Managing a building of this size is a monumental task. Today, there is a team of people that takes care of the day-to-day running of the hall, including cleaning and maintenance, setting up rooms, moving equipment, taking room bookings, running functions and managing security. The hall keepers are responsible for many of these tasks, as well as telling visitors stories about the building.
Up until very recently, the hall keeper actually lived on-site. His residence extended into half of the Trench Room and along the back of the building facing Bath Lane. The hall keeper’s family often lived here too, and their home was complete with bedrooms, bathroom, a kitchen and small garden. One hall keeper even kept chickens, which roamed on what is now part of the Town Hall rooftop.
The hall keeper had many responsibilities. Council meetings required a lot of work, from ensuring the fires were lit in the colder months, to preparing an evening meal for the councillors. Meal preparation often fell to the hall keeper’s wife.
The role of the hall keepers continues to change over time with the invention of modern conveniences like heating and cooling.
Norm Hand was the last live-in hall keeper at the Ballarat Town Hall. He arrived in 1982 and lived here with his family until 1993. After moving out, however, Norm continued in the role until his retirement in 2013. Today, the tradition of the hall keeper is kept alive through a team of people carrying out the role. While hall keepers no longer live on-site and their duties have changed over time, their important role as custodians of the Town Hall continues today.