Grafton Correctional Centre | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Grafton Correctional Centre

Item details

Name of item: Grafton Correctional Centre
Other name/s: Grafton Gaol
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Gaol/Lock-up
Location: Lat: -29.6792 Long: 152.9397
Primary address: 170 Hoof Street, Grafton, NSW 2460
Local govt. area: Clarence Valley
Hectares (approx): 4.529


Comprising gaol, wall and gates and Grafton Governor's Residence, corner Hoof and Queen Streets, Grafton.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
170 Hoof StreetGraftonClarence Valley  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Grafton Gaol complex is significant as it demonstrates the development of the philosophy regarding prison architecture in NSW and the confinement of prisoners in the late nineteenth century. It is one of few gaol complexes designed by private architects in Australia. It is one of few known examples of the work of Henry Wiltshire. It continues the features of gaol design developed by the Colonial (later Government) Architects branch. It is one of the few public buildings designed by competition in the late nineteenth century; its design utilises characteristic materials of the Federation period. Its construction is related to the growth and expansion of Grafton. It is likely to be of National significance.
Date significance updated: 23 Mar 07
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Henry Wiltshire, Government Architects Branch
Builder/Maker: Holloway Bros
Construction years: 1891-1893
Physical description: Grafton Gaol Complex is set on a slight rise overlooking Grafton. It originally consisted of a square compound, with brick walls, with one elaborate gatehouse providing access for staff, visitors and prisoners alike. The gatehouse features a machiolated parapet, a sandstone archway and elaborate panelled doors. A Range building was constructed within the compound, adjacent to the gatehouse to provide facilities for the prison officers and visitors. A sterile zone separated the cell ranges from the prison walls. Male and female prisoners were completely segregated with separate cell ranges, exercise yards, bath houses and hospital facilities. The (former) male cell range is largely intact. Workshop and kitchen facilities were incorporated in a new range adjacent to the male cell block. The Prison Governor's residence (now Administration block) was located outside the compound wall, adjacent to the main gatehouse. This building features polychromatic brickwork, tuck pointing and some sandstone detailing. Brick, with a sandstone trim and terracotta tiles, all characteristic materials of the Federation period, were used throughout the complex, the level of detail depending on the function of the building. The complex has been extended to one side. New watch towers have been built however elements of the original towers remain intact.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:10 Apr 06
Modifications and dates: 1942 - Government Architects Branch
1960 - Government Architects Branch
Current use: Correctional Centre
Former use: Gaol


Historical notes: The current Grafton Gaol complex is the third gaol to be constructed to serve the town of Grafton. The second complex did not contain the required number of cells, was flood prone and unhygienic. Despite this it was subsequently converted for use by the Lands Department. The third gaol was selected by competition. During the early 1890s, due to pressure from private architectural firms, the design of public buildings was not automatically given to the Colonial/Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon. This process proved successful in the case of Grafton, but was subsequently abandoned due to difficulties with impartiality of some jurors. The competition was won by a Sydney based architect, Henry Wiltshire, who also received fourth prize. The design follows trends already evident in the gaols designed by the Colonial/Government Architects Branch. The goal was built by the Holloway Bros and proclaimed on 8th September 1893. The prisoners were transferred in November 1893. In 1942 structural alterations were carried out. With the opening of "Katingal", the gaol was classified as a special security unit for protective segregation cases. (The goal complex has been assessed for inclusion on the register of the National Estate file number 003436)

It also appears on the PWD NSW Conservation List Jan 1980.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This gaol complex is historically significant for its association with development of facitlites for law and order on the north coast of NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
This group is important for its architectural contribution particularly its imposing elevation and it is one of the finer examples of nineteenth century gaols in the country.
Integrity/Intactness: Largly intact
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Retain and adaptively reuse former cell block walls and former residence.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  10 Jun 11 2011-272 
Local Environmental PlanSchedule 1 23 Sep 88 1475033
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Department of Corrective Services: Interim Heritage and Conservation Register1995009State Projects Heritage Group  No
Grafton Community Heritage Study2004 J. Gardiner  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGrafton City Council1985Grafton Heritage Study - Inventory No 6.1
WrittenState Projects Heritage Group1995NSW Department of Corrective Services Heritage and Conservation Register

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1640217
File number: H00/00298/01

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