Queensland Police Inspector Dress Tunic

Contributed by: Queensland Police Museum

Front view of Queensland Police Inspector Dress Tunic with rank insignia of Police Commissioner  Rear view of Qld Police Inspector Dress Tunic Left sleeve detail of Austrian Knot on Inspector Dress Tunic Right sleeve of Inspector Dress Tunic Rank insignia of Qld Police Commissioner on Inspector Dress Tunic Left sleeve of Inspector Dress Tunic Label inside Inspector Dress Tunic Label inside Inspector Dress Tunic Front collar detail Front view of rank insignia and collar badges. The rank insignia of a Commissioner of Police
  • Australian dress register ID:

    554
  • Owner:

    Queensland Police Museum
  • Owner registration number:

    QP183
  • Date range:

    1936 - 1950
  • Place of origin:

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Gender:

    Male
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Object information

Significance statement

The Queensland Police Inspector/Sub-Inspector tunic manufactured between 1936 - 1950 sheds light on the Queensland Police Force during the 1930s to late 1940s and on the manufacturing industry in Brisbane during this same period. The owner of the garment is unknown, however, whoever wore this tunic must have been a male Inspector or Sub-Inspector who wore the uniform for ceremonial purposes. The hip-length, black tunic is primarily made from black-dyed wool. It is both a decorative item consisting of intricate black braiding and a practical garment, worn as a uniform. The item is significant due to its good condition, showing few signs of damage apart from two moth holes and some signs of discolouration and wear. The measurements indicate that it was designed for someone of a small build, with no evidence of alterations made during the life-span of the item. 

The item is also significant as it still possesses a manufacturers label. As the original owner of the uniform is unknown, it is important to have some historical and wider community connection through its tailor. Arthur J Longson was a successful tailor during this period in Brisbane and his label has allowed the uniform to be correctly dated. His significance in the wider community is known due to the large number of advertisements published in the Brisbane Courier Mail requesting young and old apprentices and handymen/women to help in his business. His business especially boomed with the conclusion of World War II and the return of servicemen to Australia. By researching the manufacturer, Adelaide Street in Brisbane in 1936-1950 has come to life. Jewish Womens' Leagues, dairy companies, real estate agents and tailors all shared the same premises in the centre of Brisbane. Examing this garment has allowed for research to delve beyond the Queensland Police and into the society of Brisbane in the pre and post-World War II era.  

Unlike many of the other garments published on the site that are significant due to their owners or wearers, this tunic serves two significant roles. Firstly it allows for an insight into the levels of command in the Queensland Police Force both before and after World War II. Although limited, it begins to tell a story of its owner. The tunic can also tell its viewer a significant tale in the history of Brisbane's CBD. 

Author: Virginia Gordon and Rebecca Lush, 20.10.2014.

Description

A single breasted, hip length tunic of black wool and velvet with braided decoration in 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. Two small oval gold, black and white metal collar badges are attached on either side of the front opening. These are Queensland Police collar badges. Epaulettes on the shoulders carry the rank insignia of Commissioner of Police. They consist of a gold King's Crown, two gold stars and gold letters 'QP' in metal. The decoration on the front of the tunic consists of woven black braid featuring circles and drops (larger double circles) and olivets which are the cylindrical toggles covered by a black thread netting. The jacket is lined with black material except for the sleeves which are lined with a cream fabric that has blue and brown fine stripes grouped together in sets of three.

History and Provenance

Where did this information come from?

Archives of the Queensland Police Museum. 

This garment has been exhibited

This garment has been exhibited in the Queensland Police Museum in the 1990's.

  1. Place of origin:

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

  2. Cost:

    There is no evidence of cost.

  3. Owned by:

    This item was originally believed to have been owned by William Geoffrey Cahill, Commissioner from 1905-1916. Research into the manufacturer of the garment, Arthur J Longson, and the police insignia, however, led to a new discovery. Longson worked in Ewing House on Adelaide Street from 1936 until around 1950. In addition, the tunic more closely aligns with that of an Inspector/Sub-Inspector, although the rank insignia aligns with a Commissioner of Police having served between 1925 until 1951.

  4. Worn by:

    This tunic was worn by an Inspector or Sub-Inspector of the Queensland Police.

  5. Designed by:

    This uniform was most likely designed by the Queensland Police Force. 

  6. Made by:

    As stated on the tag of the tunic, it was made by Arthur J Longson in Ewing House on Adelaide Street, Brisbane. Longson was a tailor who worked in Brisbane from approximately 1936-1950. Longson frequently published articles in Brisbane's, newspaper, 'The Courier Mail'. Between November 1936 and September 1950, forty-five advertisements were published in the paper. The reason behind these advertisments was that Longson required a lot of assistance in his workshop. Advertistements called for women over 45 who could sew and individuals with an expertise in sewing coats/pants etc. Fifty percent of the advertisements were between September 1945 and October 1945. This coincides with the end of World War II and the return of many servicemen to Australia. Longson ran quite a successful business sharing Ewing House with dairy manufacturers and the Jewish Women of Australia League to name a couple. Real estate in the city centre would have been quite expensive and for Longson to have worked at least fourteen years at the same address is indicative of his success. In addition, to have the contract to make the Queensland Police uniforms for the commissioned officers is also an insight into Longson's success.

Trimmings / Decoration

The only evidence of trimmings and decorations is the black braiding on the sleeves and back of the tunic. Black braid has been used to form Austrian knots on the lower end of the sleeves and on the back of the tunic. There is also some braiding on the front of the tunic consisting of five rows of drops and circles. 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

Black braiding has been used to form the Austrian and Crowsfoot knots situated on the sleeves and on the back of the tunic. The front of the tunic features ten woven braid circles and drops (large double circles and five on each side).

Piping

There is no piping on the tunic.

Lace

There is no lacing.

Tucking

There is no tucking.

Embroidery

There is no embroidery.

Fibre / Weave

The tunic is primarily wool, with black velvet on collar and at the bottom of the sleeves. A black soft fabric (probably cotton) lines the inside of the tunic.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

The main body of the tunic has been machine sewn. There is some evidence of hand stitching on the collar, braiding and buttons, manufacturer's label and lining where stitches are more uneven.

Label

CIVIL, MILI....

SPORTING TAILOR

ARTHUR J LONGSON

EWING HOUSE

ADELAIDE ST BRISBANE

Alterations

Although there is evidence of hand stitching on the garment this has not been for the purpose of alterations. There is no clear evidence that this tunic has been altered. It can be deduced from this that the tunic was initially designed for use by one individual. As it is a Commissioner's uniform the likelihood that this tunic was designed for one person is greater than if it was a standard police uniform.

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

Cut

The tunic has been cut straight with no evidence of flaring or any other decorative cutting.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

The front of the tunic is held together by a series of hook and eyes which are concealed on the inside of the jacket. There are large, black toggles on the front of the tunic which are covered with a netting-like material. These are the more decorative fastenings on the tunic. There are three buttons on the inside of each sleeve. They serve no obvious purpose.

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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

The shape of the tunic has been reinforced by the panels of fabric rather than by any stiffening, lining or padding. It is possible that buckram has been used to stiffen the standup collar and a stiff fabric can be seen through the worn velvet.

Measurements

tunic
Girth
Neck 460 mm
Chest 1060 mm
Waist 990 mm
Hip 1070 mm
Cuff 305 mm
Hem circumference 1160 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 675 mm
Front waist to hem 270 mm
Back neck to hem 670 mm
Back waist to hem 267 mm
Sleeve length 670 mm
Horizontal
Neck to sleeve head 125 mm
Cross back 395 mm
Underarm to underarm 530 mm
Convert to inches

The width of the stand-up 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. Similar to the Queensland Police Commissioner's uniform, this tunic has very little wear. It also features in a ceremonial photograph of the Queensland Police.

Condition

Overall, the condition of the tunic is good. There is minor insect damage on the sleeves of the tunic, however, there is no other evidence of damage. There is slight discolouration and signs of wear due to the age of the garment. 

Evidence of repairs

There is no evidence of repairs or repair-work on the tunic.

Insect damage

There are two small moth holes towards the bottom of the right sleeve. 

State

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

Damage

  1. Discolouration
  2. Holes
  3. Worn

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