HM Prison Beechworth opened in 1860 and closed in 2004.
Not looking so good these days. But a little further down good old Ford Street is Beechworth lock-up which makes up for it in bucket loads. This lock-up is so bright and shiny it’s hard to believe it was built in 1867.* Maybe it’s been sand-blasted recently. There’s room for everyone: ladies on the right, gents on the left.
See that far door ?
Here it is again in close-up thanks to the wonders of modern technology. The iconic & infamous Ned Kelly stepped inside – or was more likely dragged inside – to enjoy the gracious, spacious, sun-filled interiors for a short time in 1871. So they say.
Ned’s mother Ellen Kelly also spent time in the adjoining cell in 1878. They both also had stints in the old jail. Ellen Kelly was remanded at HM Beechworth in 1878 on the charge of the attempted murder of Constable Fitzpatrick. Ned got bed and breakfast there during his committal hearing over the murders of Constable Lonigan and Constable Scanlon which was held at Beechworth Courthouse in 1880.**
But my book is about jailbreaks not Ned Kelly. I’ve been looking into bushranger types like Moondyne Joe, WA’s most famous bushranger who escaped from Newcastle (now Toodyay) and Fremantle in the 1860’s; Martin Cash, Lawrence Kavanagh & George Jones known as Cash & Co who menaced Tasmania in the early 1840’s (Cash managed to make two extremely daring escapes from the wretched Port Arthur); the fiddle-playing William Graham, Thomas Scott & George Morris who roamed WA in the 1860’s; William Henry Hayes and his mates James Newchurch and Arthur Harrison who high-tailed it from Yatala in South Australia, all escapees from an earlier era with great stories to tell. But this Ned Kelly? Never escaped from a prison, so what good is he? ***
* Was it really???
** He also did two earlier stints at HM Beechworth in the 1870’s.
*** Only joking. Love the Ned-ster.