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November 30, 2020 6 min

Enjoy our next Haunted Historical Brisbane podcasts today!

Historical Facts

Opened in 1924, heritage-listed Brisbane Arcade was designed by architect Richard Gailey. Gailey was engaged by siblings Dr. James
O'Neil Mayne and Miss Mary Emelia Mayne to build one of Brisbane's first shopping arcades in a style reminiscent of late 18th century European design.

Haunting Folklore

Patrick Mayne

In 1848, an impoverished Irish immigrant called Patrick Mayne came into money and purchased two of Queensland's most coveted land blocks on Queen Street in Brisbane (Brisbane Arcade 2019). By 1849, Patrick and his family have moved into their new home and business, a butchers shop in the physical location now known as the Brisbane Arcade. What isn't as well known is that in 1848 a friend of Patrick Mayne's, a timber cutter and ex-convict known as Robert Cox met up with Patrick at The Bush Inn in Kangaroo Point and was later discovered robbed of £350 and murdered. On his deathbed Patrick confessed to his friends murder and robbery, and his restless ghost has been sighted on multiple occasions near the Adelaide entrance (the location of his original home) of the Brisbane Arcade.

Milliner Shopkeeper

The most sighting spirit within the walls of the Brisbane Arcade would have to be the Lady in Black, or the Milliner from the Gallery Level. She is often seen walking in a determined fashion along the balustraded Gallery level walkways, dressed exclusively in black and wearing a bonnet adorned with a beige and cream lace. It is said she is the ghost of the original Milliner who kept a shop on the Gallery Level and following a failed romance threw herself from the Gallery onto the marble floor below breaking her neck.

Bronia Armstrong Murder

And lastly, we have the well-documented Brisbane Arcade murder, that of Bronia Armstrong in 1947. The Central Queensland Herald (1947, p. 19) reported that on the 10th January 1947 Reginald Wingfield Spence Brown, a 49 year old accountant murdered Bronia Mary Armstrong. Miss Armstrong's partly-clad body was found the next morning in room 5 of the offices of the Brisbane Associated Friendly Societies' Institute located above the arcade by fellow employee Nurse Lorna Major. Armstrong was employed under Brown's direct supervision and in his office as a typist. It was said that Brown had developed a sexual passion towards Armstrong and on the afternoon of January 10, when they were alone, he attacked. Armstrong screamed piercingly for some time, before Brown knelt upon her elbows and suffocated her by applying pressure on her chest and after she became exhausted placed something over her mouth. Prior to Nurse Lorna Major's discovering of the body at 8.30am the next day, Brown had informed her that he had been assaulted the previous night in an attempt to explain away the marks upon his visible body.

The Telegraph (1947, p. 1) reported that Mr. Justice Mansfield stated, "This verdict, I think, is justified by the evidence. The facts disclose this was probably one of the most brutal and pathetic cases in the history of Queensland crimes." The Northern Star (1947, p. 5) reported that the Crown Prosecutor in a final address to the jury, said damning and telling evidence had been given and the jury would take into account the fact that it had not been answered. Armstrong's ghost is said to still haunt the inhabitants of the office her body passed away inside, moving objects and causing electrical problems.

Two of Reginald Wingfield Spence Brown's descendants wrotea book defending their grandfathers innocence in regard to the Arcade murder that was released in 2013 (Drummond & Teunis 2013).  You will learn more about Brown's final demise at our final stop - Boggo Road Gaol!<

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