JIMBOUR HOUSE IN THE 1930S: Maida Bell lived in the magnificent home for two periods of her life.
JIMBOUR HOUSE IN THE 1930S: Maida Bell lived in the magnificent home for two periods of her life. Contributed

Family woes didn't stop Maida Bell

SHE was a frail elderly woman of 68 years who lived alone in West End, Brisbane.

There was concern for her but she staunchly rejected advice from friends and family.

But time was running out as the Brisbane City Council decided to seek a court order to have her committed to a public house to ensure she had proper care and attention.

Miss Maida Bell had lived alone since her mother died some 26 years before.

Though she received a pension, she had lived in more elegant surrounds in her youth.

She was the daughter of the Lieutenant Governor of the state, Sir Joshua Peter Bell and Lady Bell and a sister of the Honourable Joshua Thomas Bell, a popular and successful politician on the Darling Downs.

Maida was born in 1872 and, as a child, lived with her family in the newly built Jimbour House.

It was the golden years for the Bells and Maida was part of it.

Many enjoyed the hospitality, from weary travellers to local Aborigines but there was also contact with the top social strata.

There was the Governor and his lady and also the Duke Manchester.

When her father became Acting Governor they lived in Government House in Brisbane.

It may have been all too much for an eight year old girl.

Then the bubble burst when her father died suddenly.

Her mother went back to England as her sons were being educated there and no doubt Maida would have received her schooling there.

Returning to Australia had its rewards as they were allowed to live in Jimbour House and her brother Joshua Thomas (Joey) secured a seat in the Queensland Government.

Through all these years Jinny Maxwell stayed with them and it may have been her role to see to Maida's needs.

Then her brother married and made his home at Jimbour. Lady Bell moved to Brisbane taking Maida and Jinny with her.

The death of Joey Bell was a closing curtain on their life. Only Ginny Maxwell went back for the closing sale at Jimbour House.

Two years later Lady Bell died. Later Ginny would have died leaving Maida to run her own affairs.

To add to Maida Bell's woes a fire started in the kitchen. It left the kitchen in an unusable state.

So the old lady was unable to cook anything for herself.

Under the Health Acts a local authority can take action. The establishment of a Co-Ordination Committee resolved to obtain the Council's permission to secure a court order for Miss Bell's removable to a hospital or charitable institution.

When told of the court order Maida Bell agreed to go voluntarily.

Sir Joshua Peter Bell would never have dreamt his daughter would live her final years in such lonely and depressing circumstances.


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