Who is this mysterious man from Gympie’s past?
IT’S one of the main thoroughfares in Gympie, and just one of the spokes from the iconic Fiveways, but how did Mellor Street get it’s name?
It is named for Mathew Mellor, the first mayor of Gympie.
He was born in Leek-Frith in Staffordshire England in 1837 and immigrated to Queensland at the age of 25 along with his brother James.
An even tempered and pious man, Mathew Mellor held the office of mayor twice - (first borough then city) from 1880-1881 and again in 1897.
He was also the MLA for Wide Bay and also for Gympie between 1888 and 1893.
Mr Mellor was married twice and had nine children through both unions.
When he died in February in 1899, the funeral procession was one of the largest ever seen in Gympie.
“To this church (Surface Hill Methodist Church) his body was brought and a mixed assembly of Gympie citizens were met at 4 o’clock to engage in a brief service and follow the remains of our brother to its last resting place. The procession was one of the longest seen on this goldfield, and many an eye was moist that is unaccustomed to shed tears,” an article in The Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette reported on Tuesday, February 28, 1899.
Mellor St is home to some of Gympie’s best known civic buildings such as the Gympie Town Hall, the Gympie Library and the Gympie Civic Centre.
Over the years, though, this valuable tract of real-estate has held the buildings of historical significance such as the Gympie Gasworks, the Olympia Theatre and The Grand Hotel.
The Gympie Gasworks kept most of the town lit prior to the introduction of electricity in 1916 and was located on the spot now occupied by the Civic Centre and Senior Citizen’s centre.
The Civic Centre was opened in 1977 at a final cost of $1.5 million but a cultural complex was first proposed as early as 1965.
The Olympia Theatre used to occupy the space where the Gympie Regional Library now stands.
It was opened in the mid 1910s and according to the Queensland Cinema and Theatre Historical Society closed around 1989 and was demolished sometime after.
For a while the building on that site housed the former Commonwealth Employment Service before that organisation was amalgamated with others government welfare organisations to become Centrelink and moved to a purpose built building in O’Connell St.
The Gympie Library had been occupying the Gympie School of Arts Building in Nash St (now the Gympie Gallery) before extensive renovations were made to the Mellor St building in order to house the library in the 1990s.
At the top end of Mellor St, opposite the historic Gympie Railway Station stood the Grand Hotel.
Originally named the Otago Hotel, it was opened in 1886. It was converted into a sprawling two storey complex called The Grand in 1914.
As gold on the goldfields dwindled, it fell into disrepair and was deemed dangerous in 1951 when a collapsed mine shaft undermined the foundations. It was demolished and a temporary bar was erected on the spot but that too was permanently closed on June 30, 1959.
A battery shop now occupies that site.