Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The indignity starts here.
Get yer gear off, stand on the H and grasp yer knees while the warder puts the latex glove on.
This is the intake area of Freo Prison, built in the 1940s, used until 1991.
Your particulars were taken down, you were photographed, made to strip, cavity searched, deloused in the showers through that white door on the right, issued a green shirt and trousers and a slop bucket, and banged up.
(The bloke in the Driz-a-bone is the tour guide. And an otter*.)
Interior of One Division or Two Division
Muster was at 7AM. You had 15 minutes to get dressed, grab your razor and your slop bucket and stand by your door.
Left to right: 1850 to 1960s, 1970s, 1970s to 1991.
Yer looking here at the toilets used by convicts and prisoners in Fremantle Prison from its opening 1850 to its closing in 1991.
The one in the middle is a chemical loo, introduced in the 1970s. Wasn't a huge success. The prisoners either smashed them up or drank the chemicals.
After the fiasco of the chemical toilets in the 1970s, it was back to the bucket system. The only upgrade was from metal to plastic.
You and yer slops bucket and water bucket spent 14½ hours of the day and night together in a cell, and God help if you pissed in the wrong one at 3AM.
After muster you marched into the division yard with your razor and slops bucket, emptied the bucket into an open drain and had a wash and a shave.
The yard was where you stayed all day, rain hail and blazing bloody heat. In the yard there was an open drain. You emptied yer slops in there and it was also the daytime dunny. Buckets were cleaned by the new guy.
This is Two Division Yard, dining room and outdoor bathroom. You spent your day in it with around 100 other men plus one warder in that mesh cage in the back right hand corner.
The roof wasn't added until the 1980s or '90s so you got wet in winter and roasted in summer. Behind the camera are the drinking trough, the open drain-cum-toilet, the slops buckets cleaning spot and the wrecked plumbed dunnies of the 1970s.
Other than your morning shave and wash behind the earholes at the trough, you got 3 showers a week, in one of them big open-plan tiled mass shower thingies. Like the one on Oz but with half-wall stalls. Mind you, 3 showers a week was a fucking luxury compared to the convicts, they got a bath once a week. Christ.
In the 1970s portable chemical dunnies (toilets) were put in cells and plumbed dunnies were built in the yards, against the back walls. Trouble was the prisoners either rammed things down them, smashed them up or, and I'm quoting the guidebook here, "drank the chemicals". Hopefully before someone had weed---I think we'll stop that train of thought right there!
So the cell dunnies were confiscated, the yard dunnies were stopped up with concrete and the slop buckets re-instated until the prison closed in 1991.
The plumbed dunnies in the yards had half-doors. This was so the warders could see if there was one bloke in there or two or three. But of course if the bloke in there stood up, another bloke could easily reach over the top of the door and give him a hand. Thus proving that horny blokes with time on their hands are more inventive than blokes who design prisons.
In the women's part of the prison, which housed up to 16 prisoners, things were about the same. Except that some prisoners were pregnant when they came in so you had stinking nappies and screaming sprogs to add to the delights of being banged up. After a bit the babies were taken away and handed over to relatives of the prisoner or made wards of the state.
Warders on duty in the main yard were allowed to pee. Provided they didn't take their eyes off the prisoners. So their loo was in the middle of the yard and had windows all round. On the other hand it had shelter and shade and wasn't a bucket. Sheer luxury.
Some poor bastard fell off Woy Woy railway platform on the weekend. "He was struck by a southbound freight train moments later and killed instantly," says Central Coast Live.
18 years old. Jesus. My sympathies to his family.
* Otter. Hairy bloke. Related to bears. Bears are chubby hairy blokes. But not all chubs are bears. Otters are never chubs but always bears.