Friday, November 26, 2010

Exhaust pipes

(Photos: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

A recent email enquiry from a reader prompted me to publish this post. I had researched it earlier, but when I received an email from "nemo" asking me to identify some curious structures that are scattered about the city, I decided to go ahead and post it.

Here is a photograph of these objects. What are they - can you guess? I'll give you their locations, from left to right:
1. St Pauls Terrace, Spring Hill - opposite Gloucester St
2. Florence St, Teneriffe - corner of Macquarie St, next to woolstore
3. Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill - opposite Twine St, outside Albert Park

The structures are all made from Monier reinforced concrete and were among the first uses of this product in Queensland. They were built around 1904.

OK, I'll put you out of your misery. These are ventilation shafts for Brisbane's stormwater drainage system. In the late 1870s and early 1880s, the Brisbane Municipal Council commenced to provide stormwater drains in the city, Spring Hill and Fortitude Valley areas. Brisbane's hilly terrain and tropical thunderstorms often created havoc for those living in low-lying areas (still happens, in fact), and so open drains were constructed to channel the water away to the river and creeks of the town. The drains were then covered in the 1890s.

However, Brisbane was not then sewered, and citizens and businesses had a tendency to dispose of household waste and refuse down the stormwater drains. This soon led to the creeks becoming fouled and the stormwater drains themselves blocked and smelly. An outbreak of bubonic plague in Brisbane around the year 1900 added to the concerns of citizens. In those days, it was thought that diseases could be transmitted by these odours, and so the Municipal Council allocated a sum of money to construct ventilation shafts for the drains as a health measure.

It is not known how many were erected, but these three shafts are all that are left.

Click here for a Google Map to the Teneriffe shaft - you'll have to find the others yourself :-).


Next: La nouvelle


  1. How interesting. I'd always noticed them but didn't know what they were.

  2. Nemo here - thanks for this writeup, that's fantastic.

    I think this is the base of another shaft, otherwise long gone, at the corner of Shafston Ave and Thorn Street


  3. I have lived here all my life and never even noticed them. Fascinating! Also, wanted to say that your blog is fabulous and I love the fact that you are ensuring that our city's history won't be forgotten! Well done!

  4. I love these too despite their not so pleasent purpose, cheers Katherine

  5. Thanks, I saw one of these recently and came across your blog in an effort to find out what it was. Its not one of these 3 though. Its at Wickham Tce opposite Dark St, but hidden in the parklands.


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