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Ever since the 1880s when George Saunders took up land in the area now called Saunders Beach this beachside village has had a vital connection to Townsville for such things as banking, Courts and State Land Office transactions. In 2008 the Queensland Government amalgamated local governments and Saunders Beach became a suburb of Townsville City Council.

This year Townsville celebrates 150 years – 1866 to 2016 – since it became a Municipality under the Queensland Municipals Institute Act of 1864. This historical milestone for Townsville is elegantly represented by the abbreviation T150.

In recognition of this Townsville City Council has planned a year-long festival of events, selecting some community-based activities to support financially. The National Trust of Australia (Qld) Townsville Branch received funding for four bus tours.

Castling Street.

Image 1. In the grounds of the Townsville Heritage Centre.

Townsville’s Hidden War Memorials was led by historian and secretary of the Townsville Branch of the National Trust Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde OAM and started from the Townsville Heritage Centre, 5 Castling Street, West End (Image 1). The first stop on the sixty-seater Detours coach’s route was St James’ Anglican Cathedral on Melton Hill.

Entry to St James' Cathedral. At left is the statue of St James the Great erected in 1960.

Image 6: Entry to St James’ Cathedral. At left is the statue of St James the Great, erected in 1960.

Inside the Cathedral, hanging above the centre of the chancel is the stunning and very moving Rood Cross. It depicts the Crucifixion and is in memory of the men who gave their lives in the First World War.

The Rood Cross is a memorial to World War 1 men and women.

Image 5: The Rood Cross. The two-thirds life size figures carved from English oak.

In the North Transept is a memorial to Airman Clifford Logan who was a member of No. 73 Squadron, RAAF. He died in 1943 in action over Germany. In the South Transept is a Vietnam Memorial and in the South Aisle, the World War II Memorial. These pay tribute to those who served and died in these two wars.

The second stop on the Townsville’s Hidden War Memorials T150 tour was Townsville Grammar, North Ward campus.

Image 6. Townsville Grammar School gates.

Image 6: Townsville Grammar School gates.

The school has a strong military tradition and honours its former pupils in different memorials. The Honour Board Pro Patria (for one’s country) was unveiled in 1917 and lists World War I service. Nowadays it stands behind the main reception counter in the foyer where every visitor to the school sees it.

Image 6: Pro Patria Honour Board from World War 1.

Image 7: Pro Patria Honour Board from World War I.

Two memorials are outside in the Quadrangle.

At both St James’ Cathedral and Townsville Grammar Dr Gibson-Wilde handed the group over to volunteers who gave valuable insights into their respective war memorials. Saunders Beach History Project thanks them as it does the volunteers at the Heritage Centre who helped on the day.

Funding for T150 events was by way of a detailed submission to Townsville City Council for a grant. Congratulations to the board of The National Trust of Australia (Qld) Townsville Branch for putting forward a such well-received proposal for a bus tour whose purpose was, in the lead-up to ANZAC Day 2016 to show some of the ‘hidden’ memorials – the honour boards, plaques and shrines of Townsville. Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde’s formidable knowledge of Townsville made the afternoon memorable. Thank you to all concerned.

Dr Gibson-Wilde shared her knowledge of the location of some other honour boards in Townsville. Saunders Beach History Project went off in search of them.

Townsville has had three railway stations, all at different locations in the Queensland Rail North Yards Workshops complex in Flinders Street:

  • The original was constructed near the corner of Jones Street in 1880.
  • The grand old historic station is still used for ticket sales and administration. Construction began in 1910 and the new station was opened on 24 December 1913. This railway station is the furthest east of the three in Blackwood Street.
  • The newest opened in 2003 to take tilt trains. It is situated near Charters Towers Road and the furthest west of the three.

The Railway Employees’ Honour Board hangs in the foyer of Townsville’s second railway station. Dr Gibson-Wilde’s grandfather did the beautiful scrollwork.

Image 13: 'Railway Patriots of the Northern Division Who Volunteered to Fight for the Empire'

Image 13: ‘Railway Patriots of the Northern Division Who Volunteered to Fight for the Empire’

Townsville City Council’s Honour Boards for World Wars I and II are housed at Jezzine Barracks, in the Australian Army Museum.

As a nation Australia is currently remembering the Great War, fought from 1914 to 1918. It was also optimistically called the war to end all wars. Of course it didn’t, and so we remember those who fought in World War II and the wars after it – Vietnam, Korea, the Malayan Emergency and so on. Going in search of honour boards, plaques and monuments at this time, 100 years on, seems fitting somehow. If our quest unearths memorials from other conflicts, all the better.

Did Thuringowa City Council have Honour Boards when it merged with Townsville City Council in 2008? Perhaps you know – Saunders Beach History Project would love to hear about it. Please comment below, or if you’d prefer our email is mailto:saundersbeachhistoryproject@yahoo.com.


A Christian church occupies a special place in the lives of the men, women and children who worship there. It is a place for prayer, learning and singing, a meeting place, a house of friendship. A place to mark milestones in people’s lives. The funeral services of three people in Saunders Beach’s past have taken place at St James’ Cathedral.

The second daughter of George and Elizabeth Saunders, Louisa Emma died at her home in Brisbane on 6th July 1920. She was born in Townsville, probably at her parent’s home on the Crown Land selection at Mt Louisa on the 28th January 1872. She married William Ronald Joseph Benton in May 1892. Her funeral service was held on the 12 July 1920 and she is buried with her parents in West End Cemetery. However her name doesn’t appear on the headstone.

The eldest daughter of George and Elizabeth Saunders, Elizabeth Annie also died in Brisbane over twenty-five years later on the 14th November 1946. She was born about 1869 and married Hugh St George Morris in April 1891. Her funeral service was conducted on the 19th November 1946 and her final resting place is in the West End cemetery, in the Morris Family plot.

Image 16: ABIDE WITH ME. Annie Elizabeth Morris nee Saunders.

Image 16: ABIDE WITH ME. Annie Elizabeth Morris nee Saunders.

George Bruce Robinson was a grandson of George and Elizabeth Saunders. Their third daughter Cecile Emma (born 1878 died 1967) married St John Robinson on the 16th July 1901 at Springfield, her family’s property. George Bruce (he went under the name Bruce) was born in 1913, the last of five children. A returned WWII serviceman Bruce made the ‘modern’ Saunders Beach his home and his obituary credits him with owning the first permanent home at Saunders Beach. His funeral service was conducted at St James’ Cathedral on 14th June 1966. His final resting place is not known but it is thought that he was cremated.


Queensland Heritage Register 2016, Townsville Railway Station and North Yards Railway Workshops, The Queensland Government, viewed 30 May 16.  https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600906.

  • Image 10: From an interpretative panel on the platform of Townsville’s second railway station. Original from Queensland Railway Historical Collection, taken about 1917.
  • Scrollwork on the Honour Board – telephone conversation  Dr Gibson-Wilde – writer 28 April 2016.

The Cathedral Parish, Townsville, viewed 30 May 16. http://www.stjamescathedral.org.au/  Image 2: From an interpretative panel in the foyer of St James’ Cathedral. Also at CityLibrary Picture Townsville.  http://catalogue.townsville.qld.gov.au/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/FULL/PIC/BIBENQ/1149989/8901058,14?FMT=IMG&IMGNUM=1

The National Trust Queensland 2016, Townsville Heritage Centre, National Trust, viewed 30 May 16. https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/townsville-heritage-centre/

The Australian War Memorial, Australians at War, viewed 1 June 2016.  https://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/

Townsville Grammar School 2016:

For vital statistics of Louisa Emma Benton, Annie Elizabeth Morris and George Bruce Robinson: Queensland State Archives 2015, Births, Deaths and Marriages, The State of Queensland, viewed 3 June 2016.  http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Researchers/Resources/Pages/BDM.aspx

For other details: Louisa Emma Benton and Annie Elizabeth Morris – Family History Association of North Queensland West End Cemetery Burial Register; George Bruce Robinson obituary: Townsville Daily Bulletin, no date, no page number.