A perfume bottle topped with Queen Victoria’s crown and an old toothpaste box are among artefacts that have been uncovered at the construction site for a Cross River Rail station in Brisbane.
- Early excavation work at the site of a future underground station in Brisbane has uncovered artefacts dating to the 1870s
- Archaeologists say the discoveries show the items’ owners were affluent and cared about bodily hygiene
- The Queensland Museum is being offered the artefacts
A gin bottle imported from Amsterdam was also part of the discovery at a former Queensland Government Printing Office at Woolloongabba, giving an insight into the owners’ affluent life in Brisbane more than a century ago.
Some of the artefacts were uncovered and saved by excavator drivers who spotted them and there’s also been an archaeological dig to uncover items, led by Kevin Raines.
“They tell a slice of history I suppose of the local residents of Brisbane from about the 1870s, 1880s through to about 1910,” Dr Raines said.
“It shows us what they were consuming, what they were interested in.
“Bodily care was a major interest.
“Also we’ve got a lot of alcohol bottles and a lot of food items, which we couldn’t put on display because [they] needed conserving.”
The green glass “Lavender Salts” bottle from Crown Perfumery in London, dates back to as early as 1872.
It features a stopper shaped like Queen Victoria’s Crown, made with the permission of the monarch who was believed to be a famous customer of the perfumery.
The perfumery still operates in London today under a different name.
“Most of the artefacts do come from Great Britain because at the time being a colony Great Britain was our biggest trading partner,” says Dr Raines.
The Lucas Bols Gin Bottle dates back as far as 1880, but the company itself began distilling in 1575.
Known as Het Lootsje — or The Little Shed — it remains one of the world’s oldest distilled spirits brands.
Dr Raines said he was looking forward to what may be uncovered at some of the other Cross River Rail station sites.
“The Albert Street site is going to be interesting because that’s actually part of the old Chinese quarter from the 1870s to early 1900s,” he said.
“So we’re hoping to find some of the artefacts relating to the Chinese residents of that period.”
What will happen to the artefacts?
Cross River Rail Minister Kate Jones said her favourite item so far was the toothpaste box.
To find a ceramic toothpaste box intact, or not in the hands of collectors, is rare.
“I wonder if they also argued about putting the lid back on,” Ms Jones said jokingly.
She said the Queensland Museum is being offered the artefacts.
“They will have first dibs on these amazing artefacts which are part of Brisbane’s history,” she said.
Matthew Martyn-Jones, managing director of the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, said he also expects more items will be discovered.
“We don’t know what we’ll find, which is part of the mystery,” he said.
“The project may be about building the city of the future but certainly, as we do that, we want to capture as much of the past as we possibly can.”