Dubbo Courthouse, Residence and Cells | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Dubbo Courthouse, Residence and Cells

Item details

Name of item: Dubbo Courthouse, Residence and Cells
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Primary address: Brisbane Street, Dubbo, NSW 2830
Local govt. area: Dubbo
Hectares (approx): 0.074
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Brisbane StreetDubboDubbo  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Attorney General's DepartmentState Government 

Statement of significance:

Dubbo Courthouse is an outstanding example of Victorian Free Classical style architecture and a landmark building in the town. The courthouse is a building of high quality design and composition, with matching cells and residence of equal quality, and an outstanding example of courthouses desgined by Colonial Architect James Barnet. The intactness of the entire Dubbo Courthouse complex, including grounds, fences and gates, ancillary buildings and imposing courthouse, and its relationship to the neighbouring gaol, is rare in NSW.

Dubbo Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the town and broader region since 1890. The scale and grandeur of the courthouse is symbolic of the growing importance of regional centres during the nineteenth century due to expansions in mining and agriculture, and the corresponding confidence placed in these towns by the Colonial government. The construction of the courthouse and neighbouring gaol is also indicative of the wealth and importance of Dubbo and the broader region, while subsequent major extensions of the courthouse demonstrate the ongoing importance of the town.
Date significance updated: 28 May 02
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: J Barnet
Construction years: 1885-1890
Physical description: Dubbo Courthouse is an impressive Victorian Free Classical styled building. Designed using the typical court floor plan, it features a central courtroom with an arched colonnaded portico surmounted by a pedimented gable. This central building is flanked on either side by abutting wings containing offices and courtyards for each. The courtroom interior retains original fittings with a coffered beam and diagonal boarded ceiling. The courthouse is sited in landscaped grounds with a palisade fence, imposing gates and stone posts. (Schwager Brooks 1993) The grounds contain a former residence, now used as offices, and a cell block, containing two cells with original iron doors. The courthouse shares a rear wall with the former Dubbo Gaol. The Dubbo Police Station, a modern building, is located next door on Brisbane Street.
Other accommodation: General office, Magistrate's room, sherriff's office, prosecutors room, legal room, witness room, CLC office, chamber, jury room, staff.
Construction: Dubbo Courthouse is constructed in rendered brick. The yards for each wing have exposed brick walls. The columns supporting the portico are made of granite and the steps to each wing and yard are made of slate.
Interior materials: timber joinery.
Exterior materials: rendered brick, granite, slate.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition overall. Sandstone fence at front in fair condition. (July 2010)
Date condition updated:11 Aug 10
Modifications and dates: Refurbishment and additions, including construction of two new courtrooms at the rear of the original courthouse. (1978-81)
Replacement of slate front steps with concrete. (Date unknown)
Refurbishment of old courthouse and residence, refurbishement modern court rooms and construction of connecting building between the two, designed by Perumal Pedavoli Architects. (2007)
Repainting. (2010)
An upgrade program of pre-equipped AVL courtrooms was carried out to expand the use of Multi Court Room Monitoring to additional court locations. This technology is used to deliver video and audio for Recording and Transcription Services. The upgrade improved operational, organisational and financial efficiencies through increased resource flexibility, reduction in travel costs to regional and remote locations, and improved service delivery (2018).
Current use: Courthouse
Former use: Courthouse

History

Historical notes: Dubbo Courthouse was completed in 1890 to a design by Colonial Architect James Barnet.

Prior to 1847, legal and civic matters were administered in the town of Wellington. In December 1846, a Court of Petty Sessions was established in Dubbo. A wooden courthouse was constructed in 1848. This building serviced the wider region of Dubbo, as by 1851 the population of Dubbo was still just 47 people.

A District Court was established in Dubbo in 1858 and a Court of Quarter Sessions was established the following year. A second courthouse and watch house constructed of stone was completed in 1863 at a cost of £1,567. Following the establishment of the Municipal District of Dubbo in 1872, Council meetings were held in this courthouse.

In the 1880s, a new courthouse for Dubbo was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet. This was likely in response to the increased workload created by the new gaol in Dubbo and the growth of the town. The courthouse was completed by the end of the decade and backed onto the gaol. A residence and two cells were also constructed on the grounds. The previous courthouse was then used as a drill hall for the local regiment.

Sir Frederick Pottinger was one of the earliest Clerks of Petty Sessions in Dubbo, appointed to the position in 1860. Pottinger was a wealthy heir and Second Baronet in England who squandered his inheritance on horse racing and was forced to migrate to Australia. In 1862, Pottinger was appointed Inspector of Police for the Western District. In this post he enthusiastically pursued bushrangers, capturing Ben Hall once amongst others.

Dubbo Courthouse was enlarged in 1981 with the construction of two additional courtrooms, chambers for Judge and Magistrate and ancillary accommodation including a large Petty Sessions Office and a Sheriff’s Office. These new works were officially opened by the Premier on 10 February 1981. The total cost was $2.1 million.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Civic centre-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Corrective services-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Administration of justice-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Police-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups -

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Dubbo Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in Dubbo and the broader region since 1890. The current courthouse was the third built in the town. The construction of Dubbo Courthouse was a result of the expansion of a major public works program in New South Wales during the second half of the nineteenth century.
The scale and grandeur of the courthouse is symbolic of the growing importance of regional centres during the nineteenth century due to expansions in mining and agriculture, and the corresponding confidence placed in these towns by the Colonial government.
The construction of the courthouse and neighbouring gaol is indicative of the wealth and importance of Dubbo and the broader region, while subsequent major expansions of the courthouse demonstrate the ongoing importance of the town.
Dubbo Courthouse forms part of a group of civic buildings in the town, including the police station (a modern building) and the former Dubbo Gaol.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Dubbo Courthouse is associated with James Barnet, Colonial Architect of New South Wales from 1862-1890, who was responsible for the design of all courthouses built in NSW during this time.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Dubbo Courthouse is an outstanding and highly intact example of Victorian Free Classical style architecture and a landmark building in the town. The courthouse is a building of high quality design and composition, with matching cells and residence of equal quality.
The imposing form of Dubbo Courthouse is symbolic of the approach to the provision of law and justice in the nineteenth century, when courthouses were designed to symbolise the authority and power of the Colonial government and justice system.
The courthouse features some unusual details, particularly the use of slate in external staircases, and the extensive courtyards along the each wing of the building.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Dubbo Courthouse is likely to have significance for the local community as a long-standing civic institution of the town and region.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
As a largely intact nineteenth-century public building, including cells and residence within the grounds, Dubbo Courthouse has potential to yield further information about the design and functions of this type of building and building group in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The intactness of the entire Dubbo Courthouse complex, with grounds, fences and gates, ancillary buildings and imposing courthouse, is rare in NSW. The still discernable relationship between the courthouse and its neighbouring gaol is also rare.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Dubbo Courthouse is an impressive, representative example of the style of public buildings constructed during the second half of the nineteenth century and displays the principal characteristics of the standard courthouse plan, with a grand central courtroom and single-storey wings on either side. The building is an outstanding example of courthouses designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet.
Integrity/Intactness: Dubbo Courthouse retains a high level of integrity and intactness, with sympathetic modern additions not visible from Brisbane Street, which are respectful of the significance of the original building and grounds.
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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenR Ponza1980History of Dubbo Court House
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register

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

rez rez rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 3080051


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.