Headed out to the Freo Prison this morning with Poppy Jack. It was really interesting to go through the old jail and see some of the cells and the evidence that has been left behind over the years.
One of the first things we saw, before the tour had even started, was a matchstick model of the entrance to the prison that looks remarkably like some work that a gentleman my father knows, through his days of working at the Army museum, and who is serving a life sentence in Casuarina prison. I pointed it out to my father and although there was no ‘artist’ listed, the plaque did note that it had been done by a Casuarina inmate who was currently serving a life sentence..
We then got picked up by our tourguide, who was quite knowledgeable and very funny, who began us on our tour by asking us all to strip down so that we could don our prison greens before we went any further…noone really took him up on his offer.
Its hard to see, but the 6th commandment actually reads “though shalt not commit murder” as opposed to “though shalt not kill” as when this was originally painted, the WA government was unable to say ‘do not kill’ as they were still putting prisoners to death in the prison system.
Used for floggings! Prisoners were strapped into this, back facing outwards, and were then flogged with a Cat-o-nine tails for as many lashings as they had been sentenced. After about 5 lashings, sat was rubbed into the wounds to prevent infections. Lovely!
Fourty-four people total were hung at the Fremantle Prison, from 1889 until the last hanging in 1964. A total of 43 men and 1 woman (who was there for asking her step children to gargle with hydrochloric acid) were hung in this time.
On the way out of the prison, Poppy Jack stopped one of the tour guides and asked about the matchstick model we had seen on the way in. She didn’t know much about it, but suggested we talk to Dave who was now a tour guide but had actually been employed at the prison in 1950 (through to 1991 i believe). He confirmed that it had definitely been done by Jim Tilbury and him and dad had a talk back and forth about his time in the jail there. Apparently his weapon of choice was a stocking leg. Urk!