12th February 2021

NSW Her Majesty’s Goals: Gaol Warders


Warders’ uniforms

At the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne in 1875 were displayed blankets, warders’ uniforms, straight jackets, prisoners’ uniforms, etc, made by prison labour at Pentridge Prison.

The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 30th September 1881 page 17.

In the 1880s it was suggested that, to save the NSW Government money, and to provide gainful employment, that uniforms such as for police, railways, warders, etc, be made by prisoners. This suggestion may have been adopted, as by 1890 prison clothing was made and mended by the tailors’ shop in Bathhurst prison. “Prisoners who have been taught trades do not come back to gaol so often as those who have not been so taught.” However, a prisoner in 1904 thought that learning to make prisoners and warders clothing did not make a man proficient in making civilian clothing; probably a fair point.

Sunday Times (Sydney), 3rd July 1898 page 7.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 14th June 1899 page 5.

Four pages of regulations (!!!)  from 1921 for NSW prison staff can be found at  https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/222044671/13881930   Mention of small gold gilt buttons is made, but with no other description.

By 1923 uniforms for warders, and others, were let to tender by such uniform supply firms as the Commonwealth Clothing Factory and A. Bowley’s. However, boots and uniforms were still being made in NSW prisons in 1950, even though there were complaints they were ill-fitting and would be better made by clothing manufacturers.

Prisoners in Queensland, West Australia and South Australia also made warders uniforms. As early as the 1880s, prisoners in Hobart were making “government uniforms”.

State Library Victoria # H13567: Warder’s apparel, 1900.

Museums Victoria #MM7072. Warders, Pentridge Prison c.1910

The Herald (Melbourne), 9th December 1933 page 35. Pentridge Officers.

Museum Victoria Collection #133287: Chief warder in uniform. c.1947