The humble house cat can be equally loved and despised. But don’t under-estimate them, they’re clever. Every town in the country has its famous felines. Here are the Top 4 greatest cats in the history of Ipswich, Queensland, and perhaps the world. I told a version of this story on West Bremer Radio.
It starts in 1946 with the invention of a new sport. In at least one part of Ipswich, people were writing the rules that included moving onto the verandah of your house in the evening, with a tin of marbles, and a shanghai or slingshot.
The unfortunate sport was proving so popular that Ipswich’s Queensland Times newspaper ran a story with the headline ‘Catapulting Cats’.
Ipswich’s #4 greatest cat isn’t so much one cat, but the many cats that managed to dodge the marbles being horribly fired at them seventy-five years ago.
Ninety years ago in the 1920s and 1930s, Charlie Spinks was one of Australia’s greatest early motorbike racers, winning big-time events both here and in the United Kingdom.
However, Australia’s great motorcyclist was regularly upstaged by his namesake who it seemed couldn’t be beaten and in 1928 won the Ipswich Show yet again. He was so highly regarded that the Queensland Championship trophy was named the ‘Charlie Spinks Cup’.
This Charlie Spinks was the famous silver tabby male Burmese cat called Charlie Spinks that dominated competitions for over a decade and is the #3 greatest cat.
Second in the Top 4 is another Ipswich Show champion, this time way back in 1906. He was owned by Ipswich’s William Jackson who at the time was in the middle of a fifty-year career at the department store Cribb & Foote. Jackson’s father had served in the British Army in the Indian Mutiny.
The governor of Queensland, Lord Chelmsford, gave a speech, record crowds attended, and the show was declared an unprecedented success.
Jackson’s cat took out first prize – but there was only problem, there was only one entry. So the #2 greatest cat is this unnamed feline that performed a ‘Steven Bradbury’ by winning when no one else showed up at the finish line.
Now let’s go way back to Mr George Jackson’s boarding house on Brisbane Street in Ipswich in 1888.
That’s when Mary Ann Cantrell was working there doing domestic duties. She had just finished dinner with her estranged husband Richard Cantrell when they stepped outside to the wood pile where she handed him an axe.
Cantrell then viciously swung the axe and hit her in the head, splitting it wide open. The police were quickly called but they couldn’t find the assailant anywhere. The possible murderer had got away.
Cantrell had avoided the police by hiding himself underneath the neighbouring building. In the process he drove a cat from out of its own place of concealment, and the animal seated itself outside and persistently starred at him until the police came.
The possible murderer was dragged out by his ankles and arrested. He was subsequently convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. His wife Mary Ann survived and returned to England.
This hero house cat remains unnamed, but it is the greatest cat in history – not just in Ipswich but perhaps the world.
That’s because it was directly responsible for the successful arrest of a would-be murderer. There can’t be too many cats anywhere on the planet with a similar claim!
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO A VERSION OF THIS STORY TOLD LIVE ON WEST BREMER RADIO
Cat in backyard of Rockdale Farm, Peak Crossing, Ipswich, 1950 – Picture Ipswich
Charlie Spinks the cat on the front page – Brisbane Telegraph, 4th June 1932, page 1
Governor of Queensland, Lord Chelmsford – State Library of Queensland