The Moreton Bay settlement was in a state of flux in the first decade following the departure of the convicts and before the first immigrants arrived. Having served its purpose for the arrival and departure of convicts, the now Queen’s Wharf was the primary public landing place for North Brisbane.
Surveyor James Warner subdivided out the section of land on the river side of William Street, between the Queen’s Wharf reserve and Margaret Street. Five of the seven waterside allotments had direct river access. The allotment nearest the wharf was smaller. All were advertised for sale in June 1849 and those that did not sell were re-advertised in 1850.
Allotment no. 1 nearest Margaret Street was purchased by Thomas Coutts who owned the steamer Raven that for a short period carried goods and passengers between Brisbane and Ipswich. Following the death of Coutts in 1868, allotment no. 1 was sold to William Pettigrew.
Pettigrew had already purchased allotment no. 2 in 1850, constructing by January 1853 a sawmill building on the site. He contracted John Petrie to erect a 12 metre high brick chimney for the mill. All expansion of Pettigrew’s sawmilling business was made from this allotment.
Also sold in 1850 was allotment no. 3. This was purchased by William and Arthur Binstead for £45.10.0. Both were sawyers who would become pioneer settlers of the Upper Coomera district inland from the coast south of Brisbane. The Binsteads also purchased allotment no. 4. A plan from 1892 shows cottages, stables and sheds constructed on the William Street alignment of the allotments.
Thomas Dowse purchased allotment no. 5 in July 1850. True to the pattern of his financial ups and downs, Dowse offered the allotment for sale in 1860, though he did not find buyers until Matthew Brown Orr and James Honeyman arrived in the colony in 1863. They paid £2,000 for the allotment, subsequently investing double that amount in the construction of store buildings on the site. Their financial reversals led to the insolvency of the Orr and Honeyman business. In November 1871 William Pettigrew obtained title to the land, by that time including a brick and stone building, store no. 1, store no. 2, package store, the wharf, the storeman’s cottage, the stable and drainage. Most of these buildings were damaged during the flood peaks of 1893. In 1901 the Queensland government purchased this and allotment no. 6 to make way for extensions to the Department of Agriculture offices.
Storekeeper George Spottiswood Le Breton purchased allotment no. 6 in August 1849, quickly re-selling it to Margaret Byrne, the mother of Ann Dowse. Here her son-in-lawThomas Dowse constructed his Victoria Wharf and stores. As Dowse’s financial circumstances changed he and Ann Dowse variously mortgaged the property, turned it into a hotel or leased it. Dowse retained the property following Ann’s death in 1853, describing the still operational wharf in his writings of the period as ‘Old Tom’s Folly’. William Pettigrew purchased the allotment in 1874.
Although the Survey Plan indicates initial ownership of allotment no. 7 to James Chambers, the dealing documents for the allotment show the land was vested in the name of Jane Chambers, wife of Henry Chambers, in August 1849. Henry and Jane Chambers opened an inn on the site in 1850 called the Green Man. Their mortgagee, Jeremiah Daly, later became the owner. The inn was operated by a number of licenced publicans. In 1859, butcher and businessman Patrick Mayne became the owner of allotment no. 7. Following his death the allotment was sold to William Pettigrew.
The story of these allotments begins with their sale by the Crown to hopeful small business owners, matures as business expands to achieve economy of scale and concludes with government re-acquisition for the purposes of their expansion – a story which ends where it began.