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Century-old handmade brick drain uncovered

A rare glimpse of Ipswich’s history and heritage has been uncovered by crews working on part of Council’s ongoing cycle network extension across the city.

While excavating along Milford Street near Queens Park, crews uncovered a handmade clay brick arch stormwater drainage system, believed to be more than 120 years old.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the historic discovery was made by Ipswich City Council field crews who were excavating the site as part of work on the Eastern Ipswich Bikeway Link.

“Part of the work on the new bikeway exposed a section of drainage that was in great condition given it’s age,” Mayor Harding said.

“The field crews took special care to not damage this wonderful local artefact and were able to connect the new pipes into this existing brick drainage network, which is still a fully functioning drain after more than a century.”

Recent kerb and footpath work on South Street, part of the Eastern Ipswich Link bikeway.

Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee Chair Councillor Marnie Doyle said it was the council workers in the field who recognised the historic value of what they had unearthed.

“I would like to acknowledge the staff that uncovered the drain, recognising they had dug up something special,” Cr Doyle said.

“Council officers trawled through the history books to discover when the drain was built and unearthed the whole story behind it, which speaks volumes about our city pride and commitment to preserving local history.

“While we may be the state’s fastest growing city, we are also a city steeped in heritage and it is vitally important to protect historical artifacts where possible.

“This wonderful piece of history is now part of a future bikeway and it is an example of how the future and past can sit together when both are valued.”

A Queensland Times article from 4 February 1947, referring to repairs on the brick storm water drain system.

Council research revealed that there were drainage works carried out there both in the 1880s and in 1910 with anything after this date being constructed using concrete as opposed to clay bricks.

Further research is underway but the main brickmaker in Ipswich during this time was the Welldon company, who specialised in red bricks.

A biography of Thomas Welldon describes how he established his company in the 1860s in Ipswich, including a workshop where Queens Park is currently located.

Mayor Harding said this work forms part of council’s broader iGO Active Transport Action Plan and the Queensland Government Principal Cycle Network, which seeks to increase safety and connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists across the city.

“Eastern Ipswich Bikeway Link Stage 1 is council’s first step towards delivering the missing cycle connection between the Ipswich City Centre and the high-quality cycle facilities on the Ipswich Motorway Bikeway at Dinmore,” Mayor Harding said.

“Stage 1 delivers a short three-metre-wide shared path connection along South Street and Milford Street from Thorn Street to Limestone Street with traffic to be permanently changed to one way on this section of Milford Street.”

Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said investing in bike-riding projects was delivering positive benefits for local communities.

“We know that, on average, every dollar we invest in bike-riding infrastructure will return nearly five dollars in economic benefit to Queensland with improved health outcomes, reduced traffic congestion, and lower transport costs.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has committed $252 million in funding over the next four years to support and encourage bike riding across the state, including projects across the Ipswich City Council region, to improve facilities for locals and tourists alike.

“For every $1 we invest in in cycling infrastructure, we get almost $5 back in health benefits, reduced traffic congestion and other benefits to Queensland.”

This initiative is supported by the Queensland Government’s Cycle Network Local Government Grants Program.

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