The night Ipswich CBD lost its department-store heartbeat through a massive firePosted by On

The Ipswich CBD was once the thriving epicentre of one of the wealthiest regional cities in Queensland — now, it’s anything but.

“For lease” signs now plaster stores throughout the main streets, some of which have been deserted for over a decade.

For those who remember the CBD in its heyday, it’s a devastating sight.

“When I was growing up, the CBD was an absolute destination,” recalled local real estate agent and lifelong resident June Frank.

“On Saturdays, there were so many people, they used to have policemen standing on the corner to move people on because the crowds were so thick.

“Anything you wanted – anything – was in the middle of that CBD.”

For those born after its decline, it’s hard to imagine it ever reached such highs; begging the question: How did it get to its current state, and what can be done to return it to its former glory?

 Shoppers outside Cribb and Foote department store in Ipswich
Shoppers swarm on Ipswich department store Cribb and Foote in the days long before it was destroyed by fire in 1985 when known as Reids. (Supplied)

The CBD in its prime

Ipswich was booming in the 20th century with riches built off the back of coal exploration, limestone quarries and steam train manufacturing.

That money fed directly into the CBD.

A black and white photo of a busy street.
Nicholas Street was part of a bustling Ipswich CBD in 1959. (Supplied)

Many residents didn’t own…

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