If no Menu above click HERE
Data was last added to this page on the
05 February 2024

(Information to be added when found)

The requirement for judicial control of the recently discovered local Goldfields saw the arrival of Assistant Gold Commissioner Miller in February 1852 along with a contingent of Police to maintain discipline and management of the fields. The Commissioner decided upon a central position at the junction of Tambaroora Creek and Golden Gully located between Dirt Holes Creek and the place known as the Stockyard. The local Goldfields being worked by the miners at the time stretched from Green Valley to the Lower Turon and included Green Valley, Dirt Holes Creek, Tambaroora Creek, Golden Gully, Bald Hills, Bald Hills Creek, Turon River, Chambers Creek and Root Hog, the entire area being known as the Tambaroura.

Gold Commissioners Camp Tambaroora

Commissioners Camp on the junction of Tambaroora Creek and Golden Gully c.1853
(Image courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

In March 1858 a meeting was called for to take action to Petition the Governor General for the installation of a Local Court in accordance with the Goldfields Act of 1857. The Petition was received by the Executive and instructions issued to the local authorities to instigate the construction of a Court.

The 1859 Town Survey Map below shows the layout of the Commissioners Camp, its size occupied all of what was later to become Section 5. As can be seen on the map the Camp consisted of the Court House, Troopers Quarters, Stables and Troopers Garden and other ancillary buildings.

Map of the Police Reserve Tambaroora

This portion of map has been taken from the 1859 Town Survey Map
(Map courtesy of the NSW State Archives and Records)

It was noted by Police Magistrate(PM) Joseph Cox in 1861 that the original "Court House was only a 10 x 16 feet slab building with a common barked roof which was much to small and in a most dilapidated condition. It is merely a slab building with a common barked roof which leaks considerably in many parts every shower, the chimney also is perfectly useless since it is not possible to keep a fire on account of its smoking" (503).

By 1859 the Camp buildings were starting to show signs of disrepair, works required to return the Camp to an acceptable standard included for the Court House a new roof of bark, shelving for documents and the inclusion of a fireplace, the Lock-up required a new roof of bark and works to make the building secure. The works were eventually undertaken by Edward Maloney at a cost of £20/0/0 (503).

The Annual Appropriation Act for 1860-61 included an amount of £135/0/0 which was allotted for the "Erection of Stable and Fencing Camp Ground, Mounted Patrol Station" at Tambaroora (504). The breakdown of the allocation was a new four stall stable of slab wall and bark roof construction including Hay Racks and Manger and paved with stone pitchers, it also included a new Men's Privy at a cost of £85/0/0. The remaining amount of £50/0/0 was for the construction of a Camp Ground fence including two pairs of gates, for a total cost of £135/0/0 as per the Annual Appropriation allocation.

Continuing ongoing costs may have led to the Colonial Architect in July 1861 writing to the Under Secretary for Public Works submitting a Plan for a Watchhouse at Tambaroora. A sum of £400/0/0 had been approved for the expenditure, included in the letter was an advertisement for tenders for the works. (503).

Plan of the new Court House Tambaroora

Fig.1 - Reproduction of the Tender Ground Plan (503)
Plan drawn by Warwick P Taylor

Tenders closed on the 3 September 1861, four tenders were submitted and forwarded to the Colonial Architect from the Department of Public Works for their consideration:
Included with the Architects letter and tender documents to the Department of Public Works was a letter (see below) from Mr. PM Joseph Cox at Tambaroora in which he made observations relating to the plans and specifications for the Watch House and his displeasure of having to share the Guard Room as the "occasional" Court Room as seen in Figure 1 above.

Police Magistrate Joseph Cox's Letter to the Colonial Architect
citing deficiencies in the plan and specifications for the
Court and Watch House

Police Office, Tambaroora
August 26th 1861

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from your office, dated the 7th instant, together with an accompanying plan and specification for the erection of a Watch House at this place, tenders for the erection of which have been called for by the Government; and beg to be allowed to make a few observations thereon.

Firstly, The plan proposed seems admirably adapted for the purposes of a Lock-up, nor could it , in my opinion, be improved upon as far as the main point of security be considered _ although sundry items of expense might perhaps, admit of curtailment _ for instance, the requirement that the projecting rectangular walls and front of the central position of the building as an ordinary guard room be constructed of brick might, I consider, be dispensed with, and strong and well dressed slabs substituted; The expense also of the sundry fittings of sashes, doors etc, etc, as in specification might perhaps also admit of some slight modification without interfering with its utility as such, or detracting from the decidedly compact and neat appearance of the building.

Secondly, As the heading of the printed conditions and notifications on the ground plan seems to imply that this particular portion of the building is also to be "occasionally" used as a Court House, although the advertisement in the Government Gazette only invites tenders for the erection of a Watch House, I beg to state that I cannot so readily coincide in opinion with regard to the applicability or propriety of this latter arrangement for the following reasons, viz:

1 All Courts or buildings appropriated to carry on judicial proceedings in, should in my opinion, be freed as much as possible at all times from exposure to noise and disturbance, whereas, according to the proposed plan this could not possibly be effected, as the Bench would not only be subjected to a close proximity on either side with the noise of, perhaps, very unruly confines occasionally, but also to those disturbances necessarily arising from the conducting prisoners through the said Court when brought up in custody by any constable for confinement _ the Cell entrances being situate within the room, and these circumstances alone would prove surpassingly inconvenient to a Court of Justice.

2 The Court room also should be the depository of all public records and consequently would require sundry other appropriate fittings for their reception and these being rather incompatible with the requiremtns of an ordinary constabulary guard room they could not with much propriety be fitted.

3 In lieu of the Court room at this particular station, Tambaroora being merely "occasionally" required, I would beg permission to observe that it would have to be generally accessible to the public, not only for ordinary judicial matters and proceedings connected with the civil jurisdiction of this locality, but as a Crown Lands Agency Office for public reference whenever required _ also as a general office for the daily transaction of the multifarious duties of the Gold Commissioners' Department together with those of several others. It is therefore apparent that the same should be available at all times.

I therefore beg, under the foregoing circumstances, to state my conviction that viewing the central part of the plan of building proposed in the twofold light of a "Court" and "Guard" room combined, it will be found to be a practical impossibility to use it as both at Tambaroora; the utility and occupancy of each being so widely difficult from the other I feel it my duty to observe that, in my opinion the Court House should be a decidedly district building, with perhaps one or two small office or conference rooms attached.

The present Court House is only 9 x 12 feet, which is much to small and in a most dilapidated condition. This is merely a slab building with a common barked roof which leaks considerably in many parts at every shower, the chimney also is perfectly useless since it is not possible to keep a fire on account of its smoking.

I have the honor to be
Your Most Obedient Servant
J. Cox P.M.

A Response to PM Cox's obersvations was added to the end of PM Cox's letter by an unknown author

The building contains the minimum accommodation for a Lockup - namely two cells and a room for the Keeper; the latter is rather larger than usual, and may be used occasionally for a Court Room, as is done at Nelligen and other places where the Police Business is not great, some misunderstanding seems to have arisen as to whether the building was intended to be a Watch House only or to be a Court and Watch House - the amount appropriated (out of the £25,000/0/0) would indicate the former, but the wording of the last leaves the matter in doubt.

5th Sept 1861(Initialled)

The Department of Public Works letter recommended the acceptance of the Everett and Stephens tender price of £299/10/0. The tender was accepted in September 1861 and contracts exchanged in December the same year. (503).

Another letter from Mr. PM Cox dated 4th February 1862 to the Authorities in Sydney suggested that accommodation for the Lockup Keeper be added to the nearly completed Lockup and Guard Room, also the need to have the complex securely fenced in. The result of this was an amended plan of the Court and Watch House incorporating the addition of Lockup Keepers quarters and fencing being sent to Mr. Trader, the contractor for the Tenderers Everett and Stephens. A note written on the back of Mr. PM Cox's letter by an unknown author stated that as the successful tender was only £299/10/0 out of the vote of £400/0/0 this left a balance of £100/10/0 that could possibly cover the costs of the additional works requested by Mr. PM Cox.

Court and Watch House - Tambaroora
Revised plan of the new Court House Tambaroora Fig.2 - Revised Plan of the Court and Watch House (503)
Plan drawn by Warwick P Taylor

In another letter dated the 4th February 1862 and mistakenly sent to the Surveyor General and forwarded to the Principal Under Secretary, Mr. PM Cox advised that the current old and dilapidated Court House contained no furniture, he asked that an amount of £60/0/0 be allocated for furniture for the new Court House or that items could be supplied. He went on to provide a list of necessary items for the new building. A note at the bottom of this letter stated "Mr. Cox to procure 15 April 1862"

By the 22 March 1862 the Court and Watch House was nearing completion, Mr. PM Cox wrote once again to the Colonial Architect Alexander Dawson Esq. describing the hazardous situation of the Watch House not having a fenced perimeter, he stated "without a fenced enclosure, parties can easily hand in any weapon to the confines through the cell gratings". He added that at present the Lockup Keeper's residence was 100 yards distant from the new Watch House, he pointed out that ideally the Keeper's house should either adjoin or be very close to the cells.

A letter from the Tenderer's Foreman of Works, Mr. Trader dated 14th April 1862 (see below) to the Colonial Architect gave a progress report on the erection of the Watch House, it also included proposed alterations (see Fig.3) to the building, some of which were requested by Mr. PM Cox and approved by him after consultation with Mr. Trader. The improvements were approved by the Department of Public Works and Mr. Trader was to obtain tenders for the works.

Mr. Traders Letter to the Colonial Architect
citing alterations to the plan and specifications for the
Court and Watch House

14th April 1862

I have the honor to inform you that the Watch House at this place is nearly completed with the exception of the lining of the ceiling of the Court Room and one cell ceiling, some of the angle fillets, mantle pieces, chimney breast, objectionable boards to replace, to put another air aperture in each cell, sashes to hang, W.C. to build and all the painting.

I have to remark that the work is performed in a satisfactory manner with the exception, that the chimney is not carried up to the height shown in the plan it is built level with the ridges also that only one aperture has been made in each cell instead of two, some of the lining boards are bad and not seasoned sufficiently but to take a general view the work is satisfactory.

I am of opinion that it will be better to allow the air aperture to remain where it is at the end of the building instead of the side and cut out for and fix another at the back end of the cell over where I propose to open a doorway.

I have to report to you that Commissioner Cox is strongly opposed to the plan proposed for the additional two rooms in consequence of it making the bench to public and allowing no room for the deposit of public papers, etc.

I have therefore to submit to you the alteration I propose and of which he approves, which you will see by the plan I enclose how it may be carried out. That is instead of opening two doorways in the court room, close the windows up, and the cell doors to be closed up and openings made to lead into the yard from the cells, the lobby is not required but place the two doorways has shown in the sitting room, and the proposed fence to be fixed on a line with the cells in the front and 10ft from the ends, and 20feet from the back of the bedroom, the W.C. to be 8ft from the fence in the centre of the yard.

I have also to propose that the recesses on each side of the chimney breast be fitted up with shelves and doors with locks. Also that it is requisite to enclose the bench and put a sloping board 2ft wide to it.

I think it will be necessary to call for tenders if this alteration is approved of by you.

I have the honor to be
Your most obedient Servant
C. Trader

Court and Watch House - Tambaroora
Alterations requested by the Police Magistrate to the new Court House Tambaroora

Fig.3 - Alterations Requested by Police Magistrate Cox (503)
Plan drawn by Warwick P Taylor

The Contract for the works on the new Court and Watch House was completed in May 1862, the Contractors Everett and Stephens requesting final payment being £334/10/0 being for:
Mr. PM Cox wrote to Alexander Dawson Esq. the Colonial Architect in the same month advising him that he had taken possession of the new Court and Watch House, he also asked to be advised as soon as possible if the alterations asked for (see Fig.3) had been approved. A notation on the letter indicated that the works will be undertaken once plans and specifications were completed.

The furniture requested earlier in February, was received in September and supplied by Redmond Farrington at a cost of £60/0/0.

By July 1863 requests for funding from the Department of Police at the Western Districts was made to replace the roofing of the Lockup Keepers quarters, the roofing being "perfectly worn out". If the replacement was approved the work was to be undertaken by the constables themselves. The bark required was about 30 sheets at a cost of 2/6p per sheet. The works was approved by the Department of Public Works in August 1863 and the materials were supplied by a Mr. Charles Gratton for a total cost of £3/15/0.

A newspaper article in 1865 did not paint a very pretty picture of the Commissioners Quarters.

Source: SMH, Pg.2 dtd 26 Sep 1865

16 Nov 1872 - Camp Gold Mining Company as covering a portion of the Police Reserve even though the site was still occupied by the Police.

18 Jul 1891 - Reserved from Sale for Police Purposes - Reserved Land 14077

27 Jun 1893 - Application to Mine under Roads

15 Aug 1893 - Applications to Mine under Roads

14 Jul 1894 - Revocation of Temporary Reserve - Reserved Land 14077

14 Jul 1894 - Reserve from Sale for Police Purposes - Reserved Land 21068 formerly Reserved Land 14077

14 Jul 1894 - Amendment to Reserved Land 21068

2017 - Survey tape marks the outline of what remains of the Watchhouse/Courthouse

Survey tape marks the outline of what remains of the Watchhouse/Courthouse

Source: Image by Kelvin Taylor 2017

2017 - Drone view showing the outline of the Watchhouse

Drone view showing the outline of the Watchhouse

Source: Aerial Imagery by Kelvin Taylor 2017

2018 - Drone view showing the site of the Commissioners Camp and approximate position of some of the buildings

(Click on the Image to Enlarge)

Drone view showing the site of the Commissioners Camp Tambaroora

Source: Aerial Imagery and Image Enhancement undertaken by Kelvin Taylor 2018

(To be continued)