The Bourke Street West Police Station complex is comprised of a cell block and watchhouse, police barracks and station, sergeant's quarters and marshalling yard. The main barracks were erected in 1888-9 to the design of the Public Works Department. The drawings were executed by SC Brittingham and countersigned by SE Bindley, the district architect. The two storey building is constructed of face red brick on bluestone footings with Waurn Ponds limestone dressings, parapet and fleurons. The fleurons, foliated cornice and bowtell mouldings are all derived from the drawings of French architect Viollet-le-Duc, whose work was very influential in Victoria. The main facade is symmetrical except for the carriageway leading to the rear courtyard. The style is a restrained form of Gothic incorporating pointed Florentine arches on the first storey and stilted segmental arches on the ground floor. The axed bluestone cell block at the rear of the barracks was built to designs by Brittingham and Bindley in 1887. It is a simple rectangle in form with a hipped slate roof and louvred lantern along the ridge. The only elaboration is the segmental arch opening with smooth stone reveals contrasting to the surrounding wall faces.
How is it significant?
The Bourke Street West Police Station is of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Bourke Street West Police Station of historically significant as the only remaining intact nineteenth century police station in inner Melbourne. It is a significant remnant of continuous government administration in this area of the western end of Melbourne dating back to 1837.
The Bourke Street West Police Station is architecturally significant for its main facade which demonstrates the varied sources of High Victorian eclectic architecture, including face red brick, Florentine arches, and decorative dressings derived from the work of Viollet-le-Duc.
OLD BOURKE STREET WEST POLICE STATION AND CELL BLOCK - History
History of Place:
The site is part of an area that has been occupied for government purposes since the arrival of Captain William Lonsdale in 1837. Government buildings are shown on the block occupied by the Bourke Street police complex in Robert Russell's map of June 1838. A small stone watch house was built in this area in 1852. Occupation of the block by government buildings reduced from the 1850s and sites were sold off. The Roman Catholic Reserve now occupied by St Augustine's Church was part of the divestment.
Samuel Edward Bindley was born in England in 1842 and emigrated to Victoria in 1873. He was employed by the Education Department in 1876. When the department was amalgamated with the Public Works Department in 1884 Bindley was appointed Architect in charge of the North-Western District. He also designed the Crown Law offices in Lonsdale Street and the Record Office in Queen Street.
S C Brittingham was a draughtsman in the Education Department at the time of amalgamation, and became Assistant Architect under Bindley. In 1915 he was made Acting Chief Architect and then Chief Architect of the Public Works Department.