Tennyson, a river-side suburb, is seven km south-west of central Brisbane. The stretch of river adjoining Tennyson is known as Canoe Reach, a name that arose from European contact pre-dating by a few months John Oxley's settlement at Redcliffe.
In April 1823 Thomas Pamphlett and two others were shipwrecked on Moreton Island, and by walking and use of a native canoe made it to the mainland. Walking upstream along the Brisbane River they came to the Oxley Creek where two native canoes were seen. They used a canoe to return to the coast and were found by Oxley in October at Point Skirmish, Bribie Island. Canoe Reach extends downstream from Oxley Creek's confluence with the river. Canoe Creek was named Oxley Creek.
The area was named Softstone in 1884 by an early European settler, remaining so until 1892. Somewhat floodprone, the river flats were used for growing sugar cane and arrowroot from the 1870s; a sugar mill was built on the site later occupied by the Tennyson power house. In 1884 a railway was built from Corinda to Stanley Street, Woolloongabba, to transport Ipswich coal to the rail yards. The Softstone station was re-named Tennyson (1887), by when the district was known by that name. A settler had bestowed the name on the area as a compliment to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet laureate. The river frontages had two notable estates: Tintagel on Brisbane River and Hayslop (1887) on the power house site and the adjoining animal research centre (Yeerongpilly).
In 1904 the Brisbane Golf Club moved from Chelmer to its present site at Tennyson/Yeerongpilly. Tennyson Memorial Avenue was planted with trees after World War I, but away to the south-west industry was located between the railway line and the Moolabin Creek. Austral Plywoods opened a factory (1925), and there were a cigarette factory, a wine warehouse and a railway goods yard. Between the railway line and the river streets with Arthurian names were laid out. To their east, the Tennyson power house (for south-west Brisbane) was built during 1949-54. Much maligned for the airborne ash during its operational life (1954-86), the power house's industrial grandeur came to be admired in some quarters after all the ash settled.
Tennyson primary school was opened in 1934 and changed to a special school in 1973. Just as Tennyson was remembered by the street names, Thomas Pamphlett was remembered by Pamphlett Bridge over the Oxley Creek (1964) and the Pamphlett Sea Scouts (1942).
After lying idle for 15 years the power station site was nominated for a film studio, but the proposal was shelved. In 2005 Mirvac was given a contract for the power station site to build over 300 apartment dwellings and a State tennis centre to replace the Milton venue. The Queensland Tennis Centre opened in 2009 with a 5500 seat international-standard centre court and 22 International Tennis Federation standard courts including clay, grass and cushion acrylic surfaces. It is host to the Brisbane International tournament annually. Oxley Creek hosts the Brisbane Canoeing Club, with its clubhouse adjacent to Pamphlett Bridge. Several northside Brisbane private schools have their sporting ovals in Tennyson.
The census population of Tennyson in 2006 was 583 and in 2011 was 859.
Annie Mackenzie, Memories along the Boggo track, Brisbane, Boolarong, 1992