Courtesy Picture Ipswich Ipswich City Council

Symbol of the city's prosperity reduced to a blackened shell

FOR more than 100 years it stood as a symbol of the city's prosperity and in one night it was reduced to a blackened shell.

The Reids fire destroyed three buildings and severed the link to one of Queensland's biggest trading firms.

Merchant Benjamin Cribb emigrated to Queensland from England in 1849 and established London Stores in Bell Street near Union Street.

In 1850 he bought land in Bell Street and built a single storey timber shop.

In 1855 he went into partnership with John Clarke Foote. Gradually the firm expanded and acquired more land in Brisbane and Bell streets.

Cribb and Foote was a major player in Queensland's retailing heritage, predating most of its competitors in Brisbane.

Cribb and Foote were general merchants and claimed they could supply almost anything.

In 1972, the company was bought out by Walter Reid and Company and in 1977, it was relaunched as 'Reids'.

The corner section of the Reids building was the oldest. It was believed to be built in the 1860s after a fire destroyed the Cribb and Foote "back store" in Bell Street.

Early photographs show this building with an awning over the Brisbane Street footpath.

Between the corner block and present day Woolworths was a later extension built in 1884 with an elaborate facade and street awnings.

The Bell Street facade was completed in 1912 and featured coloured brickwork designed by Ipswich architect George Brockwell Gill.

The building was remodelled in 1939.


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