Charles Pillar Tait

The writer acknowledges with gratitude the considerable assistance of Geoffrey K Walker and his uncle, Laidlaw Brown Tait (d. 30 January 2008) whose daughter Pamela appears in one of the photos, in preparing this material.

Charles Pillar Tait was the son of George Tait and Maggie Small who were married according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church in the Abbeymount Hall, Edinburgh, on 22 February 1895. He was born in Cooper’s Plains on 28 May 1915 and, ailing from birth, died there three weeks later on 15 June 1915. His death certificate informs us that George Laidlaw Brown, a family friend of long standing, certified the burial at God’s Acre; that the service was conducted by the Reverend Cummings Air Capern of the Congregational Church; and that the witnesses to the burial were John Compton, the son of Edwin and Ellen Compton, and Olive Drew. The infant’s given names derive from the fact that his paternal aunt, Christina Bennet Tait, married Charles Pillar, a café proprietor in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Charles Pillar Tait’s siblings at the time of his birth, all of whom were born in Edinburgh, were: John George (known as Geordie, b. 11 June 1898), Laidlaw Brown (b. 21 June 1909) and Daisy Arthur (b. 7 July 1911). His brother Ernest Arthur Tait was born in Australia on 14 January 1919.

George Tait, the son of John Tait and Isabella Melrose, was born in Kilham, Northumberland, England, on 28 August 1869. He was working at the Edinburgh Evening News as a linotype engineer when, in the first half of 1912, Mr Woods of the Queensland Government Printing Office visited the premises. A few months later a telegram arrived at the Tait family home at 67 Willowbrae Road, Edinburgh, offering George a responsible position at the Brisbane printing establishment.

George and Maggie Tait and the three children were on board the Aberdeen Line’s 11,231-ton SS Themistocles (Captain A Douglas RNR) as cabin passengers when, on 12 September 1912, it set sail from London on the long voyage to Australia. The ship arrived in Brisbane on 6 November 1912 and remained there until 9 November when it began its return journey to London via, Sydney, Melbourne, Durban and Capetown. The Taits were met on their arrival by the Luke family of Taringa, friends from Scotland, who saw to their accommodation needs until they rented a house, ‘Willowbrae’, in Chardean Street, Acacia Ridge. Their nearest neighbour was the local postmistress, Mrs Olive Drew, the daughter of Hanna Danielsen who is also buried in God’s Acre. Olive was the midwife at the birth of Charles Pillar Tait in 1915 and may have assisted Maggie in the same capacity at the delivery of the stillborn Gladys Tait. Olive’s story is told elsewhere in these pages.



Having secured a loan from the Agricultural Bank in 1916, George Tait purchased a 43-acre block that would today take in the area bounded by Mortimer, Watson, Sussex and Beaudesert Roads, Cooper’s Plains. There the family erected a Brown and Broad ‘ready-to-erect’ weatherboard house which they named ‘Allarton’. This property was farmed by their friend George Laidlaw Brown until his death from consumption in 1918. The children attended the nearby Cooper’s Plains State School (now the Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School).

When Daisy Arthur Tait began work, her parents decided that it would be both safer and more convenient for her if they relocated the family home to a site closer to the Cooper’s Plains Railway Station. This move would also have eased the daily pressure of travel to the station which George and Laidlaw made by bicycle. With these considerations in mind, George and Maggie purchased land in Rosedale Avenue not far from the Chinese market gardens. They employed the services of Guyomar and Wright, house removalists, who relocated ‘Allarton’ there. It was a highly complex manoeuvre which was made more difficult by the Council’s refusal to allow the temporary dismantling of the railings on the Stable Swamp Creek bridge. Only when the house was precariously tilted to one side on the back of the removalists’ sturdy Daimler truck was the crossing of the bridge achieved.

George Tait died on 30 May 1940 and was cremated at the Mount Thompson Crematorium on 1 June following a service at 9.45 a.m.

Maggie Tait, the daughter of James (a fisherman) and Margaret (née Bremner) Small, was born in Wick, Caithness, Scotland, on 25 April 1878. She passed away on 26 April 1950 and was cremated at Mount Thompson two days later.

Finally, a few words about George and Maggie’s other children, Charles Pillar Tait’s siblings. John George (Geordie) Tait, whose health gave cause for concern throughout his life, did not marry. He passed away in the Moreton Bay Nursing Care Unit on 21 July 1976, having previously spent some time at Eventide. His cremation at the Mount Thompson Crematorium took place two days later.

Laidlaw Brown Tait married Lillian Carmichael McKechnie on 19 October 1933. He served in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. Lillian died on 20 October 1998, the day after she and her husband celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Laidlaw died in his 99th year on 30 January 2008.

Daisy Arthur Tait married Herbert George Walker on 6 April 1938. She died on 23 October 1996 having outlived her husband who passed away on 30 March 1957.

Ernest Arthur Tait married Mona May Cullen on 13 February 1940. Ernest died on 14 November 1967, Mona May on 8 May 1985.

It is possible that Gladys Tait, a stillborn child of George and Maggie Tait, was also buried in God’s Acre. However, neither the writer nor his sources have been able to confirm this; and no other information about her seems to be available.