Former Toowoomba resident Jennifer Cardell (left).
Former Toowoomba resident Jennifer Cardell (left).

‘Generous’ woman behind Toowoomba landmark dies

TRIBUTES have flowed for the Toowoomba Cobb and Co Museum co-founder Jennifer Cardell, who died after a short battle with cancer.

Jennifer Cardell and her husband Adrian's donation of more than $2.5 million in historical artefacts and pieces in 1982 was the catalyst to the creation of the museum five years later.

Mrs Cardell was the daughter of legendary Toowoomba businessman and Toowoomba arts contributor Bill Bolton, and bought his extensive collection of 19th century horsedrawn carriages following his death in 1973.

Her son David Cardell said the donation to the Queensland Museum Network was on the condition that the collection remained in Toowoomba.

Jennifer Cardell with her father, the late Bill Bolton.
Jennifer Cardell with her father, the late Bill Bolton.

"My grandfather established the private museum, but my mother purchased it and then instead of selling it off, they decided they wanted to donate it to the people of Queensland, on the assurance it would be established in Toowoomba," he said.

"She was very supportive of growing Toowoomba.

"She was big on not just the historical artefacts, but also making it a living museum.

"In some ways, the museum was a frontrunner in the combination of the artisans and artefacts."

The Cobb and Co Museum is now one of Toowoomba's most popular tourist attractions, something that delighted Mrs Cardell in her later years.

"It made her happy to see her grandchildren enjoy the activities (at the museum)," Mr Cardell said.

Mr Cardell said his mother was a very intelligent woman who loved tennis and tai chi, even becoming an instructor later in her life.

"She was very sporty and played tennis until she was in her 50s, and then became a tai-chi master.

"We actually buried her with her swords and her (tai chi) fans."

Cobb and Co Museum curator Jeff Powell said the centre owed its existence to the Cardells' donation.

"The collection was valued in the 1980s at over $1 million - it would be many times that amount in present day value," he said.

"Cobb and Co Museum opened as a campus of the Queensland Museum Network in 1987, thanks to the generosity of Jenny and Adrian Cardell.

"It is no exaggeration to say that Cobb+Co Museum would not exist but for the enormous generosity of Jenny and Adrian Cardell."

Mrs Cardell was 78. She is survived by her husband, three children and seven grandchildren.


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