Friday, March 20, 2009

Queen & Edward (3)

In July 1942, Brisbane was hit by a storm - the arrival of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur. Offered various options as headquarters, MacArthur steamrolled the recommendation that he should be based outside the CBD - a recommendation that was not only about his safety! Instead he selected the AMP building on the corner of Queen and Edward Sts, because of its solid construction - it was almost bomb-proof. The building was commandeered under military orders and the AMP staff and other tenants were promptly evicted so that MacArthur could set up his office on the eighth floor. Similarly, the General determined that he and his family would be accommodated at Lennons Hotel, then Brisbane's most luxurious hotel. MacArthur motored to and from these two buildings under armed escort in his personal army vehicle, with its number plate USA 1. Here is a picture of the AMP building today, now called MacArthur Chambers in honour of the general. The statue above the Queen St entrance (click on the photo to see a larger version) was known as Amicus, and was placed on all AMP buildings. Amicus represents the AMP's motto " Amicus certus in re incerta", Latin for "A sure friend in uncertain times", usually inscribed below the statue .
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic) 

The nine-storey AMP building that MacArthur stayed in was constructed between 1930-34 on the north-eastern corner of Queen and Edward. It wasn't the first AMP building on that site.The previous AMP state headquarters, a three-storey building, had been erected on the same corner in 1885, itself replacing the former Federal Building Society building. Here is a photograph of the first AMP building - notice the earlier version of the Amicus statue on the top of the building (click on the photo if you wish to see a larger image).

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #APE-047-01-0008 )

Readers of earlier posts know that I worked in the AMP building (that would be the top photo, for those among you who were preparing to joke about my age!), and there are lots of stories I could tell about my time there. But as they say in the classics - "What happens in the basement strongroom stays in the basement strongroom!" ;-)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Aussie burgers


  1. I also worked in the AMP Building in the early '70s. We changed into uniforms in the basement, and, if I wasn't late for work, would catch the elevator to the 6th floor, and chat to the elevator driver on the way. If I was late, I'd run up the stairs! Every morning, all the women would have to sort mail in the mail room. No email in those days, but we did have a fantastic tube system for routing memos to different departments. Was this left over from MacArthur's day? It does seem very naval.

  2. If I remember correctly, the man who usually drove the staff lift only had one leg. I was at regional offices in the very early 70s but came back to work on the second floor.

    There would have been around 800 staff in those days. Hard to believe now!

    It's great to hear from a former colleague. Thanks for posting.


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