War and order at the barracks


From 1886 and throughout the twentieth century, Hyde Park Barracks accommodated a busy court complex known as Queens Square.

At the outbreak of World War I, there was a strong response from the NSW legal fraternity, many of whom were based at the Queens Square courts at the barracks. While eminent silks and law students rushed to enlist to fight, many judges and court staff had to remain here to maintain law and order on the home front.

The instability created by the war, and its impact on the local economy, meant that special government agencies were set up to manage the home front. The Wheat Acquisition Board and the Necessary Commodities Control Commission were accommodated at the barracks. These were set up to fix the price of everyday goods at affordable prices. The wartime price of wheat was five shillings per bushel. However allegations of corruption and profiteering soon compromised the integrity of these agencies.

One newly appointed judge, Justice Sir David Gilbert Ferguson, familiar with the Queens Square courts, was tasked with inquiring into the corruption allegations. As a former barrister, who specialised in evidence, his inquiries quickly disproved them.

During Ferguson’s inquiry, his own sons were fighting on the battle fronts at Gallipoli and France.

Ferguson’s eldest son, Arthur Gardere Ferguson (1892 – 1916), enlisted as a lieutenant in the 20th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in June 1915. Arthur wrote to his father regularly, providing first-hand accounts of training camps in Egypt, his landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli and trench warfare against the Turkish and German forces. Arthur’s letters were so detailed that Ferguson even constructed a scale model of the Dardanelles coastline, which was later used by historian C.E.W. Bean to illustrate the terrain at Anzac Cove. On 14 June 1916, Arthur was killed when a shell struck his dugout in Bois Grenier, France.

Black and white photograph of young man in uniform

Arthur Gardere Ferguson, 1915.Photo: University of Sydney Archives G14/12.

Justice Ferguson’s second son, Keith Aubrey (1895 – 1978) was sailing to France with the 3rd Divisional Cyclists Corps when his father informed him by telegram of Arthur’s death. Keith survived the war, despite being wounded in France, and went on to become a District Court judge (presiding here in the Metropolitan court at Queen’s Square, Hyde Park Barracks), and a Supreme Court judge in 1941. Both Fergusons were eventually awarded knighthoods for their service to the law in NSW, which spanned two world wars.

Black and white photograph of young bespectacled man in uniform

Keith Aubrey Ferguson, c1915-1916. Photo: University of Sydney Archives G14/12.

About the Author

Head and shoulders portrait photo of young man against brick wall.
Zachary Thompson
Visitor Interpretation Officer
Zachary is a Visitor Interpretation Officer at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and The Mint.

Framed piece of embroidery with geometric and other motifs.


Meroogal Women’s Art Prize entries closeFriday 3 August 2018

Entries have closed for the 17th Meroogal Women’s Art Prize with a record number of artists submitting works. Pre-selection of the works takes place soon with the announcement of finalists on Friday 24 August.

Group in kitchen with fresh produce on table.


Thousands of students Butter their BreadWednesday 15 August 2018

In July, we held our first ever video conference to schools live from Vaucluse House. We received an enormous response to the program, with over 3000 students connecting to us from 93 schools across NSW.

Group of four women in period costumes in front of sandstone steps.

The Mint

NIDA students in costume at the Barracks & The MintTuesday 14 August 2018

NIDA costume design students were seen modelling the costumes that they designed at Hyde Park Barracks Museum and The Mint.

Exterior of cafe with seating and planter boxes.

Museum of Sydney

Thank you to our Governors Kitchen patrons for their supportSaturday 4 August 2018

The Governors Kitchen cafe will be closed for ongoing renovations from Friday 3 August. Throughout August, visitors can enjoy coffee, cold beverages and light refreshments from the coffee cart located on the museum forecourt.