Remembering the Demolished Air Raid Shelter at Cracknell Road

air raid shelter
Private air raid shelter at 70 Cracknell Rd, Annerley (Photo credit: Mick Torley/

During World War II, numerous air raid shelters were constructed throughout Brisbane. With the threat of Japanese air attacks looming, the city scrambled to construct over 200 public air raid shelters under the direction of local officials. 

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However, many locals also took matters into their own hands, digging private shelters in their backyards as an additional safeguard. One such privately-built shelter was located at a home in Annerley.

Reportedly built by Olive and Francis Ford, owners of a local sawmill and hardware store, the substantial underground bunker at 70 Cracknell Road featured twin entrances and extended approximately 8 feet into the earth. The Fords constructed the elaborate shelter in the backyard of their home on the corner of Cracknell Road and Juster Street during the wartime years.

Photo credit: Mick Torley/

Air raid shelters are fortified structures designed to provide refuge and safety for civilians as well as military personnel during aerial bombardment by enemy forces. Whilst sharing many characteristics with bunkers, their primary purpose is to shield occupants from threats arriving from the air, rather than facilitating defence against ground-based attacks.

Photo credit: Mick Torley/

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The shelter managed to survive long after the conflict ended, even outlasting the Ford home itself. For decades, it remained hidden beneath the backyard, serving as a relic of Brisbane’s watchful preparedness during the darkest years of WWII. A canvas bed was the sole furnishing in the cool underground space in its final years.

Photo credit: Google Street View

However, the long-standing air raid shelter could not be spared from the march of progress forever. In February 2019, demolition crews razed the site, taking down the shelter along with the existing house to make way for a new five-bedroom dwelling.

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The demolished Annerley air raid shelter represents one of the last tangible pieces of that ill-fated chapter of Brisbane’s history.

Published 19-May-2024