This post was inspired by an inquiry from a Year 9 student. Thank you Arron.
The origins of public policing
Propelled by the discovery of gold, the nature of policing in Victoria changed dramatically during the 1850s. These changes aimed to develop a united professional police force, based on a model of civil policing introduced in Britain by Sir Robert Peel in 1829.
The introduction of Peel’s model of civil policing in Britain in 1829 is now seen as a great leap forward in law and order. At the time, Peel’s model was controversial because it took the responsibility of policing away from local control and placed it in the hands of the government. The British public feared a police force used by the government to keep itself in power.
London Police Uniform 1829
To help people accept this new form of policing, Peel’s model had several developments. These included police having no weapons except a concealed club and a rattle to attract attention; not accepting men of military rank or influence within the Government; and applying methods of crime prevention, rather than punishment. Police were assigned to a particular district, which was then divided into beats. A policeman would get to know his beat, and this would help him detect crime. Regulations and manuals regarding civil policing duties were also published. The distinctive police uniform functioned to make people aware of the police presence and minimise accusations of police acting as spies. Police were also ordered to be civil towards all members of the public. This civility extended to the point of accepting ridicule without any argument. You can read more about the development of Peel’s police here.
Where and what did diggers drink?
This blog was inspired by a speech given by our CEO, Dr Jeremy Johnson in April 2010 at the University of Ballarat Beer Awards. The speech was based on research done by Sovereign Hill’s Senior Historian, Dr Jan Croggon. The speech was recorded and an audio file is available at the end of this blog.
The problem of alcohol and young men
“Diggers of low degree”, S. T. Gill. Gold Museum Collection
The colonial government of Victoria was incredibly worried about alcohol on the goldfields. The population of Victoria before 1860 was mainly young men, and the authorities were concerned that over indulgence in alcohol could lead to a breakdown in law and order in the colony. For that reason an act was passed to prohibit alcohol from being sold on the goldfields. This act allowed for harsh penalties if you were caught manufacturing or selling liquor. A first offence carried a £50 fine, whereas threatening with a pistol might only incur a fine of £5. The Act was policed by plain clothes men, who were given half of the £50 fine for a first offence, and then, because a second offence brought months of hard labour, and no profit for the police, they resorted to blackmail, taking £5 whenever they felt like it.
The Phoenix Foundry: Locomotive Builders of Ballarat. The History of a Ballarat Engineering Company. By Bob BUTRIMS & Dave MACARTNEY.
Here at Sovereign Hill we are in an enviable position as we are able to portray the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in Australia. Our museum contains the best collection of working steam engines in Victoria on permanent public display. Because of this we have developed several online education resources and face to face programs designed to support teachers and students studying this period of Australian history. We are continually searching for more material to help our understandings of this subject. Recently we discovered a new book focusing on one of the key foundries which grew from the gold rush period of Ballarat’s history. Marion Littlejohn, one of our Education Officers, has reviewed this book, which we feel would be a useful addition to any year 9 reference library for Depth Study 1 – the Industrial Revolution.
From Left; Oscar Zhang, Charles Zhang and Bill Moy From the CACSB standing in front of the Chinese Temple at Sovereign Hill
On the 15th of December 2013, Charles Zhang and his son Oscar will begin to retrace the footsteps of the Chinese prospectors, who travelled from Robe in South Australia to the Victorian Goldfields. The re-enactment is planned to take 15 days, with Charles and Oscar travelling approximately 35 kilometres per day. Before they leave Ballarat on their way to Robe, Charles, Oscar and Bill Moy visited the Chinese Temple at Sovereign Hill to ask for permission and good fortune from their ancestors during their adventure. Their walk from Robe to Ballarat will also end at Sovereign Hill on Saturday the 28th of December. Charles Oscar and Bill are all members of the Chinese Australian Cultural Society of Ballarat (CACSB). Interestingly they represent different generations of Chinese immigrating to Ballarat. Bill’s Ancestors came to Ballarat during the Gold Rush. Charles and Oscar represent more recent arrivals to our city.
The Aim of the walk is to follow the route taken by the Chinese miners. Oscar and Charles will commemorate the contribution made by the Chinese gold diggers on the Central Victoria Goldfields, while promoting rural Australian towns and cities.
Pot for Incense burning with Jade talismans and a coin given to Charles with links to the Avoca Goldfileds. These will be carried on the journey.
Regular details, stories & photos will be posted on the Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat website: www.chineseballarat.org.au and Ballarat Community Radio Station 99.9 Voice FM: www.voicefm.com.au. We will also attempt to keep this post updated with information about the progress of the walk.
Chinese coin from Avoca
So keep coming back to follow our intrepid adventurers on their special voyage.
The Chinese were forced to travel overland from South Australia, due to an immigration tax imposed on them by the Victorian Colonial Government. The Government were concerned by the numbers of Chinese travelling to the goldfields, and tried using taxes to stop immigration from China. You can read more about this at Heritage Australia and our previous blog: Racism and Taxes: Life for the Chinese on the Goldfields
Exploration/Law and Order
This Blog may contain images and names of deceased people, it may also contain words and descriptive terms that may be offensive to Indigenous Australians.
Bushmans Hut by S. T. Gill. Gold Museum Collection.
Often the perceptions that are held of Aboriginal people during the Gold Rush period of Australian history were that; Aboriginal people were marginalised and only involved on the periphery of mining areas, that they did not understand what was happening and, the experience of Aboriginal people was very negative. Now a new book is casting a whole different perspective on Aboriginal involvement in Goldfields history. “Black Gold” by Dr Fred Cahir of the University of Ballarat provides a wider view of the contributions made by Aboriginal people during the Gold Rush era of Australian history. Dr Cahir gives specific examples to show the contribution to goldfields life by Aboriginal people, in exploration, and Law and Order in Goldfields society. Continue reading
Apothecaries: medicines and food
Interior of Apothecary at Sovereign Hill. Gold Museum Collection
In a previous post we talked about doctors on the goldfields, and the early hospitals in Ballarat. But there were many other medical people on the goldfields. Among them were the Apothecaries, who could make up medicines, from the ingredients available at the time. Most of these ingredients were based on plant and animal extracts, and could also be used as foodstuffs. Their role is now mainly performed by Pharmacists, but an Apothecary did so much more. They also performed surgery, midwifery and gave medical advice. In this Blog we will explore the secretive world of the Apothecary, and how they contributed to the lives of people on the goldfields and the wider world.
A short history of sweets
Our current school holiday program, the “Raspberry Drop Rebellion” inspired us to look at our confectioners and the history of sweet making. We already have a blog on raspberry drops and the history of our confectioners, so with the assistance of our Senior Historian Dr Jan Croggon, this blog is focused on the history of sweet making up to the goldfields era.
- Etching of confectionery booth, including “a little boy with his conical bag of sugar plums” by Christoph Weigel, c. 1700
From earliest times, ‘Sweets’ were precious rarities, and status symbols, dating back to 600 years ago, when sugar was a rare and expensive commodity. Sugar was closely associated with medicine, celebrations, and food preservation, and all of these came together in the early 1800s to be identified as ‘confectionery’, and sold in sweet shops.
Sugar sweetened early medicines. Apart from sweetening sugar can also preserve fruits and vegetables. Sugar was supposed to be good for colds, and comfits (nuts or seeds covered in sugar) were considered to aid digestion in the later Middle Ages (around 1400 CE). In later centuries sugar was used to preserve fruit and flowers for the winter months and enhanced the luxury image of confectionery.
From the Elizabethan age (around 1550 CE), through to the 18th century, sugar was a rich indulgence – and then falling sugar prices and technical innovation made ‘sweets’ available to more people, and ‘sugar became a necessity, and sweets a commonplace part of childhood.’ (Mason 1999).