cover photo

Port Adelaide Police Station 1940 - Floral Day

Peter Magerl was our guest speaker for our monthly meeting on Friday the 2nd July 2004.  His subject was the United Nations Peace keeping force in Cyprus and Peter proved to be an excellent speaker.  He provided in depth details of the background and politics involved and used maps and slides to illustrate his talk.  About 50 members thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and question time went on for some 30 minutes, such was the interest.

Dorothy Pyatt, who introduced Peter, surprised us all when she produced some amazing relics of former civilizations in Cyprus.

Colin and Joyce Beames conducted the raffle, which provided around $60.00 to the society.

Work has already begun on next years Foundation Day ceremony which will be held somewhere in the city.  I will provide more information later in the year when many of the issues involved have been settled.

A record has been kept of hours worked by volunteers and the results have proved to be very interesting.

January – 755.25 hours, February 413 hours, March 1308 hrs, April 610 hours; May 507 hours.  These times include travelling time, time given by the Thursday group on various projects, parades and talks given by the society.  The large number of volunteer hours in March represents the enormous amount of work involved in staging the Foundation Day in April.

Dorothy Pyatt has been very busy working on photographs and we now have over 21,000 in the collection, 600 of which need to be indexed and scanned.  We are always looking for volunteers to assist us with data entry of photos and artefacts.  Please give me a ring if you would like to be involved on 83741417.

Roger Hawkes is moving to Newcastle NSW but will remain a member of the society.  Roger is the person with the remarkable memory with numbers and is able to reconcile any police officers ID with the name. 

Next month's meeting on Friday the 6th August will feature Franco Moretti as our guest speaker.  His subject will be the Darwin to Adelaide railway, which should prove to be a very interesting evening. Hope to see you there.


Geoff Rawson

new members

Robert And Kerry MOWDAY
Michael O’NEIL

Norman and Marjorie STACEY

we welcome you



 As the member longest in the service of the South Australian Police Force, Sgt. C. Mitchell has some interesting stories to tell of police work in Adelaide nearly 40 years ago.

When he was sworn in as a foot constable at the age of 21 years in August 39 years ago, the force in Adelaide comprised of only 50 uniformed men, six detectives and eight plain clothes constables. Referring on Thursday to the old times, Sgt. Mitchell said that the west end of Adelaide in those days was very different from its present state.  That part of the city was swarming with women of ill repute, and it was always possible to obtain a drink at any hour of the day or night.  Among the most notorious hotels in those days were the Shamrock, The Ship Inn, the Galatea and the Provincial – all of which frequently provided wild scenes. 

In this connection he recalled an incident in the West end when he saw more “drunks” together in one day than at any other time in his career.  A party of 20 or 30 shearers had come to town on their way to Melbourne.  They resolved to get as many women drunk in that area as possible.  Everyone of the party was reported to have contributed ₤5 to the fund; and eventually as a result. Sgt. Mitchell, then a constable, and his mate arrested 28 “drunks” within a few hours, of whom 19 were women.  Each in court was find 2/6d, the cases being heard jointly in batches of 10.

When he joined the force, Sgt. Mitchell said the Adelaide Police Station joined the General Post office in King

William Street.  (It’s site is now occupied by the northern wing of the G.P.O. Building)  The plain clothes officers’ chief duty was then to suppress larrikinism, and the eight men had four districts, covering the metropolitan area, to look after.  They all carried canes, and punishment was usually administered on the spot, with very good results.  In those days it was quite an ordinary affair for the police to find, in the early morning in the park lands, a man stripped of all his possessions, sometimes even of his clothes.  Assisted to his undoing by friendly ‘decoys’ many a man was ‘dumped’ helpless from a hansom cab, well away from the scene of the crime.

The night life of a certain type in those days in Adelaide was far more extensive than it is today.  Hotels were open until 11 p.m., and well patronised.  After the closing hour, crowds used to make their way to the bar at the Theatre Royal, which also, in its turn, developed an unenviable reputation.

The bar remained open until midnight, after which, thrice a week, the hotels near the East end Market were crowded with customers during all hours of the early morning. Although the front doors of these establishments were closed, the bars were kept open, primarily, for the benefit of market gardeners arriving long before dawn to attend the markets.  In such a way drink was available at all hours of the night, and little or not interference by the Police was encountered.

Recruited under Commissioner Peterswald, the officer later had experience both  in uniform and as a plain clothes officer.  He served about 14 years at Gawler, mostly as Officer-In-Charge, then at Kapunda, Riverton & Wallaroo Mines.  As he will be 60 years of age next February, this police veteran will retire from the force in June, 1929.



I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t nttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olony iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rselut can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.  Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.


Do you have Computer Keyboard skills?  If so, we could use your help  with Data Base Entry.  If you are able to assist please give us a call or just come in on any Wednesday between 9.00 and 2.00 p.m.



Last Month's Cover Photo was purported to be the Olde North Terrace Barracks but as you are, no doubt, aware this was taken at the Thebarton Barracks and the lady receiving her medal was in fact  Melva Harris.

The colour photo shows the red white & blue bunting on the front of the Barrack Master’s Office and the Police Blue & White on the Driving wing & Traffic
 Division Offices .
If any one has any further information, or  if you were there on the day, please let us know.  



Next month's meeting on Friday the 6th August will feature Franco Moretti as our
 guest speaker.  His subject will be the Darwin to Adelaide railway, which should prove to be a very interesting evening. Hope to see you there


  “Well  .......  it was like this ..........”
  Courtesy member Alan Hyson

Have you ever tried to summarise a series of events into just a few words?

The following are true statements taken from motor vehicle claim forms.


 Allan L. Peters

Bushrangers once roamed vast areas of rugged Australian bushland in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, and to a lesser extent, Queensland. They raided isolated homesteads and waylaid and robbed unsuspecting travellers up to, but rarely, if ever, beyond the borders into South Australia, if we are to believe historic authors of these eastern states.    

One such author of the east, stated in the preface to his ‘Dictionary of Australian Bushrangers’, “It was once officially judged that there had possibly been as many as 350 Bushrangers in Australia. Yet here (in his book) are the names of 456”. Surprisingly the book listed just four of this type of criminal as having resided in, or pursued their chosen profession in South Australia.

It has been shown in a recent check of official historic records however, that between the years of 1838 and 1909 no less than 50 individuals whose lifestyle or activities would have define them as Bushrangers, lived or operated at some stage of their career in the colony of South Australia.

Most of the early Bushrangers who moved to South Australia were either escaped eastern state convicts, or ticket of leave men who had served out part of their sentence in New South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).  They had obviously made their way to the free settled colony thinking it to be an easy target for their criminal ways, where quality, spirited horses, and unlimited riches could be theirs for the taking.

Very rarely however, did these law-breakers remain at large in South Australia for any length of time once the attention of the newly formed police force had been aroused.

One of the more notorious Bushrangers to venture into South Australia was Patrick Pelly, also known as the infamous, Captain Starlight. Though some confusion exists as to his true identity and the full extent of his crimes, it is almost certain that he lived in South Australia for about two years, working as a drover.  He is however, not known to have committed any serious offences during that time.

Perhaps among the more documented of the South Australian Bushrangers was the short-lived trio comprising of George Hughes, Henry Curran and James Fox. 

Hughes had been in trouble with the law in his native Gloucestershire at an early age. He and his elder brother were arrested in connection with the robbery and wounding of a local farmer the older brother was hanged for the crime and George transported to New South Wales for life.

In 1839 George Hughes and a fellow convict named Curran managed to escape from New South Wales in their irons and it was said that they endured unimaginable hardships before reaching South Australia.

Eventually the escapees met and teamed up with the young and impressionable James Fox and together the trio took to the bush on a robbing spree.  Police soon arrested them and as they had fired a shot at a young woman during the course of one of their crimes, all three were sentenced to death.

As the Jury had submitted a recommendation for mercy on behalf of James Fox, his sentence was ultimately commuted to that of life imprisonment.  Hughes and Curran however, being repeat offenders were shown no such mercy.
Their execution, in keeping with the custom of the day, was held in public in front of the police barracks on North Terrace at 8 a.m. on March 16, 1840.

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH....................


The following document has been handed to us for publication. It was enclosed in an envelope addressed “To the Rev. Mr. Bickford, Wesleyan Minister, Adelaide,” and marked, “not to be opened or read until After my Death.  -  E.L. Woolcock.”

The last Statement and confession of Elizabeth Woolcock to Mr. Bickford.
Sir i was Born in the Burra mine in Provence of South Australia in the year 1847 my parents names were John and Elisabeth Oliver they were Cornish they came to this Couleney in 1842 but they went to Victoria in 1851. I was left without the care of a Mother at the age of 4 years and i never saw her again until i was 18 my father died when i was 9 years old and i had to get my living until i was 18 and then i heard that my Mother was alive and Residing at moonta mine she wrote me a letter asking me to come to her as she had been very unhappy about me and she was very sorry for what she had done i thought i should like to see my Mother and have a home like other young girls so i gave up my Situation and came to Adelaide my mother and my stepfather received me very kindly and i had a good home for 2 years my Mother and Stepfather were members of the Wesleyan Church and i became a Teacher in the Sunday school for 2 years at the End of that time i first saw my late husband Thomas Woodcock i believe my stepfather was a good man but he was very passionate and determined my late husband was a widower with two Children his Wife had been dead about 8 months when i went to keep house for him against stepfathers wishes i kept house for him for 6 Weeks when some one told my stepfather that i was keeping Company with Thomas Woolcock he asked me if it was true and i told him it was not but he would not belive me but called me a  liar and told me he would Cripple me if i went with him any had not been with the man but i would go with him now if he asked me if the Divel said i should not this took place on the Thursday morning I saw my husband in the evening and he asked me what was the matter and i told him what had taken place the following Sunday he asked  me to go with him for a walk instead of going to Chapel i went and my stepfather missed me from the Chapel and came to look for me and found us both to gether so i was afraid to go home for has he had said he would break both of my legs i was afraid he would keep his word as i never knew him to tell a willful lie so i went to a cousins of my husbands and stoped and my husband asked me if i would marry him and for my

Adelaide Observer, January 3, 1874.
words sake i did we were marride the next Sunday morning by lience after the acquantance of 7 weeks i was not married long before i fownd out what sort of a man i had got and that my poor stepfather had advised me for my good but was to late then so i had to make the best of it i tried to do my duty to him and the children,    but the more i tried the worse he was he was fond of drink but he did not like to part with his money for any thing else and god onley knows how he illtreated me i put up with it for 3 years during that time my parents went to melbourn and then he was worse than ever i thought i would rather die than  live so i tried to put an end to my self in severl diferent ways but thank the Lord i did not succied in doing so as he did not treat me any better and I could not live like that i thought i would leave him and get my own liven so i left him but he would not leave me alone he came and feched me home and then I stoped with him twelve months and i left him again with the intention of going to my Mother i only took 6 pounds with me i came doun to Adelaide and i stoped with my sister i was hear in Adelaide 6 weeks when he came an fetched me back again but he did not behave no better to me i tried my best to please him but i could not there is no foundation at all for the story about the young man called Pascoe he was nothing to me nor i did not give the poor dog  any poison for i knew what power the poison had as i took it my self for some months and i was so illtreated that i was quite out of my minde and in a eviel hour i yealded to the temptation he was taken ill at the mine and came home and quarreled with me and satan tempted me and i gave any poison for i more and i being very self willed i told him that i knew what power the poison had as i took it my self for some months and i was so illtreated that i was quite out of my minde and in a eviel hour i yealded to the temptation he was taken ill at the mine and came home and quarreled with me and satan tempted me and i gave him what i ought not but thought at the time that if i gave him time to preapre to meet his god i should not do any great crime to send him out of the World but i see my mistake now i thank god he had time to make his peace with his maker and i hope I shall meet him in heaven for i feel that god has pardoned all my sins he has forgiven me and washed me white in the precious blood of Jesus i feel this evening that i can rejoice in a loven Saviour i feel his presence hear to night he sustains me and gives me comfort under this heavy trial sutch as the world can never give. Dear friend if i may call you so i am mutch obliged to you for your kindness to a poor guilty sinner but great will be your reward in heaven i hope i shall meet you their and i hope that god will keep me faithfull to the End o may be abl to say that live is Christ but to Die will be gain Bless the Lord he will not turn away any that come unto him for he says come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest I feel i have that rest i hope to die singing Victory through the Blood of the lamb I remain sir Yours truly a sinner saved by grace Elizabeth Woolcock.”

People over 25 should be dead

To the survivors:
According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s probably shouldn’t have survived.

Our cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.)
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a ute on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors! We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.
We ate baking, bread and butter, and drank drink sachets tonnes of sugar, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing..
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. No mobile phones, un-thinkable.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendo 54, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable TV, video tape movies, surround sound, personal mobile phones, personal computers, or Internet chat rooms.

We had friends! We went outside and found them.
We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s home and knocked on the door, or rang the bell or just walked in and talked to them.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of.  They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

And you’re one of them!
Congratulations. Please pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good.


Dorothy is an extremely active and much loved life member of the Society. 

She works very hard and is involved in many voluntary organisations and is a foundation member of this organisation.  The 21,000 photos in our collection are a testament to her work.  She is also involved in reviving gravesites of police officers ensuring that this history will be available for future generations. 

We are very grateful for her valuable assistance in this years foundation day ceremony at Penola and it was her prompting which led us to select Alf Ryan to be the focus of our celebrations.

She continues to amaze us with her enthusiasm, energy and sense of fun.

Well done and thank you Dorothy.

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



Elees Pick........

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