the Adelaide city mortuary
Constable John Moss accompanied the body in a police ambulance to the city mortuary immediately after Dr Bennett’s cursory examination of the corpse in an ambulance outside the Emergency Entrance at Adelaide Hospital. The mortuary, more commonly known as the morgue is a small elaborately detailed building within the Parkview Insane Asylum complex, now known as Glenside Hospital, located in the parklands surrounding Adelaide’s West Terrace Cemetery.
The mortuary was built from Yatala stone, most probably quarried by early convicts from stone quarried from the Dry Creek Linear Park, which runs seventeen miles outside of the city. Yatala is a word from the Weira group of the Kaurna Aboriginal people, meaning water running by the side of a river.
Moss helped to carry the body into another building, the morgue, on a stretcher where it was stripped of all clothing, date-labeled and left for the autopsy. The clothing was collected by Moss, taken back to the Brighton Police Station and placed in the evidence room. This may have been where the underwear in his pockets was later removed and left with all his other clothing.
As far as I can tell, the body of the Somerton Man was housed at the Parkside Insane Asylum complex in Adelaide from December 1st until his burial on the 14th of June 1949. This is the building Laurie Elliott, the embalmer, visited almost weekly for three months to keep the corpse in a reasonable viewing condition.
Mortuary: front room.
The government pathologist, Doctor John Matthew ‘Barb’ Dwyer of 105 Port Road, Hindmarsh, an inner suburb of Adelaide, was given the responsibility of conducting the post-mortem of the body at the city mortuary and he began his task at 7:30am on 2 December 1948.
This is where he worked.
Constable Scan Sutherland of the Metropolitan Station assisted Doctor Dwyer with the autopsy and at its conclusion took possession of four glass jars, which he delivered to Robert James Cowan, the South Australian deputy government analyst. The jars contained the following specimens:
Jar 1: stomach and contents.
Jar 2: liver and muscle.
Jar 3: urine.
Jar 4: blood.
This is where he collected them.
The specimen room.
All images sourced from The South Australian Medical Heritage Society Inc.