The Administration of the Law

Before 1811 the New South Wales Corps was responsible for the preservation of law and order in the new colony. In 1811 John D’Arcy was placed in charge of a group of semi-civilian constables by the then Governor Lachlan Macquarie. It was not until 1862 that the New South Wales Police Force obtained official recognition in the New South Wales Government Gazette, with Captain John McLerie appointed as the first Inspector General.

A foot constable was first stationed at Helensburgh in 1891 and it is presumed that he was accommodated in rented premises. There are no departmental records of the early police office. In the Government Gazette of 1895, Helensburgh was proclaimed a place for holding Courts of Petty Sessions. In 1896 the original Police Station was built opposite the then Post Office shop at the bottom of Lukin Street.

An additional mounted policeman was attached to the town in 1898 and in the following year, the name of the first known Officer in Charge of the Helensburgh Police Station, Constable Stephens, is recorded. From then the strength of the station increased until by 1980 there was one sergeant and 3 constables. Although the town has increased in population the station is now manned by a part-time constable in a demountable building beside the original office and jail.

The Court House and Police Station complex illustrated above, was erected in 1902 at a cost of £1,600, on the corner of Parkes and Waratah Streets. Standing on a reserve proclaimed on February 13, 1892, the building originally contained a courtroom, quarters for the resident policeman, two cells and an exercise yard. In the rear paddock there was a single stable and forage room, later used as a motor cycle garage. This was recently demolished and replaced by a double brick garage for police cars. Part of the paddock is now used as a police holding yard. The Court House, closed in the early ‘80s, is now used as a police residence. There have been attempts to acquire the property for redevelopment, but these have been strenuously opposed by the Historical Society as the building remains our most important civic site.

The site adjoining the Court House, originally gazetted as reserve, but later taken over the Police Department, was the site for Helensburgh’s first war memorial. The memorial consisted of a flag pole and a mounted artillery piece which had been captured from the Turks in Palestine by the Australian Light Horse. The removal of this war memorial at the behest of the Police Department is still a matter of some controversy among older residents. The piece was removed (or as some residents suggest, “stolen”) by the Army and requests for its return have been ignored.

Helensburgh Police Station began as part of the old Eastern District which was abolished in April 1933. The station was then incorporated into a re-organised Metropolitan District. In April 1955 the station was included in a new South Coast District with its headquarters at Wollongong. In October 1965 it again became part of the Metropolitan District, but since 1974 it has again been included in the South Coast District. The first Police Station is now a private home.