The large house “Marly”, later called “St. Malo”, was a landmark on Hampstead Road in Highgate Hill for 80 years. It was built by the Appel family on the site of their sheep paddock. A succession of interesting people lived there before it was demolished in 1951.
In 1837 the Reverend John Dunmore Lang, in conjunction with Pastor Johannes Gossner of Berlin, organised for a group of German missionaries to travel to Moreton Bay and settle on 650 acres of land granted by the NSW Government in what is now Nundah and Toombul. At the time, the convict settlement was winding down but Brisbane was not opened to free settlers until 1842.
Gossner and Lang.
The mission started operation in 1838 and comprised 12 men and women. Conditions were difficult and most effort was expended on growing food to survive rather than on missionary work. The local Aboriginal people also showed little interest in becoming Christians.
Amongst the group were Johann Gottfried (later known as Godfrey) Haussmann and his wife Wilhelmina (nee Lehmann). In early 1839, Wilhelmina gave birth to a daughter Maria Jane who was the fourth child and first girl born in the tiny community.
There were attempts to establish outstations in surrounding districts but the intrusion was not welcome. At Burpengary, where Haussmann was attempting to set up an outstation, he was speared and barely made it back to Zion Hill after losing much blood.
With the cessation of Government support for missions, Zion Hill slowly wound down and was abandoned by 1850. Godfrey Haussman attended Lang’s College in Sydney and he was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor before the family returned to Brisbane in 1853.
Georg (later George) Appel was born in Hesse-Cassal Germany in 1823. After spending some time in London, he emigrated to Victoria in 1852 and by 1853 was living in South Brisbane. There he began a business importing sheep from Germany and exporting wool and other products. He was based at Peterson’s wharf, close to the location today of the Maritime Museum. In 1854, George purchased around 4,000 square metres of land on the river near Sidon Street for the then sizable sum of £300.
South Brisbane in 1868, showing the location of the Appel house and cottage. (State Library of Queensland)
Appel built a house on Stanley Street and a cottage on the river which he leased out. Tenants included Simon Fraser (see my post Torbreck – Two Houses and One Highrise) and Benjamin Backhouse (Toonarbin). In her reminisces, Isobel Hannah mentions that the Appel home was “one of the first houses roofed with galvanised iron, and frequently offered irresistible attraction to boys coming from Friday evening Bible class with road metal handy. The owner was very fleet of foot and many of the old boys will remember the return attention their vulnerable parts received when captured”.
In 1855, George was appointed as official inspector of sheep for Brisbane, in part based on his experience gained in Germany where his father was a breeder The sheep scab mite was introduced into Australia in the early days of European settlement and spread between colonies. Constant vigilance was required to prevent further spread.
George was also appointed as the vice-consul for the City of Hamburg. There was ongoing commercial interaction with that city and many immigrant ships were to arrive in Brisbane from Hamburg.
Isobel Hannah mentions Appel’s “great flag staff on the river bank, on which on Sundays and holidays a great 24ft Red Ensign was flown over the quaint flag (castles on a red field) of the Free City of Hamburg, of which city he was Consul.”
In 1856, Appel purchased a block of bushland of almost 7 acres, about 3 hectares, at what would become the corner of Vulture Street and Hampstead Road, Highgate Hill.
George was an active member of the German community and he married Maria Hausmann in 1858. He took a major part, along with Pastor Haussmann, in the establishment of the first Lutheran church in South Brisbane in 1862. For more on this, please see my post Holy Hawthorne Street.
Maria and George had two children, John George who was born in 1859 and Annie Louise born the following year.
The sheep paddock
After its formation in late 1859, the Queensland Government acted quickly and passed the “Scab and Other Diseases in Sheep Prevention Act” in 1860. Wool had become the cornerstone of the colony’s economy. The Act required the quarantining of sheep arriving in the colony for 6 months and later for shorter periods.
Appel used his paddock to hold sheep that he imported from Germany and it became colloquially known as “the sheep station“. He may also have leased it to the Government for use as a quarantine station. From around 1863 until 1877, the official quarantine station was at the location today of Dauphin Terrace and after then at a purpose built facility that was established at Indooroopilly.
In around 1878, George and Maria decided to move from Stanley Street and build a large family home on their land at Highgate Hill, which they called “Marly”. Perhaps the move was triggered by the construction of the graving dock next door which had commenced in 1876. They built the house at the top of the block where there was a fine view and cooling breezes.
At various times over the next twenty years, both of the Appel’s children John and Annie lived with their families in Marly. John Appel became a solicitor and was in partnership with James Howard Gill who married his sister Annie Louise Appel. John gave up the law and began farming at Upper Nerang on the Gold Coast. He eventually entered politics and served as a minister in the Kidston Government ( see my post “Dorra Tor” – Plywood, Politics and Punters). He built a home “Windemere” at Ascot which still stands.
Annie’s husband James Gill was appointed Crown Solicitor in 1885 and hoped for advancement through this work, including drafting the colony’s Criminal Code with Sir Samuel Griffith. However, promotion did not eventuate and his health suffered from stress at work. James died of tuberculosis in 1899. Annie and her children lived with her parents for some years afterwards.
Marley becomes a school
In 1895, the house was up for rent.
Marianne Brydon nee Carson came to Australia from Ireland as a 4 year old. She won a scholarship to study at Brisbane Girls Grammar School and won the Fairfax Prize twice with the best results for a female candidate in the University of Sydney Junior and Senior exams. She began work as a teacher and became a form mistress at Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School in 1883. She married shipping agent John McKenzie Brydon in 1885 and left teaching.
Ten years later Marianne was left a widow with 5 children and started the South Brisbane High School and Kindergarten, a private school for girls. Initially she based the school in Edmondstone Street, but in 1897 she moved to Marly where she was to stay until around 1903. Marianne’s father was the minister at the Bellevue Presbyterian Church on Dornoch Terrace and the grounds of Marly were often used for fund raising events for the church.
In 1903, she was appointed as a teacher of mathematics and science at South Brisbane Technical College and closed her school. Within three years she was promoted to principal. Marianne continued to have a distinguished career in education, retired in 1932 and died in 1941.
A new owner
In the meantime the Appels subdivided part of their large block and in about 1903 built themselves a smaller house that they called “Indooahno” on newly created Appel Street. Another new street was named after their house Marly.
Some time after then, George sold “Marly” to his neighbour James Allan, co-founder of the retail firm Allan and Stark. His home “Wairuna” adjoined the Appel’s property (see my post James and Margaret Allan and their home “Wairuna” for more). George and Maria lived out their days in their new home on Appel Street. George died in 1910 and Maria in 1915.
Charles Edward Chubb arrived in Australia as a youth in 1860. In 1870, Charles married Christian Westgarth Macarthur, daughter of the police magistrate in Dalby where he was working as a solicitor.
After a career as a barrister and politician, in 1889 he became a Supreme Court judge based in Townsville. He was transferred to Brisbane in 1908. After renting various houses including “Cooltigue” ( see my post The Blakeneys of Highgate Hill), in 1911 the Chubbs purchased “Marly” from James Allen.
According to Florence Lord, it was Christian who decided to rename the house “St. Malo”. There were several other houses called “Marly” nearby including that of the Bruce-Nicol family just a few streets away (see my post Of Tobacconists, Brewers and Other Things) and in the days before street numbering, house names were of some importance.
The land included with the house was reduced in area, as by this time James Allan had excised the top section adjacent to his home “Wairuna” and used it to build a tennis court. Christian died in 1916 and Judge Chubb continued to live in the house. He was closely involved in bringing up the children of his daughters Geraldine and Clare as after both of their marriages had failed, they moved into St. Malo.
As trial judge, Chubb was critical of the perjury charges brought against Annie Sakse following the events described in my post The Mistress’s House. Chubb also sat on the full bench of the Supreme Court which found against the Labor State Government of Ted Theodore on a number of constitutional issues. Incensed, the Government passed the Judges’ Retirement Act in 1921, limiting the age of judges to 70 years. Vacancies resulting from retirements would allow the government to appoint a number of new judges of their choosing. The following year later, Chubb was forced to resign at 76 years of age.
He died in 1930 and his daughters continued to live in the house until around 1937 when it was leased to Muriel Baker McMillan who ran it as a guest house. It was put up for lease again in 1940 and then advertised for weekly rental, but mentions of the house disappear from newspapers. The advertisement mentions 14 bedrooms in its guesthouse configuration.
The end of St. Malo
The first Presbyterian church in South Brisbane was constructed on Grey Street in 1850 at the later location of the South Brisbane Railway station.
By 1880, a much larger church was required and land was purchased in one of the first sales after the previously mortgaged “Bridge Lands” were released for sale. Other buyers at the auction were asked to refrain from bidding so that church members did not pay too much. To discover more, please see my post The Fascinating Story of the First Victoria Bridge. The Park Church was constructed soon after and still stands at the corner of Glenelg and Cordelia Streets.
According to one account, at about this time there was a disagreement over the purchase of a “kist o’ whistles”, or organ. This was a controversial move for some conservative Presbyterians and it was only in 1865 that the first organ had been installed in a Presbyterian kirk. The proposal led to a split in the community and a breakaway group built a new church at the corner of Vulture and Hope Street.
The architect was A. B. Wilson (see my post Alexander Brown Wilson, Architect). This was an unfortunate location as the extension of the railway described on my post Gloucester Street Railway Station, required the removal of the church in 1890. A new location was found at 167 Dornoch Terrace near the peak of Highgate Hill.
Bad luck continued to follow the church as it was destroyed in a severe storm in 1892 and had to be rebuilt. In 1923, it was demolished and the land sold. The last service held was the marriage of the bride who lived next door.
In the 1940s, the congregation of the Park Church on Glenelg Street decided that a more residential location was required and they purchased St. Malo for this purpose in 1948. The Presbyterian Church by this stage was also the owner of adjacent “Wairuna” ( see my post James and Margaret Allan and their home “Wairuna” ). The new church was built in front of St. Malo which sat well back from the street. The house was used for services during construction which was completed in 1952, and it was then demolished. A church hall was built on the site of the tennis court and “Wairuna” returned to private ownership in 1984.
Today, few would have heard of “Marly” and the Appel family sheep paddock, although they live on as the names of two of our streets.
Queensland’s earliest consular appointment? Gill J. C. H. Fryer Library, University of Queensland
The Chubbs – Separation and Since by Dr. C. G. Drury Clarke
© P. Granville 2021