60 Years of QLD TV

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

50 years of Brisbane TV: Part 7-1959

After the thoughts of the great stuff we have watched in the last fifty years as a prelude to the wonderful fiftieth celebrations that QTQ-9 will offer this time next month, it makes sense, that Part 7 is a look back to where it all began in Queensland, the year of 1959.

1959 was also important, as it was the year Queensland celebrated 100 years as a state, amidst a major boom period.

The Queensland Centenary: What we did to celebrate!
The recent Q150 celebrations, have reminded many of what it was like to celebrate 50 years ago. The two biggest events, of the calendar for Queensland's Centenary were a royal visit, by Princess Alexandra (for which the Princess Alexandra Hospital (or the PA Hospital for short) in Buranda was named) and the Proclamation Day celebrations on the 10th of December (not Queensland Day which is the 6th of June (which was the day Queen Victoria signed the Letters Patent declaring Queensland a separate colony) which we celebrate today, but the date of the proclamation from the first Governor of Queensland was read from the Deanery at St Johns Cathedral in the centre of Brisbane.) The race to be first on air in Brisbane, was to be on air prior to the royal tour arriving in Brisbane, and to a lesser extent Proclamation Day.
Brisbane also got new facilities built, including the Centenary Pool on Gregory Terrace, and a real estate boom began in the "Centenary Suburbs" including Jindalee, being subdivided into housing for a expanding Brisbane (The Centenary Highway, which runs through the "Centenary Suburbs" was built later, was extended to Springfield in 2001 and recently extended to Yamanto to provide a bypass of the existing Ipswich Motorway and to stimulate growth in the 21st century's version of the Centenary Suburbs, the "Western Corrridor.) heading towards a new era.

Brisbane's urban growth: then and now.
Other things had happened in Brisbane too (the baby boom, overseas migrants etc.), in that decade, which spurred the growth of many new suburbs, with a lot of forward thinking necessary. It is hard to imagine, that fifty years ago Brisbane's outer northern suburbs consisted of Aspley, Chermside, Zillmere and Geebung, with large tracts of land between Aspley and Bald Hills, Sandgate and Nundah and areas in and around Petrie, Kallangur and Deception Bay (which slowly became the outer northern suburbs) where there is development today. A particular example is Chermside, where intense growth in the fifties led to the development of the Chermside Drive-In Shopping Centre (the first of it's kind in Australia) by Brisbane department store Allan and Stark, (now Myer) and then a "renaissance" in the early part of the 21st century with the now expansive Chermside, (sold by Coles-Myer in 1996, to Westfield who revitalised Chermside, into a destination), which in turn saw the transforming of some 1950's housing areas near the centre, which people bought in the 50's for $2000-$3000 sold for $300,000+, only to be demolished for apartments, which lured even more people in, and a rise in office space, due to decentralisation caused by rising costs in the Brisbane CBD and Chermside is now a classic example of urban renewal in Queensland, with Westfield Chermside, the heart, of a burgeoning "city in the suburbs". But there can be some lessons learned from 50's planning. Brisbane's tram network, was expansive, but thought well, of two key extensions, to then new suburbs, Stafford and Chermside, to cater for the growth, that had occured. Brisbane City Council, rapidly built pools and libraries to assist with the growth of the fifties and sixties, as well as sewering the city. That is, planning ahead of growth, has it's benefits.

Television and the consumer society:
What grew, out of Chermside's opening however, was the consumer society. Basically the old traditional lines that Brisbane had for shopping, (which were the dominant retail areas of Fortitude Valley and Queen Street) were starting to erode. The same effects were being felt in the suburbs, with some cinemas shutting down (the main effect for cinemas was in the CBD), due to the effects of television, even though a few, held on, and prosper, with major adjustments to the way they did business. Television became what many thought it was, in the "big country town" a dominant medium, which felled a few other icons, most notably the afternoon newspapers The Telegraph, and the Brisbane Sun, due to audience reach.

As 1959 closed, Brisbane saw the Proclamation Day celebrations on their new TV stations, QTQ-9, BTQ-7 and ABQ-2, all three a shining symbol of how far Queensland had come in 100 years, from news only coming by ship (taking many months), to television's glow, with film of events within days.

In 2009, Proclamation Day will be celebrated once again, with bells ringing statewide, a celebratory concert, and a major think back over 150 years, just how far have we have come from horse and cart, to space travel...


1959 Colour footage of Brisbane.

7 News Flashback-Queensland's Centenary in 1959

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