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Clare's First Police Station

Clare's First Police Station
1883 Police troopers at Clare. Photo - State Library of South Australia, B 7439.jpg

1883 Police troopers at Clare [SLSA B 7439] at the Old Police Station (now the Museum)

Police troopers at Clare : l-r Mtd Const. Farmer, Mtd. Const. Roper, Corp Bushell, Mtd Const. Ellis, Mtd. Const. Phelan, Corp Dowling, Mtd. Const. Ridgway, Inspector Saunders.

Northern Argus (Clare, SA), Friday 26 June 1931, page 3


The Clare Village Police Station had evidently been shifted from Bungaree on Feb. 11, 1847.

  • Police Constables South and Sherman are the first names mentioned.

    • Sherman had his horse stolen from Mr. Gleeson's stable, but the police were not successful in catching the thief.

  • Natives harassed the shepherds and took away sheep, and attacked the police.


Northern Argus (Clare, SA), Friday 4 December 1942, page 4

Clare Courthouse and Police Station

The Editor writes: 

In the Gazette dated 10/5/1849, tenders were called for the erection of police premises at Clare, and in the Govt. Gazette dated 25/4/1850 it is stated that the erection of the Clare Police building would be commenced forthwith.

In 1850 the land west of Sections 37 and 40 was Crown Lands.

During that year the Court House was erected on the Crown Lands referred at a cost of £310 and added to in 1864 for a further cost of £198.

It would appear therefore, that the first police building in Clare was erected in 1850.

One fact which he has brought to light will be a complete surprise to many.

He discloses that before the present Clare Cemetery was opened under District Council rule in 1871, a previous Clare Cemetery was made and provided in 1864.

The Police Reserve was let by the Crown on Miscellaneous Lease No. 6887 to Thos. Francis Pink for 21 years from 1st January, 1905, for grazing purposes, the police to have the right to graze two horses. 

In 1908 the Corporation asked that Portion of the Police Reserve be made available as a rubbish depot.

Ultimately the whole of the Reserve with the exception of cemetery v (B, C) was placed under control of the Corporation for Corporation purposes vide Gazette 17/2/1910, the lessee having surrendered his lease on 27th January, 1910.

The Police still retaining the right to graze two horses. The Court House previously referred to was later used as a Casualty Hospital and still later was intended to be used for infectious diseases,

Police duty at Museum.png
Clare Courthouse and Police Station
Clare Courthouse Clare01A.jpg
John Hope 1860's.jpg

Adelaide Observer (SA), Saturday 28 February 1863, page 8

Clare, February 27 1863:

New Clare Courthouse


Mr. John Hope laid the foundation-stone of the new Police Station on Wednesday.

After he had placed the stone in a proper manner, the residents of Clare gave him three very hearty cheers, also three for Mrs. Hope and the children.

After which Mr. Hope acknowledged the compliment in a very substantial manner by laying down some pieces of gold for the builders and workmen, who I believe drunk the health of the giver.

In reference to the new Court and Police Station, I might say that the public have expressed themselves entirely dissatisfied with the size of the rooms, etc.

The Court-room is only 31 feet by 18 feet, from which a space of feet is set apart for the Magistrate's bench and Clerk's table, leaving the rest to contain the visitors and others, which is altogether inadequate for such a rising district as Clare.

Again, there is only one room for the Clerk, Magistrate, and Jury.


Surely there should he a private roam for such a responsible person as the Clerk, who cannot avoid, however managed, having some of his books, receipts, and papers lying about on his desk, and when the Jury are occupying it the inconvenience to the Clerk of the Court or Magistrate may be considerable.

I think with many others that there is someone to blame for the laying-out of it thus. There is a space of about 12 feet left between the Telegraph Office and the new building, which is and will he entirely useless.

Why did not they take it in? It would have saved the building of one side wall by running it up against the Telegraph Office.

1872 Court House and Institute. Photo- State Library of South Australia, B 13399.jpg
New Clare Courthouse

​Court House and Institute, Clare. The Courthouse was built in 1878 and occupied from 1880.

1872 Court House and Institute. Photo- State Library of South Australia,

B 13399

The first Courthouse and police station in Clare was built in 1850

Police Heritage Site plaque April 2022.png
Police Heritage Site established at Clare

28 Apr 2022 11:22am


To mark Police Foundation Day 2022, the old Clare Police Station was officially declared a Police Heritage Site.

An invitation-only ceremony was held at the Old Clare Police Station and Courthouse Museum on Thursday, 28 April 2022 at 11.00 am.


Commissioner Grant Stevens, along with members of the Police Historical Society and National Trust of South Australia unveiled a plaque declaring the location a Police Heritage Site.

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

Police duty at Museum.png
Police Heritage Site established at Clare
Clare's Police History Here:

In 1850 work commenced on erecting the new courthouse and police station in Clare, in the corner of a 40-acre 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, 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 South Australia.


Commissioner Grant Stevens says:

“The historical importance of the Old Clare Police Station is 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.”

Clare's Police History Here
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