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1889, Paddington Courthouse Opening - Unfit For Publication
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The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 23 May 1889 1


    The President took the chair at half-past 4 o’clock.


    Mr SUTTOR, in answer to Mr Trickett, said that the building for the Courthouse at Paddington was completed. The question as to the opening of the Court would be considered as soon as the Estimates for this year, now before Parliament, upon which provision has been made for a salary of a clerk of petty sessions, had been passed.

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Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 31 Aug 1889 2


    The rapid extension of suburban Sydney, both in area and population, has, especially of late years, created a demand for increased police court accommodation. Formerly, the metropolitan police area comprised only two courts, viz, the Central and the Water Police Courts. Now, however, it comprises six, by including Newtown, Redfern, Balmain, and St Leonards. These six courts are presided over by nine stipendiary magistrates, including one acting and two deputy stipendiaries. When it is remembered that the metropolitan police district of London, with the enormous population of three and a half millions, requires only twenty-six stipendiaries, it would, at first sight, seem that nine magistrates for Sydney, with a population of about three hundred and fifty thousand, are more than adequate to public requirements. This, however, is not the case. Here the police courts are also courts of petty session, which is not the case in London. Consequently, while a Sydney magistrate may not have more onerous duties to discharge, the probability is that his time is quite as much employed as is that of a London magistrate, notwithstanding the disparity shown by a comparison of the numbers of the population, and of the magistrates of the two cities. Already the Sydney Bench, court officials, and the police, find themselves taxed to the utmost to keep pace with the ever-growing demands of the metropolis, and now that it has been decided to create courts at Paddington and Leichhardt, the strain upon them would, if not alleviated by new arrangements, be greater than ever.

Paddington courthouse. Image: Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 31 Aug 1889, p. 31. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Paddington courthouse. Image: Australian Town and Country
Journal, Sat 31 Aug 1889, p. 31. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

    The Minister of Justice (Mr AJ Gould) has before Parliament a bill for increasing the stipendiary branch by the addition of one magistrate, whose services will become necessary when the two courts at Paddington and Leichhardt are opened. Provision has been made on the Parliamentary Estimates for the current year for the appointment of clerks of Petty Session at these two courts. But those appointments, and the opening of the courts, are contingent on the passing of the bill providing for an extra stipendiary.

    The new Court of Petty Sessions at Paddington is situated in the Point Piper-road, and consists of a courthouse, cells, and public offices. The lower portion of the facade consists of an arcade of five arches, with one central arch surmounted by a pedimented gable above the courthouse, which, of course, is higher than the side offices. Access to the courthouse is given from the arcade—which is paved with ornamental tiles—through a handsome doorway. To the right is the police station, with a double range of cells (for males and for females), with separate yards. To the left are the public offices, including the inquiry and record rooms, and those for the CPS and witnesses, with a separate yard and the usual conveniences; while at the back is the magistrate’s private room, 18ft by 16ft. The dimension of the courtroom itself are 46ft 6in by 24ft 6in. The ceiling is divided into panels by deep, heavy mouldings, the walls and ceiling being artistically stained. One special feature about the building is the elaborate arrangement for perfect ventilation. Air-trunks are laid under the floors of the principal rooms, from which tubes lead up the side of the walls to a height of 7ft, where they discharge a continuous current of fresh air throughout the building. The cost of the building, including extras, is estimated at about £5000. The contractor was Mr Martin Anderson. Considering the manner in which they have been hampered by the restricted area, the officials of the Colonial Architect’s Department, where the plans of the building were prepared, may be said to have succeeded fairly well in satisfying the demands made upon their ingenuity. Those who visit the building and observe how conscientiously every foot of ground has been economised, will, in some measure, appropriate the difficulties which have had to be contended with. There is no getting over the fact that the error committed in Redfern by building a courthouse on a site which did not provide for future extensions, demanded by the daily increasing requirements of a rapidly growing suburb, has been repeated in Paddington. Already in Redfern the business requires the enlargement of the courthouse; and this will be the case in Paddington in a year or two, when, as in Redfern, the alterations cannot be made except by purchasing adjoining land at an enormously enhanced value.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 20 Sep 1889 3



    A meeting of this council was held on the 16th instant. Present.—The Mayor (Alderman Hellmrich), Aldermen Jones, George, Dillon, Scott, Brown, Harper, Coulter, Mahoney, and Davidson.

    At the suggestion of Alderman Brown, it was resolved to write to the Minister for Justice, asking that a police magistrate be appointed to act at the new courthouse, Point Piper-road, as soon as possible. The Mayor stated that he had spoken to the members about the matter, who had informed him that nothing could be done until the Act of Parliament was passed.

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Evening News, Mon 10 Oct 1892 4


    The Minister for Justice, Mr RE O’Connor, having failed to find any other use to which to put the new Paddington and Glebe courthouses, has decided that they shall be opened at the beginning of next year and used for the purposes for which they were built. It is about three years since the buildings were erected, at a total cost of about £16,000, but great difficulties arose arranging to conduct business in them without making additional appointments to the magisterial bench; but now it has been settled that the existing stipendiary magistrates can manage the extra work, by attending each morning to deal with lock-up cases, and that the court proper shall be held at each place on three days of the week.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 5 Apr 1893 5


    The courthouse in Point Piper-road, [now Jersey Road], a few yards from Oxford-street, was opened yesterday morning 6 by Mr Whittingdale Johnson, PM. Mr WJ Truckett, MLC, also set on the bench. Mr Fred WC Crane, the newly appointed clerk of petty sessions for the Paddington district, took the depositions, and Inspector Long prosecuted.

Paddington courthouse. Photo: Peter de Waal
Paddington courthouse. Photo: Peter de Waal

    Mr CARTER SMITH, solicitor, congratulated the residents of the district on the opening of the court, and hoped that they would find it the convenience they anticipated. In view of the fact that the magistrates who would attend the court had other work allotted to them which they would have to transact almost concurrently with the business of that court, which work must necessarily on occasions clash with their duties at Paddington, he doubted whether the residents would experience all the convenience they expect. Attendance at Paddington would certainly be inconvenient to the stipendiary magistrates and to the legal profession, but it must be admitted that the convenience of particular individuals, or of a particular class, were not commensurate with the convenience of the public. He thought it would be well if unpaid justices were allowed to adjudicate in suburban courts.

    Mr JOHNSON, SM, briefly replied, saying that before unpaid justices could adjudicate, the Metropolitan Magistrates Act would have to be altered.

    The business of the Court was then proceeded with. Thomas Kelly, labourer, was fined 20s or seven days, for being drunk and disorderly, and was remanded until Wednesday on a charge of breaking a door and window, the property of James Roberts.


1   The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 23 May 1889, p. 3.

2   Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 31 Aug 1889, p. 31.

3   The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 20 Sep 1889, p. 10. Emphasis added.

4   Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Mon 10 Oct 1892, p. 2. Emphasis added.

5   The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 5 Apr 1893, p. 9.

6   The date on the facade of the building shows 1888 yet according to the newspaper report it was opened during 1893.