The old Ipswich Court House is one of Queensland’s iconic buildings, dating from 1859. The building was constructed by the New South Wales government, prior to the separation of Queensland, using a design drawn by the Colonial Architect, Charles Tiffin. It therefore stands as an important reminder of the very beginnings of Queensland.
At separation, the cost of the building was inherited by the Queensland government and this led to an on-going dispute between the two colonies. This dispute was especially difficult for Queensland as, according to legend, at the time of separation, there was only a couple of shillings in the treasury coffers and this was subsequently stolen.
This beautiful building was constructed of brick and stone, lead guttering and a shingled roof. The actual court was located at the centre of the building with the clerk, police magistrate and bar room to the right. To the left were the witness and jury rooms and the court keeper. The building experienced early and on-going problems, for instance, damp as well as leaking sky lights – these were removed in 1864.
Originally, the building would have been an imposing structure in the local streetscape, but this has changed over time with the growth of Ipswich’s central business district. The size and quality of the building also reminds us of the importance of Ipswich at the time and this importance was maintained as it was the main court for the district up until 1982. It was also an important centre for the community in general, with the building being used for many public meetings and events throughout its life.
The Ipswich Court House is therefore one of our most important surviving historic buildings and it stands as a wonderful reminder of our early history.
Brian Randall – Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland