For over 170 years, the old Geelong Gaol has overlooked the township of Geelong. It has been a place of incarceration of men, women and children during its 138 years of operational history. Some of the roles it has been used may surprise you! In this episode we revisit the history, the building and some the uses it has had!
In the earliest days, it was a maximum security prison for male and female prisoners. Female prisoners were held at Geelong until the early 1900s when all were transferred to the Female Prison at Coburg. After this, there was the odd female held on remand. Male prisoners remained here right up until its closure in 1991.
In the 1860s, the north, south and east wings became the Myers Street Industrial School for young girls aged between 3 and 16 years. It also held young boys up to the age of six. It would take about 4 years before the outcry began of housing children in a place meant for detention.
For the majority of its history, Geelong Gaol has been a hospital gaol for the Colony of Victoria. This meant prisoners held in any of the gaols who were ill, needing specialst care, dying, elderly, disabled could be sent to Geelong to see out their sentences. It was thought being close to the sea would have recuperative powers.
During the Second World War, the Geelong Gaol became a military detention barracks known as Geelong Detention Barracks. It held up to 192 SUS (Soldiers under Sentence) across the services along with some overseas military prisoners.
The Geelong Gaol closed in 1991.
During its 138 years of operational history it was the scene of 6 executions, countless escapes and hundreds of death from illness and suicides.