Army Signals Communications Centre (Shadow Exchange)
Stuart State School
- Radar/signal station
Dwyer Street, Stuart 4810
Australian Army Signals requisitioned part of the Stuart State School in 1942 as a temporary measure until a new reinforced concrete Signals building was completed in 1943 on the slopes of Mount Stuart near the Charters Towers - Townsville highway.
The Army Signals Communications Centre contained modern teleprinters, telex, Morse code and radio channels. Cryptographers also transcribed messages into code.
In addition to the Signals Centre, a “Shadow Exchange” was built on the site consisting of a structure with large logs and a protective bomb blast wall. The communications equipment inside was identical to that contained in the Flinders Street Post Office. If the Post Office was damaged in an air raid then the Shadow Exchange was to connect to the Southern and Western phone cables that ran nearby and perform as a communications backup.
Plans for a more permanent emergency exchange were drawn up by Government Engineer E T Doig in November 1942. The Department of Interior’s Works and Service Branch in the Townsville Customs House were occupied with the preparation of design drawings, specifications and contract supervision for hundreds of defensive structures in North Queensland.
Doig’s plan for the emergency exchange detailed construction and excavation of the existing basement of the Commonwealth Bank building in Flinders Street near the Post Office. It is uncertain if the emergency exchange was completed. The former Commonwealth Bank building was vacated by the Townsville City Public Library in c 2001 and has been vacant since.
Logan, Greg. Schools at war: memories of school days during WW2, Department of Education Queensland, 1995.
Townsville Emergency Telephone exchange, Qld J56, QL550.