Historic air-raid bunkers uncovered during wharf restoration

A piece of the city’s World War Two history is set to come alive at the Howard Smith Wharves entertainment precinct, with five previously hidden air-raid shelters to become a feature of the new public parklands.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the $110 million restoration the 90-year-old Howard Smith Wharves had uncovered some of the city’s lesser-known military history, which would now become a quirky feature of the city’s newest leisure precinct.

“During World War Two, Brisbane was one of four international headquarters for US Army, with 300,000 American troops stationed in the city as part of the West Pacific Campaign,” Cr Quirk said.

“The Howard Smith Wharves were a bustling port during the war, receiving essential military and domestic supplies for the city, and due to their importance and proximity to the iconic Story Bridge, the wharves were considered a prime target for a Japanese attack.

“In order to protect the workers at the port in the event of attack, Brisbane’s official City Architect Frank G. Costello, designed concrete bunkers, which were constructed under strict guidelines from the Bureau of Industry.”

“During 1941 and 1942 more than 230 air-raid shelters were constructed at strategic locations across the city and were built in two distinct designs.

“Although nearly all examples of the shelters were dismantled across Brisbane after the war, Howard Smith Wharves still features five intact shelters, including the last known examples of the concrete tunnel ‘pipe’ design.

“Now that they have been uncovered, these air-raid shelters will be preserved, opened for tours, as well as integrated into the public parkland around the wharves.”

Infrastructure Chairman Cr Amanda Cooper said the wharves restoration were quickly taking shape, with works to restore several of the buildings nearing completion.

“The Howard Smith Wharves precinct will complete the city’s missing link along the Brisbane River, providing a world-class waterfront destination that further enhances Brisbane’s status as a New World City,” Cr Cooper said.

“The restoration of the site’s heritage-listed buildings, including the air-raid shelters, will ensure that this history lives on for future generations, and works have already been awarded Heritage Hero Status by the National Trust of Australia – the first recognition of this kind.”

The first stage of the Howard Smith Wharves project is expected to open to the public in late 2018.

For more information about the revitalisation of the Howard Smith Wharves, visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au or call Council on (07) 3403 8888.