Women Woven in
The Agnew/Kindred Legacy
Walking through the school gates at Grace Lutheran Primary School at Clontarf, it is easy to stand in awe of the flourishing Moreton Bay Fig that stands within the grounds.
The fig however represents more than meets the eye. Present during the era when the Agnew Clothing Factory stood on the same grounds, the tree signifies a legacy of a time gone by, of family, of a period that shaped the Redcliffe Peninsula to what it is today both for community and women alike.
The Moreton Bay Fig is symbolic of the impact that Marion Agnew and Juliann Kindred (nee Agnew) imparted on the Redcliffe Peninsula community and the growth that came directly from the actions of these two women.
Left to Right: John & Juliann Kindred
The early years
In 1945 Marion Agnew, a mother, wife, midwife and woman of extremely creative talents, relocated to Redcliffe with her husband David and her sons, purchasing just under three acres of land on the southern end of Maine Road, Clontarf.
In 1945, having previously used her creative talents to make and sell exquisite hand smocked baby wear to stores in Brisbane, Marion (now with daughter Juliann in toe) began employing a few girls in the lounge of her Maine Road home to continue her clothing production.
As Redcliffe was a geographically difficult location for girls with no training to find employment, the work and skills that Marion was providing to women (where the majority left school at the age of 14) played an important role by providing opportunities to women for five to ten years before they traditionally settled down into their own homes.
It was from here a business began that would not only impact the Redcliffe Peninsula and its people but would go on to become a known name across Australia, being sold in retailers including Woolworths, David Jones, Coles, and Myer.
A period of growth
As Marion’s clothing business expanded after the war, so too did the need for space and the first Agnew factory was built on the Clontarf family home site – where Grace Primary School now stands today.
The factory covered almost 939 square metres, and although nothing remains of the original factory today, the fig tree marks the spot near the factory where daughter Juliann, who took over running of the factory in the 1960s with brother Drummond Agnew, can still remember parking her car as she went to work.
Like all businesses, as the years went by there were many changes that the Agnew Clothing factory faced however the Agnews responded with innovation and perseverance.
Juliann married John Kindred in 1962 and the two continued to grow the business. In the 1970s, Drummond, Juliann and John began Kindred Manufacturing which successfully ran until 1981 when a fire destroyed the factory, and despite their valiant efforts, the business had to close in 1983.
Although the closing of the factory was the end of an era, the impact the business had on the community is still remembered and celebrated today.
A lasting legacy
The impact Marion Agnew and Juliann Kindred (nee Agnew) had on the economy of Redcliffe from the 1940s – 1980s was pivotal to the growth of the region.
It is through additional measures that the Agnew/Kindred legacy continues today. In 1970, Juliann offered part of the land which the Agnews owned to the Lutheran Church for the purpose of building a primary school. The Grace Lutheran Primary school now stands on this land, providing education to generations of children within the Redcliffe Community.
Juliann worked hard on the project ensuring that not only the land was provided, but also that the money needed to see the school established was raised. It is this work completed by the Agnew women and their families that has helped shaped the community to what it is today and what it will be in the future.
With thanks and historical research credits to the Redcliffe Historical Society. Information and dates have been adapted from the publication “The Agnew Legacy – A History of the Agnew Clothing Factory”, by Merle Ricardo, 2012.