Treasure trove of photographs of Brisbane's early years donated to QUT by local family

Treasure trove of photographs of Brisbane's early years donated to QUT by local family

Treasure trove of photographs of Brisbane's early years donated to QUT by local family

2 August, 2022

A treasure trove of photographs reveals just how much Brisbane has changed over the past century.

The images, which are part of a new collection released by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), were donated to the university by a local family.

Lyndal O'Gorman, daughter of one of the photographers, Cynthia O'Gorman, handed over her mother's and grandfather's photographs.

The family's albums and slide boxes contained more than 100,000 images.

They include iconic Brisbane locations, including the river, New Farm Park and Eagle Street Pier.

A much flatter city skyline was captured in a snap from Mt Coot-tha in 1954, before the tall towers of today.

The view towards Eagle Street Pier from the Story Bridge was very different in 1965.

Instead of apartment blocks and office buildings, wharves and warehouses hugged the river.

But the red-roofed building at the bottom of the frame is still there.

Originally offices for shipping company Howard Smith Ltd, it is now a restaurant.

Even in the 1960s, Queen Street was a major shopping hub — except then you could drive or catch a tram along the strip until it was turned into a pedestrian mall in the 1980s.

The King George Square of the 1950s is barely recognizable.

Among the many changes, the statue depicting its namesake on horseback has been relocated.

Anzac Square hasn't changed as much. The sandstone war memorial still stands in front of Central Station but is now dwarfed by skyscrapers.

While the porte cochère at Parliament House looks old-fashioned, it wasn't finished until 1982.

The sandstone is a lighter shade than the main structure and the metal roofs have developed a patina.

Some places look pretty much the same as they did 50 years ago.

Jacarandas and roses continue to color New Farm Park.

The pictures were taken by amateur photographer Jack Bain and his daughter Cynthia O'Gorman.

So far, more than 500 have been scanned and made available for public viewing on QUT's website.

Lyndal said her grandfather worked as a bank teller in Brisbane for most of his life.

"He didn't like it, he didn't enjoy it, but it was a reliable job. I think photography was an escape for him," she said.

"He was always interested in technology and machines and in what cameras and photography could do and he was interested in documenting buildings and architecture."

Nowadays it would take a brave person to swim in the 'Brown Snake'. But in a 1928 snap, Mr. Bain looks unfazed, as he pushes a rowboat in the Brisbane River.

But he was well clear of the water in 1965 when he captured the blasting of a channel at Seventeen Mile Rocks.

The explosions were to allow easier passage for steamers between Brisbane and Ipswich.

A crowd watched as a column of spray shot into the sky.

Mr. Bain captured momentous occasions, such as Brisbane's CBD decorated for Queen Elizabeth's first visit to Brisbane in 1954.

The monarch marked 70 years on the throne this week.

While Mr. Bain and Ms. O'Gorman have died, their photography will live on in the QUT's digital collections, a legacy of Queensland history for generations to enjoy.