Ernest Greenway was 21 when he arrived in Ipswich in 1882 from England. His occupation prior to emigration was listed in the 1881 England and Wales Census as “Engraver on Stone (Mason)”. In other documents his trade is also described as sculptor, monumental mason and stonemason. The convict Francis Greenway, who was Australia’s first government architect and the man on our $10 note, was his great-uncle.
By 1883 Ernest had already established his own business in Nicholas Street, adjoining the Masonic Hall, supplying mantelpieces for Ipswich households; plus monuments, tombstones, and crosses for graves and parks. He used a variety of stone and imported marble to sculpt and became a well-known Ipswich resident and businessman. Ernest resided in Nicholas Street for a time and would probably have brought his bride Elizabeth Femister to live there in 1886. The Femisters were a respected pioneer family of the district.
By 1889 the family was living at 16 Gray Street and shortly thereafter Ernest would commence construction of “Kyeewa” at 1 York Street, East Ipswich. This colonial residence of unpolished sandstone is now a World Heritage Site and listed in the Queensland Heritage Register. Elizabeth and Ernest raised their 6 children at “Kyeewa”. Ernest lived here until his death in early 1934. The property remained in the Greenway family until 1989 when it was sold.
In 1894 a committee was formed to erect a memorial to John MacFarlane who was a former Ipswich Mayor and long-serving Member of Parliament. The monument was funded by public subscription. Ernest submitted a design at a very favorable price and won the contract. The John MacFarlane Monument was dedicated on 2nd March 1895 and 120 years later still stands on Merle Finimore Avenue in Queens Park. Monumental masonry was probably the bread & butter of Ernest Greenway’s business. This included work at Ipswich General Cemetery and as far afield as Croydon and Cooktown Cemeteries in northern Queensland. Mary Watson’s Monument erected 1886 in Cooktown is also his work. In St Mary’s Church in Ipswich the sculpture of St Joseph the Worker carved out of Carrara marble is attributed to Greenway.
Although Ernest may have been best known for stonemasonry he was involved in various Ipswich civic and cultural activities. A keen chess player he was at one time President of the Queensland Chess Association, and Captain of the Ipswich Chess Club for many years. He was a regular and long standing attendee of the Ipswich School of Arts Committee monthly meetings. In 1903 he was Secretary to the Committee of Central Girls School. In 1908 Ernest appears to have been involved in civic matters being appointed Acting Assistant District Registrar for 3 weeks, and serving as Justice of the Peace for a time. When he died in January 1934 the reigning Mayor of Ipswich A.T. Stephenson suggested that aldermen attending the council meeting stand in silence as a mark of respect for the late Ernest Greenway. His services to the city were also acknowledged.
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