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ICONIC Witton Barracks – Development News Indooroopilly


“TIGHNABRUAICH” circa 1932   Clarence Road Indooroopilly

2015-07-22_13-33-55_01Local politicians are working to broker a deal to buy the site of the historic Witton Barracks at ­Indooroopilly. Federal LNP MP for Ryan Jane Prentice and Councillor Julian Simmonds (Walter Taylor) are preparing a joint submission to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence Darren Chester.   “There’s certainly enough space on the site you could still have your park use and maintain the buildings for community space or auxiliary use to the park.”

Brisbane City Council hopes to secure the Department of Defence site for community parkland and a second river crossing for ­vehicles next to the Walter Taylor Bridge.



About the Barracks

Witton House, in the grounds of Tighnabruaich, a residence in Indooroopilly, ca. 1932. Herbert Brealey Hemming, a solicitor with a distinguished Brisbane legal practice, purchased Tighnabruaich, in 1904. Witton Manor, another house owned by Hemming, was moved between 1916 and 1919 to the grounds of Tighnabruaich from its original site further upstream at Indooroopilly and renamed Witton House.

2015-07-22_13-47-45Tighnabruaich, overlooking the Brisbane River at Indooroopilly, was constructed c. 1889 as the home of Henry Charles Stanley, Chief Engineer for Railways in Queensland. It was designed by his brother, the former Qld Colonial Architect, Francis Drummond Greville Stanley.

Tighnabruaich is situated in central Indooroopilly. Despite having been surveyed into farm allotments in 1858, this area did not attract agricultural settlement to the same extent as the surrounding areas of Fig Tree Pocket, Long Pocket and St Lucia (originally known as Indooroopilly Pocket). Central Indooroopilly was steeply ridged and covered in dense scrub and the steep river banks did not provide ready access to river transport, the principal means of communication and trade with Brisbane and Ipswich in the mid-19th century.


“Three (buildings) are old jail cells where they held Japanese prisoners of war. That’s pretty rare for an area like ours,” he said.

House Tighnabruaich’s heritage listing says it was built about 1889 on 42 acres for the chief engineer for railways in Queensland.

Between 1916 and 1919, Witton Manor was moved to the Tighnabruaich grounds from its site upstream.

Tighnabruaich was requisitioned for use by a joint United States-Australian Intelligence Unit in 1942 during World War II. Witton House functioned as the sergeants’ mess and Tighnabruaich was partitioned for office accommodation.

Brick cell blocks were built in the centre of the property to accommodate Japanese prisoners being held for interrogation.

Witton House was demolished in 1967. The property was subdivided in 1998 and Tighnabruaich house sold to private owners.

Witton Barracks was most recently used by the University of Queensland Regiment.



Tighnabruaich occupies a block of 1.19 hectares in central Indooroopilly, with frontages to the Brisbane River and to Clarence Road. The house is positioned overlooking the river to the south. Access to the house is via a circular driveway off Clarence Road.

Tighnabruaich is a timber framed house on brick piers. The main part of the residence is two-storeyed, with a single-storeyed, ‘L’-shaped wing on the western side. The fall of the land towards the river provides space for a brick basement under the single-storeyed section. The whole has a corrugated iron clad roof comprising a series of gables and dormer windows. Single-storeyed verandahs are found on the northern and southern elevations of the building and along the length of the eastern elevation.

The house is asymmetrically arranged in both plan and elevation. The stud walls are clad with chamferboard externally and lath and plaster internally.

The principal entrance to the building is in the north elevation, where an elaborate covered porch provides shelter for the main entrance, which has a six-panelled cedar door with semi-circular fanlight and sidelights.

The ground floor contains a number of large public rooms with bay windows and french doors, arranged around a central stair hall. An entrance vestibule with a tessellated tiled floor leads to the stair hall through an arched opening filled with a carved timber screen. The central stair is an open well with half-turn timber stair with landings and has very fine cedar joinery including turned balusters, prominent newel posts and spandrel panelling.

Generally the interior of the house has plaster ceilings, timber boarded floors and very fine stained cedar joinery. Most doorways have operable fanlights above. Plaster archways provide access to the major rooms on the ground floor and these rooms have plaster ceiling roses and deep plaster cornices.

The upper floor of Tighnabruaich has a number of smaller rooms, again opening off the cental stair hall and off halls radiating from this. Some of the upper floor rooms have partially raked ceilings of plasterboard, following the line of the roof trusses.

The grounds include an early carriageway lined with mature trees; large areas of lawn to the north of the house; and a tennis court to the east of the drive. At the southern end of the site the ground slopes steeply to the river, the bank being heavily vegetated.


Heritage listing

Tighnabruaich was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on 7 February 2005 having satisfied the following criteria.

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

Tighnabruaich is a large, two-storeyed timber residence constructed c. 1889 for HC Stanley, Chief Engineer for Railways in Queensland, to a design by his brother, former Colonial Architect FDG Stanley. The place is important in demonstrating the pattern of growth of Brisbane, specifically at Indooroopilly, where middle-class suburban residential development was attracted to the district after the opening of the Indooroopilly Railway Station in 1875. As one of a group of substantial, late 1880s residences constructed in Brisbane, Tighnabruaich also contributes to our understanding of the nature of the Queensland economic “boom” of this period. The property is significant for its association with allied interrogation of prisoners of war during World War II and, during the second half of the 20th century, as the showcase residence of officers commanding the Australian Army in Queensland.

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

The house in its garden setting remains comparatively intact and a good example of a well-designed 19th century middle-class villa. It is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of its class, including planning, use of materials, decorative detailing, riverside location and the retention and layout of the grounds (including early carriageway, tennis court and plantings). The building is a fine example of the mature domestic work of FDG Stanley and contributes to the body of knowledge about the work of this prolific and influential Queensland architect.

The place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The building has aesthetic value as a well-composed, picturesque residence influenced by Gothic revival architecture popular during the second half of the 19th century. It contributes to the townscape of Indooroopilly and is a landmark along the Brisbane-Ipswich railway.

The place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

Tighnabruaich has a special association with the Australian Army as the residence of the generals commanding the Army in Queensland for close to half a century. Trees planted by resident generals remain as evidence of that association.


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