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Gaydon's Buildings

  • 600628
  • 88-90 Churchill Street, Childers


Also known as
Gaydon's Pharmacy: Gaydons Pharmacy; Childers Pharmaceutical Museum & Tourist Information Centre
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Health and care services: Dispensary/pharmacy
3.8 Developing secondary and tertiary industries: Marketing, retailing and service industries
10.1 Providing health and welfare services: Providing health services
Faircloth, FH
Construction period
1902–1909, Childers Pharmaceutical Museum & Tourist Information Centre (1902 - 1909)
Historical period
1900–1914 Early 20th century


88-90 Churchill Street, Childers
Bundaberg Regional Council
-25.23695097, 152.27806


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Gaydon’s Buildings is important in demonstrating the provision of pharmaceutical and dental services in regional Queensland. Established as a chemist and dentist c1894, rebuilt in 1902 and extended in 1911, the building retains important surviving evidence that documents its early and continued use. 

The building is important in showing the development of Childers in the early 20th century and in particular the rebuilding of the south side of the main street in the early 1900s following the 1902 fire.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Gaydon’s Buildings is one of only a few pharmaceutical museums in Australia and is very rare in retaining a high level of its own early fittings, equipment and stock.

Criterion CThe place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Queensland’s history.

Gaydon’s Buildings has the potential to contribute considerably to an understanding of the work of early dispensing chemists, particularly in country towns where they might provide a wide range of services. Analysis of its extensive collection of early fittings, equipment, stock and documentation could be undertaken to address research questions relating to the social and medical aspects of pharmaceutical and related services in early 20th century regional Queensland.   

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Designed by Bundaberg-based architect FH Faircloth, Gaydon’s Buildings is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of early 20th century country town masonry commercial buildings, in particular the awnings, shop fronts with large windows and recessed entrance, lanterns, and overall form. The intact symmetrical front façade (1911) incorporates classical design elements including decorative pediment, parapet, entablature, arched windows and pilasters. The original configuration of two adjoining buildings (built 1902, combined and extended 1911) is evidenced by the double gable roof form, individual shop fronts, rear elevation and internal arrangement with dividing masonry firewall.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

With its elegant, symmetrical composition, incorporating classical elements, Gaydon’s Buildings has aesthetic significance due to its beautiful attributes and contributes to the picturesque appearance of Churchill Street, which is both remarkably architecturally coherent and intact.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

Gaydon’s Buildings has strong associations with the Childers community as a provider of pharmaceutical, dental and photographic services since its establishment in the late 19th century. The subsequent partial use of the building as a pharmaceutical museum run by the community is evidence of its social value to the community.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

Gaydon’s Buildings has a special association with the life and work of Thomas Gaydon, prominent community figure and chemist, dentist, anaesthetist and photographer to the Childers area.


Buildings is one of a row of shops erected in 1902 to the design of Bundaberg architect FH Faircloth, following a fire that destroyed most of the south side of Churchill Street, the main street of Childers. Faircloth was responsible for much of the new building following the fire, the effects of which transformed the appearance of Childers. Extended to two storeys in 1911, the building housed Gaydon’s chemist and dental surgery (established on the site c1894), and several other important services to the town. Dentistry continues to be practiced at the premises and the former chemist, retaining extremely intact contents, became a pharmaceutical museum in 1989.

Childers is located in what was once the heart of the Isis Scrub. Following logging of the dense Scrub in the 1870s, Childers was promoted in the 1880s by Maryborough interests as an agricultural district. The land in the immediate vicinity of the present town of Childers was surveyed in 1882 into 50 acre farm blocks. There was no official town survey; Childers developed following private subdivision at the railhead of the 1887 extension line from Isis Junction. This was opened on 31 October 1887, and was intended principally to facilitate the transport of timber from the scrub.

The coming of the railway not only promoted the development of the town of Childers; it also proved the catalyst for the establishment of a sugar industry in the district in the late 1880s. At the opening of the railway to Childers, Robert Cran, owner of Maryborough's Yengarie mill, announced that he would erect a double crushing juice mill at Doolbi, to supply his mill at Yengarie. This was completed in 1890, with the juice being brought in railway tankers from the Isis. Further expansion of the sugar industry in the Isis was closely related to the activities of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which erected a central crushing mill in the district 1893-94, and began crushing in 1895. By 1895, at least three other mills had been established in the Isis, with another two under construction, and Childers had emerged as the flourishing centre of a substantial sugar-growing district.

Thomas Gaydon arrived in Childers in 1894 and established 'The Isis Pharmacy' on behalf of Thomason Bros Co (Brisbane chemists). Born in Drayton in 1869, Gaydon completed his apprenticeship with JL Hodgson in Toowoomba, and was awarded the College of Pharmacy silver medal upon passing his Pharmacy Board examination in 1890. After several years as a branch manager with Thomason Bros Co, he established their Childers business as one of the first shops in the main street; clearing dense scrub prior to its construction on high ground opposite the post office. The 24ft x 20ft shop carried ‘drugs, patent medicines, toilet requisites and perfumery [and] also a large assortment of horse and cattle medicines’. Gaydon lived on site and the business offered dentistry, in addition to servicing the pharmacy needs of the community ‘at any hour of the day or night’.[1]

The exact date Gaydon assumed ownership of the business is unknown; however, in September 1899, resub 18 of sub 3 of portion 870, was transferred to Thomas Gaydon and William Hood (tobacconist and stationer) as joint tenants. This was probably the land on which their adjoining timber shops were built.

1902 was a very dry year and Childers had no fire brigade. In 23 March, a catastrophic fire swept through the south side of the main street in town, where virtually all the buildings were timber and closely built. Those stores destroyed were: S Oakley, bootmaker; FD Cooper, commission agent; R Graham, fruiterer; ME Gosley, tailor; Foley, hairdresser; M Redmond, Palace Hotel; WB Jones, auctioneer; W Couzens, fruiterer; H Newman, general storekeeper; WJ Overell and Son, general merchants; P Christensen, cabinet maker; W Hood, stationer; T Gaydon, chemist; W Lloyd, hairdresser; Mrs Dunne, fruiterer; Federal Jewellery Company; Dunn Bros, saddlers; H Wegner, bootmaker. The Bundaberg architect FH Faircloth was engaged to redesign new premises and called tenders for the erection of eight brick shops, including Gaydon’s, in June 1902.

Frederic Herbert (Herb) Faircloth was born in Maryborough in 1870 and was a pupil of German-trained Bundaberg architect Anton Hettrich. Faircloth set up his own practice in Bundaberg in 1893 and was very successful, eventually being responsible for the design of almost every major building in Bundaberg. He was also to have a major effect on the appearance and character of Childers.

The new shops were masonry rather than timber, a choice no doubt influenced by the fire, and were elegant single story buildings with large glass shop fronts. Striped curved awnings across the footpath were supported by decorative posts with cast iron infill. Each shop had a separate roof, some lit by lanterns and the individual tenancies were also marked by the visual separation of the facades by the use of classic revival pediments, urns, and balustrades. Gaydon's Buildings with its broken semi-circular pediment matched the adjoining Hood's shop to the west.

In September 1911 the tender of Bundaberg builder WC Horton was accepted to add an upper storey to the building for a new dental chamber and mercantile offices. Faircloth was the architect for the addition.[2] The addition included the narrower adjoining shop to the east, so that a new and larger decorative, symmetrical façade with pediment, parapet, pilasters, and moulded entablature and string courses was created. A photograph dating from around 1913 shows that other tenants, including a bootmaker and the New Zealand Insurance Company, used the eastern side of Gaydon's Buildings. The upper floor was lit by relocated lanterns in the double gable roofs and a pair of large arched compound windows, and so had excellent light for its use as a dental surgery by Thomas Gaydon, who in addition to his work as a pharmacist, also practised as a dentist, photographer and anaesthetist to the local hospital. He was a public spirited man and also served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, School of Arts, hospital and School committees at various times. He was the second chairman of the Isis Shire Council in 1919 and served in this role again between 1924 and 1930.

Changes to Gaydon’s Buildings in the first half of the 20th century included the replacement of the original shopfront awning with a steel suspended awning, and removal of the original posts and brackets c1910s. In 1927 Gaydon added a skillion-roofed darkroom to the rear of the building, for the processing of photographs as an agent for Kodak. The entrance to the eastern shop was remodelled prior to 1948, partially closing in the shop window.[3]

Following the death of Thomas Gaydon in 1935, the property was transferred to his two sons, T. Geoffrey Gaydon (a dentist) and S. Noel Gaydon (a chemist) who both practised from the premises. In 1938 Mervyn G Hooper joined the staff as a chemist and went into partnership with Noel Gaydon in 1956. When Noel Gaydon died in 1966, Hooper continued the business and the property was transferred to his wife in 1973. In 1982 Mervyn Hooper died and the then pharmacy was operated as a gift shop (with all pharmaceutical material retained) by his widow Isbell (known as Isa) Hooper. In 1987 the shop ceased trading and was sold.

The Shire leased the building, after purchasing the contents, catalogued items and carried out conservation work. In 1989 Gaydon’s Pharmacy opened as a pharmaceutical museum with an art gallery on the upper floor. The work undertaken by the Isis Shire Council to prepare the building for use as a museum, tourist office, and gallery received a National Trust of Queensland John Herbert Award for Conservation Action in 1989.

Dentistry continued to be practiced at the premises following the death of Geoffrey Gaydon in 1969: by William Steele, until 1991; Michael Kelly Wiseman, until 1994; and by Dr Brett Phillips, the current building owner. The gallery and tourist office were relocated in 2002, and substantial renovations were undertaken to the dental surgery at that time. The pharmaceutical museum is currently run by the Isis Historical Society and known as the Old Pharmacy, with the building managed in partnership between the current owner and the Bundaberg Regional Council.[4]


Gaydon’s Buildings is a two story masonry building in a row of shops on fronting the south side of Churchill Street, Childers main street. It is a rectangular building with its long axis (north-south) at right angles to the street and has twin gabled roofs, with lanterns, clad in corrugated iron and concealed by a parapet. It incorporates two buildings (rebuilt 1902, combined and extended 1911) separated by a masonry firewall; the pharmaceutical museum (former chemist) to the west is wider than the dental surgery to the east.

The decorative upper front façade is symmetrical and, in common with a number of shops on this side of the street, has classical revival style pilasters, entablature and pediment, with a balustraded parapet topped by urns. The date 1894 is shown in raised letters on the pediment with the name GAYDON’S BLDGS below. The upper floor is also lit by a pair of multi-paned windows with arched heads and moulded architraves to the street and plain double-hung sash windows at the rear. The ground floor shop fronts for the pharmaceutical museum and dental surgery are of varying designs and widths, and have separate entrances. They are shaded by an awning to the street lined with decorative pressed metal.

The rear of the building is facebrick at ground floor and rendered with an ashlar finish to the upper floor. The upper level windows are arranged symmetrically around a centred doorway, which is accessed by timber stairs. Separate rear ground floor doorways access the pharmaceutical museum and dental surgery, which has a one story skillion-roofed extension (1927, former dark room) to the rear.

The ground floor of the pharmaceutical museum interior is laid out with a shop at the front and offices and dispensary area to the rear. The upper floor has been incorporated into the adjacent dental surgery, with openings formed in the dividing masonry wall. The interior is extraordinarily intact and includes partition walls, furniture, fittings, counters, shelving, drawers and their contents and stock. Equipment such as the cash register and dental chair and tools and account and prescription books belonging to (former) Gaydon's Pharmacy are preserved. The whole forms an archive of information on the operation of an early twentieth century pharmacy. 137 items from the Wickham House pharmacy in Brisbane have been added to the collection.

The ground floor of the dental surgery contains a reception / waiting room, administration office, surgery and workshop. The upper floor is accessed internally by an enclosed timber staircase that is located within the pharmaceutical museum. The western side of the upper floor contains a staffroom, records room, bathroom and compressor / suction room; the eastern side contains surgery and consultation rooms. Some early interior stop-chamfered timber stud walls, clad with tongue-and-groove (T&G) timber boards, are retained in the reception (fixed vertically), and staffroom and records room (fixed horizontally).

Ceiling are generally lined with T&G timber boards. The ground floor ceilings feature square timber lattice vents and evidence of the original location of the lanterns, including a pressed metal panel (west side) and a moulded timber frame (east side). The upper floor ceilings feature round timber ventilation roses and centrally positioned roof lanterns (relocated 1911) that are lined with moulded timber (west side, larger) and T&G boards (east side).

Features also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • Views of the building and contribution to the Churchill Street streetscape
  • Two story form of rendered and facebrick masonry construction
  • Evidence of original two building layout
  • Parapeted double-gable roof form, with lanterns
  • Corrugated metal roof sheets
  • Early rainwater heads and downpipes
  • Symmetrically composed upper front façade incorporating classical revival design elements
  • Awning with steel suspension and pressed metal  lining
  • Pharmaceutical museum shop front, including: central recessed entry; timber and glass door (converted to a slider); decorative pilasters; clear-finished timber-framed display windows featuring lead lighting friezes and early signwriting; folding timber doors accessing left window; and mosaic tiled floor
  • Dental surgery shopfront, including: timber-panelled ceiling; recessed entry; painted timber framed shop window, comprising multi / single panes; tiled low-height wall; and decorative pilasters  
  • Pharmaceutical museum interior (ground floor), including: original layout of partition walls; original and early joinery, fixtures, fittings, equipment; stock and documentation; and mosaic tile floor
  • Dental surgery interior, including: areas of original and early layout, evidenced by stop-chamfered timber stud walls with T&G timber board cladding; enclosed internal timber stairs; wall panels with original writing
  • Ceiling finishes and features, including: T&G timber board linings; pressed metal linings; timber lattice and decorative rose ventilators
  • Original and early timber-framed doors and windows, including hardware
  • Early painted finish to glazing of front windows
  • Original and early light fitting and switches
  • Position of rear stairs
  • Skillion-roofed facebrick extension to the rear

Features not of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • Separate toilet block to rear of building
  • Modern signage and associated electrical cabling
  • Aluminium framed windows
  • Modern decals and painting to windows
  • Replacement rear exterior timber stairs
  • Replacement rainwater plumbing
  • All other modern services including security system, lights, fans, air conditioning units and ducts, and solar panels
  • Metal security bars
  • Non-original openings in masonry firewall
  • Timber entrance door into dental surgery
  • Alterations to dental surgery, including: modern part-height partitions (ground floor); reconfigured layout (upper floor, east side); non-original plasterboard partitions (upper floor, west side); and built-in furniture
  • Non-original floor coverings


[1] Converge Heritage + Community, Gaydons Buildings, Childers, Conservation Management Plan for Brett Phillips, February 2018, p3; Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser, 13 July 1894, p3; Queenslander, 29 August 1903, p49.

[2] Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser, 8 September 1911, p.2

[3] Converge Heritage + Community, 2018, pp10-11, 45; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay Burnett Advertiser, 23 May 1927, p17.

[4] Pers Comm, email from owner, Dr Brett Phillips, dated 12 June 2018.   

Image gallery


Location of Gaydon's Buildings within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 January 2016
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