Originally known as Gibb’s Camp, the name was changed to Irvinebank by North Queensland mining legend John Moffat to remind him of his birth place of Newmilns on the river Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland. John Moffat purchased 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.
As the town developed, mail and coach services were established, followed by a school, police station, post and telegraph office and a school of arts.
The town was gazetted for land sales in 1886. As mining operations expanded and became profitable, Irvinebank developed into a thriving community. You can find out more about this amazing story by visiting the 133 year old home of John Moffat which is now Loudoun House Museum.
Irvinebank has a fine collection of historic buildings some of which are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Register of the National Estate. Several of the buildings are open to the public, others are open only during town events, and a few are private residences.
(1884) Open to the public.
This former home of John Moffat, is now a living museum with a remarkable historical collection. The house is built of red cedar and is the oldest high-set timber and corrugated iron house in North Queensland.
It was from this house that John Moffat controlled his vast mining empire. John Moffat retired from Irvinebank in 1912. His Irvinebank Mining Company was eventually sold to the Queensland State Government in 1919. In 1984, Loudoun House was made a museum reserve in trusted to the people of Irvinebank. Loudoun House is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Heritage Register of the National Estate. Loudoun House Museum is a non profit organisation.
IRVINEBANK SCHOOL OF ARTS
(1900) Open to the public by appointment only.
This magnificent building was officially opened on the 26th December 1900 with a grand ball.
Built of red cedar, white beech and hoop pine it is the third School of Arts hall for Irvinebank and has served this community for over 100 years and is still used for many social events.
The hall has seen many forms of entertainment over the years with many of entertainers autographing the walls on the stage to record their performance. One of the most noted performers to have autographed the walls was Gladys Moncrief. The Irvinebank School of Arts Hall is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Heritage Register of the National Estate.
QUEENSLAND NATIONAL BANK
(1905) Open to the public by appointment only.
Built by John Moffat, the old Queensland National Bank is the only brick building remaining in Irvinebank.
The Queensland National Bank rented the premises for 30 shillings per week.
It served as a bank from the 6th July 1905 until it closed due to business decline on the 30th April 1923. After it’s closure the building was rented as a private residence. Until recently the downstairs bank chamber was in original condition. The old Queensland National Bank is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Heritage Register of the National Estate.
STATE TREATMENT WORKS & LOUDOUN MILL
(1885) Not open to the Public but can be viewed from several places around Irvinebank.
The Loudoun mill was commissioned in 1884 with the production of metallic tin beginning in 1885 when two furnaces of the reverberatory type were built. The mill originally had a five head of stamps.
By 1893 with the expansion of the plant ten additional head of stamps were added. In 1900, a further five head were added, followed by a further five in 1901. In 1904 an addition of another ten head brought the total to 40.
The first town dam was built 1884 to provide water for the mill. It has been washed away several times with the present wall built in 1943. The Queensland State Government purchased the Loudoun Mill on the 25th October 1919 and renamed it the State Treatment Works. The works remained in the hands of the Queensland government until 1984 when it was occupied by a private operator.
The Queensland Government regained control of the works in 2004. The State Treatment works is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Heritage Register of the National Estate.
IRVINEBANK TRAMWAY STATION
(1907) Part of the State Treatment Works property, the little two foot gauge tramway ran from Irvinebank to Stannary Hills and then to Boonmoo which was on the Mareeba/Chillagoe line.
It carried paying passengers as well as freight and at its peak ran two trains per day.
The Tramway Station office is now the Community Postal Agency which is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 3.00pm to 5.00pm.This is also a good time to have a look at the building.
OLD POST & TELEGRAPH OFFICE
(1907) Private residence.
The first post and telegraph services in Irvinebank were conduced from Jack and Newell’s Store.
The official Post Office was transferred from near by town of Montalbion in 1899.In 1907 the new Post and Telegraph Office was built on the corner of High Street and McDonald Street.
The telephone exchange was opened in August 1908. The Post Office was closed in 1933 and it operated as an agency until 1966 when postal services were transferred to the Australian Hotel. A Community Postal Agency now operates from the old Tramway Station.
IRVINEBANK STATE SCHOOL
(1889) The first Educational facility in Irvinebank was a private school established in 1885 by Mrs. Janet McTavish. On the 1st November 1886 Mrs. McTavish was appointed first teacher for the new Provisional school which operated out of the first school of arts building.
By 1888 the community wanted a State School to replace the Provisional school. A new State School No. 0519 along with a residence was built in 1889 and still operates today as a one teacher school.
IRVINEBANK POLICE STATION & COURTROOM
(1886 & 1906) Open to the Public by appointment only.
The building was completed on the 13th December 1886 and two policemen moved into the new station on the 24th December 1886. By 1906 the station had become to small for the area and a new courtroom was added.
With a falling population and the Depression the station was closed in January 1933 but was re-opened in March 1935. The Station was closed permanently in January 1965 and is now a private residence.
THE VULCAN MINE POPPET HEAD
(1889) Discovered by Italian wood-cutters, this mine was the main stay of tin production in Irvinebank. The Vulcan lode was developed into Australia’s deepest (1440 feet) and richest tin mine and had a working life of over 40 years.
The Vulcan mine is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and the Australian Heritage Register of the National Estate.