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John Oxley Library


By JOL Admin | 15 August 2008

With the Ekka being held this week at the Exhibition Grounds in Herston, its timely to look briefly at the history of this inner Brisbane suburb.

In 1859, Robert Herbert, Queensland’s first premier and his friend and colleague John Bramston, a lawyer who later became Attorney-General, bought land on a ridge to the west of Bowen Bridge Road, on the town side of the creek.  They built a stone house and established a farm, which was to give that area bounded by Bowen Bridge Road, Breakfast Creek, Herston Road, L’estrange Terrace, Victoria Park Road and Gilchrist Avenue the name of Herston.  Herston is the combination of the first and last parts of their surnames – Herbert and Bramston.

Herston, 1869.  John Oxley Library Image no. 64478

Bowen Bridge Road and Bowen Park are both named in honour of the first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Ferguson Bowen (10 December 1859 – 4 January 1868).

Butterfield Street, Herston honours William Edward Butterfield, who was an early schoolmaster and journalist.

Hetherington Street, previously called Herbert Street is named after John William Hetherington who was prominent in the coal industry and local government.

Ballymore, Moore and Bally Streets all derive their names from the Ballimore Estate of James Campbell & Sons Pty. Ltd.

Garrick Terrace is named after James Francis Garrick, who purchased the residence Herston from Herbert and Bramston.

One of the main landmarks in the suburb is the Royal Brisbane Hospital.  In January 1867 Brisbane's hospital was moved from its former site in North Brisbane (today’s central business district) to its present location in Herston.  Sister Kenny, famous for her treatment of polio, operated from Ward 7 of the Brisbane Hospital.  A surviving building from the hospital’s early days is the old Wardsmen’s Building which was originally used as the fever hospital.

Royal Brisbane Hospital, 1883. John Oxley Library Image no. APO-040-0001-0001

Another prominent landmark in the area is the Exhibition Grounds.  The site was originally used by the Queensland Acclimatisation Society and then by the Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, from 1875.  The first show was held in 1876, as the Queensland Intercolonial Exhibition.

Admission prices to this first show were:

5/- Judging Day
2/6 Opening Ceremony
1/-  General Admission

Aerial view of the exhibition grounds, ca. 1925. John Oxley Library Image no. 65552

A fragment of the original Acclimatisation Society gardens survives as Bowen Park

Some significant dates in Herston's history and development include:

  • 1859 – John and George Harris first purchased land in the area (three lots as a deed of grant).  Four years later they subdivided this into blocks of various sizes for re-sale.
  • 1880s – Land purchases and subdivisions increase as the demand for residential housing grows.
  • 1910s – a further period of expansion with the increasing subdivision of land into smaller allotments

more photographs of Herston


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