Times Past with QT history columnist Beryl Johnston.
Times Past with QT history columnist Beryl Johnston. Claudia Baxter

Cotton an important crop in early Ipswich

WATCHING ON: The audience attending one of the sessions in late 1940s Eisteddfod held in the Old Town Hall, Ipswich. CONTRIBUTED

IN THE later part of the 1850s Mr James Josey became superintendent of the Ipswich Cotton Company, which had 350 acres of land under cultivation at Booval where cotton and other grains were grown.

It was said that the first big shipment of cotton sent from Queensland to England was sent from the Ipswich Cotton Co at Booval.

On May 31, 1864 an advertisement appeared in the newspaper that stated "Booval Plantation Estate - 124 allotments of rich alluvial land for sale from half an acre to 10 acres each".

The land was situated at the Plantation of the Ipswich Cotton Company on the Brisbane Rd, about one mile from Ipswich.

The sale was to take place on June 21, 1864.

The principal portion of the land, about 150 acres, had been under cultivation for several years and was cleared and stumped and where necessary, effectually drained.

The remainder of the land, consisting of about 85 acres, was open forest land, thinly timbered and well suited either for grazing paddocks or for farming.

Nineteen of these allotments had frontages to the main Brisbane Rd and 42 to other government roads, with all dividing roads being one chain wide.

On part of this land today there is the beautiful building known as Booval House.



One of the most important crops in and around Ipswich in 1867 was cotton.

This was grown mainly at the cotton plantations of Sahl & Tatham, Fairney Lawn, J Smith Bundamba Creek, JS Spencer, Toomburra, P Cardew Rhossilli and GM Challinor, Yamahnto (as it was spelt in those days).

At these plantations cotton pickers were paid 3 shillings per 100lbs and some of the pickers were South Sea Islanders who were brought here by the owners of the plantations.

The owners praised these Islanders who proved industrious and well behaved.

Because cotton plantations increased in 1867 two new machines for ginning the cotton were erected.

One, the property of Mr G Lennon, was established in an old tobacco factory in Mortimer St and this was worked by an eight-horse engine and was capable of ginning a bale an hour.

The other machine was worked by steam and had been established by Messrs J & G Harris.

In December 1867 the total export of cotton from Ipswich for the season was 1102 bales or 316,583lbs of clean cotton.



In 1871 Mr James Reilly established flour and saw mills on a high bank of the Bremer River at North Ipswich.

The two buildings held plant driven by one engine.

A report stated: "The sawmills on the ground floor contained the machinery, the second floor a rack bench for conducting logs into the rotary saw and the third floor was used for hoisting the logs from the loading wharf."

A representative of the largest engineering firm in Australia said of the new mills: "It is the most thoroughly substantial piece of work in any of the colonies. In the putting together of the parts three have been none of the ordinary wood braces the whole being secured by iron braces for the foundation to the roof which also contains screws at either end for tightening up as the timber shrinks."



Products of the Morris Woollen Mills at Redbank when exhibited at the Wool Bureau Awards in 1962 won six gold medals.

The awards were in the high fashion materials section and the company won the highest number of any manufacturer from the total of 32 awards.



It is almost Easter and one of the main events on the Easter calendar is the

Queensland Eisteddfod - and this year is no exception.

This is the 122nd such eisteddfod and it is to be held on April 3-5 in the Brisbane City Hall, where competitors from many centres will display their talents to the adjudicators and audiences.

Among the competition will be quite a number of Ipswichians who will be part of choirs or soloists in various items and as usual these people will bring added honours to our city.

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