Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Barnes Auto

In earlier days in Brisbane, anything that needed towing was a job for Barnes Auto. Nestled into the rock face of Adelaide St, with their proud motto "We Never Sleep" above, was their garage - combination of service station, mechanics' workshop, parking station and tow truck depot. The following photograph shows the premises in 1935.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #151079)

The proprietor, Luton White, must have been quite an entrepreneur as well as a mechanical marvel. He built his own tow truck on a Dodge chassis to enable him to haul vehicles back to his workshop. Here are its classic art deco lines, as photographed around 1938.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #104172)

Barnes Auto is still listed in the Yellow Pages, operating out of a building at Rocklea, but I can't recall having seen one of their tow trucks for many a year. As for their former Adelaide St premises, they have disappeared, replaced by an office tower and a mobile coffee shop.(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

I did find some images of a rather large Barnes Auto truck at (the internet never ceases to amaze me!), and here it is, still in the
historical Barnes Auto yellow and black livery. A tad different from the early custom built Dodge, and obviously designed for heavy lifting!
(Photo: Courtesy G Kircher)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Merely a facade


  1. Just wanted to note that the first photograph shows the BA premises at North Quay, basically where Reddacliffe place is now. The Adelaide St site become operational in the late 1950's.

  2. I can recall as a young boy Barnes Auto being at North Quay in Queen Street. It's garage was replaced by the Prudential Building in the late 1950's. The Prudential Building itself has since been demolished. My father, Frank O'Neill, worked for Barnes Auto paint and panel shop, at South Brisbane, in the mid to late 1950's. He used to often speak of Luton White. The foreman at Barnes Auto paint and panel shop was a guy called Des Graham. We as kids, in the late 1950's and very early 1960's, used to go to Des Graham's house at Indooroopilly to watch TV in the evenings. Des Graham later left Barnes Auto and set up his own towing and repair business called Wizard Towing.


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