Woolscour and Fellmongery

Woolscour and Fellmongery

Stage Number: MBSH.02.05.24

Group: Southern

Local Study Area: Moorooka-Tarragindi

Epoch: Late 19th Century

Street Address: Sunshine Avenue, Tarragindi

Latitude & Longitude: -27.51644444,153.04505556

Time Link: 1863

Map Link: TBA

Image Time Point: TBA

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Thomas Blacket Stephens, a prominent South Brisbane businessman, newspaper owner and politician, established a woolscour and fellmongery in this area by 1863, after moving the operation from Ormiston. Woolscouring is a process of washing wool, and a fellmongery involves the preparation of animal skins for leather-making. Stephens later added a tannery here, made it one of the largest such enterprises in Queensland, employing about 200 people. Stephens also erected shingle-roofed cottages nearby for some of his employees.

As useful as the business was in economic terms, it did have drawbacks for some local residents, as was noted by a reporter in 1888: ‘Numerous complaints have reached us from residents in the Stephens Division regarding the vile smells in that district, noticeable especially when there is an east wind blowing, and the insanitary condition of the Sandy Creek on the banks of which are two slaughter-houses, a fellmongering establishment, a tannery, a manure depot, and several Chinese gardens.’ 


Elgin Reid, ‘Stephens, Thomas Blacket (1819–1877)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1976. Juliet O’Brien and George Dean, ‘A history of Wellers Hill, Tarragindi and Ekibin 1850-1976’, Brisbane: Wellers Hill State School, 1976; Brisbane Courier, 2 July 1888.

Image Citations

Cottage of an employee of T.B. Stephens at his Ekibin tannery, Brisbane, Queensland, ca. 1871. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Record number: 42355.

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