While the inner city Brisbane suburb of Windsor is now, like many other areas, becoming progressively more crowded with units and small dwellings, it’s still a locale that is distinguished by a number of beautiful houses.
In fact, many of those houses have survived from the early days of Windsor, when these impressive residences illustrated the wealth of the area.
“In some way it continues to set Windsor apart, even today – all those beautiful residences and buildings which have survived,” says Brian Randall from the State Library of Queensland.
Windsor is supposedly named after Windsor in England, the site of the royal family’s Windsor Castle. Windsor was also known in early times as O’Connell Town, after Sir Maurice O’Connell, an early Member of Parliament. His residence was called ‘Rosemount’ and was situated on Bowen Bridge Road.
There were a couple of significant events which aided the development of early Windsor: one was the construction of Bowen Bridge in 1860, which gave people access to the area across the creek. “In the very early days, these creek were real obstacles for people to get around – if you think, trying to get across that creek was just an impossibility – you had to find another way to get around,” says Brian.
Secondly, in 1898, the railway passed through the Windsor area, which again opened the locale up for more development.
One of the earliest settlers in Windsor was a preacher – Reverend George Wight. He owned 150 acres in the Eildon Hill area of Windsor, and in 1862, he started a Congregational preaching service. Other early settlers included William Durston, the Turner family, the Thondley family, and Captain Claudius Buchanan Whish, a lay preacher and prominent local citizen, who later died with his wife in the wreck of the Quetta in Torres Strait.
Another prominent local citizen, the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane, William Jolly, was actually previously the Mayor of Windsor. Windsor was declared a Shire in 1887, and then a Town in 1904, which covered the areas of Albion, Woolowin, Wilston, Lutwyche, Newmark, Swan Hill and Kedron.
Windsor’s old Shire Council Chambers (built in 1896-7) is now the home of the Windsor and District Historical Society and you can still see, on the face of the building, where the world ‘shire’ has been replaced with the word ‘town’, in keeping with the area’s 1904 status.
Early on, the area played host to a number of important industries, including farming, sawmilling, quarrying (the Council Quarry provided porphory stone, and was located on the corner of Palmer St and Lutwyche Road) and furniture manufacturing. The major provision merchants were Bush and McConachie – the store is visible in the funeral procession photo, right.
Other important dates in Windsor’s history:
1860 – Bowen Bridge built, providing a direct route to central Brisbane
1865 – Windsor State School. The main building facing Bowen Bridge Road was completed in 1916
1898 – Railway passed through
WW2 – US Navy Submarine Supply Centre was situated on the site now occupied by Office Works