Brisbane Customs House, Queen Street

News of the day

Brisbane Courier, Saturday 7 September 1889, page 7


The new Custom-house, Brisbane, which is situated between the river and Queen street at its junction with Petrie's Bight, was opened for the transaction of public business on Monday last. The building, which has cost about £40,000, presents a handsome and imposing appearance, especially as seen from the river or from Petrie's Bight. Queenslanders may well be proud of it, and visitors cannot fail to be impressed by its classic appearance. Its massive Corinthian columns and pilasters and its large copper-sheathed domo will become one of the features of the city. The new Public Offices at the corner of Queen and William streets are now completed, and were taken over from the contractors yesterday. Some of the Government departments will begin to move into the buildings to-day.


The Brisbane Customs House at the northern end of the Town Reach of the Brisbane River, near Petrie's Bight, was erected between 1886 and 1889 to a design prepared by Charles McLay of the Queensland Colonial Architect's Office.

The 1880s building replaced an earlier and much smaller customs house on the site. The location had been chosen in 1849 following the declaration of Moreton Bay as a port of entry in 1846 and after considerable discussion as to the most suitable location for a customs house. At the time shipping activity was centred on the South Brisbane Reach and the decision to locate a customs house at the northern end of the Town Reach acted as an impetus for the development of wharves along this part of the river. A small building was erected for customs purposes in 1850 and in the following decades became increasingly inadequate as Brisbane emerged as the principal commercial centre and port of Queensland.

In 1884 the Queensland Government decided to construct a new customs house. In March 1886 a design by Charles McLay was selected from many proposals in the Colonial Architect's Office for a new Brisbane Customs House. McLay completed the specification in May 1886 and construction commenced in September that year.

Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register


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