The area of Fortitude Valley was known as 'Bell's Valley', after Lieutenant Bell of the Moreton Bay Garrison. In the early 1850s, its name changed from Bell's Valley to Fortitude Valley.
Reverend Dr John Dunmore Lang visited Brisbane in 1847 and recommended it as suitable for cotton growing. He embarked on lecture tours around Britain and made the offer of free land to new settlers. He targeted Scottish Presbyterians with his stories of free settlement and escape from the shackles of British discrimination. Click Here for Further Reference
Full of hope and ambition they arrived on the migrant ships the Fortitude, the Chasely, and the Lima in January 1849. The migrants believed Dr Lang's privately-sponsored scheme with its land grants would be honoured by the Government of New South Wales, which was the governing body at the time.
Offended by what they saw as Dr Lang's unauthorized actions, the British Government rushed to dispatch 240 English immigrants to Moreton Bay aboard the barque Artemisia. These migrants arrived a month ahead of Lang's sponsored migrants and were billeted by the Colonial Government and found employment in Brisbane or on the Darling Downs. Click Here for Further Reference
Lang's promises for assistance to the settlers from the Colonial Office in London was not confirmed in writing. Lang's rude personality had made him powerful enemies in the British and Colonial governments. Colonial Secretary, Earl Gray disliked Lang and denied any knowledge of the promises to help Lang's migrants.
He instructed the Colonial Government to deny the migrants any assistance. Some of these luckless migrants had to camp out at Bulimba, at Petrie Bight or in Bell's Valley. They had to build themselves bark and slab huts until they obtained jobs and could progress to something better. Click Here for Further Reference
'Bell's Valley' was considered unattractive and even unsafe due to the risk of Aboriginal attacks due to a growing resentment amongst the tribes to British settlement. At the top of the hill in Ann Street, was the home of Dr George Fullerton called Adderton. It was purchased by the Sisters of Mercy in 1863 for their new All Hallows' School.
Near this was the Fortitude Valley Denominational School used by Presbyterian settlers. Just below the school was a creek, which originated on the slopes of Spring Hill and gave its name to Water Street. On the top of the hill to the right is the house called Darra, which was later demolished to build the Holy Name Cathedral opposite the future All Hallows' School.
One of the oldest streets in Brisbane is Boundary Street. Each night a curfew was imposed and a fence was erected to keep Aborigines out of the city limits. The track that ran along the boundary fence was later named Boundary Street. Various reasons for Brisbane's inner-city curfew and one was that it was implemented to prevent theft and prostitution. Descriptions exist of Aboriginal girls offering themselves outside pubs in return for alcohol or tobacco.
Wickham Street street took its name from Captain John Wickham, Police Magistrate, in the 1840s and early 1850s. Living at Newstead House at what is now the suburb of Newstead, Captain Wickham rode to the old Convict Barracks courtroom in Queen Street and rode back at night along this route.
The Government of New South Wales refused to honour a promise of land grants to because of a falling out with Fortitude settlers' sponsor, the caustic Dr Dunmore Lang. Succeeding Scottish immigrants camped in Fortitude Valley or rented rooms in Spring Hill.
Scottish moral righteousness combined with the Protestant work ethic favoured by Dr Lang, ensured that Fortitude area was no longer a centre of tavern brawls and became an area of small shops and general stores. The Scottish owners united in a desire to overcome the disgrace of Brisbane's sordid past. Click Here for Further Reference
The large building on Boundary Street Brisbane was the Old Union Hotel was the domain for many Scottish migrants. The Old Union Hotel stood on what is now Centenary Park. On the hill above it is All Hallows' School the original building was purchased by Archbishop James Quinn in 1885 for an order of Irish nuns. The largest group of migrants settling in Brisbane were the Irish and were catered for by other public houses. Brothels were established around Boundary Street Brisbane in a city where the males outnumbered those of females
Spring Hill's development occurred between 1864 and 1888 when the area acquired a characteristic appeal of its own. Picturesque weatherboard cottages were clustered together in narrow streets winding up and down the hilly slopes which gave the suburb its name.
With the steepness of Spring Hill, houses were constructed on high stumps to provide a single level foundation. Brisbane's subtropical climate the houses incorporated verandahs ornamented with iron lace or wooden lattice. The verandah become popular as a space to sleep during the middle of Summer.
The practice of building on high stumps took hold as this feature provided better airflow and made houses in low lying areas flood proof as well as protecting wooden houses from termite infestation. Steep iron-sheeted roofs, often painted dark red improved air circulation within in the house by drawing air up through vents in the room to be vented out through the top.