Nestled between the Court House and the old Telegraph Station, this unassuming building continues to demonstrate the strength that was once deemed
necessary in its uncertain past.
Air Raid Shelters like this are now quite rare; this one and the better known one beside the Maryborough Train Station being the only known surviving shelters in Maryborough. Following the cessation of hostilities, it was reported by the Maryborough Chronicle in September 1945 that concrete air raid shelters were being demolished with “...a speed that is a source of wonder...”.
Whilst the work undertaken to demolish the shelters in peacetime might have been impressive, it was of a different scale to the undertakings to protect the population in war time.
In the week following the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Public Safety Act 1940 became operative and, on 12 December 1941, Maryborough’s Civil Defence Committee made a number of urgent and important decisions in readiness for feared air raids. These included the construction of trench shelters at nominated sites around the CBD. In the suburbs, residents were urged to construct their own shelters, with advice
to be given by the City Engineer. The leave of City Council workers was cancelled and they were taken off council work to construct shelters and deliver sand to all households for sandbagging. A survey would be undertaken of all buildings with basements with a view to converting them to shelters. Precautions were taken for the screening of light at night to reduce the chances of bombers locating the city. In
what might have caused many residents some alarm, the committee also decided to purchase five dozen stretchers, over 200 roller bandages, and 50 sets of St John Ambulance splints and the committee also sought 100 volunteers for stretcher carriers. People were cautioned against congregating in day time and particularly at night time.
Fortunately, these precautions were never truly tested. There were unannounced practice runs when this shelter would have been used, but the closest to a true emergency occurred at midday on Wednesday, 26 August 1942 when there was a genuine air raid response. The warnings sounded and A.R.P. personnel promptly went into action, however the unidentified plane proved to be friendly.
Once the location of the courthouse stables, this surviving Air Raid Shelter, is now the club house for the Model Engineers and Live Steamers Association (MELSA) which was formed in 1976 and runs miniature trains on the nearby track in Queens Park.
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