In 1928, Archbishop James Duhig purchased the home of Mr. Fred
Brown ‘Corinthia’, a home on the present Church Corner of Enoggera Road and
Davidson Street. Father Brian Bolton, after six years as Secretary to His Grace
Archbishop Duhig, was appointed to the new Parish of Kelvin Grove in Carinthia
The first Mass was on March 10th, 1928, at which 30
people were present. By May 6th, the average attendance had grown to 100 people.
In 1929, the congregation had grown so large that the house could no longer comfortably
seat the increasing Parish community.
This increase coincided with the Great Depression in the late
twenties. As in other cities world-wide, Brisbane struggled through years of
high unemployment, poverty and plummeting incomes. Fr. Bolton’s sermons were a remedy
for the Parish, who flocked to his church for “his [charismatic] personality as
by his priestly qualities” (The Catholic Leader, 1936).
To accommodate the new parish community, Fr. Bolton built a
brand new church above the creek on the hill, right in front of Corinthia House
in 1929. This building was to function as a church and as a school. The
foundation stone of the church-school was laid by his Grace on the 7th
April, 1929. On July 8, 1929 when His Grace blessed the school – he also spoke of
current unemployment and the need for relief.
The church-school was opened a year later, 7th July
1930. However, the church-school was to serve as a church only for over
forty-five years. The school of St Ambrose’s (as it is now known) was delayed
for 7 years.
Then on July 5th, 1936, the parish of Kelvin Grove saw the opening
of a new school – St Ambrose’s Primary Catholic School. A large opening ceremony
was presided over by Archbishop J. Duhig, who declared that day as the happiest
day in 8 years “because they were commencing their real work … [giving] their
children a Christian education” (The Catholic Leader, 1936). As a free gift to
the parish, Archbishop Duhig gave the deeds of the property, valued at 1250
With the completion of the school and a new presbytery for Father
B. Bolton, the parishioners of Newmarket had a splendid group of buildings. The
former presbytery was handed over by Father Bolton to the Sisters of the Good
Samaritan, who were to have charge of the school. By July 5th, 47
students were enrolled with the Good Samaritan Sisters. There were 94
enrolments by the end of the year.
The Good Samaritan Sisters were a community of of five sisters,
with Mother Ignatius in charge, had travelled from New South Wales to education
the children of Newmarket. They had a splendid reputation in the south,
particularly in NSW and VIC, and for 35 years they had been working with great
success in QLD – at first in Charters Towers and then in Brisbane. Their Good
Samaritan Order was a purely Australian foundation, dating from the days of Dr.
Father Bolton assured the people that the Sisters would leave
nothing undone to see that the children received a thorough education.
In the eight years since the property was purchased, the Kelvin
Grove parish had “grown like a young giant” and borne witness to “a splendid
Holy Name Society, a well organized parish, and … a flourishing Catholic school”
(The Catholic Leader, 1936).
Fr. Bolton was responsible for the pioneering work at Newmarket,
which was the first and only Parish of which he was pastor. He died in 1970
after being parish priest for 42 years. The pastor Fr F. P Scanlan, succeeded
him in 1978. The first lay principal in
1975 was Mr Jim Childs, who continued until 1989 when Mr Bob Taylor was
With the decline of religious vocations, the Good Samaritan
Sisters eventually withdrew from the school. Their place has been taken by a
lay staff who are continuing the traditions and ideals of a Catholic school.
St Ambrose’s has transformed into a vibrant school
community that continues to celebrate and maintain its links to a rich
heritage. In the 80 years since St
Ambrose’s Parish was founded, many hundreds of people have contributed their
prayers, support and work to continue Father Bolton’s dream and the Good
Fr. Bolton’s vision is the same we share today. We are a
community of hope, where education and faith provide a secure and safe stepping
stone to a successful future.