The Silverton Gaol is looking fantastic

Ross Wecker looks out from behind a cell door. PICTURE: EVE-LYN KENNEDY

Having been closed on and off with COVID-19, it is still a Government building. The volunteers have kept busy applying for grants and implementing the changes brought about through the money they raised.

The gaol, established in 1889, was an upgrade from the original wood and tin gaol, where at night, the prisoners were shackled, so they couldn’t escape.

When there were too many to fit into the tin hut, the prisoners were shackled to a pepper tree in the yard.

The gaol was used until the 1930s, when Silverton’s population had dwindled and most people had gone to Broken Hill.

In 1966 the gaol was reopened by the Broken Hill Historical Society and it became the museum that is there today.

The gaol has been very successful in gaining funding for various upgrades.

AGL helped with money to install led ceiling lights that operate with movement to save money.

The museum also has new ceilings. Having had 11 ton of sand removed from the rafters and the old tongue and groove wood ceilings, which dropped sand in nice piles on various displays, replaced.

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Going even greener, the septic tanks have been replaced with recycling systems allowing the water from the tanks to water the garden (under the necessary layer of rocks).

Charles Rasp, the portrait, has been to Sydney and is on his way back. He has been restored after heat damage and thanks to funding from BHP, he had a facelift and heat treatment. So he can return to the gaol and fight off the effects of those hot days.

A new and improved kitchen with the feel of the 50s and 60s is now available to the volunteers.

Whilst still emanating history with a revamped wood fire stove and renovated cupboards, the kitchen has the modern appliances of a microwave and refrigerator.

A new instalment that may change the way people visit the museum is floodlights for the carpark, which may see the doors open until 9pm.

Asked if the gaol has ghosts, Ross Wecker, the Volunteer Coordinator, said no.

He said “We had a lady who claimed to sense such things come to the gaol and checked the rooms and reported there were no spirits present.”

Despite this, on a dark night, in the old, dimly lit corridors that echo when you walk on them, you can’t help but feel the eyes of old inmates staring out at you.

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