In September 1885 the QT wrote about Marburg: “The township is progressing. The School of Arts is completed and already lectures have been delivered in it. The new Court House, Police Station and Diversional Board’s Office occupy a splendid site not far from the School of Arts”.
MARBURG SCHOOL OF ARTS
“GRAND opening of the Marburg School of Arts – a banquet, a ball, grand illuminations, fireworks and a brass band. Costs 1000 pounds central hall holds 1000 people. Two side wings – one library and the other a reading room. Two leading firms donated books and various breweries forwarded casks and cases of beer”. The opening was performed by the Hon. The Chief of Justice Sir Charles Lilley, who stood at the portals with all the elite of Marburg gathered around him. Mr Thomas Lorimer Smith was the main contractor of the School of Arts which could seat 1000 people. The most surprising issue was the electric lighting which was supplied from the house of Mr Smith about a mile away from the School of Arts. The current was brought into the hall along a single wire and the return current was carried through a wire into a hole outside the hall, where the soil was very damp, and thus completed the circuit. Later that month in 1885 the following quote appeared in the QT:” Electricians had worked day and night preparing the apparatus for the efficient illumination of the building and the streets by electric light, and 60 incandescent lamps were used”. It was later reported that Marburg was the only place outside Brisbane where electric light was used. The School of Arts was used for all different purposes. Plays were regularly performed. Balls were well attended, and the Agricultural Show started in the School of Arts. The main area was used, at some stage, as a skating rink and many local clubs and organisations held their meetings at the School of Arts.
It has been a mystery for the Society for a while as well as for many people in Marburg what eventually happened to the School of Arts, as suddenly, the building seemed to have gone. Someone whose family had lived in Marburg at the start of the 20th century and owned a Boot Repair Business as well as a mixed business in which they sold cakes, lollies, fruit and the like, was able to spread some light on the mystery. One of the sons wrote his life story down at the age of 98. In his story he mentioned that the School of Arts was sold to a Mr Pysden of Ipswich who took it apart and moved it to Southport where he built 4 small houses from the saved materials. Unfortunately, there was no date mentioned when this happened. Coincidental, the story goes in Marburg that the Royal George Hotel, a two-story hotel across from the School of Arts, also was demolished and the timber used for four small houses. Again no exact date is known. That the School of Arts was an important building is made clear through all the different events that took place during its existence from 1885 when it first opened till the end of 1913. In 1914 many articles appear in newspapers in which the site of a new School of Arts is discussed, or that sufficient funds were not yet available to pay for the fee for instance for the survey of land granted for a School of Arts in Marburg.
In the Queensland Times of 22 May 1914 it was mentioned: “Proposed School of Arts. Not very long ago there was much ado with regard to a School of Arts for Marburg. Just now, the matter seems to be in abeyance. The Marburg branch of the Queensland Farmers’ Union have some information regarding an area of land on which to erect the building, and on the subject of a subsidy. A School of Arts is certainly wanted, and the sooner some of our leading residents form a committee, the sooner will a School of Arts become an accomplished fact”. The next mystery is to find out the exact reason for the removal of the School of Arts. The rumour is that several of those members who owned the building became financially vulnerable and could not continue to finance the running of the hall. The ladies were known to decorate the hall appropriate to the event. Great comments on the catering of events were often mentioned in the feedback of events in the papers.
Many thanks to Susanne Ruijs from the Rosewood Scrub Historical Society for collecting this info.
The official re-opening of the re-imagined ‘Marburg School of Arts’ will be happening this Saturday 7th September at 9am at Woodlands of Marburg, 174 Seminary Road Marburg Queensland. The re-opening will be officiated by the Hon. Jim Madden MP State Member for Ipswich West.