Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Lock replaced at historic Ned Kelly cell

A lock stolen from the former Benalla court house has been replaced by Corrections Victoria.

MONIQUE FREER July 4, 2014 3:05am

Corrections Victoria operations manager Stephen Payne, Corrections Victoria acting supervisor and locksmith Ashley Sheffield and Holy Trinity Anglican Church parish priest David Still with the new lock and key at the former courthouse.

The history of Ned Kelly’s time in Benalla has been preserved thanks to the hard work by locksmiths at Corrections Victoria.

A 1960s lock from a prison cell at Pentridge Prison was installed at the old Benalla courthouse late last month after an irreplaceable antique lock was stolen from the site in May.

The cast-iron lock was jemmied off and removed from Ned Kelly’s holding cell at the former courthouse, leaving only the screws behind.

Corrections Victoria acting supervisor and locksmith Ashley Sheffield said the government organisation became aware of the theft when Benalla locksmith Leigh Robinson contacted them for assistance in finding a replacement.

‘‘It was very difficult to find a lock like this,’’ Mr Sheffield said.

‘‘It was great to support the local community, as it’s out of the normal for us. We don’t get the opportunity often to support communities, so we do when we can.’’

In the late 1870s Ned Kelly was on trial at the former Benalla courthouse and was kept in the holding cell. He escaped from the courthouse and was captured across the other side of Arundel St.

The stolen lock was the original lock on the building during Kelly’s trial.

The replacement K-lock was manufactured for corrections in the 1960s and was used at Pentridge Prison — the site of Ned Kelly’s grave for many years.

The key was modified to fit the lock, and does not fit into any other prison door.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church parish priest David Still said he was thrilled with the installation.

‘‘It means a lot that we’ve got the door complete again and it’s part of our place in preserving a part of Benalla’s history,’’ he said.

‘‘When it was stolen it was a little bit of Benalla’s history and heritage taken without consideration of the wider community.

‘‘It’s a lock from within the system and it’s used for a similar manner.’’

The Benalla cell forms part of the Ned Kelly trail, which visits towns and sites where the bushranger — perhaps Australia’s most famous — spent his short life.

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