FROM THE VAULT – Physical Fitness

Physical drill at the Police Depot, 1913

Physical fitness has always been an important part of the training regime for Queensland Police officers.

No person shall be appointed constable unless he shall be of sound constitution able-bodied and under age of forty years of good character for honest fidelity and activity and able to read and write and no person shall be appointed constable sho shall have been convicted of any felony (1863 Police Act).

Those accepted as recruits went off to the Depot, Petrie Terrace. This building held about sixty men. Between 1870 and 1888 Senior Constable Samuel Grimes was the drill instructor, he outlined the daily, routine for recruits:

After a man … comes into my hands I show him how to fall in; I then put him through the extension motions for the set-up of his body – his position. After he has got into that a little I put a rifle in his hands and teach him how to march with the rifle. After he is able to march a little I go into the manual with the rifle, by numbers, and firing exercises.

In addition to four hours of drill per day and an hour of gymnastic exercises, Grimes read them the Police Rules and examined them.

In the twentieth century the drill sessions grew more varied. The training programmes emphasised drill as “squad and company, musketry instruction, physical and dumb-bell”. In the following decades recruits encountered instructors such as Tom Molloy (who trained police recruits between 1950 and 1980) was described in terms such as “a real tyrant as far as drill was concerned”. To such instructors, discipline was of the essence, recruits must be able to take whatever the public dish out. If a recruit could not put up with bed bugs at the Depot they would not be able to cope with criminals, prostitutes and the public. The probationary’s day was long from 6am to 9pm, filled with fatigue duties, drill, physical training, some lessons on law and police duties. There were also visits to courts, observation of points duty and some rifle and revolver practice.

Recruits at the ready, 1902

Police recruits at revolver training parade ground at the Petrie Terrace Police Depot, c1930

Police recruits at boxing training, c1930

Police recruit rifle drill on the parade ground at the Petrie Terrace Police Depot, c1947

Physical fitness education on the parade ground at the Petrie Terrace Police Depot, c1950

Constable Noala Holman (hockey champion and judo enthusiast) demonstrates a judo hold on Police recruit Malcolm Taylor, 1967


This information has been supplied by the Queensland Police Museum from the best resources available at the time of writing.

The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Contact: E: [email protected]

Physical Fitness” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence.

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