Newcastle Court House | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Newcastle Court House

Item details

Name of item: Newcastle Court House
Other name/s: Nihon University
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Location: Lat: -32.9302332108 Long: 151.7822679520
Primary address: 9 Church Street, Newcastle, NSW 2300
Parish: Newcastle
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Newcastle
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Awabakal
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP1199904
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
9 Church StreetNewcastleNewcastleNewcastleNorthumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Department of Justice and Attorney GeneralState Government28 Jan 99

Statement of significance:

The Newcastle Court House is a fine and impressive building sited prominently in Bolton Street, Newcastle. Designed in the Victorian Italianate style it remains substantially intact and a grand example of late 19th century civic architecture within the town. The building has a lengthy association with the provision of justice in the district.
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; Walter Liberty Vernon
Builder/Maker: C Coghill
Construction years: 1890-1892
Physical description: The Newcastle Court House is a grand Victorian Italianate building which provides an impressive terminating focal point to Bolton Street. The design is symmetrical comprising a large arched tower entrance to the central Court Room with a recessed portico decorated with classically derived moulded details. This building is flanked on either side with single storey wing buildings which also have impressive decorative mouldings with raised pediments and pilasters dividing the window openings.
The Newcastle Court House is constructed in rendered brick with applied cement moulded details.
Architectural style: Victorian Italianate.
Exterior: Rendered brick
Interior: Joinery
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition
Date condition updated:30 Oct 00
Modifications and dates: The court house of 1890-2 was extended to the east for offices and court rooms.
Two trial courts were later added to the west of the building.

There were extensive alterations and additions carried out to the 1892 and the 1949 buildings in 1982.

Repairs following the 1989 earthquake were undertaken in 1991.

A new court house is under construction at the Civic Place and it is proposed to vacate this court house by 2015 (Newcastle Herald, 11/1/2011)
Current use: courthouse
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot

History

Historical notes: Historical period; 1876 - 1900
The Newcastle Court House was designed by the Colonial Architect, J Barnet and construction was supervised by his successor, Walter Liberty Vernon. The Court House was constructed by the contractor C Coghill and completed in 1892 at a cost of 14, 798/12/2 pounds. This building replaced an earlier Court House built in 1841 which after several additions had outgrown its usefulness.

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).

Walter Liberty Vernon (1846-1914) was both architect and soldier. Born in England, he ran successful practices in Hastings and London and had estimable connections in artistic and architectural circles. In 1883 he had a recurrence of bronchitic asthma and was advised to leave the damp of England. He and his wife sailed to New South Wales. Before leaving, he gained a commission to build new premesis for Merrrs David Jones and Co., in Sydney's George Street. In 1890 he was appointed Government Architect - the first to hold that title - in the newly reorganised branch of the Public Works Department. He saw his role as building 'monuments to art'. His major buildings, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1904-6) are large in scale, finely wrought in sandstone, and maintaining the classical tradition. Among others are the Mitchell Wing of the State Library, Fisher Library at the University of Sydney and Central Railway Station. He also added to a number of buildings designed by his predecessors, including Customs House, the GPO and Chief Secretary's Building - with changes which did not meet with the approval of his immediate precedessor, James Barnet who, nine years after his resignation, denounced Vernon's additions in an essay and documentation of his own works. In England, Vernon had delighted his clients with buildings in the fashionable Queen Anne style. In NSW, a number of British trained architects whow were proponents of hte Arts and Crafts style joined his office and under their influence, Vernon changed his approach to suburban projects. Buildings such as the Darlinghurst First Station (Federation Free style, 1910) took on the sacale and character of their surroundings. Under Vernon's leadership, an impressive array of buildings was produced which were distinguished by interesting brickwork and careful climatic considerations, by shady verandahs, sheltered courtyards and provision for cross-flow ventilation. Examples are courthouses in Parkes (1904), Wellington (1912) and Bourke, Lands Offices in Dubbo (1897) and Orange (1904) and the Post Office in Wellington (1904)(Le Sueur, 2016, 7).

A new court house is under construction at the Civic Place and it is proposed to vacate this court house by 2015. New uses for the existing court house could include a boutique hotel or residential development (Newcastle Herald, 11/1/2011).

The Baird Government has confirmed the old Newcastle courthouse will go to auction conducted by Collins International in December. Proceeds from the sale will go towards the Department of Justice. However, there are guidelines for perspective buyers about the type of works allowed since part of the old building is heritage-listed (NBN Newcastle, 28/10/16, 6.05pm).

Newcastle's courthouse is set to become Nihon University's first offshore campus after the heritage building was December for $6.6m. The president of Nihon University says Newcastle was chosen to be their offshore campus due to its people and environment. The Berejiklian Government has praised the sale as a great example of its asset recycling policy (NBN Newcastle Hunter News, 24/3/2017).

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. 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 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 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. Victorian era offices-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Illustrates early ownership and occupancy of land within the Hunter Region-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Administering and alienating Crown lands-
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 Decentralising metropolitan activities to provincial cities-
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 Planning relationships between key structures and town plans-
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-
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 Planned towns serving a specific industry-
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 Indicators of early town planning and the disposition of people within the emerging settlement-
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 19th Century Infrastructure-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on public infrastructure projects-
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 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. Colonial 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 - administering the justice system-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Dispensing justice-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Policing and enforcing the law-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes court house-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian Italianate-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Liberty Vernon, Government Architect 1890-1911, private architect-

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, 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:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

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

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementNewcastle Courthouse SHR 796. Conservation Management Plan. Submission for Heritage Council Endorsement. Newcastle Courthouse SHR 796. Conservation Management Plan. Submission for Heritage Council Endorsement. Prepared by TKD Architects Sep 15 2015

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0079602 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental Plan  03 Jul 92   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBrian Carberry - Building Associates - Architects1997Newcastle Courthouse - Renovations
WrittenCheng, Linda2018Former Newcastle Courthouse to become Japanese University View detail
WrittenFellner, Carrie2016'Is this our next post office saga - fears for future of landmark building as sale stuck in limbo'
WrittenLe Sueur, Angela2016Colonial Architects - part 2
WrittenMusecape Moveable Heritage Conservation Plan

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 Office
Database number: 5045560
File number: EF14/5048; S95/338/1; S90/1087


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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