MEMORIES: The woollen mills at East Ipswich around 1920.
MEMORIES: The woollen mills at East Ipswich around 1920. Contributed

Rich woollen mill history to come alive

THE woollen mills of Ipswich made the city great and were where memories and relationships were forged that changed lives.

It is why the Lost Ipswich meet and greet day at Ipswich Jets Leagues Club on Saturday at 11am will no doubt be well attended.

"There was one in North Ipswich and another at East Ipswich, and a third one down at Redbank which was the last one in existence," the organisation's Greg 'Jacko' Lyons said of the history.

"Back in the 1800s the whole of Raceview was a big cotton field. They started off with cotton and moved to wool.

"During the war time they made army clothing and blankets and a lot of that was made on the corner of Limestone and East St.

"That was the office/manufacturing plant. They used to mill over here at North Ipswich and bring it in there to make the clothes.

"A lot of people met at the woollen mills and have memories associated with them.

"We have couples coming to our meet and greet that met there and got married, and are still married."

"Ipswich was home to the only three woollen mills in Queensland.

"Unlike the cotton mills, the woollen mills flourished and together with the mines and the railway workshops became one of Ipswich's biggest employers."

Mr Lyons said that in 1861 the Ipswich Cotton Company was established at East Ipswich by Cribb, Walker and Brown.

"The premises consisted of extensive brick buildings and outhouses within view of the railway station at East Ipswich," he said.

"This was the only cotton mill in Australia at the time and they manufactured cotton goods such as flannel, tweeds and wool for suiting, women's clothing and blankets.

"At times production was low and the company struggled with the lack of local cotton grown due to adverse weather conditions like dry spells which retarded plant growth. They eventually had to import cotton from India increasing their production costs."

 

The North Ipswich Woollen Mills around 1930.
The North Ipswich Woollen Mills around 1930. Contributed

 

In 1907 the cotton mill was taken over by the Joyce Brothers and in 1913 was converted to a woollen mill known as the Ipswich Woollen Company.

"Joyce St and Cotton St are still reminders of the old cotton mill in the area," Mr Lyons said.

Mr Lyons said that John Morris, along with partners Dr. E. Brown and solicitor J. E. Walker, established The Queensland Woollen Manufacturing Company at North Ipswich in 1877.

"Together they purchased the Ipswich Woollen Company and the two mills became known as Australian Fabric Manufacturers," he said.

" The manufacturing of woollen fabric and carry out dyeing was done at the East Ipswich site. The North Ipswich site became the head office and carried out finishing as well as making worsteds, fine smooth yarn spun from combed long-stable wool.

"In 1930 John Morris left the company after a falling out with his partners and purchased the former meatworks building at Redbank with his son Ivor.

"New equipment was brought in from England and in 1934 the Redbank Woollen Mill began business with just five employees."


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