The Senior Commander of the new Station had three buildings constructed near the original garden area. These were a Boatshed, a Blacksmith’s shop and a residence to a Petty Officer to maintain security. The growing population led the Admiralty to later add the Australian Squadron to the Station, with three ships always on patrol and two ships always based at Garden Island in case of emergency.
The expanded station required more support facilities, so the decision was taken to establish a full naval depot on the island. Plans were drawn up to cover the whole island including the northern hill, but due to government changes and the coming of steam, nothing further action was taken for around 20 years.
When construction started, two semi-detached cottages were built on the northern hill to house the supervisors in charge of demolishing the southern hill. Those cottages are still in use today.
The first new depot building was the Rigging House in 1887, containing the Sail Loft and the Rigging Shed. However, steam was rapidly replacing sail, so neither of these two areas were actually used for their designed purpose
The second new building was the Barracks, sometimes mistakenly called the Marine Barracks. It was a colonial Georgian style building to house both sailors and Marines, together with a 13 bed hospital on the top floor. The demands of Sydney summers quickly led to verandahs being added io three sides in 1892, together with an external staircase was added at the northern end for the sole use by officers.
The building was for sleeping and eating only – it had no toilets, bathrooms or kitchen These were housed in an annex at the rear of the building. This contained the toilets and washrooms in the northern half, and the kitchen or galley in the southern half. The external northern wall later held cages for the rabbits and mice used for medical diagnostic testing for diseases such as Cholera, smallpox and the like.
As they did on board ship, the sailors and marines in the Barracks ate and slept in groups or messes. Hammocks were slung at night, then lashed up and stowed each morning. Collapsible tables and benches were then put up for meals. Each mess chose a man to go to the galley at mealtimes to collect the food for his messmates.
Several other buildings came ito use before 1900, such as the Naval Store, the Administration Building and the residences. Full details as to these and other constructions can be visited through the Society’s Garden Island Heritage Tour DVD – see the Shop for details.