Rare heritage building damaged by flood

Brisbane’s second-oldest convict-built structure was a victim of the 2011 floods.

A retaining wall at the Royal Historical Society of Queensland’s museum at the old Commisariat Store in William St partially collapsed after a water main under the footpath burst.

The building is only one of two remaining structures built by convicts in Brisbane – the other is the Spring Hill windmill.

Historical Society president Carolyn Nolan said the damage forced closure of the RHQS museum until restoration can take place.

“It’s not safe for anyone but workers and we don’t want to do anything to impede progress,” she said. “The government is taking the restoration incredibly seriously”.

Despite needing to look for alternative accommodation during the restoration, some RHQS activities are still going ahead.

Ms Nolan said she did not expect the water to enter the Commisariat store. She said it did not get in during the 1974 floods, although part of the building was flooded in 1890.

“The damage is not affecting all of our collection,” she said. “When we knew heavy rain was coming we moved some furniture to the upper floor. None of our precious material is stored there”.

The store was built so close to the river because in the early days of the Moreton Bay penal colony, road transport was very slow and most goods and people arrived by water, Ms Nolan said.

Among other uses, the building served as a corn store and to distribute clothes.

The large doors facing Queens Wharf road and the old wharf itself were used to bring goods in from the river; this area was closed last week as floodwaters rose.

The store was built on the orders of Moreton Bay penal colony commandant Patrick Logan, mostly with stone quarried from the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Ms Nolan said people wanting to know more about this era of Brisbane’s history could read John Steele’s Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824 – 1842 or visit the RHSQ’s website at www.queenslandhistory.org.au.

One Response to “Rare heritage building damaged by flood”
  1. Ben Connolly says:

    It’s very sad to read about the damage to the Commissariat stores. Hopefully they can restore it to its former glory. On a small style note, however, I’m wondering about the use of the adjective “rare” to describe a heritage building in the headline; surely its heritage status would mean its rarity would not need to be emphasised.

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