The Petrie family were the first free settlers of Brisbane. Andrew Petrie and his family arrived at the Moreton Bay Penal Colony in 1837, where Andrew took over as Superintendent of Works for the settlement. From this time as an employee of the New South Wales Government, he is credited with the construction, supervision and upkeep of the colony’s built environment. After the demise of the Penal Settlement, the Petrie family became the first and later one of the more prominent building contractors of the new Brisbane Town. Their extensive work has not been well documented and collated.
This study reviews the background and experience of the family, and the materials they used to construct the architecture so strongly linked to Brisbane and the family’s legacy. The high social standing the Petrie family held allowed them the opportunity to lead explorations to source building materials and resources, which in turn facilitated the development of new and improved building techniques. The Petrie family’s strong roots in engineering, stonemasonry and architecture play an important part in determining their role in the building of Brisbane. This study develops the thesis that the Petrie family may have contributed significantly more to the architecture of Brisbane than is generally known and accepted.
This thesis seeks to mass together all readily available written and illustrated material applicable to the architecture and construction work of the Petrie family, before the restructure of the company in 1894, into a single usable reference source. The historic value of these works is discussed, as well as the social significance of their work and its relevance to Brisbane.