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“The New Ipswich” – a film treasure rediscovered

In 1947 someone in the Commonwealth of Australia’s former Department of Information decided it might be a good idea to capture a snapshot of Australia’s towns and cities through the medium of black and white film.

And so it followed The New Ipswich was produced for the Australian National Film Board, another government owned enterprise.

Ipswich residents today can be happy with that decision and thank the person or persons responsible for rolling the cameras through the city and suburbs 72 years ago.

The images and sound show a somewhat staged example of life in 1947, however it does show how important Ipswich was to the growth of Queensland.

Ipswich was the centre of a thriving railway industry as the birthplace of Queensland Rail. The city was also the start of the railways slowly radiating in all directions from North Ipswich.

Ipswich-born Peter McMahon remembered being a young child in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After watching the film Peter said he could certainly remember the railway workers on their bikes.

“I was really amazed at the miners in the non-safety outfits and going down the mine while puffing away on a cigarette.

“Then there were ladies at the woollen mills. We sold McMahon’s soft drinks to the Queensland Woollen Mills at North Ipswich where Mrs Cummings had the canteen in a house on the other side of the football oval.

“We also sold to Morris Mills at Redbank.

“As a child in that era I wasn’t allowed to go to the barber on Friday afternoon or Saturday because they were so busy with the men getting their short back and sides.

“People being dressed up shopping in town and the women wearing gloves also sticks in my mind.

“There was no TV. We went to the movies, baths or football.”

 Another Ipswich resident Marie Marsh said she remembered the milkman featured in the film.

“His name was Jimmy Marsh.

“We called him uncle Jimmy, and I think he was still delivering milk, not by horse and cart, but by motor vehicle up to the early 1970s.”

The New Ipswich is one of those rare films which has become an important snapshot in the history of Ipswich.

It was ‘rediscovered’ in the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) about five years ago by Ipswich Libraries‘ staff during research work for Picture Ipswich.

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