HOW WE WERE: An impression of Ipswich during the 1860s.
HOW WE WERE: An impression of Ipswich during the 1860s.

Times Past: Pioneers laid solid foundation for city

PROSPEROUS times were ahead for Ipswich in 1860.

To begin with, a Municipality was proclaimed and the first officials elected were Mayor John Murphy, Aldermen John Johnston, Charles Watkins, Donald Bethune, Christopher Gorry, John Malbon Thompson, John Pettigrew, Francis North, Thomas Stanley and the auditors were Daniel Collins and John Blaine.

At this time the electorate of Ipswich contained a male adult population of 806 and there were three Ipswich representatives to the new Queensland House of 26 members. The first Parliamentary delegates from Ipswich were Messrs F A Forbes, A Macalister and P O'Sullivan and for West Moreton H Challenor, B Cribb and Joseph Fleming.

Customers' duties were first imposed and later a Customs House was erected on the bank of the Bremer River. The Volunteer Movement was organised, a light horse company formed and the Ipswich riflemen won many competitions for marksmanship.

Still in the 1860s, a 1000-pound handicap in Ipswich presented to the winner of a horse race, John Scott opened the first national school and attendance on the first day was seven pupils, but soon 150 children were enrolled.

Post and telegraph offices were built, Mr Jas Reilly's sawmill was at work - it being the first such mill in Ipswich. Then in 1862 the Grammar School was founded, the Queensland railway system as augured by Lady Bowen tunring the first sod of the railway line which eventually ran to Toowoomba in 1864.

By 1866, owing to bank failures in England ,there was falling off of trade in the world and Ipswich went through a depression. The cotton trade which had flourished during the American Civil War was no longer a profitable issue and Ipswich streetswere crowded with men unable to get work or pay their way and businesses suffered.

Once things stabilised again Ipswich "came alive" and the establishment of foundries, engineering works and other industries such as the Ipswich Woollen Factory went on to great success and employed between 120 and 140 hands and turned out 66,000 years of tweed material a year.

In the 1880's Ipswich could boast a railway station, gas factory, water works, six banks, omnibuses, a double line of railway between Ipswich and Brisbane, several new hotels including the Royal and Imperial, and many new and expensive shops including Cribb and Foote's.


At the Police Court in Ipswich on July 17, 1925, the new Police Magistrate A F W Tregear was welcomed.

JE Walker on behalf of the legal fraternity said Mr Tregear came to Ipswich with a wide experience in Queensland. He (Mr Walker) offered Mr Tregear the cordial co-operation of the legal fraternity.


Tenders were being called in May 1886 for the erection of a hotel and shops at the corner of Downs and Lowry Sts, North Ipswich. When completed it would be known as Coopers Imperial Hotel.

The Imperial Hotel situated at the cnr of Downs and Lowry Sts North Ipswich was considered to be the largest and most elegant hotel in that area, when it opened in March 1887. Designed by Mr F D Stanley the two-storey hotel was of brick and had a frontage to Downs St of 66ft and 32ft to Lowry St.

The main entrance was from Downs St and on entry customers found that there was a bar fitted with a large semi-circular bar on their right and a coffee room on their left. There were nine bedrooms upstairs which had sprung mattresses on the beds and carpeted floors, and at the rear of the building was a large bathroom. Adjoining the coffee room of the hotel were two shops, one of which was occupied by Mr WA Hopkinson, a saddler, the other to be opened later as a tobacco and cigar divan.

It was stated "Taken as a whole, the Imperial Hotel is one of the most complete and elegant to be found in West Moreton. There seems to be a general impression that the building is far too good for such a site".The hotel had been built at a cost of 4,000 pounds.

James Cooper applied for a transfer of his licence for the Imperial to John Abbott in 1888. A decision was made at the annual licencing meeting in Ipswich in April 1891 to close James Cooper's Imperial Hotel on the corner of Downs and Lowry Sts North Ipswich. This decision was made after a local poll was taken which decided the number of public houses should be lessened in the Ipswich area.


In June 1925 Mr RC Rogers was appointed Health Inspector for the Moreton, Normanby and Goolman Shire Councils. Mr and Mrs Rogers, both of whom saw service in the Great War, were residing in Park St, Ipswich.


By every steamer leaving Brisbane especially for Sydney in 1871, one cannot help being struck by the large consignments of oysters, in fact the export had attained such dimensions as to cause serious fears that our supply will not only be seriously crippled, but absolutely exhausted.

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