Lock 'em up!

The lock-up at John W Gardner Reserve in Beech Forest is a fine example of a single cell lock-up found in many Australia country towns.  They were typically used as a temporary holding place and defined as "Any building or structure that was used to confine or restrain temporarily those accused of committing a criminal act or apprehended for drunken disorderly or riotous behaviour."


           Beech Forest lock up - exterior and interior

Beech Forest is likely to have had its fair share of disorderly behaviour, however the lock-up was rarely used and only twice for more serious criminal offences with two murders recorded.

There have been three different locations for the lock-up.  The first was behind the first police station on Gardner Hill.  This area was where the first selection was issued to John W Gardner who went on to establish many services and shops to support the growing population.  The station was first opened in 1907  and the building was constructed in 1903, still standing today.  It was leased by the Police Department for Mounted Constable Albert Olney's appointment and was used for short-term imprisonment, typically holding drunks overnight and detaining alleged offenders for offences such as larrikinism on the train, insurance fraud, rowdyism and forgery, while awaiting court appearance. 

A new station was built in 1912 on Dehnerts Track when many of the services and shops moved from Gardner Hill to the new Main Road and Southorn Street central business area.  It remained there when the station was replaced with a new improved building in 1960.   The 1960 building remains today as a private residence. The police desk storage unit is housed in the ODHS History Rooms and contains some very interesting original police documents.