890 and 1918.
14 Horton Street - Houses at no. 5 and no. 15 Horton Street are of a similar age.
- 68 and 66 Herries Street - Early cottages face Herries Street where it meets Horton Street. Robert Atkins, a horse cabman, lived on the corner at 68 Herries Street in 1902. No. 66 has two gables with pressed metal infills. Often barge boards were decorated with dentils (see image on right).
69 Herries Street - There has been a shop at 69 Herries Street since the late 1800s. In 1925 it was a saddlery owned by William Wood.
67 Herries Street - No. 67 Herries Street, built 1897/8 is typical of Toowoomba’s early timber cottages; four roomed, symmetrical, with a pyramid shaped galvanised iron roof and front verandah. It featured in the TV program ‘Who’s Been Sleeping in My House’. In the early 20th century it was one of the city’s lying-in hospitals where women gave birth with the assistance of a mid-wife. The mid-wife for many years was Cecilia Lea, whose first husband, cab driver James Anderson, was killed aged 34 years. The vehicle in which he was taking tourists on a sight-seeing drive overturned near Gabbinbar. His widow and two young children were given this house, purchased with money raised in a public appeal.
60 Herries Street - Glenroy at 60 Herries Street is over 100 years old. This was the home of Robert Gordon Cousins, manager of Wyeth’s hardware store from 1900 until his death in 1913 at the age of 43. His widow Lottie died in 1966 at the age of 86. The cast iron balustrade (see image on right) is original.
61 Herries Street, Entrance to Paddington Estate - Cross Herries Street to enter the Paddington Estate, now part of the Caledonian Estate. John Watts owned the 20 acres (8 hectares) prior to its subdivision into an unusual pattern of streets and narrow lanes. He had been part-owner of Eton Vale station and was Minister for Public Works when the railway to Toowoomba was opened.
Now named DeMolay, the Court House was at 90 Margaret Street when the advertisement (below), complete with errors, appeared in the Darling Downs Gazette.
The paper later reported that the attendance at the sale was ‘very large’ and the bidding ‘highly spirited throughout’. The corner lots in Margaret and Herries Streets fetched the highest prices - £35 to £40.
39 Herries Street – Toowoomba Grammar School - Mary Street was originally called Park Street as the land on which the Toowoomba Grammar School now stands was the original Queens Park until 1875 when the school was established. Towards the Margaret Street end is a large retaining wall made of basalt. This volcanic material came from local quarries and was used extensively for kerbing that gives character to Toowoomba’s oldest areas.
143 Mary Street - No. 143 Mary Street, once named Maida, is a Queensland bungalow. This modest home with its gabled front is from the Inter-War Era of the 1920s and 30s. The small verandah has been enclosed.
141 Mary Street - Council minutes from May 1871 record that ‘the well for the Paddington Estate should be sunk at the junction of Pitt and Park streets’. Before turning into George Street note Cronulla at 135 Mary Street, an early house more elaborate than the cottage style and with one projecting front room with a decorated gable. Its bay window and banded chimneys with contrasting string courses are attractive features.
137 Mary Street – George Street streetscape - From here the view directly west shows the landmark two-storeyed St Mary’s College, West Street. Its original 1899 building was designed by Toowoomba architect William Hodgen Jnr. George Street contains a mix of early, Inter-War and more recent houses.
8 George Street - In 1900, no. 8 was the home of a sawyer, William McMullen. The four room cottage was the only house on this side of the street at that time. From 1917 the resident was Elizabeth McMullen, one of the first Toowoomba women to have the right to vote in the 1917 election. She was a nurse and the house was another lying-in hospital.
84 Lindsay Street - At Lindsay Street turn left. No. 84, named Paddington, was designed by William Hodgen Jnr in 1899 for Robert Bruce, a member of a well-known Toowoomba family of stonemasons.
88 Lindsay Street - Lindsay Street, between Margaret and Herries streets, was originally named Lutwyche Street after Judge Alfred Lutwyche who presided at many trials in Toowoomba and was noted for his courtroom humour. No. 88, built in 1888, was recently given the original street name. The intact metal window hoods are of an unusual design.
90 Lindsay Street - At 90 Lindsay Street, there was a four room cottage in 1904 with a kitchen added by 1906, the property value then being £36. The traditional style guttering features acroteria (an architectural ornament placed on a flat base and mounted at the corner of a roof).
Opposite is a large red cedar tree (Toona ciliata), an outstanding asset of the Caledonian Estate.
92 Lindsay Street - No. 92 is one of six Queensland bungalows from the Inter-War Era. Its fence and winding path have been carefully designed to reflect the original period character.
82A Herries Street - Turning right into Herries Street with its avenue of camphor laurel trees, notice the hall numbered 82A, currently used by the Table Tennis Association. At one time this was Coddington’s Wood Depot.
85 Herries Street - No. 85 is a building from the Edwardian Era featuring original cast iron balustrading, frieze and window hood.
Trees - Two large London plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia), known locally as The Sentinels, are landmarks on the southern side of the bridge. One can be seen on the cover of this brochure. They are at least 100 years old and at one time shaded a horse trough.
Cycleway back to James Street - Cross at the lights and follow the cycleway beneath the willows back to James Street. The bluestone bridge you have just crossed, designed by Council engineer, the late Murray Clewett, is a more modern example of the use of local basalt and features on the cover.
Along the creek look out for black ducks, red wattlebirds, blue-faced honeyeaters, noisy miners and perhaps a white-faced heron fishing in the shallows. The cycleway follows Kitchener Street, called East Street until 1916 when it was renamed in honour of the World War I field marshal.
108 Kitchener Street - After crossing James Street, you may like to rest on a picnic seat provided near the beginning of the walk. Chinese gardens providing vegetables for the local market once stretched along the creek banks.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Ivan McDonald for the map and architectural sketches; Eleanor & Peter Cullen, Beris Broderick and John Clements for the historical and botanical information.