JUNE 2001


The Executive and all members of the S.A. Police Historical Society wish our President, John White, a speedy recovery from his recent illness.
We hope to have him ‘back on deck’, A.S.A.P.!

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THE GUEST SPEAKER for our meeting on JULY 6, 2001, will be Mr Graham January - author. His topic will be -

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Claire LYNCH
...we welcome you



wearing cape and shako cap.

This photograph is believed to have been taken in the 1800’s near the Police cells which were situated at the rear of the former Police Station which faced King William Street, Adelaide north of Franklin Street and adjacent to the GPO building. When Police and other public service functions moved from this building, it was demolished and the GPO was extended northwards. Although the extensions were built to the same design as the original GPO building, the location of the original Police Station can be seen as the stone used in the extensions to the GPO is a slightly different colour even though it was obtained from the same quarry area; (believed to have been the Tea Tree Gully.)

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Lunatic Challenges Governor to Duel.
(complied by B. Rojas)

From the archives of policing history comes this interesting and true tale. In 1904 a disturbed man named F.W.W Corke sent a threatening letter to the then State Governor, Sir George Le Hunte, KCMG. As a result of having his previous correspondence ignored (the specifics of which are not given), Corke felt sufficiently aggrieved to challenge the Governor to a duel no less - a practice outlawed since the 1600’s by Elizabeth I.

It could be presumed that, if the contents of Corke’s previous correspondence were sufficiently outrageous, they may well have been ignored. The issuing of an actual threat however could not.  It was of enough concern to warrant the assistance of then Chief Secretary, The Hon. John G. Jenkins; and it fell to him to initiate some attention to the matter.

Jenkins enlisted the assistance of the then Commissioner of Police, Colonel Lewis Madley.  Madley instructed Inspector John S. Shaw to launch an investigation. Shaw in turn tasked Mounted Constable First Class Fred K. Gardener to make inquiries about Corke; presumably to gauge the actual level of threat he may pose. Gardener’s report follows Corke’s letter. Note Commissioner Madely’s reply, when reporting back to the Chief Secretary.


(Corke's letter to the Governor)

Lake Albert
11 March 1904

With those continuing circumstances in view that do and must accumulate through your neglect of my questions in letter of  February, I must proceed to a cause or challenge.

I am the author of several books and a multitude of other works, all of them dealing with the hopes of Christianity and written under the influence of audible instruction, as is this letter of this present time.

I therefore, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, pronounce a case against you until such time as I shall have ample satisfaction, and or, a measure of my satisfaction for the many wrongs inflicted in His Glory, or in South Australia in neglect of, or against my rights and person, or until such time as you shall have died by my hand in fair and predetermined fight.

I would suggest the small sword and hope that, in view of my present circumstances which prevent my travelling, you will bring two swords to my camp on the Coorong, Hundred of Bonney.

I am Sir,
Yours truly,
F.W.W. Corke
To the Governor
State of South Australia
Forwarded to the Commissioner of Police for report.
J.G. Jenkins
C.S. (Chief Sec.)
Insp. Shaw.
L G Madley
Forwarded to M.C. Gardener
For inquiry & report.
John Shaw

(Report from Mounted Constable 1st Class, Fred K. Gardener to Inspector Shaw)

Wellington Police Station
21st March 1904

I have the honour to report for your information vide the attached correspondence that the writer of the letter (addressed to His Excellency the Governor) is a fisherman and is at present residing near the ‘Needles’ in the Coorong where he has a Hut.

This man, F.W.W.Corke, has been wandering about the Coorong fishing before I was stationed at Wellington, and I am informed is well known “at the Goolwa” (sic). He is looked upon by the residents of Meningie and the surrounding district as a harmless lunatic, and is generally perfectly rational; but at times he has hallucinations or delusions, tending to show religious mania in a very bad form. If interfered with he would probably become dangerous, being a very powerful man and of ungovernable temper when excited. I understand he has given trouble to the Goolwa Police.

Corke’s camp is about 36 miles from Wellington and the nearest Doctor from his camp, via Wellington, would be Murray Bridge; a distance of 58 miles. It would necessitate Trap hire and assistance should it become necessary to have him examined by a medical man.

I would respectfully suggest that, with necessary assistance, he should be brought to Goolwa by boat, for examination.

I have the honour to be,
Your Obedient Servant,

Fred K. Gardener M.C. 1st Class

J. Shaw Esq.
Inspector of Police
Respectfully returned to
Inspector Shaw with report as
Fred K. Gardener
M.C. 1st Class
(Commissioner Madley’s report back to the Chief Secretary)
Respectfully returned to the Hon. The Chief Secretary, I have give instructions that if this man [Corke] attempts to leave the district, or breaks out into a dangerous mood, to have him at once arrested and taken before a Magistrate.


L. G. Madley
Commissioner of Police
22/3 /04

The Police Station that never was.
You could be forgiven these days for driving past the small township of Cobdogla in the riverland without seeing it. Since the building of the bridge over the River Murray near Kingston-on —Murray, and the major changes to the Sturt Highway that accompanied the bridge development, general and interstate traffic has by-passed it.

No longer do the rumbling semitrailer and scurrying tourists clog up the main street, and this small local centre has reclined to become a quiet but interesting spot to explore near the river just off the busy main highway.

Yes, if you look close enough in the very good caravan park there you can find the remains of the chimney of the early Cobdogla homestead, whose owners are believed to have been the Chambers brothers, who provided horses for exploration and early police duty. You can also visit the irrigation museum which features many interesting exhibits including the wonderful Humphrey pump which lifts huge quantities of water from the river by the explosion of ‘producer gas’.

But can you find the police station? For a location that is recorded as having a police station in 1954, surely there would be some remains of a purpose-built police station building, or evidence of rented premises used for police purposes.

Without any doubt the police station at Cobdogla is recorded in the files at State Records, and on a comprehensive list of police stations held by this Society as being established in 1954.

Being one of the few police stations the location of which is not known, the challenge to find it was on!

Because police personnel have often been deployed at the sites of major civil works projects to keep the peace and maintain order and law etc, especially those with large numbers of labourers, navvies etc., perhaps its establishment related to this? Maybe this could have related to the building of irrigation channels or pipelines? No evidence was located.

Perhaps local historical publications could hold the key? No evidence again.

Maybe a local historian could assist with some information? Still nothing!

Surely there might be some information in the Police Historical Society’s records, drop files etc? Again the results were negative.

So in the time-honoured traditions of policing, let us go back to the source of the information.

We find that in the State Records GRG5 Series List records there were just 2 volumes for Cobdogla, and relating to the ‘Register of Shops’. Nothing else! No station journals, no inquest registers, no prisoner’s charge book etc.

Now any police member with any past country policing experience will know that over the years many police personnel at many police stations had to perform all kinds of ‘extraneous duties’, often in the absence of any other government representative to do them.

Yes, the officer in charge at a number of locations was the Registrar of Shops, and maintained a register re locations, conditions of trading, proprietors etc. So what did the two books reveal? To anyone without a police background they did not reveal very much, but some clues were there, for alongside of an occasional entry on some pages there was a name or names, which varied over the years. Perhaps these names were relevant to the location of the Cobdogla police station?

To cut the story a bit shorter, it eventuated that these names were those of the officers in charge of the nearby Barmera police station over the period of time from 1954 to 1960. Further research showed that the district of Cobdogla (named after the very early grazing ‘Cobdogla run’) goes back well before the establishment of the town of Barmera nearby in the 1920’s.

There is little doubt that although the town of Barmera had grown to completely overshadow the town and district of Cobdogla, the name of Cobdogla’ continued to apply to a number of functions in the area that included Barmera. Thus the Register of Shops applied to the ‘Cobdogla Shopping District’, which not only included Cobdogla but also Barmera, Loveday and the surrounding area.

It was the responsibility of the officer in charge of Barmera police station to maintain the Register of Shops for the Cobdogla Shopping District, and the latter was the title used on the books.

So when large quantities of police station books etc. were collected in about 1969 and lodged at the then Archives (later State Records), the Cobdogla Register of Shops was included in the Barmera police station books. As the books had emanated from police station records and showed the name ‘Cobdogla’ on them,, the archiving staff at the time filed them under ‘Cobdogla police station’, and this incorrect assessment was recorded and repeated.

Thus began the legend of ‘The Police Station that Never Was.’

I conclude with that time honoured and well known police phrase     No further enquiries desired!

Bob Potts



Twas Christmas, December 1996

The Wounding of Constable Kennett.
Allan L. Peters.

Whilst on night patrol in Adelaide, on February 10, 1841, Police Constables William Reid and Thomas Kennett came upon a group of people involved in a very heated and noisy quarrel. The two officers of the law interposed to prevent any further disturbance. Finding that the rowdy arguers would not desist, the constables took two men and a woman into custody and began to escort them along the roadway towards the Police Station.
While crossing Curie St., the man in Constable Reid’s custody, struck at his captor, broke free, and ran along King William St.. The two policemen pursued the fleeing escapee and soon began to overtake him. As the gap between the policemen and their former captive narrowed Constable Reid drew out his baton with the intent of striking at the man to stop him.
It was at this point that Constable Kennett saw the man stumble and fall as he attempted to take something from his breast pocket. Unable to pull up in time Reid crashed into the man as he fell and both pursuer and pursued hit the ground.
The escapee was first to his feet and started off once more this time with Constable Kennett close behind. As they neared the Southern Cross Hotel the man turned and pointed his right hand containing a small handgun in Kennett’s direction and fired. Kennett felt something hit his right arm but continued, with Constable Reid, to pursue the offender.
As the two policemen rounded a corner they found fellow policeman, Constable John Kirby with the offender secured. Kirby having heard the report of the gunshot, and a cry of, “Stop the murderer,” from Sergeant Daniel Crosby, who had witnessed the latter part of the chase, had fortunately been in a position to do just that.
The pistol used in the affray was thought to have been loaded at the time with shot rather than with a solid ball, for the wound, in Thomas Kennett’s right arm, though quite deep and painful, was very small in diameter.
The offender, a man named John Wilson, was brought before the Court on March 6, charged with firing at Constable Thomas Kennett with intent to commit murder, a charge which if proven carried the penalty of death.
The case occupied most of the day and ended with the jury returning a verdict of guilty.
The Judge, in accordance with the law, then sentenced Wilson to death.
The death sentence was shortly thereafter commuted, and John Wilson was placed aboard the Dorset, on March 17, 1841 and transported to Sydney to serve out his time in the dreaded penal settlements of  N.S.W.

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10 years                                         From The Murray Pioneer
March 15, 1991
BODY HUNT: Police yesterday finished an extensive three-day search for human remains on the Cobdogla Flats between Cobdogla and Kingston-On-Murray. It is believed the police were searching for the body of schoolboy Michael Black, who disappeared from Murray Bridge in January 1989. The search concentrated on a 500 square metre area about 100 metres off the Sturt Highway on the Kingston Causeway.
75 years                          From The Murray Pioneer
March 26,1926
POLICE PROTECTION - The question of obtaining police assistance in dealing with  patients exhibiting violent tendencies was again discussed at the meeting of the Renmark Hospital board on Friday.  It was resolved that special representations be made to the chief secretary through the inspector general of hospital

(contributed by Ray Kilimier)



After watching the shoot of the six-inch guns at Fort Largs yesterday, civilian spectators left with the impression that the oft-derided fort is a real protection to the port.

The tactical scheme of the shoot was that a raider had come up the gulf to shell the Birkenhead petrol installations and the Osborne Power House. To complete the do-or-die venture, the commander intended to block the entrance to the harbor by sinking his ship in the channel after causing destruction.

In drafting the exercise, it was felt that the militia gunners could at least cripple the raider in the first series of 14 shots. A second burst when the ship turned around would finish her.

But in actual practice with the moving target, the second series of shots was not necessary. Observers on the tug Vigilant, which towed the target, plotted the fall of the shells on a chart and this showed that a direct hit was achieved with the fourth shot, and that four others followed.


There were three direct hits in the second series of shots. One shell which was deflected passed only 100 yards astern of the tug, but fell about 400 yards away. From the shore, the columns of water marking its fall appeared much closer.

The battery commander for the shoot was Captain McLaughlin.”


Among items confiscated by Customs Officers at Sydney Airport in 1978 were:-

(Copy of Newspaper Article)


Mr Edward Allchurch, ex-sergeant of police, and fine old colonist, died at his residence, High Street, Glenelg, early on Thursday morning at the ripe age of 88 years. The deceased was a native of Deptford, Kent, England, where he was born on November 16, 1828. In 1854 he joined the Brighton police, in which service he remained for nearly nine years. During his stay at Brighton he had several exciting experiences. On one occasion he nearly lost his life while endeavouring to capture a burglar. In consequence of the slowness of promotion and the poor pay  a Brighton policeman’s salary in those days amounted to only 19/6 a week — Mr. Allchurch determined to try his luck in South Australia, and accordingly, in January, 1866, he left England with his wife and young family on board the Atalanta, and arrived at Port Adelaide the following April. He was at once offered a position in the South Australian police by Major Warburton, then Commissioner, which he accepted. After spending about 18 months in Adelaide, he was sent to take charge of the Glenelg station, where he remained until 1899, when he retired. The district he had to look after was a very extensive one, and included Brighton on the one side, and Henley Beach on the other, necessitating at times an immense amount of work. Among his principal duties was the boarding of the mail steamers from Western Australia and examining the clearances which all passengers from the western colony, desiring to land, had to be provided with. The object of the inspection was to prevent the influx of undesirable persons. Provided that a convict had served his sentence at the Swan River penal settlement, and remained in Western Australia for a further three years, he was allowed to land in South Australia, but not otherwise. On arrival at Glenelg Mr. Allchurch would collect all the passengers’ clearances, and they then had to accompany him to the detective office to be identified. In 1888, Mr. Allchurch visited England, to take charge of a purser on a P. & 0. boat. The man had been arrested on charges of conspiracy and false pretences. He had been about 30 years in the employ of the company, and had hosts of friends at every port, but Mr. Allchurch brought him back safely, and, in due course, he underwent his trial, was convicted and served a sentence.

- Half a Century at Glenelg -

The late Mr. Allchurch was one of the best-known residents of Glenelg, having lived in the seaside town for nearly 50 years. When he originally took charge of the police station there Glenelg was merely a small village; he saw it grow into an up-to-date town. When he first went there the settlement relied upon a well situated near the Old Gum Tree for its water supply, and it cost half a crown a barrel to deliver. IN the course of his duties the late Mr. Allchurch accompanied the present King and his brother, the Duke of Clarence in the launch in which they visited South Australia, and he was also on duty when the late Duke of Edinburgh laid the foundation stone of the G.P.O. in Adelaide. Mr. Allchurch until recently enjoyed excellent health, and in spite of his advanced years, read without glasses. When, by reason of his age, he retired from the police force, it was as an honourable man with an unblemished record, and until his death he was held in the greatest esteem by his many friends. He will be much missed by Glenelg residents, among whom he was most highly regarded. He has left four sons:- Mr. H. Allchurch, pastoralist, Port Broughton; Detective H. Allchurch, Adelaide; Mr. Ernest Allchurch, postmaster, Hergott; and Mr Harold Allchurch, ironmonger, New Zealand; and four daughters — Mrs. T. Bradshaw, Port Pine; Mrs. T. Baker, Mount Gambier; and Miss Emily and Miss Ethel Allchurch, Glenelg.


The scaffold at England’s infamous Newgate Prison was described by hangman, Harry Pierrepoint, as, “the finest scaffold in the whole country, being fitted to hang three persons side by side.” The scaffold was moved to Pentonville Prison in 1902 when Newgate was demolished. The first hanging at Pentonville took place on this scaffold on September 30, 1902, an event that was also marked by the discontinuance of the practice of flying a black flag when an execution occurred.
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I dreamed death came the other night,
And Heaven’s Gates opened wide,
With kindly grace an angel
Ushered me inside,
And there to my astonishment,
Stood folks I’d known on earth,
Some I’d judged and labelled,
Unfit — — — —, of little worth.
Indignant words rose to my lips,
But never were set free,
For every face showed stunned surprise,
No one expected ME ! ...

E. W.



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