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Redcliffe Fire Station early history

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

"The Redcliffe Fire Brigade - New Station opened."

"For many years Redcliffe struggled along without the services of what may be termed a modern fire brigade. It was, in those days, an isolated sea­side resort with a permanent population of hundreds, in the earlier years, ranging to about 2000 or slightly more at the commencement of the second world war. Fires were not infrequent, some large, some small."

Seabrae boarding house on fire on 28 November 1925. Blue Bird Cafe. Furniture and belongings out on the road. Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-001-001020

September 1928 - fire destroys the iconic Orient House:

1929 Fire - Queens Beach. Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-000-000795

"There was, however, a band of men, young, and some not so young, who never failed to render valu­able service on all occasions when fire broke out. They were known as the “Bucket Brigade.” There was, in the early stages, no regular water supply, and these men had to rely solely on water holes, tanks and wells. Some of their activities were grim; others humorous, but from stories handed down resi­dents of the Peninsula in those times received won­derful service from these volunteers."

The Telegraph - 11th February 1929:

Fire at Redcliffe - Three Shops Destroyed - Early Morning

"A serious outbreak of fire occurred about 3 o'clock this morning, when three shops on the Esplanade and their contents were destroyed.

The fire was discovered by Cyril McKillop, a son of the tenants of one of the shops. He quickly gave the alarm, but the fire had too strong a hold when help arrived, and it was impossible to save the shops. Two of tho shops were owned by Mr. William Plkett, ot Petrie Road, Redcliffe. They were tenanted by Mr. William A. McKillop, who carried on a butchering establishment in one of them. In the other Mrs. and Mr A. McKillop conducted a cafe and tea rooms. The third shop was owned by Mr Vincent Henry Jeffs; of Petrle Bight, and was tennanted by Mr. Percy G. Manley, hairdresser and softgoods merchant. It Is understood that the buildings owned by Mr Plkett were insured for £800. The particulars of the Insurance of the contents owned by Mr and Mrs. McKillop are not available. The stock and fittings of the shop rented by Mr Percy G. Manley were insured for 350. The stock was valued at more than £600. Mr Manley estimates his loss at £300. Mr. Manley, who is treasurer of the Congregational Church, the Masonic Lodge, and the Humpybong School Committee, effected an entrance through a window and was able to save the books of these institutions and his own, but was unable to save any of the valuable stock. The flames reached a great height and caught the cross arms of the telephone poles in the street in front. The post was destroyed, leaving a tangled mass of telephone wires."

June 1930 Miss M.A Webb's shop and the National Bank are destroyed by fire:

Photos from the Moreton Bay Collection:

June 1930. Doug Kirby Draper store, in the Esplanade building ( where Banjos is now situated) with the burn out Webb shop and National Bank next door (Where Cactus Jacks is now situated) Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RMPC-100-100109

"It was not until 1942 that the present Redcliffe Fire Brigade came into existence. The Japanese were swarming in the North, and January of that year saw the constitution of the first Redcliffe Fire Brigade Board. At its first meeting held in January 27th, 1942, were Messrs. A. H. Langdon (representing Redcliffe Town Council) Chairman, A. J. McKenzie (Redcliffe Town Council), A. M. Anderson (Govern­ ment), J. Bullock (Government), and H, J. Buchanan, E. H. Decker and H. E. Goldsworthy, representing the Insurance Companies, with R. T. Robson secre­tary. The first Chief Officer was Frank Mayer, who had many years experience with the Brisbane Fire Brigade. In addition to the Chief Officer there was one permanent fireman, nine auxiliaries and one volunteer fireman."

Frank Meyer - Chief Officer 1st March 1942 to 14th June 1945:

"The first equipment consisted of a Ford Truck, a few hundred feet of hose, two hydrants, two branches and one “Y” coupling. Later an Interna­tional Howe fire engine, a small Coventry pump and a few extinguishers were added. The housing of the Brigade, from the inception, was temporary, and the only premises available were unsuitable. It was quartered in a private residence at the corner of Webb and Maude Streets, Margate."

The first Redcliffe Fire Brigade's equipment was housed at the home of the first Chief Officer, Frank Mayer at Webb Street Margate. The truck shown in centre of the photo was stored in the garage on the left. The Margate Red Cross home backed on to this property. This photograph was taken c.1940s. Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection:RLPC-002\002144

Photograph taken c.1940s of the first fire truck in Redcliffe.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-002\002136

Garage c.1940s at the home of Frank Mayer who served as the first Chief Officer of the Redcliffe Fire Brigade. The Ford fire truck was housed in his garage at Webb Street Margate.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-002\002128

Members of the Redcliffe Fire Brigade on board their truck.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-002\002119:

A scale model of the first truck made by Jack Eagle. The truck is a 1942 K4 International:

1960 - The garage in Webb Street Margate that housed the fire truck in the 1940s prior to the building of the Redcliffe Fire Station on Oxley Avenue in 1948-1949.

Photo by Jack Eagle from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-002\002152

Aerials showing the location of the original Fire Station garage on Webb St Margate:

A major fire occurred in the main shopping centre of Redcliffe in March 1941. It started at the northern end of the block consuming Mr Baldwin's boot repair shop, then the Blue Bird Cafe, The Embassy fish shop and finally the two story Moreton Vista boarding house. The fire then attacked the exterior wall of the Pier Theatre but the Redcliffe Volunteer Fire brigade stopped the fire there before the theatre suffered any serious damage.

2 years later on March 14th 1943, Ma Beedham generously turned the Pier Theatre over the entertainers free of charge to hold a concert for the troops stationed in the area. In the early hours of the morning on March 15th 1943 a huge fire destroyed the theatre. The newly formed auxiliary fire brigade was called out at 4.35 in the morning and it was their first structural fire, however it could not be saved. The fire erupted quickly, destroying the theatre, the detached Beedham house and a truck at the rear of the theatre.

"In May 1943 the original Board’s term of Office expired, and it was succeeded by Messrs. H. J. Buch­anan (Chairman), H. L. Steadman and C. S. Carmody (Insurance representatives), H. J. Grice and R. T. Bradley (Redcliffe Town Council), and Jas. Best and A. M. Anderson (Government). Chief Officer F. Mayer died in May 1945, and T. F. Macfarlane was appointed Acting Officer in Charge, his appointment as Chief Officer being con­firmed in November of the same year."

1944- The newly formed Redcliffe Fire Brigade in full uniform outside the shed in Webb Street. Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-002-002118:

Redcliffe Fire Brigade history collection from Jack Eagle:

"In May 1946 the third Board took office, consist­ing of Messrs. H. J. Buchanan (Chairman), H. L. Steadman (Vice-Chairman), C. S. Carmody, Jas. Best, R. N. Argus, R. T. Bradley and T. Sampson, with W. Needham (Secretary) and T. F. Macfarlane (Chief Officer). No change of quarters was possible during the war years, but in September 1947 the Australian Loan Council approved the raising of a Debenture Loan of £8,800 for the erection of a new station and neces­sary equipment.

1946- Father Christmas is driven round Redcliffe in the Fire Brigade truck.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-002-002121

In May 1948 land which had been resumed, and situate at the corner of Meredith and Down Streets, Redcliffe, was returned to the original owners, being considered unsuitable for fire brigade purposes. A new site was selected at the corner of Mary Street and Main Coast Road. This land overlooks the water front, and contains 1 acre 22.4 perches. After in­ spection by representatives of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Board the purchase of this area was approved. In the meantime proposed plans and spe­cifications for the new premises were well in hand, and early in 1948 were approved."

Original plans of the Fire Station:

"Tenders were called for the construction and completion of a new station and residence building, and on 5th August 1948 the first sod was turned and preliminary work commenced. Completion of the building is expected before the end of the present) financial year."(1949)

From the Moreton Bay Map Collection MBMP-0019-075:

1948 - Hal Buchanan (right) prepares to turn the first sod for the new Redcliffe Fire Station.

Alex Smith holds the plans for the new building. Brickie John Roebuck ( 2nd from left) and Chippy Nev Bray (2nd from right)

Photo from the Buchanan Family - Moreton Bay Collection: RLPC-002\002291

The construction of the Redcliffe Fire Station in 1949:

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-002\002296

"The station is of modern design, two storied, brick and concrete throughout, with a frontage of 67 feet to Main Coast Road. The engine house is 35ft.x 40ft., sufficiently large enough to house two en­gines, three pumps and truck. The ground floor includes watch room, dormitory, kitchen, recreation room, board room and general office, battery room, bath and shower rooms and laun­ dry. The top floor contains the Chief Officer’s resi­dence, while hose drying tower, oil store, pump and greasing pits are provided at the rear, of the build­ing. The finished cost will be in the vicinity of £11,000. The premises will be electrically lighted throughout and complete with street fire alarm sys­tem and telephones."

From the Moreton Bay Map Collection MBMP-0019-075:

1949 Redcliffe Fire Brigade group photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection RLPC-002\002294

1950 K4 International Fire Engine Lend Lease from the USA. Photo: Barbara Wallace:

"Two fireman who served in Britain's blitzes of World War II before migrating to Australia, are now in charge at Redcliffe Fire Brigade headquarters. They are Mr E. Huckbody , 42, a sub officer who joined the British Fire Service in 1937, and Mr Bryan Wallace, 45. Chief Fire Officer of the station. Mr Wallace joined the British Fire Service in 1938. He served with the SouthportBrigade before going to Redcliffe in 1949. Mr Wallace lives at the fire station with his wife and daughter. He migrated to Australia in 1948 from Rochdale in Lancashire. Mt Wallace was in Australia for four years long before he migrated to stay. He came to Queensland in 1927 and learnt farming before returning to Britain."

The brigade personnel is Chief Officer, four permanent firemen, nine auxiliary firemen, one vol­unteer fireman. The plant consists of: One International Howe Fire Engine complete with ladders and 350 gallons per minute capacity pump.

One Chevrolet Fire Tender complete with equip­ment and salvage gear. One 600 G.P.M. Chrysler Trailer fire pump. One 500 G.P.M. T.A.S.A. fire pump. One 300 G.P.M. Coventry Trailer fire pump. One Station Utility. In addition to an ample quantity of standard 2 and 1/2” fire hose, the brigade carries two Pyrene Foam Compound making outfits, first aid equipment for small fires, and a large assortment of fire extin­guishers. All premises in the district carrying fire ex­ tinguishers are serviced by the brigade staff free of cost. Over 1,000 fire plugs located throughout the Red­cliffe Fire District, are regularly inspected; street alarm points are tested at frequent intervals, and water pressures are taken four times daily. The estimated permanent population is 9,000— 10,000. Area, 12 square miles. Number of buildings, 2,600. The approved Budget for the financial year 1948/49 was £3,920, contributed as follows:

By the State Treasurer ........................ £886 13s 6d

Redcliffe Town Council ........................ £886 13s 6d

Insurance Companies .............................. £1330 0s 5d

Surplus from 1947/48 .............................. £816 12s 7d Total ................................................. £3920 0s 0d"

Official opening of the RedcliffeFire Station on Oxley Avenue on 1 November 1949 by the Honourable Frank Nicklin MP, Member for Murrumba (on the left), Chief Officer Brian Wallace (in centre) and Mayor of Redcliffe City Council Jim Houghton (on the right).

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-002\002162

Fire fighters in full uniform with their two trucks stand outside the newly completed Redcliffe Fire Station, situated on the corner of Mary Street and Oxley Avenue Redcliffe.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection:RLPC-002\002130

The new Redcliffe Fire Station on Oxley Avenue Redcliffe viewed from the rear of the building.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-002\002129

Plans for the Redcliffe Fire Station Oil Store and Hose Tower:

August 1956 aerial showing the Fire Station at 395 Oxley Ave, and the location where the Gibb brothers signed their contract to become the Bee Gees in 1959 - at 394 Oxley Ave.

The fire shack was a small structure built in the grounds of the Redcliffe Fire Station that was used for fire practice by the Redcliffe Fire Brigade.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection RLPC-002-002124:

c. 1960. Redcliffe Fire Station crew. Front row from left: Axel Weiss, Waha Coolson-Ua, Chief Officer Bryan Wallace, Ray Martin and Jim Sorenson. Back row from left: Ken Easton, Stan Jones, Stan Rosser, Deputy Fire Chief Ernie Patching, Malcolm Statham and Sub Officer Keith Officer. Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-002\002169:

July 10th 1955 Marine Parade car bomb:

1961 house fire in Shields St - Photo Richard Hopkins - Moreton Bay Library Collection

Fire truck and Chief's car at the Redcliffe Fire Station 1966.

John Forbes, Harold (Nobby) Clarke, Bryan Wallace, Norm Johnson standing in front of the Redcliffe Fire Station between the fire chief's car and the fire brigade truck:

Photo by Jack Eagle from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-002\002148

1967 Fire drill at Scarborough State School:

1967. Chief Officer Bryan Wallace, Fireman J. Flegg, Fireman M. Statham and sub officer K. Kemp, with the new fire engine:

Victoria House fire at 44 Victoria Ave on 10th June 1968:

1970. Chief Office Bryan Wallace and the Redcliffe Fire Brigade team pose in front of the their truck at the Redcliffe Fire Station.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection RLPC-002-002153:

November 4th 1976 Redcliffe Herald - 6yr old Bradley Horton's letter to the Fireman:

Bryan Wallace 20 years service presented with a silver medal presented by board chairman Mr F. Glynn.

1977 - Photo: Barbara Wallace:

Bryan Wallace - Chief Officer, who retired after 28 years of service, and in 1982 was awarded the British Empire medal for service to youth and the community.

Firefighters: Jack Eagle, Ernie Patching, Darry Scheiwe, Stan Rosser and Keith Offer.

Photo from Jack Eagle.

The Fire Station was placed on the Queensland Heritage Register on the 6th September 2005.

The Redcliffe Art Society moved to its present location at the historic old Redcliffe Fire Station on the corner of Oxley Avenue and Mary St. in February 2015.


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