A sordid tale
Patrick Mayne arrived in Australia from Ireland as a 17-year-old in the early 1840’s. Within the next 100 years, Patrick created extraordinary wealth and had six children, all of whom died without having had children of their own. By 1940, the Mayne family existed no longer, but their legacy remains, including the magnificent Brisbane Arcade.
He married and had six children. As Patrick’s wealth grew, he built Moorlands House, which is still standing, and is now in the grounds of the Wesley Hospital.
Patrick’s reputation in the colony was of a cruel, brutal bully who was feared by most.
Even though the Mayne patriarch became an extremely wealthy man, he was less than discreetly shut out of clubs and polite society in general.
He confessed to the murder, robbery and dismemberment of Robert Cox shortly before he died, probably of syphilis, in 1865. Cox was an itinerant sawyer who had been drinking at the Bush Inn at Kangaroo Point.
It was four or five more days before Patrick actually died, time for the confession, which was overheard by four or five people, to spread like wild fire. This confession has been described as Brisbane most famous, worst kept secret.
The confession was made even worse by the fact that Patrick Mayne had let an innocent man hang for this murder. Patrick was also suspected of at least two or three other deaths, and a suicide. Innuendo of scandal and rumours of depravity, murder and insanity unfortunately still poisoned the next generation.
Of Patrick Mayne’s six children, none had children of their own, or even married. The two youngest, James and Mary Emelia, were the two last survivors of the Mayne family. They died in 1939 and 1940.
James Mayne (pictured above left – photo courtesy of the State Library of Queensland) was a wealthy surgeon, and a great benefactor to the University of Queensland. He gave the university the land to build their St Lucia campus on, and built Mayne Hall (many people think this means Main Hall).
The history of the Mayne Family is so interesting, it is the subject of a book, The Mayne Inheritance, by Rosamond Siemon, published through the University of Queensland Press, in 1997.
Brisbane Arcade was designed by Richard Gailey (Junior), who is regarded as one of Queensland’s most important earlier architects.
The building is located on a long narrow plot of land in the central city linking Queen Street to Adelaide Street. The design of the Arcade reflects the archetype of the traditional shopping arcade, which developed in Europe in the late 18th century.
The Arcade provides a pedestrian thoroughfare between two of the city’s busiest streets, with three levels of shops (basement, street, gallery levels) flanking a lofty central gallery under a solid roof with clerestory lighting.
Architectural details of interest include the Edwardian Baroque style street facades, original terrazzo stairs, balustrades and dado panelling. The Brisbane Arcade received Heritage Listing in 1992.
Links to interesting finds on the Internet relating to Brisbane Arcade’s history:
Courier-Mail story 2009