Original North Perth Police Station
The North Perth Police Station was built in Angove Street in 1907, with the keys being handed over to the Inspector of Police on 30 January 1908. Designed by Hillson Beasley, the building cost £816.
The station is an example of Federation Free Classical style functional architecture: Single storey, built of brick, with an iron roof and wooden floors. With its double-arched front porch decorated with the distinctive ‘blood and bandages’ design of horizontal stripes of brickwork and render, the building was an example of the exuberant architectural style of the later gold boom era. This decoration is also a feature of two other police stations built in the Perth area at this time in South Perth and Victoria Park.
Crime and disorder as population grows
The Western Australian Police Force expanded in the early 1900s, particularly in suburban areas, as a response to the increase in crime and disorder resulting from the growing population of Western Australia in the wake of the gold boom. North Perth was a newly hatched residential area in the last years of the 1800s but quickly attracted more residents due to its proximity to the city.
“North Perth tended to be regarded as a solidly working class suburb. Neighbouring Mount Lawley had the reputation of being more fashionable and genteel; a number of fairly senior police officers set up house there. Soon the usual requests for police protection arrived…”
The Western Australian Police Historical Society.
In 1902, Foot Constable Joseph Foulkes was assigned to patrol the North Perth area and lived and operated out of rented accommodation. He was succeeded by Constable James Strappe, who also rented locally, in 1903.
On 11 May 1907, the Commissioner of Police advised the Under Secretary of Works that provision for a police station at North Perth was included in the Estimates for 1907-08. He requested sketch plans and cost estimates to be prepared, with a view to building the new station as soon as possible, although a suitable site had not yet been found. In subsequent months, Lots 15 and 16 Angove St were purchased from John Nicol of Fremantle for the purpose of building the proposed police station and quarters.
The contract for its build was awarded in September 1907 to well-known building contractors Franklin & Finlay. As was common practice at the time, the station included residential quarters for the senior officer as well as office space, a change room and cells for the actual police station under one roof.
On completion of the building in January 1908, Constable Strappe was made Officer in Charge but stayed only a few months before being transferred to Bridgetown. His successor Constable William Sherman Crawford was in charge of the station from 1908 for the next 25 years. The excerpt below from The West Australian’s Police Court reports on 24 April 1908 may have been one of his early charges in the suburb:
“Ellen Kelly was charged with having on April 11 committed a breach of the Early closing Act. Constable Crawford deposed that he saw two lads go into defendant’s shop in Charles street and get served with sugar and butter. This was at 8.15 p.m. Defendant denied that she had served the boys with the goods, but admitted giving them, as they were ordered before 1 o’clock. She was fined 2s. 6d. and costs.”
When Constable Crawford retired, he did not move far, retiring to this house he named “Worthy Park” at 12 Bourke Street North Perth.
Behind the premises at 10, 12 and 14 Bourke Street, which today back onto Charles Veryard Reserve, the retired constable built stables for trotting horses and his sons’ milk cart horses. Worthy Park Stables operated as a milk vendor business and trotting stables from 1930 to 1964.The cart horses were withdrawn from service in 1957 and replaced by motor vehicles.
Decommissioning of the Police Station
In the late 20th century it became less common for Officers in Charge to live at police stations and the last police resident moved out in 1995. In 1999, the station was included on the WA Register of Heritage Places. The station remained in use by the police until 2009 when it was purchased by the City of Vincent. In 2015 the property was sold again and in 2017 construction commenced on a separate building behind the heritage listed police station, for a privately run long day care centre.
Assets and References
- PH03152 Image of former Police Station
- PH02758 House at 12 Bourke Street, North Perth, 1930
City Of Vincent Local History Centre – OH0193 interview with John McIntosh.