Our History

Tales from the Top of Town

The two Ipswich City blocks from Ellenborough Street to Waghorn Street are known as the Top of Town.

Top of Town - Our History intro image

This part of Brisbane Street closely follows the original bullock team tracks which ran between the Town of Limestone (later Ipswich) and on to the Darling Downs. Shown on the 1842 town survey by Henry Wade, it has been the main throroughfare through the City of Ipswich since.

The area contains many building of historical significance and retains much of the appearance of the earlier decades

Thge buildings at the Ellenborough Street end have always had a commercial use. This part of town (between Ellenborough and West Street) experienced a bilding boom in the early 1900s. The town became a City in 1904, with a small population of 8637 people. At the time the city comprised little more than a few CBD blocks. However, such was the confidence of the city that the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1906. The Top of Town clearly reflects this prosperity and confidence in Ipswich in the early Twentieth Century.

The buildings farther along Brisbane Street reflect a light industrial use, capitalising on the railway siding. This area comprised saddleries, garages and other manufacturing businesses.

Top of Town also has a rich cultural history. The Central Baptist Church occupied its Brisbane Street site from 1876 to 2005. One of the State’s earliest newspapers, The Queensland Times, occupied the site on the corner of Ellenborough and Brisbane Streets. Ipswich’s own radio station, 4IP, was born in the former Flour Mill. The precinct also contains three hotels – The Metropole, The Prince of Wales and The Settlers Inn.

Southern Side of Brisbane Street

(Former QLD Times Building) Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich, Ipswich City Council

Southern Side Of Brisbane Street
The building on the southern corner of Ellenbourough and Brisbanes Streets was built as the offices for The Queensland Times in 1888. In 1859, the year Queensland was created, The Ipswich Herald was first printed on 4th july. two years later it was bought out by Hugh Parkinson, J Bowring Sloman and Francis Kidner and on 8th october 1861 the first edition of The Queensland Times was printed. In 1874 The Queensland Times moved to a single story wetaherboard building on the corner of Ellenbourough and Brisbane Streets.

Goleby’s Building

(197-203 Brisbane Street) Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich, Ipswich City Council

Goleby's Building

F Golby had establishedhis business as saddler, collar and harness manuafacturer in 1881 in Brisbane Street, He relocated to Angus McDonald’s premises on corner of Brisbane and Wests Streets. As his business expanded he built Pratts shop in 1892. When these proved inadequate for his growing business he erected a brick premises, with floor space 18×9 metres, with a cellar the same size. this building was constructed in 1906, the year that Frederick Goleby was elected Mayor of Ipswich. he also served as Alderman 1902-5 and 1907-9

His new shop reflected the success of business. having started single-handedly, by 1909 he employed 10 workmen and his two sons, Frederick and Thomas. he had an excellent reputation for riding saddles and harnesses which he sold across Australia and England. IN 1918 Goleby and Sons occupided the cellar of their building. the middle floor accommodation Langar and Parsons (pastry cooks) and R Hunter (tailor) and VP Wicks (photographer) conducted his business on the top floor. Goleby and Sons occupied the building on the corner of Brisbane and Wests Streets. In 1920 Fredrick and Thomas, F golby’s sons, inherited the building on the corner. His daughters, Ruby and Maud, inherited the adjoining shop which was leased as a bakery. This provided them wiht an income.

Bostock Chambers

(169-171 Brisbane Street)

Bostock Chambers, on the Ellenborough Street corner, was built in 1914-5 to the design of prominent architect George Brockwell Gill.  His work made a substantial contribution to the physical appearance of the Top of Town and many of his buildings survive.  Gill emigrated from London and settled in Ipswich in 1886 where he worked for architect Samuel Shenton.  In 1889 Shenton retired and Gill took over his practice, enjoying a long and successful architectural career.  He became a fellow of the Queensland Institute of Architects and served as its Vice President (1914-1916) and President (1918-1919), retiring to Coolangatta in 1942.  His surviving works in other parts of Ipswich include the Ipswich Girls Grammar School (1891); St Paul’s Rectory (1895); Technical College (1901); Ipswich Club (1916) and Ipswich Soldiers Memorial Hall (1921).

Bostock Chambers was built for E Bostock and Sons, well established surveyors and estate agents. Enoch Bostock create a successful surveying, auctioneering and real estate business on the corner of Brisbane and East Streets.  When Enoch died on 9 April 1905 his sons continued the family business.  In 1914 this land was acquired by Henry and Frederick Bostock and their new building opened in July 1915.  Other tenants include Aldridge and Sons (milliners) and Edward Blomgren (watchmaker).

The adjoining building, Colthup Chambers, was built for James Colthup in about 1915.  James Barnett Colthup was an ironmonger and great benefactor of the Baptist Church.  Alfred Scott, hairdresser and tobacconist, occupied the next building (185 Brisbane Street).  He would ride a push bike to work every day, into his 80s, riding home for lunch each day.

JS Aspinall, boot retailer and repairer, occupied the adjoining building (187 Brisbane Street).  TH Palmer’s wine refreshment rooms, occupied the second half of that building.  The building next door, which bears the date 1913 on the parapet, was occupied by Misses J & L Ramond (milliners) and E Ryan (fruiterer).

W Pratt, jeweller, was next door.  This business of watchmaker, jeweller and engraver, was started in 1878 by WT Pratt.  In 1905 his nephew W Pratt took over management of the business and in 1910 he became sole owner.  His business was described as solid and progressive.

Pratt’s building (197 Brisbane Street) was constructed by F Goleby in 1892 as a two-storey shop.  In 1918 W Pratt occupied the ground floor and The Protestant Hall occupied the top floor.  It is likely that in the 1910s the 1892 shop was replaced with the existing structure.

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