Posted By jo on October 24, 2014
On 24 October 1929, representatives from manufacturing firms in Ipswich and the surrounding district formed an association with the principal aim of fostering a preference for locally manufactured goods. One of the ways the Chamber of Manufacturers fulfilled their aim was by exhibitions of locally made goods. At the first exhibition in the Town Hall in 1930, the Mayor lamented that some people seemed to believe that goods made in Ipswich were not on par with those produced in other places. This situation had arisen for the manager of the Ipswich Woollen Company who noted that although their sales in places like Adelaide were good, they had difficulties selling cloth in Ipswich itself. While in the early 1900s there had been much pride in locally produced goods, this outlook had changed possibly due to the increased mobility of locals which enabled them to see the wider choices available to them.
The Chamber of Manufacturers continued to hold exhibitions in the Ipswich Town Hall, with thousands of people from around the district in attendance. They also arranged for local school children to attend these exhibitions and followed up by organising visits to factories operated by members of the Chamber. Following their visits, the children were encouraged to write essays with prizes awarded for the best ones. These visits were very successful and as a result the Queensland Tourism Bureau arranged excursions for Brisbane school children so they could experience some of the unique factories operating in Ipswich.
During its existence, other promotional activities were held by the Chamber of Manufacturers including a “Back to Ipswich” Week in March 1935. In addition to an industrial exhibition, this promotional week featured dances, a procession, a flower show, window displays, sporting competitions and a CWA congress. The Wintergarden held a screening of the film “The City Beautiful – Ipswich” at the end of this week and 1500 people also attended a picnic at Colleges Crossing.
In a 1935 publication called “City of Ipswich” the Chamber was described as a lively and progressive association that had increased the public’s interest in purchasing locally-made products and boosted employment in the area. At this time, the Chamber was represented by four furniture factories, three woollen factories, one buttery factory, two sash and door factories, one axe factory, four cordial manufacturers, one pottery ware factory and one soap factory. Together, the Woollen Companies employed around 600 people, while the Axe Handle Factory had 85 employees and in 1934 produced over 205,000 handles.
Despite this success, at the seventh annual meeting of the Chamber of Manufacturers in December 1936, local manufacturers were described as indifferent and apathetic. The number of members had declined significantly over the year and it was suggested that they amalgamate with the Chamber of Commerce. In 1937 there was a renewed interested in membership to the Chamber although talks of amalgamation continued. In February 1938, at the Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, members passed a resolution to amalgamate with the Chamber of Manufacturers. At a meeting of the latter on March 4, the recommendations proposed by the Chamber of Commerce were adopted. With the resolution for the absorption of the Chamber of Manufacturers confirmed at a meeting on 17 March, the president of the Chamber of Commerce stated that “I am convinced we will work whole-heartedly together, and that it will be in the best interests of this city and surrounding district.”
Ipswich in the 20th Century by Robyn Buchanan; Chamber of Manufacturers – City of Ipswich Publication; “Apathy Deplored.” Chamber of Manufacturers. Mr C.H. Rich New President. Queensland Times, Tuesday 8 December 1936, p. 11; “Revived Interest.” Chamber of Manufacturers. Mr W. Medley New President. Thursday 2 December 1937, p. 8; “An Epoch.” Chambers Amalgamate. Commercial Men and Manufacturers. Queensland Times Friday 18 March 1938, p. 6