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1886, Young Courthouse - Unfit For Publication
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Evening News, Wed 10 Mar 1886 1


Young, Tuesday, March 9.

    A public meeting was held in the council-chambers on Monday night. There was a moderate attendance. The Mayor occupied the chair. It was decided to hold a public ball and supper on the occasion of opening the new court-house, and to invite the Chief Justice. A strong committee was appointed too make the necessary arrangements.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 10 Mar 1886 2


    THE new court-house at Young will be opened on the 6th of next month. The Chief Justice will take that circuit, and the Attorney-General (Hon JH Want) will prosecute. It is understood that the opening of the court-house will be celebrated by a banquet.

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The Argus, Sat 27 Mar 1886 3


Sydney, Friday.

    The new court-house at Young will be opened by the Chief Justice, Sir James Martin, on the 6th prox. The event will be celebrated by a banquet and ball. Sir James Martin will be presented with an address from the borough council. The new building will cost £12,000.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 30 Mar 1886 4


    The new Courthouse at Young is to be opened by his Honor Chief Justice Martin on Tuesday, the 6th April. The event is recognised as an important one in the history of the district, and the magistrates of the circuit, the borough council and burgesses, are preparing to mark the occasion in a befitting way. His Honor will leave Hay on Saturday, the 3rd April, reaching Junee the same evening, and resuming his journey to Young by special train the following morning. So far as can be ascertained, the arrangements are that Sir James will be presented with an address from the borough council, and in his private chamber one from the magistrates of the circuit, with Mr S Robinson, PM, as chairman. The same evening his Honor will be entertained at a banquet. The following evening there will be a public ball in the Mechanic’s Institute.

    Before attempting a description of the new edifice, which has already cost £10,000, which will probably be increased to £12,000, it may not be uninteresting to refer briefly to previous buildings which, since the establishment of the town, have done duty as halls of justice. In the early part of 1860 the site of the town of Young formed portion of the Burrangong Run, owned by the late James White, Lambing Flat being used for the purpose its name suggests. In July of that year gold was discovered, and within a short time a large mining population had gathered on the new field. The number in the following year was estimated at 20,000. Police quarters were established on rising ground on the mill side of Burrangong or Main Creek, since known as Camp Hill, the site of the Lambing Flat riots, in which lives were lost. The object of the rioters was to prevent Chinese working on the field, and to rescue from custody the ringleaders arrested for complicity in those riots. Until better arrangements could be made courts were held in a canvas tent 12 x 14, pitched within a stone’s-throw of the present building. The first substantial structure was built of 3-inch sawn timber—the thickness, it is said, intended to make it bullet-proof, as the experience of the riots suggested to be necessary. In those early times of the district the new courthouse was considered a handsome structure, and the district was congratulated accordingly. Erected during winter months, the shrinking when exposed to a fierce summer sun was so great that when court sittings were protracted, as they often were, until after dark, it was almost impossible to keep the candles alight. One thing in connection with the administration of justice in those days is worthy of mention with a large population, and an almost total absence of gaol accommodation, the police authorities were driven to the necessity of chaining their prisoners to a tree. The tree stood within 50 yards of where the new Courthouse now stands, and there are many residents to-day who can well remember to have seen offenders of all grades so chained and guarded, waiting for their case to be dealt with. Another incident may be referred to in connection with the riots, as showing the improved means of transit now enjoyed as compared with those times. When news of the riots reach Sydney, troops were at once despatched by forced marches to the scene of the action. They were about six weeks on the road. In the meantime, fearing renewed attack, the police camp was broken up, and retired to Yass to await the arrival of troops. Now troops could leave Sydney at 9 pm, and arrive at Young on the following morning at 3.30.

    The town is formed on the low-lying ground between Camp Hill and Quartz Reef Hill, and nearly half a mile from the Courthouse. Persons having business there began to complain of the inconvenience of having to travel so far. An agitation was started to obtain a larger and more commodious building, in a central position, where the business of the land office and warden’s office could be combined with Police Court work. The result was that in 1873 the brick building at the corner of Lynch and Wombat streets was erected, and has since fairly answered all requirements. In December, 1881, Mr James Watson, the then Colonial Treasurer, and member for the electorate, being on a visit to the town, the opportunity was availed of to bring under his notice the necessity for better courthouse accommodation. It was seen from an inspection of the then building that any attempt at improvement would be waste of money, and a suggestion was made that steps should be taken to secure a new building altogether. The Colonial Treasurer approving, a sum of £10,000 was placed upon the Estimates, and in due course the expenditure was sanctioned by Parliament. Shortly afterwards Young was gazetted a Circuit Court district. In April 1882, Sir James Martin attended to open the first Court, and was accompanied by Mr Barnet, Colonial Architect, who had been requested to attend for the purpose of conferring with the Chief Justice as to the most suitable site for the new building, which, after the inspection of several suggested, was fixed at Camp Hill. So impressed was Sir James with the substantial character of the town and its evident commercial importance, that he undertook to recommend the erection of a building worthy of the district, and further made a promise that when completed he would attend to open it. In fulfilment of that promise his Honor will be at Young on the 6th of next month.

Young courthouse opened 6 Apr 1886. Photo: Peter de Waal
Young courthouse opened 6 Apr 1886. Photo: Peter de Waal

    The new Courthouse is situate in the north-east corner of the police paddock, with a frontage to the Currawang-street and a recreation reserve facing the north. It commands a full view of the town and country beyond, as also the town and environs to east and west; it is also in close proximity to the gaol and handsome police quarters now in course of erection to displace the tumble-down shell of early digging days. In the north-east, and lower down the hill towards the creek, stands the new Public school, capable of accommodating 700 children, the erection of which became necessary in consequence of the railway going through the old school; while to the north-west is seen the Roman Catholic church of St Mary’s. Camp Hill is connected to the town by three bridges within a few chains of each other; that by Short-street has just been completed. The portion of the new courthouse, 28 feet 6 inches in height, is reached by 14 stone steps extending the entire width, and is 35ft by 14ft, springing from the floor are eight handsome Ionic columns, 2 feet 10 inches in diameter, massive concrete beams resting on these and supporting the pediment. The vestibule, entered from the portico through two heavy doors, is 22 feet 6 inches in depth, of the same height and width as the portico. On each side of the vestibule there is a winding staircase leading to a gallery extending 12 feet 6 inches into the hall, and affording ample accommodation for the public. The courtroom itself is a magnificent apartment, 60 feet by 35 feet, and in height 28 feet 9 inches. The room is lighted by 14 windows (seven on each side), placed at the top of the walls, thus ensuring a soft and even light which can be regulated by means of blinds. The ceiling is a fine piece of panel workmanship. The groundwork of the panels is light blue, picked out with dark green, the soffit beams and cove of cornice light pink, the whole presenting a very striking appearance. The corners of the hall are rounded with a graceful sweep, adding to the general good effect, and at the same time improving acoustic properties, which so far as can be judged at present leave nothing to be desired. An efficient system of ventilation has been provided. In the ceiling are four large and highly ornamented ventilators, and on each side of the hall at seven feet from the floor at short distances apart others are placed fitted with hit-or-miss traps and connected with a large air pipe underneath. The whole of the fittings are of polished cedar. Immediately under the gallery for the public, and at each side of the main entrance to the hall, are raised seats for magistrates and jurors in waiting respectively. To the right, looking to the dais, are a desk for the gaol officer and the jury-box. On the opposite side accommodation is provided for officials and reporters, that for the latter very conveniently placed. Directly in front of the Judge, and in the centre of the court, the prisoner’s dock is seen. It will entirely conceal the accused from those behind. The dais itself is very solid and roomy, and at the suggestion of one of the Judges, the witness-box is so placed as to form almost a part of the dais itself, bringing the witness within a few feet of the Judge. The mode of ingress and egress is, in addition to the main entrance, by five doors leading into corridors on three sides, 6 feet wide, and running the whole length and width of the hall. On the east and west, under distinct roofs, are four spacious rooms on each side. On the eastern side are rooms for the Judge, Attorney-General, Crown Solicitor, and male witnesses; on the west for the sheriff, two jury rooms, and barristers’ room, each neatly and comfortably furnished, those for the Judge and the Attorney-General somewhat more elaborate than the others. The corridors are connected with the vestibule by glass doors; a very ingenious contrivance from the firm of Holdsworth and Co, of Sydney, regulating the fanlight. At the rear of the buildings is a caretaker’s residence of five rooms, fitted with all conveniences. There are also three underground tanks of the collective capacity of 20,000 gallons. Under the personal direction of Mr Sheriff Cowper, who has been most assiduous in the work of supervision, the ground around the courthouse has been enclosed with a temporary fence, and is now in course of being trenched with a view to planting it with ornamental shrubs and suitable shade trees. A contract is out for a dwarf wall with an iron fence, the design for which is very chaste. It will extend the whole width of the building, and in Capel-street as far as the Judge’s private residence.

    The contract was taken in November, 1884, by Mr JG Gough, a local tradesman, who has carried out this and several other Government contracts to the complete satisfaction of the Department. Mr Murray, of the Colonial Architect’s Department, supervised the contract.

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Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Wed 31 Mar 1886 5


    The new court-house at Young is costing £12,000. It will be opened on the 6th prox by the Chief Justice.

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The Burrangong Argus and Burrowa, Murrumborrah, and Marengo General Advertiser, Wed 7 Apr 1886 6


THE Circuit Court was opened by his Honor the Chief Justice yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Mr J Pring, in the absence of the Attorney-General, prosecuted for the Crown. No other barristers were present. The solicitors at the table were—Messrs J Gordon, J Russell, A Campbell, and Garra way, of Young; Healy of Cootamundra; and FP Brennan, MA, of Burrowa. The Sheriff (Mr C Cowper) and Deputy Sheriff occupied seats on the bench. A number of ladies were provided with chairs in front of the reporters’ box and also near the jury box. Among those present with seats on the floor of the court were the Colonial Architect (Mr Barnet), the Mayor of Young (Alderman Rogan), Mr Farr (from Colonial Architect’s office), Alderman Gough (Contractor for the building), and many others.

    Before the commencement of the proceedings of the Court, Mr S Robinson, PM, on behalf of the magistrates and members of the legal profession within the Circuit Court district of Young, a large number of whom were present, read the following address to his Honor:—

“May it please your Honor:—
    “We, representing the magistrates and legal profession within the Circuit Court district of Young, avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded on the occasion of opening the new Court-house, to present to your Honor a very warm and cordial welcome on this your second visit to us in the distinguished position of Chief Justice of the colony. At the same time we are not unmindful of the eminent and patriotic services you have rendered to the country, in other positions of the highest distinction, throughout a long and honourable career.
“We esteem it more than an ordinary privilege to be permitted to assure your Honor that we have noted with pride and pleasure how frequently your remarkable abilities have been recognised by every section of the community, as also by the most eminent personages that from time to time visited the colony.
    “In conclusion, permit us to add that we earnestly trust you may be long spared to honour and adorn your exalted position.
    “Dated at Young this 6th day of April, 1886.”

    His Honor read the following reply:—

    “I thank you very much for the welcome which you have accorded me on the occasion of this, my second visit to the town of Young. When I came here four years ago, I was much struck with the picturesque and thriving aspect of the country between this and Murrumburrah. The manifest fertility of the soil, and the large area that on all sides had even then been brought under cultivation were enough to convince the most casual observer that a prosperous future awaited this district. Though years have passed away since the great Lambing Flat gold-fields had many thousands of diggers spread over its surface, your town has not gone back. It must be a matter of congratulation that the search for gold has been succeeded by the search for wealth and comfort in a different and better direction. Your beautiful hillsides have been turned into wheatfields, and an air of peaceful civilisation prevails. The railway, which is now completed to your town, will enable many, who otherwise could not have had the means to visit it, to come and look on scenery well calculated to cause a most agreeable surprise. You only drawback is the dryness of the climate, and the occasional scarcity of water. It is not too much to expect that the energy of the people, aided perhaps by an enlightened Government, may, before very long, greatly diminish, if not entirely overcome, the disadvantage. I again thank you, and assure you of the pleasure which this renewal of my acquaintance with the town and district of Young has given me.


    The business of the Court was then proceeded with.

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The Burrangong Argus and Burrowa, Murrumborrah, and Marengo General Advertiser, Sat 10 Apr 1886 7

    THE CHIEF JUSTICE'S VISIT.—Continuing our notes of the visit of his Honor, Sir James Martin to Young, we may add that on Tuesday evening he was entertained at a banquet at Cohen’s Hotel, given by the magistrates of the Circuit Court district of Young, and the members of the legal profession. On Wednesday evening, the Mayor, aldermen and townsmen generally, invited his Honor to a ball at the Mechanics’ Institute. The civil business of the Circuit Court was fixed for Thursday, but as there were no cases for trial the court was not opened. In the evening the Chief Justice entertained the bench and bar and private friends at dinner at Cohen’s Hotel, where his Honor has been located, and he left Young on Friday morning, by special train for Yass, where he will open the Circuit Court on Monday next.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 15 Apr 1886 8


    The new Courthouse at Young was opened on April 6 by Sir James Martin, the Chief Justice. His Honor was presented with addresses from the Mayor and aldermen of the town, and also from the local magistracy and members of the legal profession. In the evening the Chief Justice was entertained at a banquet.


1  Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Wed 10 Mar 1886, p. 6.

2  The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 10 Mar 1886, p. 9.

3  The Argus, Sat 27 Mar 1886, p. 9.

4  The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 30 Mar 1886, p. 5.

5  Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Wed 31 Mar 1886, p. 5.

6  The Burrangong Argus and Burrowa, Murrumborrah, and Marengo General Advertiser, Wed 7 Apr 1886, p. 2.

7  The Burrangong Argus and Burrowa, Murrumborrah, and Marengo General Advertiser, Sat 10 Apr 1886, p. 2.

8  The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 15 Apr 1886, p. 5.