In the spotlight: Brian Ogden
Meet Brian Ogden, Museum of Brisbane’s longest serving Customer Service Officer and most experienced City Hall tour guide. We recently sat down with Brian to find what he still loves about working at the Museum.
Museum of Brisbane (Museum): Brian, can you tell us how long you’ve worked with Museum of Brisbane?
Brian: 11 years. The Museum is keeping me here until I get it right.
Museum: In that time can you give an estimate on how many City Hall tours you’ve given?
Brian: The week we re-opened in April 2013 I conducted 17 City Hall tours in 5 days. That’s when I lost my fear of public speaking. Out of 15 years of public speaking I have only started to feel comfortable in the last 2 years and that’s due to all the City Hall tours I’ve given. I don’t have time to be nervous! I estimate I’ve given at least 500 City Hall tours since 2013. I’m always happy to perform for an audience now… I am just grateful for the attention.
Museum: What is one of your favourite stories to tell while giving a tour?
Brian: The digging of the 169 pile shafts in the 1920s and how dangerous it was. They had to dig the pile shafts to hit bedrock, which could be up to 65 feet below street level. Then they were filled with hand mixed and hand poured concrete. One unfortunate worker inspected a pile shaft while others were on their lunch break and tragically drowned. That’s the only recorded death from the building of City Hall.
Museum: After all this time why do you still enjoy giving these tours?
Brian: I learn a lot from the public. I’ve had former staff and patrons who used to visit the building talking about everything from Lord Mayors, working conditions, performing on the Auditorium stage and their visit up the clock tower in the 1930s, 40s or 50s. You also get great reactions when you tell a dramatic story or they learn a fact they have not heard before.
Museum: What is your favourite fact about City Hall?
Brian: During the opening celebrations in April 1930 there was a civic reception hosted by Lord Mayor William Jolly for elderly residents of the city, some of whom were old enough to remember swimming in the waterhole on this site back in the mid 19th Century.