Joseph Hodgson must have been well known in Ipswich in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century. He worked for the betterment of working conditions in the mines and was involved with the labour movement. He also founded Blackstone Accident Fund to care for miners and was involved in the formation of the Pensioner’s League in Ipswich. Joseph was a prolific writer of Letters to the Editor in the Queensland Times and was not afraid to voice his opinion. His long association with Ipswich meant that he had a lot of knowledge of local people, places and events.
A miner, Joseph emigrated from the North of England and arrived in Ipswich in January 1886, just days prior to his 22nd birthday. Soon after arrival he commenced work at No. 1 shaft for Lewis Thomas. Over the next few years he had various employers working at the Boxwood mine for George Ware, the Mihi Tunnel at Tivoli & Eclipse Colliery for John Wright, and Lewis Thomas’ Black Leg Tunnel. For a short while he laboured in the Waterstown brick yard at Tivoli too.
Hodgson had several careers. From 1893 to 1896 he ran a horehound beer factory in South Street that later moved to East Street. Isaac Ham (Ipswich Mayor, 1905) was initially his partner in this venture. They had 11 employees. They manufactured cordials, vinegar, aerated waters, & brewed beers at a time when there were 6 such manufacturers in Ipswich. The 1893 flood was devastating and caused the premises to flood twice in only 8 or 9 days.
Shortly after the flood Joseph Hodgson became lessee of the Racehorse Hotel, Bundamba whilst continuing to manufacture cordials. Both businesses were sold in 1895-1896 but Joseph would return to cordial manufacturing briefly 20 years later with Mr Thomas Barnes, and also with R. McClymont.
From 1896-1911 Joseph lived interstate where he was employed in cordial manufacture and coal mining once again. Following his return to Ipswich he worked in “the goods shed”, and then procured a position with Isaac Ham as a bakery cart driver.
Beginning from about 1914 to the early 1920s Joseph Hodgson was employed on several occasions by the Ipswich City Council where he was also an active union member. It is unclear in what capacity he was employed however on 20 March 1920 he was presented with a gold watch from ICC employees in appreciation of his services. He treasured this gift for the rest of his life.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Joseph Hodgson was the subject of articles in the Queensland Times on many occasions. Throughout his eighties his birthday rated a mention in the local paper and his unique story was repeated. By the time of his 89th birthday Joseph Hodgson was celebrated for being the oldest former publican in Ipswich, the oldest former cordial manufacturer and the oldest living former coal miner in the West Moreton District.
Information taken from:
Queensland Times, 19 January 1953, p.2.
Queensland Times, 18 January 1947, p.2.
Queensland Times, 12 March 1938, p.6.
Queensland Times, 19 January 1944, p.2.
Queensland Times, 19 January 1945, p.2.
Queensland Times, 17 January 1948, p.2.
Queensland Times, 19 January 1950, p.2.
Queensland Times, 16 January 1952, p.2.
Queensland Times, 19 January 1954, p.2.
Queensland Times, 5 January 1946, p.2.
Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald & General Advertiser, 13 June 1896, p.7.