“BOGGO” Episode #11 – An officer and gentleman – Frank ‘Trooper’ Hills

‘Boggo’ Episode # 11 – An officer and gentleman – Frank ‘Trooper’ Hills.   

An officer and  gentleman – Frank ‘Trooper’ Hills

Frank Hills known as ‘Trooper’ was an officer and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.  A Boer War and World War One veteran twice wounded at Gallipoli and again in the Somme in France.  Trooper rose through the military ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major, the highest ranked non-commissioned officer in the Australian Army.    Trooper survived the war to become a prison officer and eventually would become involved in one of the greatest conspiracies to kill in Boggo Road Gaol History. The infamous Cyanide Plot.

The Cyanide Plot

Perhaps the most interesting and sensational time of Trooper’s career at Boggo Road was the discovery of the Cyanide Plot of 1940.   A prisoner smuggled a deadly vial of Cyanide under his armpit into Boggo Road Gaol.  It only being discovered on a pat down search of the prisoner before putting him in his cell.   The prisoner shouted to the officers “For god sake tell that man not to open that vial and smell it – it will knock him _____ out”.  It was soon discovered that the vial contained enough Cyanide to kill 50 people!

 

 


Listen to Episode #11 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

In this episode, Director Jack Sim, and Research Coordinator Sue are talking about the fascinating life of an officer and gentleman – Frank ‘Trooper’ Hills.

Visit http://www.boggoroadgaol.com to book tours and events.

 

 

 

 

 

“BOGGO” Episode #9 – Victims of Vice

‘BOGGO’ – EPISODE # 9 – VICTIMS OF VICE –The tragic tale of Juett sisters.

Lily Juett

Lily and Minnie Juett were sisters born in Bundaberg, the middle of eight children, in quite an impoverished family.  As soon as they were old enough to pull their weight, the children did work of some sort.   Unfortunately, the family was split up, the father getting into a bit of trouble and ending up in prison.  The children were packaged off to various farms and domestic work.  The girls were sent to work in some of the finest homes in Bundaberg, as domestics.

Lily and Minnie were not too fond of that type of work and really just wanted to be teenagers and have some fun.  Around twelve and fourteen at the time. They weren’t in their new profession very long.  They both got into trouble for stealing from their respective employers and for some improper conduct and general misbehaviour.

Both of them knew that they could not return home, there was nowhere to go anyway. So, they ended up turning to the streets to make their living, they were indeed victims of vice.

Young women in this time, were commonly on the streets, when orphaned or unable to live at home for whatever reason.  Those that exploited these women are often given little more than a fine and a slap on the wrist. The women were not so lucky and found themselves in front of the Court.

Lily and Minnie worked hard and saved their money, occasionally pinching a extra bit from their drunken clientele.  After some time had passed, they managed to pay their fare on a coastal ship to Brisbane. Hoping to change their futures for the better…

 

Listen to Episode #9 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

In this episode, Research Co-ordinator Sue, and Researcher and Prison Player Anique are going to be talking about the research project currently being undertaken on the female division and we will share with you the tragic tale of the Juett sisters – The Victims of Vice.

 

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.

 

 

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #8 –OFFICER KEVIN HAYDEN

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #8 –OFFICER KEVIN HAYDEN

Kevin Hayden graduated into the prison service in 1976… Initially at Wacol Prison, but soon he was transferred to the trouble filled Number 2 Division – Boggo Road Gaol.

I started in the service because I wanted better job security and a career.  My father was an officer in the prison service and had encouraged me to apply when my job prospects were not too good.   I worked initially at Wacol Prison and then went on to Boggo Road a little later.

My first impression of Boggo Road was it was an absolute nightmare.  I couldn’t believe how outdated the place was.  The whole place was filthy.  There were rats bigger than cats and Number Two division was just putrid.  There was no sanitation in place there. The conditions for inmates and officers alike was barbaric.  Everyone was frustrated beyond belief.

The trouble there all came to a head in 1988, and a series of riots took place. These times were the most frightening to say the least. Conditions at Boggo Road Gaol had become unbearable and many officers left the job.  I stayed on, it was difficult.  But it was my job, a job I needed to keep.

After an investigation into the conditions into the gaol. The Kennedy Report was released.   The report recommended a number of changes and two div was to be closed for good.

It really was a blessing when the government closed down two division.  At one stage there, there was three inmates in each cell which made tensions very high.  We had rooftop protests, fires and all kinds of other problems.  It was bad, really bad.

When Boggo Road eventually closed completely, I went back to Wacol Prison where I proceeded to work my way up the ranks.  In 1998 I decided that my time inside was up.  I moved to the Gold Coast to start a new life. I had officially resigned after 22 years’ service.

I was proud to have served as a prison officer and made many friends through the job, Officers and Inmates alike. It is a difficult job and sometimes it gets a bad rap.

Listen to Episode #8 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

In this episode, Research Co-ordinator Sue, and former officer Kevin, discuss Kevin’s career in the prisons service and what life was like for an officer on the inside of Boggo Road Gaol during the infamous eighties full of riots, protests and violence.

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.

 

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #7 –BURGLAR BILL

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #7 –BURGLAR BILL – Notorious thief and safecracker William Thompson in his own words.

William Thompson, known in every state in Australia as Burglar Bill; has been an associate with some of the country’s most notorious criminals.  Some of them cold blooded killers who have ended their days on the gallows.

When first entering a life of crime he thought he could beat the law.  But after twenty-seven years in and out of gaol, in 1937, he finally realised that crime does not pay.  In a rare treat, the Truth newspaper in Brisbane published his full story, perhaps he would tell it best anyhow!

 

“I can look back on those wasted years- years that I cannot recall to live over again, now that I have learned a bit of sense.  Perhaps, as crooks go, I have had a particularly eventful life; I have met and consorted with many of the ‘big’ men; I have witnessed executions from inside and I have spent some weeks in a cell that once held the famous Ned Kelly.  But those memories are nothing to be proud of.  I am well aware that today I am regarded as one of the most persistent burglars in Australia, and I am certainly not proud of my title “Burglar Bill”.

 

Listen to Episode #7 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

In this episode, Research Co-ordinator Sue, and tour guide Tom, share the story of the notorious Burglar Bill – William Thompson in his own words as sent to the Truth newspaper on his release in 1937. 

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.

 

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #6 –THE WHISKEY AU GO GO KILLERS Part 2

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #6 –THE WHISKEY AU GO GO KILLERS – John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch – PART 2.

WARNING: Strong content and language.

The 1st November 2018 marks the 30th Anniversary of James Finch confessing his guilt in relation to the firebombing the Whiskey Au Go Go – to A Current Affair journalist  Jana Wendt – live via satellite from London.

It remains the greatest true crime confession in Australian history. Or was it?

In the now-legendary interview Finch confirmed that the information published days earlier in The Sun newspaper by Chief-of-Staff Dennis Watt was correct. James Finch claimed himself and boxer Tom Hamilton did the deed, while tattooist Billy McKulkin drove the getaway vehicle. Brisbane criminal Vincent O’Dempsey plotted the firebombing. Stuart was paid $5,000 to organise Finch’s involvement.

Jana Wendt asked Finch if he was worried now he had told the truth, that he might be extradited back to Australia to face one of the outstanding murder charges – Stuart and Finch were given life sentences on only one of the 15 counts brought against them. As this was pointed out, Mr Finch retracted his confession, and changed his story yet again, live on TV, to a shocked nation-wide TV audience.

Listen to Episode #6 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

In this episode, Gaol Director Jack Sim, author of “History of Boggo Road Gaol”, and former prison officer John, talk about  James Finch, his character and personality in Brisbane Prison – Part 2 of a two-part story.

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.

 

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #5 –THE WHISKEY AU GO GO KILLERS

“BOGGO” – EPISODE #5 –THE WHISKEY AU GO GO KILLERS – John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch – PART 1.

WARNING: Strong content and language.

31st October 2018 – Halloween – marks the 30th Anniversary of James Finch confessing to firebombing the Whiskey Au Go Go nite club at Fortitude Valley.

On Thursday, 8th March, 1973, at 2.08 am, a drum of petrol was rolled into the street-level foyer of the club and set alight with a book of matches. In ten minutes, 15 people – ten men and five women, were dead. It remains Brisbane’s deadliest crime. At the time it was Australia’s worst mass murder, eclipsed only by the tragedy at Port Arthur in 1996.

John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch were convicted of the firebombing. Both men were no strangers to prison, having extensive criminal histories for violent crime. However, from the moment of their arrest they protested their innocence, claiming they were setup by corrupt police. After Stuart was found dead in his prison cell on New Years Day 1979, Finch focused on getting out, marrying invalid Cheryl Cole, who tirelessly fought for her husband’s release. Finch was paroled in February 1988. Deported to his native England, having served 15 years for the crime, Finch vowed to return to clear his name.

In a shocking twist, on Monday 31 October 1988 – Halloween – Brisbane’s The Sun front page declared:

Finch confesses I DID IT

Whiskey Au Go Go: The Truth.

The Sun’s London Chief-of-Staff Dennis Watt spent 5 days with the convicted killer. The exclusive interview saw James Finch admit he and John Stuart had lied to their supporters. Finch claimed himself and boxer Tom Hamilton did the deed, while tattooist Billy McKulkin drove the getaway vehicle. Brisbane criminal Vincent O’Dempsey was named as the man who plotted the firebombing. Stuart was paid $5,000 to organise Finch’s involvement.

 

Listen to Episode #5 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

In this episode, Gaol Director Jack Sim, author of “History of Boggo Road Gaol”, and former prison officer John, talk about Stuart.

Make sure to tune in next week for Part 2.

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.

The Ghosts of Boggo Road Gaol – Boggo Episode 4

Ghosts of Boggo Road Gaol -“BOGGO” – Episode #4

Former prison officers and prisoners believed that Boggo Road Gaol was haunted; there are ghost stories dating back to the 1930s. Many people died within the walls of the prison during its long history. Many old officers and prisoners claimed that the prison had a few ghosts. Working in such an ancient place lent itself to stories.

 

That the Gaol was haunted was something that rarely was mentioned outside its walls when it was in operation, as officers largely kept their experiences to themselves. Usually when they talked about such things their mates would laugh it off or even ridicule them. Prison prankster Ron Darby, a veteran officer, loved nothing more than to play jokes on new officers by running a sheet up a wall on the backtrack as it was called, or, on foggy nights, ride a bike with a sheet over his head along this same section to rattle them.

 

As well as the jokes, the ghost of “Ernie” – Ernest Austin – the last man hanged at Boggo Road and in the state of Queensland in 1913, was said to torment new prisoners at the Gaol. This story was passed down through the cellblock sweepers and seems to have been told right through the 1980s, making it one Australia’s longest told prison ghost tales.

 

Brisbane Ghost Tours has conducted historic ghost tours of Boggo Road Gaol since 1998.  Over 20 years visitors coming on a tour of No.2 Division – the only remaining section of Brisbane Prison – swear they have had experiences. Some say they have been touched, grabbed or even spoken to by spirits. Many claim to have seen a female figure on the upper floors of the cellblocks – leading to speculation as to who it might be. Ellen Thomson was the only women executed in Queensland; she paid the ultimate penalty on the gallows in the oldest part of Brisbane Prison – old No.1 Division – which was torn down in the 1970s. Another possibility is the ghost is of a former staff member – the Matron of the Women’s Prison (the original use of No.2 Division) or a female warder. Perhaps the most unusual haunting is a three-legged ghost cat – Tripod – who visitors claim has rubbed himself on their legs or been heard meowing.

 

Listen to Episode #4 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.

 

In this episode, Gaol Director Jack Sim, author of “The Ghosts of Boggo Road Gaol”, and founder of Brisbane Ghost Tours, and Ghost Tour guide Sam, talk about the origins of the ghosts, and explores the history behind them, and whether visitors to the historic gaol today continue to have experiences.

 

Visit www.brisbaneghosttours.com.au to book the Boggo Road Gaol Ghosts & Gallows Tour.

 

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.

 

The Female Division – Boggo Episode 3

The Female Division – ‘Boggo’ – Episode 3

Boggo Road Gaol is remembered as a place of punishment for men. It is true…it was. But long before men were locked up in No.2 Division – the section of the prison that remains standing today –- it was a prison for women. For 100 years women were locked up at Boggo Road. Their stories largely untold and often overlooked.

 

 

The Female Division

Boggo Road Gaol is remembered as a place of punishment for men. It is true…it was. But long before men were locked up in No.2 Division – the section of the prison that remains standing today –- it was a prison for women. For 100 years women were locked up at Boggo Road. Their stories largely untold and often overlooked.

In 1898-99 the Public Works Department prepared plans for the long-argued for new women’s prison at Boggo Road. The Fortitude Valley Gaol, Toowoomba Gaol and the Roma Gaol, were old and decrepit, their facilities were simply too small or were insecure. Ultimately though, it came down to financial reasons. Repairs and extensions would have cost far more than the construction of an entirely new prison. It simply was financially more viable too, for the prisoners all to be housed in one, new, modern prison.

And so, it was, plans were drafted, and a tender sought.  In September 1901 respected Brisbane builders A. Lind and Son secured the tender. It would take some £18,795 (2018 – $3 million) and two years to construct. H.M. Prison for Women was officially handed over by the construction team on the 6th of October 1903.  Sixteen ladies and their wardress Sarah Browne moved in that afternoon.

Prisoners from Toowoomba Gaol were brought down to Brisbane by train, arriving at H.M. Prison for Women on the 8th of October 1903. Nineteen ladies were brought down in the charge of David Douglas McKee who will be the Senior Warder, Clerk and Storekeeper for the female division. The possessions of the ladies from Toowoomba Gaol were lost on the Toowoomba Range. They were left with nothing. The final admissions in the first two weeks of the new female prison came directly from the Police Court and the final one on the train from the Roma Gaol on the 15th of October.  So, it was, Sarah had 41 prisoners in her charge.

This is just the beginning of the story of the female division at Boggo Road Gaol. Women would feature in the fabric of Boggo Road for over the next 100 years.

Experience the Prison Players on the first Sunday each month – as part of the guided History Tour, which runs 7 days, 11am daily. The actors from the Female Division branch of the Prison Players; Boggo Road Gaol’s very own theatre troupe bring the gaol to life. As visitors you will be taken back to 1907, when the female prison was only a few years old. So, why not escape the 21st century; leave behind the cars, air conditioning, electricity and modern technology.   Bring along the family and show them what life was like before all of the modern conveniences and even some of the things we see as basics to everyday. You can pre-book your tickets for the first Sunday of each month here

Listen to Episode #3 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol. In this podcast, Gaol Research Coordinator Sue and actor Karen – a member of the Female Division, a branch of Boggo Road Gaol’s official live theatre troupe “The Prison Players”, talk about this forgotten history. 

Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book tours and events.

 

 

The Gallows – Boggo Episode 2

The Gallows – ‘Boggo’ Episode 2

Between 1883 and 1913, forty-two criminals comprised of thirty-nine men, one woman and two teenagers were executed at Boggo Road Gaol. All were hanged, the last in 1913.

Between 1883 and 1913, forty-two criminals comprised of thirty-nine men, one woman and two teenagers were executed at Boggo Road Gaol. All were hanged, the last in 1913.

The gallows were located in ‘A’ Wing, the original cellblock in the oldest section of the gaol built in 1883 – later known as No. 1 Division. The gallows consisted of three parts:

View of the trap – A Wing – 1 Division

1 The Beam – a strong timber beam running across the breadth of the cellblock under the upper floor gantry (walkway). Three hooks hung beneath the beam – to which the hangman’s rope could be attached.

2 The Scaffold: the platform that jutted out from the first floor gantry, directly below the beam.

3.The Trap: in the metal floor of the scaffold were two trap doors, located directly below the beam.

At eight o’clock Monday morning, the bell would toll to announce the grim act about to take place. Then the condemned person would be invited by an official to say their last words. The noose was then put around the condemned’s neck. At a signal from an official, the hangman would move a lever which opened the Trap and sent the prisoner to eternity. The body was lowered into a coffin and taken away for burial at South Brisbane Cemetery.

Public agitation for the abolition of capital punishment began in the 1890s. The last man hanged was Ernest Austin on 22 September 1913. In 1922 Queensland became the first state in the British Empire to legislate the end of capital punishment.


Listen to Episode #2 of “Boggo” – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol. Join Gaol Director Jack Sim and Research Coordinator Sue as they discuss a new exhibition – “The Gallows” – which explores the history of capital punishment, and punishment, behind the walls of Boggo Road Gaol.
The new exhibition is open everyday at 1pm following the daily History Tour at 11am, and is included in the Boggo Road Gaol Ghosts & Gallows Tour.

Origin of the name – Boggo

Origin of the name -Boggo

The distinctive name of Australia’s most notorious prison has a fascinating origin.

The origin of the name “Boggo” may lie with the traditional owners of the area south of the Brisbane River. According to Annie MacKenzie, author of Memories Along the Boggo Track, on the edge of “One Mile Swamp” at Woolloongabba were two leaning trees – referred to as “Bloggo” or “Bolgo”.

From the late 1840s bullock teams headed east along Stanley Street, transporting goods from the wharves at South Brisbane, to Ipswich Town. The rapidly growing commercial centre serving the Darling Downs was considered to be the likely capital of a future new state. The teamsters turned off at these trees, skirting the edge of the swamp, creating a short-cut to Ipswich Road to the west. The route they carved through the dense scrub became a rough, perilous track connecting South Brisbane to the Ipswich Road – called Bolgo Road.

The early track was virtually impassable in wet weather, especially the lowest section from the corner of Stanley Street also called Clarence Corner to the foot of the slope which would become known as the “Gaol hill”. After rain, this section became a “bog-hole”. The aboriginal word “Bloggo” was corrupted to simply “Boggo” and the notorious way to Ipswich Road was locally cursed as the “Boggo-track”. According to local folklore a passenger coach drawn by four horses got bogged so deep that they were never seen again.

The track was surveyed when the Gaol Reserve was mapped in 1863, eventually becoming known as the “Boggo-road”. Over time One Mile Swamp was drained and filled, the Boggo-road raised, widened and graded. In time, the entire area from the former track south-west to the Brisbane River became known as “Boggo”.

The Gaol was never officially “Boggo Road Gaol”. The official name changed over time: H.M. Gaol South Brisbane (1883); H.M. Prison Brisbane (1921); Brisbane Prison Complex (1973-74); finally, Brisbane Correctional Centre (1988).

The two gaols with Annerley Road (then Boggo Road) in the foreground.

Locals called it “Boggo-Road Gaol” after the road it was on.


Listen to Episode #1 of “Boggo” the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol . Join Gaol Director Jack Sim and Research Coordinator Sue as they explain where the word “Boggo” came from and how Boggo Road Gaol was never its official name. Also, don’t forget to come get “locked up” with us on our daily public History Tours running at 11:00am everyday!

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.

 

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