Former Police Courts Perth

Former Police Courts Beaufort Street Perth

Former Police Courts Beaufort Street Perth: Famous Australian artworks are on display in Perth in the space once occupied by accused criminals during their appearances in court.The grand, classical buildings of Perth’s first police complex now house the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s (AGWA) historical collection.Both the police court and the barracks were originally built to cope with the rapid expansion of Perth’s population that followed the gold boom in the 1890s”In 1892 a new police act came into force and as a result of that there was need for a much larger police headquarters with courts, lockups, stables and officer accommodation,” Richard Offen from Heritage Perth told Alex Hyman on 720 ABC Perth.”There was a need for more accommodation of every nature at that time and that is when Northbridge began to come into its own.”This two-acre site just north of the railway line was set aside for the police in 1896.”

There were two buildings constructed — one a police court presided over by a magistrate which faced Beaufort Street, and the police barracks which faced James Street.The area where the modern gallery now stands had four cottages on it for police officers and their families.It was designed by the state’s acting chief architect at the time, Hillson Beasley, and used Donnybrook limestone in a classical style.The mansard roof of the police court was based on the French regency style.”It was completed in May 1905 and there was also a yard, stabling for 24 horses, [a] mortuary, laundry and a lockup,” Mr Offen said.”It was pretty extensive and probably housed most of the police in Perth at that time.”The police continued to use the buildings until the 1960s.Around the same time the state government passed the Art Gallery Act, forming the Western Australian Art Gallery with a board of trustees.

Up until then the state art collection had been part of the WA Museum and Library, but in the 1960s and ’70s — during the state’s second mining boom — each of these institutions were separated and expanded.The Northbridge area was developed into the city’s cultural centre.The Western Australian Art Gallery took over the police buildings and a new main gallery building, where the old cottages had been, was planned in 1977.”In 1978, it was renamed the Art Gallery of Western Australia and a new building, designed by the architect Charles Sierakowski, was opened on October 2, 1979,” Mr Offen said.In stark contrast to the adjoining police complex, the new building is an angular brick and concrete structure with a brutalist exterior.Inside, it is filled with angled rooms, a concrete spiral staircase and a triangular-patterned ceiling.”The design is based on the angle of 120 degrees and all the walls either of seven, 14 or 21 metres long,” Mr Offen said.In 1995, the courtrooms were restored and are now used to display works from the state art collection.