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Two floors of Kelvin House at 28 Adelaide Street, Brisbane were used as a Hostel for approximately 100 Army, Navy and Air Force servicewomen on leave in Brisbane during WWII. Kelvin House was located in Adelaide Street between the Town Hall and the rear of Lennons Hotel. It was operated by the YWCA in conjunction with financial assistance from the Australian Comforts Fund and the Queensland Patriotic Fund. Structural alterations were made to provide a lounge, kitchen, dining and bedrooms. It was also known as Kelvin Leave House.


Photo:- Brisbane City Council BCC-B54-35319

Kelvin House on 15 June 1971


The Hostel was initially scheduled to be opened in late October 1942, however a report in The Courier Mail (Brisbane) on 3 March 1943 stated that Kelvin House should have been ready to receive the first girls by the end of that week with the Official Opening at a later date. The Hostel was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman John Beals Chandler on 19 March 1943.

Each bedroom had a locker and toilet rooms were fitted with large sheets of mirror glass and shelves for cosmetics. Mrs N. MacDonald was the Superintendent of the Hostel and Misses Nessie Hamilton and V. Storie were the hostesses in charge of the office. They supervised an efficient staff of voluntary workers from the YWCA.

Gladys Stevenson worked as a receptionist at Kelvin House during WWII. Gladys met a number of the nurses on the hospital ship Centaur, which was later sunk by Japanese submarine I-177 off Moreton Island on 14 May 1943.

Kelvin House was erected on the site of the Imperial Chambers. The Brisbane City Council approved the name on 14 July 1930 and also that the word Lennon's cemented on the side of the building be removed. The building was named as Kelvin House because it was built to house the Electricity Supply Department of the Brisbane City Council. Lord Kelvin had played an important part in the development of electricity. The Brisbane City Council took possession of Kelvin House in about June 1931. Twelve offices were then let out at a satisfactory rental.

The Kelvin House Hostel for servicewomen closed down at the end of March 1946. The building was demolished after June 1971 for the City Plaza development.



The Courier Mail, 20 February 2003 - Obituary for Gladys Harris (nee Stevenson)

Daily Standard (Brisbane) 12 July 1930, Page 1

Daily Standard (Brisbane) 15 July 1930, Page 4

The Brisbane Courier 22 June 1931, Page 9

The Telegraph Brisbane 1 October 1942, Page 5

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 19 March 1943, Page 4

The Courier Mail (Brisbane), 3 March 1943, page 5

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 11 January 1946, Page 2


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This page first produced 20 February 2003

This page last updated 25 January 2020