A three- day ride secures city’s future
Miss Ada Delroy and her company of 12 specially selected star artists will appear in the Theatre Royal next week. Miss Delroy is a sprightly comedienne. She will introduce her new sensation as a danseuse, illustrative of the thrilling scene in Rider Haggard’s novel She, in which the heroine enters the Fire of Life unnecessarily and is consumed. Mr James Bell, as a negro comedian, is well- known in the North, and is described as a champion manipulator of the bones. Other company members are — Zeno and Hall, jugglers; Dr Rowe, in mystery and merriment; Miss Smith, soubrette artist; Bob Hall, “the Grimaldi” of the age and James Hunter, society entertainer. During the week news came through that Lieutenant A H Hogarth had been killed in battle in France on July 18. Deceased was well known, having been manager of the Hampden concern until it was purchased by the Mt Elliott Co, after which he took charge of the Federal mine, which he controlled until resigning to enlist. Deceased went to England, where he gained a commission in the Royal Field Artillery. The death occurred in Brisbane on Monday of a former wellknown Townsville resident, Mrs B M. Doyle, aged 76. She and a sister, Mrs Murphy, of the Grosvenor Hotel, Brisbane, came to Queensland from Ireland as girls. Mrs Doyle conducted hotels at Mt Morgan and Rockhampton before coming to Townsville more than 20 years ago to take over the Queensland Hotel, which she conducted until three years ago. She is survived by two sons, Peter ( Townsville) and Jim ( Emerald), and four daughters, Mrs Clinton Smelt ( Maryborough), Mrs M McHugh, Mrs Murphy and Mrs O’Neill, all of Brisbane. of Ross Creek for his company, J M Black and Co, a joint partnership with ageing Sydney tycoon Captain Robert Towns.
Together they held a vast expanse of land around the Cleveland Bay, secured since 1861 for grazing and agriculture.
The enigmatic and energetic Black, founder of the Theatre Royal in Melbourne in 1855, surveyed land along Ross Creek and occupied the hill later named in his honour well before the arrival of government surveyor Clarendon Stuart.
In September, 1864, Black and Co had advised Brisbane bureaucrats of their discovery of a potential port site, `` with land high and dry and wellsuited for a township and the road to the interior available for immediate use’’.
But Black and Towns were unhappy with the government’s decision in October, 1864, to establish the port by surveying and auctioning town blocks of nominally Crown land they had already occupied and roughly developed.
Black responded by furiously clearing and building along the track that became Flinders St East, assisted from January 1865 by carpenter Francis Charles Hodel and 10 South Sea Islands’ labourers — apparently from Towns’ Logan district plantation.
In February, 1865, when surveyor Stuart eventually arrived, Black persuaded him to use the grid pattern of streets in Black and Co’s town plan as a template for the official plan.
Stuart seems to have gone with the flow, having found buildings on almost all of Black’s allotments. But Dr Dorothy Gibson- Wilde suggests in her history Gateway to a Golden Land that Black probably bribed Stuart to use his plan, by offering to secure him three building blocks at the land sale, scheduled a few months later.
Stuart subsequently issued the `` Plan of the Town of Townsville, Cleveland Bay’’, formalising Surveyor- General Sir Augustus Gregory’s decision to name the new port in honour of Robert Towns.
Black arrived in Bowen in time for the July 31 auction. He was the leading purchaser, still complaining bitterly of paying dearly for land he had improved, unmoved by the government’s grant of two valuable allotments.
The sale of 69 blocks yielded the colony £ 4139.
`` The people were Cleveland Bay mad and were determined to purchase not withstanding the valuations,’’ he wrote later to Towns.
A month later Bowen’s Port Denison Times observed Townsville had the makings of a thriving township.
Black became the town’s first mayor in 1866 and left for England in 1867, later to forge a successful career as owner of a railway ticket printing company.
John Melton Black's residence, the first house built in Townsville, photographed c. 1870, five years
after its construction.