United States Navy Bachelor Officers Quarters, Waterloo Annexe
- Military accommodation
- Brisbane City
4 Commercial Road, Newstead 4006
The Waterloo Hotel was a modern, inner-city hotel that was requisitioned in February 1943 by the US Navy. The USN also leased a neighbouring block of land for the purposes of constructing an accommodation barracks for USN officers either attached to units in Brisbane, or temporarily staying in Queensland’s capital. The entire site was known as the USN Bachelor Officers Quarters, Waterloo Annex and it could house about 150 officers. The USN closed the Annexe in October 1945.
The Waterloo Hotel was constructed at the busy intersection of Commercial Road and Ann Street leading into Fortitude Valley in 1937. In April 1942, when the US Navy first established a permanent base in Brisbane, the small number of navy personnel requiring accommodation caused few problems. The billeting of USN officers and enlisted men was dealt with by leasing rooms in many of the CBD or nearby suburb’s hotels and guest houses/hostels, or by leasing unoccupied private residences. But by the end of 1942, with the expansion of the USN submarine base and associated facilities (designated USN Base 134), it became increasingly difficult to find accommodation for the new USN arrivals.
On 9 February 1943, the USN leased the Waterloo Hotel directly from the hotel’s owners and leased an adjoining vacant block of land through the Australian Army Hiring Service. Not only was the entire hotel building to be used as officers’ quarters but also new buildings were to be constructed beside the pub. The Seabee construction battalion, based close-by at Eagle Farm, oversaw the construction process. A two-story, wood frame building measuring 115ft and 2inches by 91ft was erected beside the hotel. This barracks could house 140 USN officers. A boiler house (10ft x 10ft) containing a coal-fired boiler, a water tank, three weatherboard personal gear lockers (6ft x 7ft) mounted on concrete floors were also built. The site was secured by the erection of 7ft high fence that covered a 150ft site boundary. The USN requisitioned electric lighting facilities, lavatory equipment, hot water system and the necessary internal engineering services from local suppliers. The total cost of the construction works was $49,130.16 (US). A further $3,977 (US) was spent on purchasing furnishings for the officers’ quarters.
The site was designated the USN Bachelor Officers Quarters, Waterloo Annex. The Waterloo Hotel, while providing a limited amount of officers’ accommodation, was primarily used, because of its existing kitchen facilities as the USN officers’ mess for the Annexe. Supplies to the Annexe were drawn from the local Base of Quartermaster (BOQ) stores. Only unmarried officers, either those who were based in Brisbane or were in transit through the city, were accommodated in the Waterloo Annexe.
The USN cancelled its lease on the Annexe site on 15 October 1945. This was just a month after the end of the war. The Waterloo Hotel returned to its owners while the remainder of the Annexe was given to the Commonwealth via its Australian Army Hiring Service. A Welfare Organisation immediately occupied the Annexe for use as a temporary home for the dependants of Australian servicemen.
US Navy, Bureau of Yards and Docks Section, US Naval Base, Navy 134, Brisbane, Defense Aid - Reciprocal and Review Board Report - General, (1946).