Old Clare Police Station officially declared Police Heritage Site

Updated April 28 2022 - 8:19am, first published 7:06am

The old Clare Police Station has been recognised as an essential part of SA Police history today with the old building officially declared a heritage site.

Today marks Police Foundation Day, a day to recognise SAPOL's establishment on April 28, 1838, when a police Inspector, 10 mounted constables and 10 foot constables were sworn in.

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This significant date on SAPOL's calendar has been officially commemorated since 1992, with each year featuring a significant theme reflecting the rich and diverse history of policing in SA.

An invitation-only ceremony was held at the old Clare Police Station and Courthouse Museum today, Commissioner Grant Stevens and members of the Police Historical Society and National Trust of South Australia unveiled a plaque declaring the location a Police Heritage Site.

Mr Stevens said the historical importance of the Old Clare Police Station was recognised in it being declared a Police Heritage Site.

"Remembering our past plays a key role in shaping and defining our identity. It is also important to the local community that sites such as these are preserved and continue to be accessible for visitors to the region."

A commemorative address on the history of the old Clare Police Station will be delivered by President of the South Australian Police Historical Society Bill Prior.

In 1850 work commenced on erecting the new courthouse and police station in Clare, in the corner of a reserve, known as the Police Paddock on West Terrace, where police horses were put out to graze.

Built by contractors Palmer and Williams at a cost of 310 pounds, the new premises were constructed of stone and brick with a corrugated iron roof. Work was completed by January 1851.

The local Mounted Police then moved into the police station after occupying several temporary police stations in the Clare District since 1842.

The building comprised of two rooms; one a courtroom and the second a 'police constables' room.

The building was also used to hold council meetings, public meetings and church services. The surroundings included a police horse paddock and stables, prisoners' cells (demolished in 1914) and nearby water well.

In 1854 the Clare Police Station was attached to the newly formed Northern Police Division, with its headquarters at Burra, then known as Burra Burra.

The building functioned as a police station until it was replaced in 1863 by a new building in the Clare town centre.

It was then used as police residence until 1878 when it was converted to a casualty and infectious disease hospital.

In the late 1920s the building was saved from demolition and in 1969 was leased to the National Trust, where it now serves as an historic museum and tourist attraction.

It is one of the oldest buildings in Clare and remains architecturally unique amongst the many police stations in SA.

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