HISTORY OF ARCHERFIELD AERODROME
Sometimes referred to as Franklin's Farm or Archer's Field
Archerfield's original inhabitants were the Yerongpan clan who spoke a dialect of the Turrbal language. From around 1826, two years after Brisbane was first settled, the area would have been part of Cowper's Plains (now Coopers Plains). Dr. Henry Cowper was the first medical officer in the settlement of Brisbane. Cowper would often travel to Limestone Hill (now Ipswich) and camp half way at a Government cattle camp in the general area which became known as Cowper's Plains.
The land upon which Archerfield airfield is now situated (Portion 18, Parish of Yeerongpilly) was originally purchased in 1855 by Thomas Grenier, publican of the Brisbane Hotel in Russell St., South Brisbane. He purchased 640 acres of lightly timbered alluvial soil, some of the best grazing land in the district, for a price of £1,920.
The first freehold land in the area was sold as Country Lots in the 1850's with more being sold through the 1860's and 1870's. Some of the families who bought these early lots and lived in the Archerfield area were as follows:-
Thomas Grenier called his property "Oomoropilly". By April 1862 the property was almost established with most of the fences erected and a cottage with outbuildings and a stable erected. By 1865 the property had been subdivided into three farms. Thomas's son George Alexander Grenier and his wife Sarah Greenwood lived on the middle farm where they had been since 1863. The lived in the homestead called "Willows" which fronted onto Mortimer Road. Franklin Grenier occupied the farm which fronted onto Mortimer and Beatty Roads, and William Leichhardt Grenier ran the farm called "Stoneleigh" which had a long frontage onto Oxley Creek.
Thomas Grenier died in 1877 and was buried at the cemetery on his property. It was known as Oxley Cemetery at that time. This is now known as Grenier's Cemetery or "God's Little Acre" and it is located at the main entrance to Archerfield aerodrome.
Franklin Grenier died in 1889 and his farm was bought by the Beatty family in the early 1890's. The other two farms were also sold in the early 1900's.
In 1927 Captain Lester Brain, chief flying instructor for Qantas Airways, landed his DH-61 on Franklin's Farm which was located at the western side of the present aerodrome. His mission was to see if the site was suitable to become an airfield.
A Civic Survey was carried out in 1928 by the Brisbane City Council and then in July 1929, part of the Oxley Ward was zoned for noxious trade as recommended in the Civic Survey and it was renamed Archerfield by the Brisbane City Council to distinguish it from the surrounding residential and farming areas.
The Government finally acquired about 300 acres of land in 1929. More land was purchased in 1930, 1936, 1942 and finally the cemetery (God's Acre) in 1946 resulting in a total area of 825 acres.
Two light gravel strips 5,000 feet x 500 feet were built and the aerodrome started operations.
In the 1930's Qantas moved their operations from Eagle Farm to Archerfield after the first hangars were erected at Archerfield. Ansett ANA and TAA both used Archerfield during the 1930's. The Queensland Aero Club, which was established in 1919, moved from Eagle Farm to Archerfield in 1931.
The Control Tower and many buildings at Archerfield were built during these busy years when Archerfield was the main airport in Brisbane. Although designed in 1936, it was not until 1941 that the Administrative building and Control Tower was finally erected at a cost of £15,000. The Control Tower on top of the Administrative building has since been dismantled.
When the Second World War started, Archerfield became an important military air base for the RAAF, and the United States and the Dutch Air Forces.
American B-17 Flying Fortresses, Kittyhawks, Dakotas and Dutch Mitchell bombers became common sights at Archerfield. Many large hangars were built on both sides of Beatty Road. Many of those on the eastern side of Beatty Road still stand today along Kerry Road. They were used by the big earth-moving companies Thiess Brothers and Hastings Deering after the war.
After the war, the Mustang and then Vampire aircraft of the RAAF's 23 Squadron were based at Archerfield until September 1955.
Once Eagle Farm became established as the main civilian passenger centre and the RAAF moved to Amberley, Archerfield became a thriving light aircraft centre. There are now many Flight Training Schools and Light Aircraft Service Centres based at Archerfield.
WHERE DID THE NAME ARCHERFIELD COME FROM?
Archerfield was the name of a 14,000 acre property nearby at Darra. It was further south of the present Archerfield airfield, near Blunder Creek. One of its earliest owners was a solicitor called William Edward Murphy. It is thought that a Henry Farley may have lived at Archerfield in the 1870's. Farley and Murphy were joint owners of two nearby properties purchased in 1877 and 1878. When Murphy died in 1881 the property was passed on to his sister Miss Murphy. The property was purchased on 6 June 1882 by Michael Durack of Thylungra.
In July 1929 part of the Oxley Ward was renamed Archerfield by the Brisbane City Council.
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 15 November 1998
This page last updated 15 November 1998