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Working in Brisbane City Hall in the 1940's by Mary Connolly (nee Farrell)
2 Jan 2013
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I was ten years old in 1938 when I came to live in Brisbane from Victoria. I was fostered by a family living in Swann Road, Taringa. From the rear of the home there was a very expansive view of the city of Brisbane and the most outstanding building was the Brisbane City Hall. The family owned an old telescope by which it was possible to tell the time on the City Hall clock. 

After passing the junior examination in 1944, at the age of sixteen, I started work as a typist in the City Council Works Department, Records Section in Brisbane City Hall. Miss Gralton was in charge of that section at the time. Mr. J. Chandler was the Lord Mayor and Mr. J. C. Slaughter was the Town Clerk. 

The City Hall was officially opened in 1930 so the building was only fourteen years old when I started working there. I just loved the beautiful marble staircase inside the main entrance from King George Square although I didn’t get to walk on it very often. 

It was soon after I commenced working for BCC that the war in the Pacific ended and peace was declared. I was working in the Records Section at the time and wondered if our boss would allow us to join the thousands of other people who were celebrating in the streets of the city, and she did! That was the end of work for the day. 

After awhile I found the work rather boring in the Records Section and when there was a vacancy for a tracer in the Planning and Building Branch I successfully applied for the job. The City Architect was Mr. Frank Costello, The City Planner was Mr. Colin Trapp and the Parks Superintendent was Mr. Harry Oakman. My attached photo is of a blueprint plan I worked on as a tracer for a prospective sporting arena for Brisbane.

The City Hall was the venue for many VIP functions and I somehow managed to get the autographs of Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, the Governor of Queensland and Rhonda Kelly, “Miss Australia" in 1946. I still have these in my autography book today. 

There were no lunchrooms in those days so we would sit at our desks to eat our lunch or else go shopping. I remember being disgusted at the sight of some of the cups the men drank out of. As there were no tea bags then they would put a few tealeaves in their cup, boil the jug and pour boiling water in. The insides of their cups were black with tea stains. 

One of the girls in the office was a bit of a larrikin and she had a great liking for grapes. It was nothing to be sitting quietly at your desk and have a grape land in from of you from the other side of the office. 

The city architect, Mr. Costello, had a very heavy footstep and could be heard coming on the wooden floors and the word would get around “Here comes Cossie”. 

I really enjoyed working in Brisbane City Hall and stayed there until I left to be married in 1949. When I left to get married I was earning five pound ($10) a week and that was considered a good wage.

Brisbane City Hall
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