Concerning the property known as “The Fort” February, 1974.
There has never been any military ownership of “The Fort”, at Fort Road, Oxley.
The land was originally taken up by Mr. Henry Lucock, the first Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Oxley, for his brother. When his brother arrived in Queensland, however, he did not want the property. At that time there was no railway, and transport to Ipswich was by boat up the Brisbane River, or by coach along Ipswich Road.
In about 1873 Mr. Henry William Coxen was travelling by boat to Ipswich, and when passing the property known as “The Fort”, he was reminded of a similar position of a fort in Bombay, India. Mr. Coxen purchased the land from Mr. Henry Lucock and built a home on it, which he called “The Fort”. This was in about 1875.
Henry Coxen had two sons and two daughters. One daughter was Mrs. Hassell, and on her wedding day, he gave her the house and the property known as “Eddystone”, which is the land now owned by Miss Margaret Green. In about 1905 Mr. Coxen and Mr. Hassell had a dispute about the boundaries of the property, and subsequently the Hassells sold out to people called Pratten. Later, the Prattens inherited a property near Oxley Creek, and they moved there.
An Englishman, Bill Bright, a carpenter by trade, then either bought or rented the property “Eddystone”. He refused to join a trade union, and the unionists made working life so difficult for him that he and his family eventually moved back to England. The property was bought by the Greens in 1924.
There was another house situated further down called “The Slopes”. Its land had a river frontage and was bounded by Blackheath Road. Mr. Coxen went to live there after he sold “The Fort” to the Corkrans in 1906, and it was at “The Slopes” that Mr. Coxen died in 1915. Mr. Coxen had been raking leaves in his garden when he took ill, and his housekeeper had to run to Christensen’s dairy farm in Cliveden Avenue [near Morcom Avenue] to get Mr. Christensen to come to help. Together they managed to get Mr. Coxen into the house and to bed, but he died that evening.
One of Mr. Coxen’s sons was Major-General Walter Coxen. He had entered military service on leaving school. Walter Coxen was at sea en route to the First World War when his father died. After the war, Major-General Coxen sold “The Slopes” to the Smith family. In the 1960s this land was sold and subdivided into 28 housing allotments.
Mr. Thomas Knight Corkran [Miss Olivia’s father] bought “The Fort” in 1906 and it stayed in the Corkran family until 1955 when ownership passed to the The Passionist Order. Thomas Knight Corkran’s parents were Irish and were aristocratic and prosperous. They sent their four boys to a school in France that was run by the Marist Brothers.
Mr.T.K.Corkran ran a number of dairy cattle at “The Fort” because no milk was delivered in that area. [NB – 2002 – Margaret Green says that in those days there were large grassy areas on the hill and many of the trees had been cleared, so that most of the thick vegetation that is there now is regrowth.] In the valley itself were a dam and a well that were originally dug by Mr. Coxen. Mr.Corkran had them cleaned out and reslabbed several times, so that in dry weather he could water the cattle when the tanks at the stables were dry. The Corkrans had some horses too, and there was quite a large stable.
Even though the milkman didn’t come round to “The Fort”, the butcher, the baker, and the grocer came all the way from Sherwood.
On the corner of Cliveden Avenue and Fort Road, there was a house that belonged to one of Mr. T.K.Corkran’s daughters, Mrs. G. L. Hogan. She had been given the land when she married, and her husband built a home there. Later the house was sold for removal, and then she came back to live at “The Fort”. When she died she left her share of the house and land at the corner of the Fort Road and Cliveden Avenue to Cec [her brother], and her daughter, and they included it in the land that was sold to the Passionist Fathers.
There were several gates or entrances to “The Fort” property. There was one directly above the house onto Fort Road, one further along Fort Road, and another from Eddystone Road that came up by the stables. When walking to and from the station the family always used to come up Eddystone Road – we originally called it Coxen’s Lane. It didn’t have an official name and Mr. Green used to have his mail marked “road unknown”, so one day he put a sign on the Smith’s fence “Eddystone Street”. This really surprised the Misses Smith when they came home later that day.
The original house itself, known as “The Fort”, was built by Mr. Coxen and contained fifteen rooms including a hall, the lounge, dining room, six bedrooms, bathroom, storeroom and kitchen. The section at the rear end of the house, i.e. the kitchen, seems to be newer than the other; but in fact, it was all built together. There were some double walls in that house, and cedar doors. There is fibro-cement in the kitchen – the kitchen is only lined with that. I do not know why, but Mr. Coxen did not have the ceiling lined in any of the houses; ie “The Fort”, the Green’s, or “The Slopes”. We had that done after, and where you have your dining room, we had that as a breakfast room, with cupboards built-in there. Now the laundry was separate out the back. Father built that after we went there. When the Passionists bought the property, they joined that to the house. Under the house, Mr. Coxen had a sort of cellar. He had different things sent out from England and stored them in the cellar for coolness, but we had a small separator down there and used it as a dairy, for it was cool.
The Passionist Fathers built a toilet block and four bedrooms running out at right angles to the house. Mr. Coxen built sheds down from the front gates for the horses and carriage. There were two huge rooms in the house for the men. After the Passionist Fathers bought the property, Brother Anthony and Father John removed about three quarters of the shed to a position about one hundred yards east of the house. At present, 1974, it is used as a lecture hall.
The Corkran entrance to “The Fort” came between two large bunya trees, which were later struck by lightning and removed. The original entrance was further near the stable. Father would drive in the front gate, put his guests out at the front door, and go across through a gate to the stables. The front gate that I refer to is the one immediately above “The Fort” itself. Then he would go to the stables and unharness his horses and put the buggy and sulky in the stables.
This is where the original “Recollections” ended. These “Recollections” were a tape-recording that had been made in 1974, of Miss Olivia Corkran reminiscing about the house and district. She was then an elderly lady. A sketch map of the area is attached so that the reader can work out where all the dwellings were/are. Fort Road runs northwards along the top of the ridge and the slope eastwards and downwards to Blackheath Road is quite steep in parts. The slope down to the river on the northern side of “The Fort” property is extremely steep.
Edited by Hazel Lahey.