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A Toowoomba story: the Bolton Film Collection

Our 2024 Appeal aims to preserve and share more of our collections through digitisation. All donations over $2 are tax deductible and your donation will help save Queensland’s heritage for future generations.

Cobb & Co Coach with Cobb & Co Trucks and Vans c1950, shot outside the Cobb & Co headquarters

At Queensland Museum Cobb+Co in Toowoomba, the team is working on digitising the Bolton Film collection. 


Businessman and philanthropist William Bolton MBE (1905-1973) and his wife, Marion, left an extraordinary legacy of art and artefacts to enrich cultural life in the Toowoomba region.


Bill Bolton was inspired by the legendary Cobb & Co, the coaching company that connected Australia’s bush settlements from the 1850s to the 1920s. Recognising their technical innovation and impact on Australia’s economic and social development, he built a collection of 28 horse-drawn vehicles and carriages, opening a private museum in James Street, Toowoomba, in 1965. This collection was gifted to Queensland Museum in 1982 and became the foundation for the celebrated National Carriage Collection at Queensland Museum Cobb+Co.

1955 Stamp Run over Victoria Bridge. Men riding carriage with horses

Alongside the carriage collection, Queensland Museum received 42 films –around 650 minutes of raw footage. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Bill Bolton used two Cobb & Co coaches, Coach no.48 and Coach no.100, to raise funds for charities and to preserve Australia’s rich coaching heritage. The footage documents various events across Queensland, ranging from the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers and the Warwick Rodeo to the Gatton Centenary and Glass House Mountains School Jubilee. The range of places and activities filmed reflect Bolton’s generosity and community spirit but also people’s continuing fascination with our horse-drawn past and the legend of Cobb & Co.

Australia Day Parade, Toowoomba, mid 1900s

“These film reels are really special because it’s so rare to have moving footage like this, capturing life in country Queensland at that time” explains Amy Goldston, Curator of Transport at Queensland Museum Cobb+Co.

“On 14 August 2024, we commemorate 100 years since Cobb & Co completed its final coach service, running between Yuleba and Surat. These films serve as a visual link and connection to the history of the Darling Downs region.”

With your support, we can digitise collections like these to keep their stories alive and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Queensland’s heritage.

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