Boggo Road Prison
BOGGO ROAD PRISON Author - Stephen M Gage



Joseph W Lauher hosts one of the greatest sites and is recognised accordingly www.handcuffs.org 

I contributed an article on Australian handcuffs from the Lithgow factory to the Handcuff Annual 2007, edited by Joseph.  W. Lauher. My research also has photos of the various models and variants. 

Australian Manufactured Handcuffs

Small Arms Factory Lithgow, New South Wales, by Stephen M. Gage.


Lithgow was named in 1927 by Hamilton Hume, in honour of William Lithgow a prominent secretary to Govenor Brisbane. This city is situated on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains some two hours drive or 150 kims from Sydney. The area is 900 metres above sea level and enjoys mild to cold summers with occasional snow in winter.

European settlement started about 1824 and remained slow until the Western Railway Line was constructed from Sydney to Lithgow in 1869. Vast coal reserves had prompted industry to look at the area for valuable resources. The settlement consisted of native tribal groups, convicts and settlers as this was very common in the early pioneer days.

The first blast furnace to manufacture pig iron was established in 1875 and by 1900 had produced the first steel in Australia . The small arms factory was founded on the 8th June 1912, and is now situated on a 65 hectare site with precision engineering as its main focus. The Commonwealth Government established this factory.

During 1988 the factory changed names to ADI (Australian Defence Industries) and is now one of the many factories used in Australia for the production of defence associated industries. On the 12th October 2006, Thales Australia acquired the remaining 50% of ADI, hence all factories of ADI are now Thales.

Directly adjacent the ADI factory is the Museum, it houses a comprehensive collection of items produced by the factory. The museum is called 'Lithgow Small Arms Museum Inc' and is situated in Methvern Street, Lithgow, NSW, Australia. The museum is open on weekends and public holidays and worth a look if you visit the Sydney area.

           Pre - 1960 Handcuffs

The factory started to produce its first model of Australian handcuffs in the 1940s and as was common in that time period they selected a left hand variant. The handcuff is very similar to the early model Peerless handcuff. This model handcuff has one oblong link between the two swivels and had the Small Arms Factory Logo stamped on the lock case. A further variant used in New Zealand has a raised hinge pin and uses the same key. The next two model have dispenced with the oblong link and replaced them with two rings.

          Patent 'SAFLOK' 

Mr Jim Williamson, proper name James P Williamson,, was a tool maker in the Lithgow factory during WW11 and a number of years later he was promoted to Technical Officer. Jim was given the Peerless handcuff project, his task was to modify and improve the product which eventually resulted in the development of the SAFLOK handcuff.

The patent was filed on the 19th October 1965, with the number 3,392,554 under the name J.P.Williamson the patent was granted on the 16th July 1968.

         Post - 1960 Handcuffs 

The handcuffs now being produced are under the name Saf-Lok, meaning (Small Arms Factory - Lock) and commencing on their own design with a tumbler lock system as one of the main features. This model is stamped with the acromyn SAF-LOK above the serial number and into the lock case. The tumbler lock has the words SET and LOCK marked at different points to indicate the position for locking the handcuffs. The bow has a single milled grove and no wording as yet. An unusual key design was introduced with such success that it is still used to this day.

Introduction of the Saf-Lok with the innovative tumbler lock that is easy to use was a change in direction for modern restrains and made it extremely difficult to manipulate the lock. The first model MK 1 and the first variant had two ringed links between the swivels, 3mm thick and a diameter of 16mm. The bow hinge is interesting as it conceals the hinge pin.  When using these handcuffs it is important to remenber that the locking device should face upward for ease of removal. There are numerous variants of the mark 1,  but there are no recorded MK 11 or MK 111 models. The MK 1V is the longest produced model to this day.

           Identification - Serial Numbering

ADI changed the serial numbering system in 2000, by prefixing the number with the year in front, eg 00, 01, 02, 03, 04 and so on. This made for an easier identification system for many reasons and purposes. A further eg is, 020001 this indicates the year was 2002 and it is the first manufactured for that year.

           MK V High Security Hinged Model

The biggest change ever for Saf-Lok was the introduction of the MK V with its new serial numbering system. The factory would now produce handcuffs specificaly  named for an Australian Department with the prefix QP(Queensland Police). The handcuff could now have the number ADI H03 0004 or QP H05 4567. The hinged handcuff  was introduced in 2003 and now eliminated the need for oversized handcuffs and can be used in a multitude of configurations and control methods.

          Bedcuff Special Model

This model was introduced in 2004, as a need had been identified for a restraint that could be used in a variety of emergency needs.  I set about inventing this device to cater for the new design of hospital beds that were unconventional, in that they had numerous removable guards and brackets. The bedcuff has one single handcuff on the end of a 33 link chain with an oblong link at the other this allows for the bedcuff to be secured to any part of a bed, wheelchair, building etc. The serial numbering system stamped on the lock case is Bedcuff 040001.



Australia was founded as a British Penal Colony only a few hundred years ago and yet the visual history of restraints is indeed limited. There are very few museums that have authentic displays of historic restraints and this is disappointing to say the least. In finishing this subject there is strong rumor that Saf-Lok may consider manufacturing a set of legirons to the standard and quality of their handcuffs. I have just cinfirmed that a prototype has been made and tested at one of our Correctional Facilities (other words, Prison) with the results yet to be released.


British Hiatt Model 104 handcuffs, about 1870



A variety of Legirons can be seen handing on the wall.