This land was part of the playing fields of the Windsor State School (opened 1916) and was used for Aussie Rules football and cricket. During World War Two, the Allied Works Council requisitioned this portion, and a U.S. Navy Submarine Supply Depot was built (1943). US submarines were based at Capricorn Wharf New Farm. Barracks, mess hall, and a warehouse for supplies, were all built. Naval men who worked there, lived on the site.
The U.S. sailors were very generous and kindly towards the local residents. Food was in short supply and excess food from the sailors was passed on to residents in need.
The base was dismantled when General Macarthur moved his headquarters in 1944 to New Guinea. All surplus food and equipment were dumped into the area now known as Downey Park. Huge trucks rumbled from there, day and night, and bulldozers buried everything from aeroplane wings, etc. to canned pineapple. Acid was poured over the dumped supplies, and everything made of metal in houses along nearby Green Terrace, turned black. Dust and fumes were tolerated until the area was covered over, and leveled to make the playing fields, existing today as Downey Park.
After the War, the Windsor School Committee began urging to have the sheds removed and their playing fields restored. A sum of 800 pounds was allocated by the US to have this done but the State Government decided to retain the sheds.
Rehabilitation courses in trades, carpentry, joinery, bricklaying, and accountancy etc. were held there for returning servicemen. Later, the State Education Dept took over the buildings and State Government Stores known as ED-MART’, occupied the building for a while.
The school’s P&C over many years and tried (unsuccessfully) to convince the State Education Dept to return the area to the school and demolish the building. To their dismay, in the 1990’s, the sheds were being marketed for lease. Wesfarmers in 1995 took out a ten years lease for an Officeworks store. This was renewed again until 2018 when the area was finally given back to the school.
The building was then demolished and by 2020, a $1.5 million (stage 1) addition to the school was planned to be built. This would be a three-story learning centre and some playing courts. More stages would follow.
Thus, after nearly 77 years of waiting, the original playground area had finally been returned to the school.