Adelaide Gaol

Adelaide Gaol

Although established as a free colony in 1836 without convict labour, South Australia had enough lawbreakers by 1840 to warrant the erection of a secure gaol. Designs were therefore prepared by George Kingston and in 1840-41 the first section of a gaol, in the parklands adjacent to the corner of North and West Terrace, was built by Borrow and Goodiar. Additions were made in 1843, 1847, 1858, and 1878.

The original plan included two battlemented towers, but the north¬east one was not completed as Captain George Grey, Governor, curtailed expenditure on his arrival in 1841.

Security and prisoner observation, however, were not limited and Kingston’s semi-circular design incorporating the towers gave guards an uninterrupted view of the cells and exercise yards. As an added deterrent to escapees, outer walls were topped with loose bricks which even with the aid of a hook and rope would be difficult to scale.

The outer walls are built of limestone quarried from North Terrace near the site of the present Adelaide Railway Station, and the copings, sills, and towers are of sandstone imported from Tasmania. Building bricks came from brickyards in Hindmarsh.

The original two-storeyed cell blocks are protected by brick arcades, while the cells themselves have curved ceilings. One notable feature is the main gateway which is flanked by two Aboriginal heads, one a male and the other a female. Other heads, which are thought to be Gothic in design, adorn tower windows

Notes

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Significance

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At the time it was built the Adelaide Gaol was the largest and most costly public work undertaken in the infant province of South Australia. Dating from 1841 it is the State’s oldest surviving penal establishment and along with Government House one of the oldest public buildings in South Australia. Designed by Inspector of Public Works and Buildings / Government Architect George Strickland Kingston and intended to meet the colony’s future as well as immediate needs the 34000 pounds project was criticised as lavish and extravagant. It contributed to the colony’s bankruptcy in 1840 and the consequent replacement of George Gawler as Governor the following year. The panopticon design emulating trends in England and America at the time is unique in Australia being the only one of radial design still intact. Later additions to the complex provide evidence of progressive demands for increased accommodation and security over the gaol’s long history up until its closure in 1988.

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Images of Adelaide Gaol

  • Adelaide Gaol, 1969
 
Architects
George Kingston
Builders
Borrow and Goodiar
Building materials
Brick, Stone, Bluestone, Limestone, Sandstone, Slate, Willunga slate
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
Construction
1840 -  

Additional Works

Additions

Description
Construction commenced
5/7/1843
Construction completed
5/7/2018

Additions

Description
Construction commenced
5/7/1847
Construction completed
5/7/2018

Additions

Description
Construction commenced
5/7/1858
Construction completed
5/7/2018

Additions

Description
Construction commenced
5/7/1878
Construction completed
5/7/2018
Architecture and design features
Gothic Decoration, panopticon
Engineering features
 
Precinct
Parklands
Precinct Parkland Name
Bonython Park / Tulya Wardli
Council Ward
Central
Alternative Addresses
Geo-coordinates
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Government of South Australia
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Civic, Prison
AS2482 classification
18100 - Historic Sites (unclassified)
Public Access
Opening hours only
 
NTSA ID
404
State Heritage ID
10937
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
1695
RNE ID
1695
Certificate of Title No.
CR 5756/336 H105106 S549
NTSA file exists
Yes
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
 
Historic Themes
5.2 State Government
5.2.2 Law and Police
 
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies
ACHHK097
 

References


Further reading


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