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Glenrowan Heritage Precinct, Siege St, Glenrowan, VIC, Australia

Photographs None
List National Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (05/07/2005)
Place ID 105729
Place File No 2/08/239/0012
Summary Statement of Significance
The Glenrowan Heritage Precinct was the site of the Glenrowan siege in 1880 by the Kelly Gang.  The Kelly Gang, led by Ned Kelly, in holding Glenrowan under siege, clearly established Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang as cultural symbols and fostered the notion of bushranging as an attempt to come to terms with established authority.  The Glenrowan siege site has social and cultural significance to members of the wider Australian community for its defining role in the creation of the Ned Kelly ‘myth’, which has become an important part of our national story.  Ned Kelly, in his armour, has become an iconic Australian image, featuring in paintings by Sidney Nolan and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 
 
Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
The Glenrowan Heritage Precinct was the site of the Glenrowan siege in 1880.  The events at Glenrowan clearly established Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang as symbols in Australian culture.  Only Ned Kelly survived the fight, with other members of the Kelly Gang killed at the site by the police.  Ned Kelly was executed, after trial, at Melbourne Gaol following his capture at Glenrowan. 
 
The Glenrowan siege established Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang as cultural symbols, fostered the notion of bushranging as an attempt to come to terms with established authority and added new stories to Australian folklore.
 
The association of the event with the place is well documented, as is its impact on the nation.  Ned Kelly, in his armour, has become an iconic Australian image, featuring in paintings by Sidney Nolan and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  The precinct’s attributes include the following: the original railway platform and the alignment of the railway siding, the site of Platelayer’s tents; the site of Anne Jones’ Glenrowan Inn and its outbuildings; the remnant of the creek used for shelter by the police and various police positions; the site of Ned Kelly’s fall and capture – the ‘Kelly Log’ site; the site of the ‘Kelly Copse’; the site of McDonnell’s Railway tavern where the bodies of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were taken, and also where the gang left their horses and the blasting powder intended to be used at Benalla; as well as a suite of archaeological sites, locations and buildings, which relate to the events of 1880.

Criterion B Rarity
The legend of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang is an important part of Australia’s national consciousness.   The Glenrowan Heritage Precinct has been graphically and historically celebrated as the site of the Glenrowan Siege since 1880, and is uncommon as a site associated with a nationally important story.
 
The attributes are outlined at Criterion (a), above.
Criterion G Social value
 
The Glenrowan Heritage Precinct has social and cultural significance to members of the wider Australian community for its defining role in the creation of the Ned Kelly 'myth' or 'legend'  The place is directly associated with a nationally important story, which has become part of Australia’s cultural traditions. 
 
The attributes are outlined at Criterion (a), above.
 
Criterion H Significant people
The Glenrowan Heritage Precinct has heritage value to the nation for its special association with the final days of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang, during the Glenrowan siege in 1880. 
 
The attributes are outlined at Criterion (a), above.
Description
The Glenrowan Heritage Precinct is an area of several hectares in the township of Glenrowan.  The area is bordered by the Church Street, Beaconsfield Parade, Gladstone Street and partly by Burns Street.  The precinct retains the original railway siding and a number of archaeological sites and buildings, which relate to the events of 1880.  The naming of the street layout reflects the presence of the Kelly Gang and the events of 1880. 
 
The following fabric and sites within the boundaries relate to the events of 1880:
  • original Railway Platform and railway alignment;
  • site of worker’s tents;
  • site of Ann Jones’ Glenrowan Inn and its outbuildings;
  • remnant of the creek used for shelter by the police and various police positions;
  • site of Ned Kelly’s fall and capture-the ‘Kelly Log’ site;
  • site of the ‘Kelly Copse’; and the
  • site of McDonnell’s Railway tavern, where the bodies of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were taken, and also where the gang left their horses, and the blasting powder intended to be used at Benalla.
 
History
BACKGROUND   This background covers the Kelly Story over a twenty-year period to 1880 and places associated with the events leading to the execution of Ned Kelly, including the Glenrowan Heritage Precinct. 
 
John McQuilton’s book, The Kelly Outbreak 1878-1880, published in 1987, forms the basis of the background unless otherwise stated.  As the acknowledged source on the Kelly story, McQuilton’s book has been used to establish an historical and social framework for the assessment of places associated with Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang.  The book concentrates on the events surrounding the heavy-handed approach of the police and the hardship suffered by the rural community, as the context for the actions of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang.  The abstracted material in the background reflects to some extent therefore, the social views and interpretation of McQuilton and should not be interpreted as providing support for the actions of the Kelly Gang at Glenrowan. 
 
Introduction  
According to McQuilton (1987), ‘The Kelly Outbreak and the Kelly gang match Hobsbawm’s portrait of ‘social banditry’.  The social bandit according to Hobsbawm (1963) is by definition a more significant figure that the rural criminal and a symptom of profound rural discontent.  The bushranger who is a social bandit offers an insight into the nature of the communities who support him.  Perhaps the best example of bushrangers who transcend the simplistic rural criminal definition is the Kelly gang who were at large in the North Eastern Victoria from October 1878 to June 1880.  The terms ‘Kelly Country’ and ‘North Eastern Victoria’ have been seen as synonyms. 
 
Although the 1862 Land Act in Victoria offered poorer people the right to select land, in principle, as in NSW after the 1861 land Act, squatters were able to control settlement patterns through freehold purchase of land (alienating water resources), dummying and peacocking.  In frustration, some selectors moved elsewhere in Victoria or into NSW.  Others migrated to New Zealand and the United States.  First noted in 1864, the movement was still evident when the Lands Commission reached the North East in 1879.  In 1879 the Commission found that the land acts, in particular that of 1869, had failed, with selectors as blinkered as legislators when they took up land.  Only those who took up 640 acres in general would survive alongside the original squatters.  Although acreages increased in the 1870s, small selectors found it difficult to expand due to the constraints imposed by neighbouring small selections, with many taking rural work outside their selections.  The majority of the North East’s selectors found that selection was not as easy as the politician’s believed.  British farming techniques applied to poor soils on small acreages were destined to fail.
 
Stock theft, a major problem in the region, brought the selectors into conflict with the squatters, who formed an alliance with the police force.  The strength of the relationship between the squatters and the police was evident in the establishment of new rural police stations.  Captain Standish was appointed Chief Commissioner of Police in 1858. However, Superintendent Hare was regarded as the de facto Chief Commissioner in the 1870s.  Hare was later placed at the head of the search for the Kelly Gang.
 
The gang’s members were young, single men from the region’s rural districts, held together by the prestige of their leader - the members were also for the most-part close family members.  The Kelly brothers were part of the Quinn clan, a large Irish-Australian group of families, regarded as the region’s major criminal element by the police.  In 1881 the Victorian police claimed that the North East region’s criminal condition during the 1870s had provided a critical environment for the Kelly Gang to form.  Crime was generally common and the North East was the haunt of habitual criminals.  However, these claims were made before a Royal Commission was set up to examine the police force and the Kelly Outbreak.  As an explanation, the inevitability of the gang’s actions did not satisfy the Commission, which found it inadequate.  An alternative explanation, believed by many, had circulated in the region as the reason for the events.  The Quinn and Kelly families had been victims of unnecessary police harassment that had become persecution, resulting in heavy-handed police attention and the ‘murders’ at Stringybark Creek in 1878.
 
During the ‘Outbreak’, Ned Kelly’s quest for personal justice remained dominant.  The gang remained at large for 20 months, due to the protection offered by sympathetic selectors, and by June 1880, in rural districts at least, Ned Kelly had become a legend and was seen as a champion of the underdog. 
 
The Kelly Gang
 
The patriarch of the Quinn clan, James Quinn, arrived in Port Phillip Bay in 1841, from County Antrim, Ireland.  By the 1850s he had moved to Wallan [Wallan], where he rented a 640-acre block.  After 15 years the family came to the attention of the police, when James Quinn Jnr was arrested but not convicted of stock theft.  Between 1860-1865 the police made 19 arrests in the family-only a few charges were upheld.  In 1864 the family sold out and moved to Glenmore, at the head of the King River.  The police noted that this was near the mountain routes used to transport stolen cattle. 
 
As a child, Ned Kelly grew up in an environment of police conflict.  Kelly’s father had arrived in Port Phillip Bay in 1848, at the expiry of his sentence in Van Diemen’s Land.  Kelly married Ellen Quinn the same year, with Ned Kelly born in late 1854.  The Kelly family lived at Beveridge near Wallan, John Kelly working as a bush carpenter and horse dealer in between trips to the goldfields.  Following the police crackdown in 1860 John Kelly moved his family to Avenel where he rented 40 acres.  John Kelly appears to have killed a stray calf in 1866 and was sentenced to 6 months and fined.  On release, John Kelly died due to a long term illness, Ned Kelly (12) as the eldest male becoming the nominal head of the household.  In the same year Dan Kelly (5) was suspected of stealing a horse.  By May 1867, Mrs Kelly had moved with her family back to the Greta district, selecting 88 acres of land.  However, the selection remained very much uncultivated as late as 1877.  The family lived in the established hut until 1878, when they moved into a new house. 
 
In 1869 bushranger Harry Powers escaped from goal and established his camp on the Quinn’s Glenmore run, a fact that brought the Quinn family to police attention again.  That same year James Quinn Snr died, his neighbours petitioning to stop the transfer of the lease to John Quinn-the Quinn clan was labeled as ‘a den of cattle and horse stealers’. 
 
Due to the move back to Greta Ned Kelly had become part of the Quinn clan, which remained under police scrutiny.  By March 1870 Ned Kelly was associated with Power in at least one holdup.   On 5 May 1870 Ned Kelly was arrested on this and two other charges including ‘remand’, the case being heard at Kyneton.  According to McQuilton (1979) the charges against Ned Kelly had been engineered by Superintendent Nicolson to bring pressure to bear and to get his evidence against Power.  At the hearing, the case was dismissed.  Following an incident near the Kelly selection in October 1870, Ned Kelly was charged with violent assault and indecent letters to a female.  Ned was convicted of assault and indecent behaviour and sentenced to 3 months hard labour to be served at Beechworth Gaol.  One month was served and only 3 weeks after his release Ned was arrested on a charge of stock theft.  During the arrest Ned was badly beaten by the police.  When the case came to trial in May, the charge of horse stealing had been amended to one of receiving; the horse had been stolen while Ned was in gaol.  Despite the circumstances, the horse had never been legally stolen.  Both Ned Kelly and Alexander Gunn were sentenced to 3 years hard labour, to be served at Beechworth and Pentridge gaols and on the prison hulks. 
 
In September 1869 the youngest Kelly brothers, Dan (10) and Jim (12), were arrested and jailed-the charge was dismissed.  In 1873 Jim Kelly was charged with cattle theft and sentenced to 5 years.  By 1870 Mrs Kelly had been arrested for running a sly grog shop in her house - the charge was dismissed.  Numerous charges were brought, some successful some dismissed.  However, by 1873 Ned and Jim Kelly, Alexander Gunn, Jimmy and Pat Quinn, Jack Lloyd, Wright and Williamson, the latter a selector neighbour of the Kellys, were in gaol.  Ned Kelly was released in 1874, from Pentridge, and took a job lumber-milling.  By 1874 the Quinn clan had begun to suffer from police attention again, and began to select land at Greta, leaving the lease at Glenmore.  The police closed the police station at Glenmore and opened a new police station at Greta. By 1876, Superintendent Nicolson, had established a regular system of surveillance on the family and its associates.  It was 1877 before Ned Kelly was arrested again on a drunk and disorderly charge, the police using violence.  In 1877 the number of stock reported stolen escalated, the police focused their investigation on the Quinn clan and the Kelly homestead.  By October 1877 the first of a series of arrests was made.  Dan Kelly, John Lloyd Jnr and Tom Lloyd Jnr were charged with violent assault and charges such as intent to rape.  All the most serious charges were dismissed.  Nevertheless, charges brought against a number of Kelly family associates were successful in January 1878.  A key aspect of Ned Kelly’s later claims was that the police had persecuted his family.   
On 19 March 1878 a warrant was issued against Edward Kelly for stock theft and on 5 April 1878 warrants were issued against Dan Kelly and John Lloyd Jnr, both just out of jail, for horse theft.  Between 15-16 April Constable Fitzpatrick attempted to arrest Dan Kelly at the Kelly homestead.  Fitzpatick falsified his report about his failure to arrest anyone and stated in evidence that he had been shot, by Ned Kelly, although, this was not supported by the evidence.  Fitzpatrick was eventually dismissed form the police force in 1881 on the grounds that he was not fit to be in the police force.  However incorrect the interpretation of events was, the effect was to give the police the opportunity to put members of the Kelly family and its associates in jail for some time.  The Kellys’ neighbour, Williamson, was arrested by Sergeant Steele as was ‘Skillion’.  Steele then arrested Mrs Kelly and charged her with aiding and abetting attempted murder by Edward Kelly.  John Lloyd Jnr was also arrested.  On 17 May 1878 all were committed for trial, although Mrs Kelly with her new-borne child was able to secure bail.  Edward (Ned) and Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne were still at large, as was George King, who had married Mrs Kelly. 
 
The Kelly brothers were reported to have sold gold in Mansfield, leading Sergeant Kennedy of the Mansfield police station to suggest that a well-armed and mounted party should search the surrounding country at his direction.  Mrs Kelly, Williamson and Skillion were tried on 9 October 1878 at Beechworth.  All three were found guilty as charged, and, in passing sentence, Judge Sir Redmond Barry expressed the hope that the Greta district would now be a safer place.  Mrs Kelly was sentenced to 3 years hard labour, the men to 6 years hard labour.  Although many thought the sentences too harsh, the authorities would not change the penalties.  In October 1878, John Lloyd Jnr was arrested for stock-theft, as was James Quinn, both known associates of the Kelly Gang.
 
According to McQuilton, the ‘Kelly Outbreak’, which ensued, was more complex than a long-standing feud with the police and lay in the issues surrounding land tenure, which occurred not just in Victoria but also in NSW between selectors and squatters.  This, coupled with the Chief Commissioner of Police’s establishment of rural police stations, was a contributing factor to the increasing alienation of the Kelly family, in particular Ned Kelly, and closely associated families and friends, all of whom came to be seen as fair game by the police. 
 
The Kelly Outbreak  
The police planned a pincer movement from Greta, with 4 men moving through the King Valley to Hedi, while Sergeant Kennedy was to take his men through the ‘Wombat’ to Hedi.  As Kennedy had guessed, the Kelly brothers had gone into hiding north of Mansfield, his men finding evidence of their camp at Stringybark Creek.  On 25 October 1878 Kennedy chose a campsite near the Kelly brothers camp and mine workings.  Three police troopers were killed when the two Kelly brothers and their companions met the troopers camped at Stringybark Creek on 26 October 1878.  The dead included Lonigan, Scanlon and Sergeant Kennedy, all killed by Ned Kelly.  McIntyre, who had escaped, reached Mansfield on 27 October 1878 where he reported to Sub-Inspector Pewtress. 
 
Groundless allegations of torture were made against the Kelly brothers, with Ned Kelly’s execution 2 years later stemming directly from Lonigan’s actions on 26 October 1878.  Lonigan had made a break for cover when the Kelly Gang had asked the troopers to ‘Bail up.  Hold your hands up’.   By 31 October 1878 a verdict of willful murder had been registered against the Kelly Gang, with a full-scale, military style search that came to be known as the ‘Hunt’.  Superintendent Nicolson arrived in Benalla to take charge; however, there were only eighty men to serve the entire ‘North East’.  A reward of £800 was offered for Edward and Daniel Kelly and two unknown associates.  This was soon increased to £2000.  The gang attempted to flee to New South Wales, but were stopped by flooding on the Murray River and turned back towards Wangaratta and Lurg.  A search, which came to be known as the Sebastopol Raid, took place at this time unsuccessfully, its last day coinciding with the last chance for the gang to surrender. 
 
As the police continued to evaluate information received, the Kelly Gang was robbing the National Bank in Euroa.  The gang bailed up the entire Younghusband’s station at Faithfull Creek and cut the telegraph wires before robbing the bank in relative safety.  Attempts at pursuit were again unsuccessful.  In December 1878, Captain Standish transferred special police to the North East for search duty.  Detectives were also brought in and by the end of the month over 200 police were stationed in the region.  By early January 1879 warrants were sworn out and over 30 men arrested who might be of assistance to the Kelly Gang.  Twenty-three were charged, including many selectors.  According to McQuilton (1987), the Chief Secretary received a letter, purported to be from Ned Kelly, scoffing at the new policy. 
 
In January 1879 the gang crossed the Murray near Yarrawonga, and moved to Jerilderie in the Riverina, where they ‘bailed up’ the police.  Ned Kelly told his captives that the raid had been planned to demonstrate the futility of arresting sympathizers and to embarrass the New South Wales police force.  Ned planned to print his ‘Cameron Letter’ in the local newspaper, but it was not printed in full.  On 10 February 1879, the gang intended to rob the local bank and escape.  Dressed in part as troopers, the gang held up the Royal Hotel before turning their attention to the bank.  For the second time the Kelly Gang had held people captive and terrorised their town, before disappearing into the mountains.  On July 1879, Standish returned to Melbourne, the command of the ‘Hunt’ returned to Superintendent Nicolson.  Unsuccessful in his search, Nicolson was replaced by Hare in June 1880.  Hare established three permanent search parties at Beechworth, Benalla and Wangaratta and by mid-June had established that the Kelly Gang was still in North Eastern Victoria.  On 27 June 1880 Hare received news of fresh activities from Beechworth, at a time when the gang and its leaders were almost legends.  The Kelly Gang had remained at large due to police incompetence according to McQuilton. 
 
Rumours as to the Kelly Gang’s location, movements and plans were rife, with Hare’s activities giving new focus to its actions.  The gang turned its attention to the construction of armour, trying combinations of materials before settling on iron, plough mould-boards.  Ned Kelly’s armour alone weighed over 90 pounds.  Aaron Sherritt was to be shot as a spy for the police, when a special party of police would have to be sent from Benalla by train to follow the gang.  Ned Kelly planned to capture Glenrowan and derail the train.  The plan was to be completed when the gang robbed the Bank of New South Wales.  Saturday 26 June 1880 was the appointed day. 
 
On the evening of Saturday 26 June 1880, members of the Kelly Gang went to Glenrowan to implement what would have been their most ambitious scheme and which they hoped would prompt the formation of a republic in north-eastern Victoria.  Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne travelled to Beechworth to murder Aaron Sherritt, while Steve Hart and Ned Kelly planned to tear up the railway tracks at Glenrowan, in order to derail the police train travelling en route to Beechworth.  This was intended to trigger a more general attack, leading to the eventual foundation of the so-called Republic of North Eastern Victoria, according to Jones (1968), although this is only one point of view.   
Ned Kelly and Steve Hart set out for Glenrowan as Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly arrived at the ‘Woolshed’ near where Sherritt lived.  Aaron Sherritt was shot and killed by Byrne at his own front door.  Unable to oust the police in the house, Joe and Dan left the house for Glenrowan late in the evening.  Ned Kelly and Steve Hart had arrived at McDonnell’s Hotel in Glenrowan late on Saturday night.  The plan went wrong from the beginning, with Steve Hart and Ned Kelly unable to lift the rail tracks.  A group of workers, under contractor Louis Piazzi, camped near the line, was forced to help, but even so the pair was unable to move the tracks, and was forced to take captive any who might betray them to the police or allow news to reach the police.  Women and children were taken to the stationmaster’s house with men moved up the hill to Ann Jones’ Glenrowan Inn.  By Sunday night most had been allowed to return home, including schoolmaster Thomas Curnow, who informed the train guard, the information being passed on to the special police train.  The police, under Superintendent Hare, went to the stationmaster’s house where they were informed that the Kelly Gang, were holding captives at Jones’ Glenrowan Inn. 
 
Ned Kelly (in his armour) was hit in the first exchange of fire at the inn, and moved to a group of trees (Kelly Copse) some 100 metres from the inn, while Joe Byrne was wounded in the foot.  During the first exchange of fire Suprintendent Nicolson was wounded in the wrist.  As Ned returned to the inn, to rescue his 3 comrades, a hail of fire killed Joe Byrne inside the inn.  Ned moved away from the hotel; collapsing at a fallen tree (‘Kelly’s Log’), he was arrested and taken to the stationmaster’s cottage.   After much discussion Senior Constable Johnston set fire to the inn, despite protects from Father Gibney, resulting in the deaths of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart as well as Martin Cherry, one of the gang’s hostages.  Two hostages were killed and three civilians wounded in the confrontation. 
 
Ned Kelly was taken to Melbourne for trial and was executed on 11 November 1880, at Melbourne Gaol.  Kelly was 25 years of age. 
Condition and Integrity
The historic Kelly Siege site within the Glenrowan Heritage Precinct remains relatively intact and still affords the opportunity for the public to relate to the events of the infamous siege with largely unfettered access to the actual location where the pivotal elements of the siege unfolded.  Significant research and consultation has been undertaken with the development of the Glenrowan Master Plan which articulates the opportunities for refurbishment and sensitive development.
Location
About 8ha, at Glenrowan, being an area bounded by a line commencing at the intersection of the centerlines of Church Street and Beaconsfield Parade, then easterly via the centerline of Church Street to Burns Street, then southerly via the centerline of Burns Street to Siege Street, then easterly via the centerline of Siege Street to its intersection with the alignment of the eastern boundary of Allotment 9A, then southerly via the alignment and eastern boundary of Allotment 9A to its intersection with the centerline of Gladstone Street, then westerly via the centerline of Gladstone Street to its intersection with the alignment of the eastern boundary of 50 Gladstone Street, then southerly via the alignment and the eastern boundary of 50 Gladstone Street, the southern boundary of 50 Gladstone Street and the western boundary and its alignment of 45 Hill Street to the centerline of Hill Street, then westerly via the centerline of Hill Street to its intersection with the alignment of the eastern boundary of 44 Gladstone Street, then northerly via that alignment and boundary to the center of Gladstone Street, then westerly via the centerline of Gladstone Street to the centerline of Beaconsfield Parade, then northerly via the centerline of Beaconsfield Parade to the commencement point.
Bibliography
Hobbs, Roger, The Builders of Shoalhaven 1840s-1890s, a doctoral thesis, University of Canberra, 2004.
 
Hobsbawm, E. J., Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Manchester, 1963.
 
Jones, I., A New View of Ned Kelly, in C F Cave (ed): Ned Kelly, man and Myth: The Wangaratta Seminar, N Melbourne, 1968.
 
Marshall, Helen, Introduction to Some Key Themes in Australian History, RMIT, 2002.
 
McQuilton, J., The Kelly Outbreak 1878-1880, MUP, 1987.
 
Nomination to the National Heritage List
 
Victorian Heritage Register.
 

Report Produced  Mon Sep 22 14:39:14 2014