The Stuart Town Gaol was opened by the government in Alice Springs, then called Stuart, in1909. It housed male and female, adult and juvenile prisoners. The Stuart Town Gaol became known as the Alice Springs Gaol in 1933 when the town of Stuart was officially renamed Alice Springs.
The South Australian Government began building the Stuart Town Gaol in 1907 just before it handed control of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth Government.
Located at 8 Parsons Street, the Gaol was built out of local stone. It had two cells. A small cell at the front of the building was for European prisoners. They slept on wooden benches. A large cell at the back was for Aboriginal prisoners. They slept on the floor on mats. The Aboriginal prisoners also had an exercise yard.
The Gaol was built when the town of Alice Springs, then called Stuart, had a European population of about 30. The Northern Territory at that time had a settled Aboriginal population of about 200 and central Australia had a nomadic population of about 5,000. When it was hot school children sometimes moved into the goal for their lessons.
The Gaol's first prisoners were transferred from the wooden police hut at Heavitree Gap in September 1909. One of the prisoners was a woman.
The gaol's longest serving keeper, Sergeant Robert Stott, ran the gaol for nearly two decades. During his time the gaol was rarely full. The number of prisoners increased sharply after the railway reached Stuart in 1929.
Of the six hundred or so prisoners who spent time in the Stuart Town Gaol, 24 were women and four were 17 years old. The Northern Territory put 17 year olds in adult gaols until 1 June 2000. Of the four juveniles in the gaol, three were charged with theft. They served sentences of between 3 and 6 months hard labour. One was sentenced to two weeks hard labour for being in a prohibited area. The prohibited area was the central business district of Alice Springs. It was declared 'a prohibited area for Aboriginals' from 1928 until 1965.
When the town of Stuart was renamed Alice Springs in 1933 the Stuart Town Gaol became known as the Alice Springs Gaol.
1904 - 1909 Heavitree Gap Gaol
1909 - 1933 Stuart Town Gaol
1933 - 1938 Alice Springs Gaol
1938 - 1996 Her Majesty's Gaol and Labour Prison, Alice Springs
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Alice Springs Gaol', The Advertiser (Adelaide), 14 February 1930, p. 21, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article29009628; Northern Territory Government Department of Correctional Services Annual Report 2000-2001, Northern Territory Government Department of Correctional Services, Northern Territory Government, 2001, https://web.archive.org/web/20160322003515/http://www.nt.gov.au/justice/docs/depart/annualreports/ntcs_annrep_0001.pdf; Bucknall, Graeme, Stuart Town Gaol, National Trust, Northern Territory, Darwin, 1990, 12 pp; Coughlan, Frances, Aboriginal Town Camps and Tangentyere Council:The Battle For Self-Determination in Alice Springs, Master of Arts Thesis, Department of Aboriginal Studies La Trobe University, March 1991, https://web.archive.org/web/20200416165800/https://www.tangentyere.org.au/publications/research_reports/coughlan-aboriginal-town-camps-and-tangentyere-council.pdf; Donovan, Peter, Alice Springs: its history and the people who made it, Alice Springs Town Council, Alice Springs, 1988; Kelham, Megg, 'Following in Flynn's footsteps Part 2 - Flynn's Alice', in The Flynn Trail: A heritage tour in Alice Springs, Flynn's map - Population in Central Australia - is on page 3 of this resource, 2010, https://web.archive.org/web/20170215175506/http://flynntrail.org.au/discovery_resources/Reading/Flynn's_Alice.pdf; Kelham, Megg, 'A Very Short History of the Stuart Town Gaol', in Territory stories, Northern Territory Library, Northern Territory Library, Alice Springs, 2010, https://hdl.handle.net/10070/656925; Leonard, Jane, 'Our Past We Pass surveys the Old Alice', Alice Springs News, 10 May 2000; 'Stuart Town Gaol', in National Trust, Northern Territory, National Trust, Northern Territory, https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/stuart-town-gaol/; Northern Territory Archives Service NTAS F110 Gaol and Labour Prison, Alice Springs Register of prisoners & NTAS F257 Police Station, Alice Springs - Charge Books 1929-1969 & National Archives of Australia: NAA A1 1927/9593 Annual Report Central Australia 1926 -1927, NAA A1 1911/20305 Appointment of Police Corporal Robert Stott as Keeper Stuart Town Gaol, and Clerk and Bailiff Local Court, Alice Springs & NAA A1, 1930/232 Prohibited Area for Aboriginals, Central Australia. Proclamations "P", 1929 -1930.
Prepared by: Megg Kelham, Gary George and Karen George
Created: 8 April 2014, Last modified: 7 November 2018