Treasury of photos from Brisbane’s early years, donated to QUT by local family

A wealth of photos shows how much Brisbane has changed over the past century.

The images, 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 the photos of her mother and grandfather.

The family albums and slide boxes contain over 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 an instant from Mt Coot-tha in 1954, before today’s soaring towers.

View of Brisbane City from Mouth Coot-tha.
View of Brisbane from Mount Coot-tha in 1954.Delivered: Jack Bain
Brisbane City from Mt Coot-tha.
View of Brisbane City from Mt Coot-tha in 2022.ABC News: Alexander Lewis

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

Instead of condominiums and office buildings, wharves and warehouses enclosed the river.

But the building with the red roof at the bottom of the frame is still there.

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

Eagle Street Pier 1965.
Looking past Petrie Bight with the old Eagle Street Wharves, towards Brisbane City from the Story Bridge, December 1965.Delivered: Jack Bain
Eagle Street Pier.
Eagle Street Pier in 2022.ABC News: Alexander Lewis

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

Queen Street 1960.
Queen Street in 1960.Delivered: Jack Bain
Queen Street 2022.
Koninginnestraat in 2022.ABC News: Alexander Lewis

The King George Square from the fifties is barely recognizable.

Among the many changes, the statue of its namesake on horseback has been moved.

King George Square, Brisbane, 1954.
King George Square, Brisbane, 1954.Delivered: Jack Bain
Koning Georgeplein 2022.
King George Square in 2022.ABC News: Alexander Lewis

Anzac Square hasn’t changed that much. The sandstone war memorial still stands in front of Central Station, but is now overshadowed by skyscrapers.

ANZAC Square, looking towards Central Station, Brisbane 1930
ANZAC Square, looking towards Central Station in 1930.Delivered: Jack Bain
Anzac Square 2022.
Anzac Square in 2022.ABC News: Alexander Lewis

Although the porte cochère in Parliament House looks old-fashioned, it was not finished until 1982.

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

Queensland Parliament Building 1972. O'Gorman, Cynthia
Queensland Parliament Building in 1972.Provided: Cynthia O’Gorman
Queensland Parliament Building, 2022.
Queensland Parliament Building in 2022.ABC News: Alexander Lewis

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

Jacarandas and roses continue to color New Farm Park.

New Fark Park, Brisbane, October 1972. O'Gorman, Cynthia.
New Fark Park in October 1972.Provided: Cynthia O’Gorman

The photos were taken by amateur photographer Jack Bain and his daughter Cynthia O’Gorman.

Jack Bain on a motorcycle (left) and daughter Cynthia O'Gorman playing with a dolphin (right)
Photographer Jack Bain in 1926 (left) and his daughter Cynthia O’Gorman (right).Included: QUT Media

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

Lyndal said her grandfather spent most of his life working as a bank clerk in Brisbane.

Jill Rogers (left) and Dr Lyndal O'Gorman (right).
QUT Digital Collections librarian Jill Rogers (left) and Dr. Lyndal O’Gorman (right), academic and photo donor to QUT.Included: QUT Media

“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.

Today it would take a brave person to swim in the ‘Brown Serpent’. But in a 1928 photo, Mr. Bain looks unfazed as he pushes a rowboat into the Brisbane River.

Swimming and canoeing in Brisbane River 1928.
People swim and canoe in the Brisbane River in 1928.Delivered

But he was well out of the water in 1965, when he captured the explosion of a canal at Seventeen Mile Rocks.

The explosions were intended to make it easier for steamers to pass between Brisbane and Ipswich.

A crowd watched as a beam of jet shot into the sky.

Destroying River Channel, Seventeen Mile Rocks.
As a result of pressure from the gravel and coal industry in the area in 1965, explosions were carried out in the Brisbane River so that ships could pass more freely.Delivered: Jack Bain

Bain captured momentous occasions such as the Brisbane CBD which was decorated for Queen Elizabeth’s first visit to Brisbane in 1954.

The monarch celebrated 70 years on the throne this week.

Decorated buildings in Queen Street for Queen Elizabeth's first royal visit to Brisbane, 1954.
Decorated buildings on Queen Street for Queen Elizabeth’s first royal visit to Brisbane in 1954.Delivered: Jack Bain

While Mr Bain and Mrs O’Gorman have passed away, their photography will live on in the digital collections of the QUT, a legacy of Queensland history for generations to enjoy.

Posted 1 hour ago1 hour agoFri 10 Jun 2022 at 21:26† updated 56m ago56 minutes agoFri, June 10, 2022 at 9:46 PM