The history of the Coronation Drive Office Park - Part 4
Roads and railway
By Angus Veitch
The roads that surround and define the Coronation Drive Office Park (CDOP) site — Coronation Drive, Cribb Street, Little Cribb Street, and Boomerang Street — were all laid out on Warner’s survey plan of 1850 (see below), even if they were not quite the same as they are today. Over time, the site has become smaller as Coronation Drive, Boomerang Street and the railway line have become bigger.
The first road to pass the site was the precursor of Coronation Drive, known originally as the Moggill Road and later (especially from the 1880s) as the River Road, or occasionally in the 1860s as the Milton Road.(1) It is shown on Wade’s 1844 map (see below, right), but only for a short distance beyond Boundary Creek. This is essentially where the map ends, but the depiction may have also reflected the state of the road. One account of Brisbane in the 1850s and 1860s, recollected in 1933 by a 93-year-old Taringa resident named Thomas Clancy, records that:
Taringa was then connected with Brisbane by a bridle track only, the formed road extending along the North Quay to Bennett’s Creek, which was then crossed by a squared log. Prison labour was subsequently used to continue this road towards Toowong.
The road was used to transport farm produce, cattle and timber from the Moggill area to Brisbane. It was officially named River Road in 1881, and renamed Coronation Drive in 1937 to mark the Coronation of King George VI.
I can only guess at when the other roads were formed. Milton road, like the River Road, was marked with only a dotted line in Warner’s plan, and as an incomplete track in Wade’s map. It probably took shape during the 1850s as more land portions within the Parish of Enoggera were defined and sold. Boomerang Street was mentioned (though not by name, as it apparently did not have one) in the proclamation of the town boundary in 1856. Cribb Street was formally named in April 1881, before which time I can find no descriptions of it in the newspapers.
The presence of Little Cribb Street on Warner’s plan is something of a curiosity. If not for Boundary Creek, the street might have continued through to Boundary Street, but one could ask why the street was drawn into the plan at all, as elsewhere roads are generally separated by two whole land portions. Possibly, its role was to provide access to the land adjoining the southern side of Boundary Creek, as the creek might not have had a reliable crossing near the river. In any case, Little Cribb Street remained more or less as it appeared on Warner’s plan until at least the 1950s when it became part of the tram yard. It was joined to Boomerang Street when the site was developed into its present state in the early 1990s.
The railway line to Ipswich, which today forms the northern boundary of the CDOP site, was constructed in 1875, and was the first railway line out of Brisbane. It had scarcely begun operating when it struck problems at the CDOP site. As a column in the Queensland Times put it:
... the Brisbane and Ipswich Railway is not behaving itself in a proper manner. In plain English, it is manifesting a decided leaning towards Ipswich. This is especially noticable at the enbankment near the Milton distillery just before you get to the long cutting. That bank on the Brisbane side of the bridge seems determined to go Ipswich-way, and in its absurd effort to accomplish this is pushing the bridge before it. This is very improper, but I don’t blame the bank so much as those who gave it the inclination to take such a course. It would be interesting to discover who that “party” was, because there will be difficulties at that bridge yet. Even now the trains have to go over it “dead slow,” and when the bank gets a little farther down into the creek they won’t be able to go over it at all.(2)
In even plainer English, the embankment over Boundary Creek was subsiding. The writer’s ominous warning that ‘there will be difficulties at that bridge yet’ rang true 11 years later, when the line was duplicated in 1886. A new bridge was built over Cribb Street and new embankments were formed on either side of the line. Then disaster struck. As the Queensland Times reported:
An extraordinary accident took place this evening, about half-way between Brisbane and Milton railway stations, near the Milton Distillery, where a high bridge has just been erected in connection with the duplication of the line between Brisbane and Ipswich. The works on both sides of the bridge were to consist of heavy embankments. Men have been engaged for some days past, in consolidating the new embankment and filling it up with broken stones, bricks, and earth. At the spot named, the embankment had shown signs of subsidence, and, shortly after the train due at Brisbane for Oxley at 4-10 had arrived, the embankment, which had, it seems, been crumbling away, fell in with a crash, just as the 4-30 trail from Ipswich arrived on the spot. The results were extraordinary, the roadway being raised a height of 5ft. for several chains, and two water mains—12in. and 9in. each—were broken, and, immediately, the road, which is in a hollow at this place, and the neighbouring district were submerged. The rails were hanging over in a very ricketty condition, and the whole presented the appearance that might be expected after an earthquake. The theory of the cause is that the embankment, which at this place was immediately over the celebrated or notorious Milton Swamp gradually settled down, and forced back the soft swampy earth, eventually raising the road.(3)
This was but one of several occasions on which infrastructure at the CDOP site would fall victim to Boundary Creek.