Ashgrove Historical Society Inc. logo and name png

  • ArtS1 Grove Estate Plan 1888

    Advertisement for auction sale of lots in Grove Estate, on Saturday 4th February 1888.
    AHS archive no - AHS146

  • ArtS2 Grove Estate map c. 1900

    Grove Estate plan, c.1900. 

  • ArtS3 Ashgrove scouts 1909

    Ashgrove scouts, 1909
    AHS archive no: - 915

  • ArtS3 Seils Dairy Delivery Van 1930s

    Seils Dairy Milk Delivery Van, 1930s, a 1926 Willy’s Whippet,  owned by Seils' Dairy, Toomba Avenue, Ashgrove.  Milk was carried in the Dicky seat. 
    Source:  Neil & Jeanette Seils.

  • ArtS4 Waterworks Road, 1924

    Section of Waterworks Road showing the rough condition of the roadway.  1924.
    John Oxley Library digital image #201390

  • ArtS5 Old St Finbarrs Church Hall 1926

    Old St Finbarrs Church Hall,  Scan, 1926
    AHS Archive No: AHS523

  • ArtS6 Padmore Butcher Ashgrove Crescent c.1946

    WA Padmore, Quality Butcher, Ashgrove Crescent, c. 1946. 
    Source:  Desley Drevins.
    AHS Archive No: 559

  • ArtS7 Tram at Ashgrove West terminus, 1951

    Toast-rack tram No. 65 at the Ashgrove West tram terminus, in front of the Ashgrove West Uniting Church. 1969.

  • ArtS8 Grantuly Ashgrove

    Grantuly, the home of John Killough Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart of Glenlyon House.

Tribute to the Life of Meta Truscott




Saturday 5th September 2015, Ashgrove Library, for the Ashgrove Historical Society.


Presented by Maria Truscott


 As I pay tribute to the life of my mother, it is significant that this is the Brisbane Writers Festival weekend with Mum credited as being known as an Australian Diarist and  Ashgrove Historian.


I wish to pay my respect to the Traditional owners of the land, the Turribal people; acknowledging Elders past and present ; Uncle Nurdon, and many other people here who also represent as Elders to me, growing up in the suburb of Ashgrove, where I was born in what was the Ashgrove Private hospital on Waterworks road.


 I am Maria Truscott, Mum’s third child, along with my two elder brothers, Stephen and Jim. Mum had not longed turned 45 years of age when I was born. So, I grew up with Mum writing her daily diary.  Mum was onto her 29th year of diary writing by the time I arrived.  It was the 1st January 1934 that Mum aged 16 ½ began writing her first dairy. The diary was a Christmas gift from her maternal uncle. We can safely say that this is the official date of when Mum started recording life history. As I said in the beginning of my part of Mums eulogy that I will always remember my Mother for her strength, her strength of character, her character. I will always remember Mum as a strong woman, always on top of her game or able to get on top of things with whatever life threw her way.


 And so it was in my growing up years that I would hear how Mum was born in Toowoomba where her mother went for her confinement to be with the maternal grandmother and other unmarried aunts.. Mums father was a banana farmer near Yandina, (show photo) and after bunchy top disease destroyed the banana crop in 1920, the family moved to Eagle Junction, Kalinga in Brisbane (show photo), where her father found other work.  Her father deceased suddenly in 1934 and her mother, and Mum along with her  3 siblings, Bryan, Claire and Kevin  moved to Highworth, Eloura Road in Ashgrove 25 July  1936. (show photo) .


Mum moved to 30 Yoku Road Ashgrove, a couple of blocks away at the time of her marriage to Dad on15th November 1947. Mum moved into the house on 1st December 1947 after they came back from their honeymoon.  In 1947 Dad paid 200 pounds on the black market just to secure the house over above the price of 800 pounds the house. Houses were scarce after the war (WW11). Mum resided at Yoku Road for the next 61 years with the house being sold on the 26 November 2008.  I can even tell you that the ‘for sale’ sign went on the Wirra fence on 13th October2008 and an ad in the Courier Mail and Westside News the following Wednesday to promote the first Open House on Saturday 18th October 2008. By this time Mum had moved to Marycrest Hostel at Kangaroo Point. Mum and Dad named the house ‘Wirra’. Allegedly Dad was at the Irish club and asked someone the name of Mary in gaelic, and this was the derived name. We haven’t been able to confirm the accuracy of this word or spelling however Wirra it was.(The name is “Muire” for Mary in Irish and yes it does sound like Wirra when pronounced in Gaelic/Irish) The current owner Melissa is here today and I wish to hand over the house plaque – WIRRA -  that was always on the letterbox. Melissa and her husband are the second owners since Mum sold the house and they have done a beautiful job of restoring the inside of the house back to its original way with some modern improvements as well. (photo)


 Daily diary writing was to become a lifelong interest for Mum and it was to be for 80 years, ten months and twenty three days she wrote a diary. This also included pasting in newspaper clippings of interest, always with clag glue and including other ephemera. This also meant that the diaries would sometimes bulge with all the news. There was a time when Mum went to a binder system to be able to add all that she wanted to write and make note about as the diary books would need to be tied and bundled. By the end the collection of 81 years of diary writing represents 174 diaries that are kept in 94 boxes stored by the Fryer Library, U.Q. So my thanks to Simon Farley, Manager of Fryer Library who is with us today and was able to bring a selection of the diaries for us to view. 


There are also some additional diaries that Mum wrote: one for the Ashgrove/The Gap Bi-Centennial Committee from the view of a Brisbane housewife. This 1988 diary was presented to the Ashgrove Library on Friday 19th August 1994, and also that year Mum wrote  one for her first two grandchildren, David and Jessica. In 1998 Mum wrote a diary for her next two grandchildren Sarah and Lisa, and in 2003 wrote a diary for me.


 This period of time also represents significant history events that impacted on daily life in Australia and Mums life particularly the Depression years in Australia; Mum who began full time work at 15 years of age, said that she worked for 8 years before she was able to save anything with monies contributing to the family home: WW2 (1941 – 1945). The diaries for this time describe the beginning and the end of World War 11. Mum was the only one at home caring for her mother during this time as her brothers were away on army duty, and Aunty Claire had moved to Charters Towers for work and subsequently married and lived on a cattle station out from the Towers. I remember Mum speaking about the rationing and hardships of those times. The diaries record the stillness, the state of shock when war was declared and how Brisbane city went wild with joy the day the war ended. Some of this information has been viewed by other people compiling history of how people lived during this time.


 I remember as a child the diaries were stacked in boxes on top of a cupboard. As the years went by and we all left home the diaries would make their way into other cupboards and other available spaces. Eventually we put all the diaries together in the spare bedroom. They were easy to access for historical purposes and in deed many people who came to see Mum would be shown the collection of diaries. I found some photos which show various people viewing the diaries. (show photos).


 After different discussions as to where to eventually house the diaries, an opportunity presented to have the diaries stored at the Fryer library at UQ. This was particularly relevant to have the diaries stay in Queensland as they record the day to day life of a woman who had lived in Queensland all her life and 94 of those years in Brisbane. It was a surprise that Mum would let go of her diaries prior to her passing. In 2004 Mum handed over the first 70 years of diaries. (show photos) Mum was to remove one page only. It was the page that had a photo of her Mother on one side and the copy of the telegram to advise Mum of her passing 30th November 1947 on the other side. Mum was on her honeymoon at the time at the Blue Mountains. I was to find this page this week as I went through stored material and would like to now give it to Simon to place back in the 1947 diary for safe keeping.


 So Mums life from moving to Ashgrove in 1936 was very much involved in the Ashgrove community particularly Ashgrove West and St Johns Wood.  Mum was raised in the Catholic Tradition and subsequent marriage to Dad 1947 where they were married at Glen Lyon House Marist Fathers chapel, now a private residence; and raising children, hence we went to the local Catholic churches and Catholic primary, Mater Dei at St Johns Woods and highs schools both Marist Brothers Ashgrove and Mt St Michaels in Ashgrove.  In addition to her diary writing, and involvement in school canteens, parish and school committees Mum began to also take an interest in other history projects particularly from the 1970’s. Mum compiled the history of the Mater Dei parish for its 35th anniversary in 1971 and another for the golden jubilee in 1987. Mum also researched the centenary booklet for the Ashgrove State school in 1977 and wrote the Glen Lyon House centenary booklet for the same year. Mum also wrote “A portrait of Ashgrove’ in the appendix section of Canvas of dreams: A history of Marist College Ashgrove to 1990 written by Brother Mark Farrelly for the Golden Jubilee of Marist College Ashgrove in 1990; Enjoying historic Ashgrove with Chris Jackson, May 2000 (show newspaper article W/News). Mum also wrote a speech on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the sisters of Charity in Ashgrove for the 7th May 2005 celebration at Mt St Michaels.  Mum would also be featured in various articles or be asked for opinions from the local rag, The Roundabout, (photo), The Westside News  (photo)The Western Echo ; various school and community newsletters, Ashgrove Community Association, The Tram Stop, St John’s Wood The Gap Parish Grapevine, Marycrest Hostel newsletter, her 50 years of diary writing corresponded with 50 years of Australia Womens weekly August 1984; (show photo) , radio interview and featured in a TV segment about diaries in Simon Townsend Wonder world in June 1985. And of more recent times articles in the Fryer Library newsletter and readers’ blog. My elder brother Stephen also cited Mum in wikipedia if you require any further referencing.


Mum also provided family history material to be used in a book by Patrick Fitzpatrick ‘Oceans of consolation: personal accounts of Irish migration to Australia’, with reference to her maternal grandparent/s that migrated to Australia in 1864/7?; and the subsequent letters back and forth from the maternal grandfather to his family.  Uncle Bryan had kept the letters and thankfully Mum had saved the letters as Uncle Bryan had them kept in a trunk in the garage in his back yard at Roma. These days a lot of history is maintained electronically however in Mums time this meant hard copies of information and leaflets and photos were all kept, with Mum progressively handing over this information to Dell Paton, or others from the local history groups or others with interest in all things history, or friends or neighbours from the Ashgrove community. Whenever I was home on weekends or at other times I would always be in charge of putting the kettle on as often people would drop by and have counsel with Mum at the round table in the front sun room. This was also where Mum set up desk and had diary at hand to write.  Many people here today would remember that situation well. (show photo of Mum at the round table) Mum also had a raft of sayings that she seemed to be able to remember and pull out as required. Many of these quotes will also be found in the diaries and also ones that she shared with people. (in little books). 


We all wish that we had Mum’s memory for her recall of events and history. Mum had an interest in local history that she willingly shared with others over many years. As a foundation member of the Ashgrove parish she noted its progress and collected memorabilia, recording significant moments and the people involved in the journey. Mum was also a founding member of Ashgrove Historical Association in 2003 and was co-patron with Manfred Cross.  It was her recording of local history that earned her the title of ‘Ashgrove Historian’. Mum became a point of research for many local school and college children as they investigated Parish, school or Ashgrove history. Her attention to detail is legendary and to see information accurately recorded. When proof reading anything Mum once said to me that she found greater enjoyment in finding a mistake, the perfect trait for an historian. For many years Mum also visited the local schools and other community groups of Ashgrove telling the story of the district and sharing her collection of photographs, some of which were taped and I have copies of. And also talks on diary keeping and recording. As Mum got older I remember that individuals or groups of children from various schools would walk to Yoku Road sit in the lounge with Mum, the children around her while she spoke to them about historical facts.


 (show newspaper photo) The Brisbane City Council in October1994, was the naming of Meta Truscott Lane to honour her contribution to Ashgrove local history. This was an existing lane that connects Banksia Avenue with Woonga Drive. Mum often walked this lane way from home to the local Marist chapel at what was then known as Glen Lyon house where the Marist Fathers resided. We had an official opening to celebrate this with Mum on Sunday 9th October 1994. (show photos). Mum was also instrumental in having another unnamed lane from Glen Lyon Drive to Eloura Road named Marist Lane. (show photo) 


In addition to daily diary writing and recording of other historical projects Mum  was also a regular letter writer, long before emailing was the norm. As all her children progressively left home and left Brisbane we would all receive weekly or regular letters from Mum including news and advice, clippings from the Courier Mail, other newspaper and magazine cuttings and quotations about the meaning of life. It was also the era, and I am referring only to the 1980’s when I left home that you only called home if it was an emergency or of an important nature due to the STD costs. We also did not have a TV in our house til around the Christmas holidays of 1974/75, so Mum was well versed with filling in her time in other ways. And it was the era before the access to social media that we have today and so writing to converse was the main stay of communication. Dad passed away in 1989 and so Mum lived alone at ‘Wirra’ for some 19 years where Mum continued to have involvement with parish and community activities and her friends. Many people in the Ashgrove /Gap Parish community supported Mum as she remained at home and as she aged and required assistance with daily living.


  My brother at Mums 90th where about 100 people attended said that Mums willingness to share her convictions  and maintain her friendships with others was without bounds. Her lifelong diaries now in the Fryer Library at the University of Qld are testament to a life well spent. Mum passed away on the 27 th November last year 2014. As family we completed the final pages before her passing when she was no longer able to record. Also friends and family that visited during this time recorded in the final diary. Other contributions from family and friends were inserted into the diary  to complete the diary for that final year. My elder brother Stephen, our cousin Carmel and myself, took the last of the diaries to the Fryer Library on Wednesday 21st January this year 2015 where they are kept for perpetuity. (show photo) As my other brother Jim likes to refer to, history will be kind to Mum because she has written it.


There are many other aspects to Mums life and your own stories and memories to tell however we will have the record of her life which you are all welcome to view. (photo of Mum)