Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol

The Old Melbourne Gaol is a vivid and stark reminder of the 19th Century prison life. Only one cell block remains of the original complex, built approximately 150 years ago. The gaol opened in 1845 and closed in 1929, and was the site of 135 executions, including the infamous Ned Kelly. Since closing in 1929 the Gaol has been used as a police storage facility and military detention centre during WWII.

Address: 
Russell Street, between Victoria and Latrobe, Melbourne, VIC
Tel: 
0396637228
Hours: 
9.30am-4.30pm every day except for Christmas and Good Friday
Admission: 
Free for Natioanl Trust Members, Charges apply for non-members.
Facilities: 
Brochure, wheelchair access to ground floor, shop, café nearby (mon-fri), guided tours, education programs K-12.
Collection: 
Three particular features of our collection are an original suit of Kelly Gang armour, Ned Kelly's death mask and Ned Kelly's pistol. The gaol also house a large number of artefacts. Of particular interest is the "Particulars of Executions" book and the Hangman's Box. Most of our collection is either original to the gaol, the era, or an inmate.
Share

Items

Gaol Cell Block

Creator:
Public Works Department, Melbourne
Description:
Original 19th Century, three storey, bluestone cell block. Based on British prison engineer Joshua Jebb designs. Relic of first extensive gaol complex in Victoria. Includes 19th Century scaffold.
Date:
1852

Part of large bluestone prison complex built between 1852-1865. The second cell block was built in response to pressing prison accommodation needs caused by the Victorian Gold Rush and burgeoning metropolis.

Phrenology Head

Creator:
A.N. Fowler, London, Ludgate, England
Description:
Ceramic white phrenology head with black writing over cranium
Item Id Number:
OMG156

Phrenology was used to predict and explain human behaviour. The head was divided into various sections that related to human behaviour. F. Gall, J. Spurzheim and G. Combe initiated the 'science' and wrote books, lectured and taught phrenology.

Lashing Triangle

Lashing Triangle

Lashing Triangle
Creator:
unknown
Description:
Nine main components. Three octagonal wooden posts support a padded triangle on which the persons body rested. Arms and legs were spread eagled and strapped to the supporting post.
Date:
19th C
Item Id Number:
OMG145

The lashing triangle was used extensively in prison to punish prisoners who broke prison rules and regulations. The courts could also sentence a prisoner to a whipping. Last used in 1956 to punish William O'meally.

Death Mask

Emma Williams Death Mask

Emma Williams Death Mask
Creator:
unknown
Description:
Solid plaster cast of the head of Emma Williams. Hair in a bun and eyebrows present on face. Plaster covered with flesh coloured paint.
Date:
4/11/1895
Item Id Number:
OMG025

Emma Williams death mask was made after her execution at the Old Melbourne Gaol on the 4th of November 1895, for the murder of her baby son at Albert Park. Death masks were used in the study of phrenology. It was thought that phrenologists could help predict and understand criminal behaviour.

Kelly Armour

A Suit of Kelly Armour

A Suit of Kelly Armour
Creator:
Kelly Gang and Blacksmiths
Description:
A suit of body armour, consisting of approximately ten pieces bolted together or tied with leather thonging. Hand forged from parts of ploughs. Weighs 90lb or 40 kilos.
Date:
C1880
Item Id Number:
OMG126

There were four suits of armour made by the Kelly gang. After Ned's capture, the Victorian Police dismantled the suits and various pieces became muddled. More books have been written on Ned Kelly than any other Australian. Sidney Nolan's famous series of paintings and sketches are based on the Kelly story.