PRIDE AND JOY: The first engine named Lady Bowen.
PRIDE AND JOY: The first engine named Lady Bowen.

TIMES PAST: The moment when royalty opened Ipswich railway

FEBRUARY 25, 1861 was an historic day for Ipswich as it was then the site for the turning of the first sod by Lady Bowen at North Ipswich for the start of the first railway line in Queensland.

The Union Jack and the Greek flags flew side by side (Lady Bowen was Greek) and the 1st and 2nd rifles of Brisbane and Ipswich were present with their brass bands alongside the Volunteer Artillery.

When Sir George and Lady Bowen left their hotel to proceed to the opening, the artillery fired a salute of 17 guns.

On the site of the ceremony a triumphal arch had been erected also at the entrance to a roped off area.

The rope surrounding the area had been lowered at a point some distance away and when the regal party arrived at this spot, the officials who were to greet them were not there. The news of the arrival reached the officials so they hurried to greet the Bowens.

Following Mayor Francis North's official greeting Sir George Bowen replied on behalf of Lady Bowen saying "I thank you heartily for the address - in the first place for your expression of your loyalty to the Queen and secondly for your kind sentiments and good wishes toward Lady Bowen and myself.

"You all know that I have been a warm advocate for the institution of municipalities - Ipswich was the first town incorporated by proclamation after my arrival in Queensland and I feel such a satisfaction in congratulating you on the successful result of local government here. I assure you that Lady Bowen and I always derive sincere pleasure from our periodical visits to Ipswich.

"On former occasions, you invited me to inaugurate institutions which reflect great credit on your energy and union and which cannot fail to contribute loyalty to the moral advancement of this community and this day Lady Bowen will commence work destined. I trust, mostly to accelerate its national progress - I request you Mr Mayor and gentlemen, to convey to the citizens of Ipswich of who you are the representatives our cordial acknowledgement for the greeting which they have given us".

The Hon Arthur Macalister Secretary for Lands & Works then invited Lady Bowen to turn the first sod of the Southern & Western Railway.

He then presented to her a "handsome silver spade suitable inscribed" an ornamental wheel barrow of polished cedar and mounted with silver, was presented by Peto, Brassey & Betts, the contractors.

Lady Bowen dug a sod of turf and placed it in the barrow and S.Wilcox the representative of the contractors then wheeled it along a plank and tipped the sod on the ground.

At 1pm there was an official luncheon in the School of Arts hall and the celebrations finished with a ball that night.


Wolston contained one section of 640 acres of purchased land and three sections of other land, together with 250 head horses and 400 cattle. Of this estate about 2000 acres were enclosed and divided into 10 paddocks with extensive garden and orchard.

In 1860 Wolston was occupied by the proprietor as a horse and cattle station and there was simple accommodation for a family and every convenience of the management of stock. The household furniture, farm implements, sundry sheep, pigs and poultry were to be taken at a valuation.

It was also advertised that the purchasers of Wolston could rent or purchase the adjoining estate of Mount Ommaney consisting of 881 acres, with the Wolston paddock connected by bridge over Wolston Creek.

Mount Ommaney had a three-mile river frontage.

Both these estates were situated below Cockatoo Island and half way between Brisbane and Ipswich and were the head of navigation for sea going vessels.

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