Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Naval Stores, Kangaroo Point

When the perceived threat of invasion by the Russians was at the forefront of the minds of Queenslanders, a navy was established by the purchase of a couple of ships from Scotland, the Gayundah and the Paluma. Having the ships based in Brisbane meant that spare parts and other kit required to maintain the vessels needed storing. The solution was the construction of the Naval Stores buildings at Kangaroo Point between 1886 and 1888. Here is an early photograph of the buildings, shown in front of the cliffs. Shortly after these buildings were finished, a Naval Office was established on the other side of the river at the bottom of Edward St. (Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #127388)

 These historical buildings can still be seen, although these days they fulfill a different service. It is testament to our determination to keep them that they have survived despite several near-disasters. The 1893 flood rose well above the ground floor ceilings and although the 1974 floods didn't reach that level, they were very serious too. In 1985 significant damage occurred when the buildings were involved in a fire, a photograph of which can be seen below.
(Photo: "Brisbane Ablaze"; K Calthorpe & KD Capell)

The buildings became the property of the Royal Australian Navy, and were used by them until 1959, then they were used by the Army until 1984. The Brisbane City Council purchased the site in 1987, and now the buildings are used in the tourist and hospitality industries.
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

At the right-hand end of this building there are markers that show the height of the 1893 flood and also the 1974 flood. It is quite sobering to stand next to them.

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  1. Thanks for this post. I knew nothing about the old Navy buildings.

    Although I know the fear was quite real, "the perceived threat of invasion by the Russians was at the forefront of the minds of Queenslanders" always strikes me as hilarious. Imagine Russian ships thinking of all the places to attack in the universe in 1865 (or anytime after the Crimean War) and selecting Brisbane! Or Geelong, for that matter.

    That said, it made good sense that a navy was established by the purchase of some Scottish ships. And it made good sense to build Naval Stores buildings and a Naval Office to service Brisbane's navy. In fact Brisbane is very fortunate to still have these 1880s facilities.

  2. Hels: I know what you mean! In 1866, the population within a 10 mile radius from the centre of Brisbane-town was only 100,000. The Russians must have thought there was gold in the streets!


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