Remembering Puffin Billy and a top teacher

HISTORIC: The Minister for Transport (G Chalk) officially unveiling the commemorative plaque at the centenary celebrations at the Queensland Railways at Grandchester on Saturday July 31, 1965.
HISTORIC: The Minister for Transport (G Chalk) officially unveiling the commemorative plaque at the centenary celebrations at the Queensland Railways at Grandchester on Saturday July 31, 1965.


"The little locomotive Puffin Billy was the star of the Railway Centenary celebrations at Grandchester on Saturday July 31, 1965, and also stole the limelight in Ipswich when it set out on its 20-mile journey to Grandchester celebrations.”

This was the opening section of an article in the Queensland Times following a very wonderful day when crowds of Ipswich people were present at vantage points along the railway line, who waited to view the tiny engine pulling a vintage carriage.

After seeing the departure of the engine and carriage, crowds then journeyed to Grandchester to see them arrive. As many as 7000 people attended the celebration.


Members of the Ipswich Little Theatre in period costumes joined the centennial train at Rosewood and travelled aboard to Grandchester to re-enact the arrival of the first train at Biggs Camp as Grandchester was then known.


A gala procession and sports afternoon were staged by the Grandchester Railway Centenary Celebrations Committee and this was led by Colin Logan who was dressed in the livery of a town crier.


Minister for Transport Gordon Chalk gave an outline of the railways during its infancy and said that the completion of a century of service to Queensland was a magnificent achievement. He (Mr Chalk) then unveiled a cairn to commemorate the century of the Queensland Railways.

Earlier in the morning the commissioner for railways, AG Lee, unveiled a cairn at the lower end of Nicholas Street to commemorate the centenary in Ipswich. This cairn, a joint effort by the Ipswich City Council and the Queensland Division of the Australian Railway Historical Society was a reminder of the part played by Ipswich during the 100 years of the railway.


Margaret Charles was a highly respected person who was considered the "Matriarch” of speech and drama in Ipswich. Margaret in 1997 was one of only two Trinity College examiners in Australia and she had also written two books of theory notes for Trinity College.

This talented woman made her debut at eight at the Welsh Eisteddfod, she was the first pupil of Eunice Cornish and sang duets with Mrs Cornish's son, Hugh. By 1949, Margaret had set up her own studio and her students over the ensuring years competed and won prizes in many major competitions.

PROUD: Ipswich speech and drama teacher Margaret Charles awarded Trinity College of London's (TCL) most prestigious award, an Honorary TCL Certificate.
PROUD: Ipswich speech and drama teacher Margaret Charles awarded Trinity College of London's (TCL) most prestigious award, an Honorary TCL Certificate.


This was highlighted when she taught speech and drama at the Ipswich Girls Grammar School and Bundamba State School. She also wrote two best-play successes for the Warana Festival, developed master classes in choral speaking and received Life Membership in the Ipswich Eisteddfod movement.

To culminate the dedication to the profession, Margaret received an OAM in January 1997.

Yet another distinction Margaret gained in June 1998 was Trinity College London's (TCL) most prestigious award in recognition of her association with the college for more than 50 years.

Unfortunately, Margaret was unable to attend the ceremony in London to receive this honour which was being presented by the Patron of the college, HRH the Duke of Kent, so it was received on her behalf by T.C.L. director of Examinations Mark Stringer. Mr Stringer presented the Honorary TCL certificate to Margaret during a Trinity College Queensland conference in Brisbane on March 20, 1999.

Mr Stringer stated: "Being made a member of the London College was the highest tribute possible and recipients were few.”

In the 1930s, this article was written about the park curator:

"The park curator has 12 parks, eight rock gardens and from 300-400 street trees to look after. The improvements carried out in the Queens Park from time to time have assisted the park curator to make the park a beauty spot of Ipswich.

"The park curator is very keen on the bougainvillea and has already planted 45 plants that are in conjunction with the improvement works which have been carried out at the entrance to the city on Limestone Hill.

Some of the residents can remember when bamboo trees about 30ft high were growing from the corner of Milford St to the main entrance and if a comparison be made with the present entrance, credit must be given to the council and incidentally to the city engineer and the park curator on the decided improvement.”

Topics:  beryl johnston ipswich history locomotive lost ipswich times past

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