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Blast From the Past
Letter to the Editor
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Next Month's Meeting

No. 1 Angas Street Adelaide  c 1871.



July has been a quieter month with not as many tours for our exhausted volunteers who did such a great job in the previous few very busy months.  We have had to change our policy as a result and now only book in one Sunday per month for tours, offering to connect various groups on the same day to increase numbers.  We are also requesting payment in advance for tours as there has been some disappointment when on several occasions only a small group  appeared when we were promised 3 times as many visitors.  In one case the number of volunteers actually outnumbered the visitors.

Last month I was pleased to meet Don Cole and his wife Greta who had a tour of the facilities and spoke to our volunteers.  Don was a water police member for many years, stationed at the Torrens Lake Police Station, and has been a valuable source of information about the station and his time there.  The  committee has been considering the Torrens Lake Police Station for the 2008 Foundation Day ceremony; however, there are now other options being considered which, if adopted, will push the Torrens Lake Foundation Day to 2009.  We will keep you informed as details become clear

On the 21st July 35 members of the  Adelaide Gaol Preservation Society toured the  useum, mounted area and vehicle gallery.  It was disturbing to hear that they had been advised that all tours of the Gaol would cease within 6 weeks as a result of Occupation Health and Safety.  The Gaol is unique and the only structure of its type in Australia and although heritage listed should be made available to the public.

 There seems to have been very little upkeep by Government on this wonderful building in the past and should only need a minor amount of money to upgrade for the sake of public safety.  We will watch our neighbour with interest to see what is to become of this building.

 Other events for the month are displayed on page 10 of this issue.  I thank all the volunteers involved.

 On Friday the 3rd of August  36  members braved the cold & damp to hear Wendy O’Hagen speak of her Journey to Freedom.  Wendy showed us a DVD of her earlier years as a chronic stammerer. With the help of a specialised training programme she has now become a very proficient public speaker & mentor to stammerers everywhere. It was an inspirational journey which met with great applause from our members.

The new Deputy Commissioner Gary  Burns, was presented with a certificate as our new Vice Patron, by Mr. John White.  We look  forward to a long & mutually rewarding relationship. 

The Raffle raised $75.00 followed by Supper

Our next meeting on the 7th September promises to be a very interesting night with the Speaker Tony Elliott giving us further insight into the Somerton Beach Mystery.  I was fortunate to hear Tony speak on this intriguing subject earlier this year & I urge you to join us for the September Meeting.


Geoff Rawson




Borroloola N.T. via Camooweal September 4th, 1910. (Cont’d).

I am lucky at having the choice of such a fine lot of books and the time passes so quickly. Every morning I rise at 6.30 a.m. and take the prisoners down to the spring to carry up water for the house. They are natives and are hobbled with leg chains which are riveted on and they are very heavy but very necessary as to make them work we must take them out of the cell and without the leg irons they might get away or have to be shot for trying.
At 7.30 I have breakfast and all last week I have been making a road. I supervise that until 12 noon and then have dinner and then spell until 4 p.m., that is the hottest part of the day. Then I take the prisoners down and they draw water from the well and water Stott’s garden. There are nice cabbages and tomatoes and a lot of paw paw trees. That takes an hour and then I have a bath and have tea and read and write until about 8.30 p.m.

Thursday evening 8th.
I have been busy today laying a stone slab floor in the verandah of my room over at the Library. The stone was carried from the bed of a creek near the Court House by the prisoners and trackers. It will be a good job when finished because before it was soft earth which stuck to my boots and made my room very dirty. I have a new friend, a puppy, only a mongrel , has a lot of Irish Terrier about him but nevertheless he will be a smart dog. I brought him from Darwin and already he will bite any of the natives who are not dressed, but if they have trousers on he lets them go unchallenged.  I take him down to the river every evening and he has taken to the water like a duck. He is the only trustworthy friend I have here. Since I have come here time has passed away very quickly. I suppose it is because I am always busy. These prisoners are a great tie but I am thriving on it, eating a lot of good food mostly corned beef and bread and honey, just sufficient vegetables so as not to let one forget the taste of them. In fact I am sometimes ashamed at the Pub because I am always the last to leave the table.

September 13th.
The mail arrived last night and leaves at midday today. I have been very busy and a bit worried as this is my first mail. There was none for me but expect some from you in about 4 weeks. I have a lot of correspondence to answer besides having to sort and stamp the mail.

Borroloola. June 18th 1911.
As mail is due tomorrow, will make a fresh start on your letter, when I say fresh, I mean a second. Today I destroyed a journal of six pages which I intended to send you, but on reading it over, was disgusted. It contained no news, only my own thoughts. I am sure these very long letters which I send you must occupy a lot of your time and then when you get through them there is not an item of news. This is a very bad place for news. This last month there has been nothing doing and I am sick and tired of this enforced idleness. It is nothing but reading from one week’s end to the other. Sometimes I go out with the rifle and shoot a few crows just to keep my eye in. At present there is no game about at all. We are having capital weather. The days are just nice and warm heat and the nights are really cold. One needs three blankets to be comfortable. This morning there was a very dense fog or mist, apparently full of moisture, everything being quite damp. I could see only a few yards and it did not clear until 10 a.m.

Next Month-   William has second thoughts about
        returning to Adelaide.


By Chas Hopkins

In 1957 when Brigadier John McKinna was appointed Commissioner of Police, there was a marked change in the manner the Department was organised. Due to his long military training and his previous experience in successful civilian enterprises, he introduced many changes to the whole administration to assist members in the performance of their duty. These included a fleet of modern and efficient motor vehicles, general equipment upgrade and new police premises throughout the state. It also included the Fort Largs Academy and a new Police Headquarters building at 5–7 Angas Street Adelaide. The construction of the new Police Headquarters in 1961 was partly on the site occupied by the old boarding houses which accommodated the Adelaide C.I.B and the Women Police. Personnel were also accommodated in the other old two storey boarding houses the Government had purchased in Nelson Street and Carrington Street adjacent to the rear of the proposed new building. The uniform staff were also transferred to an old bakehouse in Carrington Street at the rear of the City Watch House. This temporary accommodation lasted about two years and left a lot to be desired.

The construction of the new headquarters’ building which comprised of a basement and 9 storeys was done by a new technique which enabled each floor to be poured and constructed at ground level. When all floors had been constructed separately on top of each other, they were raised one at a time to the desired level with hydraulic lifting devices. There were only two multi storey buildings erected in Adelaide by this method at that time, the other was the Hotel Adelaide situated at North Adelaide.

The building took approximately two years to complete and had a large fountain and fishpond as a façade. It also enabled all personnel employed in the City to be accommodated in the one building. Previously separate departments were scattered throughout the City area. It provided for a large Mess to be established on the 8th floor to cater for all personnel and a large Auditorium on the 9th floor, together with a sophisticated and efficient radio service on the same floor. The Adelaide Police Station was on the ground floor. A canteen where personnel could purchase their grocery requirements was established in the basement.
At the area at the rear of the building there was a 24 hour car park for all departmental vehicles. A new modern cell block and City Watch House was also sited at the rear of the building. It was the most modern State police building in the Nation for many years and greatly lifted the morale of all personnel who were fortunate enough to be employed there.




Bruce Scotland.

                    We Welcome you …….

Next  meeting,
7th September 07.

Speaker : Tony Elliott.

Subject:  The Somerton
Beach Mystery.

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                This article comes to us courtesy of research carried out by member Jim Sykes.

Police Force.

We are glad to announce the formation of an efficient police force, and one which we trust will enable the colony to get rid of the worthless and desperate vagabonds who have lately been congregating in such numbers from the neighbouring colonies.  10 mounted policemen, with an equal number of foot, are considered sufficient in the present emergency, although, if the marines are not retained, double that force will yet be required.
We regret to state that every obstacle has been thrown in the way of obtaining the necessary funds to meet the expenses of the police establishment of Mr. Resident Commissioner and his friend Mr. Edward Stephens, cashier of the South Australian bank.  Mr. Fisher, who paid £800 for the Canal job without hesitation, positively refused to draw on the Commissioners for a single penny to keep the peace of the colony.  Nor was he content with a simple refusal.  He ventured so far as to declare publicly that any bills drawn by the way Colonial Government on the Lord of the Treasury for this purpose would be dishonoured, and this in the face of no less than two dispatches from Lord Glenelg, expressly authorising the government to raise and an defray the expenses of the police force.  Mr. Edward Stevens, cashier of the South Australian bank, following in the laudable track of the Resident Commissioner, offered publicly to bet 20 dozen of wine to one bottle, that the government bills for the same purpose would be dishonoured.  Mr. Stevens is perhaps a sporting gentleman.  His conduct at least appears to us somewhat out of keeping with his place, and not exceedingly well calculated to advance the interests of the respectable company whose servant he is.  It will no doubt be consolatory to both these considerate persons to know that the money wanted by the colonial government can be obtained at par without their assistance.

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45 year-old Amy Brasher was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, after a  mechanic reported to police that 18 packages of marijuana were packed in the engine compartment of the car which she had brought to the mechanic for an oil change. According to police, Brasher later said that she didn't realise that the mechanic would have to raise the hood to change the oil.

Angaston Folklore.

BY Barry Chinner

Illegal bookmakers and betting Shops.

Legalised betting shops were operating in 1939-1940 and Angaston’s hairdresser, Frank Window was licenced, but betting was banned thereafter and during the war, the bookmakers were only licenced for oncourse betting at the Angaston race track.

These were the days when there were big attendances at the Angaston races, out Stockwell way and large numbers of punters flocked to the bookmakers.
The days of the Angas Racing Stud and Doctor Donald Drever and Mr. Wyndham Smith owned race horses.

Gradually their turnover decreased because of the drift of men to war.  There were known to be some 11 illegal bookies throughout the district, covering Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Truro and Angaston.

In 1944 Angaston Policeman Mr. H.S. Copeland, on the day of the Melbourne Cup, with help of policemen from Truro, Sedan and Adelaide made a raid resulting in 3 bookmakers and a hotel keeper being convicted in 1945.

These three were purported to have retired from bookmaking but there was still one man operating as a bookie, though it was deemed not noticeable to the man in the street, whereas it was quite likely taking place in the rear of the Barber Shop.

In 1947 an application for licenced betting shops brought the Betting Control Board to the district to hear the application.

The application was supported by a partition of residents keen on betting, but it was strongly opposed by Church Groups.

Their opposition was on the basis that betting on horses had an adverse effect on the community – mentally, morally, physically and spiritually.
The same men claimed there was no evidence of illegal betting, therefore the residents were not betting minded.

This was totally untrue and the real irony being that the best witnesses for licensing the betting shops were the illegal bookmakers themselves.

But they would not give evidence in favour of registered betting shops, because that would be the end of their operation.

Illegal bookmaking was very profitable as they did not pay any taxes.  It was a no win situation, as those with knowledge of bookies refused to name names ion fear of a reprisal and the illegal bookies would not name others for the same reason. 

So the bookies continued to operate illegally around the corner, back of the barber shop
or in the bars of both hotels.

Betting slips would be tucked under the band of the bookie’s hat or in his shoe, as it was too easy to be nabbed with betting slips in shirt or coat pockets.

On word of the constabulary approaching a quick trip to the men’s room to hide or flush away the slips.

One renowned bookie by the name of Bill, on the verge of being nabbed, popped slips into his mouth.  A quick chew and a swallow …”No … I don’t have any betting slips officer!”

Never the less, illegal bookies operated in our hotels and the barber shop for the next two decades, till the introduction of the TAB office next to Miles’ deli in 1967.

Our Angaston S.P. Bookies were quite well know men and there was a Colin, Jack, Basil, Bill Stan and others but, like back in 1947, there could be a reprisal from living relatives if I were to supply their surnames.

And I will get in early .. no, Harry Petts was certainly not a bookmaker nor was Tom Dawson.

In the last 20 years of illegal bookmaking the perpetrators were known as s.p. bookies.  The s.p. standing for “Starting Price”.

It was well accepted that better prices could be got at the track with a registered bookmaker, but through the local s.p. bookie, you could place a bet on the phone or in the pub without even putting your beer down on the bar.

The last bookie I recall seeing in an Angaston Hotel was a man of the town, hair somewhat greyed and the ever ready pencil behind the ear, taking footy bets.

As it is today, we have legal betting shops throughout our state and locally in our hotels, all done via modern technology, no need for bookies!

Recognising though … that for some … it does have an adverse effect … not necessarily mentally, morally physically or spiritually, but certainly it can financially affect the family, but it is all legal.

My thanks go to Anthony Schubert for his research work and inspiration for this bookmaker folklore story.

Barry Chinner. 

2007 Christmas/30th Anniversary Celebration.


at the Police Club.




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The “HUE & CRY” is  Published by the
South Australian
  Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539 
Adelaide 5001
S.A. 5083



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