Bill Murrell – The Tattooed Man of Erskineville

A man covered in tattoos makes headlines! You would be hard-pressed to find someone living in Erskineville these days without a tattoo – but in 1949 Bill Murrell’s unique tattoos were reported far and wide. Perhaps Bill’s tattoos from Europe, England and the Middle East were considered pretty exotic for the late 1940s. There might also have been something about Bill’s pride for his neck tattoo that caught the interest of reporters:

In a Nutshell

National Advocate (Bathurst) Saturday, 30 April 1949

Although the story ran on the first page, the good residents of Bathurst were left to ponder Bill’s tattoos without the aid of a photograph. No such modesty was extended to the residents of Broken Hill however, with Bill’s torso on full view on the front page:

Bill photo I

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) Tuesday, 3 May 1949

The good readers of the Daily News of Perth were also spared the sight of Bill’s chest, and had to make do with a brief description:

Perth News

The Daily News (Perth) Saturday, 7 May 1949

Readers of the South Western Advertiser were treated to the sight of Bill’s tattoos, and the dotted line around Bill’s neck (and Bill’s sweet moustache):


South Western Advertiser (Perth) Thursday, 12 May 1949

And finally, Bill and his tattoos also received a showing in the Western Australian town of Toodyay:


Toodyay Herald (WA) Thursday, 12 May 1949

I was having a chat with a long-term resident of Erskineville recently, and upon mention of the name Bill Murrell he immediately moved his finger to his neck as he said “cut along here.” It turns out Bill Murrell lived for a time at 31 Charles Street Erskineville, back when it was a boarding house. Straight off, he described Bill as a “strong bugger” and that they had worked together at Acme Enterprises Pty Ltd, Engineers and Toolmakers in McEvoy Street Alexandria. He says Bill could lift a long length of steel 20 to 30 feet in length that would normally require the use of a forklift.

(If I can find out more I’ll add it in here!)

This entry was posted in 1940-1949, Charles Street, Random Erskineville and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Bill Murrell – The Tattooed Man of Erskineville

  1. I lived at 39 Albert Street Erskineville in the 1940s and 50s. I remember Bill Murrell, he never wore a shirt and my best mates from age four lived in Charles Street, Kenny Penning’s, Ivan Grant, Dave DeBelin and Barry Chapman, Bill was scary and we avoided him like the plague. Bill lived near the Loveridges in a double story terrace house. Across the road in 42 Charles was the Murrell family next door to the Grant family in number 40. I was down there last week looking around and noticed change of numbers in Charles Street, in our day there were no trees in Charles Street and the only car in the street was Mr Cleary’s Standard, he was the sly grog man, I find your pages very interesting.


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