A cold and cloudy day presented the perfectly eerie atmosphere to learn about the history behind Bagtown Gaol.
The gaol came to Bagtown in 1914, located adjacent to the police premises, and wound up in Griffith Pioneer Park Museum in 1993.
Pioneer Park Museum’s curator Bonnie Owen explains how the gaol was frequented by patrons who had imbibed just a little too much for Constable Ford.
While no official documents exist outlining the uses and frequenters of the gaol, residents have relayed their stories of the buildings use.
“People have told us that it wasn’t used very often,” Ms Owen said.
“Constable Ford at the time was fonder of hand-cuffing people to trees until they sobered up.”
Antonio Ceccato and his bullock team relocated the goal to Benerembah Street in ‘new Griffith’ in 1922.
The gaol was left on site when the police moved again in 1927.
“Bagtown was the very first settlement before Griffith was made, essentially and initially a pop-up community, made up of the labourers and workers working on the irrigation channels at the time.”
As the population increased and there was a community, there was a need for ‘law and order’ in the place.
Constable Ford, as mentioned, was one of the constables who presided over the area.
“This transportable gaol, not uncommon at the time because these small settlements kept popping up around in regional Australia as large communities were established," Ms Owen explained.
“Most of the information we have on the building is from residents, who quite a few years ago were still around and were able to recount their knowledge and memories of the area.”
The main crime in Bagtown was drunkenness. The MIA was in an alcoholic prohibition from 1924.
“You’ll notice there is no windows other than the top, and that may be why the entire establishment is so tall, it could be a ventilation thing.”
In 1921, Griffith had it’s first Agricultural show, and it allowed a publicans booth to sell some alcohol,” Ms Owen explained.
“It was a bit of a treat, and the alcohol, especially with the hot weather, got to everyone and there was a riot.”
It was an interesting part about the prohibition, one that everyone enjoys hearing about.
“Visitors really love the macabre stories, and the gaol has brought a lot of attention here to the museum.”
Griffith Pioneer Park Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the City of Griffith. It contains original buildings, machinery, vehicles, antiques and even Churches amongst their collections.