Irvinebank was originally known as Gibb's Camp, John Moffat changed the name in memory of his birth place - Newmilns on the river Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland.
Purchasing the original claims from Gibb's and party in 1883, by 1884 Moffat had erected a battery and smelter,which was to become the largest smelter in Australia for a number of years.
The town grew and mail and coach services were established, followed by a school, police station, post and telegraph office and a school of arts. In 1886 the town was gazetted for land sales and as mining operations expanded and became profitable, Irvinebank developed into a thriving community.
Ivinebank was the administrative centre of Walsh Shire from about 1902 until the shire was absorbed by Mareeba Shire in 1932.
Irvinebank has a number of historic buildings (some listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Register of the National Estate). Many are open to the public, some only during town events others are private residences.
Louden House (1884) - Open to the public
The School of Arts (1900) - Open to the public by appointment only
The Post Office & Telegraph Office (1907) - Open to the public
The Police Station (1886) and Courtroom (1906) - Open to the public
The State Treatment Works - Louden Mill (1885) - Not open to the public
The Queensland National Bank (1905) - Not open to the public
The Tramway Station (1907) - Not open to the public
For more information on Irvinebank and it heritage buildings see the Irvinebank heritage website
After Moffat's retirement in 1912, and with the drop in the price of commodities, the town began its decline - in 1919 the battery, smelter and tramway were sold to the Queensland Government - the tramline was closed in 1936 and the lines pulled up for reuse in 1941.
News Item From Queensland Figaro (Brisbane, QLD: 1883-1885)
Saturday 15 November 1884
A big enterprise up at Herberton is that bossed by Moffatt & Young, of Irvinebank and Herberton It comprises many branches. Moffatt & Young have constructed a large dam at Irvinebank, at a cost of £2000. Even at this dry season of the year, this dam has 25 feet of water in it. M. & Y. also own 12 tin lodes and four silver selections at Silverfield. They have further erected the most complete tin-ore-crushing plant in the colonies. The machine has only five stampers, but has four jiggers and six buddies, the latter being in the lower tier, and being worked by means of a huge water-wheel, which is driven by the waste water from the stampers, &c., on the hill above. Besides these conveniences, Moffatt & Young have, for their own use, a machine for making fire-bricks, a saw-mill, and are erecting a large tin-smelting stack. The machinery was expected to be in full working order this month, and is a monument to the energy and skill of Moffatt, who supervised the whole of the work.
No anti-mining men can scoff at,
The energy displayed by Moffat;
And though his partner's Young, he is.
I'll bet a dollar, old in biz.
News Item From The Cairns Post (QLD : 1884-1893)
Thursday 18 December 1884
[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENTS.]
Separation Day*, locally, was distinguished only by the business houses being closed and the town being rendered duller by that circumstance; very many residents left for Irvinebank to be present at the christening of the machinery erected by Messrs. Moffat and Co. There were assembled about 150 persons, the machine being christened the "Soudan" by Miss Janet Jack. A sumptuous luncheon was subsequently provided; sports were inaugurated and a most enjoy-able day was passed. The machinery is said to be the most complete of its kind in the colony and worked most admirably, while the charge of molten metal tapped from the smelting furnace proved the efficacy of that branch of the works.
The power of capital is forcibly illustrated at Irvinebank, a locality two years ago simply known as "Gibb's" claims, which Messrs. Moffat and Co. afterwards purchased. To-day it possesses a township which can boast of containing the best machinery m Queensland, and a smelting furnace capable of smelting all the tin in the district, und which is likely to take a very foremost stand in Queensland. All this is due to the combination of capital, with energy and good management to direct it.
* Separation Day- Queen Victoria gave her approval and signed the Letters Patent on 6 June 1859. On the same day an Order-in-Council gave Queensland its own Constitution. Queensland became a self-governing colony with its own Governor, a nominated Legislative Council and an elected Legislative Assembly .
News Item From The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954)
Wednesday 4 February 1885
IMPORTANT DISCOVERY OF SILVER IN QUEENSLAND.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
A telegram from Herberton states that an important discovery of silver ore has been made in the Albion lease at Silverfield, near Irvinebank, consisting first of horn silver, and next of grey carbonates, chlorides, and sulphates mixed.
The first assaying gave 20,000 ounces of silver per ton, the later varying from 2500to 15,000 ounce. The lode is seven feet wide and well defined. The Barossa lease, on the same hill, has a lode 14 feet across, and from which 100 tons of grey carbonates gave an assay of from 100 to 200 ounces per ton.
There are six other leases on which work is being done, and they are all looking well. The town is in a state of great excitement, and all who can are leaving for the locality. This promises to become one of the most important discoveries in the colony.
Text taken from:
1. Wikipedia - - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mareeba
2.Queensland Places - - http://queenslandplaces.com.au/irvinebank
2. Newpaper Articles: State Library of Qld - Digital Newspapers