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September 2005


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Unloading Camels
Port Augusta 1860s

Unloading Camels 1860's


We mourn the sad loss of an old friend and Thursday group volunteer, Rob Thomson who passed away on Monday the 29th  of August 2005.   Rob was one of our life members and is a great loss to the society.  A tribute to Rob has been placed on the back page of this issue. 

By the time you read this article my wife and I will be on our way to the UK and will be back just in time for the October monthly meeting which will feature Errol Chinner as our speaker on the history of Semaphore and Port Adelaide.

Our volunteers have been very busy particularly in the workshop area, where a magnificent cage is under construction for our trailer.  This is designed to be removed when necessary and will enable the safe transport of motorcycles and other materials to events. 


On Monday the 29th August we established a display of memorabilia in the Adelaide Arcade to help celebrate the 120th anniversary of the centre. The display was officially opened on Tuesday the 30th by the Assistant Commissioner Graham Barton to was acting as Deputy Commissioner at the time.  The display consists of a large number of photographs, bicycles, books, uniforms and other artefacts in various locations in the Arcade and is already drawing a lot of interest from the public.


At our monthly meeting on Friday the 2ndSeptember, Mr Dean Solomon gave a very interesting talk entitled “44years of Tip Top baking.” Everyone received a complimentary loaf of bread &  I don’t think any of us will look at a packet of OMO in quite the same light ever again.

   Geoff Rawson


Charles Hopkins

The other side of the man

M.G. (Fred) Trueman  – Chief Superintendent Prosecution Services Branch

As one of SAPOL's living icons probably anyone over 50 years of age has a story about Chas's policing career.

This thought was brought home to me recently at the Police Association Retirement Dinner when Sergeant David Coulter  recounted Chas's leadership of the SAPOL contingent which was sent up to the Darwin cyclone recovery. David's tribute was to Chas's leadership style.
 Apparently, after having arrived in Darwin "the troops" were accommodated in a fairly makeshift shelter and, with a wink and a nudge, Chas was discretely informed that Commissioned Officers were to be accommodated at the Travelodge Motel. This was totally unsatisfactory to Chas who, much to the delight of his troops, bunked in with them and at one stage threatened the Operations Commander that the SAPOL contingent would be returned home unless certain (unspecified) conditions improved.

Needless to say, after the telling of this story, there was a huge applause for Charles who was in attendance at the retirement dinner and who, to my knowledge has been a fairly regular attendee since his own retirement - point made.

This story triggered my own recollections about Chas and an early lesson in not stereotyping people, or "bosses", because these are always interesting "other sides" to them.

As a Cadet in 1973, I was assigned as Chas's driver for two country trips. Chas, along with Mr Maurie Tamblyn, Clerk of the Adelaide Magistrates Court, were responsible for closing police stations and courts, and determining which records were to be archived.  Senior Constable David Madigan and Cadet Peter Jaensch were also involved and they followed in the slow Bedford truck.

I, on the other hand drove Chas and Maurie in one of the early racy 265 slant motor Valiants, equipped with pre-radial "Tiger Paws" and not much else. The truth of the matter is that Chas would have been better served with a horse or perhaps even a donkey! He instructed me that the maximum speed was 80 km/h - the Bedford struggled with 60 krn - 70 km/h - and every time I exceeded it, as I was frequently want to do, I was quickly brought back to heel.

I learnt that Chas was amazingly astute, in many respects. Firstly, he had an amazing grasp of history, geography, plants and crops, which combined with a fairly broad policing history apparently acquired from his detective days. As we drove along he provided a continuous commentary which, sadly was never recorded. Secondly, he became totally absorbed in these commentaries, with appropriate support from Maurie, and when I thought he has was fully focussed I would seize the moment to increase the vehicles speed - only to discover that this broke his focus and resulted in some correction of me. Hence my first lesson from Charlie was not to assume that these reflective commentaries were consistent with dementia.

My second lesson was patience and persistence. Chas could have easily become frustrated and angry with my youthful urges. He didn't. He seemed to understand where I was at, that it was human nature, and quietly exercised his authority. It was an interesting contrast to what I had experienced with less than two years in the job.

The third lesson was about reflectiveness and balance. Chas never rushed, or seemed to make hasty decision's, nor harsh judgements about others. In fact he seemed to be constantly assessing and revising his decisions - we call it strategic thinking in the  21St century. Consequently, what he wanted to achieve and the reason for it was understood. Interestingly, those within the job and those within the country towns we visited demonstrated considerable respect and support of Chas. It was evident that he was well known in the country, probably as a detective who had handled "major" cases, and country people instantly welcomed him back as a friend and protector. Yes, there were many late, late, nights in the country hotels in which we stayed, but it was salutary watching these country folk relating to "the big fella from the city".

I'm sure Chas has little memory of these two trips and none of the lessons I learnt. But that is life. We influence other in ways we don't always know and one of the great riches of SAPOL is having worked with so many diverse, intelligent, and practical people like him.



Whilst researching stories on Women  Policing we came across reference to the National Council of Women publication “Greater than their knowing (A glimpse of South Australian Women 1836-1986) “

We were
fortunate to be able to borrow a copy from the West Torrens Library as this publication is now long out of print If any member has a copy that they would be willing to donate to the Society’s Library please let us know.

Yes we did it again!!  - in our Profile of the Historical Society last month we told you that we had been in our current location since 1966 & you all know that it was 1996.
Sorry Dorothy.  Our proof reader has been given an appropriate cut in pay !!

Stationed for demolition:
     From the Barossa Herald 22.6.05
    Sent to us by member Val Harvey.
With photographs from the Society’s Archives.

Demolition of the Gawler Police Station could start as early as this week to make way for a new single storey building.   Mayor Tony Piccolo & State Infrastructure Minister Patrick Conlon celebrated the start on the new building turning a clod of soil at he Cowan Street Station.

 “The new building will be a positive presence in the Cowan Street streetscape & heritage vicinity of Church Hill”, said Mayor Piccolo.
He said despite the revised plans costing more, it had been important to get the project right by preserving the Cowan Street station’s heritage stables & significant trees.
Gawler Environment & Heritage Association, who had initially opposed the project, have congratulated the council on the new station’s design.

 “Through negotiations with the government we have been able to produce a great win for the local community”, Mayor Piccolo said.  Land at the rear of the building, which had originally been earmarked as surplus to requirements, would be kept for future expansion on the site.

Under the new design, the police station’s boundary would be shifted to allow a better view of the historic, privately owned, courthouse building next door.

The new police station is funded under a partnership with the private sector who will design, construct, maintain & own the building with a guaranteed government lease for 25 years.

After lengthy negotiations, Mr. Conlon last week signed the contract with consortium Plenary Justice.   Mr. Conlon said the provision of functional, energy efficient facilities will enhance police operations.

“This is a major new investment in regional South Australia which will increase efficiency in police & court operations for the benefit of local communities” he said.

The new police station is expected to be completed by March 2006 & the police will operate from temporary offices on the site during he construction phase.
Old Gawler Police station demolished in 1962   

SPEAKER:     Errol Chinner
    History of Port Adelaide & Semaphore

Bar divider

  Women police in South Australia
Celebrating 90 years (cont’d)
Compiled by Editor Elees Pick


In February 1952 Dorothy Pyatt in a hand written letter the then Commissioner Ivor Green suggested that Dorothy sit for the sergeant’s exam.  He pointed out that previously women had been discouraged by Kate Cocks & Daisy Curtis from sitting for such exams, such actions to be left to the “common” men.  Commissioner Green advised that should Dorothy pass she would be appointed Principal & that senior “cats” & “bitches” within the Women Police Office would make life difficult.  Dorothy declined the offer and on the 1st July 1952, at the age of 58 years, Mary Jane Poole was appointed the 5th Principal of the Women Police in South Australia.

 Mary had joined the women police at the age of 32 years & spent her entire service in the Adelaide Women Police Office, except for 2 years spent at Port Adelaide.  During her time as a woman police officer she had been awarded 4 honourable mentions & one special mention, spending the majority of her years investigating abortions with plain clothes male offices. 

One case, which received wide newspaper coverage, was the detection & arrest of two Chinese men in an opium Den.  Women
Police Officers Mary Poole & Margaret Priest understood that a 15 year old girl had been visiting the alleged “opium Den” in Hindley Street.

Following long term surveillance the premises was raided under the direction of Inspector Johns, with the two police women scrambling through a window followed by two foot constables.  The 15-year-old girl, two men aged 55 & 22 years respectively, & a middle-aged woman were detained.  The woman admitted smoking ‘a long thin bamboo thing’ believing it to be a Chinese Herbal cure for asthma.  However, the girl said that she tried it once, found it unpleasant & never bothered again.   She alleged that both men had indecently assaulted her. The younger man was later gaoled for 18 months for indecent assault & charges against the older man were later dismissed. Both men were fined for smoking opium, & it seems likely hat the woman & girl would have been warned of their behaviour.  Mary, Margaret & the two foot constables received honourable mentions for “zeal, acumen & diligence”.

 Early in 1952 an attempt was made to have women police paid 75% of the male wage.  It was not that current pay was to be reduced but that any future salary increases would not be enforced until the desired rate was achieved.  Officially this was listed as a cost saving exercise – by paying the 16 women 75% a saving of 4 full wages would be achieved.  However, the women felt it was an attempt by senior male officers to cut the women down to size, they were seen as apart from the remainder of the force, an exclusive group, whose only criteria for promotion was the number of years served.

In the Government Gazette of the 3rd July, 1952 the new rates of pay were listed for male officers with no mention of the rate applicable to women police.  In August of that year Mary Poole was advised that  “Cabinet has decided, upon the recommendation of the Department of Industry that the recent alteration of rates payable under the Police Officers Award is not to apply to women police & that no future award or basic wage increases shall be applied until such time as the total rates payable reach 75% of the total male wage”

Fortunately, Alvis Brooks, who had joined the Police Association a number of years earlier, was able to call on the association for assistance.  Mary Poole, Alvis Brooks & an association representative called on the Chief Secretary to put their case.  They firmly believed the loss of money was secondary in the fight, the principle of no longer being a full part of the force was the main concern.  Following their representation the Chief Secretary was most impressed with their arguments & told them so.

Shortly after, the original decision was recinded.  As a result, most women became members of the Police Association, an action which previously had been considered improper by the older members of the force.  
Connie McGrath Melva Harris subsequently sat for  & passed the sergeant’s exam.  It has never been determined whether they did so of their own volition or if, like Dorothy, outside influences urged them to sit.

Connie McGrath                                                     Melva Harris                                

did you know    Jim Sykes

                                                                                                                                        By Jim Sykes
In 1886

In 1889

The Chequered Band.
("Sillitoe 'S Tartan')

By Allan L. Peters.


The distinctive chequered band, that adorns caps worn by members of the South Australia Police Force, was first introduced into South Australia by Brigadier John McKinna in 1961.

Soon after his appointment as Commissioner of Police, Mr. McKinna realised that much confusion existed in the minds of the
general public when it came to readily identifying the minor differences that, at the time,  existed between the uniforms of various organisations such as City Council Parking Inspectors, Metropolitan Fire Services personnel, and the' Police Officers.
Whilst on a fact finding tour of Scotland, Mr. McKinna saw the chequered band being worn, and later followed up by letter seeking permission to use the distinctive band in South Australia.

The band had firstly been introduced into Scotland in the 1930s by the newly appointed Chief Constable of Glasgow, Captain (later Sir) Percy Sillitoe for much the same reason that Mr. McKinna had in mind.

Sir Percy, in summarizing the event wrote: -"Another small  innovation which was,  I think,
welcomed, was the fitting of the blue-and-white diced bands around the peaked caps of the police officers.
Frequently in the past motorists had refused to stop on country roads when they were signalled to do so after dark by an unidentifiable figure in cape and cap - and as a motorist myself I cordially sympathized with them, for there was no way at all of knowing if one was being halted by a bona fide policeman or a hold-up man, and one certainly did not wish to risk stopping to find out. White capes seemed impractical, and white caps would not have been sufficiently distinctive. But the 'diced band' of the uniform of the B rigade of G uards w ould b e u nmistakable and seemed ideal, so I borrowed it for my men and it became known as Sillitoe's Tartan.

Since then all the Scottish police forces have adopted it."
Needless to say John McKinna was successful in having the cbequered cap band that we now all know so well, accepted into the dress code of the South Australia Police Force.

It is interesting to note that the South Australia Police thereby become the first police force outside of Scotland to adopt 'Sillitoe's Tartan', which today is accepted almost world wide as the official, police logo

Sources:    -Untitled paper
By - R. J. Potts
November 1995.

Caps and Badges of the
South Australian Police
By - John White.

Cloak Without Dagger
By - Sir Percy Sillitoe.
Pan Books 1955.

Our dear friend and Life Member, Rob Thomson passed away on Monday the 29th August, 2005.


Rob was a respected, and much loved member of the SA Police Historical Society who was a regular volunteer and curator of uniforms.

He joined the volunteer team about 12 years ago, when the society was situated at the North Adelaide Police Station and found uniforms piled up on top of one another.  Through his efforts, the uniform collection grew at one stage to 6,000 items, and various film production companies hired uniforms from the collection for use in television and feature films.  He was involved in the production of a data-base for each item of uniform. 


Rob had a regular place at the table for morning tea and lunch where he enjoyed his very large sandwiches, and the jokes and stories that would spread around the table. 

He was one of nature’s gentlemen, usually seen with collar and tie, while most of us would be more casually dressed.  Always the first to volunteer, he was involved in almost every activity of the society, including the Police Tattoo, Police Expo and our heritage day outings. 

Rob, you will be sadly missed by your friends at Thebarton, and there will always be that place at the table for you. 

Our sympathy to Barbara and the Thomson family for the loss of this wonderful man who was an inspiration to us all.


Goodbye dear friend – we will miss you. 

Rest in Peace


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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