This week’s topic was another one of those “found while looking for something else” topics. Truth be told I can’t even remember what I was originally looking for but my eye caught the phrase “Drayton Deviation” in a different article and so I lingered a while to read. While the article was about the opening of the Drayton Line I thought I’d see what I could dig up about the history of the Drayton area.
The name Drayton is thought to have been chosen by Thomas Alford after Drayton, Somersetshire, England, where his father was the vicar. Thomas Alford built a house, general store, and post office at the location then known as “The Springs” around 1843. The Springs began as a camping place near the intersection of the Eton Vale, Westbrook and Gowrie pastoral stations in about 1842.
In 1847 a stockman from Cecil Plains Station, William Horton, opened the Royal Bull’s Head Hotel, which was named in honour of ‘Champion’, a prize Durham bull on the Cecil Plains station. The hotel offered lodging, a staging place for animals and was used for auctions, meetings and other social functions. The name “The Springs” was used from circa 1840 to 1847, and the Drayton Township was officially surveyed in 1849. The town also saw the area’s first newspaper, the Darling Downs Gazette, in 1858.
For the next seven years the township held it’s own despite the intense rivalry with its sister town Toowoomba. Toowoomba (or “The Drayton Swamp”), which was located 6km to the north-east, was found to be the preferred location because of its better access to water and favourable growing conditions.In 1915, 72 years after the area had been settled the railway finally came to Drayton. The Drayton station was placed on what was once the Drayton Cricket Ground and the first train to arrive was called the “Lady McGregor”. In 1949 Drayton Shire was abolished and absorbed by Cambooya and Crows Nest Shires.
The Royal Bulls Head Inn was listed on the National Heritage List in October 1992, and a team of archaeologists from the University of Southern Queensland, along with the National Trust, excavated land around the Royal Bulls Head Inn at Drayton in 2014.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. See you all next time.