Toowong Memorial Park | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

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Toowong Memorial Park

  • 602459
  • 65 Sylvan Road, Toowong

General

Also known as
Toowong Cenotaph; Toowong Soldiers' Memorial
Classification
State Heritage
Register status
Entered
Date entered
4 September 2007
Types
Monuments and memorials: Memorial/monument
Parks/gardens/trees: Public park/reserve
Theme
8.6 Creating social and cultural institutions: Commemorating significant events
Construction period
unknown

Location

Address
65 Sylvan Road, Toowong
LGA
Brisbane City Council
Coordinates
-27.4798798, 152.994183

Map

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Significance

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

War Memorials are important in demonstrating the pattern of Queensland's history as they are representative of a recurrent theme that involved most communities throughout the state. They provide evidence of an era of widespread Australian patriotism and nationalism, particularly during and following the First World War. The Memorial Gates, Soldiers Memorial, and avenues of trees, created between 1918 and 1922, are important aspects of the park, demonstrating the theme of remembrance and establishing the layout of the park. They are representative of the process of grieving that was occurring across not only Toowong, but also Queensland and Australia at that time. After the First World War, Toowong Town Council, like most Queensland communities, erected a public memorial to honour local participation in the war.

Toowong Memorial Park is also representative of the importance of sport and recreation in Queensland's history as demonstrated through the sporting ovals and Girl Guide and Scouts Huts.

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

The memorial gates in Toowong Memorial Park are a type of commemorative structure uncommon in Queensland.

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

A public park since 1918 and a memorial park since 1922, Toowong Memorial Park is important as an intact example demonstrating early twentieth century ideals and designs for the layout of such places. Elements within the park include sporting ovals and clubhouses, a Girl Guide hut and Scouts' hut, Memorial Gates, the Soldiers' Memorial and avenues of palm trees, avenues of pines, and native trees, which demonstrate the use of the park for recreational and memorial purposes.

The Memorial Gates and Soldiers' Memorial are commemorative structures erected as a record of the local impact of a major historical event, and are good examples of their type. Memorial gates are also a less common type of commemorative structure.

The Soldiers' Memorial is also a fine example of the early work of prize winning architect George Rae, who was only 21 years of age at the time, and the craftsmanship of the Brisbane masonry firm, AL Petrie and Son.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Toowong Memorial Park is important for its aesthetic values as it provides a pleasant vista of open, green space in the otherwise densely populated Toowong landscape. The elements within the park are also important for their aesthetic qualities. The memorial gates provide a dignified entrance and display high quality workmanship and design. The Soldiers' Memorial's elevated position and craftsmanship, make a significant contribution to the park's aesthetic value. The abundance of trees, including mature figs and palms, interspersed with open sporting areas, provide for pleasing vistas within the park.

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

Toowong Memorial Park is important as a community landmark, which has been continuously used by the people of Toowong for a variety of social, recreational and memorial functions since 2018. The park, memorial gates and Soldiers' Memorial were commissioned by the Toowong Town Council and are important as a place for remembering the participation and deaths of local Toowong residents in the First World War, and as evidence of the impact of a major historic event. Anzac Day dawn services are conducted at the Soldier’s Memorial each year. The Soldier’s Memorial is a place of quiet reflection surrounded by the trees planted by bereaved families. The avenues of palms are also significant for their commemorative function. The park has a long history of use by sporting groups, Girl Guide and Scout groups and strong, ongoing association with the local community, and its aesthetic contribution to the Toowong townscape.

History

Toowong Park is an 8.99ha park formed on land resumed from private owners in 1914-5 and was allocated as a park in 1918 by Toowong Town Council. Memorial Gates and a Memorial Avenue of trees were added that year and following the dedication of the Toowong Soldiers' Memorial in the park in 1922, it became known as the Toowong Memorial Park. Since this time, Toowong Memorial Park has been important to the community as a central venue for Anzac Day ceremonies, organised and informal sports, and other recreational activities.

The Toowong area (then known as West Milton), was surveyed and divided into several large estates in 1850. In its early days the Toowong area was an upper-middle class suburb, consisting of detached 'villas' on large allotments and made popular by its proximity to the central business district. The opening of the Brisbane to Indooroopilly railway line and Toowong station in 1875 triggered a period of rapid development and a large number of shops and houses were established for the increasing number of residents. In 1880 Toowong's first local authority was elected, the Toowong Divisional Board. However, on 30 May 1880 the area was regrouped and the Shire of Toowong was formed. By the end of the nineteenth century, a large amount of the land surrounding many of the early grand homes had been subdivided into estates. Following sustained growth, on the 19 August 1903, the area was declared the Town of Toowong under the provisions of the Local Authorities Act 1902, and the tram lines were extended to the Toowong Cemetery in the same year. In addition to many other achievements during its time, Toowong Town Council was successful in its focus on securing numerous land allotments for recreational use.

Despite the large number of subdivisions that occurred during the latter half of the 19th century, a map from 1895 shows the parcel of land bounded by Sylvan Road, Dixon Street and the railway line to retain large allotments. These allotments were resumed,[1] and on 7 September 1918, Toowong Town Council declared the land a park reserve, to be known as Toowong Park. When Toowong was amalgamated to become part of Greater Brisbane in 1925, management of the park passed to Brisbane City Council.

Australia's involvement in the First World War exacted a heavy toll in death and injury. Of a relatively small population of about five million people, 60 000 service people were killed and 152 000 wounded. The outpouring of grief in Australia that accompanied these deaths, and the fact that the dead were buried overseas, led to a period of memorial building across the nation and residents of Toowong were quick to commemorate their soldiers by rededicating Toowong Park as Toowong Memorial Park and erecting a number of memorial features.

The park's Memorial Gates were erected to mark both the official opening of the park on 7 September 1918, and to honour the more than 400[2] people from the local community who enlisted during the First World War. They were originally located closer to the centre of the Sylvan Road perimeter; and were moved to their current location near the southeast corner of the park in 1959. At the opening ceremony, nearly 350 trees were planted in the park to honour the soldiers.[3] Relatives of deceased soldiers were asked to plant a tree within the park in memory. Each tree had a plaque affixed and inscribed with the soldier’s name.[4] In September 1918, a commemorative avenue of palms was planted in the park running north from the intersection of Sylvan Road and Bennet Street. At the same time, an avenue of ‘Norfolk Island’ pines (Araucaria heterophylla; however, these may have been hoop pines, Araucaria cunninghamii) was planted from Dixon Street running south.[5] These would form north and south avenues to a planned central memorial.[6]

In 1919 a competition was held to design a memorial for the park. It was won by a young Scottish draftsman, George Rae, who worked in the Brisbane office of renowned architect Lange Powell. The work on the memorial was carried out by Andrew L Petrie Monumental Works, who were the largest monumental masonry firm in Queensland at this time. The firm was also responsible for many other First World War memorials throughout Queensland. The memorial cost £700 and was financed by public fundraising.

The new memorial was known as the Toowong Soldiers' Memorial and was located on a prominent hill within the park. It was unveiled by Governor Sir Matthew Nathan on 2 July 1922. Following the opening of the memorial, the park became known as Toowong Memorial Park. Recorded on marble tablets affixed to the memorial are the names of 101 residents of the Town of Toowong who were killed in in the First World War.[7] In April 1993, the Toowong sub-branch RSL dedicated another memorial cairn, located just inside the Memorial Gates on Sylvan Road, intended as the new location for Anzac Day ceremonies. In the same year, part of the Memorial Avenue of palms was relocated to allow completion of a second oval rugby union oval. The Memorial Avenue remains in this alignment, leading toward the RSL memorial from the car park entrance of the park with a small length in its original alignment near the centre of the park. On Anzac Day, processions continue to march along this avenue and gather at the new memorial for the Dawn Service.

The park provides an open space for community activities, recreational pastimes and organised sport, a tradition which is continued today. In its early days, the park was the venue for the annual Sunday School picnics, and the Methodist inter-church children's sporting competitions. In 1919, Toowong Council celebrated the signing of the peace treaty at Versailles by throwing a picnic for the local children in the park. More recently, the park has also been home to local Girl Guide and Scout groups, and the former headquarters of both remain in the park.

One of the earliest sporting facilities associated with the park was the Auchenflower Bowls Club, established on Bayliss Street in 1920. The club was sold in 2003 and demolished to make way for townhouses. Part of the land which protruded into the north-west perimeter of the park was resumed by Brisbane City Council. Originally known as the Toowong Rugby Club, the Western Districts Rugby Football Club, formed in 1960, is the only remaining sporting club to still use the park. Wests Junior Rugby Union Club was formed in 1966 and in 1968 a clubhouse was opened. In 1994 the first Women's team was formed. Sharing the grounds until 1999 was the Toowong Cricket Club, also originally established as a section of the Toowong Amateur Recreation Club in 1948. The Toowong Harriers, one of the oldest athletic clubs in Queensland also used the park during the early 1970s. The park is also home a basketball stadium (formerly known as the Vince Hickey Stadium) and neighbouring public half-court. The stadium was used to host the 1994 World Masters Games, and has also been a venue for the Australian Basketball Championships. It is still currently used for Brisbane Basketball League games. In 2017 a new large clubhouse and car park were built and the oval was reconfigured.

The Toowong Memorial Park enjoys regular patronage from the Brisbane public for both sporting and recreational purposes and is utilised by the Toowong Returned and Services League to conduct remembrance ceremonies throughout the year.

Description

Toowong Memorial Park is an 8.99ha site bounded by Sylvan Road on the south, the Brisbane-Ipswich railway line on the east, Dixon Street on the north, and houses and Park Lane on the west.

Features of state-level cultural heritage significance are:

  • Open grassed and treed park landscape
  • Large grass sports fields
  • Memorial Gates (1918), Sylvan Road
  • Memorial Avenue of Palms (planted from 1918 and some moved to form new avenue in 1993) and Remnants of Memorial Avenue of Pines
  • Soldiers Memorial (1922)
  • Mature fig trees between the two football fields of the southern flat area (part by 1946 and part by 1960)
  • Mature fig trees bordering Sylvan Road (by 1946)
  • Toowong Scout Hall building standing near Sylvan Road and rail line
  • Former Auchenflower Girl Guides Hut building standing near Park Lane

Landscape and layout

The park is a well-maintained landscape of manicured grass with lightly wooded areas and open spaces. A high stony ridge runs through its centre, approximately from southeast to northwest and at its highest point and roughly central in the park stands the Soldiers Memorial. North of the ridge, the park is lightly wooded and slopes gently down to a flat area near Dixon Street. South of the ridge the ground falls more quickly down and is mostly open, accommodating two large grass football fields, a long stand of mature fig trees between fields and bordering Sylvan Road, a Memorial Gate on Sylvan Road, and two sections of a memorial avenue of palms.

Memorial Gates, Sylvan Road (in this location since 1959)

The Memorial Gates comprise a pair of face brick piers with moulded caps and finials, supporting a set of decorative wrought iron gates.

Features also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • Marble plaques on piers, one commemorating the park in honour of those Toowong people enlisted in World War I and one listing Toowong’s aldermen in 1918
  • War memorial stone standing behind gates (added here in 1993) on concrete base with encircling low stone wall and steps

Features not of state-level cultural heritage significance are:

  • Pavers around gates

Memorial Avenue of Palms

The Memorial Avenue of Palms comprises two disconnected stretches, one in its original location, and one removed and replanted (1993). The avenue begins at its original location opposite the intersection of Sylvan Road and Bennet Street and immediately curves west (away from its original north direction). This non-original stretch ends at the main vehicle entrance into the park from Sylvan Road. The short second stretch is original and is roughly central to the park and north of the avenue’s beginning. Both avenues comprise closely and evenly-spaced palms on both sides passing through a field of manicured grass. The end of the original avenue is at the base of the slope leading to the Soldiers Memorial.

Remnants of Memorial Avenue of Pines

The Remnants of the Memorial Avenue of Pines is not well-defined and other trees and structures have been added to interrupt it. However, some semi-mature pines are in an early alignment  on the northern slope running between Dixon Street and toward the Soldiers Memorial.

Soldiers Memorial

The Soldiers Memorial is a 12m tall stone column on a 5.75m high square, stepped stone base surrounded by a low palisade enclosure. It stands in a large manicured grass area capable of accommodating memorial service crowds, which is encircled by palm trees.

Features also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • Palisade enclosure, comprising 12 stone piers, metal chain swags, marble plaque on eastern pier of southern opening listing people responsible for the monument’s construction
  • Monument comprising Helidon freestone base and column, Queensland marble drinking fountain, marble slabs with lead letters listing names of the enlisted
  • Striking views from lower park landscape up to monument and encircling palm trees silhouetted against sky with an absence of other built elements
  • Distant views to Mount Coot-tha from area around monument

Features not of state-level cultural heritage significance are:

  • Pavers around monument base and lights
  • Concrete path leading to monument

Mature Fig Trees

The Mature Fig Trees stand between the two sports fields of the southern flats.

Features of Toowong Memorial Park Not of State-Level Cultural Heritage Significance

Features of Toowong Memorial Park not of state-level cultural heritage significance are:

  • Football clubhouse (2017) and associated structures, concrete retaining walls, car park, and road
  • Football posts and other associated equipment
  • Basketball stadium complex and associated car park standing near Dixon Street
  • Playground equipment and shade structures
  • Public toilet block standing near Sylvan Road
  • Park furniture, park facilities, and open-sided shelters
  • Concrete paths
  • Stone retaining wall and chainwire fence along Sylvan Road and
  • All other structures, signs, gates, and fences

References

[1] Certificates of Title, Nos 100448, 212485, 211411, 212463, 212240, 214110, 120446, 203377 and 223790.
[2] The official number of Toowong residents who enlisted is unknown. Contemporary newspapers reported the number at 400 (Brisbane Courier 8 February 1919 p14) or around 500 (Daily Mail 4 April 1922 p4). Space was provided in the park for 400 trees (Daily Standard 27 August 1918 p2, Queenslander 14 September 1918 p29)
[3] Daily Standard 9 September 1918 p3.
[4] Telegraph 22 June 1918 p10, Daily Mail 26 June 1918 p7, Daily Standard 27 August 1918 p2, Brisbane Courier 4 September 1918 p9; Brisbane Courier 4 September 1918 p9; Queenslander 14 September 1918 pp28-29; Daily Standard 9 September 1918 p3. The plaques were described as were described as ‘metal’ in 1933 (Brisbane Courier 19 May 1933 p18) and ‘galvanised iron’ in 1939 (Courier Mail 29 August 1939 p7).
[5] Tree species mentioned at the 1918 planting ceremony were: an avenue of Norfolk pines; an avenue of palms; and weeping figs, jacaranda, Poinciana, ‘Moreton Bay chestnuts’ and palms encircling the park (Telegraph 9 September 1918 p5; Daily Standard 9 September 1918 p3). Contemporary sources do not refer to the planting of a callitris as a lone pine, but Brisbane City Council planted an unspecified number of  deciduous cypress in the park in 1950 (Brisbane Telegraph 19 June 1950 p18).
[6] Telegraph 2 May 1918 p5 and 9 September 1918 p5.
[7] Brisbane Courier 4 August 1919 p8, The Week 6 July 1922 p15.

Image gallery

Location

Location of Toowong Memorial Park within Queensland
Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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