Local Stories

The Girls Friendly Society in Ipswich, Queensland

The Girls Friendly Society, also known as G.F.S., first began in Ipswich in 1902. Originating in England in 1874, the society was formed with the goal of providing unmarried girls, particularly those who had moved away from family for work, with friendship and support. The society came under the auspices of the Anglican Church and branches were soon formed in a number of dioceses, and then began to spread around the world. G.F.S. first came to Australia in 1879, brought by the daughters of the Governor of South Australia.

In October 1902 Mrs Pritchard, Rev. Dr. William Charles Pritchard’s wife, presented a paper to the St Pauls Ipswich parish on behalf of Mrs Chalmers of Goulbourn. The paper described the purpose of the Girls Friendly Society as being a place where women of good standing (Associates) would mentor the younger unmarried girls (Members). Suggested society activities included lectures on cooking and nursing; needlework classes; access to books, good readings and recitations; and social activities. At the time of the presentation interest had already been shown in forming a G.F.S. group at St Pauls and there were 50 names on the roll.

1904 St Pauls GFS

St Pauls Girls Friendly Society (G.F.S) in 1904. Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich.

The society was very involved in the St Pauls parish and the wider Ipswich community. In 1921 they undertook a community project and donated sleeping suits to the Ipswich Hospital. In 1935 they presented the church with a new altar cross. They held events, presented plays, and took part in church functions. On 2 September 1918 there was a debate between the G.F.S. and the Church of England Boys Society (C.E.B.S.). The topic was “Should amusements be continued during the war?” The G.F.S. were the victors with an affirmative argument.

At the Anglican Church Bazaar held in 1904 the G.F.S. had items for sale from their sister group in Ipswich, England. These included postcards, postcard albums, work baskets, handkerchief sachets, fancy pincushions, and a carved teapot. It was reported that the items were very popular with bazaar-goers.

A play performed at St Pauls Day-school in 1910, “The King’s Experiment”, starred G.F.S. members G. Bottomley, Viola Bottomley, Gertie Field, Daisy Handel, Nellie Hayward, Lily McMillan, Lizzie Moore, Doris Pearse, Rossie Simmonds, Edith Simpson, and Nellie Whiston. The newspaper reported it as being a successful event.

A founding member of the St Pauls G.F.S. was Miss Kate Anslow Fewtrell. Miss Fewtrell ran a private school on Upper Ellenborough Street. On 16 December 1929 at the final G.F.S. meeting for the year Miss Fewtrell, along with Miss Rose Phillips, was awarded for 25 Years Service to G.F.S. Nearly 100 members and associates were in attendance.

Other names of note involved with the society were Miss Ferrier (Foundation Member, Secretary), Miss E.R.Barker (President), and Mrs Jenkyn (Reverand Jenkyn’s wife). Members and Associates mentioned in newspaper articles include: Miss Jowett, Miss McGill, Miss McIntyre, Miss Sybil Oldham, Miss Marie Field, Myrtle Bottomley, Eva Catlow, Carrie Hayne, L. Jamieson, Gladys McMurdy, A. Ross, D. Ross, Agnes Selwood, E. Senior, Mabel Simpson, Miss Cross, Miss Ballin, Miss Stella Waldon, Miss Edna Bennett, and Mrs R.B. Massey.


Goodna GFS and Junior GFS float in a Jacaranda Festival Parade in the late 1960s. Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich.

GFS still exists as a worldwide organisation today.

Information taken from: “St Paul’s Church – Rural Deanery Conference”, Thu 16 Oct 1902 p10;  “Girls Friendly Society’s Entertainment”, Thu 15 Dec 1910 p4;  “An Evening”, The Queensland Times, Sat 7 Sep 1918 p7;  “St. Pauls G.F.S.”, The Queensland Times, Tue 17 Dec 1929 p5; GFS Brisbane website; GFS Australia website; GFS Worldwide website.

World War II Air Raid Shelters in Ipswich

As early as March 1939 World War I veteran Eric Stevens of Redbank was suggesting that Ipswich make preparations to defend the city against air attack. He feared that Ipswich’s river location, sizeable population and industries would make it a target. He was not the only one.

The following month a candidate for the forthcoming Ipswich City Council elections, Mervyn Welsby, advocated construction of underground shelters fearing that the proximity of Amberley Aerodrome and the railway workshops would render Ipswich an attractive target for air raids.

Such forethought was rather remarkable considering that the British Prime Minister did not declare war on Germany until 3 September 1939.

Not wasting any time after war was declared, on 4 September Ipswich Mayor J. Minnie held a meeting of local tradesmen, council officers, emergency organisations and the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Executive to plan how to best protect the city and close environs. Backyard shelters and air raid trenches were of course on the agenda. Soon after this event members of the public were invited to join the ARP as volunteers.

Over the next month some became air raid wardens, and some volunteers were requested to dig a model air raid shelter in the middle of Queens Park near the haystack. This was to be a long term project commencing with 5 diggers in December 1939 and progressing at a snail’s pace for some time.

Certificate air raid

Certificate (of Francis Weatherhog) showing membership of the Air Raid Wardens’ Organisation of Queensland, Ipswich, 1945 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

The ARP proceeded to construct a comprehensive emergency plan for Ipswich showing streets and buildings.  Also included was the number of people living in each house, location of phones, and names of car owners- all important elements for responding to a community emergency in the 1940s. Looking back, this is an amazing feat. Perhaps because Ipswich was smaller (about 25,000 population) than it is now (population 200,000), or in spite of it, it is unlikely that a plan of such magnitude could be produced today.

Ipswich residents were encouraged to dig backyard trenches for their own protection. It was suggested that those living in high-set houses could use sandbags to construct handy shelters under the house to be used in the event of air raids.  Later, Mr G. L. Harrison the City Engineer would draw- up plans for backyard air raid shelters and they were made available to the public.

Backyard air raid

  A servicewoman in a local bomb shelter (at Sadliers Crossing), Ipswich, 1943 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

By the end of 1941 and after 2 years of war, Queensland Premier William Forgan Smith utilizing National Security Regulations ordered local authorities to provide public shelters for the community. Owners of buildings and businesses housing 30 people or more were also directed to provide air raid shelters for staff, tenants & members of the public in the vicinity during an emergency.  Ipswich was to have 16 air raid shelters.  They were required urgently and their construction was to take priority over other civic projects, the first shelter being located in Limestone Street. In order to get the ball rolling council staff had their Christmas leave cancelled so that work could proceed without delay.

The community swung into action and over the next few months many sites around Ipswich acquired shelters and trenches to provide safe haven from air attack:

  • The Railway Workshops built shelters on the banks of the Bremer
  •  Ipswich General Hospital dug trenches behind the Children’s and Epidemic Wards
  • Trench shelters appeared in some public parks like Bremer Park
  • Browns Park was to get an underground shelter although the scarcity of reinforced steel impeded construction
  • Slit trenches appeared at Ipswich Woollen Mill, East Ipswich. They also used a unique combination  of wool bales and sandbags to create another 7 shelters there
  • It was compulsory for all schools to provide air raid shelters before the 1942 school year could begin therefore summer vacation was extended to allow for their construction by parents and volunteers. School eventually resumed on the 2nd of March with staggered attendance so that all students & teachers present could be accommodated in the shelters, if required.
  • Ipswich Grammar School had a zigzag slit trench on the lawn near the swimming pool and another large enough to hold 40 boys
  • Ipswich Girls Grammar bricked up the cloisters in front of the school for protection & added slit trenches


Air-raid shelter from World War 2, 42 The Terrace, North Ipswich, 1991 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

In Limestone Street between Nicholas & Gordon Streets, 8 shelters of brick & concrete using steel reinforcing were constructed. They were rectangular or “pill box” in shape measuring 50 feet long and 10 feet wide. (Approximately  15 metres by 3 metres) The top was 30cm thick.  Timber seats were built inside the structure.

Bomb shelter

(Image courtesy of  “Ipswich in the 20th century” by Robyn Buchanan, & Picture Ipswich)

At one stage it was suggested to camouflage the tops of the Limestone Street air raid shelters because they could be mistaken for marching troops from the air which would make them a target rather than a safe haven for the community.

Once the air raid shelters were built it was time for a practice drill. On Wednesday 10 June 1942 the first practice was heralded by a wailing siren issuing from Police Headquarters at noon. Everyone in the vicinity was obliged to play their part and proceed to the nearest public or private shelter and remain there until the all clear was given. Wardens and police were on duty. It went well and 8 days later a second drill occurred without warning, more closely simulating a real emergency situation.

Whilst public air raid shelters were compulsory and often intruded on the landscape they were considered to be lifesaving. However it was not long before their existence also became contentious. Some shelters prone to filling with water after rain became hazardous to small children and the unwary. Memorial Park in Nicholas Street was one of these. Members of the public were dismayed to find some shelters used as urinals.

Ipswich General Hospital often had to treat people who fell into trenches or were injured whilst digging. In early 1942 Stewart Pankoff (12) & C. Palmer of Chamberlain Street injured themselves whilst working on separate air raid shelters and were transported to the hospital for treatment.  A couple of months later toddler Marguerite McMullen of Dudleigh Street, Booval (3 years old) fell into a shelter and was treated for a cut hand.

Long before the end of World War II there is some community discontent and support for demolishing Ipswich’s public air raid shelters. Despite the considerable erection costs and potential need, public health concerns grew. Controversy continued as a couple of the shelters proved hazardous to traffic. However the concrete shelters were not so easily dismissed. A shortage of cranes due to the war effort, and the very solid construction of the shelters combined to hinder the process of removal. In fact it was later in 1946 before the Limestone Street air raid shelters were demolished and the rubble dumped in Roseberry Parade near the river, thus igniting more public disapproval.


Information taken from:

The First one hundred years: Ipswich Girls Grammar School.  Kennedy, Thalia R.L.  Brisbane: Boolarong & Trustees of IGGS, 1991, p.39.

Ipswich in the 20th century. Buchanan, Robyn. Ipswich, Qld: Ipswich City Council, 2004, p.7.

The Queensland Times, 2 March 1939, p.6.

The Queensland Times, 5 April 1939, “Communist Policy”, p.11.

The Queensland Times, 5 September 1939, p.6.

The Queensland Times, 19 September 1939, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 24 October 1939, p.6.

The Queensland Times, 13 March 1941, p.6.

The Queensland Times, 24 December, 1941, p.7.

The Queensland Times, 19 December, 1941, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 5 January 1942, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 17 January 1942, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 31 December 1941, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 12 February 1942, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 26 February 1942, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 9 June 1942, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 29 January 1942, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 28 January 1942, p.4.

The Queensland Times, 1 September 1945, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 19 March 1946, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 24 April 1946, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 24 September 1946, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 13 April 1942, p.2.

The Queensland Times, 16 June 1942, p.10.


When “Banjo” Came To Town

Famous for the creation of bush ballads “Waltzing Matilda” and “The Man from Snowy River”, Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson was also a solicitor, journalist, war correspondent and soldier. Many people are probably aware that Banjo wrote “Waltzing Matilda” in 1895 while holidaying at Dagworth Station near Winton. However, what is likely less well-known is that six years later he visited key towns in the state, delivering lectures about his Boer War experiences.

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, poet, solicitor, journalist, war correspondent and soldier, ca. 1890 / photographer Falk, Sydney Source: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, poet, solicitor, journalist, war correspondent and soldier, ca. 1890 / photographer Falk, Sydney
Source: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

On 14 March, 1901 it was Ipswich’s turn to host Banjo Paterson. At this one-night only event, he entertained the crowd with a lecture called “Queenslanders and Australians in Action and Humors of an Army on the March”. According to a local report, the lecture was very well attended and much appreciated by those in the audience.

Advertisement, Queensland Times, 14 March 1901, p.1 - Image Courtesy of Trove

Advertisement, Queensland Times, 14 March 1901, p.1 – Image Courtesy of Trove

Mr Paterson recounted the time he spent in South Africa with the Australian, New Zealand and British troops, covering some of the principal incidents of the campaign in a way that both captivated and educated the crowd. A local resident, Miss Mapstone, added to the atmosphere by providing accompaniment on the piano, while lantern slides were also used to great effect.

Interestingly, Mr Banjo Paterson was not the only famous writer to visit the area in the early 20th century.  Back in 1921, the creator of Sherlock Holmes visited the Redbank Plains apiary of Mr H. L. Jones.  While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose a bee-farm as the place to retire his beloved fictional character, this visit actually marked the author’s first foray into bee-keeping.

Information taken from: ‘Advertisement’, Queensland Times 14 March 1901, p.1; ‘Banjo Paterson Lecture’, Queensland Times 16 March 1901, p.3; ‘Paterson, Andrew Barton (Banjo) (1864-1941)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/paterson-andrew-barton-banjo-7972 (retrieved 3/3/17).

Whiteheads Studios: Keeping Our History Alive

If you have lived in Ipswich you are sure to have heard of Whiteheads Studios, or even had your photo taken by them. For over a century they have been producing images of Ipswich and its community, from family portraits, wedding photos, school and sport photos. On Friday March 10, 2017 this well-known business will call it a day and close a chapter on Ipswich’s past.

Whitehead Studio, Ipswich, 1896-1901 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Whitehead Studio, Ipswich, 1896-1901 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

First established in 1883 by Mr Francis Arnold Whitehead, Whiteheads Studio has been a stalwart business of the Ipswich community for 134 years. As a young boy, Francis was enthralled by the amazing process of photography and showed a keen interest in his neighbour Biggingee Sorabjee Poochee’s photography studio. As a young man he began working with the local photography company Frisco’s located in Ellenborough Street in 1880 and purchased the business when it was put up for sale, renaming it ‘F A Whitehead’, taking portrait and landscape photography. The business stayed in the Whitehead family until 2004 when it was purchased by staff from the Studio, who have nostalgically kept the family business name.

The Ipswich Library is very privileged that the Whiteheads family gave permission for their collection of photographs and glass plates to be added to the Picture Ipswich website. If you are not familiar with Picture Ipswich, this is a significant collection of historical images of Ipswich which provides a unique insight to the local history of Ipswich – its people, families, places and way of life. It is located on the Ipswich Library website. For some years now Library staff have been busy scanning and researching over 6000 Whitehead images and uploading them for posterity. The more we scanned and researched the photographs the more the staff recognised the significance of this collection, not just for Ipswich but for Queensland.

Nicholas Street buildings, looking north, Ipswich, 1956 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Nicholas Street buildings, looking north, Ipswich, 1956 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

These images tell the stories of Ipswich’s past and present, revealing details not seen in decades. For some photos, like this streetscape of Nicholas Street in 1956, zooming into the image is like stepping into the past: ‘walking’ down Nicholas Street you can window shop the Christmas specials and look at the decorations. There is so much information in this image on the retail history of the city, which tells a story beyond Cribb & Foote. It is also the story of the city’s lost architectural heritage. Shoppers and workers go about their business, but if you look closely, in the backseat of one of the cars, a young boy stares out of the window directly into the photographer’s lens and looks directly at us 60 years on.

Interior of London Pharmacy, 114 Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 1920s (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Interior of London Pharmacy, 114 Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 1920s (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

There is a wealth of information contained in the over 6000 images. There are the photos of people – well-known local identities and families celebrating special events. There are the streetscapes that tell the story of progress, decline, and future potential. There are the unusual and odd images, and images of pumps – hundreds of images of pumps, you have no idea how many images of pumps. Images of the local business that once lined the main streets in the centre of town and the industrial sites that show the city’s manufacturing history from railways to woollen mills, power stations to engineering works.

Cooking Demonstration at R T Edwards & Sons stand at the Ipswich Show, Ipswich, 1957 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Cooking Demonstration at R T Edwards & Sons stand at the Ipswich Show, Ipswich, 1957 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

There are the houses showing changing tastes in architectural design. There are the sporting groups, the choirs, Queen’s Park, bowling alleys, churches, swimming baths, movie theatres and the Ipswich Show, that speak of changing tastes in leisure activities. And then there are the inside images of shops with their products on display, depicting our changing consumerism in the post-war years. Collectively, these images tell the story of Ipswich, an enviable collection for the city’s historians to research and residents to treasure.

Thank you to the ‘Whitehead’ family for sharing the history of Ipswich and for giving us moments in time we can look back at forever.


Vi Jordan recognised

From the Whitehead Collection, Picture Ipswich.

Vi Jordan 29 June 1913 – 7 May 1982 (Image courtesy of the Whitehead Collection, Picture Ipswich.)

Vi Jordan has been recognised by having the new seat of Jordan named after her in the Queensland Redistribution Commission’s proposal for the redistribution of the State’s electoral districts.  Jordan – one of four electorates in the Ipswich area – is located between Bundamba and Logan and includes Springfield.

It is Queensland Women’s Week 6 – 12 March 2017 and International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March so this is a good time to recognise the achievements of Vi Jordan who did much to stand up for social justice and the rights of women.

Ellen Violet ‘Vi’ Jordan (nee Perrett) was born in Ipswich 29 June 1913 – the daughter of Anne Jane Brown and English-born James Bertie Perrett, an Ipswich Railway Workshops fitter. She was brought up in a strong union environment as her father was secretary of the Iron Workers’ Union when she was a child.

Vi was educated at Brassall State School and Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School.

She married David Jordan (a railway porter who later went on to become the chief railway signalman at Ipswich) on 14 May 1932 at St Thomas’s Church of England, North Ipswich.

Vi was the first:

  • female alderman to be elected to the Ipswich City Council
  • Labor woman elected to the Queensland Parliament
  • woman to chair a Parliament in Australia (22 November 1973)

Vi was an alderman of the Ipswich City Council from 5 June 1961 to 13 April 1967.

Vi joined the Labor Party in 1946 and was the ALP Inaugural President for the Women’s Central Committee Queensland from 1956 to 1967. She was also the Inaugural President of the Australian ALP Women’s Executive from 1974 to 1976.

Vi Jordan was ALP Member for Ipswich West from May 1966 to 7 December 1974. She was the second woman to be elected to the Queensland Parliament since Irene Longman in 1929. Like Longman, Vi Jordan was the only woman member of the House for the whole of her parliamentary career. There were no women in the Queensland Parliament from 1932 to 1966. Today Annastacia Palaszczuk is premier and 25 out of 89 current members (including ministers and shadow ministers) are women.

Vi Jordan was always a strong advocate for women and social justice. This is demonstrated by her lengthy grievance in Parliament on Equal Pay for Women (1 December 1966) where a motion standing in her name from 4 August 1966 had not been debated during that session. The motion stated “That to remove a grave injustice which has been perpetrated on women for many years, this House resolves (a) that action should be taken during the current session to introduce legislation to provide for equal pay for equal work, irrespective of sex; and (b) that such legislation incorporates the abolition of discrimination against women in the Public Service.” (p.2098 Hansard 1 December 1966) Vi then goes on to say that “the fact this motion has not come before the House for debate is indeed a grievance with me, and I am sure it is also a grievance to many people, particularly women’s organisations and women generally.” (p.2098 Hansard 1 December 1966)

In 1975 Vi Jordan became a member of the Council of Queensland Women set up to advise the State Government on the status of women.

Vi was also an active member of the Ipswich social and sporting community. She was:

  • patroness of the Ipswich Vigoro Club
  • patroness of the Ipswich Vice Regal and Model Band
  • a keen lawn bowler and on the committee of the North Ipswich Bowling Club

“Being a very good lawn bowler, Vi Jordan was selected for the Queensland Parliamentary Bowls Team when it went to Melbourne to compete in the 1972 inter-parliamentary bowls carnival. However, when the team arrived at the venue – which on this occasion was the greens at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – it was discovered that the MCG did not permit women to play on its greens. The press had a field day, but Jordan in her typical unruffled fashion merely described the incident as ‘Victoriana’!” Source: McCulloch p. 71


  •  Member of the Order of Australia for her work in local government and the community (June 1976)
  •  Queen’s Jubilee medal (1977)


Information taken from: Australian Dictionary of Biography 2007; Jordan, Mrs Ellen Violet (Vi) Queensland Parliament Former Members Biography; McCulloch, John “100 years of women’s suffrage in Queensland 1905 – 2005: some important firsts” Queensland Review v. 12 no. 2: pp 63 – 72; Parliamentary Debates [Hansard] Legislative Assembly. Thursday, 1 December, 1966; The acceptance of women in Queensland Parliament has been a long road by Terry Sweetman. The Sunday Mail (Qld) 17 August 2013;”Labor loses a Violet – Vi Jordan dies”. The Queensland Times 8 May 1982 p 2; Queensland Parliament website; The Queensland Redistribution Commission’s Proposal (in full) PDF.

Right Royal Welcome

Years before The Beatles or The Rolling Stones came to Australia, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother visited Ipswich. It was a rock star welcome.

12000 loyal subjects greeted Her Royal Highness at Queen’s Park including approximately 5000 excited, flag-waving school children. Some waited 8 hours in the heat (27 degrees) and humidity (79%) to catch a glimpse of the royal visitor. Despite the long wait, the atmosphere was convivial & celebratory. Picnic lunches were consumed and some women passed the time crocheting and sewing.

The sky was grey above but morning showers did not dampen the spirits of those in attendance. In fact the wet weather of the previous few days had worried organisers and an alternate venue for the planned civic reception had been found and readied at the Wintergarden Theatre. Indecision also surrounded the landing of the royal aircraft and whether it was best to touch down at RAAF Base Amberley or Archerfield airfield. After a long wait on Wednesday 19 February 1958 in muggy conditions the royal entourage arrived in Queen’s Park at 3.45 pm – and stayed just 20 minutes!

The Mayor wearing his robes of office walked the Queen Mum up the 50 feet long red carpet to the royal dais. Here she was welcomed, the National Anthem was played, speeches were made and dignitaries, Ipswich City Council aldermen & their wives were presented. Councillor A.W. Johnston, Chairman of Moreton Shire Council and his wife were also presented. Her Royal Highness, resplendent in blue with white accessories, received a leather binder containing a framed illuminated address signed by the Town Clerk V.N. Smith and Mayor James Finimore.

Framed illuminated address presented to the Queen Mother during her visit to Ipswich, 1958 - (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Framed illuminated address presented to the Queen Mother during her visit to Ipswich, 1958 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Gifts of locally made woollen blankets for Prince Charles and Princess Anne were entrusted to Her Royal Highness. And she in her turn received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Merlyn Edwards, the 12 year old daughter of the Deputy Mayor.

Visit by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Ipswich, 1958 - (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Visit by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Ipswich, 1958 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

The Queen Mother signed the City’s Visitors’ Book for the second time. The first occasion was in 1927 as the Duchess of York. Following these formalities Mayor Finimore escorted Her Majesty back to the waiting topless car and she departed for Boonah to the strains of “Scotland the Brave” played by the Ipswich Pipe Band.

A reception was held at the North Star Hotel after the official visit.

Reception at North Star Hotel, after visit by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Ipswich, 1958 - (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Reception at North Star Hotel, after visit by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Ipswich, 1958 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

The event was clearly one of celebration involving a good deal of pomp and ceremony, official robes, and new dresses and hats for the ladies. But the fun was not over yet.

Thursday 20 February again brought Her Royal Highness to Ipswich as she traveled from Boonah to Government House in Brisbane. The royal Daimler took 4 minutes to proceed down Brisbane Street from Waghorn Street past buildings decorated with bunting & flags. People stood on shop awnings to get a better view. Her Majesty’s royal colours of blue & gold embellished the Town Hall where the Mayor, City Administrator and aldermen observed the proceedings from the balcony. A view from above would have been a valuable thing as an estimated crowd of 20,000 stood 4 deep in Brisbane Street to watch the parade. This statistic more than any other demonstrates the significance of the occasion and the popularity of the royals. To achieve a crowd of this magnitude at a time when the population of Ipswich was just 40,000 is truly remarkable. In 1958 Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was indeed a “rock star”.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visit to Ipswich, Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 20 February, 1958 - (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visit to Ipswich, Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 20 February, 1958 – (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

The celebrations continued with Friday being declared a holiday for school children of the district.


Information taken from: The Queensland Times, 19 February 1958, p.2; “Weather May Cause Royal Visit Hitch”; The Queensland Times, 20 February 1958, pp.1-2; The Queensland Times, 21 February 1958, p.1. 

Valentine’s Day

Back in February 1937, it was reported in an Australian newspaper that other countries had begun to revive the old-fashioned tradition of marking St Valentine’s Day on February 14.  Retailers in Melbourne followed suit, as staff at the Myer Emporium created themed window displays in an attempt to inspire customers to once again embrace the custom of sending Valentine greetings to their friends and significant others.   Traders in Sydney were also supportive of these revival efforts and hoped to rekindle their clientele’s interest in sending cards and other tokens of devotion.

In 1940, the Queensland Times featured an article about sending Valentine cards.  It was noted that there were many such cards available in local stores and with the war in progress, such a gesture would hold much more significance than it did in the past.

Towards the end of the decade, St Valentine’s Day advertisements started appearing in the local newspaper.  Cozy slippers, jug sets, sugar bowls and hankies were some of the more practical gift ideas.

Cribb & Foote St Valentine's Day Advertising, Queensland Times, 11 February 1949 - Courtesy of Trove

Cribb & Foote St Valentine’s Day Advertising, Queensland Times, 11 February 1949 – Courtesy of Trove

Of course times have changed since then, with the focus now often on romantic and quite expensive gifts.

However, if you’re not feeling the love this Valentine’s Day, spare a thought for the local recipient of a card mentioned in the footnote of this Queensland Times article from 1950.   I guess it’s true what they say – actions have consequences!


Today is Valentine's Day Courtesy of Trove

“Today is St Valentine’s Day” – Courtesy of Trove

Information taken from: “Reviving St Valentine’s Day”, The Argus, 8 February 1937, p.3; “St. Valentine’s Day, Queensland Times, 3 February 1937, p. 6; “Sending a Valentine”, Queensland Times, 14 February 1940, p. 8; “To-day is St Valentine’s Day, Queensland Times, 14 February 1950, p. 2.

William Pratt, Jewellers, Ipswich

Interior of William Pratt, Jewellers, upper Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 1911 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Interior of William Pratt, Jewellers, upper Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 1911 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

William ‘Bill’ Pratt was born in New South Wales in 1877. He began his career into the watchmaking and jewellery trade opening his own shop in John Street, Singleton. At age 25, William married Miss Louisa Parr on 7 May, 1902 in Singleton. They made their way to Ipswich and moved into a house in Roderick Street. In 1905 William began working as a Manager in his Uncle Walter (W. T.)  Pratts Jewellery, Watch Repairs and Engraver business in Brisbane Street, Ipswich.

In 1910 William became sole owner of the Jewellery business.

William spent most of his life in Ipswich where he was associated with the jewellery trade. He became involved in the community, associating himself with many sporting organisations, lodges and musical societies. Mr Pratt was generous in his support of Rugby League and swimming and donated monetary gifts as well as numerous trophies for competitions during the years.

William and Louisa welcomed a girl into their family; Sylvia. They were members of the Ipswich Methodist Church.

His wife Louisa was a member of the Croquet Club and Treasurer of the Local Girl Guides Association. In 1930 Louisa’s failing health forced her to relinquish her duties. She became sick and had years of indifferent health. Mrs Louisa Pratt passed away in 1937 after undergoing an urgent operation for peritonitis.

Ill health kept William away from work for several years. He was forced to retire from general business activities in 1946. He spent some time in Sydney visiting relatives, but on his return he was admitted to hospital. William died in hospital on 5 July, 1948 at the age of 71years.

William was a member of the King Edward Lodge of Freemasons for 36 years and at the time of his death in 1948 was Past Junior Grand Warden.

Information taken from: ‘Obituary. Mr William Pratt’, The Queensland Times 6 July, 1948; ‘Obituary. Mrs William Pratt’, The Queensland Times 26 Aug, 1909;’Obituary. Mrs Louisa Smedley Pratt’, The Queensland Times 24 Nov, 1937; ‘Ipswich Amateur Wheelers. Annual Banquet’, The Queensland Times 11 Dec, 1923; ‘Amateur Swimming’, The Telegraph 14 Nov, 1924; ‘Death of Mr William Pratt’, Singleton Argus 16 Jul, 1948;

Christmas celebrations of the past

As the Christmas season begins again it is fascinating to take a look back at past Christmas celebrations in Ipswich.

The Saturday night before Christmas in 1894 saw a bustling centre of town, with Brisbane Street full of chatter and laughter. Shop windows held lavish Christmas displays of toys and gifts. Cribb and Foote were open and the store was packed with customers and browsers. Hancock’s band provided entertainment and a refreshments area had been provided for cold drinks. Outside a crowd were gathered at a street corner to hear the Salvation Army service.

1920 saw a celebration at the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia Club Rooms.  Thirty children who’d lost their fathers in the war were entertained. Organised by the ladies’ committee, the children were each presented with gifts from a Christmas tree
and served refreshments. The event ended with the singing of the National Anthem.

St Stephens Recital of Christmas Music Program

A programme for the St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church Choir’s Recital of Christmas Music, 1926. (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

The Croquet Club held their Christmas party on a Tuesday afternoon in 1939. A long table was set for afternoon tea and decorated with colourful streamers, Christmas bonbons, and flower arrangements. Each member received a small gift and trophies for the year were presented.

4IP Christmas Party c1940

Smiling faces at a Christmas party for ‘Uncle Bill’s’ radio station, 4IP ‘Smiles Club’, Ipswich, ca. 1940 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

In 1945 the Ritz Theatre threw a staff Christmas party in its lounge to celebrate a very successful year. It was also noted that this was its very first peace-time Christmas party, and the Manager took time to recognise the sadness and hardship of the war years. After speeches and supper the party was entertained with singing, music, and card tricks. All staff received Christmas gifts from the management.

The Queensland Woollen Manufacturers held a Christmas Party for employees’ children in 1947. A large Christmas tree was erected outside the Town Hall and adorned with colourful lights and decorations. The inside of the hall was “beautifully decorated” and around 120
children were entertained with games, dancing, and Mr Joe Savage’s conjuring acts. Ice cream, sweets and soft drink were served, and Father Christmas visited with gifts.

Shewan’s Pharmacy Christmas decorations 1958

Shewan’s Pharmacy shop interior, decorated for Christmas, 1958 (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich)

Information taken from: The Queensland Times Saturday night before Christmas, Tue 25 Dec 1894, p5; Christmas tree to children of war widows, Mon 20 Dec 1920, p5; Christmas Party – Presentation of Club Trophies, Thurs 14 Dec 1939, p4; Ritz Theatre staff Christmas party, Mon 24 Dec 1945, p3; Woollen Company’s Christmas Tree, Thurs 11 Dec 1947, p7.

Further Christmas reading:

GIF IT UP 2016 – We Have the Winners!

GIF IT UP Ipswich!

The Digital Public Library of America, in conjunction with Europeana, DigitalNZ and Trove, recently announced the winners of their annual GIF IT UP contest.  Entries for the contest opened on 1 October 2016, with everyone from professional gif-­makers, history buffs, and animators to first-time gif-ers and students invited to participate.  Once again, staff at the Ipswich Central Library thought it would be a great challenge and a unique way to showcase some of the images available on Picture Ipswich.  Recently the winners were announced and…Ipswich Libraries was one of the Trove Librarian Runner Up Winners!

Below is the image used from Picture Ipswich of a “Greetings from Ipswich” postcard that received the award.  This postcard was part of the S.W. Series no. 3057, printed in England by J. Beagles & Co.  If you click on it, you can see the fun animation created by Library staff.

 'Greetings from Ipswich' postcard of Ipswich buildings and scenes, Ipswich, ca. 1910

‘Greetings from Ipswich’ postcard of Ipswich buildings and scenes, Ipswich, ca. 1910

If you’d like to see the other entry contributed by Ipswich Libraries, just click here.