Russian Hall

Stage Number: MBSH.03.01.30

Group: Southern

Local Study Area: West End-South Brisbane-North Wolloongabba

Epoch: Early 20th Century

Street Address: Merrivale Street, South Brisbane

Latitude & Longitude: -27.47450556,153.01646389

Time Link: 1919

Map Link: 1925

Image Time Point: 1925

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On 24th March 1919 a group of 7-8000 adult men rushed across Victoria Bridge and down Melbourne, Grey and Russel Streets en route to attack the Russian Community Headquarters. The attack was fuelled by the ‘Red scare’. The final straw was drawn when a small civil liberties group of leftists, and Russians included, marched on the Sunday afternoon of the 23rd March, to protest the War Precautions Act being used in peace-time. The Russians marching displayed several prohibited red flags, and were unsuccessfully attacked by mounted and foot police. Within hours of the march, thousands of returning soldiers had been alerted to attack the meeting of the One Big Union Propaganda League in North Quay. The speakers platform was overturned, and many radicals were injured. The speaker was beaten, kicked and stabbed. Soldiers next descended upon the Merivale Street Russian Hall, where they were faced with armed Russians who had fired revolvers over their heads. The following day, the press was filled with provocative headlines. And that night, 7-8000 demonstrators packed North Quay with the aim of attacking the Russian Headquarters. The demonstrators were met by two lines of mounted police. As a result of the conflict, nineteen policemen and their horses were seriously injured, with one horse having to be put down. An uncounted number of rioters were injured, with one constable noting that over a hundred had been pierced by bayonets. The Russian Headquarters had also been destroyed, as well as Russian tenements, homes, and shops that were later raided and looted.


Raymond Evans &​ Carole Ferrier with Jeff Rickertt. (edited) Radical Brisbane. Radical Brisbane. Vulgar Press, Carlton North, Vic, 2004.

Image Citations

Map References

QSA. QSA Series ID 2043 City of Brisbane and Suburbs Maps – A1A Series. 40 feet to the inch. City of South Brisbane, County of Stanley. 40 feet to one inch. Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Brisbane.. 634576