Teneriffe is one of Brisbane’s most sought after localities, conveniently located just 3km north-east of the CBD. This unique neighbourhood blends the old with the new.
In 1854, James Gibbon, former MLA and property speculator, known locally as ‘Street Corner Jimmy’ because he bought corner blocks, bought a parcel of land between Newstead and New Farm and named it Teneriffe, after Teneriffe Peak in the Canary Islands.
Gibbon was living at Kingsholme in New Farm before commissioning the construction of Teneriffe House in 1865, on what became known as Teneriffe Hill. The magnificent house cost 1715 pounds to build, and was constructed of rendered brick on a stone foundation. The house changed hands several times in its history and was converted to flats in the late 1960s. As many of the swamps were drained in and around New Farm and the Bulimba area, more land became available. Larger properties were subdivided and the land released for sale. The land surrounding Teneriffe House was subdivided and auctioned in 1890 and allotments were sold by Robert Wilson as Teneriffe Estate. By the 1880s, residential development continued to grow and industries and transport started to develop. The Teneriffe area began to change from residential to industrial in the late 19th century when dredging of the Brisbane River allowed large ships to come upstream. By 1907 the size and number of vessels visiting the South Brisbane and City ports had increased so new wharves were built to accommodate them. The first of the Teneriffe wharves was constructed in 1907 by Dalgety and Co. Apart from gold speculating, wool was the core of Dalgety’s business. Dalgetys provided wool growers with finance, transport, storage, insurance, technical advice and wool sales. During the First World War, hospital ships for wounded soldiers berthed at Dalgety’s wharf. At this time, more wool stores were built, and the State Cannery for the burgeoning pineapple growing industry was built was on the corner of Vernon Terrace and Dath St. World War II had a profound effect on Teneriffe and New Farm. During the war in the Pacific, the navy requisitioned the Brisbane Stevedoring Company wool stores and their wharves for a base for the US submarines. Thus Teneriff and New Farm were thought to be potential bombing targets, and many residents left the area.The Americans stayed for a year, and were very popular with the local community.
With changes to the Queensland wool industry, the wool stores and the wharves became redundant, but subsequent redevelopment has found a new life for the wool stores as apartment buildings.
Australian Estates & Moreheads Woolstore
Brisbane was a pretty important place in World War II. US General Douglas MacArthur, who was Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area, was headquartered here in Brisbane at the office of the AMP Society on the corner of Queen and Edward Streets – more on that in a future post. The building reverted to AMP after the war, but when the insurance giant moved to new premises in Creek St during the 1970s, the older building was renamed MacArthur Chambers (now MacArthur Central, a new shopping mall, has been built next to it) in honour of the famous general. MacArthur wasn’t the only Yank in town at the time, although being from Arkansas, MacArthur probably would have resented being called a Yankee. Ships of the US Navy were regularly here at the Teneriffe Wharves, and the Australian Estates & Mortgage Co Ltd (below) wool store building was used by US personnel. There were US Navy barracks in Dixon St and also in Sydney St, and the US Naval officers’ barracks were on the corner of Ann St and Commercial Road. Apparently the tram rides between the City and New Farm were heavily favoured by Brisbane girls as an opportunity to meet US servicemen. The wool store was situated in Macquarie St, and completed in 1926. Here is a photo of the wool store taken in 1928, showing carriers of the day (some motorised, some horse-drawn) loaded with wool outside it. There is an Australian flag flying proudly on the flagpole.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library; #167372)
(Information courtesy of the New Farm Historical Society)