The Woollen Mills are a important element of the industrial history of Ipswich.
Now a PhD candidate from Griffith University has launched a major study of the mills focusing on the experience of those who worked there. For those who would like to participate, please read the flyer below for details.
Download PDF version here.
The Oxford English dictionary defines a collector as “a person who collects things of a specified type, professionally or as a hobby.”
One of the most unusual group of collectors were Queensland miners – especially coal miners in the Ipswich region. What they collected were stickers – stickers which came to serve multiple purposes.
They were luminous, very visible, therefore increasing safety underground when men stuck them onto their helmets; some were rare; some told stories of achievements, of milestones and openings, even disasters; many marketed the brand names of mining equipment from around the globe.
Today some of those stickers are rare and valuable; but, more importantly, they tell the story, in a very unique way, of a by-gone era.
The sticker ‘craze’ started around the late 1950s, when Joy Manufacturing, a leading supplier of heavy equipment to the mining industry, distributed adhesive and luminous stickers to promote their machinery.
They had no idea what they had started – half a century later many retired miners still cherish their carefully-maintained photo albums, full of stickers, or mount their valued stickers in ornate and expensive frames – and even boast how some of them make the best barramundi lures ever. Retired miner Col Webb swears that the silver ICI ‘Work safely with Explosives’ sticker was the best lure he ever used for barramundi.
Not long after Joy had distributed its stickers the competition were quick to follow – often at the request, insistence, of miners who caught on to what became something of a craze. These were hard men, men used to risking their lives every day they went underground, men not easily given over to sentimentality or emotion.
But hear the stories today and if there was ever one thing to raise envy in a hardened miner it was the sight of a colleague boasting on his hard hat a rare sticker, one maybe from Germany, Russia, Canada or some other distant mining centre.
Equipment company sales reps started making sure they had pocketfuls of stickers whenever they visited a site or ventured underground to inspect machinery.
“No other way of putting it, they were besieged for stickers,” recalls Col Webb, a veteran of the famous but tragic Box Flat mine in Ipswich.
Because stickers were so popular they moved out of the realm of ‘marketing’ for equipment suppliers and into the realm of chronicling history – mining companies started producing them to celebrate milestones.
They became a ‘collectors’ item.
For this article, Col Webb was proud to bring out his many photo albums, all filled with mining stickers covering nearly three decades.
He recalls the extent he went to to get stickers no-one else had, or would part with. Mine managers, for one, were often given the stickers first and would keep those they most prized, despite badgering from the men.
So Col Webb got himself a reference book of mining companies around the globe and wrote to them asking for stickers. Most sent him some – even when the languages were different. One unusual one was 3ft long – from the Timkens ball-bearing company. The Russians sent him stickers from their uranium mines and from Canada he received 20 stickers – works of art depicting the Orca whale, common in the oceans of Canada.
The Australian boss of the global giant Utah, based at Goonyella in the Bowen Basin, would not give him some of his prized Navaho stickers – so Col wrote to head office and received some not even the boss here had – one upmanship!
Ipswich’s Box Flat mine, now best known for the tragic disaster on July 31, 1972, closed when the access tunnel which exploded was sealed. Later, when the mine re-opened with a new tunnel, the first flexible conveyor train (FCT) in Australia, and only the second in the world, was installed in 1983. Box Flat then printed stickers commemorating that innovation.
Another milestone sticker commemorated 1,937 tons mined in one shift – a significant achievement.
If ever there was a ‘poster boy’ for collectors it’s Col Webb. He started at Box Flat in 1948 at age 15, working at the pithead on the surface. At age 16 he started underground, first as a ‘rope rider’ then, aged 18, on scraper loaders working with his father underground.
He spent 21 years working underground before gaining his open cut ticket. He was also in the world-renowned Mines Rescue team and a mines first aid instructor for nine years. He worked at Box Flat, Goonyella, the Aberdare No 8 shaft in Bundamba and at Southern Cross, working underground at Swanbank. He was working at the Norwich Park mine at Dysart when he retired on November 11, 1988.
But the memories remain strong – reinforced by occasionally paging through his treasured sticker albums.
In 1840s and 50s a contentious topic of discussion was the issue of the importation of Chinese labour into the Colony. On the one hand there was the dire shortage of workers on large pastoral properties and on the other the innate aversion of the European population to Asian “heathens”, popularly referred to as “Celestials” - being subjects of the Celestial Emperor. Eventually the use of “coolie” labour was seen as a necessary evil.
An editorial in the Sydney press summed up the general feeling.
Were there a prospect of obtaining from the shores of the mother country, a supply of able bodied labourers, commensurate to the wants of the Colonists, never would our voice or pen be raised to advocate the introduction of an alien race: but as we are now situated, we must have Coolies or Chinese labourers, or we retrograde at a swift pace, and that retrogression will be marked with the complete overthrow of every important interest in the community.
In 1842, one of the arrivals was a 33 year old Chinese man who would come to be known as Tommy Delong. Many years later, Tommy recalled his ignoble disembarkation in Sydney, to a journalist in Ipswich.
When he left the ship, the sailors by way of a “lark" induced him to sit on a wheelbarrow. They then wheeled him off and tipped him into Port Jackson. As Tommy weighed 14st. 11lb. at the time he made a considerable splash, but fortunately he could swim, and, possibly to the disappointment of his tormentors, he managed to make his way to the shore, not much the worse.
Tommy was soon assigned to work as a cook on a remote station, where he was paid much less than his European workmates.
The "new-chum Chinaman" began his career as a colonist by acting at cook on Boolling station, where he worked for five years at the munificent wage of 3s. per week and food. Chinese immigration in those days was in its infancy and the "Johns" were not so wide awake to the full value of their labour as they are nowadays.
In 1850 Tommy made his way to the burgeoning Moreton Bay district and eventually settled in Ipswich where he would remain for the rest of his long life. Again he worked around the district as a cook during the shearing seasons, and as a storekeeper in Ipswich.
The year 1850 saw him landing in Brisbane from the barque Emma, with his capital safely in hand. He started business at Little Ipswich [now West Ipswich], and removed later on to Waghorn-street, where he continued until the Government resumed his "stand" for railway purposes.
Soon after his arrival in Ipswich he married his second wife, by whom he had two children. 
Tommy’s new wife Mary was not Chinese but of Irish extraction and the marriage got off to a rocky start. This appears to have been mainly due to the interference of Tommy’s new in-laws. After four months, Mary left the marital home and had her husband charged with assault.
Reflecting the mores of the times, Tommy was only bound over to keep the peace while his wife Mary was admonished by the magistrate for disregarding her marital duties. Furthermore her relatives were warned against aiding and abetting her.
Witnesses proved that the defendant had struck her, and the bench required defendant to enter into sureties for keeping the peace but at the same time impressed on the complainant that if she chose to marry a Chinese she was bound to perform her conjugal duties, and conduct herself with propriety; that as a wife she was bound to go home when her husband desired her to do so; and that the parties who had harboured her had acted very improperly.
In 1899, his long life was celebrated in the local press and he seems to have been a well-liked local “character” about the streets of Ipswich. Significantly the writer refers to the continued attitude of European Australians to “Chinamen”.
Tommy has continued in his dual occupation of shopkeeper and generally useful man until the present time. He still does odd jobs, but is too old for constant work, though he is remarkably active and upright in spite of his four score and eleven years,
He is of genial temperament, ever ready to laugh at a joke, and being quite an institution In Ipswich, everyone has a pleasant greeting for him when passing.
The portrait which we reproduce was specially taken in Ipswich a few weeks ago by Mr. B. Taylor. It shows a remarkably intelligent-looking Chinaman, as good and useful a citizen of Queensland, in spite of his nationality, as many a white Australian who professes to despise his race.
With the Gold Rushes raging from the 1850s, came a great influx of Chinese miners. Inevitably tensions arose with the European diggers. This led eventually to the prohibition of Chinese immigration in all Australian Colonies.
Chinese already residing in the Australian colonies were not expelled and retained the same rights as their fellow citizens.
With the coming of Federation in 1901, the Immigration Restriction Act came into effect. This legislation would later be known as the "White Australia Policy" and would not be fully withdrawn until the 1960s, a century later.
 The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 1 February 1842
 The Queenslander Saturday 26 August 1899
 The Queenslander Saturday 26 August 1899
 The Queenslander Saturday 26 August 1899
 The North Australian, Ipswich and General Advertiser Tuesday 7 June 1859
 The Queenslander Saturday 26 August 1899
 "Fact Sheet – Abolition of the 'White Australia' Policy". Australian Immigration. Commonwealth of Australia, National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
The Athenian Gymnasium Club was founded in 1896 and met for practice twice a week at the Congregational Sunday School in East Street, Ipswich. The members regularly gave public displays at various events.
During the First World War, thirty-eight members of the club enlisted and served overseas. Of these young men, one died of illness in Egypt, and five were killed in action.
The Honour Board was unveiled in the Central Congregational Church by the Rev. Joseph Robertson in July 1916. The Honour Board then held thirty-five names. It was made by Mr. G. Lye, of Warwick-Road, and the writing done by Mr. A.B. Beal. The ceremony was reported in the local press:
Mr Robertson prior to removing the Union Jack from the honour board referred to the 35 men, whose names were inscribed thereon as young men who have sacrificed comforts and the joys of home, have risked prospects in business and jeopardised their limbs, and their lives. They recognised the spirit of these young men, and admired their courage.
 Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), Monday 24 July 1916, page 5
The first name on the board is that of Norman Victor Foote who died of pneumonia in Cairo on April 7, 1915. In August 1915 some of his fellow club members visited his grave. In a letter to his brother, Arthur Whitehead wrote:
We made arrangements on Saturday afternoon to visit Norman Foote's grave, and we were very glad we had when we found that our company was on brigade fatigue on Sunday. Our party consisted of Lieut. S. J. Morgan, Sergt. H. B. Wallis, Eric C. Cribb, A. B. Callaway, W. J. Johnson, and A. H. Whitehead. We all met at Heliopolis, and then took a taxi to Cairo, where we picked up a wreath we had ordered, and then drove on, out through Old Cairo to the English cemetery there - a distance of about seven miles.
We found the place without any difficulty, and by looking up the register we found the number of the grave. There is a marble slab set on the grave, engraved with Norman's name, &c., which was set up by his comrades of the 2nd L.H.; it is very nice, and should be very comforting to the relatives to know that Norman was thought so much of.
 Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), Saturday 9 October 1915, page 15
Note: The Honour Board is now in the collection of the Ipswich Historical Society, and is currently part of an Anzac display.
One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1867, an Ipswich man was sentenced to 25 years hard labour for a crime the newspapers of the day described “as extraordinary a case as probably holds a place in the annals of Australian crime.”
The crime, holding up a Cobb & Co coach between Ipswich and Brisbane, was notorious in itself – what made the case such an extraordinary one was the police trap.
On January 7, 1867 an armed bushranger held up the Ipswich-Brisbane mail coach. Newspapers at the time confirmed that the mail coach was also carrying ten Ipswich residents, “including a lady”, who had all boarded the coach at 6am that day “with one ‘Jack’ M'Kenzie handling the ribbons.”
The highway robbery took place about three kilometres this side of Oxley, at a spot then known as ‘The Blunder’, close to Oxley Creek. It was originally named ‘Maguyre’s Blunder’ after a Constable Maguyre became lost in the dense scrub, having to be rescued by a search party.
As the coach struggled up a rough hill at that spot a horseman was noticed riding along the road, swaying about in the saddle as if drunk. When the coach drew level he shouted at the driver to “pull up."
Instead, M'Kenzie whipped up his horses and tried to out-run the highwayman who wore a dark covering over his face, with eye-holes cut out. The bushranger drew a pistol from his belt, to which was attached a large sheath-knife, and fired at one of the leading horses, but did not hit it. The coach driver raced on and only when his horses were exhausted did he stop.
One passenger had a loaded revolver which he passed to M’Kenzie, who tried to use it but it misfired and the bushranger, now covering the passengers with his pistol, ordered them out and to throw down all the money they had with them. He then ordered M’Kenzie to turn the horses back to Ipswich, threatening the coachman that he would "put a bullet through him."
Dismounting, the highwayman gathered up the money, £10 it was said at trial, but did not bother to search the passengers. Had he done so he would found that one of them was Harry Hooper. The same Hooper who, with John Robinson, opened Tivoli Colliery, the first coal mine at Tivoli. Mr Hooper sold his stake in 1869, the year he was elected Mayor of Ipswich. After a spell as a farmer and grazier at ‘Melrose’ in the Gatton district, he returned to Ipswich where he partnered with a Mr. Ginn to establish general merchants Ginn and Hooper.
Hooper was taking “a considerable sum of money” to bank in Brisbane but managed to hide it in the coach along with his gold watch. Years later that watch was proudly worn every day by his son, C. W. Hooper, who became Mayor of Laidley.
It was revealed in court proceedings that the half of a bank note which Mr. Hooper tossed onto the ground was later mysteriously returned to him by mail.
Instead of handing out the Goodna mailbag M’Kenzie threw down the Ipswich bag; the Goodna bag held a “considerable amount of hard cash”. The highwayman ripped the bag open with his sheath knife, emptying the contents on the ground before gathering it up again. He then rode off with the Ipswich mailbag, found by police four kilometres away.
Mr. W. D. Tamlyn, a well-known clerk working for Clarke, Hodgson and Co in Ipswich, was also a passenger – he testified that days before the robbery he sold a brace of pistols, identical with those found in the highwayman’s bag when he was arrested.
Hooper had recognised the bushrangers’ horse as that of Mr. J. J. Johnston, a storekeeper of Little Ipswich. He also noticed a patch of mud hiding the brand on the horse, which had been stolen from Mr. Johnston’s business only days before the robbery.
The evening after the robbery a local drinking in the Carriers' Arms in Little Ipswich, asked the publican, whom he knew well, if he recognised the horse tethered outside. The publican did - "That's 'Jack' Johnson's pony." The man then left, on the horse, going towards Toowoomba. The police heard of the incident, and were quickly on his trail.
The stolen horse was discovered near Seven-Mile Creek in a state showing it had been hard ridden; it was brought into town and placed in stables at the Ipswich police station. No trace, however, could be found of the highwayman, but the suspect, Bill Jenkins, who was seen riding the horse the day of the robbery, was missed from his usual haunts in Ipswich.
A few days later the horse was again stolen, this time from police stables.
“Captured, as it were, from under the noses of the local policemen!” announced the Queensland Times.
Mounted police scoured the country and found the charred remains of a horse in a lime kiln in the Upper Bundanba district (as Bundamba was then known), which, they concluded, were those of the missing animal. The body had evidently been consumed in the lime. The hair on a leg was similar to that of the stolen horse.
It later transpired that an old horse that had died had been cremated by the lime burners for sanitary reasons.
The discovery was widely circulated and a reward of £100 was offered for information of the whereabouts of the bushranger. The local police and public were convinced the horse had been stolen, killed and then cremated by friends of Jenkins to destroy the only reliable link in the chain of evidence.
But here the mystery needs some explaining: the head of the Criminal Department of the Brisbane police force was Sub-Inspector Lloyd who realised early on the suspect had friends who would help him and that the branded horse was an important link in the chain of evidence. He reckoned that if the suspect were convinced the ‘evidence’ had been destroyed he would emerge from hiding.
One of Inspector Lloyd’s smartest recruits was M. Burke, who later rose to the position of sub-inspector. Lloyd instructed Burke to go to Ipswich, steal the horse and bring it to Brisbane but not to inform the Ipswich police at all.
In an interview many years later Sub-Inspector Burke told a newspaper that when the scheme was explained to him he asked: "Suppose I'm caught, sir."
"Well, you'll be locked up or perhaps shot in trying to escape, but you must chance that," his boss reportedly replied.
Burke carried out his orders faithfully - the horse was ‘spirited away’ from the Ipswich police station and kept in a St Helena Island police paddock where it was recorded as part of a ‘Chinaman's intestate estate’.
As insurance against Burke accidentally saying something about his adventure he was sent to the most remote police station in the State, Barcoo.
Jenkins, hiding out on the NSW border, fell into the trap. On June 1, 1868, Bill Jenkins, alias John King, was seen in Brisbane Street, disguised by having a coloured handkerchief tied round his face, as if suffering from toothache.
“His cabbage-tree hat, Crimean shirt, breeches, and top-boots, and his commanding personality soon attracted attention as he paraded the street,” reported the Queensland Times. Three reputable men, including Mr Cattlin, the sheriff's bailiff in Ipswich, reported his presence.
Jenkins realised he had been recognised so ran off in the direction of Basin Pocket where he was eventually captured on Bremer Road by Constable William Gunn. Jenkins had intended to double round to Silkstone, where his horse and pack, containing the brace of pistols, were left in a paddock.
At Jenkins’ trial for highway robbery, Sub-Inspector Lloyd, to the surprise of the prisoner's friends and the Ipswich police, produced the ‘missing link’ - the ‘stolen and incinerated’ horse, alive and branded JJ on the near shoulder.
Jenkins was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years hard labour on August 17, 1868. He was no stranger to Brisbane prison – he had served two sentences there and, while awaiting trial for highway robbery, nearly escaped.
Jenkins was later described in the newspapers of the day as “well educated, a beautiful penman, and who possessed poetical abilities far above the average”.
Some years after Jenkins died the Queensland Times wrote: “He became an entirely altered man while in gaol, where he and another confinee (Chandler), had learned the trade of saddle and harness makers, during the serving of their sentences.
“Their exemplary conduct gained the attention of the Rev. Canon Thos. Jones, the visiting Anglican clergyman, and he, with the assistance, it is said, of the late Mr. Harry Hooper, succeeded in his endeavors to obtain a mitigation of Jenkins's sentence, and on the release of Chandler and Jenkins, the Rev. Thos. Jones found them their capital to start in business in Albert-street, Brisbane, under the sign of ‘Chandler and Jenkins,’ where they proved efficient workmen, and honorable citizens. Both are dead.”
Jenkins was not his real name – his real name was never revealed.
Thus ended as extraordinary a case as probably holds a place in the annals of Australian crime.
Trove – www.trove.nla.gov.a
Queensland Times, Ipswich
One morning in November 1946 a crowd of women gathered outside a store in King Street, Sydney. When the doors opened at 9 am, the women rushed to the hosiery counter. Two policemen were called in off the street to control the crowd. The Telegraph reported:
‘One woman who gained one of the first pairs had to slide to the floor and crawl out among the legs of others to get away from the counter.’
What was so special about these stockings that they caused such excitement? They were the first all-silk sheer stockings offered for sale in Australia since the end of World War II 1.
Limited supplies of silk stockings had been available at the beginning the war but they were removed from the market completely when rationing began in 1942. In response to the howls of protest, Mr Coles the chairman of the Rationing Commission explained that the silk yarn was required to make parachutes. He added,
‘There is not the slightest hope in the world of silk stockings becoming available.’2
With nothing but wool or lisle stockings on offer, Australian women sought alternatives. One popular item was stocking cream. This was a thick cream that was smeared onto the legs. It was available in four colours ‘approximating to the leading stocking shades’. To add authenticity, women used a dark brown eyebrow pencil to draw a ‘seam’ up the back of their legs.3
After the war, women were tantalised by the promise of nylon stockings. Twelve months after the silk stocking stampede, nylon stockings made by local manufacturer Prestige Ltd. were ‘secretly distributed’ to Melbourne stores. They were available in one colour only and came with care instructions.4
Not all women were enamoured of the new product. In 1953, Sydney Morning Herald correspondent ‘Hypatia’ complained
‘At the second wearing the stockings, even though they had been carefully washed according to directions, gave at the knees under slight sudden strain.’
‘Fair Go’, agreed. ‘Nylon stockings are expensive rubbish,’ she wrote.’5
Despite these early hiccups, nylon stockings dominated the market until the late 1960s when pantihose were introduced.
The stockings in our collection are Prestige Illusions. They were on the market in the mid to late 1960s. In 1966 they were selling for 16/11 (or $1.69 in decimal currency).6
1 The Telegraph, ‘Wild rush for first all-silk stockings,’ 20 November 1946
2 Evening Advocate, ‘No more silk stockings,’ 22 September 1942
3 Evening News, ‘Stockings painted on.’ 14 June 1940
4 Advocate, ‘Nylon stockings,’ 10 November 1947
5 Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Nylon stockings,’ 17 November 1953
6 Canberra Times, ‘Prestige Illusion hosiery!’ 22 December 1966