This month I’m taking part in Movember for the fifth time, and this year I decided to share a history of Brisbane by presenting the former Mayors of the city, some with very interesting facial hair.

If you haven’t heard about #Movember yet, I’ll quickly explain you. Movember Foundation is a charity organisation created in Melbourne in 2003 by two mates. Their mission is to stop men dying too young by funding programs all over the world to accelerate health outcomes for men living with prostate and testicular cancer. Every year more and more people joins the challenge and grow a moustache (men) for a month or support in a different way (women).

Plan of Brisbane Town 1859 [BCC-B54-1064]

This month I will present Mayors of Brisbane from years 1859-1903 – the times of Brisbane Town.

A brief history of the Brisbane local government.

“The Municipality of Brisbane was proclaimed by the Governor of New South Wales in 1859. It was the first local government area in Queensland and Brisbane was the only one incorporated prior to the establishment of Queensland as a separate colony. The Local Authorities Act 1902 consolidated local government and established two classes: Towns and Shires, with the additional provision for Towns to be proclaimed as Cities. Accordingly, Brisbane municipality was proclaimed a city from the date of commencement of the Act, 31 March 1903, and its governing body became the City of Brisbane. Another change in Brisbane’s structure was when The City of Brisbane Act 1924 received assent from the Governor on 30 October 1924. On 1 October 1925, 20 local government areas of various sizes were abolished and merged into the new city.”

Image: “Signed photograph of John Petrie”, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Undated, Negative number: 17153 via Trove

I start with the first Mayor of Brisbane – John Petrie. Born in 1822 in Edinburgh arrived in Australia in 1831 and few years later in 1837 moved with his family to Moreton Bay. He won the first municipal election in 1859 when the town of Brisbane was proclaimed and was also reelected 2 times. He was associated with the Enoggera Creek scheme – the second major dam built in Australia. His building company was responsible for many early Brisbane buildings. These include the Supreme Court, part of St John’s Pro-cathedral and the gaol at Petrie Terrace, all now demolished, and Roma Street Railway Station, the William Street wing of the former Government Printing Office and the Customs House.

[sources: Friends of Toowong Cemetery, Australian Dictionary of Biography]

Image: “Thomas Blacket Stephens, 1867”, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Negative number: 60029 via Trove

Thomas Blacket Stephens (1819-1877) was born in England and arrived in Sydney in 1849. Attracted by the growth of Moreton Bay (now Brisbane), he moved there in January 1853, and established a wool-scour and fellmongery near Cleveland. About 1863 the business was transferred nearer town to a site called by the Aboriginals Yee-keb-in, now the suburb of Ekibin (you can read about it in my posts about Annerley and Stephens Shire). When he added a tannery the enterprise became one of the largest of its type in the colony. When Brisbane was incorporated he became an alderman for South Brisbane and advocated the development of the area. He initiated the first bridge linking the north and south of the city. He served on a committee to establish water-works and advocated building a town hall. In 1862 he became Brisbane’s second mayor.

[sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography]

Please, check my next post with more biographies.

Written by Maciek

Hi, I am passionate about history. I love discovering new places and learning their story. Wherever I go I find myself curious about stories behind buildings and places I see. At Everywhere History I’m sharing fascinating stories hidden behind buildings and places you’re passing by everyday.