FOR some, just the sight of a gallows is enough to bring on the goosebumps.
For others it’s that haunting clanging noise when the trapdoor falls.
Built in the 1850s and recently restored, the gallows from Ballarat Gaol have a new home in Smythesdale, thanks to the Woady Yaloak Historical Society.
Local carpenter Paddy Caulfield was entrusted with the somewhat creepy task of replacing the rotten timber and returning the ghoulish instrument of death to its former glory.
After finishing the job, Mr Caufield had the unique – and frightening – experience of testing the gallows out for himself at his workshop.
The noise, he said, was sheer terror.
“That clang is just really scary. The hanging beam, it didn’t do the same thing to me as that clang,” he said.
Thirteen prisoners were hanged on the beam during its operation between 1864 and 1908, with the most notable being a double hanging in 1867.
Joseph Ballan and George Searle met their maker together that day for the murder of a Smythesdale bank manager.
Jim Brown, from the Woady Yaloak Historical Society, said it took three years and $17,000 to restore the gallows.
“It was in a sad and sorry state when we found it.
“A lot of the timber had rotted away,” he said.
Mr Brown said the community had chipped in, something Mr Caulfield was glad to do, even though he is against capital punishment.
“I really enjoyed doing it. It’s a magnificent structure,” he said, cautioning that if the death penalty returned he would be “straight down here with a chainsaw”.
Mr Caulfield said the carpentry used on the gallows was interesting, with the original pencil marks on the wood even making him a bit emotional.
“It’s almost like a connection with the person that made it in the first place,” he said.
The gallows are functional, with a mechanism to provide the full experience.
Luckily, for the easily frightened, the trapdoors no longer open the whole way.
Even still, your imagination should do the trick.
Clang, clang, clang.