Policing was done on horseback for the entire
time a police station existed in the Towamba
One elderly resident remembered one policeman who would take his dog with him on his rounds. The dog would be several hundred yards ahead of the mounted officer and so the locals always had an early warning system when the policeman was on his way.
When the gold mining town of Yambulla, south-west of Towamba, was at its peak the closest station was at Towamba.
The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser
Wednesday 3 March 1858
POLICE DISTRICTS. Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, 24th February, 1858.
Several new Police Districts having recently been established, and certain modifications having become necessary in the boundaries of some of those previously existing, the following Boundaries of the Police Districts of the Colony are published for general information -1. All former notices of the same character being cancelled. 2. It may be proper to repeat the intimation, made on previous occasions of this kind, to the effect that the establishment of "Police Districts" is intended to facilitate the Police operations of the Colony, and not to supersede or in any way interfere with the boundaries of Counties already proclaimed, or which may hereafter be proclaimed. CHARLES COWPER. We give the boundaries of Southern Police Districts:
BOMBALO. - In the Squatting District of Monaro, and embracing parts of the Counties of Wellesley and Wallace; bounded on the north by the range dividing the waters falling to the Mac Laughlin River from those falling to the Umaralla and Snowy Rivers, to the confluence of the MacLaughlin and Snowy Rivers; thence by the Snowy River to the confluence of the Tongaro, or Jacob's River; and by that river upwards to the Great Dividing Range; on the west by the Great Dividing Range to the boundary between New South Wales and Victoria; on the south by that boundary to the western boundary of the County of Auckland; and on the east by that boundary, being the range dividing the waters of the Snowy and Murrumbidgee Rivers from those of the Towamba, Genoa, and Bega Rivers, to the range dividing the waters falling to the MacLaughlan River from those falling to the Umaralla and Snowy Rivers aforesaid.
SOME POLICEMEN STATIONED AT TOWAMBA BETWEEN 1893 AND 1922.
Campion. William Edward - Constable - 1893 - 1899
Lord. - Constable - ?
Colmer. Donald - Sen. Constable - 1910 - 1914
Dunn. Reginald Clarance - Constable - 1913 -
Glomer. Constable - 1913
Taper. John Bede - Constable - 1919 - 1922
Allmond. Constable - 1933
Crawford. Constable - 1934
TOWAMBA AND THE KELLY GANG LINK
(Editor): During my research into the early history of Towamba, I was interested to find that a police constable, who once lived in Towamba, was involved in the hold up by the Kelly Gang at Jerilderie. I often wondered at the reason Harry Richards came to Towamba, a remote area in the early 1900s, as he did not, as far as I could discover, serve as a policeman at the Towamba police station.
Recently I received an email asking if I had any information about the Richards clan other than what was on my website. The email came from Margaret, a descendant of Harry Richards on her father's side, and generously gave what information she had on her ancestor.
Margaret says: "My husband's ancestor was Alred Silvester Eugene Richards and he married Lucy McKee daughter of Joseph McKee and Mary (Maloney nee White). He was the Innkeeper of the Royal Arms Hotel at Nimmitabel."
Coincidently, the publican of the Towamba Hotel was a Mr. J. McKee (photo c1900 on 'Local Watering Holes' page). This would have been the same person.
It turns out that her ancestor, Alfred Silvester Eugene Richards, was the brother of Bertha Jane Hartneady nee Richards. Bertha Hartneady and her husband, John, ran a general store in Towamba up until 1940.
Bertha died in 1939 and her husband John died in 1941. They are both buried in Towamba cemetery. The store reverted to a private residence. That old building is now my home.
Trooper Henry (Harry) Richards' account of the three days he and Senior Constable Devine and Constable Devine's family were held prisoner by the Kelly Gang was published in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on 10 February, 1879.
"I was a young Constable. When the Kelly Gang came to Jerilderie they locked up the police. When the Kelly Gang came to the police station I got up first and was soon followed outside by Constable Devine. We were both undressed and not prepared to meet the Kelly Gang. Ned Kelly told us about a row in the town of Jerilderie. After he (Ned) had established that all the police were outside he brought out a revolver and threatened Constable Devine. Joe Byrne threatened me. The Kelly Gang then got the keys to the lock up and locked us in the watch house and then took our horses and put them in the police stables and gave then a good feed. After this the Kelly Gang went inside and escorted our wives and children into a room and appointed Steve Hart to guard us. Our families were threatened with our lives if they escaped.
(This is unclear as Constable Richards was engaged at the time and Senior Constable Devine was the only one married with a family. Editor S.M.H.)
Sunday 9 February, 1879
On Sunday morning the Kelly Gang allowed Mrs Devine to move around the police station to create an atmosphere of normality. She cleaned out the Court House for Church and set it up for the service under the watchful eye of Joe Byrne. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart dressed themselves up as policemen and had a good look around the town.
Later in the day Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, dressed as police took me for a walk around the town. During this time the members of the Kelly Gang checked out the position of the bank and the other main buildings in the town.
Monday 10 February, 1879
At about 11 am the Kelly Gang locked the police, Mrs Devine and children in the watch house with Constable Devine. Ned Kelly and Dan Kelly, dressed as police, then walked into town with me. Steve Hart and Joe Byrne followed on horse back.
After the robbery Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne escorted Mr Jefferson and young Rankin across to the Royal Mail Hotel, and from there to the police barracks and they were locked up with Senior Constable Devine and myself.
The Kelly Gang said their final farewells at the Travellers Rest Hotel and left town saying that they were going to hold up the Urana coach."
A more detailed account was later published in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on 12/2/1879
Sydney Morning Herald
... part of the KellyGang story
Further and fuller particulars have reached here in regard to the Kelly outrages. It appears that about 12 o'clock on Saturday night Kelly's gang struck up the Police Barracks at Jerilderie. They bailed up the police and put them in the lock up, where constable Devine who was in charge, was kept a prisoner until Monday night. The other constable at the station, Richards, was at times taken round the town in charge of Ned Kelly and Steve Hart. Mrs Devine and the children were shut up in another room during Sunday and Monday, and no one was allowed to go around the barracks. Early on Monday morning Kelly's horses were shod in Jerilderie. On Monday, when everything had been made secure at the barracks the Kellys dressed in police uniform. At about 11 am the two Kellys, being then disguised, walked down the street in company with constable Richards. Hart and Byrne followed on horseback. The Kellys walked to the Royal Hotel. where they saw Cox, the landlord. Richards introduced Cox to Kelly, who said he wanted the rooms in the Royal, as he intended to rob the bank but would not do anybody any harm. The bushrangers were then placed by Ned Kelly at the front part of the hotel and as people went in for a drink they were seized and placed in a room, were Dan Kelly acted as sentry . The bank was then entered at the rear by Kelly, who with two revolvers in hand, announced who he was. Resistance was considered useless and the manager and the bank clerks all surrendered. Up to this time no one had the slightest idea that the Kellys were in Jerilderie. At about 1 o'clock pm, three gentlemen entered the back in the usual way, not thinking anything was the matter, when Kelly rushed in from another room with two revolvers, and the gentlemen when they saw him ran out. Eventually he brought them back and threatened to shoot one of them but better counsels prevailed. About 2000 pounds was taken from the bank. When they had finished this cool proceeding they went to some of the hotels, treating every one civilly, and had drinks. Hart took a new saddle from the saddlers and several watches were taken, but afterwards returned. Two police horses were taken, and other horses wanted, but the residents begged as they belonged to a woman, that they should be left and Kelly did not take them. The telegraph operators with a number of others were taken prisoners to the lock up and were not let out until 7 pm. Eight telegraph poles were cut, and Byrne took possession of the office. He overhauled all the telegrams sent that day.
The affair caused a most profound situation and many able bodied men turned pale and almost fainted when they learned that the Kellys were in possession. The Kellys managed the whole affair with judgement, and had there been twice the number of police would have carried out their design.
The bushranging party left about 7 pm but no one can say what direction its members took."
Constable Harry Richards gave evidence of Ned Kelly's speech at Jerilderie on 29 October, 1880 at his trial in Melbourne.
He later took up land at Towamba in New South Wales.
The Towamba Connection
(Henry (Harry) Richards - born Robert Henry Richards)
Harry Richards died in 1936 aged 80 years and was buried in Towamba Cemetery next to his mother Ann Richards who died in 1904.
Margaret continues: "By the way, his mother, Anne, died at Towamba and is buried there I believe, while his father John died at Pambula Cottage Hospital.
Harry Richards was a twenty-two year old constable with three years experience when the Kelly gang arrived in Jerilderie on 8th February, 1879."
Margaret was under the impression that Harry Richards was dishonourably discharged from the police force: "Under today's circumstances, a 22yr old constable with 3 yrs experience would not have been subjected to the unjust discharge that Harry endured. After being captured by the Kelly Gang, locked up and made to behave under threat of further shootings, etc, there was no warm comfort from his constabulary nor his girlfriend of the time. How unfortunate that he then remained single, what torment he must have endured. No-one else was able to capture Ned earlier and it took more than a Constable and a Snr Constable to take him in the end. Certainly no Workplace Health and Safety duty of care to the workers in those days."
In a later email Margaret continues: "I have ordered and received the service record of Trooper Henry Richards and thought it worth while passing on to you that he wasn't dishonourably discharged but resigned. Details of his service are:
Born - 1856, height - 5'7", eyes - Hazel, hair - Brown, complexion - Sallow, native of -? , Single, calling - Dairyman, Religion - Protestant, general appearance - Good, district - South Western, probationery constable 15/1/1878, 1st class constable 1/7/1880, date of leaving the force 6/8/1882, cause of leaving the force - Resignation.
"The Jerilderie incident took place on 8 and 9 Feb 1879, the Glenrowan siege on 28 June, 1880 and Ned was sentenced to death in Oct 1880. As our Trooper didn't resign till Aug, 1882, his involvement back in Feb, 1879 appears to have nothing to do with his resignation from the Force (except maybe for post traumatic stress conditions). One would think that a dishonourable discharge would have taken place back in 1879 or 1880 however, he was made a 1st Class Constable in July of 1880 and that promotion took place after the Jerilderie incident. I feel much better knowing that he probably wasn't abandoned by the Force way back then. Still leaves an odd taste in the mouth re fiancÚ though. I wonder who she was? And if it was true as reported?"
That report from unknown source says:
"Harry Richards who was engaged to be married, lived a long life remaining single, as his girl friend gave him up on account of his failure to do his duty."
This comment in 'Hoof Beats & Whip Cracks from the Past' by Wilf Ingram, lifetime Towamba resident. 1981
"Harry Richards was a quiet man of unassuming disposition, a farmer and teamster, using at times a team of twenty bullocks to take produce and wattle bark to the steamer at Eden."
26 December, 1936
The death took place in hospital on December 17 of Mr. Robert Henry RICHARDS of Towamba, at the age of 80 years. Mr. RICHARDS had for a long time been in a state of failing health, and the end, though it came suddenly was not entirely unexpected. Interment took place in the C of E portion of the cemetery at Towamba last Saturday, the rector of Bombala Parish officiating at the graveside. "Harry" RICHARDS, as he was familiarly known, acquired some fame from his acquaintance with the Kelly gang of bushrangers, who took him prisoner at Jerilderie at the time of the hold up of that town, and would have shot him but for the intercession of his fellow police officer's wife, Mrs. Devine. He had a splendid record of 5 years' service in the police force, and until very recent years would discuss at length his experience with the bushrangers. For some years after his retirement from the force he was interested in horse racing but in later years lived a retired and comparatively secluded life. He was unmarried. He is survived by a brother, Alf, who lives at Cowra, and two sisters, Mrs. Slattery and Mrs. Hartneady, Towamba. A brother Ned, was killed in an accident at Narrandera a few months ago.
'Australian Town and Country Journal'
26 February 1887
LOCAL WANTS.-The residents of Rocky Hall, Towamba, and Wyndham have prepared a petition which will shortly be sent to Sydney, asking for a court of petty sessions at Wyndham. This place is central to all three. They have a police station at Wyndham. At present, if any person wants to register a dog, or do any similar trifling business, he has to ride thirty miles to Pambula. We also want a telegraph station at this place badly. There are 672 persons in the Wyndham district.
18 July, 1888 - Page 225
Offences not otherwise described.
Eden - On the 1st instant, some person or persons unknown maliciously set fire to a grass paddock at Towamba, near Eden, the property of William Clements.
JULY 19TH. 1888
HORSE STEALING. Edwin Neal who pleaded not guilty to a charge of horse-stealing, was defended by Mr Johnston, instructed by Mr. Bushe. The case for the Crown was that on the 9th July, 1887, a man named John Peter Bell, whilst travelling from Bruthen to Bonang, camped on the evening of the above date about 60 miles from Bruthen, turned his horse out, and never saw it again until it was in the hands of the police at Buchan, some three months after. Constable Clarke, stationed at Orbost, deposed to seeing the prisoner riding the horse in question on the 13th July on the road to New South Wales. About a fort night later, hearing that the animal had been stolen, he traced accused to Towamba, recovered the horse, but failed to find Neal, who was afterwards arrested by Constable Brotherton of Orbost. A man named James Lowry gave evidence to the effect that prisoner offered him the horse in question for sale at Towamba in July last. No witnesses were called for the defence, and Mr. Johnston in addressing the jury urged that there was no evidence to prove that prisoner stole the horse. His Honor summed up and the jury returned a verdict of guilty.
15 April, 1891
Horses and Cattle Etc.
The mare No.1 in this week's list, the property of John Ryan of River View, Towamba, is believed to have been stolen by Richard Brade. He is about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high (age not stated), dark complexion, full dark beard, whiskers, and moustache, very red nose; dressed in dirty moleskin trousers, cotton shirt, and soft black felt hat, no coat; a labourer. No warrant issued.
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
9 June 1892
TENDERS ACCEPTED: -J. Malcolm, erection of police buildings, Towamba
'Pambula Voice' July 7, 1893.
* The Towamba police barracks were opened on the 20th ultimo. Senior Constable Campion late of Eden is placed in charge.
'Pambula Voice' October 20, 1893
* A new fence has been erected around the recently completed police barracks and these premises are quite an ornament to the place. A movement is on foot to have a court of petty sessions established here and the growing importance of the district as well as its central position is a strong argument in favour of such a thing.
|Towamba Police Station. c 1911
Constable and Mrs.Colmer and family.
Photo courtesy K. Gardaya
|Towamba Police Station
Courtesy Dickie Family
'Delegate Argus and Border Post'
25 April 1903
* The Pambula ' Voice' says :- We are informed that a dastardly outrage was perpetrated at Wyndham on Saturday night last, when a horse, the property of Mr. A. Yelds, and a fat cow, the property of Mr. D. Collins (butcher), were shot. Both animals died from the effects, four bullets being found in the horse and a larger number in the cow. A portion of Mr. Moors's fence was pulled down, and a horse, saddle, and bridle of his were missing, but was subsequently found minus a new overcoat that was strapped on the saddle. Sergeant Ewen, assisted by the Wyndham and Towamba police, are diligently investigating the crime with a view to bringing the authors to account. The deed has created intense indignation in the locality.
October 31, 1908
'The Bega Budget'
* Constable Campion, who has been stationed at Towamba for 15 years, and for some years previously at Eden, has been transferred to Bungendore.
February 10, 1909
'The Bega Budget '
* Constable Perry, Towamba, was appointed slaughter house inspector in place of Constable Campion, removed.
April 7, 1913
* Constable Glomer has returned to his post in Towamba after an absence of a few weeks, during which time he was stationed at Eden while Constable Chaney was away.
July 22, 1927
'The Southern Record and Advertiser '
* A rabbitskin stealing case has been engaging the attention of the local police during the week. The parties operated at Towamba, and the skins are alleged to have been sold in Candelo. Warrants have been issued for the suspects.
'Magnet' February 1929
* Constable Allmond of Towamba.
'Magnet' August 3, 1929
* Mr. R. H. Richards - Towamba police constable who was stationed at Jerilderie when Ned Kelly and gang robbed the local bank in 1878.
'Magnet' July 15, 1933
* Constable and Mrs. Allmond of Towamba send off - transferred to Taralga.
'Magnet' January 27, 1934
* Constable Crawford of Towamba requested repairs to road out the front of the police station.
'Magnet' March 17, 1934
* Constable Crawford and his wife still at Towamba Police Station in 1934.
'Magnet' October 19, 1935
The local P & C Association held a meeting recently and decided on having a petition sent to Police Headquarters requesting that on officer be stationed here. Also a deputation waited on the Superintendent of Police Mr. Parker during his last visit to Towamba and are now awaiting a decision.