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Townsville State Government Offices

  • 601384
  • 12-14 Wickham Street, Townsville


Also known as
Townsville Public Offices; Lands Department
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
13 January 1995
Government administration: Government offices
7.2 Maintaining order: Government and public administration
Leven, Andrew Baxter
Relief work
Construction period
1935–1937, Townsville State Government Offices (1935 - 1937)
Historical period
1919–1930s Interwar period


12-14 Wickham Street, Townsville
Townsville City Council
-19.25603423, 146.821676


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The Townsville State Government Offices is an example of construction work undertaken under the unemployment relief scheme instigated by the State Government in the 1930s.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Townsville State Government Offices, erected in 1935-37, is significant as a good example of the work of the Queensland Works Department, influenced by a classical revival style.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The building complements the adjacent Townsville Customs House, and is harmonious in scale and form, making a significant contribution to the townscape.


The Townsville Government Offices were constructed in 1935-7 as part of a State employment scheme. The Queensland State Works Department was responsible for the design of the buildings, the Chief Architect of the time being Andrew Baxter Leven.

Townsville experienced its first phase of major growth when gold was discovered in the nearby town of Ravenswood, in 1868 soon after Townsville was proclaimed a town in 1866. The construction of the north-west rail line and the development of the beef industry in the north, created modest growth in Townsville in the early twentieth century.

During the 1930s Depression, Labor Premier, William Forgan Smith established a government initiatedworks scheme under the Income (Unemployment Relief) Act (1930) to create employment. This involved the employment of architects, foremen, construction workers and the use of local materials for the construction of government buildings such as court houses, government offices, schools and council halls. The Townsville State Government Offices is a fine example of work undertaken through this scheme.

The building was designed by the office of the Queensland Government Architect. The Chief Architect at this time was Andrew Baxter Leven. From 1910 to 1951 Leven was employed by the Queensland Government Works Department and was Chief Architect and Quantity Surveyor from 1933 to 1951. Other members of the office involved in the design DFW Roberts and HJ Parr.

The ground floor of the offices was to accommodate the Labour Agent and officers of the Lands Department, and the first floor was to provided offices for staff of the Department of Agriculture and Stock, Department of Public Works and Workers' Dwellings, and the Machinery Inspector, Health Inspector, Land court room and visiting Ministers' room.

The State Government Offices is typical of the tradition of high standards in design and construction of the Public Works Department, and one of a group of government buildings constructed by the Department influenced by a classical revival style, including the Innisfail and Mackay Court Houses and the Cairns Government Office. The State Government Offices were designed to harmonise with the adjacent Customs House. The area around Flinders Street (East) and The Strand including Wickham Street where the State Government Offices are situated, was the site of the first settlement in Townsville.


The Townsville State Government Offices is a two-storeyed brick building with basement and a hipped corrugated-iron roof. The facade of the building features two projecting end bays with round arched window and door openings. Between the bays is a two storey colonnade with open verandahs. A centrally located bi-furcated staircase emphasises the entrance. The building is decorated with classical design features including the round arched openings and prominent keystones and eaves.

The balconies and verandahs are designed as a response to the Townsville climate and allow for cross-ventilation of all rooms and offices. The balcony floors are of concrete and the ground floor verandahs, entrance hall and main staircase are finished in terrazzo.

Image gallery


Location of Townsville State Government Offices within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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