John Sankey continued his service in Africa for some years. He was offered a commission as a officer, but in those days only men from wealthy backgrounds could afford this. In 1859 he returned to England on a pension after 22 years in the army.
He travelled to Queensland in 1871 where he was part of the team that established the Brisbane Garrison Battery. For many years he was chief clerk and storekeeper in the Queensland Defence Force.
Following his long military career, John Sankey was Managing Director and from 1891 a partner in the retail and manufacturing jewellers Flavelle, Roberts and Sankey. Some of the firm’s work was of high quality as described in this post from the Queensland Art Gallery.
John Sankey and his wife Sarah were laid to rest in the South Brisbane Cemetery.
The inscription of his gravestone reads :
“The tired soldier bold and brave
has seen his last campaign.
And from the shelter of the grave
he’ll never march again”
An article which appeared in the Brisbane Courier in 1930, described the history of Highgate Hill. It mentions that Sankey street was named after Sergeant-Major Sankey, who lived in a house off Dornoch Terrace in this vicinity.
Sankey Street is, according to this article, the 7th steepest street in Brisbane and the steepest Southside street. It has, depending how you like to think about these things, a 1 in 3.9 incline; 14.4 degree angle or 26 per cent slope. It leads down into the gully leading to the river which gave our house, Glenview , its name.
The steepest street in Brisbane is Gower Street Toowong, with a 1 in 3.2 incline.
Sankey Street first appears in the Post Office Directory in 1916 at which time the steep slopes to the south of Dornoch Terrace were beginning to be subdivided. However it is shown on McKellar’s Street Map of 1895. suggesting that no houses were built on the street for some years.
An idea of the development that took place early in the twentieth century can be gained by comparing the two photographs below of Dornoch Terrace. The first was taken around 1901 and the majority of houses south of Dornoch Terrace are clustered near the river bank. Sankey Street today runs down from approximately the bend in the distant fence visible in this photo.
In the second photo dating from around 1920, the slopes have largely been filled in. On the corner of Sankey street in the centre of the photo, the house “Lutmis” is visible with its pagoda shaped widow’s walk and verandah. It’s still standing today although it no longer sports the widow’s walk.
The name of this house is possibly a contraction of “Lutheran Mission” or “Luterische Mission”. A social note in the Brisbane Courier of 23 April 1923 mentions that
“The Rev. Pastor F. Otto Theile, who has accepted the call as Director of Foreign Missions for the United Australian and American Lutheran churches, has taken up his residence at Lutmis, Dornoch Terrace, Highgate Hill, South Brisbane. Mrs Theile will not be at home to visitors until June.”
Frederick Otto Theile was born in South Australia and studied in Germany to become a Lutheran pastor. He had a long involvement with missionary work and was the Director of Lutheran New Guinea missions from 1914 til 1945. He was interned during World War Two partly due to his sympathy for the Nazi regime and also for his criticisms of British rule. An interesting discussion of Otto Theile and the inter-war period can be found here. Interwar transformation of German-Australian identity: the case of Queensland pastor Friedrich Otto Theile, 2012
At the bottom of the gully, skirted by Sankey Street, is the delightful Lyon’s Playground. The land was sold to the council in 1938 by the Lyons family on condition that it be designated parkland.
The poster below relates to 1928 subdivision of land a bit further down Dornoch Terrace and originally part of the O’Reilly family’s Toonarbin property. In the historical photos above, this land appears in the background as the wooded area to the left of Toonarbin .
THE LATE MR. JOHN SANKEY. (1899, January 20). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 6. Retrieved February 3, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3686733
SOCIAL. (1923, April 23). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 15. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20616015