Saturday, April 30, 2011

George Bridges and his role in the development of Nundah

Letter to Dept of Main Roads from Nundah & Districts Historical Society:
[1 May 2001]
On behalf of the Nundah and Districts Historical Society, we wish to ask the Department of Main Roads to assign the name 'George Bridges Tunnel' to the traffic tunnel which is to form part of the Nundah Bypass now under construction in the City of Brisbane.
In support of our request, we should like to point out that George Bridges was a noteworthy European pioneer of Nundah and is rightly regarded as the founder of Nundah as a business centre, which it is hoped will undergo a revival when the bypass is completed. Indeed, the bypass and tunnel will mostly traverse part of the land that Bridges bought from the New south Wales Government on 30 May 1855 when the Nundah district (then known as German Station) was still part of New South Wales.
Bridges was thus the first selector and settler in what is now the Nundah business centre, although not in the wider Nundah district. The honour of being the first European landholder in the district gores to Franz Joseph August Rode who in 1852 selected 31 acres (12.545 hectares) between Kedron Brook and what is now Buckland Road. Rode's selection lay immediately south of the land later taken up by George Bridges.
Bridges paid £65.4.0 ($130.40) for his land which was described as Allotment 7 of Portion 6, Parish of Toombul and comprised 65 acres 0 roods 32 perches (26.386 hectares). It was bounded on the west by Old Sandgate Road (now partly Bage Street) from Buckland Road northerly to Robinson Road, on the north by Robinson Road easterly, on the south by Buckland Road easterly to Old Sandgate Road and on the east by a line now followed in part by the rear boundaries of properties on the eastern side of Duke Street (see Plan A attached to this letter).
George Bridges cleared and farmed his land but by the early eighteen-sixties the growth in traffic between Brisbane and the rising township of Sandgate encouraged him to establish on his land a tavern which he called the Kedron Hotel. With rapidly increasing development the road to Sandgate through German Station was more than once re-routed in quick succession, causing Bridges to sell and re-establish taverns on different sites in the area in order to continue attracting travellers. His third venture, named the Kedron Brook Hotel, was eventually managed by John Buckby who in 1856 had married Sarah, stepdaughter of Bridges.
The Kedron Brook Hotel, a well-known establishment in its day, was located on the Bridges selection beside Old Sandgate Road (now Bage Street) on a site directly opposite the present Nundah Municipal Libary. This site, which overlooks the monument honouring the German missionaries who settled at Zion's Hill (Toombul) in 1838 is now occupied by the premises of Blockbuster Video and the former Commonwealth Bank. It is also only about forty metres from the northern portal of the new traffic tunnel.
The route from Brisbane to Sandgate once followed Buckland Road and Old Sandgate Road but it seems that George Bridges at some time had a new road surveyed across his land to form a short cut around the base of Donkin's Hill (now the site of the Corpus Christi Church). This short cut is now the notorious "Nundah Bottleneck", soon to be eliminated by the new bypass. As the district prospered, Bridges sold parcels of his land to various people who then established stores and other businesses, thus laying the foundations of the Nundah shopping centre. George Bridges therefore can be regarded rightly as having established Nundah as a service centre in what formerly had been purely a farming district.
By 1872 George Bridges and his wife had retired and moved to Burpengary, leaving the management of their remaining property in the hands of their sons Samuel and Thomas. The Bridges land was gradually sold, the last holding being auctioned in 1882 -- 189 sites that formed the Nundah Railway Station Estate. The opening of this estate (29.5 acres or 11.938 hectares) allowed for the rapid expansion of the existing small business centre and the beginning of suburban residential development. The estate was bounded by Sandgate Road on the west, the Sandgate Railway on the east and on the north by what is now Henchmann Street (see Plan B attached).
Development of the Nundah Railway Station Estate was stimulated by the opening of the railway from Roma Street to Sandgate on 11 May 1882. Following approval by the Queensland Parliament on 3 November 1880 the tender for the construction of this railway had been let in April 1881. The route for the line passed through the Bridges property, necessitating resumption of a strip of land for the purpose. In 1881 Bridges, now in retirement, sold the parcel of land which was to become the Nundah Railway station Estate to John Cameron, auctioneer who quickly took advantage of the railway construction already under way and doubled his money by selling the property to Thomas H Paige, manager of the Commercial Bank. Paige had the land subdividied and sold as the Nundah Railway Station Estate on 26 August 1882, as already stated, the auctioneer being John Cameron.
A railway station named simply "German" was opened with the line on 11 May 1882. This station was located within the Nundah Railway Station Estate at the lower end of Station Street. Only six weeks after the opening on 21 June 1882 the name of the station was changed to "Nundah" after the aboriginal name for a stream in the district, the upper reaches of which are now known as Downfall Creek. This was the beginning of a process of changing the district name from German Station to Nundah. Shortly afterwards the name of the Post Office was changed although the German Station National School did not become Nundah State School until 1896. The newness of the name change at the time can be seen from press advertisement for the auction of the Nundah Railway Station Estate, which state that the district was "formerly German Station" (see attachment C).
Biographical notes on Bridges Family
George Bridges was born at Wilsted [!], Bedfordshire, England on 1 May 1820. He emigrated in 1852, arriving at Moreton Bay on the "Maria Somes". With him were his wife Mary, her daughter Sarah and Mary's two children by George, Ann (3 years) and Samuel (1 year). Two other children were born at German Station, Thomas in November 1854 and Mary Jane on 17 March 1862.
Thomas Bridges served in the Parliament of Queensland, being MLA for Nundah 1896-1907 (Ministerialist Party) and 1909-1918 (Liberal Party).
George Bridges died in October 1898 and Thomas Bridges died in 1939. Both are buried in the Nundah Historic Cemetery.
We trust this information supplied in this letter justifies our request to have the new traffic tunnel at Nundah named "George Bridges Tunnel" after pioneer George Bridges.