Friday, April 8, 2011

Queensland Workers Dwelling Act

William Kidston, a Scottish immigrant, arrived in Rockhampton in 1883. He ended up having one of the most topsy-turvy political careers ever seen in Queensland, being alternatively a Labor treasurer and a Liberal premier. In 1909, the Liberal government (of which he was leader) introduced into the parliament An Act to Enable the Government to Assist Persons in Receipt of Small Incomes to Provide Homes for Themselves, commonly known as The Workers' Dwellings Act of 1909. Its goal was to provide houses for low-income Queenslanders, and between 1910 and 1940 it produced over 23,000 houses for those who needed them. According to the state governments cultural heritage pages, the house pictured below was the very first of them.(Photo: More Historic Homes of Brisbane; National Trust of Queensland)

And here it is today - still standing, but with significant alteration to the front. The verandah has been enclosed, losing the balustrades and beautiful timber fretwork evident in the earlier picture.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The little house is in the near-northern suburb of Nundah, and is the prototype "timber and tin" dwelling that, over time, morphed into the Queenslander. It was designed by the architect's office of the Workers' Dwelling Scheme, and it cost £220 to build in 1910. By 1914, the Workers' Dwelling Scheme was producing houses that looked like this one.
(Photo: Courtesy BCC; BCC-B120-80891A)

As well as designing and constructing the houses, the government also financed them. The first house at Nundah (top photo) was built for a Mr & Mrs Weissner, and the Workers' Dwelling Board funded a mortgage of £190 which was to be repaid over 20 years at 5% interest. This method of building and financing houses for low-income residents eventually became the Queensland Housing Commission.

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. How thoroughly interesting especially when you think how highly sought after these humble homes are now...

  2. I thought that you might be interested in this! :-)

    Yes, it is fascinating to see the evolution of the Queenslander, and how beautiful they are.

    It's a shame that later Housing Commission houses (like the one my family lived in) were stucco hot-boxes.

  3. It's a shame they've enclosed the beautiful front verandah. I live in a worker's cottage and I love it's character!



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