HISTORY: Country Women's Ipswich president Gail Neville in what is believed to be an old jail under the building in Limestone Street.
HISTORY: Country Women's Ipswich president Gail Neville in what is believed to be an old jail under the building in Limestone Street. Rob Williams

CBD's criminal past exposed with discovery of hidden dungeon

UNDERNEATH the colonial Georgian home of the Country Women's Association is a dark look into Ipswich's law enforcement history.

A concrete shell of two police cells is all that is left below the association's Limestone Street hostel building.

Built into the earth, a timber door from the backyard leads into a large and cold rectangular room.

At each end of the room two narrow doorways lead into what was once a temporary home for Ipswich's early criminals.

As a dim light peers through the thin bars on the concrete window frame, CWA Ipswich branch president Gail Neville stands in silence.

"People have asked me if I've ever seen ghosts in here," she said.

"I have to say I don't know, I've never slept down here."

The location of the police jail underneath has been known to women's association members and hostel residents for many years, but some disputed its use.

"Some people disagreed and said it was never a lock-up - but on the paperwork we've got it was two, and it looks like a jail," Ms Neville said.

Chief Constable Edward Quinn, a mounted policeman, was one of the earliest owners of the 1860 Colonial Georgian home.

It was later occupied by the Campbell family, who were one of the first pioneering families of Ipswich.

 

QCWA president Gaile Neville in what is belived to be an old jail under the building in Limestone Street.
QCWA president Gaile Neville in what is belived to be an old jail under the building in Limestone Street. Rob Williams

Ms Neville's voice echoes as she speaks about the remarkable history in the walls around her.

"In 1942 Ipswich Branch (of the women's association) bought the building for 500 pounds," she said.

At the weekend the association celebrated 160 years of the site and 75 years of the hostel's operation.

While both the building and the women's association has a significant history, the future of both remains uncertain.

"We're just a small branch and we'd like some more members," Ms Neville said.

The association has the building on the market for sale, partly because of dwindling numbers.

"Members are getting too old and we just can't keep up with the work," she said.

It will be a tough sell for the association branch president, who lived in the hostel for about one year.



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