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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library

Queensland's first bank opened its doors 160 years.

By JOL Admin | 2 June 2010

During the early days of free settlement, Brisbane's retail community struggled to attract one of the southern banks to the fledgling town.  Without a local bank, trade and finance were difficult and currency was often unstable.  These early traders finally succeeded in November 1850 when the Bank of New South Wales opened a branch in Queen Street, temporarily locating in the former Prisoners Barracks building.  Shortly after opening its doors for business, the bank moved to a site a the corner of Queen and George Streets, purchased it in 1853 and erected a new building by 1866.

Bank of New South Wales, ca. 1869.  Image No. 3808

  Bank of New South Wales, ca. 1869.  Image No. 3808, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

The present building, opened in 1930, has an outer shell of traditional sandstone covering a steel frame and took three years to build.  The imposing Queen Street facade, with its tall ionic columns, gives a sense of strenght and reliability, prominent features of bank design throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Bank of N.S.W. in foreground, ca. 1938.  Image No. API-075-0001-0002

  Bank of N.S.W. in foreground.  Image No. API-075-0001-0002, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

The building remains a prominent landmark in Brisbane's CBD. Check our Onesearch catalogue for photographs like those above and other collection holdings relating to the Bank of New South Wales.


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