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Sunday, February 25, 2024

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Historical Snippets: Kangaroo Valley Police Station and Court House

The recent refurbishment of the Kangaroo Valley Police Station and Court House prompted me to investigate their history in Kangaroo Valley. Policing was first established in November 1886 when Constable Reynolds was appointed as Acting Clerk of Petty Sessions. In 1891 a Police Magistrate began visiting the Valley, fortnightly, to hear cases brought forward by the local constable. 

Around 1883 a two-man police station apparently stood at the entrance from the Main Road to Budgong Road in rented premises. There were three Kurrajong trees in front of the building. This information was recalled by the late William Cox, father of HO Cox. In 1899 the Police Court was considered unfit for the purpose and a search for better facilities commenced.

The Police Station and Court House site and floor plans were drawn up in mid-December, 1902. (Item NRS-4335-2-605-PC288/2 State Archives). At this time, First -Class Constable Reid was in charge, assisted by Constable GH Goodman. The Police Station and Court House was opened in 1904 without an official ceremony. The building was designed by Walter Vernon, the Government Architect, and was built by DH Taunton from Goulburn at a cost of £1,873 17s 7d. (The Nowra Colonist, 17 Sept 1902). 

Over the years, regular tenders were sought for repairs to the Police Station. A request to connect the telephone to it in early 1925 was declined by the Acting Inspector-General of Police, due to lack of funds.

Recently you may have witnessed the long overdue renovations and repairs to the Police Station and Court House. Considering the buildings are nearly 120 years old, they are certainly looking much finer than they did at the beginning of this year.

Having trolled through the local newspapers and gazettes up to the turn of the 20th century, I found a collection of police charges that were an interesting read: lots of breaking and entering and stealing; being drunk and disorderly; furious riding on the public road; using indecent language in a public place; ill-treating a horse and cruelty to a cow; unlawfully using a horse (stolen); illegally impounding cattle and selling diseased cattle. Many unusual charges appeared also: being in possession of paraphernalia that could be used in the making of illicit spirit; attempted suicide; absconding from an apprenticeship (still happens); application for a hawker’s licence; neglecting to register a dog; sending a threatening letter demanding money without cause; deserting an illegitimate child; arson; fraudulently taking away a girl under the age of 21, out of possession and against the will of her father; not having premises registered under the Dairies Supervision Act; and claim for wages due under the Masters and Servants Act. Of course, there was riotous behaviour, assaults and resisting the police – so yes, some things do not change.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found my father’s charges he gathered, in Kangaroo Valley, when he was about 16, probably around early 1940s. Some of the older locals may even know about this. I never heard of this story until, over a few beers with Dad, I questioned why he had never been asked to be on a Jury when he had been in business most of his life. Mum nearly choked. So, the story goes my Dad, Brian Love, and his mates lifted some farm gates and hung them up in trees, on New Years Eve, as you do when you are a bored teenager! Of course the local constabulary pounced on it but Dad was the only one caught. Having refused to give up his mates’ names he was charged and given a 12-month good behaviour bond. Now a good place to send a 16-year-old under the watchful eye of the local policeman was to a large sheep farm in Nyngan, owned by an old aunty. Far enough away hopefully to keep out of trouble whilst allocated to the tail docking of lambs with blood and sweat all over him daily. Yes, he made it back a better man who took on a truck for milk collection and delivery in Kangaroo Valley under the name of TJ Love and Sons and remained a good citizen and a great bloke till the day he died. 

Christine Murphy

 

image: KV Police Station and Court House 1904

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