The new pool area, right next to the newly finished guest room with bathroom.
The new pool area, right next to the newly finished guest room with bathroom. Rob Williams

Houses of Ipswich: Lakemba

THE home perched on top of Denmark Hill can claim to have two records.

Firstly, it is probably one of the best known and talked about in our city located, a stone's throw from the Ipswich Hospital. Secondly, it is the house that probably sits in the highest spot in Ipswich, with a view that takes in not only all of Ipswich, but the Brisbane CBD out to the East.

The land it sits on was first purchased back in 1885, for the grand sum of 16 pounds by a Mr George Rennie Wilson, but it wasn't until 1902 that a house was erected on the site.

Heritage home Lakemba on Denmark Hill.
Heritage home Lakemba on Denmark Hill. Rob Williams

For almost 50 years it was owned by Alan Bridson Cribb, a member of the family behind the department store Cribb & Foote.

With high ceilings, large windows that you can walk through to the verandas, a huge kitchen, a massive dining area and of course, a back deck with views to die for, this is one of the most impressive houses in Ipswich.

It's no wonder that Andrew Antoniolli chose such an iconic property to launch his bid to become mayor earlier this year.

Jason and Simone Hubbard have owned the historic home for almost six years, and have put hundreds of hours into renovations that make it homely, while retaining so many of the original features. "Before we moved here we had a lovely little Queenslander in Newtown,” Simone said. "Jason is from Ipswich originally, he always loved that style of home.

" His parents spent most of their lives working on their home on Glebe Rd, but sadly the house fell victim to a fire.

"We always dreamed of living in the city, and with one child and another on the way, we started looking around for a place to buy. We'd driven past this many times and when he said we should have a look I said 'really' as we could see the home was in good nick, but still needed lots of work.

Clockwise from top left: 1. The new pool area. 2. The view from the back deck of the Denmark Hill home 3. One of the renovated bedrooms which is huge by today's standards. 4. part of the original brickwork still stands at the back of the house which makes for good conversation.
Clockwise from top left: 1. The new pool area. 2. The view from the back deck of the Denmark Hill home 3. One of the renovated bedrooms which is huge by today's standards. 4. part of the original brickwork still stands at the back of the house which makes for good conversation. Rob Williams

"To be honest I was a bit daunted by it. Wouldn't anyone? But it was because of his history of working on older homes and his passion for them, it got us both over the line.”

It is said that renovations are the ultimate test of a marriage, and with two young children, the couple put many nights and weekends into the house. Simone thinks that it is this shared passion for the history of the house that kept them going.

"I think the renovating bound us closer together. If we ever stopped investing ourselves in this house we might get bored and sell. Even though we've come so far, there's still so much to do. We have a whole section under the house to do and that's going to be a big project.

"The last part we did recently was converting the downstairs laundry into a guest bedroom with a small kitchenette and an ensuite,” Simone said. 'The original gardens were quite run down, and it was unsafe for the kids walking on steps that were cracked and broken. For the first year they weren't allowed anywhere near that area.

"We terraced the side of the house to make it safe, which was a lot of work but it had to be done. That was a big change to the way the house worked, as it gave us an outdoor area. We've since put in a pool, and the kitchen hasn't changed much at all. We've added benchtops and modern appliances. It was already functional, it just needed some updating.

One of the renovated bedrooms.
One of the renovated bedrooms. Rob Williams

Another huge change the couple made was was reinstating the Parlour room at the front of the house which fell victim to open plan modifications in the 1990s. They also replaced the roof and hand routed mouldings on most verandah posts which had rotted away.

"A most recent and satisfying task was replacing a cast iron dropper along the lace verandah valance at the front - missing for over 25 years,” Simone said. "It was a small, but very satisfying task to have custom piece re-cast so the old girl has 'all of her teeth back!”

According to Simone's research, the house got its name from a small island in Fiji.

"We think the name came from the Fijian island called Lakeba, which features a fortress on the top of it.

"There was also a ship called Lakemba, which is the English version of the word, that used to cruise around there. Before there were street numbers, houses had names, and that's why this is known as Lakemba along with other houses that have featured in QT Magazine like Ballachulish.

According again to Simone's research, The Congregational Hall in Ipswich was built by a man called William Betts, and he built Lakemba for his family. The house was then sold to a woman who was a newsagent in town, and she bought it at the same time her son was coming home on medical leave from World War I.

The back deck includes an original piece of brickwork that remains untouched.
The back deck includes an original piece of brickwork that remains untouched. Rob Williams

"We love that story,” Simone said, "as it shows that this house was likely used as a place to heal for that young man. There is a chance she bought this house for him to recover. "It's exciting to know that this house has that history, and we've not felt anything but positivity in this house.

"To know that it was a place where someone healed from the war, plus the fact that Cribbs lived here.... it's all very comforting. They were all here for such a long time.

"In almost 25 years we're the first family to take possession... which is a word I don't like to use... I prefer the word 'custodian', as many historical home owners do.”

The house still has all the original door frames, and several of the windows feature stained glass, giving it a sense of colour, and history at the same time. Simone feels that altering the home with flyscreens would kill the character.

"On a still night bugs sometimes can be an issue, but the rest of the year we have the attitude that we want to live in the home the way it was designed to be lived in, and these old homes catch the breeze no matter where it's coming from. It means in the afternoons you can choose the place you want to be to take advantage of that.

Some of the original windows remain in the home.
Some of the original windows remain in the home. Rob Williams

"My favourite spot always changes, mainly with the seasons. In Summer, the south-east corner is fantastic, under a tree with an old couch. It's a spot you can almost nap in.”

So how does Simone feel about living in a house with so much history, and knowing that everyone in Ipswich has probably seen it at some point.

"I wouldn't say we're 'done' but the house is really functional for us as a family now. There's always things to do in an older home, but until the kids are teenagers the house is perfect.

"It's good to see this home being known for all the right reasons,” she added. "I think that's fantastic. We love Ipswich and we hope that in some way we can share that little part of history and pay it forward.”



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