July 19, 2019

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

Music career spans 66 years

MUSIC LOVERS: Nancy Jones (second left) with Prof Margaret Barton (centre) and family.
MUSIC LOVERS: Nancy Jones (second left) with Prof Margaret Barton (centre) and family. Contributed

Lifetime of music

SIXTY-six years of teaching music in the one city came to an end for Nancy Jones (nee White) when she retired in 1986.

It was thought that this probably created state and Australian records in her field.

English-born Nancy came to Australia with her parents in 1914 and lived in Booval House.

This is near Blackstone and she was fostered in music by her father, the Welsh community and the Parry family.

Her tutor was the wonderful musician Ida Ponti. Nancy gained her teaching and music qualifications from only 13 years of age and in 1927 was offered a scholarship in London but, due to family circumstances, was unable to take advantage of the opportunity offered.

Thelma Bickle (Mrs Bridley) was Nancy’s first pupil from 1920 to 1925 when Nancy started teaching at 13 years of age and her last student prior to her retirement was Ken Ingram from 1976 to 1986.

In her early teens, Nancy was pianist for the silent movies when “mood” music was played to help the story along and later became leader of the Wintergarden Theatre orchestra.

This very busy musician over her 66 years of teaching was also pianist and conductor of the Blackstone/Ipswich Cambrian Choir, organist at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church and also St Paul’s; formed the first orchestra for the Ipswich Little Theatre Society and started Saturday morning broadcasts of local artists over Radio Station 4IP.

Nancy Jones adjudicated at eisteddfods in many Queensland centres and was a life member of the Queensland Eisteddfod Council and the Blackstone/Ipswich Cambrian Choir.

Life had always centred on music during her lifetime and husband Ray Jones was an outstanding tenor in her earlier days.

Two of her most successful students were Professor Margaret Barton (Booval), later of Rome, Italy, who won the same scholarship offered to Nancy in 1927 and Dr Peter Roennfeldt.

Cottage hospital

HIS Excellency the Governor Sir William McGregor visited Esk on March 28, 1913, to formally open the new Esk general nursing home. A maternity nursing home had been in existence in Esk for five or six years, but it became necessary to establish a permanent nursing home.

The building of a cottage hospital on land donated by Mr J M Chaille was achieved with money lent to the committee by Mr Chaille.

It was a wooden building with eight bedrooms (six single and two double), a dining room, kitchen and storeroom with verandas back and front. There was also a smaller building with four bedrooms some distance behind the main building to be used as the isolation ward for those suffering infectious diseases.

At the opening ceremony, the Esk patrol of the legion of frontiersmen rode under its captain Ernest F Lord to meet his Excellency; the Esk Town band provided the music and scholars of the Esk State School were on hand wearing red, white and blue hat bands and sashes to sing “When the Empire Calls”.


FIRST refrigerator in the colony… On October 5, 1897, The Queensland Times reported that an automatic refrigerator had been invented and constructed by Messrs Sealy, Malcolm and Napier, of Harrisville. It was said to be the first refrigerator of its kind to have been seen in the colony. A demonstration of its workings was given in Messrs Howes Bros Building, Countess St, Brisbane.


IN JANUARY 1883, members of the Glamorgan Vale farmers’ club were interested in the cultivation of opium. Members said the poppy seed had for many years been cultivated on the Richmond River area near the New South Wales border and they felt it could be successfully grown in Glamorgan Vale. There was an import duty of 20 shillings a pound on opium and this brought the price to be paid here to 35 shillings a pound.


Music career spans 66 years