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Restoring Brisbane’s iconic Naldham House


AHS oversees the interior restoration and fit out of Naldham House, known by many as the former Polo Club, as one of Brisbane’s iconic State Heritage listed landmarks is transformed into a prestigious restaurant.

Australian Heritage Specialists (AHS) has been commissioned by Blades, on behalf of DAP Co Hospitality Group (DAP & Co), to provide ongoing heritage support and expert advice for the proposed tenancy and interior fit-out of Naldham House in Brisbane’s CBD. 

We were brought into the project having completed previous assessments at Naldham House, including a Heritage Management Protocol (HMP) to assist with future proposals like this one, as well as any future construction, refurbishment or adaptive reuse. AHS has prepared various Heritage Impact Statements (HIS) for the place to assist in gaining approvals for the ongoing works. 

The building, while first constructed in 1866, has changed hands many times across the past 150 years and with each new owner came renovations and alterations to the original building.  

While dwarfed by surrounding Waterfront Place, and the soon-to-be-constructed Waterfront Brisbane, the building offers significant aesthetic benefit to the Brisbane CBD streetscape and remains an iconic landmark. 

Most noteworthy are the three highly detailed classic facades, which can be seen from surrounding streets, consisting of the stunning northern cupola and the Mary and Felix Street elevations. 

Australasian Steam Navigation Company beginnings

The Australasian Steam Navigation Company (ASN) acquired the land on which Naldham House sits in 1852, before building a two-story masonry office building in 1866 for its Brisbane agent Henry O’Reilly.  

This building was located within the northern end of what would become Naldham House and interestingly its basement was used to store bonded goods including casks, tobacco and cigars. 

Sometime between 1875 and 1878, the building was extended to the Felix Street corner, after being elevated from ‘agency’ to ‘branch’ position within ASN. 

Not long after this, ASN was acquired and amalgamated with various other shipping companies to form the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (AUSN), before further alterations were made to the building in 1889. 

The third addition was substantial, with architects McCredie Brothers and Chambers designing the ‘Victorian Free Classical’ renovations, forming the visual basis for the building we know today.  

Interior changes included cedar trims, pine ceilings, gas lighting, and a grand internal staircase used to access the upper floors. 

The exterior was also overhauled with new entrances, another level, tower and cupola, and a new sign was added with ‘Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited’ adorning the facade from 1889. 

The Australasian Steam Navigation Company’s Brisbane Headquarters circa 1875 (SLQ image#81-9-22).


The Polo Club

After signing on as the primary tenant in 1989, Brisbane Polo Club went on to purchase Naldham House from AMP in 1994. 

Following the purchase a luxurious interior fit out was undertaken, which incorporated a mix of retained or salvaged original elements and high-quality reproduction period joinery and finishes. 

The members-only club had a long 25-year run, offering a premiere destination for businesspeople to come together and network. 

Brisbane Polo Club held celebratory dinners, business breakfasts, seminars, cocktail parties, trivia nights and even weddings with four function rooms and an array of other facilities on offer.  

With prominent signage and a bustling event calendar, the building came to be known as Brisbane Polo Club among locals, and it was also one of the only exclusive clubs at the time to offer gender equality – allowing both men and women to join.  

Brisbane Polo Club retained ownership of the building until 2015, selling it to current owner Dexus Property who commenced a staged upgrade for future use of the landmark.  

The AUSN Building in 1889, with adjacent Bond Store. (John Oxley Library, Negative Number: 204448)


Adaptive re-use of an iconic place

Naldham House offers a unique glimpse into Queensland’s maritime history as the Brisbane base for prominent shipping operation Australian United Steam Navigation Company.  

Dexus has already gone to great lengths to restore the building back to working order, with DAP & Co Hospitality Group now planning to incorporate a multi-level dining experience that puts the iconic landmark back on the map. AHS are proud of the ongoing support we provide to both teams as this building comes close to completion. 

The Group has successfully restored and utilised other Heritage Listed places, like the Petrie Terrace Barracks, QLD National Bank Building and Old Mineral House, to create dining experiences including Walter’s Steakhouse, The Gresham and Popolo Italian Kitchen & Bar. 

Our focus at AHS above all else is to ensure heritage values are maintained, which forms the basis for our conservation approach when preparing impact statements like this one.  

It’s all in a day’s work for the experienced AHS team, with yet another Queensland heritage building preserved for future generations.  

Contact us 

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn. 

Level one looking south, photographed in 1988, which would become the Club dining room (Buchanan Architects, 2002).

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The Challenge

The Australasian Steam Navigation Company (ASN) acquired the land on which Naldham House sits in 1852, before building a two-story masonry office building in 1866 for its Brisbane agent Henry O’Reilly.  

This building was located within the northern end of what would become Naldham House and interestingly its basement was used to store bonded goods including casks, tobacco and cigars. 

Sometime between 1875 and 1878, the building was extended to the Felix Street corner, after being elevated from ‘agency’ to ‘branch’ position within ASN. 

Not long after this, ASN was acquired and amalgamated with various other shipping companies to form the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (AUSN), before further alterations were made to the building in 1889. 

The third addition was substantial, with architects McCredie Brothers and Chambers designing the ‘Victorian Free Classical’ renovations, forming the visual basis for the building we know today.  

Interior changes included cedar trims, pine ceilings, gas lighting, and a grand internal staircase used to access the upper floors. 

The exterior was also overhauled with new entrances, another level, tower and cupola, and a new sign was added with ‘Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited’ adorning the facade from 1889. 



How we helped

After signing on as the primary tenant in 1989, Brisbane Polo Club went on to purchase Naldham House from AMP in 1994. 

Following the purchase a luxurious interior fit out was undertaken, which incorporated a mix of retained or salvaged original elements and high-quality reproduction period joinery and finishes. 

The members-only club had a long 25-year run, offering a premiere destination for businesspeople to come together and network. 

Brisbane Polo Club held celebratory dinners, business breakfasts, seminars, cocktail parties, trivia nights and even weddings with four function rooms and an array of other facilities on offer.  

With prominent signage and a bustling event calendar, the building came to be known as Brisbane Polo Club among locals, and it was also one of the only exclusive clubs at the time to offer gender equality – allowing both men and women to join.  

Brisbane Polo Club retained ownership of the building until 2015, selling it to current owner Dexus Property who commenced a staged upgrade for future use of the landmark.  

Results

Naldham House offers a unique glimpse into Queensland’s maritime history as the Brisbane base for prominent shipping operation Australian United Steam Navigation Company.  

Dexus has already gone to great lengths to restore the building back to working order, with DAP & Co Hospitality Group now planning to incorporate a multi-level dining experience that puts the iconic landmark back on the map. AHS are proud of the ongoing support we provide to both teams as this building comes close to completion. 

The Group has successfully restored and utilised other Heritage Listed places, like the Petrie Terrace Barracks, QLD National Bank Building and Old Mineral House, to create dining experiences including Walter’s Steakhouse, The Gresham and Popolo Italian Kitchen & Bar. 

Our focus at AHS above all else is to ensure heritage values are maintained, which forms the basis for our conservation approach when preparing impact statements like this one.  

It’s all in a day’s work for the experienced AHS team, with yet another Queensland heritage building preserved for future generations.  

Contact us 

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn. 

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Extensive war history unearthed at Milman Hill Complex on Thursday Island

Case Study

AHS ensures cultural preservation of the Mt Coot-tha Kiosk and Lookout, unearthing a rich history at one of Brisbane’s premiere vantage points

Case Study

AHS helps to record and conserve Bega’s network of historic granite kerbs and gutters for our client Bega Valley Shire Council

Case Study

AHS delivered a Conservation Management Plan for the State heritage listed former Cairns Masonic Temple

Case Study

Delivering heritage services including an Archival Recording at the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building

Case Study

Conserving Willard’s Farm, one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands on Brisbane’s Bayside

Case Study

AHS projects with Cairns Regional Council include a CMP for Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers

Case Study

AHS uncovers a lengthy historical legal challenge while researching the William Mitchner Shelter

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AHS helps visitors experience the history of Cairns Court House

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AHS helps to conserve the Mount Morgan Coronation Lamp and Boer War Memorial

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Discovering the evolution of Queensland ambulance services at Charters Towers

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Rediscovering a heritage home’s socialite past in New Farm

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