Landsborough Railway Station Public Air Raid Shelter

Landsborough Railway Civil Defence shelter

Civil defence facility

Landsborough Railway Station, Cribb Street, Landsborough 4550

The Landsborough Railway Station’s public air raid shelter is a rare surviving example of the public shelters built at railway stations in Queensland during World War II. Constructed in 1942 by Queensland Railways to protect civilian and military passengers on the busy North Coast railway line, the shelter is situated on the southern end of the station’s platform, on the west side of the line.

The air raid shelter is a rectangular building constructed entirely from reinforced concrete, 12.8 x 3.7 metres in size and oriented north-south along the platform. The shelter is accessed from the east by recessed entrance corridors at each end of the building. The corridors are formed from internal blast walls and turn 90 degrees into the main internal space of the shelter. It has an internal height of approximately 2.5 metres. The reinforced concrete walls and roof are approximately 300mm thick and 150-175mm thick respectively. Eleven dog-legged ventilation slots are located along both the eastern and western elevations. The southern-most access corridor has been sealed with a recent solid-core door and the northern-most corridor, accessed via two concrete steps down to the shelter, has been closed off with a recent galvanised steel security gate.


The 1942 concrete air raid shelter at the Landsborough railway station was designed to provide shelter for train passengers waiting at the station. By 1893 Landsborough was a refreshment stop on the North Coast railway line, as it was approximately half-way between Brisbane and Gympie. During World War II the station saw increased activity due to the military camps located in the area.

After December 1941 military units were stationed on the North (Sunshine) Coast as part of the defence of Moreton Bay and Brisbane against the Japanese, and for training. For example, the Royal Australian Navy maintained a Signal Station on Wickham Point Caloundra, the Americans maintained a Radar Training School at Caloundra, and Australian artillery units trained at Battery Hill. Fortress troops were stationed at Fort Bribie on Bribie Island, Volunteer Defence Force units trained in the hinterland, and units of the 7th Division Australian Imperial Force also trained on the North Coast in 1942, before being replaced by the 3rd Division (Militia).

Many troops would have arrived and departed from Landsborough railway station, and numerous troop trains also passed through Landsborough on their way to North Queensland, with some stopping for refreshments. In Mid 1942 a troop train full of American soldiers broke down at the Landsborough station. The construction of an air raid shelter at Landsborough railway station was probably linked to this increased wartime traffic, as well as to government regulations regarding the safety of the population.

In the Protection of Persons and Property Order No.1, gazetted 23 December 1941, Queensland’s Premier William Forgan Smith, with powers conferred by Regulation 35a, ordered the Brisbane City Council to construct 200 public surface shelters in the city area (235 were built). Another 24 local governments in Queensland’s coastal areas were ordered to produce surface or trench shelters for the public (135 public shelters were built). A large number of businesses also built air raid shelters, as the owners of any building in the coastal areas where over 30 people would normally be present at any one time were required to build shelters either within the building, or adjacent to it.

On 2 March 1942 a memorandum from the Undersecretary of the Department of Public Works reported that Queensland Railways had already built shelters for its employees at some of the larger train stations, and it recommended that a further 28 full size public surface shelters, three half size shelters, and three sets of trenches, be built outside Brisbane. Most of the recommended surface shelters and trenches were on the North Coast railway line, at 19 stations from Nambour to Cairns. Shelters were also recommended for Mt Morgan, Kingaroy (trenches), Southport (two), Ipswich, and Toowoomba (two). Landsborough was not mentioned in this list.

By 23 March 1942 work on the public air raid shelters was in hand, after the Department of Public Works and Queensland Railways agreed to proceed in accordance with plans acceptable to both departments. In Australia the process of building public air-raid shelters at railway stations during World War II seems to have been unique to Queensland. Shelters were built at large stations, busy suburban commuter stations, and stations which had refreshment rooms. The latter would have been a vulnerable target for aircraft while passengers were disembarked for a meal.

Of the public shelters built along the North Coast line, only the shelters at Landsborough and Maryborough still exist. In the Brisbane metropolitan area, most railway public shelters were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s, and only the Shorncliffe shelter survives. The only other known surviving railway public shelter in Queensland is at Toowoomba railway station.


Queensland Heritage Register

Public Air Raid Shelter, Landsborough Railway Station, Queensland Heritage Register 602709

National Archives of Australia, Folder I to L Folio 59, Landsborough Ration Store - Site Plan [1/L/8] 1943.

Queensland Railways Standard Plan 1942. Queensland Government E-Plan 1300.1.