Sudden deluge swamps Brisbane – January 1941

Marooned in the bookmakers ring at Albion Park after a storm Brisbane, January 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 66217

Marooned in the bookmaker’s ring at Albion Park after a storm, Brisbane, January 1941

A sudden deluge hit the inner suburbs of Brisbane on the afternoon of January 18, 1941, in what the Sunday Mail described as “the fiercest one-hour storm in the city’s history”. The Weather Bureaus rain gauge recorded 336 points (85mm) in less than an hour. In the eastern suburb of Hawthorne, 604 points (153mm) was recorded on a private rain gauge.

Albion Park racetrack after a storm Brisbane January 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 66216

Albion Park racetrack after a storm Brisbane January 1941

Along with the usual havoc flooding in the inner city causes, the news reports of the day focused on the impact on Brisbanes many Saturday afternoon sporting activities. A cricket match between Queensland and Victoria at the Gabba was abandoned as the crowd huddling in the grandstand was treated instead to an exhibition of lightning, thunder, hail and heavy rain. The strong wind blew the Stanley Street sightboard from its supports, while outside the grounds the water level nearly reached the running boards of parked cars.

Soldiers enjoying a day at the races despite the storm at Albion Park Brisbane, January 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 66218

Soldiers enjoying a day at the races despite the storm at Albion Park Brisbane, January 1941

Tragically, two golfers were struck by lightning near the seventh fairway of the Victoria Park golf course on the inner north side. The men had been sheltering under a tree at the time. One was killed instantly, while the other was lucky to escape serious injury. The ambulance sent to the scene was delayed due to flooding. At the Albion Park track, also in the inner north, horse racing was suspended for over an hour while the storm lasted. It seems the stewards considered it a point of honour to resume the meet if at all practicable, even though the Third Division races were run over a partially flooded track.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland