Friday, June 22, 2012

A Building Boom in Ipswich

The town of Ipswich was established at the furtherest navigable point in the Brisbane and Bremer Rivers.  As such it soon became a busy river port with paddle streamers plying to and fro between Ipswich and Brisbane.

Paddle Steamer Waiting for the Tide

The muddy streets of Ipswich were filled with bullock wagons bring wool bales from inland and returning with all manner of supplies.

In the late 1840s there was a building boom of sorts in Ipswich, particularly of hotels.  This event was report by the erudite Ipswich Correspondent to The Moreton Bay Courier in his usual classically inspired prose.[1] 

(From our Correspondent)

"WEDNESDAY, MAY 10. - Our town, or as some of our friends are pleased to term it "remote village," is at present rather dull, save and except amongst the builders, who, like a busy swarm of bees, are, "I calculate, going a-head tarnation slick."

A capacious building is being erected by the "King of Ipswich" immediately opposite the Caledonian Hotel, and in the vicinity of the steamer's wharf; it is intended for an hotel, and is, I believe, to be designated the "Prince Albert's Head." In due time, we may, no doubt, expect the "Prince of Wales," and all the rest of the royal family.

Paddle steamer docked at the Ipswich wharves.

The "King of Ipswich"

The “King of Ipswich” was George Thorne the first resident of Ipswich and landlord of the Queen’s Arms hotel.  He had first come to the area as the overseer of a convict gang quarrying limestone.  When free settlement was allowed, he stayed and built the first hotel in Ipswich.  He would become a prominent citizen in the nascent township.

The Ipswich Correspondent styled Thorne as some sort of potentate promenading about the streets of Ipswich, stopping to inspect his latest building project, the grandly named "Prince Albert's Head," hotel.

Thus our worthy townsman in strolling along, inhaling the flavour of his fragrant Manilla cigar, after leaving the "Queen's Arms,", which he also commands, examines the state of the "Prince Albert's Head," with which, as a phrenologist, being satisfied as to its bumps - contents, I mean - can enjoy his otium cum dignitate[2] amongst the small fry.  

Other landlords were also keeping the builders busy, taking advantage of the growing need for accommodation needs of visitors from up country.

Mr. Martin Byrne has also commenced a splendid wing to his present commodious house, which is intended expressly for the accommodation of the squatters, who no doubt will, with that discernment characteristic of them, fully appreciate his exertions, and favour him with their patronage, which is a sure precursor of a rapid independence.

And of course those of Irish extraction were able to enjoy the hospitality offered by a hostelry named for their patron saint.

Last, though not least, our host of the tutelar[3] saint of sweet Erin's Green Isle has commenced operations on his new purchase at the last land sale, his intention being to build in a style that will do credit to that prince of gentlemen - St. Patrick.

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2012.

[1] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 13 May 1848
[2] Leisure with dignity. OED
[3] Guardian.

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