The History of Clifford House

Clifford House was designed for use as a residential men’s club. However, the disastrous and prolonged fall in cattle prices saw the pastoralists involved with the original concept unable to finish the project. The partially completed building was subsequently leased to the Lands Department in 1860.

During this same period, James Taylor, a pioneer and early settler of the Downs, added to his already extensive land holdings at Cecil Plains through the purchase of 10,000 acres in an area then known as the swamp, later to house the city of Toowoomba. He established himself through buying cattle at slump prices and boiling them down for tallow. Seeing the opportunity of acquiring a town house of some magnificence, he purchased Clifford House and set about finalising its construction. Twelve months later, in 1869, James Taylor, his wife Sara and their nine children took up residence there. In its heyday, Clifford House boasted 30 rooms and carried a staff of six housemaids and three gardeners.

Gip’s Restaurant is built in and around the old Billiard Room. We decided upon the name late one evening while walking around the site. A rather large rock was laid by James Taylor to commemorate the passing of the little Jack Russell dog he called Gip. The simple message engraved on the headstone (to be found on the grassy knoll to the west of the restaurant) is rather touching. Gip passed away on the 10th July 1894, James Taylor a little over one year later.

James Taylor was a man of vision and a great champion of promoting the interests of Tooowomba and the Darling Downs. His efforts in establishing our first hospital and generally improving the quality of life of our earliest settlers have been well documented. We felt that he would be rather pleased that his little mate ended up havng a restaurant named after him.