Historian and author Toni Risson with her mother’s kettle, which is probably a “foreigner”.
Historian and author Toni Risson with her mother’s kettle, which is probably a “foreigner”. Claudia Baxter

Seniors look for 'foreigners'

A SENIORS Week event in Ipswich this month is aimed at seeking out the "foreigners".

"Foreigners" is the name given to the illegal decorative and functional objects Queensland Rail workers designed and made at the North Ipswich Railway Workshops.

Everything from kettles to wheelbarrows were smuggled out through the front gates, giving rise to ingenious schemes and funny stories.

The event Historical Yarns invites people to come along to 10-minute, one-on-one sessions with Ipswich historian and author Toni Risson to photograph and document stories about the foreigners at their place.

"Foreigners are part of the cultural heritage of Ipswich and its working community," Ms Risson said.

"They testify to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of older men in our community.

"Blokes told me there was a boat made there and smuggled out.

"Wives often boast about the tool a husband designed to get pips out of rosellas at jam-making time, but men adhere to a code of silence on the subject of foreigners.

"If they are reluctant to tell their stories, QR has offered amnesty on earlier objects - if they want to apply for this - or we can simply not use real names."

Ms Risson's family owns a probable "foreigner", a kettle made from copper, silver and brass.

"We've had the kettle for as long as I can remember," she said. "It was my mum's regular kettle. I'd like to know how old it is."

Historical Yarns is one of six workshops being presented by Ipswich City Council during Seniors Week at the North Ipswich Corporate Centre, The Terrace, on Tuesday, August 21.

Phone Ms Risson on 3281 1525 to book a 10-minute session.

MADE IN IPSWICH

Workshops employees used their skills, knowledge and experience to make a wide variety of products.

"If it could be made, it could be made in the Workshops" became a motto.



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