Prohibition

landscape

In the 1830s, Australians were drinking 13.6 litres of pure alcohol, per person, per year. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you think about it, a standard bottle of vodka is 500mL. That works out to be a bit over half a bottle of vodka PER WEEK that the average Aussie was drinking in the 1830s.

Australia clearly has a long and tortured history with alcohol. In fact, the control of alcohol was reportedly involved in the only military coup in Australian history – the 1808 Rum Rebellion. Prohibition is a podcast produced by Old Dubbo Gaol and Dubbo Regional Council, where we delve into the world of Shanty Towns, The Temperance Movement, and examine what the very first Lockout Laws were like in the early 1900s. We’ll examine the ins-and-outs of the illegal trading of alcohol in 19th and 20th centuries, and more specifically, characters tied to the Old Dubbo Gaol. At the end of the mini-series, you’ll be invited to our very own Prohibition at the Yard, held at the Old Dubbo Gaol in February this year. You’ll have to find the secret bars and hideaways within The Gaol, as you’re taken back in time to the roaring 20s with swing bands and speakeasy bars.

Pilot

‘Prohibition’ is about telling the stories of the Dubbo Region’s own troubled past with alcohol, gambling and opium dens. We delve into the world of Shanty Towns, The Temperance Movement, and examine what the very first lockout laws were like in the early 1900s. 

Episode one: Unions, Alliances and the Temperance Movement 


It’s no secret Aussies have a reputation for loving their grog, but there’s a side to the alcohol industry, where drinking was illegal, and bootlegging was the norm – and the history itself isn’t all that well-known. Although Australia didn’t exactly have its own Prohibition like it’s known in America, this series Prohibition at the Yard takes a look at the groups and practices that shaped the alcohol industry as we know it today. In our first episode, we’ll set the scene, to explain just how big of a problem drinking and alcohol was in the 1800s, with the temperance movement kick-starting things for us.

Five stages of inebriation 

5 Stages of inebriation

According to the State Library of New South Wales this series of images was likely commissioned by a local temperance group as an educational series to show the dangers of drinking alcohol.

The photos were taken by Charles Percy Pickering in his Sydney photographic studio sometime between 1863-1868

Image Credit:

Courtesy of the State library of New South Wales

Exchange Hotel Dubbo, c. 1870, State Library NSW

Squatters Exchange hall Dubbo, c. 1870

According to the Macquarie Regional Library website this building was constructed in 1865 and was located on the Eastern Side of Macquarie Street, it was later to be known as the Masonic hall. 

This was just one of a number of halls in Dubbo which played host to the debate over temperance and prohibition. Here there would have been held meetings, concerts and talks. 

Matthew Burnett , the “Apostle of Temperance” held a number of talks and meetings here  during his 1887 trip to Dubbo.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

Grand Central Coffee Palace, charles Bayliss, c. 1880  

Grand Central Coffee Palace c.1880s

Along with Temperance Hotels, Coffee Palaces began to spring up in the late 19th early 20th century. They were alternatives to the licensed hotels, and were seen by temperance organisations as the future style of hotel, where families could congregate and socialise all in a strictly anti-alcohol space. 

Coffee palaces could be found in most major cities, while temperance hotels were dotted all around the country from inner cities to rural areas. 

Image credit:

Photo by Charles Bayliss, courtesy of the National Library of Australia
http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-141167825 

Matthew Burnett preaching, Australasian Sketcher, 28.09.1878

Matthew Burnett Preaching

Known as “the Apostle of Temperance” and the ‘Yorkshire Evangelist’. According to the National Portrait Gallery Burnett spent twenty years of his life preaching Temperance in Australia. He was famous for his impassioned outdoor speeches and torchlight processions with brass bands and choirs. Burnett preached at the goldfields, was influential in the establishment of ‘coffee palaces’, and would sign thousands up to ‘the pledge’ to abstain from alcohol.  

Burnett visited Dubbo in 1887 where he claimed to have pledge around 700 towns people (the most on that particular speaking tour), and also visited Dubbo Gaol where he managed to get 25 of the 27 prisoners to declare the pledge. 

Image Credit:

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, The National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60622401

medal-abstinence-society-c-1885, Museums Victoria

Medal - Abstinence Society, c. 1885

According to the Museums Victoria website this was a medal issued by the Australian Abstinence Movement in about 1885. It may have been worn around the neck as a pendant. On the reverse side is the Lord’s Prayer. 

Image credit:

Photographer: Rodney Start
Museums Victoria
https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/55173 

Members Card - Band of Hope Union, London, circa 1890, Museums Victoria  pledge card, National Museum of Australia, 1880

Member’s Card/Pledge Card

Two examples of an temperance organisation pledge or membership card. This particular temperance group the Band of Hope was aimed at children. 

Note the pledge at the bottom which reads ‘I PROMISE TO ABSTAIN FROM ALL INTOXICATING DRINKS’, and warnings such as ‘Beware of evil companions’ and ‘Touch Not! Taste Not! Handle not!’

Image credit:  

Framed picture
Museums Victoria, c. 1908
https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/254445 

Card signed by Mabel Valentine
National Museum of Australia, 1880
1997.0045.0017

Pledged, Sydney Punch, 17.03.1876

Pledged

An example of a satirical cartoon from 1876 making light and fun of the temperance movement 

Image credit

Sydney Punch, National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article253641111 

Star Hotel Dubbo card 2 side 2 (1)

Western Star Hotel, Dubbo   

According to the Macquarie Regional Library website the Western Star Hotel was at one time known as “the highland Home” and run as a temperance hotel in 1878. Temperance hotels would operate essentially as a regular hotel except that it would strictly prohibit no alcohol served. 

Image Credit

Courtesy of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU
Full image can be found at https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/113977

Temperance Hall, Pitt Street November 1870, State Library of NSW

Temperance Hall, Pitt Street November 1870

An example of a Temperance hall on Pitt street in Sydney proudly proclaiming its coffee and dining rooms

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

Woman

Women’s Christian Temperance Union Marquee, circa 1910

An example of a marquee set up by the WCTU. Though the exact location is not known it appears that, having set up on a beach, the WCTU would have had an opportunity to talk to pedestrians and passers-by on the merits of Temperance and even possibly attempt to encourage people to sign “the pledge” to abstain from alcohol. 

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, B 56602

Episode two: The Original Lockout Laws



The Temperance Movement has started to gather pace, with changes to the legal drinking age and the introduction of the six o’clock lock outs – the Original Lockout Laws. This ushered in the six o’clock swill, where some might argue things went from bad to worse. But there was another problem bubbling away in the background… Opium was regulated and found in seemingly harmless items including cordial, and sarsaparilla. Things had to be turned around, with a referendum on prohibition and repeal of the legalisation of opium.
Chris Anemaat and Josh Ronan from the Old Dubbo Gaol are back for episode two – The Original Lockout Laws. 

An opium den, Melbourne 1896 

An opium den, Melbourne 1896

People lying in a Melbourne opium den smoking pipes in 1896. Opium dens were largely operated by Chinese immigrants; the smoking of opium was legal up until 1905.

A number of raids and drug busts on opium dens occurred in Dubbo. The arguments for making smoking opium illegal were often laced with racist overtones. The use of laudanum (a tincture of opium) was still legal and used as pain medicine and sedative by a mainly middle and upper class white population.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Canberra 

Canberra’s prohibition ends, 1928

From 1910 to 1928 all new liquor licenses were banned in the ACT. The laws prevented new liquor licenses opening, but it didn’t stop people buying alcohol outside of the ACT and bringing it back in with them. The law finally ended after a furore developed when politicians opened their own bar in parliament house, seen as too great a hypocrisy to get away with the public agitated for the law to end.

This picture shows the first shipment of alcohol arriving in Canberra after the laws were changed.

Image Credit:

Courtesy of National Archives of Australia

1500 march in liquor reform protest, 1954

1500 march in liquor reform protest, 1954

While this image from The Daily Telegraph shows there was still strong support to leave the Liquor Laws and 6pm closing as they were, in NSW in 1954 another referendum was held officially ending 6pm close and the 6 o’clock swill.

Image Credit:

Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia


 
Bungs warning 

Bung’s Warning

An example from May 1916 of a cartoon showing support for early closing and the liquor act. The liquor trade was often represented by a corpulent figure who went by the name ‘Bung’ (a bung is a stopper for liquor casks/barrels/bottles etc.), this cartoon is essentially stating that the liquor trade made their money off of the backs of those addicted to liquor.

Image Credit:

Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Liquor Referendum sign

Liquor Referendum Sign

In the lead-up to the Liquor Referendum on opening hours during World War 1 posters supporting various hours would appear. 6pm was the hour that temperance organisation would support, while the liquor industry supported later times. This sign is showing support for 9pm.

Image credit:

Courtesy of City of Sydney Archives

Lock up the liquor not the man 

Lock up the liquor not the man

This poster is supporting the 6pm closing time in a 1916 referendum, the poster links later closing times and alcohol with crime.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

James Kennedy mugshot, 1912

James Kennedy mugshot, 1912

Dubbo Gaol

This Dubbo Gaol prisoner record demonstrates the difficulties that authorities had with dealing with those addicted to alcohol. From his record James Kennedy struggled throughout his life with alcohol charges from 1900 through to 1912 when this photo was taken. Most times those with liquor problems were thrown in gaol. With no real alternative and no real treatment those with serious liquor issues would often find themselves in and out of gaol. 

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Archives NSW

Patrick Kinchella mugshot 1903 

Patrick Kinchella mugshot, 1903

Bathurst gaol

If someone was recognised as having a problem with drink they or someone on their behalf could request a prohibition order from the court system, this order prohibited any licensed establishment to sell them liquor. In 1928 Patrick Kinchella’s wife made the application at the Dubbo Court, which was put into effect for 12 months. As the prison record shows he had earlier in his life been arrested in 1903 for stealing.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Archives NSW

Macquarie View Hotel Dubbo 1930

Macquarie View Hotel, 1930

On the corner of Macquarie and Talbragar Streets, the Macquarie View Hotel was one of the many hotels in Dubbo where police would search for any breaches of the Liquor Act. As mentioned in the second episode of the podcast, in 1928 Sgt. Payne of the police would make such a search at the Macquarie View and arrested licensee Arthur Ryan for allowing liquor to be served after 6pm.

Image credit

Courtesy of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU
Full image can be found at http://hdl.handle.net/1885/113925


Now Boys Vote Six or the Girls Won 

Now boys vote six or the girls won’t love you (image has been flipped)

A sign supporting 6 o’clock closing, a popular temperance campaign aimed at encouraging men to vote for 6pm closing or their wives and girlfriends will not love them. A slogan often featuring in the temperance movement was also “lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine”. 

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State library of South Australia

Sydneys beer guzzle

Sydney’s beer guzzle, 1950

After 6pm closing was brought in the issue of what would be known as ‘the 6 o’clock swill’ developed. This was the time between 5pm and 6pm when workers would rush to the nearest pub and attempt to drink as much as they could in a short amount of time, often leading to unedifying scenes of intoxication. 

Image Credit:

Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia 
The Sydney Swill at 6

The Sydney Swill at 6

Image Credit:

Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia


Six o' clock closing ABC, video

When the bill allowing liquor license for 10 pm closing was about to be passed in South Australia, the ABC reported from a lively watering hole in 1960s Adelaide to record the last moments of the "six o'clock swill".

Image Credit: Courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Obtained through Wikimedia Commons

 

Episode three: Shanty Towns and Illegal Gambling

Have you heard of a Shanty Town? What about sly grog shops and sleeper cutter camps? These are all places that alcohol was illegally sold or traded. People who worked in these camps were working all day in the hot sun, and were on a pretty decent wage. So what else is there to do when you’re a cashed up worker? Spend it on grog! This is when chaos unfolds… queue informers. These people were called in the help police shutdown the selling of alcohol in these shanty towns. But there were also illegal gambling rings which were raided and shutdown.

Chris Anemaat and Josh Ronan from the Old Dubbo Gaol are joining Annabelle for the final episode for our Prohibition mini-series: Shanty Towns and illegal gambling.

The Two Up School 

The Two Up School, 1928

After the development of sophisticated “schools” of two-up, essentially professionalised illegal gambling rings, around the country there were a number of police raids to attempt to break up the trade. In Dubbo a number of these schools were busted along the Macquarie River such as in 1942 were 39 men aged 19 to 69 were arrested. During times of depression and war two-up was seen by some as entertainment, as a distraction, and for those desperate for money the opportunity to earn something from the winnings.

Image credit

Courtesy of Trove, the National Library of Australia 

Speiler inventory 1 

Spieler Inventory, 1916

On display in this image are some of the items a spieler or con-artist may carry with them. On display are items like loaded dice, double headed coins, and thimbles to play “pea and thimble” a game quite like three card monte where a pea is hidden under one of three thimbles and the participant has to guess which one after being shuffled around. There is even a revolver in the inventory if things get dicey with an unhappy customer, or the spieler feels the customer is winning too much!

Paul Bailey was caught in Dubbo in 1885 with just such an inventory, and in 1903 a raid on a group of spielers in Dubbo caught seven with the above items, as well as “spinning jenny” to be used in a wheel of fortune type game.

Image credit

Courtesy of Trove, the National Library of Australia 

Three card trick 

Three card trick

The three card trick or three card monte was a favourite of “card-sharpers” and “spielers” aka confidence tricksters. The three card trick was essentially to try and pick the queen out of three cards being shuffled before your eyes. This simple gambling game could be easily loaded if the card-sharper was good at sleight of hand to swap out the queen. Often during the Dubbo Show three card trickster would ply their trade, with a deck of cards and an umbrella used as a make shift table as their tools of the trade.

Image credit

Courtesy of Trove, the National Library of Australia 

SP Betting pictures 

Starting Price Betting, 1948

With the rise of transistor radio and more immediate forms of hearing news and transferring information, illegal off course S. P. Betting or Starting Price Betting became more common. Radios would draw thousands to hotels across the country to bet on races, while the introduction of the telephone saw further expansion.


Lookouts would keep an eye on the streets for the police, slate was used to write on which could be quickly erased if a raid were on, and the use of code and hidden gambling slips were employed.

Image credit:

Courtesy of Trove, the National Library of Australia 

Sly grog shanty  

Sly grog shanty

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State library of Victoria

Coffee Tent and sly grog shop, 1852

Railway worker camps were known at the time for being hard working groups of tradesmen who had a hard thirst. Often sly-grog shops, sometimes masked as coffee tents, would appear to sell illegal spirits and alcohol to the workers prompting authorities to lead raids into the camps to halt the trade.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State library of Victoria

Railway fettlers camp, 1914 

Railway fettlers camp, 1914

An example of a railway camp. As the railway networks spread across the various states the workers (often known as ‘navvys’) who constructed the railway, along with their families, moved with them in camps like moving cities.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Peter Lee alias Lane mugshot 

Peter Lee alias Lane mugshot

Dubbo Gaol, 1896

Peter Lee was arrested in 1896 for operating a sly grog shop at Kenny’s Camp near Geurie, one of a number of navvy camps working on the railway network. For this crime he received 6 months Hard Labour in Dubbo Gaol.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State Archives of NSW

 

'Here they are gents!' The Three Card Trick

Image credit

Courtesy of Trove, the National Library of Australia 

GAZA, PALESTINE. TROOPS PLAY A GAME OF TWO UP AT NIGHT 

GAZA, PALESTINE. TROOPS PLAY A GAME OF TWO UP AT NIGHT
Components of illicit stills 

Components of illicit stills

Examples of the components of an illicit still for the making of sly grog. This particular still was confiscated from inmates of the German internment camp in Holsworthy in 1916

Image credit:

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial


Coffee Tent 

Coffee Tent and sly grog shop, 1852

Railway worker camps were known at the time for being hard working groups of tradesmen who had a hard thirst. Often sly-grog shops, sometimes masked as coffee tents, would appear to sell illegal spirits and alcohol to the workers prompting authorities to lead raids into the camps to halt the trade.

Image credit:

Courtesy of the State library of Victoria

Chinese In Melbourne  Gambling. 

Chinese in Melbourne Gambling

A wood engraving that appeared in 1868 in the Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers.

Fan Tan was a game of chance that originated in China and brought to Australia by Chinese immigrants. The game essentially a group of small objects, like buttons, placed on a table and covered with a bowl. Players bet on whether 4 or less buttons will be left at the end of the game. The croupier then removes with a stick buttons 4 at a time until 4 or less are left. Those who guessed right win.

Gambling laws of the time rendered fan tan and lottery games like pakapoo illegal, because of this there were many fan tan raids.  In Dubbo there were a number of dramatic raids on fan tan rooms and gambling dens.

Image credit:
Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria



Charley Way, 1896 

Charley Way mugshot

Dubbo Gaol, 1896

In 1896 a police raid was conducted in an opium store owned by Cock Chung in Dubbo on Macquarie Street, at this time opium was legal to sell and buy. Charley Way was one of 24 who were in the house playing fan tan. The majority were fined, but could not pay the fine and were sent to gaol. Charley Way was sent to Dubbo Gaol for 7 days.

Image credit:
Courtesy of the State Archives of NSW


Australian soldiers playing two up behind the firing line at Gallipoli 

Australian soldiers playing two up at Gallipoli, 1914

Image credit

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial




Last Edited: 24 Feb 2020

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