United States Naval (USN) Stores Depot
Northgate Warehouses T1-T14
- Naval/port facility
- Brisbane City
219-249 Toombul Road, 343 and 345 Earnshaw Road, 15 and 21 Edgar Street, 34 and 60 Allworth Street, Northgate 4013
In March 1942, the United States (US) naval commander in Australia, Admiral Leary divided his submarine force between Fremantle and Brisbane. This allowed attacks on Japanese shipping in the Netherlands East Indies or New Guinea and the Philippines. Brisbane developed into a major US submarine base. Initially it had 11 submarines (Task Group 42.1) commanded by Captain Ralph W. Christie.
On 15 February 1943, the US 7th Fleet ('MacArthur’s Navy') was formed and based in Australia. Brisbane’s submarines were re-designated a task force TF.73. The Northgate Stores Depot was built in response to this expansion. It was one of the two major USN depots in Brisbane. It held naval stores except ordnance, which was kept at the United States Navy (USN) Mt. Cootha Depot.
The Northgate Depot was built in 1943 and comprised 19 USN warehouses or other buildings. It was bounded by Toombul and North Coast (now Melton) Roads, Edgar and Allworth Streets. In 1944, the Australian Government purchased 11 acres, 2 roods and 32 perches of depot land. The USN left the depot in 1946. The Australian Army used the depot until 1949. Thereafter, it was designated for private industry.
The site chosen was on undeveloped land from the unsold Hala Estate (c1924). Many flood-prone subdivisions remained undeveloped. Because of rate arrears, the Brisbane City Council (BCC) controlled much of the Estate’s land by 1942.
Under the National Security Regulations, the Commonwealth Government appropriated the land for lease to the USN in 1943. The USN chose the site as it was close to Northgate Station, the adjoining Railway Maintenance Workshops and the Holland & Mackenzie Foundry. These two factories could be utilised to repair or manufacture some spare parts required by the USN. Being close to Nudgee Road, the site had a direct access route to the USN facilities at Brett’s Wharf, Hamilton.
One large warehouse T9 and 11 smaller warehouses (T1-T8 & T10-T12), a battery storage shed, a motor room and a loading ramp were constructed. Three roadways (one became Landy Street) were created to allow access to the depot’s interior. The USN placed power/light poles, floodlights, generators, drains and water mains throughout the site. To aid security, Fraser Road was closed to public access.
The depot was operational by 24 June 1943 and commanded by the US 7th Fleet’s Public Works Officer Lieutenant A.M. Hurth. Poor drainage led to the purchase a block in Allworth Street on 8 July 1943. US Lieutenant-Commander F.A. Kinzie ordered a drain dug from this land to the swampy Northgate Public Reserve. In June 1944, further land (‘A’ Area) was purchased along Fraser Road to accommodate administration buildings (T16 & T18) and a laundry (T17). By December 1944, warehouse T13 with an adjoining office (T13A) were built along Toombul Road.
In 1944, the Commonwealth wanted to buy the site. The BCC was opposed as the land was zoned for residential not industrial use. There were price disagreements with the landowners - BCC, Harry Raff, Louise Mothersole, Margaret Clarke. Using its Land Acquisitions Act’s compulsory provisions, the Commonwealth overrode objections and authorised a £1640 purchase on 30 December 1944, with the Americans billed £2720 for the all costs involved.
The USN began vacating the warehouses on 26 November 1945. T4 was finally handed-over to the Australian Army on 5 November 1946. Some buildings became Commonwealth Disposals Commission kit stores and Peace Offices. T9 was the Northern Command Medical and Veterinary Stores from November 1945 to 15 July 1949.
Post-war, warehouses were converted into factories or workshops for Kraft Walker Cheese, Bergers Paints, GMH, Athol Hedges coachbuilders and the Queensland Tobacco Growers Co-operative.
Jonathan Ford, “Location 7: NORTHGATE US NAVY STORES", Banyo - Nudgee Heritage Trail, (Brisbane: Bangee Festival Committee, 2000). USN Bureau of Yards & Docks Section, Defense Aid - Reciprocal and Review Board Report - General, US Naval Base, Navy 134, Brisbane, (1946).