JUST like a shot out of a gun, Uralla’s McCrossin’s Mill is rewriting the history books.
The latest acquisition to the Thunderbolt collection of the revolver used to shoot the notorious bushranger has shed new light on how the events unfolded on May 25, 1870.
McCrossin’s Mill director Kent Mayo said the pistol, an English-made Webley Royal Irish Constabulary model 1 version came to the museum from a family in Western Australia, direct descendants of John Gordon, who was given the gun a few days after the shooting by Constable Alexander Binney Walker.
“All the contemporary depictions of the shooting show Walker with one of those police-issue, long-barrelled Colts, yet this weapon is a far more robust, shorter-barrelled revolver,” Mr Mayo said.
“On the day of the shooting, young Constable Walker wasn’t on duty when the news of the robbery reached Uralla Police Station.
“Walker’s service revolver would have been locked up in the police station when he was called to duty, so he would have gone home to saddle up his horse and taken his own revolver to follow Senior Constable Mulhall, who had left some time before to pursue the bushranger.”
History shows that the making of Walker was the downfall of Mulhall, as Walker was promoted and Mulhall demoted after the incident.
“Much of the population believed Mulhall was a coward. He copped a lot of stick, which wasn’t really fair,” Mr Mayo said.
“He had pursued other bushrangers in his time, but that’s how the public saw it back then. They were always judgmental of the police like they are now.”
Mr Mayo said the revolver had been in the Gordon family since 1870 and they had the documentation to verify its authenticity.
It will become the jewel in the crown of Thunderbolt: Life and Legend, the professionally designed and installed exhibition at the Uralla museum.
“It will be installed in the case with the mannequin of the dead body of Thunderbolt,” he said.
“It’s most certainly one of our most significant acquisitions and it’s quite remarkable how it came to us.
“The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, were the great-grandchildren of John Gordon, another police constable of the day.
“Immediately after the shooting, police thought it politic to move Walker away from the Thunderbolt sympathisers around Uralla, for his own sake.
“He was promoted to the rank of senior constable and moved to Glen Innes Police Station.”
The motto of McCrossin’s Mill museum is “why not”, which Mr Mayo said, enabled them to think outside the square.
“It means we don’t confine our vision to Uralla or the region, but have a greater world view,” he said.
“Serendipitous things happen when you have a ‘why not’ motto. The way things happened, how the family had had this item in their safe in WA, they googled Uralla, found it had a museum and rang to make contact.
“They had a look on our website and saw it was a reputable organisation. People are just so generous. If you are passionate and have integrity, people will trust you with this stuff.”