Grandchester is a rural village on the Brisbane to Toowoomba railway line, 30 km west of Ipswich.
When only a locality the place was known as Bigge's Camp, but it came to prominence in 1865 as the temporary terminus of Queensland's first railway line from Ipswich. The surveyor-general changed the name to the better-sounding but similar-meaning Grandchester: Bigge became the French grand (big) and chester is English for town or encampment.
The opening of the railway was an occasion for celebration, and the terminus was suitable for a village. The present, heritage-listed, railway station was built in 1875 and a primary school was opened three years later. A Catholic church was built in 1894 and Grandchester's cemetery had its first burial in 1896.
In 1901 the post office directory recorded 27 farmers, seven timbergetters and a co-op creamery at Grandchester. The largest farm holding was Franklyn Vale station, with its slab and weatherboard homestead dating from the 1870s, and now heritage-listed. Timbergetting evolved into a local sawmill, started by the Gillam family in the 1940s with recycled steam-driven machinery. In the course of time it also has become heritage-listed, and continues as a working mill.
Grandchester has a hotel, a public hall and recreation reserve, the Bigge's Camp reserve and war memorial, and a model steam railway. Its census populations have been: