From an interview with Vic and Kath (nee Harrison) Townsend. Kath’s Grandparents on her paternal side were James and Mary Harrison of Malton, Yorkshire, England, who had three children Sally, Arthur and Ray.
Ray, who was born on 25 August 1884, completed his schooling in the village and then worked for the postal department at various postings and on 2 September 1912, married Mabel Bustard of Malton, who was the daughter of William and Mary (nee Harrison) Bustard. While marriages between first cousins was not too well accepted back in those days, the couple were to enjoy a long and happy marriage.
The arrival of their first child, Mary, in October 1913 and the joy of watching their daughter grow, came to a halt with the outbreak of WWI, when in 1915 Ray enlisted and became a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to a field hospital in Egypt.
For almost four years not one period of home leave was granted and only letters from home helped him to visualise young Mary’s growth from toddler to an independent little girl.
Sergeant Ray Harrison received the King George V Medal for Meritorious Service, and after returning home his second daughter, Kath, was born on 21 September 1921. Having spent so much time in the warmer climes of the middle east, Ray longed to take the family to Australia and so they arrived here in November 1923.
Mary celebrated her 10th and Kath her 2nd birthday on the trip out, on board the “Sophocles” a ship of the Aberdeen Line. After arrival in Brisbane, the next five months were spent with Uncle Bill and Aunt Lily at their home in Highgate Hill, until early in 1924 when Ray and Mabel were able to lease Lot 117, containing an area of eight acres, 29 perches from W. T. Fernleigh. Because the area was low and subject to flooding, preventing easy access, they also took over Lot 116 containing 8 acres, 1 Rood, 36 perches from W. McDonald,which gave the property frontage to Settlement Road running north from Kaloma Road. His family, many years later, were to eventually buy the properties freehold.
Both blocks were part of the “Soldier Settlement” scheme set up after the first war by the Queensland Government, and records show that a 15 year lease to the original ballot winners on Lot 116 (£4 12/6) and Lot 117 (£4 8/6) per year – around $10 today. These blocks were part of a huge 413 acres which became the 43 blocks of the sub-division. Forty two for farms and one for the Government Store Depot, Community Incubator Building, Supervisor Peter Rumball’s cottage and a little later, the local “ANZAC Hall” in Settlement Road, almost opposite where Kaloma Road joins and south to Fish Creek.
The family operated a successful poultry farm and had to contend with the loss of young chicks if the weather was too cold, loss of stock in severe heat and the ever present chicken hawks, though most of the runs had overhead netting as protection. As an avid student of poultry, Ray sometimes exhibited at the RNA and was also a respected judge.
Mary was to complete her primary schooling at The Gap, then went on to attend Brisbane Girls’ Grammar. Kath did all her schooling at The Gap, worked on the farm for a year and then became a seamstress. She recalls that she and a young Bill Proctor were the only students to sit their scholarship in 1935.
After completing her education, Mary became very active in the affairs of running the property and what she didn’t know about ‘chooks’ is legendary. Following the death of their mother on 20 April 1943 and their father in 1953, she kept the farm going until 1955 when they sold much of the property and she decided to take a well earned rest with a holiday back to England.
It was on this trip on the “Orcades” that she met Albert (Bert) Brown an officer serving in the sick bay section and married him in England and lived there for the next 11 years. Returning home to The Gap to enjoy their later years, Bert was to pass away on 2 December 1988 and Mary shortly after on 11 June 1989.
Kath was to meet up with Englishman Vic Townsend in April 1945, as a member of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm he had been posted to Archerfield and in September 1945, prior to a transfer to Sydney, they became engaged. Shortly after the navy returned Vic to England, Kath followed in September 1946 and the couple married in London on 25 October 1947.
Returning home, they built their home on the corner of Kaloma and Settlement Roads (north side) raised their three children, Joan, Geoff and Noel, and Vic indulged in his passion of classic cars, namely Rovers. With a block of home units now occupying the site, they moved to Romea Street and live a quiet life with a strong commitment to their church and happy memories of the surprise “Golden Wedding” celebration their family arranged, and follow closely the activities of their grandchildren.
Source: Reflections 1, Memories of The Gap, © Copyright 1999 by Richard Speechley