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Anthony James Barge (1928–1980)

by Bruce Swanton

This article was published:

Anthony James Barge (1928-1980), police officer and educationist, was born on 7 January 1928 at Lambeth, London, son of Arthur Basil Barge, chauffeur, and his wife Hilda Marion Jessie, née Haines. Placed in an orphanage when his parents separated, Tony sailed for New South Wales as a child migrant and arrived at the Fairbridge Farm, Molong, on 1 June 1938. He attended its public school until he was 14, then completed a three-year farm-training course. Having worked as a dairyhand for eighteen months, he decided that he was unsuited to life on the land and went to Sydney where he was employed as a porter and tram conductor.

On 3 August 1948 Barge joined the New South Wales Police Force and was posted to Darlinghurst station. He married Verna Marea Tidmarsh on 9 September 1949 at St Patrick's Catholic Church, Kogarah. In 1949-52 he performed traffic duties, then served successively in the public safety bureau, the scientific investigation bureau and the vice squad. Transferred to the criminal investigation branch in 1956, he was promoted detective senior constable on 3 August 1960. Next year he moved to the Police Training Centre, Redfern, as an instructor.

A voracious reader, Barge steadily improved his qualifications: in the early 1950s he had studied at Sydney Technical College; he completed the basic in-service training course for technical teachers in 1963 and gained his leaving certificate next year. He was promoted sergeant 3rd class in September 1965 and made director of detective training in 1968. His work on the initial detectives' course, which he presented that year, earned him a commendation from Commissioner N. T. W. Allan. In 1970 Barge undertook a world tour of police training establishments; on his return, he put forward a comprehensive proposal to improve the instruction and promotion of officers. He completed a diploma in criminology at the University of Sydney in 1971.

Barge resigned on 4 February 1973 to become senior technical adviser in the Commonwealth Department of Customs and Excise. His efficiency in advancing training and operational procedures led in 1974 to his promotion to assistant-director, in which post he was responsible for forming the Coastal Air-Sea Operations Support Group. Transferring to the Commonwealth Police Force in October, Barge was appointed principal, Australian Police College, Manly, with the rank of superintendent 1st class. He revised the drugs course, but his greatest contribution was in furthering the education of commissioned officers. An inspiring teacher, he impressed students with his enthusiasm, imbued them with his ideals and introduced them to new concepts, especially in management science.

Awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service (1976), he was reassigned in early 1977 as officer-in-charge, New South Wales District, and promoted chief superintendent. Barge was six feet (183 cm) tall and broad in build, with grey eyes and brown, receding hair; he was a gregarious man who enjoyed golf. Ill health forced him to retire in June 1978. He died of a cerebellar tumour on 12 May 1980 at Kogarah and, after a police funeral, was cremated. His wife, daughter and three sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Federal Police, Platypus, 2, no 3, July 1980
  • service records of A. J. Barge, New South Wales Police Department, Sydney, and Australian Federal Police, Canberra
  • private information.

Citation details

Bruce Swanton, 'Barge, Anthony James (1928–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 January, 1928
London, Middlesex, England


12 May, 1980 (aged 52)
Kogarah, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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