History: A skilled tradesman makes life changing work in Gatton district

PAST: Wilsons Garage in Gatton, 1927.
PAST: Wilsons Garage in Gatton, 1927. Contributed

IN 1884, Thomas Wilson a wheelwright and coach builder migrated from County Armagh in Ireland, he initially worked as a timber getter at Buaraba Station.

When his betrothed Margaret Jane Gordon arrived in 1886, they set up a house and blacksmith shop on Railway St, between Spencer and North St.

The business boomed and before long Thomas had three forges and 12 working men producing all manner of steel farming implements, wagons and coaches.

Valuable items all needed by the busy farmers pouring into the area for miles around Gatton. He quickly became a leader at his trade and an important keystone of the community.

The Wilson family were devout Rechabites.

Thomas took on many responsibilities in the community, he was a member of the Tarampa Board, later the Tarampa Shire Council, he was a four times president of the School of Arts and a founder member of the Lockyer Agricultural Society.

Thomas’s family was growing in line with his business, Margaret gave birth to 13 children, nine of whom survived, filling the house on Railway St.

In the 1920s the motor car came to Australia in big numbers, and in 1925 Thomas Wilson, realised that the world was changing, he took a punt and became an agent for the new American cars such as Buick, Oakland, Oldsmobile Pontiac and Chevrolet creating one of the first Garages in the area.

Daughters Eliza, Maud and Hilda came up with the idea of running a cafe next to the Garage, known as the Wilsonia Cafe and it served the customers that visited the Garage, bus passengers and the general public for many years.

The many brands of American cars were taken over by General Motors and in Australia they soon became General Motors Holden.

The business was then moved to the site now known as Gatton Autos at the other end of Railway St.

Thomas died in 1932, and sons Gordon and Thomas Jnr took over the business, retaining the GMH agency. The Wilson family sold it in in 1965 to Bernie Tathem.

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