Ipswich Libraries

The Whybird Family Business

Whybirds horse team (Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich – ‘Ipswich in the 20th Century’ by Robyn Buchannan)


In 1857 at the age of 22, John Whybird immigrated to Australia from England on the ship ‘Blenheim’. He made his way to Ipswich and began working as a drayman for the firm of Hassel & Ogg in Bell Street. John carried goods from the Bremer River wharves to the firm’s store, and also deliveries from the store. When the firm closed down, John received the horse and dray in lieu of wages and started his own business as a “for hire” drayman.

John married Catherine Magee in St Marys Catholic Church in 1862. They had two boys, James and John. John jnr. passed away as an infant. His mother Catherine died in 1873.

John married again in 1875 to Eliza Ellen Richards and had eight children. The family settled in Ipswich, with John and his business becoming very well known among locals. His Carrier business grew enabling him to put on a few workers to help with the workloads such as contracts for the railways and the Queensland Woollen Mills.

When John became ill at age 69, his son Henry returned home from Charters Towers to help him with the business while he recuperated. One of six sons, Henry married Elizabeth Beatrice Anderson and they had nine children. Henry eventually took over the business in 1905 when John died.

In 1911, a two-horse lorry was built to accommodate the growing business which had added the job of transporting furniture as well as goods to their business in 1906. Later on, Henry’s two older sons, Jack and Harry began working in the business. Allan Whybird, another of Henry’s sons returned from service with the AIF in Borneo to manage the business in 1946. Henry passed away in 1948.

By 1951, a new Ford four ton truck was being used to meet customer demand and the family was specializing in furniture removal offering personalized and professional service. Royston Whybird took over the business from his father Allan in 1984, with his daughter Sheree carrying the tradition on to the fifth generation. By 1994 the business now possessed a fleet of 16 furniture removal trucks. In 1997 the business was sold to family friend Frank Aspinall who chose to keep the Whybird’s name, however he has moved into international transport. The Whybird family celebrated its 150th anniversary with a family reunion in 2007.

To read more about the Whybird Family or other pioneering families of Ipswich, visit the Viva Cribb Local History Room of the Ipswich Central Library. The Room is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

Information taken from: Moving On: the story of five generations of removalists – the Whybird family by Allan Whybird; The History of Ipswichs’ Long Established Businesses 994.321 HIS; Iconic business reaches 150 years (QT 12-10-2007; Allan’s moving through history (QT 11-03-1994).


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