Suttons Beach Pavilion – A Short History

The story of Suttons Beach began with the purchase of land by the Rev John Sutton, an Anglican clergyman. One of six clergymen brought out to Queensland in 1860 to minister to far flung members of the church, the Rev Sutton was initially sent to Gladstone to establish a Church.  The following year John married Frances Johnson whom he had met on the voyage over and the couple settled at Gladstone. In1865 he purchased Portion 227, (21 acres) on the sea front at Redcliffe and in following years he purchased more land along the sea front: in 1869, Portions 189, (26 ½ acres), and 193 (20 ¼ acres).  In 1870 the Rev Sutton was appointed rector of St Johns Cathedral in Brisbane in 1870, a post he held until his retirement in 1885. By this time the Sutton family had settled at Redcliffe.  Sutton was elected to the Divisional Board and generally interested himself in community affairs, donating 48 perches of land in Sutton Street for a church building and often officiating at church services and weddings.  In the 1880s he subdivided his land and offered the blocks for sale.  At the same time, in 1884, the Rev. Sutton appointed trustees for a reserve on the water frontage of some of his land at Redcliffe, near MacDonnell Creek, (Portion 189).
I understand the trust deed has now received the signatures of the trustees for the recreation ground in front of Sutton Estate. The ground is to be cleared of all unsightly and useless trees, seats are to be placed on various points, and other improvements made which may be decided on by the trustees.

[The Brisbane Courier, Monday 12 May 1884, page 6]

A few years later more land near the Redcliffe jetty was added to this reserve and in June 1897 the Rev. John Sutton died after a long illness. Following his death, the Reserve was managed by the trustees whose ideas as to improvements to the area quite often differed from those of the council.  Ultimately however, Council was able to resume the land and plan improvements.
REDCLIFFE SHIRE COUNCIL RESUMPTION OF LAND. NOTICE. It is the intention of the Redcliffe Shire Council (with the sanction of the Governor in Council), to RESUME all that PIECE OF LAND commonly known as Sutton’s Reserve, Redcliffe, area sub. A, 0 acres 3 roods, 20 perches, sub. 13, 1 rood, of Portions 189 to 193, County of Stanley, Parish of Redcliffe, for Recreation Purposes. Any person, or persona having objection (not having reference to compensation) to taking such land must send such objection in writing, within thirty days from the publication of this notice, to Shire Office. MONDAY, August 7, has been appointed as the day on which any objector may appear before the Redcliffe Council to import the objection by such evidence as the objector thinks fit. A Plan of the land to be resumed may be seen at the Office, By order, I ARTHUR ASHMOLE,> Shire Clerk.

[Brisbane Courier, Monday 10 July 1911, page 1]

Eventually all this land was proclaimed as Sutton Reserve in 1911.  This is the area now known as Suttons Beach.
Suttons Beach Kiosk. Image courtesy of Moreton Bay Regional Council, ref RMPC-100\100084
It was about this time that excursion traffic had increased to such an extent that public facilities on the beaches had become an increasingly urgent issue and in April 1912, a plan for a Kiosk was prepared, with working specifications, by the Shire Clerk.
These plans and specifications of the bathing houses and the Kiosk having been adopted by the Council  on the motion of Cr Greenup and by Cr Wylie it was ordered that the Clerk call tenders for the work the tenders to be separate.  The sites were fixed upon for bathing houses and Kiosk the latter to be placed at the S. end of Stevens green Suttons Beach.

[Redcliffe Shire Council minutes April 1912]

Tenders submitted by Mr J.E. McGregor for the erection of two bathing houses of £41.17.6 each and a kiosk at £115 were accepted by council in June 1912 on the condition that the buildings be completed in three months.  The kiosk was completed by October 1912 and leased by tender to Mr W. Brown at the yearly rental of £20 for three years, and by 1915 council had erected a shelter-shed adjacent to the kiosk.  Mr Brown was followed by H. E. Goldsworthy who held the lease for many years until the new kiosk was built in the late 1930s. Letters to the newspapers voicing Increasing visitor disapproval at the lack of public facilities at this time were becoming much more frequent.  These were pre-sewerage days so toilet facilities were very basic.  Several toilet ‘huts’ were sited on the beaches and pans were emptied in the evening or very early morning.  In 1925 Council accepted the tenders of Mr. R.L. Devers for the sanitary and cleansing contract at 5d. per pan, and 3d. per garbage tin, £60 per annum for beach sanitary service. A general sanitary and cleansing rate was fixed at £2/2/- for each service. By 1929 repairs had been executed at the kiosk at a cost of £81, however it was clear to Council that more drastic action was needed and plans were drawn up for pavilions and kiosks at Scarborough, Redcliffe, Margate and Woody Point. The new two-storey pavilion on Suttons Beach was opened in December 1937. Designed by architect C E Plant, it was built of reinforced concrete with tiled roof by George Day and Sons.  The building contained dressing sheds, shower, locker space and a small store for the sale of hot water.  The second floor of the building at Suttons beach was taken up by a spacious cafe, accessed via a long concrete stair from Marine Parade.  The building was erected at a cost of ₤5500. By the mid-seventies the bathing pavilion on Suttons Beach was in need of some refurbishment.  Redcliffe City Council leased the pavilion to the Redcliffe Historical Society for use as a museum between 1975 and 1998, enabling the Redcliffe Historical Society to display their extensive collection of local memorabilia before relocating to the new Redcliffe Museum building some years later.
Sails on Suttons, 2009. CC Licence 2.0
The pavilion site was leased from council in 2000 by Sam’s Seafood.  Styled Sam’s on Suttons, the building now featured an upstairs restaurant, café, fish and chippery and ice creamery.  A first class Convention Centre catering for receptions and conferences was constructed adjacent to the pavilion in 2001. On 5 May 2005 it was announced that Sam’s Seafood, one of Australia’s largest seafood suppliers had been placed into receivership. In November 2006 Airport Retail Group leased the property from council after extensive refurbishment and Sails Restaurant and Function Centre opened for business early 2008.  The venue catered for beach visitors during the day, providing fine dining in the evening.  Four separate function spaces catered for a variety of events as well as weddings. Pilpel By the Sea opened in June 2015.  At this time the restaurant served Middle Eastern cuisine with a strong Israeli flavour.  In February 2017 the business changed hands again.  The change of ownership meant another change of name.  Now Suttons Beach Pavilion the building emphasises the Art Deco features and proximity to the sea.  Fully licensed it features a Terrace bar, Cafe and Restaurant.  In February 2021 council notified the tenant that the lease which expires 28 February 2022 would not be renewed.  

Patricia Gee 14 February 2022



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