Justice and Police Museum | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Justice and Police Museum

Item details

Name of item: Justice and Police Museum
Other name/s: Police Station & Law Courts (former), Traffic Court
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Police station
Location: Lat: -33.8622360278 Long: 151.2123231830
Primary address: 4-8 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St James
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP1060961
LOT7305 DP1166034
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
4-8 Phillip StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandPrimary Address
Albert StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandAlternate Address
2-8 Phillip StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Historic Houses Trust of NSWGeneral03 Jul 18

Statement of significance:

The buildings symbolically represent power and privilege. Architecturally and culturally they evoke a system of social control and relate to a specific power relationship (Historic HousesTrust 1990:23). The site's proximity to the waters of Sydney Cove; its close and long continuing association with the colony and its classical architectural syntax and indeed, endearingly human scale, provides an important foil to multistoreyed buildings and Circular Quay (NSW Public Works 1982).
Date significance updated: 26 Sep 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: Edmund Blacket, Alexander Dawson, James Barnet
Construction years: 1854-1886
Physical description: The Justice and Police Museum comprises two main elements, the Museum Buildings and the Museum Collection.

THE MUSEUM BUILDINGS
These are two 19th century courthouses and a police station built on the corner of Phillip and Albert Streets at the eastern end of Circular Quay for use by the Sydney Water Police, the Water Police Magistrate and the metroplitan police.

1856 - Court House - 4 Phillip Street
1858 - Police Station - 8 Phillip Street
1886 - Court House - 6 Phillip Street
(Historic Houses Trust 1990:1)

THE 1856 BLACKET COURT BUILDING AREA is a single storey classic revival sandstone building with an arched colonnaded portico roofed with a Doric pediment. The facades comprises timber framed windows and doors with the main entrance to the northern wall enclosed with curved timber and glass walling.

The Court House consists of five smaller roof areas. These include the main gabled or pedimented roof area to the court room, with two lower hipped roof areas on each side of the main court room area. The building area also includes a flat roof area to the rear or south end of the court which extends over a sandstone paved corridor between the Blacket Court Building (1856) and the Barnet Court Building (1886). The western wing has a lean-to verandah roof extending along the Phillip Street facade.

The main gabled ended roof and the two hipped roof areas are covered in slate with lead hip and ridge flashings.

The flat roof area at the rear is covered in copper and contains three glazed skylights with steel grilles. The western lean-to verandah roof is covered with corrugated steel 'colourbond' roofing.

There are four chimneys located on the main courtroom roof area.

THE 1886 BARNET COURT BUILDING AREA is a single storey sandstone building erected at the rear of the Blacket Court Room as an extension. It consists of an arched colonnaded portico, also roofed with a pediment to match the detail of the earlier Blacket Court Building.

The main front entrance portico is enclosed with a curved timber and glass walling,

The main roof area is gabled with slate roofing and the stair roof comprises a lean-to corrugated steel 'colourbond' roof sheeting.

THE 1858 POLICE STATION AREA is a two storey Pyrmont sandstone building of simple Classical style with a pediment over the central section of the front facade. It has a 'T' shaped hipped roof with lead ridge and flashings and slate tiles. The windows are timber framed. The front facade to Phillip Street has a metal pike fence and gate on a low sandstone wall extending the full extent of the facade.
(Heritage Group 1995:2-6)

THE COLLECTION
The collection is general and largely police-based in content. Its nucleus is formed from the 1910 Police Museum teaching collection of criminal implements. It contains few objects relating to the specific theme of the Water Police but covers a broader cross-section of policing activities and law related themes. The collection includes historical artefacts, photographs and documents. It is particularly strong in firearms of the colonial period and forensic evidence from famous crimes.
(Historic Houses Trust 1990:1&23)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical Condition - Good
Archaeological Potential - Low
Date condition updated:18 Sep 97
Modifications and dates: 1862 - Alterations to Clerk of Petty Sessions Office and the Guard Room. Partitions removed.
1865 - Water Police Station supplied with gas lighting
1875-76 - Two stone cells added to the rear of the Water Police Station
1879 - A Court Keepers's cottage constructed from timber on the eastern side of the Water Police Court.
1885-86 - Second courthouse designed and completed by Colonial Architect James Barnet, Colonial Architect.
1897-99 - Office on northern end of Phillip Street frontage in Water Police Court converted into a courtroom.
1899-1900 - Timber and glass witness waiting rooms designed by Colonial Architect Walter Liberty Vernon and installed in the entrances to both courthouses.
1903 - Alterations and additions to officers quarters in the Water Police Station.
1912 - Prisoners dock in Court Number 1 altered.
1924-28 - Further subdivision of offices to create space
1930s - Toilets in glazed brick constructed at rear of Police Station
1933 - Phillip Street frontage of the Water Police Court altered to house a fibro cement infill and new waiting room
-Internal work on ground floor.
1941 - Police Station porch altered
c1941 - Reinforced concrete air raid shelter constructed on southern end of porch.
1947-48 - Levels of Phillip and Albert Street lowered. External stairs, an elevated footpath and sandstone retaining walls were constructed to provide public access and building support.
1986-1990 - Alterations, additions and reconstruction.
(Historic Houses Trust 1990: Section 14)
Current use: Museum
Former use: Aboriginal land, part of Government House grounds, Water Police Station, Courts and related offices

History

Historical notes: Pre-1846
After demolition of the first Government House in 1845-46, a large portion of its grounds was carved off into new streets and allotments. But one block was reserved for public buildings, and a core part remains in public ownership today - the former Water Police Office, Water Police Station and Police Court (Kelso, 2017, 15).

Pre 1856
By 1851 the old Water Police Office (with its court and lock-up) in The Rocks was inadequate and dilapidated, and part of the reserved (city) block, a site at the corner of Phillip and Albert Streets, was chosen for its replacement. Plans were drawn up by Colonial Architect Edmund Blacket, but the project repeatedly stalled. Labour and materials were scarce and expensive, just as the colony was entering a boom period, and it was difficult to attract a contractor willing and able to carry out the work (ibid, 2017, 15).

In 1851 the Governor General approved the Colonial Architect's plan for a new Water Police Office. By November the site had been chosen. In 1853 work began on quarrying the sandstone at Bennelong Point for the Water Police Office but work was delayed because of high prices and a labour shortage casued by the gold rushes. A sum of 4000 pounds was allocated in 1854 for the construction of the Water Police Station on Phillip Street to the south of the Water Police Office.

1856
The new Water Police Office on the eastern side of Circular Quay was completed. The building, designed by Edmund Blacket, consisted of a main court and four adjoining offices.

In April the buildings were occupied by the Water Police Magistrate, Hutchinson Hothersal Brown, and court staff consisting of a Clerk of Petty Sessions and a second clerk. Cases heard in the court related to the workings of the Harbour Regulations Act and the Act for Establishing a Water Police.

In May permission was granted for the Steam Navigation and Pilot Boards to take possession of one room.

1858
The Water Police moved from Cadman's Wharf to the Water Police Station located in Phillip Street to the south of the Water Police Office. It was designed by Colonial Architect Alexander Dawson and construction commenced in 1857. The building consisted of a ground floor with Charge Room, adjoining offices, cells to the rear, a kitchen, store room and exercise yard. Upstairs was a barracks providing accomodation for four water policemen and their families. It also contained a kitchen and wash house.

The original police station design was based on stations at Darlinghurst, Newtown and Balmain. The building was intended to accomodate six cells and a lock-up keeper. However, due to financial constraints and delays caused by labour shortages during the Gold Rush period, the station was completed as a modest two storey building.

1885-86
The second court, designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet, was completed during this period. It consisted of a court room and two Magistrates Offices at the rear. While it functioned as a Summons Court hearing cases of petty crime, the Blacket Court became a Charge Court.

1890-1910
This period witnessed a growth of police and court operations. The buildings were affected by a number of alterations and additions caused by changes to the nature of the courts and the business they attracted.

1913
In 1913 the Water Police who lived at the station were removed to their new accomodation on the north-western side of the Quay at Dawes Point, providing two locations for their activities. The station became known as the Phillip Street Police Station from this time although it was still often referred to as the Water Police Station. The activities of the station were incorporated more fully into the Metropolitan Policing District, becoming the head station for Number 4 Division by 1933. It seems that the Water Police held the two locations at least until this time, when the split between the metropolitan (essentially foot) duties associated with the Station and the Water Patrol had become more definite. However, the adjacent court continued to be referred to as the Water Bench until late 1940.

1917-1925
In 1917 the Police Traffic Branch moved into offices at the Water Police Court and remained there until 1924. In 1918 the Water Police Court closed for alterations and was reopened in 1924.

1926-1979
By 1924 special arrangements had been made for hearing traffic offences in the Water Police Court in addition to those concerning shipping, military trainees and children. From 1926 the courts became known as Traffic Courts 1 and 2 for hearing all traffic and parking offences in the Sydney district. They also continued to hear cases relevant to shipping and cases arising from Water Police activity.

The courts were vacated by court staff, providing valuable space for the police in the adjoining station in late 1979.

COURT FUNCTIONS - 1890-1924
1890s - Licensing Court
1917-1924 - Traffic Office
1918 - Fair Rents Court
1919-1933 - Small Debts Court
1924-1980 - Traffic Court

OTHER OCCUPANTS OF WATER POLICE COURTS - 1890-1918
1890-1933 - Clerk of petty Sessions and Chamber Magistrate
1890-1897 - Stipendiary Magistrate
1890-1918 - Chief Clerk
1890-1904 - Accountant
1890-1902 - Clerks
1891-1902 - Bailiff of the Small Debts Court
1894-1902 - Messenger
1914-1918 - Chief Industrial Magistrate
(Historic Houses Trust 1990:15-17 & Section 14).

The site is run by Sydney Living Museums (formerly the Historic Houses Trust of NSW) as a Police & Justice museum.

The Friends of the Historic Houses Trust have been responsible for fundraising through interpretive tours and events to acquire the Neville Locker collection of convict artefacts for Hyde Park Barracks and the Police & Justice Museum (Watts, 2014).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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. (none)-
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. Sydney's colonial settlement; Shipping-
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. Developing roles for government - building and operating public infrastructure-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Jail-
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 Incarcerating prisoners-
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-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Edmund Blacket, Government Architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The buildings were the headquarters of the Water Police, one of the earliest policing bodies in New South Wales, whose activities were closely related to Sydney's growth as a maritime and commercial centre.

The complex of buildings reflects the work of four government architects over 48 years.

The buildings have a continuous association with different law and policing functions in the inner metropolitan district. In their present form they demonstrate the architectural response to demands imposed by policing trends in the 19th century.
(Historic Houses Trust 1990:25)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The buildings form part of a historic precinct within the Sydney Cove area, conspicuous for its sandstone buildings which include significant sites relating to the foundation of colonial government and administration.
(Historic Houses Trust 1990:25)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Justice and Police Museum holds the only public collection of artefacts in NSW relating to the history of crime, law and policing. (Historic Houses Trust 1990:25)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The reconstruction as of c1899 of the court and police station provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate the working relationship between the two in an experiential and interactive context and manner.

The museum is unique among Sydney's museums in that it can communicate the activities of the law and the police today to the public. While it may disseminate information about the aims and methods of these institutions it should maintain an independent role as a commentator and interpreter. (Historic Houses Trust 1990:25)
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:

The buildings shall be kept in 1990s condition in regard to structure and finishes, the structural integrity shall not be impaired and the collection within the buildings shall be considered as part of the whole. (Historic Houses Trust 1990:27)

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act new exemption made. Refer to 57(2) exemption gazetted 27/2/1998 Sep 22 1989
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events.


HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)

I, the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, do, by this my order:
1. revoke all previous exemption orders granted under section 57(2) of the said Act in respect of items listed on the State Heritage Register owned or managed by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales; and
2. grant an exemption from section 57(1) of the said Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any of the activities listed in that section by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales in respect of the items described in Schedule A.

Andrew Refshauge
Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning

Sydney, 2000

SCHEDULE A

Item State Heritage Register Listing Number

1. Elizabeth Farm 00001
2. Rouse Hill House 00002
3. Elizabeth Bay House 00006
4. Lyndhurst 00158
5. Hyde Park Barracks and The Mint 00190
6. The Rose Seidler House 00261
7. Wentworth Mausoleum 00622
8. Justice and Police Museum 00673
9. Meroogal, Nowra 00953
10. Vaucluse House 00955
11. Government House, Sydney 01070
12. First Government House Site
(Museum of Sydney) 01309
13. Susannah Place 01310
Feb 27 1998
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)

I, the Minister for Planning, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, do, by this my order:
(1) revoke the existing exemptions made to the Historic Houses Trust under section 57(2) of the Heritage Act; and
(2) under section 57(2) of the Heritage Act grant an exemption from all section 57(1) activities to properties owned or managed by the Historic Houses Trust and listed on the State Heritage Register as outlined in Schedule A with the following conditions:
(a) that the Historic Houses Trust provide an annual report to the Heritage Council on future works proposed for its properties;
(b) that the Historic Houses Trust advise the Heritage Office archaeologists of any proposed works requiring major excavation at its properties to allow due consideration of the need for additional archaeological work;
(c) that the Director of the Historic Houses Trust must lodge all archaeological monitoring or excavation reports prepared with the Heritage Office library on completion after review by Heritage Office archaeologists;
(d) that the Historic Houses Trust employ as required a consultant historical archaeologist with appropriate archaeological qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience and the Director of the HHT must obtain the advice of that person about the heritage significance of the archaeological resource and/or the impact of the development proposal on the heritage significance of the archaeological resource, and take that advice into account;
(e) that the Director of the Historic Houses Trust must take into account as far as practicable the cumulative effect of approvals on the heritage significance of the item and on the heritage resource of its area;
(f) that the Director of the Historic Houses Trust must ensure that approvals are in accordance with any requirements, guidelines, regulations and general conditions issued by the Heritage Council. The Director of the Historic Houses Trust may impose additional conditions which do not conflict with any Heritage Council conditions.

The Hon Frank Sartor MP
Minister for Planning
Minister for Redfern Waterloo
Minister for the Arts

11 April 2008

SCHEDULE A

Item State Heritage Register Listing Number

1. Elizabeth Farm 00001
2. Rouse Hill House 00002
3. Elizabeth Bay House 00006
4. Glenfield Farm, Casula 00025
5. Hyde Park Barracks and The Mint 00190
6. Exeter Farm (Meurant's Cottage) 00205
7. The Rose Seidler House 00261
8. Wentworth Mausoleum 00622
9. Justice and Police Museum 00673
10. Meroogal, Nowra 00953
11. Vaucluse House 00955
12. Government House, Sydney 01070
13. First Government House Site (Museum of Sydney) 01309
14. Susannah Place 01310
Apr 24 2008
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

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0067302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0067322 Sep 89 977662
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental PlanCSH LEP 4 07 Apr 00   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Justice and Police Museum View detail
ElectronicHistoric Houses Trust2004Museums View detail
WrittenKelso, Jane2017'From Water Police Office to Museum'
TourismTourism NSW2007Justice & Police Museum View detail
WrittenWatts, Peter2014(Open) Letter to Tim Duddy, Chairman, Friends of Historic Houses Trust Inc.

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

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045679
File number: S90/04789; S96/00465 [S170]


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