Maryborough Public Air Raid Shelter

Former Maryborough Railway Station

Civil defence facility
Wide Bay-Burnett

Lennox Street, Maryborough 4650

The public air raid shelter at the former Maryborough Railway Station is a rare surviving example of the public air raid shelters built at railway stations in Queensland during World War II. Constructed in 1942 by Queensland Railways, it is located on the west side of Lennox Street, south of Ellena Street, in the middle of the access loop and car park just south of the former station building.

The shelter is a concrete structure 47′ 6″ (14.5m) long, and 12′ (3.6m) wide. The flat concrete roof is 6′ (150mm) thick, and the walls are 12′ (300mm) thick. Doorways are located at each end of the northeast elevation, with each doorway being set in a recessed area that is stepped back 4′ (1.2m) from the end of the shelter, and 5′ (1.5m) from the front face of the shelter. A sign on the north-east elevation reads 'Air Raid Shelter for Passengers Only'. The shelter is used for storage, and electrical cables enter it above the double timber doors at the north-west end. There is a single timber door at the south-east end.


The Maryborough Railway Station was built as the terminus of a railway network that radiated out from Maryborough from the 1880s, transporting timber, coal, sugar and other agricultural products to the wharves on the Mary River. This network was later linked to the North Coast railway line, and although the Maryborough station was bypassed and became a dead-end station, it remained busy.

In addition to civilian traffic, after the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 many Australian and American troops and supplies were railed north on the single railway line to Cairns. The construction of two air raid shelters (only the southeast shelter survives) at Maryborough Railway Station in 1942 may have been linked to this increased wartime traffic, and the fact that there were refreshment rooms nearby. 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.

Maryborough was also a potential industrial target. There were railway workshops (since demolished) close to the shelters and during World War II the Walkers Limited shipyards on Kent Street in Maryborough built seven Bathurst Class corvettes and three River Class frigates, out of the total of 72 corvettes and frigates built in Australia during the war. These shipyards would have made a good target for air raids. Military units in the area included the No.3 Wireless Air Gunners’ School and No.3 Air Navigation School at RAAF Station Maryborough and a USASOS (Services of Supply) camp at Tiaro.

The building of public air raid shelters was also spurred by 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 non-trench 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).

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.

Of the public shelters built along the North Coast line, only the shelters at Maryborough and Landsborough 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.


Maryborough Railway Station Complex and Air Raid Shelter, Queensland Heritage Register 600702

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

Maryborough Station 1975. E-Plans, Project Services, Queensland Government.