Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Old Adelaide Gaol

I have been wanting to come here for as long as I can remember and finally I have. Deidre and myself arrived here towards the end of the day so it was quiet, so quiet we were the only ones touring around for much of the time. I didn’t find the place eerie at all. I always thought, for some reason that the gaol was an octagon in shape, but it is only ‘half an octagon’. The original part is dated back to 1841 which consisted of single cells at one end and dormitory cells at the other. Some of the old cells would have been very depressing with no light and only a small air vent and the prisoners locked up for at least 18 hours per day. They had to share their cells with rats, cockroaches, bedbugs, lice and ticks, which caused sickness and disease. The original cells only had a hammock and bucket in them, with the later having a bed, desk, portaloo and electricity. There were only two watch towers built but there were four in the original plans. One has carved medieval faces around the windows, these were so costly that they are believed to have contributed to the Colony’s bankruptcy in the 1840’s. One is the hanging tower. 

The non-contact visitors area, which is half an octagon is shape. This led into one of many yards of the gaol, 6 in all. The tops of the outside walls have ‘honeycomb’ brickwork, which is loose bricks placed on top in a honeycomb pattern, which the prisoners tried to climb, would make a great noise as they fell down alerting the guards.

The medical area was very primitive and originally a doctor would only visit a couple of times a week and the little equipment that was provided was second-hand or out of date. In the later years a nurse was employed full-time. A denist was provided from 1955, he had a horrid job as prisoners had no access to toothbrushes or toothpaste and their teeth were horrid, also he relied on second-hand or out of date equipment. Eventually they were provided with paste and brushes. 

There were female prisoners housed in the gaol, they were in a three-storey cell block from about 1862. There was only one female prisoner executed in South Australia, Elizabeth Woolcock was hanged in December 1873 for poisoning her husband.

There is so much more I could write about as it is a vast place full of history.   I'll let he photos tell you more.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your name in the message