Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 08:24
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Boggo Road Gaol (alt. and older spelling "Bogga") was a notorious and heritage-listed Australian prison located on Annerley Road in Dutton Park, an inner southern suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The site is the only surviving intact gaol in Queensland that reflects penological principles of the 19th century. For many years it was Queensland's main prison. It was officially known as "Brisbane Jail" but was commonly known as "Boggo Road Jail" because Annerley Road became known as "Boggo Road" due to its poor condition, after originally being named "Bolgo Road". Boggo Road was originally an unofficial and unmaintained short-cut between Ipswich Road and Stanley Street that became very boggy after rain.

In 1863, land off Boggo Road was surveyed and set aside as a government reserve before being proclaimed a gaol reserve in 1880. The first cellblock opened on 2 July 1883, and over the years many other buildings came and went on the site. The first buildings were built by Robert Porter, contained 57 cells and were constructed using materials from the demolished Petrie Terrace Jail. In 1903 a prison was built to hold female prisoners. This later became known as the No.2 Division, and is now the only prison building still standing. It is heritage-listed. The 'No.1 Division' built in 1883 was the scene of 42 hangings, including the hanging of Ernest Austin in 1913—the last execution in Queensland. A new prison was built around the perimeter of No.1 prison during the 1960s and No.1 prison was demolished leaving area for an oval and recreational facilities for the newly built prison and this prison had running cold water and toilet facilities in all cells. Under the oval was the facility that became known as the "black hole" where prisoners were subjected to "punishment". The "black hole" continued in use until the late '80s.

Protests at the gaol during the 1970s saw inmates undertake hunger strikes, roof top protests, and rioting over the poor conditions and treatment. The prison was constantly in the headlines and became notorious around Australia. Cells did not have any form of sanitation and facilities for washing were lacking. Prisoners were required to use a bucket through the evening for toilet breaks and empty it, or 'slop out', in the morning. A Queensland Government inquiry into the living conditions of State prisons found Boggo Road to be outdated and inadequate for prisoners' needs. No.2 Division was closed in 1989. No.1 division was closed in 1992 and was demolished in 1996 (a small section of what was "C5" and guard tower still remain). A modern (by 1960's standards) prison for women operated adjacent to this site until 2000 and was demolished in 2006.
Since 1992 the No.2 Division has been home to the Boggo Road Gaol Museum, which featured displays of prison-related artefacts. Throughout the 1990s ex-officers conducted guided tours of the site, and from 2003 the museum and tours were operated by the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society, a non-profit incorporated association of volunteers. Like many other similar places around the country, the site also hosted ghost tours.
Redevelopment of the surrounding site began in 2006, leading to the temporary closure of the Boggo Road Gaol historical site. The No.2 Division prison buildings will be preserved according to its heritage listing. It is expected to re-open around 2011. The redevelopment will be called Boggo Road Urban Village and will be completed in 2010.
The gaol was originally designed to cater for 40 male prisoners serving as a holding place for prisoners heading to St Helena Island in Moreton Bay. However by 1989 there were 187 male prisoners and the women's facility had around 200 additional prisoners.

But in the history of Boggo Road Jail, there was one prisoner who didn't quite fit the mould. Arthur Ernest Halliday, otherwise known as 'Slim' - a convicted murderer, Slim's mind was focused on one thing, and one thing only - escape. Slim's plans were laid out in such intricate detail that the press of the day labelled him 'The Houdini of Boggo Road'. Freedom, however, proved somewhat elusive for Slim. After a particularly daring escape attempt in the late 1950s, prison officials acted. They welded his bed to the wall, they reinforced his door, they put on extra heavy-duty bolts and padlocks to make sure that he'd never escape again. He didn't.
Loss of liberty has always been a significant factor in cases of prisoner unrest. Although a strict regime can usually keep things under control, in 1977, an inmate by the name of John Andrew Stuart found he could push the system to its limit. Together with petty criminal James Finch, he had been convicted of what at the time was Australia's worst mass murder - the firebombing of Brisbane's Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub.

A violent and desperate man, Stuart was prepared to go to extreme lengths to gain publicity. He escaped from his cell and fled to the roof of 'A' wing, where for the next two days, he staged a protest proclaiming his innocence. Ironically, less than two years later, shortly after staging a hunger strike, he was found dead in his cell. Very little survives of Boggo Road today. Some may say that's a good thing. It was finally decommissioned in 1992 after a State Government inquiry found that it was unsuitable for continued use as a prison. But for those that experienced confinement at Boggo, the memories will stay forever.

Notable prisoners

Hon. Gordon Brown – a former President of the Australian Senate.

James Finch and Andrew Stuart – the "Whiskey Au-Go-Go" murderers.

Arthur 'Slim' Halliday – murderer and escapologist.

Nathan Jones – actor and professional wrestler.

Before his career as a wrestler, Jones was sentenced to 16 years in 1987 at the age of 18 to Boggo Road Gaol for eight armed robberies between 1985–1987, two of which occurred in Tasmania. During the robberies, he became one of Australia's most wanted and ended up serving seven years in a maximum-security prison, in 1994 Jones was given one year work release, before being discharged at the age of 25. While in prison, he was introduced to the sport of powerlifting. Within a short space of time, he became the National Powerlifting Champion of Australia.

Patrick Kenniff – also known as Queensland's last bushranger.

Debbie Kilroy – prisoner rights activist, founder of Sisters Inside.

Craig Petersen – heavyweight boxing champion.

Michael Peterson – Australian surfing legend.

In 1977, in front of 20,000 people, Michael Peterson beat future four times world champion Mark Richards to win the first event of the surfing world tour. It was his last competition and he was only seen occasionally until 1983 when he was arrested in a 15-car police chase from Coolangatta to Brisbane. He never surfed again and, after years in Boggo Road gaol, he was finally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He died at the age of 59 after a heart attack

Ellen Thomson – the only woman hanged in Queensland.

Karen Tonkin - Political Prisoner Framed

42 prisoners were hanged at the Gaol.

James Gardiner 1864 1883 Scotland Murder of Ada Gardiner at Rockhampton

Jango c.1866 1883 Australia (Aboriginal) Murder of Mrs Eliza Mills at Dingo

George 1858 1883 Australia (Aboriginal) Rape of young girl at Rockhampton

Walter Edward Gordon 1857 1885 England Murder of Walter Bunning on Darr River Downs station.

Tim Tie 1856 1886 China Murder of a man near Dulbydilla

Wong Tong 1857 1886 China

Christopher Pickford 1856 1887 England

Ellen Thompson 1846 1887 Ireland Murder of her husband William Thompson at Port Douglas

John Harrison 1860 1887 England Murder of William Thompson at Port Douglas

Edmond Duhamel 1851 1888 France

Sedin 1864 1888 Java

Donald c.1863 1892 Australia (Aboriginal)

Francis Charles Horrocks 1875 1892 Queensland

George Gleeson 1865 1892 India

Leonard William Moncado 1850 1892 Chile

George Thomas Blantern 1858 1893 England

Hatsuro Abe 1863 1894 Japan

Mi Orie 1866 1895 Malaita Island murder of old white man near Bundaberg

Narasemai 1862 1895 Malaita Island murder of old white man near Bundaberg

Sayer (Safhour) 1870 1895 Malaita Island

Jacky 1864 1895 Australia (Aboriginal)

Frank Tinyana 1858 1895 Filipino

Willie Broom 1870 1900 Australia (Aboriginal)

Charles Beckman 1859 1901 Germany murder of Alfred Anderson at McCarneys Creek.

Wandee 1881 1901 South Sea Islands

John Rheuben 1846 1901 Portugal

Arafau 1879 1901 South Sea Islands

David Alexander Brown 1846 1901 USA murder of Graham Haygrath at Charters Towers

Patrick Kenniff 1865 1903 NSW Murder of a police constable George Doyle

Sow Too Low 1875 1903 Malaita Island Murders of David Johnson, John Martin and Alice Gunning

Gosano 1870 1905 South Sea Islands Murder of John Parsons at Ingham

James Warton 1845 1905 Ireland Murder of William Munday at Toowong

Johannes 1867 1906 Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Murder of police officer A. G. Price at Mackay

Twadiga 1876 1906 Solomon Islands Murder of young boy Charles Baulch at Mackay

Look Kow 1844 1906 China murder of Lee Choy Yuen at Townsville

August Millewski 1855 1907 Germany murder of Wallum Nabby at Nanango

Bismarck 1886 1909 Australia (Aboriginal) murder of Mrs Janet Evitts at Nundah

Arthur Ross 1888 1909 England murder of James Muir (Bank Clerk) at Gayndah

Alexander Bradshaw 1882 1910 Queensland murders of George Sutherland and his wife of Normanton

George David Silva 1884 1912 Queensland/Ceylon murdered six members of the Ching family near Mackay

Charles Deen 1865 1913 Ceylon murdered his friend Peter Dina at Innisfail

Ernest Austin 1890 1913 was the last person executed by Queensland. Austin was born in Victoria. He was convicted of raping and murdering 12-year-old Ivy Mitchell at Cedar Creek road near Samford

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Reply By: gbc - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 08:59

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 08:59
Thankyou for your research again - excellent reading.

My wife works in the newly developed sciences precinct there.
AnswerID: 537796

Reply By: rumpig - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 20:06

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 20:06
Nice read....I went to a concert they held in the prison ground when they closed the men's division, from memory (correct me if I'm wrong please) the women's section was still in operation at the time. I caught the train into the concert, it wasn't hard to pick some of the ex inmates who were going back for a last look inside the jail....I recall being surprised at how many police they had working on the front gate as you walked inside the jail. Also did a tour one weekend after it had closed with one of those ex guards that worked there, he was pretty straight up with what was expected of the prisoners, came across as a pretty hard sort of a guy.
AnswerID: 537825

Follow Up By: gbc - Monday, Aug 18, 2014 at 10:15

Monday, Aug 18, 2014 at 10:15
The timing sounds right mate. I did my scaffold and rigging tickets just around the corner from the women's prison in the early nineties and it was still open then. As we built our scaffs high enough for them to see us, we got an education in anatomy and all sorts of things - poor girls were a bit bored. Tough prison, 3 + floors high with open cells and steel lattice decks at one end for showering etc. The bleeding hearts wouldn't have it these days.
FollowupID: 822088

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