Your Story

History of Black Gully, Toowoomba, book launched

(From left) Mrs Helen Hancock, who did the layout of the book, author Diana Beal and Emeritus Professor Maurice French.
(From left) Mrs Helen Hancock, who did the layout of the book, author Diana Beal and Emeritus Professor Maurice French. Photo Contributed

YOUR STORY: Black Gully (1840s-1914), The Manufacturing Centre of Toowoomba, a tribute to the people who lived in, worked in and developed the area, was launched at the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society Inc (TDDFHS) library last month by Emeritus Professor Maurice French.

Professor French congratulated the author Diana Beal for producing a detailed history of a sub-locality which inevitably contributes to the history of the larger Toowoomba area.

Black Gully has a long industrial history which has now faded into the past. At one time in its history, however, it had one of the largest malting establishments in the world.

It was associated with the Krimmer bacon dynasty which went on to run the nearby co-operative bacon factory to become an iconic Darling Downs' brand.

Black Gully started on its industrial period in the 1840s because it was away from settlement with any industrial odours, therefore, causing less offence.

It had a plentiful and secure supply of clean running water, which on the downstream side became a cheap effluent dispersal system.

The first industry was fellmongering or the initial treatment of raw skins and hides so that they would not rot before further treatment or tanning could take place.

Tanning and wool-scouring came later, and this group of smelly industries was undertaken in the Gully for about 150 years.

Malting was the second most enduring industry. It was undertaken in Black Gully for almost 120 years. A malthouse was established in the Gully in the 1890s and continued, with some breaks, until very recently.

The Redwood family was intimately involved in the enterprise, as was the large English maltster William Jones and Son (Maltsters) Ltd for about 20 years.

The bluestone and brick drying kilns and the long malting floor still remain on site and are the best physical remnants of the industrial past of the Gully.

Other industries include brewing, bacon and smallgoods manufacturing (centrally in the Gully near Gordon Avenue (and not to be confused with the KR site at Willowburn), foundry, saleyards and flour mills.

Apart from these secondary industries, the Gully supported a vigorous farming community for many years, including the famous Eton Farm, whose owner John Shipman showed many a newcomer how to farm on the Downs.

Perhaps the most conspicuous reminder of Black Gully's industrial past for casual observers is the perceptible bump which they experience when driving in Mort Street and crossing the railway tracks by the Toowoomba Maltings building.

These tracks are no longer connected to the main line and are partly covered with bitumen in the old maltings yard, but these are the lines of the old maltings siding which handled thousands of tons of grain and malt annually when the malthouse was in operation.

The book was written with family historians in mind and it contains about 550 names with interesting details about many of them, as well as accounts of the larger enterprises and issues which affected the area.

The book is available for $15 plus $5 postage at TDDFHS.


Topics:  book launch history tbahistory toowoomba

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