Monday, 11 May 2015

The Female Factory, Ross, Tasmania

I posted where we travelled to Ross the other weekend and had lunch - more on Ross.

Some very serious History of Ross in Tasmania.

The paddock once contained yards, cells, thatched huts to house the Convict stonemasons who were building the Ross Bridge in 1833.  By the early 1840's a large punishment station had sprouted with sufficient space for some 300 chained road gang convicts and male probation prisons that followed them.

Between 1847 - 48 the building were adapted especially for use as the Ross Female Factory, which operated as a convict hiring depot, nursery, probation and punishment station.  Over the next 7 years hundreds of female felons served time behind the conspicuous high security fence until the establishment's closure in 1855.

Ross Female Factory accommodated between 60 - 120 women at any one time.  These women were typically unmarried and aged in their mid twenties.  Around 40 of their infant children were confined separately in the nursery wing.

Of the 74,000 convicts transported to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) between 1804 - 54 some 12,500 were women.

The prison walls and structures have all but disappeared, however, many layers of this site's history lie buried in government records and in the archaeology underfoot.

Male Bridge Gang 1833 - 36
Male Road & Punishment Station 1841 - 46
Male Probation Station 1846 - 47
Female Factory 1848 - 55
Police Station & Residence 1895 - 1938
Farm Residence 1938 - 80
Heritage Site 1980 - present

*Notes taken from the Signs at Ross.



Commandant's Cottage


Cottage at the back right

28 comments:

  1. thanks for the history! I just don't understand what mindset would cause a pregnant woman or a mother to do a crime that would not only put themselves, but their children, in this kind of situation. So sad.

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    1. The crime might have been stealing a piece of bread, back then that would be classed as a bad crime.

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  2. Wow that is some history M. I am so glad times have changed. Happy Mothers Day my friend. xo G

    I think you will need to recopy my blog address and link again that may be why it is not showing up. Hope all is well xo G

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    1. Oh yes, that is the best how times have changed. I think the British wanted to put people on the Colony...
      Thanks, will do that....Hugs M xx

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  3. I love your cottage.It is an interesting history

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  4. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for these days.

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  5. We have a sad history most of us have convicts in our past who were sent out here for doing small crimes but we have created a great country and I'm proud of it.
    Merle..........

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    1. Definitely sad, thank goodness the times have changed...yes, we have a wonderful country...I'm thankful.

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  6. Thanks for the history of Ross.
    Brutality really reigned supreme in those days, seems though
    that many countries still haven't improved. Actually in some
    I think that conditions for women especially are far worse!
    And you don't require a PhD to know where these places are.

    Ha ha! My God - it is a wonder that the PC mob haven't gone
    ballistic with that " Ross Female Factory" sign.
    Obviously our "out of the trees" ex-leader of the Federal Greens,
    Christine Milne,or her predecessor, little Bobbie Brown, has not been
    to the Ross area of Tasmania. That sign would really have given them
    something to squawk about!
    Thank you for the interesting historical lesson, much appreciated.
    Cheers
    Colin

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    1. You're welcome, lots of history in Tasmania. BB would have been there, it's on the way to Hobart is Ross.

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  7. The percentage of women of the transported convicts seems out of proportion to what I would have thought was the general prison population in England. Hard times and we can only hope many went on to have happy lives.

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    1. Many women came out to Australia as free settlers, following their sons, husbands, then sisters, brothers, parents came too...all as free settlers..from what I've read and heard they the women & men had good lives, some poor some rich..

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  8. As you know I love history so I loved this post

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  9. very interesting historical 'convict trail', was 'googling' it just now.

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    1. Were you really, amazing what you would come up with :)

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  10. That is fascinating! Thank you for the photos and the history.

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  11. I had no idea the female ratio was so high. Pretty scary stuff. We don't know that we're living these days. Lovely photos Margaret.

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    1. I'm sure the British wanted to fill the new Colony back in those days with both male and females...and thanks Craig.

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  12. It would be interesting to read more about the women who were imprisoned here and what their lives were like after they served their sentence. It seems too cruel to separate the children from their mothers.

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  13. It does seem cruel, but I bet they did get to see their little ones.

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