The original Cobb & Co was established in Melbourne at the height of the gold rush by four American partners, including including Freeman Cobb.
The intent was to serve the gold fields but soon included services for passengers, gold and mail.
The company had changed hands several times, and the original founders of the company sold it in 1856, which was purchased by another American, John Rutherford.
The company expanded into New South Wales in 1862 when the gold was discovered at Bathurst. Further expansion into Queensland occurred in 1865 and the first service to operate there was between Ipswich and Brisbane, then eventually further expansion into regional Queensland. Toowoomba was the first stop in Queensland upon entry from the southern state of New South Wales.
At the height of it’s success in 1881, the Cobb & Co became a company and had over 3,000 horses, £50,000 in capital, and covered a network of over 10,000 miles a week.
The Queensland/New South Wales branch of the Cobb & Co eventually separated from the Victorian arm to form two separate entities.
Horse driven carriages services ultimately reached the height of their usefulness in the late nineteenth century, when other means of transport including trains, cars and air services provided a more efficient means.
The last coach service to operate in Queensland was in August 1924.
The Cobb & Co Museum which is a part of the Queensland Museum, was open in 1987 to showcase Australia’s finest collection of horse drawn carriages, including a collection of three carriages from the Cobb and Co which the museum is named after.
The museums collection was the result of a tireless passion by Mr William (Bill) Robert Fossey (WRF) Bolton (1905 – 1973) to gather the collection.
Mr Bolton had collected the carriages originally and had them on display in James St, Toowoomba from 1965 until a fire almost destroyed the collection in 1981, but luckily the collection was managed to be saved.
Prior to 1982 the museum barely had a collection of any horse drawn carriages until the collection was donated to the museum by the daughter and son in law of Mr Bolton.
The vehicles remained in storage from 1982 until 1987 when a new location in Toowoomba was located for them.
In 2001 the second stage of the Cobb & Co museum development was completed for a display space for Toowoomba & Darling Downs history. The museum now encompasses an area of over 2,000 square meters. In 2010 the museum had an $8 million redevelopment.
The museum currently house over 50 horse drawn carriages. It is climate controlled, is wheel chair accessible and has a gift shop.
Website: Cobb and Co. Museum
Address: 27 Lindsay St, Toowoomba