15 September 2011

Cleaning Boggo Road

While the Boggo Road Gaol was closed, the volunteers of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society took it upon themselves to keep it clean.
In a blog about a recent visit to Boggo Road I wrote that there was 'little difference' in the condition of the place as compared to when I last saw it in 2005. After going in there last Sunday for a cleaning bee, I would now like to retract that statement. It's one thing to casually stroll around noting that a building hasn't fallen down yet, and quite another to stand there with a mop, bucket and broom faced with the task of actually cleaning it.

So it was on 11 September when members of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society went into the old prison for our first cleaning bee since the museum closed six years ago. It was like stepping back in time to open the main gates and walk around with the keys in my hand again, then to open doors and find calendars and newspapers from 2005. It was also a bit like an archaeological dig knowing we'd have to scrape away layers of dirt to reveal the prison in its former glory.

We had about 30 people there during the day, armed with buckets. cloths, brooms, mops, gloves, spray bottles, gurneys and squidgees. First on the agenda were the cellblocks, and because the cells have barred windows with no glass there was a six-year build-up of dust on the floors. This proved very tricky to sweep because while half the dust is swept into a nice little pile, the other half goes straight up your nose. Although most of the dust was cleared from the cells anyway, next time we will be using a mega-uber vacuum cleaner to finish the job.

While the Boggo Road Gaol was closed, the volunteers of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society took it upon themselves to keep it clean.
"You first." "No after you." "No, after you, I insist."

We also got into the gutters and drains, removing inches of dirt that were blocking them. Some areas were scarier than others, but the toilets were made usable again, to the relief of all.

We had one or two hiccups, notably when Phil killed the digital security system keypad with a blast of high-pressure water, prompting a visit from the security services. Fortunately the now-clean keypad miraculously came back to life later in the day. John P's single attempt to blow the dust from a cell with a leaf-blower ended just as you'd expect, but he seemed to be in his element in the gatehouse, being all no pasaran and keeping non-BRGHS visitors away.

All-in-all it was great to get back inside Boggo Road, roll up our sleeves and get stuck into cleaning the place. The buildings benefitted from the visit, and so did our group. There has been some concern within the BRGHS that the place was not being looked after properly, and now we can do it ourselves to make sure that it is. Having some actual hands-on work to do at the prison is great for morale as people have been getting impatient about getting back inside Boggo Road. So although it's not opening for a few years yet, this is a brilliant way of staying in touch with the place.

The first clean-ups will be obviously be the hardest, but we aim to reach a point where we can stroll in, wipe over some surfaces, do a quick sweep of the floor, and its finished. That day is still far away though, and until then the BRGHS will be going into Boggo Road every month to fulfill the first of our founding objectives:

"#1: To work to preserve, maintain and promote the site of the No.2 Division at the former Brisbane Prison."


  1. Chris I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to meet you, I turned up late, joined the society and met some of the lovely folk still lingering.

  2. Thanks Gillian, better late than never!

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