The main gates of South Brisbane Cemetery stand just a few hundred metres away from the Boggo Road prison. There are many historical connections between the cemetery and the prison, and when it comes to heritage they can be considered as ‘sister sites’. In its early decades the cemetery was even occasionally referred to as the ‘Boggo Road Cemetery’.
The cemetery opened in 1870, about 13 years before the first Boggo Road prison. Much like the prison, the cemetery land was selected because it was a government reserve situated far enough away from the centre of Brisbane for its ‘distasteful’ purpose, but close enough to be functionally convenient.
South Brisbane Cemetery (click to enlarge images)
Prisoners who died at the Petrie Terrace prison (1860-83) had been buried in the old Paddington or Toowong cemeteries, not far from that old prison. When Boggo Road prison was opened, a section of largely unused, swampy land was selected by the government to hold exclusively the bodies of any prisoners hanged at the new prison. This was named Section 6B and was used 42 times during the following decades.
Other inmates who died while in prison were buried in various locations around South Brisbane Cemetery.
The cemetery is also home to the graves of many of those people who worked at Boggo Road prison, including noted superintendents Arthur Peirson and James Whitney.
There are a number of other people buried in the cemetery who were linked to the criminal justice system, including Supreme Court judges Charles Chubb and Charles William Blakeney, and the hangman William Ware.
Although it has been technically closed at various points over the decades, the cemetery is still being used for new burials today. Much like Boggo Road it is heritage listed and has a volunteer organisation - the Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery - engaged in research and protection work there. This group has worked closely with the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society on many projects over the years, including tours, open days, clean-ups and history books.
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