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In 1940, as part of wartime considerations, Col. Dan Evans of Evans Deakin Industries, and Admiral Percy McNeil, proposed the establishment of a program for the manufacture of steam engines and the building of ships in the Brisbane area. Evans Deakins Co. undertook to build parts for "River Class" cargo ships at Rocklea and then assemble and launch them at the Evans Deakins Shipyards at Kangaroo Point.

The Australian Shipbuilding Board, responsible for the building and repair of merchant ships, as well as for the supply of engines, boilers and equipment, established the Commonwealth Marine Engine Works, to build two marine engine annexes one in Brisbane, and the other in Melbourne


Doxford engine built in Melbourne,
typical of the size of engine built at Rocklea


In 1941, the Commonwealth Government resumed land on the corner of Compo Road (later changed to Evans Road) and Beaudesert Road in the Rocklea area of Brisbane from the Farm-Allen family, to construct the Commonwealth Marine Engine Works. 

It was a wartime-built workshop of 5,600 square metres (60,000 sq. ft.) enclosed by barbed wire. Today the location is occupied by Alstom Australia at 35 Evans Road, Rocklea. Alstom manufacture high voltage Transformers and Switchgear at this site.


A high voltage transformer leaving the Rocklea works


Today's Bays 4, 5 and part of 6 were the original buildings built during WW2. Bays 7 and 8 were built for the manufacture of larger transformers in 1957/58. Bays 1, 2 and 3 plus the main office building were built in 1967.


One of the original bays built in 1941


In 1948, English Electric took over the building only from the Commonwealth Marine Engine Works. The 13.9 acres (5.63 hectares) of land  was eventually transferred to English Electric in 1958. The timber building adjacent to the visitors car park was relocated from its earlier position which was closer to Beaudesert Road. 


English Electric - December 1959

Note the timber building to the left of the main
bays is in a different location to where it is today


The repositioned timber building


Various mergers and acquisitions saw the English Electric company change its identity over the years:-

1968        English Electric - AEI
1969        GEC-AEI Engineering 
1970        General Electric Company
1978        GEC Australia
1989        GEC Alstom
Today       Alstom Australia


Commonwealth Marine Engine Works Port Melbourne



I'd like to thank Ian Johnson, Trevor Pieterse and Maxine Jones of Alstom Australia for their assistance with this home page.


Military Units in the Rocklea, Moorooka and Salisbury areas during WW2


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"Australia @ War" Research Products

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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 21 September 2001

This page last updated 29 January 2017