Posts Tagged ‘Execution’

Today the gaol in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is open for guided tours and is the only surviving intact goal for the period of the 19th Century in Queensland. It was officially known as Brisbane Jail but gained a more local name of Boggo Road.

In 1903 a female prison was built, later known as Division 2 and is the surviving building. It has been heritage listed. Division 1, built in 1883, was demolished during an overhaul to provide an oval and recreation facilities in the 1960’s. Division 1 saw 42 hangings one of those was Ernest Austin who was the last man executed in Queensland in 1913, under the oval on the former site was a facility that became known as the black hole. It is where the prisoners were subjected to punishment of what I presume was pretty darned awful. It was used until some time in the 1980’s.

During the 1970’s the inmates undertook protests, hunger strikes and riots hit the headlines. The prison conditions were outdated and inadequate. In 1989 Division 2 building was closed down and 1992 they closed Division 1 and it was demolished in 1996. A modern prison for women operated adjacently until 2000 and was taken down in 2006.

Ernest Austin is alleged to be a member of the Boggo Road Gaol ghost collection. Legend has it that he was not at all sorry for his crimes and mocked the crowd that gathered at his the gallows for his execution. He said he would return from the grave to cause more suffering, he went on to haunt the prison, lock eyes with his victims and then drive them into madness.

It seems this story doesn’t fit so well with the records that suggest his last words were to beg forgiveness. For some reason he is said to haunt Division 2 but was hanged in the demolished Division 1. It seems this story may be an urban legend or an old story that crossed into the area after the original building was destroyed.

StateLibQld 1 111256 Entrance to Boggo Road Gaol, ca. 1936.jpg
By Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland., Public Domain, Link

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The subject of hanging is already pretty gruesome in itself but imagine the old area being haunted. There are said to be plenty of lovely headless ex kings and queens around the world so is it surprising that with such a traumatic type of death the dead tend to “hang around” (oh yes shoot me the pun was awful). Public hanging would seem to have been the norm back in the day, whilst it was moved back behind the prison walls around the 1860’s possibly to reduce the amount of corpses left around the gibbets for years.

Perhaps one of the most famous for those in England is that of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England in 1956. Ellis was found guilty after shooting her lover on the Easter Sunday the year before. Her ghost is said to haunt the pub there, The Magdala in Hampstead, London.

There is another link to her haunting as her lover is buried at the Penn Churchyard and there have been reports of a woman in white around the area. It’s possible it is her ghost searching him out but there is nothing to say that it definitely is, and the woman in white is a fairly common phenomenon. Also I would be a little sceptical as she is buried in Amersham Cemetery ( I would expect with her head but hey who knows!).

Another report (thanks to the fantastic Fortean Times) has a man called John Ellis who was reportedly haunting B-wing in the former condemned block at Strangeways Prison. The staff at the prison have also reported seeing a mysterious man in a dark suit with a briefcase who disappears just before the old staircase (made of iron). He has also been put forwards as a potential for an invisible force that pushed the owner on the shoulder and pinched her bottom, the reason he may have visited there is that he used to run a barber’s shop at the premises. John Ellis committed suicide after seeing the execution of Edith Thompson in 1923 and having found the matter so distressing he never recovered.

Video is Styx, Renegade music and the scene is from Supernatural.

“Hangman is coming down from the Gallows and I don’t have very long.”