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Ballarat Gaol

Ballarat Gaol

Ballarat (VIC), Australia

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Description The Ballarat Gaol, a former maximum security prison for males, females and children, is located in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. Replacing temporary structures including prison hulks in the Bay of Port Phillip and holding yards in Ballarat, the gaol operated between 1862 and 1965.History and structureThe report of the Select Committee on Prison Discipline of September 1857 recommended gaol buildings replace the Port Phillip Bay prison hulks. The inquiry recommended adopting London's Pentonvillle design of 1842 to build the gaols. This prison design carried on a revolution begun in 1829 by Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The complex was based on a central hall from which radiated wings of cells. The principle of the design being that one guard would stand in the centre of the hall and at one glance survey all cells.The construction of the gaol began in 1856 and the first cell blocks were completed by 1857. It was completed in 1862 with 58 cells designed to hold a mixture of 74 male and female prisoners. In 1862 a tunnel was constructed to join the gaol to the adjacent Ballarat Courthouse, allowing for the safe transfer of prisoners.In 1872 Captain Moonlite, a bushranger and Anglican clergyman, escaped from the gaol.