On 3rd October 2012, librarians Patricia Parr and Lynn Meyers of the Original Content team of Queensland Memory, attended the official launch of the Brisbane Markets History Room at Rocklea. During the establishment of the collection staff from State Library provided archival and conservation advice.
The display, housed in a purpose built room, includes photographs, memorabilia, film and stories and vividly depicts the history of the markets and the story of almost 150 years of wholesaling fresh fruit and vegetables in Brisbane.
About 50 former workers, industry characters and donors attended the morning event which was held in the recently refurbished Fresh Centre building at the Rocklea site. Introductory speeches were made by Tony Joseph, Chairman of Brisbane Markets Limited, and Andrew Young, Chief Executive Officer of Brisbane Markets Limited. History Task Force Chairman, Arch Martin, and Communications Executive, Vanessa Kennedy, spoke about the history of the markets and the work involved in setting up the display. Artifacts and photographs were obtained from donors who, according to Mr Martin, checked their back sheds and brought forward items and stories that “we never imagined we would uncover”.
The display is designed so that the photographs can be easily rotated and the memorabilia will be rearranged and changed regularly to keep the exhibition fresh and inspiring.
The History Room is located on Level 2 of the Fresh Centre, Brisbane Markets, 385 Sherwood Road, Rocklea. Entrance is free and the opening hours are 8am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.
Fruit and vegetable markets in Brisbane have had a rich and diverse history beginning with the first purpose-built facility in Market Street in 1866. This closed in 1881 after years of changing ownership. Four years later the Brisbane Municipal Council opened the Roma Street Markets in 1885 to service a growing Brisbane. By 1906, a group of wholesalers, dissatisfied with increasing government regulation and congestion, opened a rival market in Turbot Street to create a Brisbane market precinct. For years the two markets operated side by side. As congestion grew in the city plans were developed to move the market precinct further afield and in 1964 the Queensland Government created the Brisbane market site at Rocklea where it stands today.
Items held in the John Oxley Library about the Brisbane Markets include photographs, reports, annual reports and newsletters.
In 2009 Arch Martin was interviewed for the State Library of Queensland’s Storylines Q150 project. In this digital story Arch discusses the history of the Brisbane Markets, including when the markets were moved from Brisbane city to Rocklea.
Lynn Meyers, Original Materials Librarian, Queensland Memory