Queensland Country Women’s Association, Barcaldine Branch

Source: Hoch, Isabel. 2008. Pages 75, 92, 107, 143, 149

A Barcaldine branch of the Queensland Country Women’s Association formed late in 1924 with Mrs. W. Riley in the chair and Mrs. L. Pearson as secretary. An account was opened with the Bank of New South Wales and the Shire Hall engaged for a first function, a New Year’s Eve dance. The Association had 47 members but little of its affairs were reported in the first months.

Membership of the QCWA became important for women in Barcaldine. By May 1927, the Western Champion, which had hardly recognised its formation in 1924, observed that the movement had grown into an army with the battle cry of ‘Progress’. It had established seaside homes, hostels and rest rooms and was fast becoming a political force.

Barcaldine branch was eager to help its own community and in 1937 took over the ailing School of Arts, using the building for meetings and running the existing library.

Increasing facilities at the State School required more land, and in 1945 the QCWA were notified that the School of Arts site was needed to expand the school site. It was several years before other arrangements could be made. A block on corner of Ash and Maple streets was purchased for them by A. N. Templeton of Acacia Downs but ambitious plans to erect a two-storey hostel were abandoned when a permit to build was refused in 1951. A large home on a Fir and Maple streets corner was purchased instead and A. N. Templeton donated £3,000 towards it, and on 23 June 1953 it was opened as a hostel for waiting mothers while an office and library was constructed for £1,300 on the Ash and Maple street site. Books from the School of Arts plus 200 new volumes became a library run by Miss Fysh and reported in 1956 to have 47 members.

Led by President, Mrs. M. Urquhart, the branch objected to sending 10 pounds plus membership fees annually to head office. There were hot words in November 1931 when the president of Central Division, Mrs. Buchanan, visited to address members in the Shire Hall. Mrs. Urquhart pointed out that this drain on their local effort left the branch ‘practically nothing to carry on with’, and suggested that having Mrs. Archer accompany Mrs. Buchanan was an unnecessary expense.

In April 2000, the end of an era came for the QCWA Hostel at the corner of Fir and Maple streets, often know as Templeton house in honour of a benefactor, A. N. Templeton of Acacia Downs, who donated 3000 pounds towards its purchase in 1953. In early years it was a hostel for waiting mothers and later provided affordable accommodation for any women who needed temporary residence. It was sold, having outlived its need.


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