Saturday, 9 March 2013

Digging Up the Past

Ever since we purchased our house back in 2007, I've wanted to found out about it's history. And being located in West End, there was a very good chance it had a colourful past. In the good old days, West End was considered the "wrong side of the river" and I am told it remained that way until it's recent gentrification.

Like many areas of Brisbane, West End started off as farming land. In the 1880's, there were market gardens located on Montague Road as well as plenty of cereal crops and a strong timber industry. In fact, West End housed a number of different industries, including a gas works, a concrete pipes works, a boot factory, an iron/steel works, a soft drink factory and an ice cream plant.

These industries have been steadily weeded out of the area as West End has been developed into a trendy inner-city suburb.

Thanks to the blogosphere, I recently crossed paths with Magnus from A House in Auchenflower. Magnus very kindly offered to carry out a bit of investigative work regarding our cottage's history, and I gladly took him up on the offer. You can read all about it over on his blog here.

Edward Robert Drury - former land owner

Our 405m2 block of land was once part of a 27 acre parcel that was purchased back in 1850 by a Scottsman, Adolphus McWilliam, for a meagre 54 pounds.

It changed hands a couple of times, but continued as farming land until about 1884 when Edward Robert Drury, the landowner at the time, subdivided and sold it off in 80 separate transactions over the next six years. It wasn't until this time that West End became a suburb in it's own right.

Early records show our house was constructed prior to 1927, but that is as much as we know about when it was built. It would appear that the cottage was first constructed as a rental house, and it has largely remained one since that time. It's rather amazing that the house is still standing in it's original condition. While we are renovating and extending the house, I am proud that we are retaining the cottage as close to it's original form. I hope that it is seen as a beautiful and special home by future occupants over the next 100 years.


  1. So interesting.
    Our house was only lived its current location by two we actually know quite a bit about it too.
    It was moved from Herston around 1930 when they were building part of the hospital...I can only imagine how they moved a house back in those days!
    It was a rental house for a few years and the family who lived in it before us was renting down the street, then rented our house and then bought it and lived in it for about seventy years!
    Our house too is largely unchanged...including the 1920s Early Kooka stove that for better or worse still works!
    We have no plans to alter the main structure of the house at all...we too believe that it is so important to honour the integrity of these old I cannot imagine tearing through those long, long, long timber boards! However at some point we would love to do a kitchen, dining, deck extension off the back!

  2. Good on Magnus! I'll pop over to read more. How interesting to know more about your home. xx

  3. I've researched a lot of my ancestors homes here in Bris, but sadly a lot of them are now gone. So nice you're carrying on it's history :-) Thanks for adding Magnus's link as well!

  4. I know that every house and piece of land has a story and usually these stories never get told. So very exciting for you to have this piece of history.

  5. Fantastic that he has done the ground work for you, shame he could not pinpoint the original build/owner. I still have to get back to the archives to finish off my research for Betsy, no time at present. mel x