This self-guided walking tour of Toowoomba's Russell Street will lead you by landmarks of fine historic architecture, many of which date back to the 1860s.
Russell Street was originally know as Farm Road. It was a dirt track used by squatters from the west to transport their sheep and cattle to Brisbane for sale and return with supplies to their properties. By 1954 it was renamed Russell Street after Henry Stuart Russell. Russell was an early Toowoomba resident whose various occupations included grazier, explorer, politician, author and gentleman.
The original railway station was opened on 1 May 1867. It was a major engineering feat to build the line up the Great Dividing Range from Ipswich. The present building was opened on 26 October 1874 and was completely renovated in 1998/9. It is constructed in a classical revival style using Murphy’s Creek stone. The station was the centre of trade for many years with governors and royalty travelling to Toowoomba by train. Just across from the station there is a solid brick structure constructed during World War II for use as an air-raid shelter. Walk up the stairs to Station Street and turn left. At Russell Street turn right and commence walking up the hill.
The foundation stone for this church was laid by the Governor of Queensland on St James’ Day, 1 May 1869. The church is reminiscent of an English parish church. The tablets inside the church are reminders of Toowoomba’s most famous families including the Taylors, Renwicks and Grooms. Note the beautiful stained glass windows throughout the building. The windows along the centre aisle were erected by the parishioners in memory of those who died in World War I. A window in the baptistry commemorates a former parish priest, Rev. John Barge, who was killed by the Japanese in New Guinea during World War II.
Continue west up Russell Street to the next site.
No. 129, formerly Wislet, was designed by William Hodgen Jnr and built in 1908 by Harry Andrews for Dr Hinrichsen. It served as both home and medical rooms for successive families of Dr Connolly, then Dr Hulme. From 1963-1998 Wislet was the Wesley Hospital.
135 Russell Street - Vacy Hall at 135 Russell Street was designed by architect James Marks in the late 1880s for Mayor, Gilbert Gostwyck Cory. The property was built of double cavity brick and has many attractive internal features. The original house was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt in 1900. The Marks family had a significant role in designing buildings in the area. James’ sons, Henry (Harry) and Reginald, and his grandson Charles, also became architects. The firm practised from c.1881 until 1962 and favoured red brick buildings with white painted/rendered detailing.
126 Russell Street - Kensington at 126 Russell Street was built in the early 1900s and renovated for commercial use. The property has many features including metal cresting on the ridge of the roof and landscaping appropriate to the design of the house.
120 Russell Street - Clifford House built in the early 1860s as a residential squatters’ club but never fulfilled that purpose. In 1869 the property was bought by James Taylor who was at various times Mayor of Toowoomba, MP and Minister for Lands.
112 Russell Street - Taylor Memorial Institute.
80 Russell Street - The site of the first hospital in Toowoomba. The hospital was a four-roomed cottage, owned by James Taylor, when it opened in 1859. Much of the old hotel building is now hidden.
78 Russell Street - Matilda House, built between 1885 and 1890 and was known as The Coffee Palace.
76 Russell Street - Hotel Norville, the first 3-storey building in Toowoomba.
26 Russell Street - Originally built for TJ Keogh, the building at 26 Russell Street was Mr A Gaydon’s saddlery for many years.
353 Ruthven Street - Toowoomba Post Office was opened on the south-west corner of Russell and Ruthven street and was moved to Margaret Street in the late 1870s. The present corner building was later known as Jubb’s Corner for many years after the pharmacist whose shop was located there. Cross Russell Street before walking towards the railway station.
33 Russell Street - The former National Australia Bank, built in 1961, replaced the building designed by colonial architect FDG Stanley (1839-1897) and built by James Renwick. In 1870, it became The Commercial Hotel having “one of the coolest and most capacious cellars in the country”. A Council directive in 1953 resulted in removal of verandah posts to provide tie suspended metal street awnings.
37 Russell Street - Formerly HG Wyeth’s hardware store, opened in 1907. At the time the facade was described as ‘elaborate’ with natural lighting being given priority. Note the cast iron verandah supports, which are also used as downpipes.
55 Russell Street - The National Hotel was originally the European Hotel, built c.1883. In 1893 floodwaters were 4 feet 6 inches deep inside the hotel. The building has been renovated over the years, with major changes in the 1930s.
67-71 Russell Street - The ornate appearance of 71 Russell Street, c.1906, reflects the Marks family architectural influence. Originally the site of Neden Bros Flour Mill, the present building has housed cafes, dentists and many shops. The site is featured on the front cover of this brochure with original verandahs shown.
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