INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Blast From the Past
Letter to the Editor
Volunteers in Action
Next Month's Meeting
We have just completed one of our busiest months with our dedicated band of volunteers attending some 9 different events, both in house & at outside venues. Vice President, Kevin Beare has reported on these in more detail on Page 12 of this issue.
Thanks to all who participated, the feedback has been very positive.
Our congratulations go to Life Member Dorothy Pyatt on being awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday honours. This is a well deserved honour for Dorothy and long overdue. See Page 10 for a full report.
Deputy Commissioner Gary Burns has kindly accepted our offer to be Vice Patron of the Society and will be formally presented with a certificate at our next general meeting.
As it is the 30th anniversary of the Society, the Christmas Dinner will be a combined celebration this year. The committee is examining options but no further details are available at this stage.
The “Friends of the Band” is being re-established and you will notice a program of activities included with this issue. Members of the former “Friends of the Band” will be offered a copy of the Hue & Cry using it as a vehicle to provide information on the Police Band activities as well as our normal information.
At the July monthly meeting Rex Greig announced that the renovation of the FJ Holden is nearing completion and will be available for the Sunnybrae Farm display in October this year. We look forward to seeing the old car in action at last. Well done Rex and to all those who have assisted him.
Our speaker Mick O’Connell was unable to join us owing to a family emergency, but we were fortunate to at last have a copy of a DVD of the highlights of last year’s National Police Memorial Dedication Ceremony, which was greeted with applause from the members present. The raffle raised $69.00 which is a great effort from the 43 members who braved the cold.
Our next meeting on the 3rd of August features Wendy O’Hagen and her subject “My journey to Freedom” Wendy was formerly a worker in our Police Canteen so it should be a very interesting & entertaining night.
The old Order Changeth
By the late Jean Schmaal
One aspect of the “good old days” which appalls a student of the early times of our State is the shocking pictures conjured up per medium of the old newspaper reports of long ago. I refer to the crude and nauseous practice of despatching condemned murderers by public hanging – affairs, which were conducted in the presence of large crowds of spectators, in an atmosphere suggestive of a Roman holiday.
Not all the thirty hangings in the first thirty-five years of the colony were public affairs, for it seems that, by 1861, the vengeance of the law was conducted in private inside Her Majesty’s Gaol.
The first of the unfortunate victims of law was one Michael Magee. Magee was hanged on May 2, 1838 “from a widespread gum tree on the north bank of the little brook that gurgles in the ravine river Torrens’ - it was the only suitable tree on Government land adjacent to the town and was selected as being furnished with a large and projecting bough.”
Magee “drew the crow,” so to speak, in more ways than one. His attempted murder of Sheriff Samuel Smart was unsuccessful, but the attempt was sufficient for Magee to have the dubious honour of being “Jack Ketch’s” first customer. The sight of the execution was all the more ghastly because it was bungled and “there commenced one of the most frightful and appalling sights that never perhaps will again be witnessed in the colony - the executioner was called back to finish off his work, which he completed by hanging on to the legs of the dying culprit, who, after a lapse of thirteen minutes by the watch, was still alive.”
Later . . . “The crowd dispersed here and there amidst a pensive silence, all hearts sickened and sad at the melancholy spectacle, and all of them having ingrained in their memories to their dying day the first execution in South Australia.”
In 1840 George Hughes and Henry Curran paid Society’s price for “firing with intent to murder the wife of Michael Pffender and stealing the amount of £5.” They were hanged at the Police Horse Barracks on North Terrace, and their bodies buried in the grounds of the Adelaide Gaol.
Among the names recorded as being executed “in front of Her Majesty’s Gaol” is No. 16 on the list, William Wright,. Research into this old story brought to light some macabre details of those pioneer times. William Wright came to the “Bushman’s Camp” Inn at East Wellington with another man sometime in January 1853. They began to drink and after a while a quarrel broke out when Wright accused his companion of picking his pocket. Following him outside, Wright became violent, drew a knife from his pocket and forthwith stabbed the alleged offender in the throat, inflicting serious injuries, which severed the carotid artery and jugular vein. Mine Host McPherson of the old pub called to his wife to bring needle and thread, which she did, and the severe wound in the injured man’s throat was quickly stitched together and washed. However, these tender ministrations were to no avail, the wounded man lasted another forty-five minutes before he expired. After the stabbing Wright went for the ferry and got across to West Wellington. McPherson followed him, and the police being absent, took Wright into custody, handcuffed him, took away his knife and put him in a cell. No one seemed to know just who the deceased man was.*
At the ensuing trial the prisoner exhibited a total indifference to his dreadful position, leaving the dock to all appearances utterly careless as to the awful fate which awaited him. His legal representative had pleaded for a charge of manslaughter [with the penalty of transportation for the term of his natural life], it being claimed that the crime was committed in an outburst of passion and could not be called murder. In the midst of a good deal of controversy a verdict of guilty was returned - for the wilful murder of a man - name unknown.
On March 12, 1853, in the fashion of the day and apparently accepted with equanimity, appears a newspaper account of Wright’s last few minutes on earth.
“About 7 o’clock on Saturday morning a strong detachment of the 11th Regiment under the command of Major Moore were marched to the gaol and took up a position inside the gates. A body of the Metropolitan Police under the orders of Inspectors Stuart and Alford were also in attendance and formed a cordon in front of the gallows. The number of spectators prior to 7 o’clock were exceedingly small, not 30 persons being present. A great number, however, followed the military and police and it must have reached nearly 1,000 by 8 0’clock. A large proportion of the spectators, were children and we regret to add that the number of females was almost as great as that of males. At 8 o’clock precisely the unhappy culprit made his appearance at the foot of the fatal tree. A few seconds sufficed for the executioner to adjust the cord, the cap was then drawn over his eyes, and almost directly afterwards the bolt was drawn. It was so instantaneous, and except the usual muscular action, there was no movement of the body after the trap fell. After hanging an hour it was cut down and removed in a shell to the gaol. Wright was about 45 years of age and nothing more is known at present of his history previous, more than that he had formerly been transported from England.”
Number 29 on ghoulish roll of death, is the name of the one and only woman to pay the penalty for murder in South Australia - Elizabeth Woolcock. This execution on December 30, 1873 was carried out for the wilful murder of her husband, Thomas Woolcock. She poisoned him; she is said to have tried her potion out on the family dog beforehand to assure success. Her execution marked the passage of eleven years since the last performed that of Malachi Martin in 1862.**
Details of executions were still being published in the daily paper. In Mrs. Woolcock’s instance - “In a spare leaf in her bible between the Old and New Testaments it was found that she had inscribed a few words to her memory, mentioning her name, her age, and the date of her death. She also, in writing, made full confession of her guilt, stating that she had not been well treated and had been tempted by Satan to carry out the act.”
One wonders, indeed, when bringing facts of those long-dead days to light if they really were “good old days.” Perhaps the tenor of life was slower, but old records show a remarkably large number of suicides; the savage stigma of illegitimacy reveals itself in a unexpectedly frequent recurrence of unfortunate girls answering up to charges of “concealment of birth” when they destroyed their newborn babies, and then tried to hide the evidence of their guilt. One wonders indeed.
*The name of William Wright’s unfortunate victim was later, supposed to be Robert Head.
**A German immigrant named Carl Jung was executed at the Mount Gambier Gaol on November 12, 1871, for the murder of a man named Thomas Garraway.
For further details on Elizabeth Woolcock and her tragic life read: - No Monument of Stone – Elizabeth Woolcock’s struggle for life. Available from the S.A. Police Historical Society.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SOUTH AUSTRALIA
POLICE HEADQUARTERS BUILDINGS.
By Chas Hopkins
It was in 1953 that Adelaide C.I.B. personnel were shifted from the Magistrates Court buildings at No. 1. Angas Street to a double storey building at No. 5 Angas Street. This had previously been used as a boarding house.
Prior to the move, all headquarters personnel were located in the Magistrates’ Court building except the Central Country Division staff who had previously been shifted to an office in the Savings Bank Building in Gouger Street.
The police had occupied the Court building since the 1860’s when it was vacated by the Supreme Court Staff who had moved to their newly constructed premises on the opposite corner of King William Street. Previously the Magistrates’ Court and Police Headquarters staff were both operating in the General Post Office building in King William Street.
For many years prior to this move, the Police Administration had been poorly organised, to the extent that practically all police premises throughout South Australia were in a state of decay and this also applied to their equipment, in particular motor vehicles.
The staff of the C.I.B. comprised about 50 personnel and they were located in four rooms that were suited for about a quarter of that number. There were insufficient stools or chairs to sit on, the typewriters were worn out and had previously been passed down from other government departments. There were only about 12 motor cars for the use of all departmental personnel and many of them were of early vintage. When used they had to be driven by a driver from the Transport Section. There were frequent breakdowns as most of the vehicles had travelled close to 200,000 miles.
When the move occurred, it was like moving into a palace and it was then that separate squads were formed to cater for specialist investigations on the various types of crime e.g. Homicide, Breaking, Fraud, Motor Vehicles etc..
The Women Police also moved from the Court building as the C.I.B. shifted, and occupied a single storey building which had previously been a Boarding House adjacent to the C.I.B. building,
Just prior to the C.I.B. move the police garage, the storage area for the police motor cycles, and the bicycle shed which were all segregated in one large shed at 3 Angas Street on the eastern side of a laneway of the court building. This gave access to the City Watch House and other offices located at the rear of the Court building.
This building was dismantled and taken to the Thebarton Police Barracks where the police garage and workshops were re-established south west of the stable complex. The workshop previously had been operating from a room at the rear of the garage and their personnel were mainly operating a hoist sighted in the open space adjacent to the police recreation rooms. This building was a two storey structure consisting of a billiard room, library and meeting room. This building had been constructed in about 1920 and the hall was used by the Police Association prior to moving to their own building in Carrington Street in 1958.
When the C.I.B. and Women Police moved to their new accommodation, this recreation building was used to establish a Police Canteen on the ground floor. Previously this had been used as a billiard room and the billiard table was moved to the first floor where the Association members used to congregate. A piano housed in this room was transferred to the Association’s new premises in Carrington Street. At that time a memorial was located on the entrance wall immediately in front of the staircase, to honour those members who enlisted in the 1914 – 1918 world war.
When the building was demolished in about 1962 when the new Police Headquarters building was constructed, the memorial was removed and has now been placed in the Jean Schmaal Meeting Room at the Headquarters of the S.A. Police Historical Society Inc. at the Thebarton Police Barracks. When the police canteen operated from this building it enabled police personnel to purchase all of their grocery requirements there at discount prices.
The canteen was staffed by three members who were incapacitated due to ill health. They were supervised by Senior Constable Russell Walters. When the new Police Headquarters building at No. 5 Angas Street was completed, the canteen was moved into the basement of that building and remained there until it was eventually closed down prior to the building being demolished for The Federal Court building which was erected on the site in 1995.
To be continued.
Further Historical notes taken from letters written by William Charles Miller to Eleanor May Ewens.
Palmerston August 17th, 1910.
This is likely to be my last letter from Port Darwin for some time. All the others will be overland via Camooweal. There is an overland mail every six weeks at Borroloola but I thing that I told you in my last letter. Am leaving here on the 18th inst and will be glad when I get away as there have been so many delays. That is the last wire for some time. Borroloola is 400 miles from the nearest telegraph station which is the Catherine. I am feeling A1 in excellent spirits and am going out with an easy heart and mind. Per parcel post I am sending a small parcel of silk. I do not know if it is very good. It ought to be but men are so easily taken down in that line. They told me that the two tray clothes are Japanese and hand painted and that there was four yards in the blouse piece. Is that enough. If so, wear the blouse [that is if you make it up] on your birthday, and hurry up and send me a photo.
I could not play crib before I met you. The Rev, Ayscough has had several tries to beat me but so far has failed.
Borroloola N.T. via Camooweal September 4th, 1910.
This is Sunday morning. Left Port Darwin on August 18th at 6 p.m. by S.S. Nelson. There was a crowd to see me off including our local lawyer Mr. Mallen, Rev. Ayscough, Jack Johns and about 6 young men pals of mine. There was only one passenger besides myself, a Mr. Amos manager of McArthur River Station, the homestead is about 40 miles from here. He is about 35 years of age, single and well educated and very nice young fellow. We had a very rough trip but I never missed a meal and we got to the mouth of the McArthur on 25th August. The following morning we transhipped into a steam launch and with a lugger in tow proceeded up stream to Borroloola which is about 45 miles. After travelling about 20 miles the lugger went aground on a sandbank so we left her there and went on. About 9 p.m. our launch went aground, but two natives dived in and pushed her off and we eventually reached here at 11.30 p.m. A police tracker was there and carried my swag to the police station where I met M.C. Higgs who was nearly mad with
delight at the thought of getting away from here. M.C. Stott was away, had started that afternoon for Darwin as he thought that the boat had met with an accident and he had to attend the criminal court on September 12th. However we sent a black boy out who overtook him and M.C. Stott returned the following day, very glad at being saved a 600 mile trip on horseback. Stott is very Scotch but appears to be very excitable, in build resembling Shanks only a lot stouter. M.C. Stott has the best station from a financial view in the N.T. and the junior under him the worst. Stott is Clerk of the Court, Postmaster, Keeper of Gaol and other offices all of which he is paid extra for besides drawing 6/- per day for two trackers. While he is away I have to do all these duties for nothing and pay £1 per week for board at the hotel. One of the trackers is a source of annoyance. He has been with Stott about 20 years and being made so much of by Stott fancies that he is on a level with the junior M.C. in fact he told Higgs so. Stott and Higgs left here for Darwin on 30th August and Stott will not be back until the middle of November. I cannot go on patrol as there are three prisoners in goal doing 6 months each. The police station here is one of the best I’ve seen and reflects great credit on Stott. About 400 yards away is the Court House which is my quarters also the Library of over 2,000 books. At present I am reading Adam Bede. My quarters are very nice but at present I must live in the police station. There are only two other places in town, the hotel and store and the usual black’s camps scattered about. I am perfectly happy and contented with Borroloola at present whether Stott will make a difference to me when he comes back I don’t know nor don’t much care. We have a grand library here and I am Librarian an entirely honorary position
Next Month William takes up building duties &
makes a new friend.
On Friday evening, lst June, 2007, along with other members of the S.A. Police Historical Society, I went on a conducted tour of Adelaide Gaol.
Whilst walking around and viewing various exhibits in showcases, I noticed inside one case, a black peaked cap made from cardboard, a pyjama jacket dyed blue and a grappling hook made from a metal leg off a chair, with a length of rope attached. I immediately identified these items as the subject of an investigation I carried out in 1983 at Yatala Prison. This was confirmed by the date on the exhibit label attached to the jacket. The Tour Guide then briefly referred to the items explaining that a prisoner had tried to escape disguised as a Prison Officer.
This was further confirmation of my Investigation.
In May, 1983, I was directed by the Executive Director of Correctional Services, John Dawes, to investigate an incident which had occurred at Yatala Prison. Prior to leaving Head Office to visit the Prison, I was advised by at least three experienced employees, that this was an internal enquiry and not a Police matter. They explained that Police advice, given in previous incidents, had been that the prisoner had to be outside the prison boundary fence before it was considered he had escaped. I didn’t enter into any discussion and decided that I would consider the outcome of my investigation before expressing an opinion and making recommendations.
Enquiries revealed that the prisoner had been locked in the Security and Discipline block, a stone building surrounded by a narrow path and a 3 metre high stone wall. It stood alone in the main yard and had about 10 cells.
He had sawn through the steel bars of his cell window, climbed through, dropped down onto the path, scaled the wall and descended into the Main Yard.
A Prison Officer on duty inside the Sally Port at the Main Gate, happened to be looking out in the direction of the main yard and saw the prisoner disguised as a Prison Officer, walking in a Westerly direction. The Officer raised the alarm and a search discovered the prisoner still disguised, hiding underneath a table in the Visitors Centre. He had with him the grappling hook. These contraband items were taken from him for exhibit purposes. He was issued with fresh clothing and locked up again.
After establishing these facts, I suspended my enquiries. It was my belief the occurrence was a Police matter and, confident that there was sufficient evidence for the Police to charge the prisoner with the criminal offence of attempting to escape from prison, I did not interview the prisoner.
On arriving back at Head Office, I made my views known to the Executive Director. A report was submitted to the Crown Law Department requesting a legal opinion. When their reply was received, it supported my conclusion.
The Police were informed, investigated and charged the prisoner with attempting to escape He was convicted and sentenced.
Three police grey mares may help the Police Department to solve the problem of replacing its horses. The mares are Queale, Wykoo and Valda, who are in foal in a paddock flanking Yatala Prison. Traditionally, the SA Police Force uses grey horses and because of the shortage of suitable greys the Department has turned its hand to breeding.
ALBERT JAMES KEOUGH
respected member of the Historical Society
The South Australian Police Historical Society’s office received a visit on Thursday June 14, from Mrs. Kathie Parres (nee Keough), and it was at this time we learned of the passing of her father, former Police Officer, Albert James Keough on June 8, 2007.
Albert, known to his colleagues and friends as Alby was a member of the Water Police and served aboard the Harbour Patrol Launch “Archie Badenoch” for many years.
Throughout the years Alby kept in close contact with many of his of his fellow crew members including Herb Laslett, who we are informed, died in 2003.
Kathie Parres, who now lives in New Zealand, in company with her sole surviving brother Mark, and sister Joanne (Shearer), and other close family members accompanied Alby’s ashes on a final journey aboard the Archie Badenoch at 2.30pm on Friday June 15 at which time a ceremony was held and the ashes scattered in the Port River, in accordance with Alby’s final wishes.
REST IN PEACE.
Life Member Dorothy Pyatt was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours this year with an Order of Australia Medal.
This is a long overdue award for a member who has contributed so much for so long to the SA Police Historical Society. Dorothy is a Foundation member of the Society and was very interested in Police History well before the formation of our organisation.
She was a Women Police Officer who worked the far northern areas of the State in her early days, working with CIB and in some of the most difficult and remote areas.
After serving in Germany with the British Women’s Royal Voluntary services she returned to SA and became a Women Police Auxiliary working with Adelaide CIB.
She is involved in a large number of organisations in which she gives her voluntary time and has been largely responsible for the 24,000 photographs now held by the society.
Her participation has not stopped at photographs, she has been involved in all aspects of the society at one time or another whether it be caring for and preserving of artefacts and photographs, or when volunteers are required for such events as Open Day, Police Expo, Foundation Day and other major events.
She is also the driving force behind the restoration of police graves, by locating them and co-opting help from the Police Association where required .
When we consider that this remarkable women broke her hip several years ago requiring a full hip replacement she made a quick and full recovery. Her energy and enthusiasm is an inspiration to all who work with her.
We congratulate you Dorothy on this well deserved honour.
FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT
During the months of May & June 2007 our volunteers have probably experienced their busiest times yet ,with many outside & internal visits attended, as well as the normal Wednesday & Thursday working days at the Barracks.
Friday 1st June Meeting - 40 Members enjoyed a visit & comprehensive tour of the Old Adelaide Gaol. We are looking forward to a return lunchtime visit by Gaol staff & volunteers on Saturday the 21st July.
Sunday 3rd June BBQ, & Tour by 31 Members of the Birds of A Feather Antique Society.
Wednesday 6th June President Geoff spoke to some 50 ladies at The Currie Street Education Group giving them an insight into the History of the Women Police in S.A.
Thursday 7th June I spoke to 25 members of the Clayton Wesley Church Fellowship, & was fortunate to meet Mrs. White, mother of Paul White current Commissioner of the N.T. Police. A cash donation was also received.
Friday 15th June 24 members of the Antique & Historical Arms group enjoyed a night time tour of the museum.
Sunday 17th June A tour group of 13 people organised by Former Commissioner David Hunt enjoyed a BBQ lunch & Museum Tour.
Wednesday 20th June President Geoff gave a Power Point presentation to a captive audience from the Port Adelaide historical Society.
Sunday 24th June
21 enthusiastic members of the Friends of the Maritime Museum enjoyed Devonshire tea & a Museum Tour.
Monday 25th June
As a result of my visit to St. Anthony’s Parish Social Group at Edwardstown arrangements are now in hand for two visits to our Museum, together with 2 more talks to other outside groups. They also made a generous donation to our funds.
These Museum tours are becoming more and more popular - raising , not only our profile, but also that of SAPOL within the Community. Our sincere thanks must go to all the members, too many to list here, who made these visits such a tremendous success.
At this stage the month of July is considerably quieter, no doubt, in view of the inclement weather predicted.
The “HUE & CRY” is Published by the
South Australian Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539