(2001 – 2002)

Presented by President John White
At the SAPHS Annual General Meeting
Thebarton Barracks
Friday 1 February 2002

It is with much pleasure that I present the 25th Annual Report of the South Australian Police Historical Society for the year 2001 – 2002, this being my seventh annual report as President, it provides an overview of the Society’s activities during the past twelve months and highlights and acknowledges the many successes which have been achieved by the Society and its members.

As with my previous Annual Reports I have taken the opportunity to reflect back in some detail on the year.  I believe it is important at such times as this to stop, reflect back and examine the Society’s activities and achievements so as to better enable us to plan and move forward into the next year.

Firstly however, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise those Society members who have sadly passed away since our last annual general meeting.  They are Joe Linnane, who served this Society so diligently as a member of the Executive Committee and was the corner stone of our PR Team and, Russ Hayton who regularly attended and contributed to the Society’s general meetings.  Those members have been sadly missed by us all and again our sympathies are extended to their families and loved ones.

In presenting my report I am conscious that during the last twelve months I have not been able to contribute as much in my role as President as I have in past years.  With an increase in demand in relation to my police duties, coupled with a period of illness and holidays, I have been absent from a number of Executive meetings and several general meetings.  However, with this in mind I have endeavored to make up for my absence in other ways.  I would like at this point of my report to thank the Executive Committee for their understanding and unyielding support and in particular, I would like to thank Owen Bevan and Geoff Rawson for stepping in, often at short notice, and fulfilling the chairmanship role in my absence.

The Society during the past year has continued to remain a very strong, vibrant and successful organisation, both administratively and financially with a pleasing growth in membership.

As in the past twenty-five years the strength of the Society has been in the enthusiasm, dedication and strong commitment by its members.  This year has been no exception with many activities undertaken by the Society including:

It is the activities of the latter group that as in other previous President Reports I would firstly like to make some detailed comment on.  This is because of the importance in where I place this Group and, which in my view, apart from our general meetings, is the backbone and perhaps the ‘heart’ of the Society.  Their work and contribution cannot be underestimated.  The ‘Thursday Group’ as it is known comprises of a ever growing number of volunteers who attend Thebarton Barracks every Thursday and undertake a variety of work for the Society in such areas as research, recording and restoration of memorabilia, artifacts and photographs, vehicle restoration and film archiving, hiring and restoration of police uniforms and answering the many public and internal police requests for historical information .  In fact the term ‘Thursday Group’ is somewhat of a misnomer as I am aware that some members attend at Barracks on many other days, in addition to Thursday.  It is not uncommon for up to twenty members to be regularly in attendance and busily going about their voluntary work.

In regards to this group, I would firstly like to acknowledge Allan Peters along with Dave Aylett for their continued commitment and effort in their research tasks.  I know that Allan and Dave, on behalf of SAPOL and the Society, have answered literally hundreds of enquiries during the year from police, other historical associations and the public concerning police and police related family history.  I am also aware that Alan along with Jim Sykes and with help from Chas Hopkins, has continued to work on a new book relating to the history of policing in the ‘outback’.  It is hoped that the book may be completed and published during this coming year.

Also as part of the ‘Thursday Group’ Stewart Munro and Isabell Brooks have continued with the entry of data onto the Society’s computer system.  The Society’s move towards establishing our own database system was due to the foresight, vision and persistence of Jim Sykes.  I know that Jim, who continues to manage our computer systems, has great pride in our achievements in this area, as we have continued to develop and have one of the largest Police Historical Society databases within Australia and possibly the world, with over 386,000 items of data on the system, being an increase of 113,000 items since my last Report.  Thanks to the foresight of Jim and the efforts of Stewart, Isabell and other members such as Audrey Wallace and Geoff Rawson, that our database of valuable historical information continued to grow and expand during the past twelve months.  Also thanks to SAPOL’s Information Systems and Technology Service who have provided improved computing facilities for the Society during the past year.

Shirley Hayward and Edna Wellington continued with their valuable contribution to the ‘Thursday Group’ along with Audrey Walker and Alf Jarvis who have continued with their great efforts of maintaining the Society’s library, which has continued to grow during the year.  Bob Potts and Jim Sykes along with Ray Killmier and Chas Hopkins have continued to undertake considerable work in their invaluable research and indexing of many hundreds of old PCO files.

Likewise, Dorothy Pyatt has continued with her dedicated commitment to the 18,000 or more photographic collection.  With the valued assistance of Geoff Rawson and Audrey Wallace, approximately 1,900 items of the photographic collection have now been digitally scanned and recorded on the Society’s computer database.  This represents an increase of some 600 items scanned as compared with the previous year.

Rob Thomson has continued with his unassuming and usual dedication of managing the vast collection and hiring of historical uniforms and which continues to be steady source of revenue for the Society.  Until his sad passing during the year Joe Linnane managed the canteen, where members and visitors were assured of a cool drink whilst browsing over the display of Society memorabilia offered for sale.

Alan Hyson also continued with his excellent efforts of maintaining the Society’s film archives, video collection and associated projection equipment as well as being the projectionist at a number of our monthly Friday night meetings.

As part of the broader ‘Thursday Group’, the ‘Vehicle Team’ for want to a better term, comprising of Vehicle Coordinator Rex Greig with Ernie McLeod, Dave Aylett, Frank Connor, Rod Stokes, Mark Dollman and ‘Butch’ Grose, have not only continued to service and maintain the growing collection of historical vehicles in excellent condition, but have continued to devote many hundreds of hours to restoring the FJ Holden, which I am pleased to report steady progress is being made with the re-fitting of the vehicle’s engine being completed only yesterday.  Not only do they attend at Thebarton Barracks on each Thursday, but I am also aware that Rex and his team take many of the vehicle’s parts home for many hours of laborious but loving restoration work.  I am also conscious that in addition to the FJ Holden restoration, the Team also spent many hours in ‘bringing back to life’ in a mechanical sense the Suzuki and Honda motor cycles in preparation for use at the Police Tattoo.  Regrettably, although the vehicles were in the end not used in the Tattoo arena activities, they nevertheless drew much public attention and comment in the main public entrance and foyer to the Tattoo.  If that was not enough, the ‘Team’ also have provided invaluable assistance to Jim Sykes in moving much of the surplus general equipment from the old Driving Wing building to the ‘back sheds’ in readiness for restoration work to commence shortly on the internal part of the building.  Finally, throughout the year the team, assisted by other Society members, also found time to take the Chrysler Royal Highway Patrol car to many public displays and events, including the Australia Day Parade, the annual Toy Run and a number of Christmas pageants and other historic and community activities .  Many thanks for your efforts and well done.

In addition to those who I have just mentioned there are many others who contributed in a very special way.  A special thanks again to Tony Woodcock, who in addition to always being with the ‘Thursday Group’, has continued to fulfill the important task of Treasurer and meticulously maintained the Society’s financial records and to Stewart Munro who continued to perform the role of auditor.  In addition to his involvement in the Society’s many public activities, Bill Rojas again efficiently and single handedly organised our annual Christmas Card sales, which again resulted in a estimated $1,200 profit for the Society.

The Society has continued to recognise the importance of publicising our activities and to this end I again give a special thanks to Jan Hutchin who this year, as with previous years, single handedly produced, edited, printed and distributed on a monthly basis the Society’s magazine the “Hue & Cry”.  Jan has been our magazine editor for some twelve years and has never missed the regular publication of the “Hue & Cry”.  I know that members look forward to the monthly publication and on behalf of us all I extend a very special thanks to Jan.  Also through the efforts of Jim Sykes, the Society’s WebPage on the Internet has continued to expand with the “Hue & Cry’ now also available on the Web.  Senior Sergeant Charlie Tredrea again made a major contribution to the development and maintenance of the WebPage and a special thanks is extended to Charlie for his assistance and efforts which are truly appreciated.

It is with much regret that Esther Flinn has decided not continue on as a member of the Executive Committee for the coming year.  Esther has been an invaluable contributor over many years to not only the Executive, but as a member of the ‘Thursday Group’ and for the many other tasks which Esther so willingly undertook.  This included her contribution to the Julia Creek Police Heritage activities, for assisting in the Christmas “Chicken and Champagne’ nights and who without fail organised the many raffles for our Friday night meetings.  I extend a special thanks to Esther and I am pleased to advise that a special presentation will be made to Esther at a forthcoming general meeting in recognition of her outstanding service.

Of particular significance this year for the Society was our involvement in the Adelaide Sensational International Tattoo held at the Entertainment Centre last September.  Thanks to the Tattoo organising committee and in particular through Senior Sergeant Bob Fisher, the Society was given the opportunity to not only participate in the Tattoo but also to raise funds through the creation and sale of official Tattoo merchandise.  To say that our involvement in the Tattoo was a huge drain on the Society and its members would be an understatement. The commitment involved not only many months of planning and preparation in identifying and preparing the many photographs and items for display, to restoring the Suzuki and Honda motor cycles into a working and rideable condition and to developing the range of official Tattoo merchandise, but also many many long hours of commitment of members’ personal time and effort during the actual Tattoo, with days starting at 10 AM and concluding on one occasion at 2 AM the next day.  It is fair to say that as President I under estimated the commitment and drain on the Society, but from which I can report we learnt and gained much valuable experience.

Whilst our involvement in the Tattoo was a total Society ‘team effort’ there are several people in particular who I would like to recognise and extend my heartfelt thanks.  They are Geoff Rawson who took on the role of Coordinator and did such an excellent job, Bill Rojas who managed the ‘merchandise shop’, Rob Thomson who fitted out with historic police uniforms to eighty or so Tattoo volunteers and to Rex Greig who coordinated the vehicle display.  I am conscious that nearly thirty Society members contributed in some way to our involvement.  Whether through involvement at the Working Bee held to prepare the display items, in organising the merchandise, arranging and manning the displays, driving the bus, arranging the money float, coordinating and selling the Tattoo programs or staffing the merchandise shop, I say “well done” and a sincere “thank you” to you all.

I personally know that the Tattoo organising committee did appreciate our involvement and I have much pleasure in passing onto the Society this evening a certificate of appreciation from the Commissioner of Police and a magnificently framed picture presentation of the Tattoo.  In closing on this subject, although the Society did not raise as much money as first hoped, I am nevertheless pleased to advise that in excess of $12,600 was raised in addition to $1200 received for uniform hire and maintenance and $1873 worth of Society merchandise was also sold.  All in all, not a bad effort and which has certainly boosted the Society’s funds during this year.

Although I have briefly mentioned the Police Foundation Day held in April and the Police Historical Heritage activity and Society Anniversary dinner held in October, I would like to thank all Society members and friends who again strongly supported these activities.  For example, in excess of one hundred and fifty people attended the Police Heritage unveiling at Kapunda and some eighty members and friends attended the Anniversary Dinner.  These activities of course do not just happen.  Again the special efforts of Bob Potts and Bill Rojas were pivotal to the Police Foundation Day and Kapunda heritage activity and a special thanks must be extended to Senior Constable Chester Geue for his contribution to the Kapunda heritage activity.  Also a special thanks to Tony Woodcock who again organised the well attended and successful anniversary dinner.

Also on a positive note I would like to thank the Society members for your excellent support of all activities throughout the year and for the constant high number of members who attend our monthly Friday night meetings.  The meetings have been supported by a varying range of excellent speakers.  I know that Owen Bevan has already arranged an interesting program for the coming year and I can only encourage all members to continue with your support as it is this which makes this Society so successful.

Whilst I have spent much time highlighting the many achievements and success of the past twelve months, unfortunately I have to report that due to building maintenance our temporary museum continued to remain closed to visitors.  The Society has previously prided itself over many years of being able to provide a public historical police museum display which has been sought after and well attended by community groups.  This has been in support to SAPOL’s community relations and crime reduction strategies.  However, I am pleased to report that funding has now been provided for maintenance and restoration of the interior of the former ‘Driving Wing’ building and when completed later this year will enable the Society to once again re-establish our temporary museum, with the eventual aim to providing a more permanent and professionally presented facility.

I would also like to record my appreciation for the support and commitment of all members of the Society’s Executive Committee.  In particular to Owen Bevan who acted as President and Geoff Rawson who chaired several general meeting during my absences.  Such an opportunity such as this cannot go by without recording my special thanks to Bill Rojas for his outstanding dedication and to Bob Potts, who never faltered in his role as Secretary or in his total commitment to this Society.  I would also like to acknowledge the personal interest and support provided by Chief Inspector Bill Prior to the Society since taking up his position as Officer in Charge, Community Programs Section, of which the Historical Section is part of.  I am pleased to advise that Chief Inspector Prior has offered his services as a member of our Executive Committee for the coming year.  To have Bill’s involvement is very positive and encouraging for this Society.

As I have done in previous annual reports I would like to put on record the overall success of this Society in preserving and recording the proud history of policing in this State.  The Society has been in existence for some twenty-five years and in that time the members have donated many thousands of voluntary hours.  We have amassed a huge collection of police memorabilia and artifacts, established a photograph collection of over 18,000 photographs, created a database of some 386,000 items and collected over 2,500 uniform items. The Society has a world class collection of international police hats and badges, and established a significant collection of historical police vehicles, including an 1850’s Gold Escort cart, an 1885 horse drawn Black Maria, fully restored a Chrysler Royal Highway Patrol car, a Bedford Riot truck and a variety of ex-SAPOL bicycle and motor cycles.  We have provided reference material and items for a number of Government and community historical units and museums, published a number of books and have contributed in a very significant way to assisting SAPOL by providing an insight into current and historical aspects of policing in this State.  The Society is committed to supporting the many SAPOL public activities and community policing programs both at the corporate and local level.

During this year alone I estimate that Society members have donated in excess of eight thousand hours.  Often the many thousands of people who experience the efforts of the Society believe that it is SAPOL who is providing the service, rather than recognising that it is the dedicated efforts of the Police Historical Society volunteers.  If ever there was a fine example of volunteers in support of policing in this State, then it is the Police Historical Society.  The Society receives little independent financial support is not seeking public recognition of its activities but is rewarded in the knowledge that the members’ efforts are contributing to the betterment of policing in this State and is supporting SAPOL in a very real way in its endeavors.

In conclusion the year has been a busy and successful one.  We have been honoured with the attendance of His Excellency the Governor, Sir Eric Neil.  The Society conducted many successful activities for which it can be very proud.  The Society continued to expand and be strong in all aspects of our organisation.  Further, we have a sound and growing financial base.  Although this coming year will again present us with many challenges I am very confident that we will again be successful and that the year will continue to be a rewarding one.

Finally, with the year 2001 being the “Year of the Volunteer”, I strongly believe that the Society’s members epitomize what the “Year of the Volunteer” was all about.  You can take great pride in your achievements and a special congratulations and thank you to you all.  I thank you for the opportunity and honor to be your President for the past twelve months and with you, I look forward to the continued growth and success of this Society in the coming year.

Thank you

John White

In Memory of

15 February 2002
presented at his funeral by
South Australian Police Historical Society

It is with a heavy heart and much humility and honour that on behalf of the South Australian Police Historical Society I present this eulogy of our endeared member, outstanding historian and much loved colleague and friend, Robert Jarman Potts.

Bob Potts was a visionary, a person with great foresight, passion and drive.  He was an outstanding leader and a person who was committed to not only serving with great distinction the South Australia Police and the community, but to also ensuring that the proud history of SAPOL was preserved and recorded for future generations.

It was those qualities which led to Bob being at the forefront in founding the South Australian Police Historical Society in 1977.  His commitment to the Society did not start and end there for over the past 25 years he is the only person to have continuously served as a member of the executive committee, and in particular hold the key positions of treasurer, then President from 1989 to 1995 and finally Secretary from 1995 until his sad passing.

In those 25 years Bob played a leading and pivotal role in developing the Police Historical Society from a fledging group of amateur historians into the professional and dynamic Society that it is today.

Bob’s outstanding achievements within the Society are too numerous to list here today.  However, I would like to touch upon a few.  For example 15 years ago Bob’s vision, leadership and passion of police history led to the creation of the now well recognised Police Foundation Day, held on the 28th of April each year to celebrate the establishment of the South Australia Police and which now forms an integral part of SAPOL’s annual activities.

Bob was also a key figure in the establishment of the police museum in the old police barracks at North Terrace and instituted the Society’s police heritage activities, which has seen the unveiling of a number of plaques to mark important police historical sites around the State.  Further, Bob was co-editor of the book ‘Tales of the Troopers’ and was founder of the Police Historical Society’s field excursions, during which only Bob could keep a bus load of society members and friends fully entertained with endless fascinating details of police history from around every corner the excursion bus turned.

Strongly supported by his beloved wife Joy, Bob travelled throughout the State seeking out, identifying and recording areas of significant police historical importance.  His ability to record and recall, and his knowledge of police historical sites, buildings, personalities and policing in general was outstanding.  A recognised authority on police history not only in this State, but across Australia, Bob’s views and knowledge were constantly sought by not only Society members, but by police, students and researchers of history, the community, media, local government and other history and heritage organisations.  He had an unfailing passion and enthusiasm not only for police history, but also in saving and preserving police establishments of historical significance.  He was instrumental in ensuring the heritage listing of a number of prominent police and court buildings, including only recently, the heritage listing of the old Norwood Police Station.

Bob was an outstanding ambassador.  He was not only the foundation stone of the society but was also the cornerstone.  In 1997, in recognition of his outstanding commitment and service he was made a Life Member of the Police Historical Society.  More recently he was recognised by State Records for his outstanding contribution and drive in undertaking the mammoth task of researching and indexing Police Commissioner files dating as far back as the 1830’s.

Despite his serious illness over the past 5 years and right up until his tragic passing, Bob’s drive, devotion and commitment to the society was unfailing.  Not once did he question or complain about his illness.  Clearly, a lesser man would not have been able to have sustained the high level of devotion and achievement– he was an inspiration.

An example of that devotion was just over a week ago Bob was a guest on a leading radio talk back station where he was scheduled to talk on SAPOL’s history for 10 minutes.  As only Bob could, he was so good that he stayed talking for one hour and was subsequently eagerly sought after by others.

I know that Bob had many unfinished plans and further goals to achieve for the Society.  His passing is not only a great loss to his family and loved ones, but also to the Police Historical Society and the whole of South Australia.  There will never be another Bob Potts.  We have been honored and privileged to have experienced his exceptional and outstanding qualities as a person, Police Historical Society member, historian, colleague and friend.

Bob, you will be sadly missed.  However, your spirit and legacy will remain and be an inspiration and example to us all forever.  Your passion for recording and learning from the lessons of history has placed SAPOL and South Australia on a sound foundation for the future.


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