January 18, 2020

Gas, coal fuel city’s progress

BLACKSTONE BOYS: Workmen hew coal from the Bogside Pit, Cooneana Estate, in earlier days.
BLACKSTONE BOYS: Workmen hew coal from the Bogside Pit, Cooneana Estate, in earlier days. CONTRIBUTED

THE people of Ipswich in the 1870s had every reason to be proud of the progress being made in their town.

There was the establishment of the woollen and gas companies, a fire brigade and the construction of the waterworks on the banks of the Brisbane River.

It was in the early stages of the discussion re the erection of the Queensland Woollen Factory which led, during 1876, towards the formation of a company for the manufacture of gas in Ipswich.

At a meeting of interested people, one speaker stated: “The gas works would not only operate as a great boon to the inhabitants of Ipswich, but would be an investment of a most lucrative character to the share-holders.”

It was decided the capital needed to establish the gas works would be 8000 pounds, 7000 pounds of which would be sufficient for the purchase of machinery and 1000 would be enough for other incidentals.

The site for the new works was selected at North Ipswich (now part of Riverlink) as it was Crown land but, owing to some delay in the Lands Department, this two acres of land was not put forward until September 6, 1877. The Ipswich Gas Company, which had been registered as a limited liability company in November 1876, bought it.

William Highfields, engineer, drew up the plans for the new establishment and these were forwarded to England for the necessary machinery to be indented.

Englishman John Lewis became the first manager and secretary appointed, but he resigned soon after arriving here, so Henry Courtis from Melbourne was selected to superintend the laying down of the plant with Mr T Reece as contractor.

The first person to secure the credit of having a meter placed on his bakery business was Robert Tallon of The Terrace, North Ipswich. This was in June 1878.

To prepare for the lighting of Ipswich with gas, the Municipal Council decided that street lamps should be placed at Mellefonts, corner Nicholas and Bremer Sts; Givens Corner, cnr Brisbane and Nicholas Sts; The Queensland Times, cnr Brisbane and Ellenborough Sts, and McDonalds, cnr Brisbane and West Sts. At the Australian Joint Bank, cnr Bell and Brisbane Sts, and at the Bremer Bridge etc (prior to this there had been a few lamps which were lit with kerosene).

Ipswich was illuminated with gas on August 14, 1878, when the main part of town was lit for the first time.

Mining news

FEBRUARY 1883, the opening of a new pit at Bundamba to be worked as The Mount Pleasant Coal Company was made by Messrs W. Stafford, his three brothers, E. Sheppard and H. Price. These men had previously worked at Lewis Thomas’s mine at Blackstone. The new company leased 40 acres of land from James Payne and Mr Wright for this undertaking.

The Aberdare Collieries owned by Lewis Thomas in the 1880s employed 100 men and 200 tons of coal per day was raised.

Messrs Jones and Tapps’ Ross End and the Bremer River Coal company mines were at Redbank. Manager was Mr J. Hunter and these tunnels were about half a mile from, and to the west of the Redbank railway company. In opening up these old mines, many interesting relics of the crude workings of 60-odd years ago were discovered.

John Ferrett’s mine at Woodend was also re-opened and worked for a time between 1884 and 1887.

The Walloon Colliery in 1884 was worked by Aaron Noble.

The Bremer Basin Colliery with Mr R. D. Graham as manager, which came into existence in the 1880s, had a shaft sunk on the point of the Basin Pocket, opposite Tivoli.

The Ipswich Coal and Coke Company, under the management of Mr W. Harris, cut a block of coal weighing two tons and was 4’4″ in length, 3’6″ in breadth and 2’3″ in depth – which was forwarded to Melbourne for exhibition to show the capabilities of the Ipswich district as a coal producer in the 1880s.

In June 1889 a mass meeting of coal owners and miners took place in the Oddfellows Hall, Bundamba. The meeting was to consider the advisability of taking steps to deal with the bringing of New South Wales coal into Queensland.


TWENTY-one pieces of land forming part of the old Fernvale Timber Reserve were thrown open to settlement in August 1886.

Annual rental was fixed at two shillings and sixpence per acre and the purchasing price six pounds an acre. The farms varied in size from 40 to 45 acres.

These prices were considered too high and comparatively few people cared to rent or buy the farms.


A SPORTS carnival promoted by the Alberts Cricket Club was held on the Ipswich Reserve in October 1911.

A procession consisting of the Blackstone Band and members of the cricket club in fancy dress marched through the city.


Gas, coal fuel city’s progress