TLU History

The Lock-Up was built to support the Newcastle Police Station which was housed in the adjacent Court House (now the site of the former 1902 Post Office) and was used from 1861 until its closure in 1982.

Listed in the NSW Heritage Register, the building is constructed in Sydney sandstone and is one of a row of four significant buildings on Hunter Street that reflects the prosperity of early Newcastle.

After the Newcastle Police Station closed down in 1982, the Hunter Heritage Centre was developed to encourage the participation, appreciation and understanding of Newcastle’s unique history, culture and heritage. This included the opening of a museum, artists in residence accommodation, and the opening of the John Paynter Gallery space.

In 2007, the Lock-Up was unveiled as the The Lock-Up Cultural Centre. This included the gallery space, museum, and residency program. Since this date, the Lock-Up has had an attendance of over 50,000 people.

In September 2014 The Lock Up re-launched as a dedicated multidisciplinary contemporary arts centre and inner city hub for creative thinking and doing.

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.

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The cells were used as a place of short-term confinement for both men and women. Stays were short – three to four days normally – and while many left sooner some were subjected to longer periods of detainment.

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The Yard

The Yard was open to the elements and the metal barred roof and entry door still remain as well as bathing and toilet facilities and original graffiti remnants.

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