Holmside, Sherwood

Holmside was most likely built in the early twentieth century and the Welch family were its first occupants. Although a fascinating house, it was frustrating to research because I couldn't determine the exact date of construction!

The Land

On 13 June 1860, under the sale of Crown land in the newly formed state of Queensland, Arnold Wienholt purchased 82 acres for a pound an acre. This land was described as Portion 24, Parish of Oxley, County of Stanley and was part of a colonial leasehold sheep and cattle property, which had been owned by Captain Thomas Boyland and was known as Boyland's Pocket. Wienholt also purchased the adjacent 55 acre, Portion 22 to the north. Arnold Wienholt was a pastoralist and politician from near Maryvale in Queensland. He was born in 1826 at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Wales and immigrated to Australia in about 1847. He purchased the properties Maryvale in 1849 and Gladfield in 1852, both on the Darling Downs, and built them into two of the finest Clydesdale studs in Australia. With his holdings on the Darling Downs to manage, Wienholt does not appear to ever have lived on his land in Brisbane, so it was most likely purchased as an investment or as additional farming land. He was either a very astute buyer, or very lucky, as on 5 October 1874 the railway line between Ipswich and Oxley West (now Sherwood) opened and was extended to Oxley Point (now Chelmer) the following year, running along the eastern side of both his blocks of land. This would have increased the value of the land dramatically and he may have even sold a portion of his land for the construction of the railway.

1885 map showing Wienholt's land between the railway line and Brisbane River at Sherwood.

Access to Oxley West was further improved when the rail connection between Ipswich and Brisbane was fully linked with the opening of the Albert Bridge at Indooroopilly in 1876. Prior to this a ferry had transported train passengers across the Brisbane River. Following the arrival of the railway, a few housing estates were developed around the area, but it remained largely farm land. However, in the 1880s, a land boom saw the development of housing estates all over Brisbane, but particularly along the already established railway lines. In 1885, the township of Sherwood Estate, on the eastern side of the Brisbane to Ipswich railway and alongside the South Brisbane branch line, was offered for sale.

The name Sherwood most likely came from the name of an early farm in the district. The township was being referred to by this name from at least as early as 1873 but was officially changed from Oxley West to Sherwood around 1878. Following the sustained growth of the area, in 1891 it was formed into the separate shire of Sherwood, before being amalgamated to become part of the Greater Brisbane Council in 1925. It remained a desirable residential suburb and estate developments continued throughout the 1920s, including the “Sherwood Station Estate”, alongside the Sherwood Railway Station, which was being advertised in 1928.

Real estate flyer advertising the sale of The Township of Sherwood Estate in 1885.

Flyer advertising the sale of Sherwood Park Estate, 1912.

Wienholt retained his land at Sherwood until 1888, when he subdivided and sold a large chunk of it to the Queensland Deposit Bank and Building Society. This land covered fifty seven acres and eighteen perches and comprised of subdivision 4 of Portions 22 and 24 in the Parish of Oxley. Wienholt no doubt made an enormous profit on his original £82. Today's Wienholt Street in Sherwood commemorates his ownership.

The Queensland Deposit Bank and Building Society Limited (QDB&BS) was formed in 1863, and by the late 1880s was capitalising on this Queensland economic boom and associated demand for houses. This organisation was involved in land speculation and development, where large tracts of land were purchased, subdivided, developed into residential housing estates and re-sold to their shareholders. Wienholt's land was purchased for this purpose. In addition to Sherwood, the QDB&BS also developed estates in many other locations around Brisbane, including Norman Park, Toowong, Indooroopilly, Alderley and Bardon.

The QDB&BS also lent money “on long and easy terms of payment”, in the form of mortgages to pay for just the land, or the land and the construction of a house. The style of house could be chosen from a selection of stock designs by the Society’s architect, or could be custom designed. The loans could be secured with a comparatively small deposit for the time (10%) and the society also allowed people to build their houses before the land was paid for, which, unlike today, appears to have been uncommon at the time. These types of societies therefore allowed working class men and women, and others without the up-front capital, to eventually own their own house. This made home ownership achievable to a much wider section of the population then ever before.

The cover of an 1887 Queensland Deposit Bank and Building Society catalogue. The catalogue contains a description of how they operate and a selection of house designs for people to choose from.

The QDB&BS land at Sherwood appears to have been divided up into a grid of 16 perch allotments almost immediately, as the first sale of “Sherwood Park Estate” occurred in April 1887. After an initial rush, sales appear to have continued steadily over the next 15 years. Interestingly, many of the sales appear to be to women. This may relate to special arrangements the QDB&BS had with The Australian Widows’ Fund Life Assurance Society, Ltd., or was perhaps just because the building society loan terms made housing affordable to single or widowed women in general.

Ad for the Australian Widows' Fund from the 1887 QDB&BS prospectus. Did they convince recently widowed women collecting life insurance payments to invest in their new estates?

The House and Families

In 1907, Ernest Walter Hargreaves purchased subdivisions 12 and 13 of the Sherwood Park Estate from the QDB&BS. In August of the following year, sub 13 is transferred back to the building society, but it is unclear why. Hargreaves is recorded as living on Station Street in 1908 and 1909 however, so this would suggest he had a house built on his remaining subdivision 12.

In 1912, advertising of the estate was recommenced, when a second section of the estate was opened up. Stephen Robert Welch purchased sub 13 and subs 14 - 17 in 1916. Allotments  14 - 17 had not been sold previously and were purchased directly from the bank by Stephen. This suggests that no one had built a house here before this date, although this could not be confirmed. As remains the case today, this large block of land had frontages to both Jordan and Station Streets. Station Street was renamed Marlborough Street in the 1930s, when Brisbane City Council changed the names of many streets with common names to reduce the number of duplicates.


Newspaper advertisement for Sherwood Park Estate, August 1912.

Usually building would have commenced shortly after the land was purchased, giving a construction date of around 1916. However, on a 1912 real estate flyer, advertising the sale of the adjacent “Sherwood Park Estate” (the land between Prospect and Hill streets), a “Mrs. Welch” is recorded on Station Street, indicating that she already lived here by this date. Annie Welch and her son, Leslie Wilson Welch, are recorded as living in Sherwood and Station Street Sherwood, respectively, on the Australian Electoral Roll from 1913. This confirms their residence prior to 1916. Unfortunately, no records for their location between 1905 and 1913 could be found, so the exact date they started living there is unknown. It is possible that she was renting an existing house and her husband later purchased it along with the land in 1916. If this was the case, the house may have been built at any time before this by the building society, possibly as a display home, and then rented out. If the house remains in the original location, this would have had to have happened after lot 13 was returned to the bank from Ernest Walter Hargreaves in 1908. Another explanation is that they may have borrowed money from the society to purchase the land and built a house around 1912, but the land wasn’t formally transferred into Stephen Robert Welch until the loan to the building society was fully repaid in 1916. It is also curious that although Stephen purchased the land, he never seems to live there with his wife and family.

Detail of Sherwood Park Estate Flyer from 1912, showing Mrs Welch already living between Jordan and Station Streets.

Extract from the 1913 Australian Electoral Roll for the Division of Oxley, showing Annie and Leslie Wilson Welch living at Sherwood.

The architectural style of a house can often be used to estimate the era of construction, however it is difficult to obtain a narrow date range as designs remained popular a long time after they first appeared. The style and method of construction of Holmside supports a construction date anywhere from the late 1890s to the early 1920s, so is not of much assistance in narrowing the date down further. It is not exactly the same as any of the designs shown in the 1887 QDB&BS prospectus, but it is similar to one. The QDB&BS may have offered the same house designs for a long period of time, with only small variations as a concession to changing fashions. Alternatively, it may have been a custom design for the family, who preferred a more traditional styled house.

A similar house design to Holmside from the 1887 Queensland Deposit Bank and Building Society catalogue.

Therefore, combining all this evidence leads to the conclusion that the house was most likely built between 1908 and 1912. Alternatively, the house could be earlier if it was built across subs 14 - 17 by the QDB&BS as a display home and then was later moved sideways to subs 13 and 14. My gut instinct and experience tells me that the latter date is the case, based on the similarity to the 1887 design, but frustratingly, despite extensive searches of various records, the date of construction could not be narrowed down further. I could go on infinitely searching for conclusive evidence and possibly come up with an exact date, but for every house I research I eventually have to make a call to finish my search due to financial and time constraints. I find it very hard to do however! Even posting this, I went back and did another couple of quick searches to see if any new evidence came to light- I couldn't help myself!

Annie Welch with some of her children at Holmside, date unknown. Stephen and Ann's eldest daughter, Nellie is on the right. She inherited Holmside in 1935, possibly as a result of Annie’s advancing years and Nellie being her only unmarried child. Annie continued to live at Holmside with Nellie until her death in 1940.

Nellie Welch at Holmside, date unknown. Nellie resided there until moving to a nearby nursing home sometime after 1972.

Notes

References citing the sources of  the information contained in this report have been omitted from this online version to make it easier to read. Some images and maps have also been cropped to show details more clearly. Please contact me if you would like a fully referenced copy of the report, or if you want to know where to find the full size versions of the images and maps.

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