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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

District Gaol

District Gaol.

The Lyttelton Gaol was established in the early days of the colony, the original building having been erected in 1851. The present buildings, which occupy a large block of land with a frontage on Oxford Street, were built by free labour with the assistance of the prisoners. They are constructed of solid concrete; the portion confining the prisoners is surrounded by a high wall of masonry, and presents a less forbidding appearance than many of the other gaols of the colony. Lyttelton Gaol may be termed an industrial centre, for the whole of the clothing and all the boots required by the prison staffs and prisoners throughout the various centres of the colony are manufactured at it. In addition to this, there are workshops where the prisoners are taught useful trades, in which many of them become experts. A number of the prisoners are employed on the reclamation works at Lyttelton. The gaol is provided with 149 cells for males and 29 cells for females. During the year 1901, 667 male and 162 female prisoners were admitted, while the number discharged was 637 males, and 164 females. Crime demanding capital punishment has been infrequent in Canterbury, as only five men have suffered the extreme penalty of the law, the first execution having taken place in 1868, and the last in 1901. The prisoners rise at 5.30 in summer and 6.30 in winter, and are locked up at 4.30 p.m. during the winter and 5.30 p.m. during the summer months. The health of the prisoners has been unusually good, the daily sick average for 1901 being only 1.11 for males and .72 for females. Mr. M. Cleary is governor of the gaol, Mr T. Bell the principal warder, Mr. J. Joyce the clerk, and the matron is Miss Black.

Lyttelton Goal.

Lyttelton Goal.

Mr. Matthew Michael Cleary, Governor of Lyttelton Gaol and Probation Officer for Lyttelton, was born in Miltown, County Clare, Ireland, in 1834. He joined the Irish Constabulary at Dublin at the age of seventeen and was a sergeant at twenty, having been speedily promoted for saving lite at Cork. Resigning from the Constabulary in 1857, Mr. Cleary went to Melbourne, where he subsequently joined the police force, and remained there till 1861. On the outbreak of the Gabriel Gully “rush” the Provincial Government of Otago organised a police force, and Mr. Cleary came to New Zealand, and was appointed a sergeant on the goldfields. He, however, resigned from the police force and joined the prison service at Dunedin 1863, and two months later was promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 1867 Mr. Cleary was appointed gaoler at Hokitika, and held the position until 1882, when he obtained the governorship of Mount Eden Gaol. A few months later, at his own request, he returned to his former position at Hokitika, and in November, 1888, was transferred to Lyttelton to take up his present appointment. Mr. Cleary is one of the few men who have never smoked or tasted intoxicating liquor, and at the same time it may be remarked that he has never been absent from duty through illness.