Beryl Johnston, The Queensland Times history columnist, is photographed in front of a portrait of her late grandfather, John Livingston Auld, who was a mine owner in the late 1800's in Ipswich.
Beryl Johnston, The Queensland Times history columnist, is photographed in front of a portrait of her late grandfather, John Livingston Auld, who was a mine owner in the late 1800's in Ipswich. Claudia Baxter

Times Past: Bremer St bustling during wool season

MORE than 100 years ago when corporation employees were excavating in Bremer St, Ipswich, they came across an old log-crossing that spanned a former gully or watercourse.

The men were digging in the area so they could place sewer pipes in position.

The lower layer of logs was 6ft and the top layer 4ft under the level of Bremer St.

It extended in width to almost 25ft.

In the centre of this timber was a hollow log that acted as a sort of sewer to drain water into the gully.

This timber, which had lain in position for 50 years, was in good condition and one could hardly realise it had been placed there in the early days of the steamer traffic.

Mention was made of Mr Andy Connelly's Sawyer Arms Hotel in Bremer St and the fact that Bell St had a vacant corner and there was a watercourse that ran across Bremer St down to the Bremer River, causing a regular gully in that locality in the early 1860s.

Ipswich residents knew there was a bog-hole at this spot and it was not unusual to see bullock drays bogged in it up to their axles. It was because of the "hazard" that the logs referred to earlier had been laid.

Some of the draymen who operated at the wharves in this area were Messrs William Henderson, R Craig and J Whybird.

Bremer St during the wool season was crowded with horse and bullock drays and was an extremely busy section of the town.

 

ON TRACK: The North Ipswich Railway Workshops in earlier days.
ON TRACK: The North Ipswich Railway Workshops in earlier days. CONTRIBUTED

 

MINERAL FIND

Late in 1871 Mr Alfred W Foote discovered chrome ore just two miles from Ipswich. It was believed to be the first such ore found in Australia.

Upon being tested the ore proved to contain 60 or 70% of chrome of very fine quality.

 

MATHERS SHOES

Shoe salesman Bill Mathers decided in 1923, while having a drink at the North Star Hotel in Brisbane St, Ipswich to set up his own shoe business.

He did that, and while Bill was successful, it was his son Robert who transformed the Ipswich business into a Queensland retailing icon.

Robert had joined the business in 1945 as a sales assistant and it was his vision that set up business to become a major entity.

Robert rose from sales assistant to general manager and director by 1960 and, following his fathers death in 1973, was appointed chairman and managing director. He retired from Mathers in 1990.

By then his service to this industry was recognised with a Life Membership of the Retailers Association of Australia. The company had 280 outlets, employed 2000 people and an annual turnover of 125 million pounds.

Robert Mathers was knighted in 1981 for his services to the community and industry, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, made a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow in 2002 and received an honorary doctorate from Griffith University in 1992.

Sir Robert Mathers died on January 8, 2011 in Brisbane.

 

FIRST IN IPSWICH

ON March 26, 1912 a carnival was held at the West Ipswich Girls State School.

This event was unique because it was the club's first carnival and the first held by a girls' school in Ipswich.

Those involved with the carnival were Mrs GF Siemon, Mrs John Germain, Miss J Carraway (head teacher) E Mansfield, M Rigby and M Harrison (assistant teachers).

 

BOOVAL PLATFORM

In 1876 the Colonial Architect gave permission for a platform to be erected at Booval for the convenience of people travelling by train to the Christmas Races in Ipswich.

It was proposed to be 90ft in length and 8ft wide and would then be left standing so people might signal the train to stop when it was required.

 

NEVER ON SUNDAY

A petition against the running of trains on Sundays was signed by many Ipswichians in July 1877.

The reasons put forward in the petition were: (1) That it would deprive a number of men of their seventh day rest; (2) Be an uncalled for violation of the Sabbath and (3) Altogether unnecessary for the public welfare.

 



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