Busy scene on Flinders Street, Townsville, 1929

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Location: Townsville, Queensland.


View the original image at the State Library of Queensland: hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/0000.

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Owner: State Library of Queensland, Australia
Source: Flickr Commons
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    • 05/Mar/2023 10:41:48

    One hundred and twenty years ago Townsville's Flinders Street East was the bustling major gateway to Australia on the eastern coast. In 1888, exactly 120 years ago, three prominent buildings along Flinders Street East were opened. Local historian Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde says the double-story, coral-coloured Magnetic House was the most prominent of that year, originally built for the AMP society by Sir John Sulman. "He is one of Australia's most famous architects and is well known for his work in Sydney around the university," she explains. "To have him design a building at what was then a small coastal port, was a great indicator as to how a lot of people felt about the future of north Queensland." Along with the AMP society, Flinders Street East was home to several banks. The Australian Joint Stock Bank opened in 1888 and was designed by the architect F.D.G. Stanley. It now houses a nightclub aptly named, The Bank However, the street was most populated by agents for the great shipping companies. Burns Philp, Aplin Brown and Co and Samuel Allens and Sons were among the biggest. But Dorothy remembers one particular company, Carter and Co, that was where the Queensland Insurance Building is today next to the Museum of Tropical Queensland. "It was known as the concrete wharf," she says, "and even in my childhood I can remember sugar lighters unloading at that wharf." What would those who first built up Flinders Street East think now if they knew the bustling port had turned into an entertainment strip? ' I think they'd be a bit surprised to see that their city is still surviving," Dorothy says. A western sprawl had already begun in 1888, and by 1889 Victoria Bridge had opened to traffic, providing access from the city area over to the new wharves at South Townsville. AMP moved out of Magnetic House in 1929 into new premises on the other end of Flinders Mall, which now houses Connolly Suthers Lawyers. Then in 1927 AMP built what was a major state government office building at the opposite corner on Stanley Street. "We've got a wonderful set of buildings that tell the story of the city," Dorothy says. Source: www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/09/23/2371819.htm