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Joyce Peirce – a Chermside West pioneer

Joyce Peirce Village Buzz

Joyce pictured in her back yard with units in the background where not long ago was a grass paddock. Picture by Allan Jackson.

Driving around the Village Buzz area with all its houses, units and commercial properties it’s difficult to imagine a time when it was all bush with a only few people living here and there. I must confess, however, that I hadn’t given the matter much thought until I met up with Chermside West local Joyce Peirce who was an early settler in the area.

Believe it or not, but the house where she still stays was only reachable by a bicycle track through the bush when she first lived on the property. Before we get to that, however, I had better go back to the beginning of the story in Kedron in 1930.

Joyce was born in that year and lived in a house in Shamrock Street with her mum, dad and siblings and went to school at Wooloowin State Commercial High. Her mum died when she was 12 but her father, a furrier, worked from home and brought the kids up by himself.

Word War II was still going on and she can vividly remember the butter and clothing rationing which made things difficult for Australians in those days. Another vivid memory is of Brisbane residents providing hospitality for visiting servicemen by inviting them home for tea.

The war finished at about the same time she turned 14 and left school – as many children did in those days – and went out to look for work. She became a typist at Bryce’s and enjoyed the life of a young woman about town with weekly dances at the War Memorial Hall in Kedron, occasional balls at Cloudland and regular visits to the movies including the Regent Theatre in Queen Street.

She had her first child, Tom, in 1952 and moved to Windsor and then to Inala where she spotted and ‘caught’ Bill Pierce, who was a returned soldier and who worked on the railways at Roma Street as a checker.

The couple decided to make their home on the land that Joyce and her brother had bought years previously in Chermside West. Her piece of that cost £450 which she eventually paid off at the rate of £1 per week.

Her brothers Roy, a horse-dealer, and George, a truck driver, were already living on land nearby. Bill and Joyce first lived in rented house in Trouts Road while a temporary dwelling was built by Bill and her brothers just up the slope from her present house.

The temporary dwelling built by Bill Peirce and Joyce’s brothers just up the slope from where the present house is sited

As mentioned previously, there was only a bicycle track leading to the house in those days and the only other people nearby were her brothers and a family who ran a pig farm located between their property and Rode Road. Brother Roy had a horse and sulky but Joyce was never really comfortable with horses and depended on her bicycle for transport.

She would ride off down the track to Chermside, park the bicycle under the police station and catch the tram to town to go to work. That was fine until she broke her leg but Roy volunteered to drive her to the bottom of the hill in the sulky from where a Bryce’s lorry would pick her up.

In 1961 and with a growing family, Bill and Joyce decided they needed a proper place to live but didn’t have very much money. A new house would have cost them $1400-$1500 so the solution was to buy a house which had belonged to a headmaster in Petrie for $200, cut it into three sections, shift it to its present location and then recombine the pieces.

A view of the paddock which is now covered by dwelling units.

Access to the property was still difficult but Bill and her brothers had been cutting trees to sell for firewood to supplement their income. They cleared a sizeable area on the slop leading down the hill to Chermside and had it graded in exchange for a carton of beer by men sand-mining in the neighbourhood. This shrewd bribe provided easier access to Chermside where Hamilton Road is today.

Joyce eventually gave up her work in town to concentrate on the home where her activities included milking the goats, collecting chook eggs for sale and taking the kids to catch the bus to school. Bill would milk their small herd of cows and they sold the surplus milk as well.

She remembers she didn’t see all that much of her own kids in those days as they were always out exploring in the surrounding bush; swimming in Albany Creek and cooking potatoes, onions and eels they caught there on camp fires.

The house which replaced the temporary dwelling on Joyce’s property soon after it was moved there from Petrie

Concluding our interview, I asked her how much had changed since her days in Kedron and, later, in Chermside West. The short answer to that question is everything; according to her, the only thing that still looks the same now as it did then is Tom Wallace Cycles in Lutwyche Road.

She says she’s had a good life as a Chermside West pioneer, wife to Bill (not good looking but really nice) and mother to four of her own and two of her deceased sister’s kids. I can easily believe it was a good life but I don’t believe, as she also says, that hasn’t been an interesting one too.

The $200 house still in pretty good nick all these years later. Picture by Allan Jackson.

Story for Village Buzz: Allan Jackson

Email: info@allanjackson.net

Website: www.allanjackson.net

Phone: +61 403 943 970

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