Murder & Suicide at the Adelaide General Post Office
Adelaide’s General Post Office design came from the minds of Edmund Wright and Edward Woods who won a competition to design the new building that was replacing the old, much smaller post office further up King William Street.
Built in the design style of Monumental Italianate, the Post Office is a grand cornerstone of Victoria Square and changed the face of that part of Adelaide when it was finally finished and opened in 1872.
Even before construction began, the building attracted a crowd, with the laying of the foundation stone by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred on the 5th of November 1867 attracting an estimated 3500 spectators.
The GPO also housed Adelaide’s first telephone exchange, and is where our first message was received from the Overland Telegraph Line in in 1872.
Extensions were made in 1891 until 1893 to house an improved telephone exchange.
In 1926 the General Post Office, one of Victoria Squares iconic buildings, became the scene of a horrific attempted murder shooting and suicide. The day prior, employee James Hannagan was fired from his job for assaulting two of his fellow employees.
Hannagan entered the General Post Office at about one o’clock in the afternoon, and opened fire with a revolver. First, he shot Ernest Doble, a clerk, wounding him, before opening fire on the Post Officer Director, James Mason, shooting him in the chest. Hannagan them fired shots towards the women’s clerical division, narrowly missing the working women with a volley of shots, before fleeing the building.
As Hannagan made his way down the steps, out into Victoria Square, a witness to the events, Mr J Beare, tackled Hannagan to the ground. The Two men struggled in the street until Hannagan freed his revolver and shot himself dead in the gutter.
On Friday October 28th, 1927, another horrific fatality occurred in the building when an unidentified man jumped from the interior balcony of the GPO and killed himself. His last words, spoken to an employ who had stopped to ask him what he was doing, were; “I’m going to commit suicide. Goodbye.”
He jumped the railing and fell 30 feet onto the floor below.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller.
© 2018 Allen Tiller
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1926 ‘”YOU’RE KILLED FORTHWITH!”‘, News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), 27 December, p. 1. (HOME EDITION), viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129334986
1926 ‘POST OFFICE SENSATION.’, Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 – 1954), 18 December, p. 1. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95968304
1926 ‘POST OFFICE TRAGEDY.’, Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 – 1954), 28 December, p. 4. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95968855