ODD PARTNERS: The completed 4 metre airscrew was proudly displayed by the pattern shop crew before its remounting on the Rolls Royce Eagle engine. From left are patternmakers G. Page, C. Boyd and F. Hazlewood, pattern foreman J. Miller and engineer Sgt Jim Bennett, of Sir Ross Smith's flight crew.
ODD PARTNERS: The completed 4 metre airscrew was proudly displayed by the pattern shop crew before its remounting on the Rolls Royce Eagle engine. From left are patternmakers G. Page, C. Boyd and F. Hazlewood, pattern foreman J. Miller and engineer Sgt Jim Bennett, of Sir Ross Smith's flight crew.

Ipswich's key role in England to Australia plane journey

THE North Ipswich Railway Workshops and aeroplane parts seemed to be a strange combination yet the two met early in the 1900s.

It began when the Australian government's prime minister, Billie Hughes, announced a prize of 10,000 pounds for the first journey by plane, from England to Australia.

This challenge was taken up by brothers Capt Ross and Lt Keith Smith who were already war heroes after serving at Gallipoli.

The brothers along with Sgt James Bennett and Sgt Wal Shiers left England in a Vickers Vimy - a strange choice to make as in 1919 long-range aircraft were non-existent.

This style of plane had been used in the World War One as bombers and held enough fuel to stay in the air all day.

The trip from London to Darwin took under 28 days and achieved world acclaim as well as winning the major prize.

Although the race was officially over at Darwin, the men decided to continue on to the southern states of Australia.

On this part of the journey they struck trouble with the plane at Anthony Lagoon and took three days to work with improvised bits and pieces trying to fix it until they managed to get to Charleville where Ross Smith sent a telegram to the defence establishment for help.

It was at this stage the Ipswich Railway Workshops came into play as the Vimys engine and propeller were removed and placed in a wagon on the Western Express railway.

The plane and its crew arrived in Ipswich and were greeted by mayor Mr Easton. From Ipswich Railway Station the parts were trucked to the North Ipswich Railway Workshops where they came under the supervision of chief mechanical engineer C.F. Pemberton.

Pattern makers Frank Hazelwood and Clem Boyd used nine layers of Queensland maple to construct a new propeller. Re-construction took most of January to complete.

Finally the public, at a cost of sixpence each, was invited to the railway for what was to become known as "the day of the big wind'' as the engine and propeller were being tested.

Sgt Bennett praised the railway men for their work as he considered it the finest done outside England.

The plane and its crew arrived in Melbourne in March 1920 and from there Sir Ross Smith wrote a letter to chief engineer Pemberton.

It read: "Dear sir, now that I have arrived safely in Melbourne, I would like to express my most grateful thanks to you and the men of the Ipswich Works for the assistance which you rendered to us when we broke down in Queensland.

It is very gratifying to know that I have at last succeeded in flying my machine to the place which I set out from London and this has only been made possible by the excellent and high-class workmanship displayed by your Works when carrying out our repairs.

I would be glad if you would convey my thanks and also the thanks of the other members of my crew, to all those who assisted in the carrying out of our repairs and tell them that by doing what they have, they have proved that Australian mechanics are capable of carrying out work in just as skilful a manner as any other mechanics in the world.

Yours faithfully, Ross Smith.

Naming and renaming streets

Following the declaration of Ipswich as a city in December 1904 came the naming and re-naming of many Ipswich streets.

In the East ward, Boundary St east and south became Chermside and Salisbury Rds.

The road between the parks leading over Limestone Hill was named Queen Victoria Rd and the one between the "Horse Park'' and Queens Park became Griffith Rd.

Thompson, Northgate, Deacon, Musgrave, Wyman, McGill, McLeod and Reilly sts were all in the Basin Pocket area.

The names of Ridge, Moore and Thorn lanes in the West Ward were changed to Keogh, Hooper and Warrill streets.

River Rd became Roseberry Pde, while in the Woodend area streets named were Pettigrew, Pryde, Cooper and Bowen.

Problem animals

Police in Ipswich made a raid on the owners of "vagrant goats'' which had become a serious nuisance in 1869.

It was also noted that horses and cattle which strayed into town were a great problem across the region at the time.



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