Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Early Days of Crime in the Mackay Area

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Early Days of Crime in the Mackay Area

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Martin Mackay Museum

MANY Mackay residents would be unaware of the fact the city once had its own jail and it was here the first police officer was to die in the line of duty.

In 1863, the Port of Mackay was declared and a customs office and a police magistrate were appointed.

According to the Daily Mercury'sMackay Centenary 1862 - 1962, the first two police officers arrived in 1863.

Before the first detention building was built, prisoners were chained to logs on the riverbank with those on trial being sent to Rockhampton.

Mr Frank Scheinder and his wife Annie were appointed jailer and matron on July 23, 1883.

Overcrowding of the lock-up in Brisbane St was a real problem by the early 1870s.

In a board of inquiry into Queensland jails in 1887 it was noted: "The (Mackay) Gaol Premises are enclosed by a palisade 9 feet high. The fence, besides being almost rotten, has so warped as to leave wide spaces between the boards. In order to prevent the public from seeing into the yard old blankets have been nailed on the inner side of the fence. The site is a most objectionable one for a gaol, the yards and prisoners are overlooked by the balconies of adjacent dwellings, houses and on the occasion of a flogging being administered to a refractory prisoner, the punishment was witnessed by children." (Mackay Revisited Page 102) The 1868 census showed the European population at 340 and by the 1901 census, the population had grown to 11,144.

By 1903, Mackay was being derided by the southern newspapers, as being 'lawless'.

It had a bad reputation for the number and variety of crimes committed from drunkenness, to rape and murder.

In 1893, Mackay's lockupwas proclaimed a prison with an office and two other buildings for a kitchen and bathing facilities within the stockade.

In 1888, a jail containing five cells was built on the northside between Vines and Barnes creeks. The compound was between what is now Knobel and Martin streets, opposite the Kooyong Hotel on Harbour Road. …

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