Poorhouse to Paradise

Book Details

Poorhouse to Paradise: The Adventures of a Pioneering Family in a North Queensland Country Town
Lyall Ford — Click here to learn more about the author
Celloglossed on 1/S Board 265 gsm
Page Size:
240mm X 175mm
No. of Pages:
No. of Photographs:
Bibliography, End Notes and Index
First Published:

The Story

Poorhouse to Paradise by Lyall Ford is the story of his grandfather Charles Edward Ford who left England in 1887 at 21 years of age hoping to find a better life than may have been his lot had he remained in England. It is the story of the family he founded and of the remarkable contributions he made to the progress of the communities in which he lived and worked.

Poorhouse to Paradise is however much more than the story of one pioneering family. Within its pages Lyall Ford has created a compelling picture of the hardships of the poor in 19th century England together with a comprehensive study of those crucial decades leading up to World War II in which the character and prosperity of rural and provincial Queensland was forged. Lyall Ford has presented a graphic picture of Queensland life in the era before ‘radio, television, movies and computers.’

Readers familiar with the districts in which Charles Ford and his family lived and worked will revel in memories stirred by a host of well known names, while for general readers widely known Australians such as Madam Melba, Sir Arthur Fadden, Reverend Fred McKay and George Wallace have places in a remarkable story. The story of Charles Ford and his nation building also illustrates why in his day it could be said that ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire.’”

Terry Hayes, Historical Columnist — Mackay Daily Mercury


“I found this an absorbing story”

Glenville Pike, OAM — Author and Historian

“I found it especially interesting to be able to relate to many of the references to people and events...”

Cec Etwell, OAM, JP — Former Deputy Mayor, Mackay City Council

“Poorhouse to Paradise is a classic study of a small Queensland town... a fascinating account of the district!”

Dr Clive Moore, Associate Professor, — Department of History, University of Queensland, Brisbane

From the author

With the arrival of Australia’s Centenary of Federation Year, it is appropriate that we remember our pioneers, who slaved away in unspeakably hot and arduous conditions to carve a nation out of the Australian wilderness. I spent the first few years of my life in Walkerston, a small country town a few kilometres west of Mackay where I met my grandfather and grandmother, Charles and Louisa Ford.

Little did I realise that I would one day write a book about them.

Charles was born into extremely poor circumstances in England. His mother spent much of her early life in a poorhouse and his father worked in incredibly difficult conditions as an agricultural labourer into his old age.

Charles would likely have ended his life in a similar situation if he hadn’t had the courage and determination to leave his family and undertake the long journey to Australia seeking a better way of life.

There he married Louisa and together they reared eight children and gave them an education and a Christian upbringing in difficult times. He was then able to spend his retirement years in a tropical paradise at a beautiful North Queensland beach.

On their journey through life Charles and Louisa became highly respected citizens of the Mackay district. The stories related in this book show that they had lots of challenges on the way, with many sad times and many happy ones.

The children settled in various parts of Queensland and they and their wives and children have become well known in a number of coastal towns ranging from Cooktown to Brisbane.

Lyall Ford