A Night in the Woodend Lockup


Australians have always loved a yarn where someone makes a fool out of a policeman. This true story comes from Woodend in the Macedon Ranges, Victoria, way back in 1902.
A young constable by the name of McKane was trying to arrest an out-of-control drunk outside the local hotel, but the drunk knew how to handle himself and was making things difficult. McKane spied a teenage boy watching and called out.
‘Hey you, come and give us a hand instead of standing there gawkin’.’
Taylor did as he was told, and the two of them managed to drag the man all the way to the lock-up out the back of the police station – a dark cell made of logs with a heavy wood and iron door. It was only a small town so McKane manned the station alone.
Once they had the drunk inside the cell, the constable decided to search him for weapons or money, so he asked Taylor to hold the door open while he did so.
Whether the boy got distracted, or he simply wasn’t strong enough to hold the door against a sudden gust of wind, we’ll never know.
Either way, the door slammed shut, locking all three of them inside: a policeman, a boy, and a violent drunk.
McKane and Taylor screamed, hammered and cooeed, but the townspeople all knew that a drunk had been arrested so they assumed it was him making all the noise. Sounds of scuffling and yelling went on all night.
The next morning a council worker, heading past on his way to work, went over to investigate and released the unhappy pair. You can only imagine how the people of Woodend must have laughed when the story got out.
As for the drunk – he must have entertained many a bar with tales of his night in the Woodend lock-up.
(Written and researched by Greg Barron. Image: The Warracknabeal Lockup, built in 1872 and still standing today. The Woodend lockup would have been similar. Credit: State Library of Victoria Sources: gregbarron.com/resources/sources)


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