The Day We Went to Sandgate (Part 2)


Originally it cost 3d for adults to get onto the pier and 1d for children, then it was broken down to 1d because people wouldn’t pay.  An Englishman named Wakefield and a fellow we called “Possum” a bald chap whose remaining hair jutted out, collected the money for entrance to the pier. The amusement arcade was in a kiosk on the other side of the pier from the dance floor.  Admittance to the amusement arcade and to the change rooms was free. There were separate swimming enclosures attached to the pier for the ladies and the gentlemen. The Sandgate Swimming Club commenced in 1924 in the Men’s Swimming Enclosure on the Sandgate Pier.  Meets were held fortnightly, during full tide.  No women swam in the swimming club for quite a long time.

A picture screen was erected to view open air films.  A fellow named Amies used to run the generator for the projector.  In the very early 1920s cinematographs were still a novelty.  People would bring their own seating rather than hire deck chairs.

“Olivene”, “Beryl” and “Emerald” were vessels owned by the Humpybong Steamship Company, and ran for a time from the pier to Woody Point.  The Redcliffe Historical Society offers the following information about the S.S.”Emerald” as she was in 1908 under Captain James Farmer: “The “Emerald” is a twin-screw steamer, with a registered tonnage of 117.  She was specially built in Sydney for the Humpybong steamship Company Limited in 1900.  The engines are compound surface condensers of over 300 i.p.h., capable of driving the vessel at 11 knots.  The vibration, which was so noticeable when the “Emerald” first arrived in Brisbane, is now reduced to a minimum through alterations affected by the present engineer, John Crawford, and the comfort of the trip is thereby considerably enhanced.  The “Emerald” is 130 feet in length, her beam being 25 feet, and she has a draught of 5 feet 3 inches.  The vessel is licensed to carry 487 passengers in the Bay, and 800 in the Brisbane River.”  

The shed on the present pier originally marked the end of the pier, but at low water no ship could berth, so they had to extend the pier a further 300 or 400 feet.  A gentleman called Street had spent a lot of money dredging Cabbage Tree Creek and extending the jetty so that boats could call in on the way from Brisbane to Redcliffe, but in 1882 they ruined things by putting the trains in and he lost a lot of money. The Penny Arcade, the kiosk, and the swimming enclosures are now long gone, but the pier remains for the area’s many enthusiastic fishermen and yachties for the start of the annual Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.


            After a swim and picnic lunch, a visit to the pier’s penny arcade would round off the day.  Here, in the days before electronic gadgetry, manually operated fun machines dispensed entertainment to fun seekers.  Arthur Hancock owned the arcade machines. George Hancock, his father, ran the theatres in Sandgate.  For 1d or 3d, one could become a peeping Tom and view flickering card “movies” of beach belles undressing, play cricket with a team of tin men in their Victorian glass house, or operate a claw for trinkets.  Another popular arcade item was the Electric Volt Machine where young kids would all throw in 3d and clasp hands in a line and see how much electric current they could take.  Once the current started flowing people could not let go anyway.  If someone walked by you didn’t like, you could grab him and they would be stuck too. 

A Moving picture machine


A walk runs along the foreshore from Cabbage Tree Creek to the Baptist Church.  It was originally called Dover’s Walk, after one of the engineers associated with the Sandgate Town Council. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 an English company came out and took photographs around Brisbane to make Post Cards.  Dover’s Walk, was one of them.  As a joke, the young blokes in the firm covered part of the “D” up to make it an “L” and the cards came out from England as Lovers Walk.  It has remained that ever since.


Changing into one’s swimming gear was a more private affair than we are accustomed to today, and for the procedure, individual bathing boxes, both for private and for public use, had been erected along the foreshore.  The private boxes, such as those owned by the Allen family, the Lack family, and the Nuns of the Sacred Heart Convent, were built against the sea wall and gave more sheltered access to the water than the public ones that were built over the sea and linked by a concrete bridgeway. Between the Wars, day trippers would come to picnic at Sandgate through Easter, Christmas, New Year, and even the June weekend if the weather was fine, though people didn’t swim in the winter.  However, all this changed after WWII with the advent of the family car when the North and South Coast beaches became day trips rather than weekend outings.                                                                       

Lovers Walk circa 1920

Ray Robinson

                                                                        January 1995

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

One thought on “The Day We Went to Sandgate (Part 2)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s