Our streets of in­trigue

There is an in­ter­est­ing story be­hind so many of Townsville’s by­ways, as IAN FRAZER re­ports

Townsville Bulletin - - Weekend Extra -

ARTHUR and Al­fred streets in Aitken­vale hon­our sons of Queen Vic­to­ria, but who were Anne, Pa­trick and Hen­ri­etta?

John Matthew was un­sure of the an­swer when his his­tory of Townsville place names, High­waysandBy­ways, was first pub­lished in 1995, and still has no idea.

The ori­gins of Stag­pole, Percy and Hugh streets, in West End, are sim­i­larly ob­scure, 120 years af­ter be­ing gazetted by the then colo­nial lands de­part­ment.

Mr Matthew, 80, Townsville City Coun­cil’s town plan­ner from 1972 to 1982, has stopped re­search­ing street names since the pub­li­ca­tion of his book.

‘‘I was ap­proached by Thuringowa City Coun­cil, af­ter High­waysandBy­wayscame out, ask­ing if I would do one for them, but I said ‘no thanks’,’’ he said on Wed­nes­day.

‘‘This one ( High­waysand By­ways) took seven years.’’

He has spent the past decade of his re­tire­ment work­ing on a time­line for the city from 1864 to 2004.

He as­sumes Anne St, Pa­trick St and Hen­ri­etta St in Aitken­vale are tes­ti­mony to a de­vel­oper’s whimsy.

Chris­tian names abound in the grid of streets bounded by Leopold, Nathan, Char­lotte and Pa­trick streets in Aitken­vale.

Char­lotte and El­iz­a­beth were daugh­ters of Thomas Aitken, the dairy farmer who first sub­di­vided part of his 3500-acre (1400ha) prop­erty in 1885.

Arthur, Leopold, Beatrice and Al­fred were all off­spring of Al­bert and Vic­to­ria.

Nathan, too, has a con­nec­tion with roy­alty.

Mr Matthew records that Sir Matthew Nathan (1862-1939) was Gov­er­nor of Queens­land from 1920 to 1925, and quotes from the Aus­tralianDic­tionaryof Biog­ra­phythat he con­ducted a ‘dis­creet af­fair’ with Con­stance Spry, au­thor of books on cook­ing and flower ar­rang­ing.

High­waysandBy­wayscon­tains plenty of Townsville minu­tia for quiz night buffs.

For ex­am­ple, the road to the Townsville tip— Vantas­sell St — com­mem­o­rates Miss Gla­dys Van Tas­sell, who made the first as­cent by bal­loon in the Townsville dis­trict from Gul­liver’s Gar­dens, Aca­cia Vale, on Sun­day, June 22, 1890, be­fore alight­ing by para­chute.

Don’t con­fuse Thomas Aitken with Tom Aikens, State MP­for Mund­ing­burra, 1944-1960 and MP for Townsville South, 1960-1977, af­ter whom are named Aikens Park, West End, and the Tom Aikens Over­pass in South Townsville.

The Murray sport­ing fields, be­tween An­nan­dale and Idalia, com­mem­o­rate World War I vet­eran Lt Col Henry William Murray, VC, (1885-1966), while Murray St, North Ward, hon­ours William Henry Murray, son of Townsville al­der­man Ge­orge Murray, who was killed in ac­tion in World War I.

Ex­plor­ers Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills, who died in 1861 on the re­turn leg of their trek from Melbourne to the Gulf, are hon­oured by street names in North Ward and the CBD.

A cou­ple of other North Ward streets re­call Al­fred W. Howitt and John McKin­lay, res­cuers sent to search for the hap­less ex­plor­ers’ party. Howitt found the sole sur­vivor, John King, on Septem­ber 9, 1861.

But the King St link­ing The Strand and Flin­ders St East, be­tween the Cri­te­rion Ho­tel and Reef HQ, is named af­ter the ex­plorer Phillip Parker King (1791-1856), son of Gov­er­nor Philip Gi­d­ley King.

The Lands De­part­ment named Townsville’s ear­li­est streets af­ter land and sea ex­plor­ers.

Hence Den­ham St re­calls the coastal sur­vey­ing feats of Cap­tain Henry Man­gles Den­ham (1800-1887), not the for­mer State Pre­mier Digby Frank Den­ham (1859-1944).

Not that State and lo­cal gov­ern­ment politi­cians are ne­glected, es­pe­cially in South Townsville, Her­mit Park and the east­ern edge of the CBD.

Mer­chant and news­pa­per pro­pri­etor Pa­trick Francis Han­ran (1831-1916) was Mem­ber for Townsville from 1899 to 1909 and served as mayor for nine years and al­der­man for 27 years.

He once had six thor­ough­fares named af­ter him in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Townsville and shire of Thuringowa.

An­thony Og­den, de­scribed in High­waysandBy­waysas a staunch union­ist and tem­per­ance ad­vo­cate, served as mayor from 1924 to 1926.

Palmer St and McIl­wraith St in South Townsville hon­our pre­miers Sir Thomas McIl­wraith (1877-1883, 1888, 1893) and Sir Arthur Hunter Palmer (1870-1874), Macrossan St is a re­minder of long-serv­ing Townsville MPJohn Murtagh Macrossan (1879-1891) and Perkins St harks back to Pa­trick Perkins, the Bris­bane brewer and Mem­ber of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil who in­vented Castle­maine XXXXale.

Ack­ers St, Her­mit Park is named af­ter William Archer Ack­ers, an auc­tion­eer and agent who be­came mayor of Townsville in 1903.

Matthew records that Ack­ers worked in Char­ters Tow­ers as a stock and sta­tion agent be­fore mov­ing to Townsville and that in 1877 he horse­whipped Thadeus O’Kane, ed­i­tor and pro­pri­etor of the North­ernMinerover ‘a scur­rilous pub­li­ca­tion’.

Beat­tie Cres, Vin­cent, hon­ours Ma­jor Francis William Beat­tie, com­man­der of the Townsville com­pa­nies of the Kennedy Reg­i­ment in 1892, not his cel­e­brated name­sake.

And Mooney St, Gul­liver, has noth­ing to do with Mayor Tony Mooney, hav­ing been named af­ter W.L. Mooney, who was killed in ac­tion dur­ing World War II.

Mr Matthew, who lives on the cor­ner of Mooney and Brighton streets, says street nam­ing is a po­ten­tially con­tentious busi­ness.

‘‘Peo­ple write all the time want­ing streets named af­ter them,’’ he said.

In his ex­pe­ri­ence, the coun­cil usu­ally takes th­ese re­quests se­ri­ously.

High­waysandBy­ways, which has been reprinted sev­eral times since 1995, can be bought at the city li­brary for $12.

Photo:EVANMORGAN WJY88961

STREET HIS­TO­RIAN . . . for­mer Townsville City Coun­cil plan­ner John Matthew

Ack­ers

Pa­trick Francis Han­ran

Tom Aikens

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