Queensland Police Commissioner's Dress Tunic

Contributed by: Queensland Police Museum

Front view of Tunic Rear view of tunic Right sleeve of tunic Left sleeve of tunic Right side of collar and epaulette detail Left sleeve detail Front right collar detail of tunic Front view of Rank Insignia and Collar Badges of Commissioner of Police. Small oval collar badges. Commissioner of Police Rank Insignia attached to shoulder strap. PM3113 Group of Queensland Commissioned Police officers in 1937. Commissioner Cecil James Carroll is fourth from left.
  • Australian dress register ID:

    537
  • Owner:

    Queensland Police Museum
  • Owner registration number:

    QP182
  • Date range:

    1927 - 1943
  • Place of origin:

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Gender:

    Male
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Object information

Significance statement

The Queensland Police Commissioner's tunic manufactured between 1927 and 1943 represents an important era in the history of the Queensland Police. The owner of this tunic is most likely to have been Cecil James Carroll, Commissioner of Police between 1934 and 1949. The braided decorations, trimmings and the wool fabric all indicate this tunic was an elaborate garment, worn by someone of a high rank and mostly for ceremonial purposes. It was manufactured by an experienced tailor in the Brisbane City who created a military-style uniform under Queensland Police contract. The design of the tunic is straight and lightly padded. The measurements reveal whoever wore this tunic was of a small-build.

The significance of Carroll as Queensland Police Commissioner is that he oversaw the Police Force during World War II. As well as expanding the Police Force, establishing new educational entry requirements for recruits and modernizing the force, Carroll was required to prepare and see the force through the War. This was a particularly strenuous task for Carroll as Brisbane became the epicentre of the Pacific War and the first port of call for American troops. The population of Brisbane doubled during this period and the police force was overcome with new responsibilities.

Carroll resigned from the Police Force on 23 July 1949, and passed away in 1970. The tunic came into the possession of the Queensland Police Museum. It has not been on display in any other institution or in the Queensland Police Museum. What is also significant about this item is its condition. Despite its age the tunic is in a good condition with limited damage from wear or storage. As 2014 marks the 150th year of the Queensland Police Force, it is important to recall items that represent different stages in its development and to remember how the Queensland Police presented itself in the past.

Author: Virginia Gordon and Rebecca Lush, August 2014.

Description

A single breasted, hip length tunic of black wool and velvet with braided decoration on the front and back. The tunic is long-sleeved with an Austrian knot decoration on the lower end of the tunic sleeves. The waist of the tunic is defined by panels of fabric, darts and braiding on the rear of the tunic. There is a black velvet standup collar edged with a medium woven braid, and a fine cord looped in circles (also known as Bullet Hole braid which is used to indicate field rank on full dress uniforms). Epaulettes on the shoulder of the tunic have space for four badges. The decoration on the front of the tunic consists of woven black braid featuring circles and drops (larger double circles). The tunic is lined with black material except for the sleeves which are lined with a cream fabric that has brown fine stripes grouped together in sets of three. On the right hand side, inside the tunic is a small pocket near the opening of the jacket. The front of the jacket is fastened with hook and eyes that sit inside the opening of the tunic.

History and Provenance

The family information available on Cecil Carroll is stated in the births, deaths and marriages section. Cecil Carroll was a teacher, and then Captain in the Australian Imperial Forces before joining the Police Force. In 1915 Carroll enlisted in the Australian Military Forces and rose to the rank of Captain before being wounded in France. He returned to Australia in 1918 and worked in the Home Service until 1920. In between 1920 and 1934, Carroll worked within the Taxation Department and eventually became the Chief Inspector of Taxation. He was sworn in as the Commissioner of Police on 8 May 1934, and retired on the 23 July 1949.

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Cecil James Caroll was born on 8th July, 1888 in Woombye, Caboolture. His father Patrick Carroll was born in Ireland in 1860. Patrick Caroll moved to Queensland prior to 1884 before marrying Margaret McGrath on November 26, 1884. Cecil Caroll was married with three children, Jack, Nell and Cecily, before becoming Commissioner of Police in 1934. He retired on 23 July, 1949 and died on 21 May, 1970.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

Commissioner Carroll introduced many reforms including qualifying examinations for promotion, an improved training system for recruits and a new Cadet system of admission. He approved the extensive renovation of police buildings and the opening of the Queensland Police Garage and the Police Welfare Club. Mr Carroll oversaw the establishment of a wireless radio station, the installation of radio receivers in police cars, the introduction of the 'modus operandi' recording system, the single fingerprint system, the Scientific Section and the Traffic Squad.

Cecil Carroll oversaw many community issues during his period as Commissioner. Industrial action in particular was rife during this inter-war period. One railway strike on St Patrick's Day in 1948 ended in police-civilian confrontation. 

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

Cecil Carroll was Commissioner during World War II. The strain on human resources caused by the War had great effects on the Queensland Police. The movement of Australian and American troops through Brisbane proved to be particularly strenuous on the Police Force. Extra police officers were required for wartime emergencies. Carroll invested a lot of time with civil defence tasks, especially training Air-Raid Wardens.

Where did this information come from?

Information was sourced from Trove. All newspaper articles cited were from The Courier Mail Brisbane. The biographical information on Cecil Carroll was provided by the Queensland Police Museum and can be found in their archives.

This garment has been exhibited

This garment has not been exhibited at any previous institution. It has also not been exhibited at the Queensland Police Museum.

  1. Place of origin:

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

  2. Cost:

    The cost of the item is unknown. It would have been made to fulfill a contract and this contract would have dictated the cost.

  3. Owned by:

    Today this garment is owned by the Queensland Police Museum and is in their collection. It is originally believed to have been owned by Cecil James Carroll who was the Queensland Police Commissioner. This has been deduced from photographs of Carroll during his period as Commissioner wearing an identical tunic to the one we have in our possession. 

  4. Worn by:

    It was most likely worn by Cecil James Carroll who was the Commissioner of Police from 1934 until 1949.

  5. Occasion(s):

    The tunic was part of the Queensland Police Commissioners Uniform.

  6. Place:

    The Queensland Police Headquarters, now Roma Street, Brisbane.

  7. Designed by:

    It is unknown who exactly designed this uniform but as it is for a senior position in the police service it would have most likely been designed internally by the police force itself. The design of the uniform aligns closely with past military uniforms, especially those from Ireland. This is because elements of the Queensland Police uniforms during this time period were modelled on military uniforms. Queensland Police Museum photographs indicate this style of uniform was worn from approximately the 1880's till about the mid 1940's.

  8. Made by:

    It is unknown who made this tunic as there is no manufacturers label on the garment or information surrounding its provenance. 

  9. Made for:

    This tunic was made for the Queensland Police Commissioner.

Trimmings / Decoration

The only trimming/decoration evident on the tunic is the braiding. Black braid has been used to form Austrian knots on the lower end of the sleeves and on the back of the tunic. Around the Austrian knot on the sleeves and around the tip of the collar is a soft, black braiding in loops called Bullet Hole braid. The back of the tunic also features two Crowsfoot knots and two covered braided buttons. The Austrian knots drop down from the buttons to the base of the tunic and the Crowsfoot knots stem up from the decorative buttons to the shoulderblade area. The epaulettes/shoulder straps are edged with a fine black cord.

Ribbon

Thick, black ribbon runs the circumference of the bottom of the tunic, the length of the tunic at the front and around the top circumference of the collar.

Braiding

Austrian knots are featured on the both tunic sleeves, and also on the lower back of the tunic and two Crowsfoot knots on the upper back. The front of the tunic features ten woven braid circles and drops (large double circles and five on each side).

Piping

There is no evident piping.

Lace

There is no lacing.

Tucking

There is no tucking.

Embroidery

There is no embroidery.

Fibre / Weave

The tunic is primarily wool, with the trimming/decoration braid. This wool has been synthetically dyed black. There is also black velvet located on the standup collar and on the lower parts of the sleeve beneath the braided Austrian knots. Black softer fabric (perhaps cotton) lines the inside of the tunic. 

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

The main body of the tunic has been machine sewn. This includes the stitching of the sleeves to the tunic body, the internal tunic panels that provide the item with shape and the collar. Evidence of hand stitching is at the base of the sleeves where the lining has been sewn and the braiding decorations appear to have been hand sewn. The stitching is more uneven on these areas of the tunic.

Alterations

The different coloured braiding on the front of the tunic may indicate briading was replaced or altered to serve some purpose. There is no evidence the entire garmant has been restitched. Little alterations have been made to repair wear and tear. The inside of both sleeves has handstitching to repair tears in the fabric lining. There is also evidence of white thread handstitching inside the tunic near the hook and eyes.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

The tunic has been cut straight. There is no clear flair to the piece nor has the fabric been cut for any decorative purpose.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

The buttons on the rear of the tunic covered in braid and are purely decorative. The front of the tunic is held together by hook and eyes that are painted, black metal. Some of the black colouring has worn off the hooks. 

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

It is possible that buckram has been used to stiffen the standup collar. There is something that can be seen through a patch of worn velvet on the collar. The tunic body itself has been shaped by panels of thick fabric that have been machine sewn onto the body. There is no evidence of whalebone, petersham, steel, cord or wadding.

Measurements

tunic
Girth
Neck 465 mm
Chest 1055 mm
Waist 1000 mm
Hip 1070 mm
Cuff 300 mm
Hem circumference 1175 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 690 mm
Front waist to hem 300 mm
Back neck to hem 700 mm
Back waist to hem 300 mm
Sleeve length 575 mm
Horizontal
Neck to sleeve head 162 mm
Cross back 370 mm
Underarm to underarm 510 mm
Convert to inches

The width of the standup collar is 50 mm.

Dress Themes

There is evidence to suggest that this tunic was mainly worn as part of a uniform for ceremonial purposes. Why it might be a ceremonial uniform is as follows: The tunic is not worn to the same extent as a frequently worn day uniform might be. It is in very good condition with only minor damage caused by aging and management, and infrequent wear. Photographs of the Commissioner of Police and Inspectors during this time period (1936-1950) show them wearing full ceremonial uniform. This tunic appears identical to the tunics in the photograph.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

The Queensland Policeman's Manual of 1925 states that the badges of rank for the Commissioner of Police consists of a Crown and two stars. These are to be worn on the shoulder straps of the tunic with the letters "QP" below such badges. Commissioned officers (Commissioner, Chief Inspector, Inspector, and Sub-Inspector) are also to wear a small silver badge on either of the collar about one inch from where the collar meets. This small oval badge features the Maltese Cross surrounded by a belt and surmounted with the Crown with the words Queensland Police on the belt. The images below show the rank insignia in gold metal. The crown is a King's Crown and worn when a King has ascended to the British throne.

The rank insignia in the images below are attached to the Queensland Police Inspector's tunic under ID554. A possible theory as to why the Commissioner's rank insignia is on the Inspector's tunic may be that the Commissioner needed a new uniform and moved his rank insignia accordingly. The Inspector's tunic lacks the extra circular cording surrounding the Austrian Knots on the sleeves. Perhaps the cording was unavailable at the time of making, or the Commissioner  decided to adopt a less ornate look.

Although this Police Commissioner's tunic has no rank insignia attached, the circular cording (Bullet Hole braid) surrounding the Austrian Knots on the sleeves indicates the rank of the wearer as shown in the image of the group of Queensland Commissioned Police Officers. The olivets or cylindrical toggles that would be used to decoratively fasten the front of the tunic are missing but can be seen on the Inspector's tunic in ID554.

Condition

There are a few notes that can be made with regard to the condition of the tunic. On either side of the collar at the front, there are two holes most likely left from badges (holes from the badge fastenings have left impressions on the velvet). Inside the collar underneath the badge indentations are numerous small puncture holes. On the right side of the collar the braiding has been torn off 510 mmm from the collar join and down the side to the hook and eye that closes the collar. There is some tearing in the sleeve linings of both sleeves underneath the velvet. Some evidence is present that these have been hand stitched closed. On the right hand side inside the front of the tunic are is some tearing near the hook and eyes and evidence of white stitching to try and close these gaps. On the front of the tunic four drops on the left side are no longer stitched to the tunic. There is some fraying of velvet as well at the base of both sleeves. Overall, the tunic when examined as a whole is in good condition. Small signs of deterioration can be noticed on closer inspection. 

Evidence of repairs

There are a few handstitched repairs on the tunic inside the sleeves and inside the opening of the jacket.

Insect damage

On the lower right hand side on the front of the tunic is a small hole that is possibly a moth hole. 

Mould damage

There is no evidence of any mould damage.

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

Damage

  1. Discolouration
  2. Frayed
  3. Holes
  4. Parts missing
  5. Torn
  6. Worn

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