Celebrating South Australia


1 March 1870 Riot in Adelaide

 1 March 1870   Riot in Adelaide

On 1 March 1870 a riot occurred in the staid city of Adelaide. It was a time of recession and high unemployment which, at times, the government alleviated by employing men on public works. At this time the men had been offered work digging trenches for the sum of 1s 10d per rod, (about 5 metres) allowing a good worker to earn 3s per day. The men considered that this was insufficient to keep a family.

On Tuesday morning, 1 March, a large group of men gathered opposite the Treasury Building on King William Street. The numbers grew, the crowd became noisy, crossed the street and tried to rush into the government offices. They were expelled by police who had been called to the scene. The men re-grouped near the Town Hall and again marched towards the Treasury Building. This time they were thwarted by mounted police who used the flat of their swords to disperse the crowd. They retaliated by throwing stones. Several were arrested and sent for trial. But the men made their point and the government agreed to a better rate of pay.

South Australian Register, 2 March 1870, p. 5.