The History of the BRGHS

Oct 14, 2015 0 comments
The history of the BRGHS can be traced back to about 1995, when the No. 2 Division that had closed a few years earlier began its journey to becoming a heritage site. A respected former Boggo Road officer named Don Walters was taken on by the Queensland’s Environmental Protection Agency to help develop early tours, displays and a museum collection at the prison.

Over the following years, other officers and their partners came on board to help in this work, forming the not-for-profit Boggo Road Gaol Museum Association and truly establishing the old prison as a successful (if low-funded) heritage place by setting up exhibits, running school tours and open days, and doing general maintenance. The National Trust of Queensland assisted with various projects.

Other volunteers gradually got involved, and in July 2003 they formed the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society (Inc.) as an incorporated association. Their aim was to protect and research the old prison. Ex-officer and museum manager John Banks was the founding president. The members came from a broad range of backgrounds, including former officers and inmates or their families, local residents, and history and heritage enthusiasts.

Members of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society at a meeting, Brisbane, 2007.
BRGHS meeting, Brisbane, December 2007. (BRGHS)

BRGHS volunteers ran successful tours for tens of thousands of visitors, maintained the grounds, installed exhibitions, researched history, published books, hosted functions, paid the bills, and it was only through their hard work that Boggo Road was open to the public at during this time.

Although the museum closed in 2005 for redevelopment of the neighbouring reserve, and interim private management excluded community organisations and historians from the site after 2012, the BRGHS has survived and continues to advocate for a better future for the heritage prison. They still research and publish books, collect artefacts, lobby government, operate the Queensland Prisons Museum in the Caboolture Historical Village, and work closely in presenting public history with other community organisations such as the Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery.

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