Not on first dates

Image: Aerial View of Oakey Source: Oakey Friends of the Library

Image: Aerial View of Oakey
Source: Oakey Friends of the Library

This week’s story just sort of fell in my lap, when one of the ladies asked for help digitising a photo so they could get it published in the paper to see if anyone could date it. Well that sounded like a nice challenge and I of course said “leave it with me; I’ll let you know next week”. So I’ll give you fair warning that this article may seem a little all over the place, but I’ve decided to keep it that way so you can see the thought processes I’ve gone through do get my final date range.

Probably the first step is to have a good look and see if you can match it up with where the image was taken (and no I don’t mean from a plane), it’s the main street of Oakey. You can make out the train line (and the train) on the right of the picture, and that makes the main road running through the middle, Campbell Street.

The Grand Hotel stands out rather predominantly in the middle of the photo, with Lorrimer’s opposite to help us pin exactly what part of the main street is where. Speaking of hotels, right up the other end of Campbell is the Western Line Hotel. This is where I can start narrowing down the time of the image because the Western Line got its second level around 1910. In front of the Western Line Hotel, in the middle of the street, is the cenotaph. The cenotaph was built in 1922 and was moved to its current location in 2000. So we’ve got 72 years to whittle down now. To narrow things down further the Royal Hotel, which should be opposite the Western Line, burnt down around 1940 is missing from the skyline.

Casting your eyes northward you can make out the “new” Oakey Co-operative Butter Factory (1929), and follow the road towards town and you can just make out the concrete Bridge Street Bridge. The bridge was opened 31 January 1948 by Minister of Works and Housing Mr Power. Bridge is 224 ft. long, cost £13,546, was built for Main Roads by J.R. Hornibrook.

The Oakey Police Station and Courthouse, which is missing, was officially opened in December 1965, and across the road, on the corner of Campbell and Macdonald (previously Federal) Streets, Walkers Garage which was located where the Cultural Centre (1995) and War Memorial (2000) now stands, is still visible. Walkers Garage closed in 1958 and the Jondaryan Shire Council built its new offices 1960. The garage was used as the tourist information centre during the late 1980s but here it appears the garage is still in use.

Looking back along the main street you can see that the Post Office (1910) is in its current location (albeit a little smaller in size). Two doors up you can see the old Westpac Bank on the corner of Cherry and Campbell Streets. The building was removed for transport to the Jondaryan Woolshed Complex in 1986. Just along Cherry Street from the Westpac building we can see the CWA Rest Room has been built so we can increase the minimum year to 1950. On the other side of the Westpac Bank we can see the old Hamlyn Butcher Shop which was rebuilt in 1959. We’re down to a nine year period now (1950 – 1959).

And so adding all that up I can confidently date the image to Oakey circa 1955, which gives me a leeway of 1950-1960. There’s probably more in the image that can be used to narrow it down further but that’s all I’ve got time for today. I hope you enjoyed this whirlwind history trek of Oakey. I’ll see you all again next week.

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