Secret staircase uncovered

A hidden staircase once used by former Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was uncovered in the demolition of the Executive Building.

Sir Joh commissioned the secret stairwell to give him direct access from his office on level 14 and the Cabinet Room on level 13.

When demolition sub-contractors Delta found the staircase within the building at 100 George Street, they saw that it had been closed off with blockwork.

There are perhaps two suggestions as to why it was closed off. One is that after Sir Joh moved his office to level 15 it was not needed, and the other could be as a result of changed fire safety regulations during the 1990s. Perhaps only a few people know for sure.

Destination Brisbane Consortium Project Director Simon Crooks said the Executive Building plans didn’t show a secret stairwell, but the rumour of its existence had long persisted.

“It is exciting to uncover fragments of the past and to hear about how they were used or what purpose they served,” he said.

“In 2022, when the core of Queen’s Wharf Brisbane opens, the former Executive Building location will be one of the entry point into the integrated resort development and meandering down from William St will be the Brisbane Steps, although these won’t be secret – they will be spectacular.”