History of Cobb+Co Museum

Cobb+Co Museum, part of the Queensland Museum Network, opened in Toowoomba in December 1987.

1905

Before the 1980s the Queensland Museum had very few horse and bullock drawn vehicles. However, the situation changed dramatically in June 1982, when the large collection of MR WRF Bolton was donated to the Museum.

This collection of 28 vehicles was the result of Mr Bolton’s tireless search for horse-drawn carriages, coaches, wagons and carts of all types during the 1950s and 1960s. Mr Bolton, like many other Australians, was inspired by the great stagecoaching company Cobb & Co. with its technically innovative vehicles, magnificent horse, streamlined administration and skilful drivers whose dedication to duty was the life blood of many a country town.

In September 1965 the Bolton collection of horse drawn vehicles, artefacts and research, together with assorted items of Australiana was opened to the public in James Street, Toowoomba. After Mr Bolton’s death in August 1973, the collection remained on display in the original museum. However in March 1981, a fire ravaged the building. Quick thinking by local residents saved all the vehicles and fortunately only some of the large ones sustained any damage. The collection was donated to the Queensland Museum by Bank Pty Ltd, a family company of Mr and Mrs A Cardell, daughter and son in law of Mr Bolton.

For the next five years the vehicles were placed in temporary storage in Toowoomba awaiting a permanent home. After a lengthy search, the floriculture building of the old Toowoomba Showgrounds was selected and after extensive renovations Cobb+Co Museum was opened.

Since the Museum opened in 1987, it has undergone two transformations. In 2001 a Stage 2 development was completed which enabled the Museum to expand its activities and services through the inclusion of a broader range of exhibition themes and lifelong learning opportunities for its community.

However, the Museum never lost sights of its responsibility as the custodian of the Cobb & Co. legend. With great support from the Toowoomba community, the National Carriage Factory project was completed in 2010. The facilities provides training in heritage trades and crafts associated with the era of Cobb &Co. ensuring that these skills will be preserved for future generations.