Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Adelaide Arcade: Part Two: "The Beadle"

The Adelaide Arcade
 Part Two: The Beadle 

Welcome to part two of our Adelaide Arcade series, this week we begin to look at the most grisly of accidents to occur in Adelaide in the late 1880's, 1887 to be exact. 

Adelaide Arcade, Rundle Street (now Rundle Mall), south side
We read in last weeks blog about the engine room that housed the gas turbine that powered the lighting of the Adelaide Arcade.    The engine would be switched on at approximately 5pm, allowing the Arcade lights to come on at 5:15 pm nightly, this job was entrusted to Engineer Harcourt, on occasion the Arcade Beadle would help start the gas engine. 

What is a Beadle I hear you ask? 

A Beadle, sometimes spelt Bedel, is a title with it's origins in the Church, it was generally used as a title of a lay official of a church or synagogue. The name eventually found its way into the English education system to represent administrators of prestigious universities. 
Beadle was also used to represent security guards at an upmarket Picadilly shopping precinct in London, and this is where the term used in Adelaide Arcade is applied to its very own “Beadle” Mr Francis Frederick Cluney. 
Rundle Street (Now Rundle Mall) 1888

Mr Cluney, at the time of his employment at the arcade, was already in his late 50's and an ex-serviceman of the British army, having fought in the Crimean War. His efforts for the Queen found him in good graces and he found himself admitted as a “London Commissionaire” a privileged body that only admits soldiers of the highest character class to its order. 

Francis dressed in his military uniform when acting as Beadle for the Arcade, in our modern era his job can be equated to a security guard. 
Mr Cluney's uniform may
 have looked something like this

It is said by all accounts he was a very popular man, warm and caring, and very well liked by all shop keepers and shoppers in the Arcade and around Rundle and Grenfell streets. 

On the evening of his death on Tuesday, June 21st 1887, Francis was going about his duties as per usual. A group of young men were causing him some problems at one end of the Arcade. A larrikin had broken a picture frame at Mr William N Tattles photography shop. Mr Tattle and Mr Cluney chased the offender down to make him pay for the damage, this was some 15 minutes before the lights were extinguished in the Arcade. 

Mr Cluney is reported to have said to Mr Tattle “If the Larrikins keep going on like that I will do as I did last night and put all the lights out” 
Adelaide Arcade viewed
from upper level at Rundle Street end
On returning to duties at the Arcade after helping Mr Tattle, Mr Henry Harcourt, the arcade engineer informed Francis he had to leave to set up a display at the “Exhibition” just down the road, and planned to be only about 15 mins, this was at approximately 5 minutes past 8pm, and if there were any problems He asked Francis to turn the gas turbine off, like he done many many times before. 

It is not known exactly what happened in the next 10 minutes. Did Francis enter the engine room to check on the gas turbine and slip on the hard wooden floor as suggested by one newspaper, or did one of the “larrikins” return to “touch him up” and accidentally push him into the turbine, or was there another reason why? In a few minutes after Mr Harcourts departure, Francis Cluney lost his life!

At 8:12 pm, Mr Walter C Sims, machinist at the Advertiser office was walking through the arcade when he noticed all the lights go off. He saw a younger gentleman, named “Horne” coming out of the engine room shouting “ There is a man killed!” 
Mr Sims entered the engine room with a Police officer and recognised, by the unique uniform, the body of The Beadle. 
Mr Sims sent the constable to the Exhibition to retrieve Mr Harcourt. 

Mr C.A. Home's evidence verified the statement given by Mr Harcourt, as was recorded at the commission into Francis Cluney's death as follows: 

“C. A. Home said he was at the Arcade at 8.15 on the evening of the casualty. His attention was first called by the lights going out. Went to the engine-room, the door of which was opened. Saw deceased jammed up in the engine, and gave the alarm. W. C. Sims, machinist, gave corroborative evidence. Previous to the extinguishing of the lights the larrikins were not very noisy” 

The lights had extinguished due to Mr Cluney's body being wedged in the machinery. Mr Sims stated;
“The cause of the stoppage of the engine was the body being so tightly wedged in between the wheel and the engine. There was a good deal of gas burning, which might have had a serious result if it had caught the gas-bag in the engine. Thought it possible that deceased might have stooped to get under the belt, and that in straightening himself up he might have slipped and fallen into the fly wheel.” 

Other descriptive evidence was given at the commission, including that of Mr Cluney's Son-in-law Edwin Burnett 

As reported in  The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889, Saturday 25 June 1887, page 6:)
“Edwin Burnett, stationer's assistant, said deceased was his father-in-law, and 59 years of age. He had been in the army. He left a wife and seven children, the youngest 7 years old. His life was not insured, nor was he a member of any benefit society. He had left nothing for his family. He was annoyed at the number of larrikins in the Arcade at night,and that so much extra work should be thrown upon him in this respect. He had no knowledge of machinery, but was used to going into the engine-room.” 

Photographer: John Gazard. 1924
Looking West toward King William Street, a remarkably uncrowded Rundle Street (between Pulteney and King William Streets). Adelaide Arcade can be seen on the left.
A very descriptive account of the grisly details of Mr Cluneys death were printed in local news papers at the time... 

Next week, we will publish those details as well as some of the ghost stories associated with Mr Francis Cluney at Adelaide Arcade... 

Next Weeks Blog:
 Adelaide Arcade - “Beadle-Geist!”

© 2012 The Haunts of Adelaide
written and researched by
Allen Tiller

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