Courthouse and Norfolk Island pines (former) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Courthouse and Norfolk Island pines (former)

Item details

Name of item: Courthouse and Norfolk Island pines (former)
Other name/s: Clerk of Petty Sessions (former)
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Location: Lat: -31.4287921973 Long: 152.9097027480
Primary address: Clarence Street (cnr), Port Macquarie, NSW 2444
Parish: Macquarie
County: Macquarie
Local govt. area: Port Macquarie-Hastings
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Birpai
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT675 DP722652
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Clarence Street (cnr)Port MacquariePort Macquarie-HastingsMacquarieMacquariePrimary Address
Hay Street (cnr)Port MacquariePort Macquarie-HastingsMacquarieMacquarieAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Department of Planning and InfrastructureState Government16 Oct 97

Statement of significance:

The Courthouse reflects the role of Port Macquarie in the late 19th century as a centre of public administration. It is an early example of James Barnet's phase with the Colonial Architect's office and typical of the Victorian Georgian style. It is one of the last 19th century buildings remaining in Port Macquarie. It makes an important contribution to the historic centre of the town and has important relationships with the adjacent Museum, Garrison Centre and Police Lock up buildings. (Architectural Projects 1992:36)
Date significance updated: 16 Oct 97
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: James Barnet
Builder/Maker: Butler and Bourne
Construction years: 1869-1869
Physical description: The block is on the corner of Clarence and Hay Streets. The site has two large mature Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) on the eastern side of the courthouse (which enhance the building's setting)(National Trust (NSW), 1982). Much of the rest of the surrounds of the building is grassed.

The former court house is a symmetrically planned single storey Victorian Georgian painted brick building of unpretentious form with a central gabled portion (the courtroom) and smaller hipped roofed wings on either side. Roofs are of premium grade bloodwood shingles, with chimneys retaining their metal pots. Doors are four-panelled and windows are large paned. There is a simple verandah with iron roofs to three sides on squared timber posts (National Trust (NSW),1982).

The interior is made up one major room, the Courtroom and originally four since modified to three, secondary rooms. These rooms contains the Clerk of Petty Sessions on the West Wing and the Magistrates and Judges room on the East wing (Architectural Projects, 1992: 31-32)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Archaelogical potential is medium. Evidence of convict drains occur in the eastern part of the site.
Date condition updated:16 Oct 97
Modifications and dates: 14th September 1867 - notice placed in the Government Gazette.
8th October 1867 - tenders closed.
5th October 1867 - acceptance of the tender.
1867-1969 - courthouse constructed.
1870 - kitchen added to the Lockup/Court House.
12th November 1868 - journalist visits Port Macquarie and describes work.
1924 - toilet blocks added north of the east wing.
1993 - restoration undertaken.
Further information: 1900 changes to verandahs, the walls in face brick, the roof in slate with galvanised metal cappings and timber floors internally and to the verandahs. The external ground line appears to have been lower.

1974 a concrete floor laid in the court, magistrate's and judge's rooms.

1986 Justice Department vacated the building. A community campaign led to granting trusteeship to Hastings Municipal Council.

1993 restoration works undertaken .
Current use: Justice museum with interpretive displays
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, Courthouse and lockup

History

Historical notes: Port Macquarie:
'Of Australia's state capitals, only Sydney and Hobart are older than 'Port' ', says Mitch McKay, guide on Port Macquarie-Hastings Council heritage walking tours. It is the oldest European settlement north of Newcastle. Port Macquarie is partway through an extended four-year 200th anniversary celebrations of its European discovery. Captain Cook sailed past 'Port' at night and Matthew Flinders taked away from it during his 1802-4 circumnavigation of the continent (The country's fourth lighthouse was placed at 'Tacking Point'). Which left a land explorer, John Oxley (Governor Lachlan Macquarie's surveyor general) to name it in 1818. Oxley had been despatched by Macquarie to discover Australia's mythical inland sea. Instead he found himself following a mighty river he named the Hastings. Oxley had found a 'safe port', that he named after his Governor, recommending it would make a wonderful penal colony for convicts who continued a life of crime after they'd been transported. Previously, these 'secondary offenders' had been sent to Newcastle or Hobart. But by 1818, both cities were semi-respectable. A new, more remote penal colony was needed. (Meacham, 2020, 54).

The town of Port Macquarie was discovered by Oxley in 1818. Macquarie, then Governor, was impressed by reports of the area noting its valuable timber reserves, its suitable farm lands and seaboard location for ready passage by ship to and from Sydney,and thus established Port Macquarie as a penal settlement in 1821. It was one of only two places for secondary punishment of convicts in New South Wales outside Sydney.

In 1821, the first 60 convicts arrived, accompanied by 40 soldiers. Macquarie had been recalled to London, replaced by Sir Ralph Darling who preferred literate criminals to be banished to a place they couldn't communicate with the outside world. These 'specials' built the original colonial town. There were only two hills inside the original town. One became Church (St. Thomas's, the fifth-oldest surviving church in Australia), while the other became State (where the military barracks and Government House stood. Little remains of those early years. By 1830, Port became open to free settlers and 'ticket of leave' convicts who could turn the town and its lush hinterland into a thriving settlement (ibid, 2020, 54).

Courthouse:
The land for the present Courthouse was allotted in the 1830s. Also during this time Port Macquarie was Gazetted for a Court of Petty Sessions. In September 1836 the newly appointed Police Magistrate, William Nairn Gray, recommended that a brick building in Hay Street (occupied by Stephen Partridge) be used as court as the present Police Office was too small and not fit for court.

On 14th August 1838, Port Macquarie was gazetted as a place for Trial by Jury. During the 1840s complaints were lodged about the delapidated state of the Courthouse. In 1852 repairs to the building were authorised.

In 1865 a letter from Charles Sinclair, Police Magistrate was sent to the Colonial Architect regarding the poor state of the building.

On 14th September 1867 a notice was placed in the Government Gazette calling for tenders for the erection of a courthouse and lockup at Macquarie. Tenders closed at noon on 8th October 1867.

The building was designed by James Barnet and the builder chosen for the task was Butler and Bourne of Port Macquarie who bid 875 pounds. The acceptance of the tender was announced in the Government Gazette on 25th October 1867.

James Johnstone Barnet (1827-1904) was made acting Colonial Architect in 1862 and appointed Colonial Architect from 1865-90. He was born in Scotland and studied in London under Charles Richardson, RIBA and William Dyce, Professor of Fine Arts at King's College, London. He was strongly influenced by Charles Robert Cockerell, leading classical theorist at the time and by the fine arts, particularly works of painters Claude Lorrain and JRM Turner. He arrived in Sydney in 1854 and worked as a self-employed builder. He served as Edmund Blacket's clerk of works on the foundations of the Randwick (Destitute Childrens') Asylum. Blacket then appointed Barnet as clerk-of-works on the Great Hall at Sydney University. By 1859 he was appointed second clerk of works at the Colonial Architect's Office and in 1861 was Acting Colonial Architect. Thus began a long career. He dominated public architecture in NSW, as the longest-serving Colonial Architect in Australian history. Until he resigned in 1890 his office undertook some 12,000 works, Barnet himself designing almost 1000. They included those edifices so vital to promoting communication, the law and safe sea arrivals in colonial Australia. Altogether there were 169 post and telegraph offices, 130 courthouses, 155 police buildings, 110 lockups and 20 lighthouses, including the present Macquarie Lighthouse on South Head, which replaced the earlier one designed by Francis Greenway. Barnet's vision for Sydney is most clearly seen in the Customs House at Circular Quay, the General Post Office in Martin Place and the Lands Department and Colonial Secretary's Office in Bridge Street. There he applied the classicism he had absorbed in London, with a theatricality which came from his knowledge of art (Le Sueur, 2016, 6).

A journalist who travelled with Sir John Robertson and Mr Forster when they visited Port Macquarie on 12th November 1868, clearly explained the need for a new courthouse in the town by describing the state of the existing building. 'This is a very dilapidated place indeed and looks both externally and internally, as though it was in the very last stages of decay. The verandahs were choked up with piles of bricks, plaster and other debris and the inner walls were as dingy and damp as neglect could make them. This is the place where the 'nomination', was to 'come off' on the following Monday and I should fancy that it would be the closing scene of this seedy old ruin's career as a courthouse. It is to be degraded into a stable for the police horses and the very magisterial dais itself is to become the depository of cattle fodder.'

The journalist remarked upon the construction underway on the current historic courthouse which was 'within a stone's throw' of the old building. The journalist also noted the omission of jury rooms, an omssion that would have a bearing on the ulitmate decision to build another courthouse in 1986.

'It is a very neat building built of brick and nearly completed. the walls are all but finished and part of the edifice is roofed. A rather awkward mistake , however, has been made in the plan of the courthouse. No provision has been made for the jury rooms and, as these apartments are indispensably necessary they will have to be added to the new building.'

The courthouse's construction cost more than anticipated - a total of 109 pounds plus 10 pounds for furniture. The additional cost of 205 pounds was made necessary to overcome dampness. The building opened its doors as a courthouse in 1869.

The first additions were made to the building in 1890 when 303 pounds was spent on extensions on the western wing which was carried out out under the control of James Barnet.

During 1900 photographs reveal the changes to the Courthouse with verandahs, the walls in face brick, the roof in slate with galvanised metal cappings and timber floors internally and to the verandahs. The external ground line appears to have been lower.

In 1974 a concrete floor was laid in the court, magistrate's and judge's rooms.

In 1986 the Justice Department vacated the building. A community campaign led to the granting of trusteeship of the building to Hastings Municipal Council. Recognising the significance of the building to the status of Port Macquarie as an important historic town, Council engaged a conservation specialist to prepare a report on its condition and the likely cost of conservation work. Evidence of original finishes was found in early photographs and 100 year old measured drawings, and by researching similar court houses of the period (Pennay, 1996, 9).

Through a grant from the Heritage Properties Restoration Programme and community fundraising the restoration costs were met. Work on the restoration began on 12th February 1993. Concrete floors were removed and replaced by new timber, shingles were reinstated on the roof and second-hand bricks laid under the verandah awning. All joinery was repainted, except for the cedar doors leading into the court room, which were stripped and clear-finished (ibid, 1996).

The works were completed on 8th October 1993. (Hastings Council 1994) (Architectural Projects 1992:17-20)

Following its reopening by the Premier the building is now used as a justice museum with interpretive displays depicting the town's early days as a penal settlement (ibid, 1996).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Gardens-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Other open space-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of urban amenity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of passive recreation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of institutions - productive and ornamental-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant tree(s) providing urban amenity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Providing a venue for significant events-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
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 Beautifying towns and villages-
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 Developing civic infrastructure and amenity-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in the public service-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working as a coroner-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in the Justice System-Includes work practices and organised labour.
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Local government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administration of land-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administering the justice system-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Prison colony-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes The rule of law-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes court house-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Dispensing justice-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going to a museum-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Tourism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Developing collections of items-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community volunteering-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an historical society or heritage organisation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing and maintaining a local museum-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Barnet, Colonial (Government) Architect 1862-90-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Courthouse reflects the role of Port Macquarie in the late 19th century as a centre of Public administration. The Courthouse is an early work of James Barnet's phase of the Colonial Architect office typical of the Victorian Georgian style. Its date of design in 1867-1869 locates it amongst the earlier examples of Country Court Houses when Barnet had more direct contact with the projects. (Architectural Projects 1992:36)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Courthouse contributes to the historic centre of the town including the adjacent Museum, Garrison Centre and Police Lock up buildings. The Norfolk Pine trees within the boundary of the site contribute to the natural surrounding of mature, pine trees typical of Port Macquarie. (Architectural Projects 1992:36)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Courthouse is one of the last nineteenth century government buildings remaining in Port Macquarie. (Architectural Projects 1992:36)
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Courthouse is representative of the architectural simplicity of the area compared to other towns and areas in NSW. (Architectural Projects 1992:36)
Integrity/Intactness: The volume and massing of the Courthouse have sustained little external change since its intial conception. (Architectural Projects 1992:36)
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material; and
(2) Garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates, garden walls and tree surgery but not extensive lopping.
Jan 22 1988
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales do by this Order, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0055402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0055422 Jan 88 120374
Regional Environmental Plan  23 Dec 94   
National Trust of Australia register      
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Municipality of Hastings Heritage Study1991HS0013Suters Architects Snell  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismHeritage NSW2013Former Port Macquarie Courthouse View detail
WrittenLe Sueur, Angela2016Colonial Architects - part 2
WrittenMeacham, Steve2020Remains to be Seen
WrittenPennay, Bruce1996Looking after your community's heritage - an introductory guide for Local Government Councillors
TourismPort Macquarie-Hastings Council2006Historic Courthouse Museum View detail
TourismTotal Travel2007Historic Courthouse Museium View detail

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: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5045478
File number: S91/01366 & HC 871713


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.

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