Bamford was named after F. W. Bamford, an inspector on the Cairns-Mareeba railway line who became the first Federal member for Herbert. The town was built to serve the Wolfram/Molybdenite mines on Bamford Hill, the town being at the foot of the hill.
The first mineral discovery was about 1893, and the detrital deposits on the surface were exhausted by 1906. Thereafter, it was the development of the underground pipes that took precedence. There was a boom with the First World War and a State Battery was purchased in 1915 and reopened in 1917 with a new dam, a five stamp battery driven by a charcoal engine. This was the first State Battery established in line with the Government of the days published treatise Socialism at Work, to prevent the exploitation of miners. With the price crash of 1920, the mines closed.
The battery continued to operate sporadically on mainly tin ore until it closed down in 1949. The mines on Bamford Hill were reopened by Gold Copper between 1980 and around 1985.
In 1911, the town had two hotels, Franklin’s and Olesen’s, a Jack & Newell’s store, Moseley’s fruit shop and a music hall. A post office existed from 1904 to 1924. A police station opened in 1904. By 1916 the population was around 160, with Bainbridge’s Bamford Hotel and Reay’s Railway Hotel, and the store owned by de Jarlais.
The battery remains still exist on Oaky Creek but at the town site only mango trees and stumps are visible.
News item from the Northern Miner, Thursday, August 4, 1904
(For The "North Queensland Register")
BAMFORD, July 2.
Of late the press has alluded to this town as demoralised, but if we weigh other towns in the same scales, we find they are equally wanting. In Townsville, the Ross Islanders are heading pennies, the North town side is quietly imbibing intoxicants, and the Towers, if I remember, rightly, was reproached by the Rev. Foggon as a rubbish heap of Sabbath breakers. The late Thadeus O'Kane keenly ridiculed by the Rev. gentleman.
Bamford is a real live, throbbing, cricketing, gambling, pleasure ground for the lucky ones. The "talent" is represented by spinning wheels, sweat table and hasard, and cinque-i-loo rooms. The town is lit by 2 bonfires, one each end of the street, and the pianos and concerts are in good, swing.
Few women are seen in the street. The ladies who patronised Baker's Circus were well dressed and behaved, and of the 200 people to the large tent, not one could be seen shabbily attired. The many crooks that infested the town have taken their departure towards Thornborough, where their next coup d'etat no doubt, will take place. Lately a Towers lad was alleged to be implicated In wolfram stealing, but was acquitted.
The Wolfram camps are so numerous that I refrain from mentioning them all. On Emu Creek and the surrounding district, many tin and wolfram shows are being worked, and a store with its concomitant of pack horses is strongly in evidence. Mount Garnet has its wolfram men. Along Lead Creek and Reed Creek are first class shows. Messrs. Finger and Dalzell have a lode tin show, while Jones and Maher on Emu have fair spar. The hills at Emu surrounding the old Georgetown road carry leaders of metal in gossan, iron spar, mica, shale and granite desiccations, Copper sulphides are seen on the same hill, as well as galena and wolfram; and there are lodes, arsenical lime, that carry payable wolfram if worked on a big scale, but too poor for the prospector to crush for "cash up prospects." The only prayer of all in this district is: "Keep up the prices and send us fair buyers.
The Police are now ably represented in the person of Constable O'Grady and we are congratulating each other on still being at large. The experts in wolfram are not too numerous and the manager of a large mercantile house in Bamford assured me that a specimen brought before him was "hermatite iron." On the blow-pipe test it went 66 per cent tungstein. So much for our local buyers and their metallurgy.
Mr. Ned Atherton, son of the old pioneer and station holder recently wed Miss M. Leahy. The town was suffering from severe headaches caused by enthusiastic drinking to their health
If you have any items of interest on life in Bamford and would like to share them with us please use our Contact form to let us know.
Some of the types of items we are interested in saving are:.
~ old photos, maps, calendars, receipts, newspapers, magazines, brochures, directories, catalogues and phone books ~
~ any photographs, negatives and glass slides ~
~ family histories and trees, the history of old houses, old deeds etc.,
Text taken from:
1. Angor to Zillmanton: stories of North Queensland’s deserted towns’ by Colin Hooper (2002).
Deserted Towns Website
2. Newspaper Article: State Library of Qld - Digital Newspapers