SIGN OF THE TIMES: Lois Kilmartin has restored an original Loetzschs sign at the site of their old cycle shop on Brisbane St.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Lois Kilmartin has restored an original Loetzschs sign at the site of their old cycle shop on Brisbane St. Contributed

Photographer scratches the surface of Ipswich's history

THE KEEN eye of heritage enthusiast Lois Kilmartin has uncovered pristine shop signage at the Top of Town dating back to the 1930s.

As a member of the #projectipswich photographic group, which produces a community pride blog, Ms Kilmartin noticed an antique sign for Loetzschs bike shop on the glass panels above Professionals Thornton Real Estate on Brisbane St, hidden under layers of paint.

The sign was from the original motorcycle dealership run by speedway champion Vic Loetzsch and his brothers.

Running the risk of being accused of watching paint peel, Ms Kilmartin approached the building owners on a couple of occasions and volunteered to scrape the paint back to reveal the original sign.

She recruited the help of fellow #projectipswich member Nathan Ranft, who brought along the ladders, scrapers and an extra pair of hands and the pair spent hours cleaning the sign back over a weekend.

Renovations at Thornton s Professional Real Estate revealed the shop s original signage in pristine condition. Vic Loetzsch on his 'Red Hunter' Ariel (28-10-1939). Photo: Contributed
Vic Loetzsch on his 'Red Hunter' Ariel. (28-10-1939). Photo: Contributed Contributed

To their surprise the sign, handwritten by W. Berry, was in pristine condition.

"I noticed the sign underneath peeling paint, just peeking through, and after chipping I don't know how many years of paint away it was definitely worth the hard work," she said.

"I just couldn't be happier with the condition of the sign. It was painted on the inside face of the glass so it was preserved."

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The #projectipswich group photograph images of buildings and places around Ipswich that they love to highlight the beauty of the city in a public forum.

"There are quite a few bits and pieces around us that definitely need saving," Ms Kilmartin said.

"This was just another example of the beauty around town. It is such a beautiful way to sign your store."

The little piece of Ipswich history will remain as another historic marker in the Top of Town heritage precinct.

Lois Kilmartin restored an original Loetzschs sign at the site of their old cycle shop on Brisbane Street. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Lois Kilmartin Rob Williams

Current owners Professionals Thornton Real Estate principal Les Thornton said they would retain the shop frontage sign.

He said when they took over the shop in 1983, it still had ramp access through the front door, another remnant of the building's beginnings as a bike shop.

"You can still find ball bearings from the bikes in between the floorboards," Mr Thornton said.

"The sign is a real piece of history. A lot of that sign-writing art was big business.

"If you were skilled in sign-writing, you were highly sought-after.

"Shopfront signage was considered an important part of your business in those days."

Mr Thornton said the signage was a great addition to the heritage streetscape that made the Top of Town precinct.

"This is one of the very few intact commercial streetscapes from the era," he said.

"It's a pleasant end of town to be in with the speciality shops and smaller, quirkier businesses."

Nathan Ranft scrapes away old paint revealing the beauty of the old Loetzschs Bike Store sign.
Photo: Lois Kilmartin
Nathan Ranft scrapes away old paint revealing the beauty of the old Loetzschs Bike Store sign. Photo: Lois Kilmartin