Monday, August 3, 2009

Commissariat Store

Being a bit preoccupied by age at the moment, I'm presenting this building, one of the oldest in Queensland (along with the windmill on Wickham Terrace), for today's post. It is the former Commissariat Store, built by convicts in 1828-9, in William St near the river. I don't know about you, but I need to know what purpose a Commissariat Store actually served. It sounds vaguely military, doesn't it? That's because it is - Webster's dictionary defines a commissariat as "a system for supplying an army with food". And remember, when Brisbane was originally settled in 1824, it was a penal settlement. That means it was a place where prisoners were sent - and wherever prisoners went in those days, also went soldiers! The photo below was taken in 1928, and it shows the side of the store, taken from William St. This photo includes an insert that shows the Royal Seal of King George IV that is part of the front wall of the building. Click the photo to see a larger image.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #103466)

The original store was in Elizabeth St, but it made much more sense for it to be relocated to William St where goods could be easily unloaded from ships. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what sort of goods came in? Probably refined or processed or preserved foods; possibly even livestock; also clothes, I guess; and perhaps even building equipment and materials. I imagine that it would be a pretty busy place, and that the nature of the imports would have changed as the colony became more self-sufficient. The building itself was constructed of local stone from Kangaroo Point and Oxley Creek, and the original structure included a wharf.

The State government's EPA site provides a great deal more information about the building, past and present. Here are today's pictures of the Store, starting with the same viewpoint as the original.
(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

My second photo, above, was taken from the original front of the building in Queens Wharf Rd (the entrance to the building today is in William St), and shows the Royal Seal above the main doors. Click the photo for a larger view. The building is now occupied by the Royal Historical Society, and of course, it was one of the city's first buildings to be heritage listed.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next (tomorrow): Turning 60


  1. Talking of convicts and of early Brisbane settlement, did you like the article on Joseph Backler's Views of Brisbane, in The Library Magazine, National Library of Australia, June 2010? He might have been a Very Naughty Boy, but goodness his panoramas were talented. And full of historical data.

  2. Interesting story and wonderful art.


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