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Bruce Furler

Bruce Furler retired at the rank of Assistant Commissioner During his service he was the Queens Police Medal in 1972 awarded, and the Queens Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, National Medal in 1981 and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1966 after a distinguished career. He joined the Police Force in 1940 as a youth of Furler16yrs 9months and trained at the infamous Port Adelaide Depot. He spent much of his career in the Traffic Branch earlier as a motor cycle officer and later as a Sgt, and Commissioned Officer. He was a member of our Society until his death and was highly respected by all ranks. Bruce passed away on 22 June,1997. His name was an obvious choice for the museum given his long service to the Traffic Branch, and the Historical Society.

On Thursday the 9th January 2014, the SA Police Historical Society Vehicle Museum was officially named the Bruce Furler Gallery in honour of the late Assistant Commissioner, Bruce Furler, by John White and Connie Furler.

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    All of these vehicles can be viewed during a visit to the South Australian
Police Historical Society's Vehicle Museum
The Bruce Furler Gallery.


South Australian Police Horse-Drawn Prison van, used from 1880 until 1920.

The Horse drawn prisoner vehicle is also known as the "Black Maria".



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1923 Bianchi 12.2 Horse Power 4 Cylinder.

This old vehicle is believed to be only the second vehicle owned by SAPOL. It is a Bianchi 12.2 Horse Power 4 Cylinder Motor Car built in 1921 and purchased by SAPOL from Maughan Thiem Motor Company in 1923.


In 1964 S.A. Police ordered a TJ Series Bedford cab chassis from Freeman Motors, who previously traded at premises situated on the corner of Magill and Fullarton Roads, Norwood.  On 11 June 1964 the cab chassis was delivered in accordance with the contract specifications, one being the vehicle had to have dual rear wheels for stability when carrying a vehicle load of prisoners.  The serial number was A013290 with engine number J1/2/3.2/175455, body number 23675A and chassis number J2LC2.195284.

The cab chassis was then  conveyed to Schultz Motor Body Builders, at Port Road  Cheltenham.  Schultz constructed the van as per specifications supplied by SA Police.  The interior of the van was made as a security pod with mesh covering all windows.  It also had a secure gate between the prisoner compartment and the area where the escort guard would sit, at the rear of the van.
The vehicle was designed to carry 12 prisoners seated and two prison guards seated at the rear.
The vehicle went into service as a prison van on 6 July 1964. It had a 214 cubic inch, (3.6 litre) 6 cylinder engine with a vehicle gross weight of 4,700 kg and an un-laden weight of 2,940 kg.  This vehicle represents the first of a ‘modern’ style of prisoner transport vehicles introduced into the SA Police   vehicle fleet.

Originally the vehicle was painted a grey colour, but in about 1986 SA Police introduced a policy that saw all their commercial vehicles painted white.  This was also followed with Police Patrol cars changing from the renowned police blue to white.
This prison van was used on a daily weekday basis to transfer prisoners from the City Watch House to Adelaide Gaol and Yatala Labour Prison.  It also
conveyed prisoners from these custodial institutions to Adelaide Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court in Adelaide.

The vehicle performed the ‘drunk run’ when Hotels closed at 6 o’clock on Mondays to Saturdays.  The six o’clock closing was commonly known as the ‘6 o’clock swill’. With 6 o’clock closing time it was not uncommon to see drunken persons lying on the footpath and in the gutters of Adelaide City Streets.  Three burly police officers would staff the vehicle, patrolling the City Streets, arresting inebriated persons found lying about for drunkenness in a  public place.  Six o’clock closing of hotels ceased in 1967, when trading hours were extended to 10pm.  The offence of drunkenness in a public place was also repealed in 1976.

During the Vietnam War years in particular between 1968 and 1975, numerous demonstrations took place in the City of Adelaide.  Protesters occupied the streets of Adelaide in mass and on some occasions staged ‘sit-ins’, taking over the whole street  disrupting traffic.  Mass arrests occurred and it was not unusual for the Bedford Van to be loaded with up to 25 or so  prisoners.

The Prison van was also used extensively at events that attracted large crowds and had the potential for detaining persons behaving in a disorderly manner and possibly requiring mass  arrests.
Some of these events included:

Concerts at Memorial Drive, Adelaide, Night patrol of City during the Grand Prix, Test cricket at Adelaide Oval, Oakbank Easter racing carnival, Football at Football Park, The Schutzenfest Festival, New Year Eve celebrations in the City, Several riot situations
The vehicle ceased service with SA Police in November 1995 and was transferred to the SA Police Historical Society, Vehicle Museum in March 1996 and is still operated by the Society.

It is garaged at the Thebarton Barracks Vehicle  Museum where it creates great interest during Society Museum Tours.  It is also used at various suburban Christmas Pageants and parades and displayed at   numerous community events held at metropolitan and near country venues.

The Bedford recently under went an overhaul.  The valves were replaced and two cracks repaired in the head.  On a recent trip to Mount Barker for the Mount Barker Show the vehicle proudly went up the Adelaide to Crafers Highway from Mount Osmond to Crafers at a steady 30 mph (48 kph).  This vehicle will now continue to give reliable service to the SA Police Historical Society.

Kevin Johnson—

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