Panoramic photographs are among the most powerful and evocative of historical images, their broad sweep enabling people to connect with the past and to easily identify the changes in their surrounding environment. State Library of Queensland has an extensive collection of panoramas from all corners of the State, spanning over 140 years. A selection of these were showcased in the 2009 exhibition Panoramic Queensland. This collection continues to grow as new collections are acquired, and becomes more easily accessible as more content is made digitally available. Here are four recently digitised examples (click on the images for a better view).
Photographed by Bob Belbin ca. 1928, this view of people going about their business in downtown Townsville provides a commanding view across the intersection of Stoke and Flinders Streets. W. H. Hawton’s Central Hotel stands grandly on one corner, on the present day site of the Holiday Inn ‘Sugar Shaker’ building. Across Flinders Street, and equally imposing, is Criterion House, home to McKimmin and Richardson Ltd., at that time Townsville’s largest department store. This site is now occupied by the Cowboys Leagues Club.
This lively panorama, captioned ‘Sandgate’, depicts the beach at Shorncliffe and was taken ca. 1900 when these northern suburb beaches were some of the primary recreational destinations for holidaying Brisbanites. Crowds of finely dressed beachgoers dot the banks above the shore, some with tents and shelters, others lounging on the grass. The more adventurous take to the beach, some venturing a small way into the water while others poke around among the rocks. There are even horse rides on offer. All this with the backdrop of the Shorncliffe pier. This scene has changed little today, although the foreground is now dominated by a large children’s playground.
Taking in a much changed neighbourhood of Brisbane, this panorama focuses on the neatly displayed fleet of delivery company Bryce Ltd, ca. 1937. The drivers of the assortment of trucks, vans and horse drawn carts stand proudly at the front of their vehicles. The fleet is assembled on a block of land part of which is now used as a soccer field beside Davies Park on Montague Road. The West End Gasworks is visible in the background, on land that is now a residential development by the name Light + Co. On the left, worker’s cottages can be seen on both sides of Montague Road. The two closest houses are roughly where the Queensland Building and Construction Commission now has its premises.
Coincidentally, this panorama is also photographed by Bob Belbin who captured the Townsville image above. Photographed in 1920, the Proserpine Sugar Mill looms large among the surrounding palm trees and fields. A cluster of worker’s cottages sits off to the right and cane train carriages can be seen on the left. What is likely to be the photographer’s car sits parked in the foreground. Established in 1897, the mill still stands on this site today, however with considerable upgrades to buildings and equipment.
These four panoramas can be viewed on our catalogue and, as all are out of copyright, can be downloaded as high resolution tiff files if required. The original items are stored in the repositories of the State Library of Queensland.