NORTHGATE US NAVY STORES DEPOT, BRISBANE
DURING WW2

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visits since 29 April 2001

 

Bounded by Toombul Road, Melton Road, Allworth and Edgar Streets Northgate, this area was called Hala Estate when first subdivided for sale on 11 October 1924.

A dedicated, unformed road, Best Street, crossed the Estate. The Estate's poor drainage meant only twelve blocks in Allworth Street and six allotments (now a BP service station) on Toombul Road were sold. Much of the remaining land reverted to the Brisbane City Council (BCC) due to rate arrears.

In 1943, the United States Navy (USN) sought Australian approval to construct a depot on the undeveloped bulk of Hala Estate. This spot was chosen because of its proximity to the Northgate Maintenance Rail Workshops (now Northgate Mail Centre) which could unload freight.

Known as the Northgate USN Stores Depot, it was in operation by 24 June 1943. Run by the Navy Public Works office of the US Seventh Fleet, USN Lieutenant A.M. Hurth commanded the Depot.

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Twelve warehouses were erected, comprising one large warehouse T9 at 27 Edgar Street and 11 smaller, identical warehouses T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8, T10, T11, T12, in three rows.

T1 is 351 Melton Road. T2 is 343 Melton Road. T10 and T11 are 23 Edgar Street. T12 is 249 Toombul Road. T6 is 241 Toombul Road.

In Allworth Street, next to T9, was 'D' area with its open, tow motor shed (T14), loading ramp and the existing fibro-roofed, battery storage shed (T15).

Three roads were constructed for access to T3, T4, T7, T8. One of these roads became Landy Street in 1952. On Landy Street's left side are T6, T7, T8. On the right are T3, T4 and T5 (on Toombul Road).

The USN placed power poles, water mains and drains throughout the Depot. Drainage problems led Lieutenant-Commander F.A. Kinzie (USN), to recommend the Depot's enlargement on 8 July 1943. Block 140 in Allworth Street was leased to accommodate a drain to the Northgate Water Reserve.

By June 1944, the Depot expanded, with 'A' Area, of two administration offices, laundry and washroom (T16, T17, T18, T19), built at the corner of Edgar Street and Frazer Road. By December 1944, warehouse T13 appeared at 283 Toombul Road.

The Depot land was leased under National Security Regulations from owners: Harry Raff, Margaret Clarke and Louisa Mothersole and Brisbane City Council.

In 1944, the Australian Government wanted to purchase the initial site. The Council was opposed to the sale because the area was zoned for residential not industrial use.

The Queensland Government also had concerns. Acting-Premier, E.M. Hanlon informed Prime Minister John Curtin on 3 October 1944, that, as Best Street was State land, Queensland wanted compensation if the Depot was ever sold by the Commonwealth.

Using the compulsory provisions of its Land Acquisitions Act, the Commonwealth overrode such objections. On 19 July 1944, the Allied Works Council allocated 2,720 for the purchase.

The Minister for Works approved the acquisition on 30 December 1944. The land was gazetted as Commonwealth property on 15 March 1945.

Haggling over land prices lasted for years, with the Commonwealth not gaining Clarke's title deed until December 1948.

Post-war, from 5 November 1945, the USN began to relinquish the warehouses to the Australian Army.

USN occupation ceased on 17 January 1946. Thereafter the Depot was run by the Army's Northern Command and the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, which was responsible for selling surplus army stock.

The Commission's offices were in 'A' Area with the 11 smaller warehouses becoming kit stores. Northern Command used T9 as a Divisional Medical & Veterinary Storehouse.

By November 1947, Northern Command's Major-General Alan Steele believed that the Depot was unwanted and the Army was not prepared to maintain buildings occupied by the Commission.

In April 1949, the Army transferred the Depot to the Department of the Interior which began renting the warehouses to industry.

Among the early leasees were Berger Paints, GMH, South Queensland Tobacco Growers Co-Operative and Kraft Walker Cheese.

The Commonwealth approved the Depot's sale to the private sector on 4 May 1954.

The Military Phone Book for Brisbane of 1945 shows:-

STORAGE GROUP

Toombul Wharehouses:
Haverkos, I.H., Ens.             Toombul

Toombul Open Storage:
Ludwig, H.G., APC                MY 5021
Open Storage                       MY 5021- Ext. 18

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Brisbane City Council, Heritage Trail Home page

 

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This page first produced 29 April 2001

This page last updated 03 March 2007