CUSTOMS HOUSE
THE STRAND, TOWNSVILLE, QLD
USED BY THE MILITARY DURING WW2

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Customs House, The Strand, Townsville, QLD

 

Customs House in Townsville was used by the Military during World War2. There is a maze of passageways and cellars underneath Customs House. They were originally installed as storage areas but have the look and feel of a cellar for prisoners. The area earned the nickname of "The Dungeon". 

During WW2 the Department of Defence extended the main Customs House building and modified some of the interior. A two- storied timber framed extension was added at the rear of the main building and a mezzanine floor was constructed in the long room. All available spaces were converted into office space.

 

customshouse02.jpg (40221 bytes) Rear of Customs House
customshouse03.jpg (60720 bytes) Note the concrete slab near the centre of the photo. Is that of WW2 origin?
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(Photo - June 2003)
Rear of Customs House
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(Photo - June 2003)
Rear of Customs House

 

"The Dungeon" area may have been used as an air raid shelter during WW2. Can anyone please confirm? A tunnel was dug from the rear of the dungeon through to Wickham Street in case the main entrance was destroyed. There is a set of stairs that go up from the dungeon to the garden bed in the Wickham Street side of the building. There is still a large horizontal steel hinged door in the garden bed that opens up to access these stairs.

There are also rumours of another escape tunnel being built to the Queens' Hotel, which was used as an American Officer's Club during WW2. There have also been rumours of a red brick tunnel running from the Customs House to under the Townsville Post Office.

 

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(Photo - May 2003)
Ventilation hood near the front entrance of Customs House to ventilate the basement.
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(Photo -May 2003)
Front entrance to Customs House
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(Photo - May 2003)
Old drawing for Customs House - Wickham Street Elevation
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(Photo - May 2003)
Close-up of "Dungeon" area
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(Photo - May 2003)
Old drawing for Customs House - The Strand Elevation
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(Photo - May 2003)
The locked ground floor gate to stairs to the basement "Dungeon" area. This is located behind the main staircase to the first floor.
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(Photo - May 2003)
Sign on a wall at the bottom of the stairs to the "Dungeon" area
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(Photo - May 2003)
One of the low doorways in the basement. Note the groove hacked out of the concrete to allow more headway to walk through the opening.
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(Photo - May 2003)
A timber and iron wall to create a small long room
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(Photo - May 2003)
The centre of the basement area
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(Photo - May 2003)
A room with a heavy steel door
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(Photo - May 2003)
A short tunnel type passageway to a locked cage type door
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(Photo - May 2003)
A short tunnel type passageway to a locked cage type door
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(Photo - May 2003)
Close-up of the above steel caged door
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(Photo - May 2003)
Another close-up of the above steel caged door
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(Photo - May 2003)
Photo through the steel caged door. It was dark and I did not have a torch. Appears to be a filled in area. Was this the escape tunnel to the Queens' Hotel or an entrance to a possible red brick tunnel running from the Customs House to under the Townsville Post Office.
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(Photo - May 2003)
A larger version of the above photo
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(Photo - May 2003)
An old bed in one of the areas in the "Dungeon":
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(Photo - May 2003)
Yet another passageway in the basement "Dungeon" area of the Customs House in Townsville. (May 2003)
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(Photo - June 2003)
Large horizontal steel hinged door in the garden bed that opens up to access the stairs to the basement.
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(Photo - June 2003)
Large horizontal steel hinged door in the garden bed in Wickham Street.
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(Photo - June 2003)
Large horizontal steel hinged door
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(Photo - June 2003)
View from Wickham Street looking towards The Strand

 

WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"In the Shadow of Castle Hill"
by Margaret Heuschele and the William Ross State High School Year 10 Leading Learner Social Education Class

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 5 November 2001

This page last updated 13 May 2015