I only discovered Lillian Armfield when I read the fascinating "Razor" by Larry Writer, a book that tells the "true story of slashers, gangsters, prostitutes and sly grog" in Sydney during the 1920s and 1930s. While I was well aware of Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, the notorious madams who controlled a big chunk of eastern Sydney's underworld in King's Cross and Darlinghust ("Razorhurst") during the period and who have acquired a legendary status in Australian folklore almost on a par with Ned Kelly, I knew virtually nothing of the police who had to deal with these notorious women of crime on a daily basis.
Lillian Armfield, one of Australia's first real policewomen (image from the NSW Police files, 1915), was as tough as many of the street women she arrested such as "Botany May" and Nellie Cameron
Although the first woman to receive the King's Police Medal, Lillian received no pension when she retired and spent her latter years in virtual poverty. She is another amazing woman who carried a bucket behind men, but also blazed a major trail for policewomen of the future and she really needs to be given much more credit.
A book, "Rugged Angel", was written about Lillian in 1961 by Vince Kelly, but surely the time has come for a new author to take fresh look at this remarkable ground-breaking woman!
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Visit the real Razorhurst