Windsor Air Raid Shelter: A Remnant of WWII in Lutwyche

Windsor Air Raid Shelter
The air raid shelter in 2009 (Photo credit: apps.des.qld.gov.au)

Did you know that the Windsor Air Raid Shelter on Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche, now listed as a heritage site, was designed by Frank Gibson Costello, who served as the City Architect of Brisbane during the Second World War?


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Built in 1942, it is a rectangular concrete structure with a heavy floor slab and a flat roof supported by concrete piers. 

The shelter’s unpainted exterior is characterised by truncated floor and roof slabs at the northeast corner, where the road reserve narrows to a point.

Windsor Air Raid Shelter
Workers constructing an air raid shelter in Brisbane,1942 (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Negative number: 42865)

Costello’s reusable designs were often placed under fig trees to aid in camouflage and were characteristic of the work done during this period.

The first of Costello’s reusable designs was the pillbox with double-cantilevered roof slab, or “park” type shelter. These shelters had four central piers supporting the roof slab, allowing for the removal of the four blast walls after the war. 

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Windsor Air Raid Shelter
Man demonstrating hose use during Air Raid Precaution training at Camp Hill, 1939-1945 (Photo credit: Brisbane John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

During World War II, the Brisbane City Council was tasked with overseeing Air Raid Precautions activities, which included the establishment of an Air Raid Warden system, the implementation of firefighting systems, and the construction of air raid shelters. Additionally, above-ground saltwater pipes were laid along city streets to aid in firefighting efforts.

Queensland saw a significant influx of American and Australian personnel during World War II, leading to the construction of various new buildings and facilities. In preparation for the possibility of attack, Brisbane constructed over 200 air-raid shelters throughout the city centre and suburbs.

Windsor Air Raid Shelter
Air raid warden and members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force in one of the city’s shelters during an alarm, 1942 (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Negative number: 102818)

Most of the structures built for the war effort in Brisbane were dismantled after the war, including saltwater mains, slit trenches, sirens, and standard pillboxes that had been placed in the CBD.


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The blast walls of the Windsor Air Raid Shelter were also removed according to plan, although evidence of their location is still visible today. An electricity box and conduits have been introduced, and parts of the roof and floor slabs have been truncated. 

Windsor Air Raid Shelter in 2015 (Photo credit: CC0/Shiftchange/Wikimedia Commons)

Despite these alterations, the Windsor Air Raid Shelter remains an important historical site in Lutwyche. It was included in the Queensland Heritage Register on 6 April 2005.

Published 26-April-2023