Historical information

The institutions of law and order in Colonial Victoria included the police, courts and prisons.

The 1852 report of the Snodgrass Select Committee appointed to "identify the policing needs of the colony” noted there existed seven independent police forces that did not co-operate or regularly communicate. Following the committee's report all these police entities were merged into the Victoria Police, founded on 8 January 1853, to implement law and order responsibilities throughout the Colony of Victoria.

The Eltham Courthouse (1860) and adjacent Police Residence (1859) formed a justice precinct established in the immediate aftermath of the 1852 police inquiry and the effects of the gold rush. The physical presence of these buildings, in the centre of the early Eltham township, defined centralised control over law and order.

In the early days the Police Constable in charge would conduct his duties travelling around the district by horse; a stable was located at the rear of the residence. At times the horse would be grazed on the paddocks across the road. Horseshoes were forged by the blacksmith beside the Courthouse on the high side of “Policeman’s Hill”. Along with the stable, there was a two-cell bluestone lockup where prisoners were held awaiting trial in the adjacent Courthouse. Their meals were usually provided by the policeman’s wife or from the hotel just up the road.

With the arrival of the railway in 1902 the town centre gradually shifted towards the railway station. The Police Station and operations were moved into the town centre in 1961 to a renovated house in Pryor Street, which was later replaced by the current Police Station.

From 1961-1981 the residence was occupied by the Vermin and Noxious Weeds Destruction Section of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey. Prior to August 1967 the former Police Station was dragged to the rear of Police Residence to make way for the construction of a driveway and access from Main Road. The building was placed on the site of a former Scullery and modified for Lands Department use.

In 1981 the Shire of Eltham took over management of the former Police Residence in Eltham. It remained unoccupied for a period whilst its future was discussed in Council. It was then used for a community job creation scheme until 1985.

In 1985 the Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment occupied the residence. Council improved the driveway but later added a second rear access from Brougham Street due to the dangerous nature of the Main Road entrance. Additionally, a rear toilet facility between the Police Residence and the relocated former Police Station, which was doubling up as a lunchroom. Council also commenced discussions to re-establish a replica Police Station.

Around November 1986 the former Police Station was demolished; believed to have been suffering termite damage.

About 1989, after some years of discussion, a replica Police Station was built, based on photographs, to act as a lunchroom and meeting room for the Parks and Environment staff and volunteers doing community service.

In 1996 Eltham District Historical Society held discussions with Nillumbik Shire Council commissioners throughout the year regarding a home for the Society. A proposal was put forward by the Society in October to occupy the former Police Residence.

In March 1997 Eltham District Historical Society gained access to former Police Residence and on July 12, 1998, moved into its Local History Centre.

In July 2018, Eltham District Historical Society gained access to the replica Police Station (which had been used as a music library and storage for the Eltham Concert Band) for use as part of regular heritage tours for schools and community-based groups.

Covered under Heritage Overlay, Nillumbik Planning Scheme.

Published: Nillumbik Now and Then /​ Marguerite Marshall 2008; photographs Alan King with Marguerite Marshall.; p65


This collection of almost 130 photos about places and people within the Shire of Nillumbik, an urban and rural municipality in Melbourne's north, contributes to an understanding of the history of the Shire. Published in 2008 immediately prior to the Black Saturday bushfires of February 7, 2009, it documents sites that were impacted, and in some cases destroyed by the fires. It includes photographs taken especially for the publication, creating a unique time capsule representing the Shire in the early 21st century. It remains the most recent comprehenesive publication devoted to the Shire's history connecting local residents to the past.

Physical description

Born digital image file