Spring Hill, an inner Brisbane suburb, is immediately north and north-west of the city centre. The dividing boundary between Spring Hill and the city is Wickham Terrace which, incidentally, is the suburb's most notable thoroughfare.
The rising landscape was a source of spring water, and an example is to be found in the Roma Street Parklands.
In 1856 land sales occurred in Wickham Terrace and Leichhardt Street. It was a choice area, as the Terrace ascended a ridge where better-off residents could build houses to catch views and cooling breezes. Further subdivisions followed in the less elevated areas, and in 1862 the Spring Hill Hotel opened in Leichhardt Street. By the end of the 1870s there were several public and charitable institutions in Spring Hill: a mechanics institute (1864), a female refuge and infants home in Herbert Street (1871-1916), the Lady Bowen lying-in hospital at 497 Wickham Terrace (1890), Methodist church, a government school (1875) now Brisbane Central (1876), St Joseph's College (1875) and the Brisbane Children's Hospital (1878). The All Saints Anglican Church (1869) was built in Wickham Terrace, and is listed on the Queensland heritage register (QHR).
Spring Hill's elevated position made it an ideal site for service reservoirs, gravity fed from the Enoggera Dam. The reservoirs and their enclosures are near the windmill next to Wickham Park Built in 1871 and 1882, they were reconditioned and remained in use until 1962. In 2014 plans were announced to utilise one of the reservoirs as a temporary performance space for the Underground Opera Company with guided tours by the National Trust.
Whilst Spring Hill's elevated thoroughfares made for a desirable address, the lower areas were subdivided for working class families, within walking distance of employment, the city and Fortitude Valley. Moody's cottages at 8-16 Victoria Street (c1875, QHR) are surviving examples. The small blocks were cited as a reason for bringing in the Undue Subdivision of Land Act in 1885, prescribing a minimum size of 16 perches. By the end of the 1890s most of Spring Hill was subdivided and occupied. Stormwater drainage works were completed by 1886, coinciding with the provision of water for personal hygiene at the new municipal baths (QHR) in Torrington Street. Apart from the Catholic college and the Grammar schools three significant church buildings were erected in the 1880s-90s: the Second Bethlehem Lutheran church in Wickham Terrance (1881), St Paul's Presbyterian church (1889, QHR) and the Baptist City Tabernacle (1890, QHR).
A substantial medical and hospital precinct grew along Wickham Terrace, along with boarding houses, flats, schools, churches and clubs. Some medical entrepreneurs built rooms for renting to the profession, notably Wickham House at 155 Wickham Terrace (1924, QHR) and since World War II the Terrace has specialised in medical facilities.
Away from the ridges the working class kept to their cottages. Many houses were rented, and at the beginning of the 1930s financial Depression Spring Hill had anti-eviction riots. Inner urban childcare was pioneered there, with facilities at Bedford Playground (1927, QHR) and a Lady Gowrie Child Care Centre (1939). The 'adult playground' was at the Picture Palace (1911) where the tram turned from Wharf Street into Leichhardt Street.
Spring Hill's perimeter includes Albert Park, Brisbane Grammar (1881) and Brisbane Girls' Grammar Schools and Victoria Park running north-east to the Exhibition. The park includes the Centenary swimming pool (1959, QHR). Brisbane Central Primary School (1876, QHR) and St Joseph's College (1875) are set among residential areas, but much of Spring Hill closer to the city is commercial and public use such as hospitals and churches. A modern town house built in 1964 signified an early return to inner-city living, and a development control plan for Spring Hill was brought in during the early 1980s. The first Spring Hill Festival was held in 1973.
Spring Hill's census populations have been:
The sharp population increase during 1996-2001 was mostly from the growth in motels and apartment accommodation, a testament to Spring Hill's appeal as living space. The actual resident population in 2001 was estimated at 3632, the tourist/visitors being 40% of the number counted for the census.
Judy Rechner, Spring Hill heritage tour Wickham Terrace, Brisbane, Playground and Recreation Association of Queensland in association with the Brisbane History Group and the Applied History Centre, 1997
Queensland heritage register website, Springhill.