Archer Park Drill Hall Complex (former)
Central Queensland Military and Artefacts Museum
- Training facility
40 Archer Street, Rockhampton 4700
The Archer Park Drill Hall (training depot) site was a Defence Force Reserve from 1901. During World War II the depot was used for recruiting and troop assembly for the nearby railway station. Surviving pre-World War II structures include the 1906 drill hall, a former drill hall and wagon shed relocated from Mount Morgan in 1928, and a rifle range and Q-Store. The former depot is located to the northeast of the Archer Park Railway Station [Queensland Heritage Register 600777].
The 1906 timber drill hall fronts Archer Street, and is divided into three equal gable roofed sections with a transverse gable over the drill hall behind. The rifle range is located just northeast of the drill hall, and is approximately 25 metres long with a timber and earth wall (about 8m across by 4m high) at the northwest end.
The corrugated iron clad drill hall from Mount Morgan is located on the eastern side of the site. The former wagon shed from Mount Morgan, another corrugated iron-clad structure, is located just to the northwest. The former Q Store, located northwest of the wagon shed, is a red brick building with a hipped corrugated iron roof with a small windowed loft/attic in the centre.
The block bounded by Alma, Archer, Cambridge and Denison Streets in Rockhampton was once known as Leichhardt Square. Archer Park Railway Station was constructed on the southern half of the square in the late 1890s and opened in 1899, while the northern portion of Leichhardt Square was gazetted as a Defence Force Reserve (R139) in 1901.
The reserve was one of many sites nationally that was transferred from the state to the commonwealth at Federation for defence purposes. The 'Drill Shed Reserve, Archer Park' was valued at £2250 with no structures listed as being on the site at the time. Before Federation the Queensland Defence Forces in Rockhampton utilised a site in Fitzroy Street.
Specifications for a drill hall and offices for the defence force, Rockhampton were prepared by the Department of Public Works, office of the Government Architect in May 1906. The specifications included the construction of the drill hall and offices, tank stands, earth closet, and a split paling fence and double gates. By 1911, when repairs were undertaken to the site, an armoury had been constructed to the east of the drill hall. Plans to renovate the 1906 drill hall were carried out in 1937, when it was extended on the southern side. From 1939 onwards, the 1906 hall was not used for formal military drilling. The hall area was not considered large enough for drilling purposes and the parade ground was used.
In 1928 a drill hall, wagon shed and earth closet were removed from Mount Morgan and re-erected at the training depot. In addition, a brick Q-store was built, apparently by 1939. A section of this building was also utilised as a magazine, until it was decommissioned in the 1980s. The rifle range was also constructed by 1939, although a 1948 plan of the training depot records it in a slightly different position to where it is today.
During World War II army medicals were held in the 1906 drill hall, which, by then, was also used as a recruiting depot. The adjacent parade ground was the assembly point for servicemen on route to camp. By 1943, the original armoury had been replaced with an ablutions block. The former Mount Morgan drill hall was being used for administration and also as a lecture hall, while the wagon shed was in use as a garage.
A 1948 plan of the complex shows a number of sleeping and mess huts at the north end of the site, but these were later demolished and replaced with other buildings, some constructed as late as the 1990s. Since 1948 structures have also been built between the 1906 drill hall and the Mount Morgan drill hall.
At the time of its closure in 2000, the depot was occupied by the 42nd Battalion, the Royal Queensland Regiment. Other units to have occupied the site include the 3rd Battalion Queensland Mounted Infantry, 15th Australian Light Horse, 9th Field Ambulance, 35 Field Engineer Squadron, 107 Transport Company, 4 Transport Company, the Royal Queensland Regiment, Regimental Cadets and the Air Training Corps.
Training Depot Drill Hall Complex (former). Queensland Heritage Register 602258.
Archer Park Railway Station, Queensland Heritage Register 600777
National Archives of Australia, 1-R-52 Locality plan of drill hall area, 1948