Queensland Places – Brynhyfryd Park, Blackstone

Brynhyfryd Park is an important site in the context of Ipswich and Blackstone’s development as it marks the locations and creates a permanent record of two early Ipswich buildings, now lost to the city’s history.

The first of these historic buildings was Brynhyfryd, constructed as a grand mansion and residence by the well-known coal mining magnate, Lewis Thomas, in 1890. The name Brynhyfryd was said to mean ‘Pleasant Hill’, a suitable name as the residence was situated at the top of Blackstone Hill. The house had three floors, a tower, a hydraulic lift and was surrounded by carefully tended, terraced gardens.

Ipswich mansion, Brynhyfryd State Library of Queensland Negative No 19718

Ipswich mansion, Brynhyfryd

Lewis Thomas was also responsible for the construction of another important building in the area, the Blackstone School of Arts Hall. This large, two-storey building was located at the actual site of the present Brynhyfryd Park and was a gift from Thomas to the local community. The Hall was designed and constructed in 1891.

Lewis Thomas, M.L.C. ca.1910 State Library of Queensland Negative No 110844

Lewis Thomas, M.L.C. ca.1910

The present day Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir traces its history back to the period when these two buildings were first constructed. The Choir’s early records have not survived, however the Blackstone School of Arts building would have been an important centre for the community, including the early Choir. It was a large and imposing building in the local landscape and no doubt played host to a wide variety of community events and celebrations.

Both buildings were to disappear when demolished in the 1930s, as a result of the expansion of mining in the area.

Brian Randall – Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland