Early History

The building of the Newcastle Police Station and Lock-Up was completed in 1861. Mortimer Lewis Jnr designed a single storey building under the direction of James Barnet.

 

In 1838 a Court House designed by Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis was constructed on the corner of Hunter and Bolton Streets, where the former Newcastle Post Office building now sits. It included a lock-up comprising two cells but by 1855 as the former penal settlement was developing into a flourishing coal export centre, it was deemed inadequate.

The building of the Newcastle Police Station and Lock-Up was completed in 1861. Mortimer Lewis Jnr designed a single storey building under the direction of James Barnet.

In 1867 a kitchen block was added to the rear and other alterations carried out between 1870-1890 included additional cells. Symmetrical extensions were added, which enlarged the Hunter Street facade, and a brick perimeter wall was built in 1882. Aligned with the corners of these new extensions, the wall provided secure exercise yards.

In 1890 Government Architect Walter Vernon added a second storey over the front section of the building. In the same year a new Court House was built in Church Street and the old building was subsequently demolished to make way for a new Post Office (1903), which still stands today.

In 1926 the second storey was extended over the cells below on the eastern side. Only minor changes were made after this time until closure in 1982.

By 1900 police based at the lock-up included an Inspector, Sub-Inspector, three Sergeants, six 1st Class Constables, 13 Constables and one Probationary Constable. Female police officers also played a role in Newcastle since the 1940s, when it was noted that they had a record of service unequalled by any other section of the force. The working day was never dull for Newcastle’s Police Force, who faced challenges such as controlling the notorious ‘Bank Corner Mob’ in the 1920s and illegal gambling houses in the city.

As well as performing day-to-day tasks necessary for maintaining law and order in the city, members of the local police force were often involved in major events now seen as iconic highlights in Newcastle’s history.

Some of the main events were the Coal Strike of 1909, the Clara Street Eviction Riots in the Great Depression and the 1979 Star Hotel Riot.