Dr Henry Byam Ellerton
The Cricket Ground Founder
In 1908, the Queensland Government called applications in England and Australia for an Inspector of Asylums, and Medical Superintendent, Hospital for the Insane, Goodna. Dr Henry Byam Ellerton was selected from 25 applicants. Then 37 years of age and a bachelor, he took up duty at Goodna on 21st January, 1909.
The references from his superiors which the Government sought prior to his appointment mention his keen pioneering interest in what was the infant science of Occupational Therapy. His confidence in this form of treatment was later to be of immense value to the establishment of the cricket ground (now known as Wolston Park) and a nine hole golf course (now the Gailes Golf Club).
Dr Ellerton was slightly built and had a permanent spinal disability, a legacy from his University Rugby days. He wore glasses from his youth, and was a non-smoker and strictly teetotal. Forthright and dominant, he exuded an aura of authoritativeness that brooked no contradiction. He did not tolerate opposition and any that arose was quickly annihilated. In this respect, no one was exempt, not even Premiers and Cabinet Ministers.
Practical designing, a field in which he displayed marked ability, interested him and this, together with his firm belief in the medical value of Occupational Therapy enabled him to transform his surroundings. He meticulously planned the many major projects he undertook at Goodna and took personal charge of each. He freely sought expert advice but was intolerant of any other. With the huge labour resources at his disposal, he could reach for the sky and did.
His fanatical interest in cricket and his approach to that sport demonstrated his character. Within a few years of his arrival at Goodna, he had converted a swampy depression into the then finest cricket oval in Queensland. He did this by drainage and the transportation of many thousands of yards of fill in drays and wheelbarrows. He then turfed it all and added pickets, sight screens and a handsome pavilion to complete a playing field that was the envy of every visiting cricketer.
The cricket pavilion was built in 1910 on the South West corner of the cricket ground near the old fig tree. In 1936, the cricket pavilion was moved to its present location on the South West corner of the ground by patients of the hospital. The cricket pavilion was heritage listed in 1996 and is surrounded by significant land including the cricket oval. The cricket ground continues to provide enjoyment for all those cricketers who play on the magnificent surface.
Himself a batsman of moderate ability, Dr Ellerton built around himself a Goodna team which was the best in Queensland. He had his own method and it never failed. He offered suitable employment at the hospital to any outstanding cricketer who could be interested and his side included several interstate players and some internationals.
To prepare his wickets, he had initially QLD representatives, Jack Farquhar and Jack McAndrew. Afterwards, both undertook the duties as the wicket preparation at the Brisbane Cricket Ground (the Gabba) for the QLD Cricket Association.