It sometimes feels as if our area is particularly rich in people with interesting stories and Justin Hicks of Madeleine Hicks Real Estate has discovered the latest of these.
He is selling a house for long-time Chermside West resident James Spencer, usually known as Jim, and his interest was piqued when he heard Jim had been living in the same house since it was built in 1961. It was only the second house in the road but in the 57 years since then, the area around it has developed out of all recognition.
The story of the house is really that of Jim, his wife Annette, and their family who grew up there and who eventually left to make their own ways in the world. Along the way there was hard work earning the money to support the family and pay off the home but there was also a lot of joy and happiness.
The hard work started for Jim at the age of 15 when he was apprenticed as a wood machinist making windows. The habit of hard work stuck even though the bottom soon fell out of that market when metal windows came in.
It wasn’t long after he started work, only two years in fact, that the couple who were to make 8 Culworth Street their home met for the first time. He was 17 and she was 14 but it was clear from the start they were meant for each other and her father granted them permission to marry when she turned 18.
In 1959 the young couple were hunting for a place to call their own and eventually settled on the property in Culworth Street which they bought for the princely sum of £450 in cash. In those days Rode Road only came up as far as Webster Road and access was indirect but the land was central to the amenities and near both their families.
They approached the Housing Commission which granted them a £5,000 loan and allowed them to choose from a number of different plans for their dream home. The Commission then appointed a builder, the house was completed and Jim and Annette moved in in April 1961.
There are faded black and white photographs taken around the time construction finished and it’s hard to believe they show the same building which now sits in its mature garden in this mature suburb. The loan took 25 years to pay back at the rate $32 per month which was a lot of money at the time.
They didn’t have much of that but Jim and Annette worked three jobs between them and managed to keep up the payments, raise their children Garry, Vikki, David and Darryl and have a lot of fun doing it. Jim worked for 30 years in the tyre industry and Annette had a job at the drive-in movie theatre in Albany Creek Road, where the family would often gather as a Friday night treat.
Probably nothing reflects the history of the family as much as the inside of the hall cupboard door marked with the heights of the children as they grew up. The markings show the four kids at various ages and stages from very tiny and must bring back a host of memories.
Jim shows off the cupboard door where the heights of his children were recorded as they grew.
The home became a gathering place for them and other local children who played in the blow-up swimming pool in back yard or made fires and cooked damper down at the nearby creek. The kids started off going to school at Somerset Hills Primary School and later moved on to Craigslea State School.
Almost from the start Jim and Annette were extending their home and one of the most important additions was a large back deck where the family would often gather for celebrations. Chief among these were the Christmas parties which were Annette’s particular delight and which often saw up to 20 people making merry.
The Chermside West area gradually became more and more built-up and the children grew up and moved on with their lives. Annette sadly passed away last year but not before she asked for the much-loved Christmas decorations to be put up early so she could at least see them again.
Jim told us that, at the age of 80, the house was getting too much for him to maintain on his own and it led to the decision to move. When we talked to him he clearly had very mixed feelings about selling but has very good memories of his and Annette’s time in the home and genuinely hopes that a new family will be as happy at 8 Culworth Street as his family has been.