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Initial development in Waterford West began around Tygum Lagoon. Migrants from England, Ireland and Germany settled this area.
In 1862, Arthur Pimm took up riverfront land at Waterford West, with John Rafter taking up the remainder to the north of the lagoon. Pimm then engineered the relocation of the Waterford ferry, which Samuel Waterman had established at the end of Tygum Road in 1862. Pimm closed off the road and then had a new road surveyed to cross the river at the current bridge site. Pimm then subdivided the estate, which he marketed as Pimlico in 1866.
The ferry had a number of operators, including Waterman and William Stone. The first official licence went to Henry Eden in 1865. Eden had a small hotel and store located between Loganlea Road and the ferry, which was used to accommodate travellers. Eden generally employed others to run his ferries, which also included the Loganholme ferry. Eden's Ferry Hotel was licensed to ferryman William Huston in March 1871. Richard Leo established the Morning Star Hotel at the same time, on the western corner of Loganlea Road. He was licensed in May 1871. Another hotel was built around 1873, on the southern side of the river closer to Bethania. It was run by Robert Skiffens and burnt down in January 1877. A new hotel known as the Waterford Arms was built near the river by Gottfried Tesch. It opened in October 1878.
Arthur Pimm's attempts to sell Pimlico township were not successful. In 1869, Henry Jordan, the former emigration agent for Queensland, purchased the estate and renamed it Tygum. Jordan was instrumental in much of the Irish immigration to Queensland. He was a Member of the Legislative Assembly for East Moreton from 1868–71.
Jordan began to construct a sugar mill at Tygum almost immediately. Sugar was seen as a better option than cotton. Sugar cultivation along the Logan River was encouraged by Louis Hope of the Ormiston plantation near Cleveland, and early sugar crops on the Logan were taken by riverboat to Hope's mill for crushing.
Sugar growing became a key industry on the Logan River for the next 20 years. Hope only managed to secure the milling of Logan sugar for a couple of years, as many farmers started to build their own mills. The first crushing at Tygum mill was in September 1870. At that time, Jordan purchased Tygum Road and it was permanently closed to traffic. It is likely that the stand of bunya trees marking the entrance to his estate was planted at this time. The other significant legacy of Jordan’s occupation is the private cemetery in Henry Jordan Park, which holds the remains of four infants of Henry and Sarah Jordan, who died between 1872 and 1876.
Logan River residents continually lobbied for a bridge across the river, but the funding was not forthcoming. In 1875, tenders were called for the supply of timber for a bridge at Waterford. It was completed in August 1876.
The region needed a school. While the Logan Reserve school had been established around 1865, it was too far from Waterford West and residents needed a local school.
In the mid-1870s the Catholic Church from Logan Reserve was relocated to a site adjacent to the Morning Star Hotel. A cemetery was developed next to the church, and may have been in use as early as 1874 when infant Richard Leo Junior died. The Leo family formally donated the land to the Church in 1892.
Henry Jordan sold off much of his property in 1878. Tygum House was sold to William Arthy and Jordan left the district. Arthy and his son James are also buried in the private cemetery on the riverbank in Henry Jordan Park.
The Lahey brothers purchased Jordan's sugar mill in 1879. The milling equipment was sold to Schneiders of Bethania, who set it up on the creek in Old Logan Village Road. The Laheys then turned their attention to timber milling. The sawmill burnt down in 1884 and the family later moved to Canungra.
Waterford West’s old hotels were later rebuilt. In 1969, the Morning Star, which became the Club Hotel at the turn of the century, was rebuilt. The Waterford Arms was rebuilt as the Riverwilde Hotel in 1972.
A major flood on the river occurred on Australia Day in 1974. Two houses were washed away, but the bridge survived. In 1996, a new high-level bridge was constructed.
In December 1974, a drive-in theatre was built on Logan Reserve Road, near Beutel Road. A new school was established in Waterford West in 1976. The old Catholic Church had been sold off in the late 1940s and relocated to Eight Mile Plains and then to Daisy Hill, where it remains in use as St Declan’s. The cemetery was then sold by the Catholic Church, with only four graves relocated to Gleneagle. It is unknown how many graves remain on the site, which is now occupied by semi-industrial shops.
In 1978, Logan and Albert Shires were formed and Waterford was split in two, with the western part in Logan and the remainder in Albert Shire (later Gold Coast). Waterford West was gazetted as a suburb in 1987.