Day 58: All at sea

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Naval officesTHERE is quite a collection of beautiful old buildings down at the river end of Edward Street on the way to the City Botanical Gardens.

The Stamford Hotel appears to have laid claim to a number of them, but the style of architecture at this end of town indicates that it was once THE place to be, which it probably was because of its proximity to the river, the lifeblood of the colony.

Right near the entrance to the gardens overlooking the river is the intriguing red brick and stucco building labelled Naval Offices, intriguing because it is neither as big nor as grand as some of its neighbours (is this as good as the Navy got in these parts?); it appears to be unoccupied and its address is No.3 Edward Street so it’s obviously been there a while.

On the strength of this alone, I was compelled to find out a bit more about it and lucky for me, it has been heritage listed so a well-worn sign at the front answers the questions.Naval offices

It was purpose-built in 1900-1901 to provide offices for the Naval Commandant and his staff and replaced the original Naval Defence Building, which was literally falling down.

The Naval Offices, along with the Naval Stores across the river at Kangaroo Point formed the main base for the Queensland Naval Defence Force which had two gunpoints, the “Gayundah” and the “Paluma”, steam launches and torpedo boats.

As a colony, Queensland had to look after itself and this was just the Marine Defence Force to do it.

It’s interesting that the new building was completed in the year of the federation of the Australian states, 1901 but not so surprising that the building is a “fine example” of a federation period building.Naval offices

After federation, the Queensland Defence Force was incorporated into the newly established Australian Commonwealth Navy, later the Royal Australian Navy, which occupied this building until 1959.Naval offices

It was then used by various Commonwealth departments until 1977 and was leased as a restaurant in 1982 and after that to a florist.

The attached sign describes the architectural style as “mainly Baroque with an ornate entrance porch pediment incorporating the Naval Defence coat of arms. The large semi-circular window with the name of the building case in render underneath is typical of the high quality of workmanship throughout the building.”

There are tall decorative brickwork chimneys with chimney pots.

Alas, I couldn’t get inside to have a look for myself at what else it had to offer as it really does appear to be largely deserted. A superb wrought-iron gate blocks access even to the front door.

It was leased and renovated for commercial tenancies within the Stamford Hotel complex in the 1990s, after it was returned to the Queensland Government by the Commonwealth.

I’ll have to find an excuse to weasel my way inside.Naval offices