THE BUILDING OF THE NEWCASTLE POLICE STATION AND LOCK-UP WAS COMPLETED IN 1861. MORTIMER LEWIS JNR DESIGNED A SINGLE STOREY BUILDING UNDER THE DIRECTION OF JAMES BARNET.
In 1838 a Court House designed by Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis was constructed on the corner of Hunter and Bolton Streets, where the former Newcastle Post Office building now sits. It included a lock-up comprising of two cells but by 1855 as the former penal settlement was developing into an expanding coal export centre, it was deemed inadequate.
The building of the Newcastle Police Station and lock-up was completed in 1861. Mortimer Lewis Jnr designed a single storey building under the direction of James Barnet.
In 1867 a kitchen block was added to the rear and other alterations carried out between 1870-1890 included additional cells. Symmetrical extensions were added, which enlarged the Hunter Street facade, and a brick perimeter wall was built in 1882. Aligned with the corners of these new extensions, the wall provided secure exercise yards.
In 1890 Government Architect Walter Vernon added a second storey over the front section of the building. In the same year a new Court House was built on Church Street and the old building was subsequently demolished to make way for a new Post Office (1903), which still stands today.
In 1926 the second storey was extended over the cells below on the eastern side. Only minor changes were made after this time until closure in 1982.
As well as performing day-to-day tasks necessary for enforcing law and order in the city, members of the Newcastle police force were often involved in major events now seen as iconic highlights in Newcastle’s criminal history, including the Coal Strike of 1909, the Clara Street Eviction Riots in the Great Depression, controlling the notorious ‘Bank Corner Mob’ in the 1920s and the Star Hotel Riot in 1979.