Howard Smith Wharves site history | Brisbane City Council

Howard Smith Wharves site history

""Read about the site history of Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves.

Construction and use of the wharves by Howard Smith and Co.

Howard Smith Wharves was constructed in the 1930s in conjunction with the Story Bridge. It was one of the main employment generating projects of the Forgan-Smith government. While the site was originally built as the Brisbane Central Wharves, it was leased by shipping company Howard Smith and Co. from the mid 1930s until the early 1960s and became known as Howard Smith Wharf. 

Construction of the site began in 1934. The first structure was a two-storey, reinforced concrete building completed in 1936. Three berths and five new storage sheds were planned and construction continued through until the early 1940s. In 1942, World War II disrupted construction and the third berth was never completed. During 1941 and 1942, five air-raid shelters were constructed below the cliff face. 

Alternative uses

After Howard Smith and Co. moved downstream to alternative facilities in the early 1960s, the site was occupied in part by:

  • the Water Police
  • the Queensland Works Department for storage purposes.

Since the relocation of the Water Police downstream to other facilities, the site has remained vacant except for minor use as storage and mooring space. 

In the mid 1990s, the state government drafted a plan to redevelop the site. The plan included public parkland, 17 villa units and 42 apartments across the site, along with commercial activity around to the Story Bridge. 

In early 2000, one of the heritage wharf buildings collapsed and fell into the Brisbane River. The building was then demolished.

Heritage significance

The site is an important physical, economic and cultural example of development in Queensland. It shows the history of Brisbane as Queensland's premier port. It also shows how the expansion of the city has moved port activities further downstream.

The remaining wharf buildings provide rare physical evidence of the pre-1940 Port of Brisbane and the air-raid shelters are the most intact group of shelters remaining in Brisbane. 

12 September 2018