History of the Building
Opened 6th December, 1884 – Closed 27th November, 1995
Note: Over the years there has been some confusion as to the actual locations and dates of the Prospect police stations. This is partly due to the deficiency of information available. From 1884 to 1995 the Prospect police station was sited at four different locations; First (1884 to 1900) was on the north west corner of Pulsford and Prospect Roads, Prospect; Second (1900 to 1909) at 114 Main North Road, Prospect (from 1909 name changed to the Nailsworth police station); Third (1909 to 1920) at 3 Vine Street, Prospect; Fourth (1920 to 1995) at 89 Prospect Road, Prospect.
Prospect is an inner metropolitan suburb located five kilometres north of Adelaide. Prospect village was founded in 1838 and was so named at the time because of the “beautiful prospect the locality presented”. The first police station in the vicinity of Prospect was at Ovingham. In November, 1881, the Ovingham police station was established at 131 Drayton Street, Bowden. It had been formed mainly due to complaints of unruly behaviour by young men near the Ovingham Hotel. However, in October, 1884, Police Commissioner William Peterswald looked to close the Ovingham police station and establish a new station at Prospect. On the 4th November, 1884, Mr James Harrington wrote to Inspector Sullivan of the Metropolitan Police, offering, “a four roomed house in Pulsford Road, Prospect” [south east corner of Pulsford and Prospect Roads, facing onto Pulsford Road] and am prepared to erect two cells 6ft by 10ft of headstone or brick, with a wooden bench in each, also to build a one stall stable and hay shed of galvanised iron. The stable to be paved and completed by 1st Dec., 84., for the term of three years commencing Dec 1st/84 at rental of forty one pound 12/- [£41/12/0] per year payable quarterly, tenant to pay the water rate.” On the same date Police Commissioner Peterswald in a Minute to the Chief Secretary, wrote; “Respectfully recommending that Mr Harrington’s offer be accepted. It is my intention to remove the foot constable from Ovingham and to place a mounted one at Prospect. The additional expense for rent will only be £2/12/0 per annum and the district better protected.” On the 6th November, 1884 the Chief Secretary approved the proposal and on the same date the police station at Ovingham was closed and the Prospect police station opened in the house rented from James Harrington. Mounted Constable George Matthews was the first officer in charge of the station. On the 10th December, 1884 a notice was published in the South Australian Police Gazette advising, “Police stations have been opened at Uraidla and Prospect.”
Mounted Constable George Matthews remained at the Pulsford Road station until May, 1887 when he was replaced by Mounted Constable Joseph East. To confuse matters, in 1891, Mounted Constable Joseph East was replaced by Mounted Constable William East. Although at this time, 1891, a block of land was purchased by the Police Department at 114 Main North Road, Prospect as a site for a future police station, the police station remained in the Pulsford Road house, which was now leased from Mr J. Hughes at a cost of £46 per annum; James Harrington having lost control of the property in 1887. In April, 1895 Foot Constable William Matthews replaced Mounted Constable William East. Matthews and his family resided at the Pulsford Road police station rented house until 1900, when a new police station was erected on the previously purchased block of land at 114 Main North Road, Prospect. Foot Constable Matthews and his family were the first to occupy the new station, which was named Prospect police station. The Pulsford Road police station was subsequently closed and the rental lease terminated. The Prospect police district was extensive, which Constable Matthews patrolled by bicycle. In 1954, his daughter, Mrs Carpenter, recalled her childhood days at the Prospect police stations; “I was ten years old when my late father took charge of the police station from Constable East, it was situated on the corner of Prospect Rd and Pulsford Road. All the land in front was vacant…we children used to play north of the Police Station…Mr Harrington grew wheat there…my father was the first to occupy the new Police Station on the Main North Road. Father was the only officer on duty in the district at that time, also visiting the hotels on a Sunday, the Reepham at Islington and the O.G. on the North East Road….we spent many happy years there, it is certainly something to be proud of.” Foot Constable Matthews remained at the Main North Road Prospect police station until 1902 when he transferred to Adelaide and was replaced by Foot Constable James Higgins.
Prospect Police Stn, Vine Street 1915 (Church family photo)
With the expansion of housing and commercial development in the area of Prospect Road and beyond, resulting in an increased demand on police services and coupled with the Prospect police district being so large, an additional police station was established in January, 1909 in leased premises at 3 Vine Street, Prospect. This became known as the Prospect police station. As a consequence, on the 13th January, 1909, the following notice was published in the South Australian Police Gazette, “A new police station has been opened at Vine Street, off Prospect Road, Prospect. The station known in the past as Prospect Police Station will in future be known as Nailsworth Police Station.” The Vine Street premises was a villa style house of four rooms, one which was used as a police charge room (police office), with a lean-to kitchen and bathroom. A portable galvanised police cell was erected in the rear yard and a ‘Police’ lamp installed near the front gate. Foot Constable Ferdinand Beckmann was appointed as the officer in charge. He remained there until February, 1913 when he resigned from the Force and was replaced by Foot Constable John Gurry. Within several weeks of being stationed at Prospect, Constable Gurry with Foot Constable Higgins from Nailsworth police station attended a horrific crime scene in which a two year old girl had been murdered by her father at Charles Street, Prospect, following which the father, Frederick Johnson, committed suicide. In March, 1914 Constable Gurry transferred to Kilkenny and was later promoted to sergeant. He was replaced by Foot Constable Henry Church who occupied the premises with his wife and two children. It was at this time that the Police Department purchased an adjoining block of land at a cost of £200 for use as a
Prospect Road Police Station Circa 1920
site for a future Prospect police station however, owing to the outbreak of the First World War the building was not proceeded with and the land was sold in 1921 for £168/5/0. In 1920, the Police Department decided that the Vine Street property was not in a sufficiently central location and a larger bluestone seven roomed house at number 89 Prospect Road, Prospect was purchased for use as a police station. Constructed in the 1890’s, the house had belonged to the Ward family for many years and was known as Leeds Villa. With only minor additions, including a wash house, W.C. (toilet) and a transportable metal cell, probably removed from Vine Street and erected in the rear yard. Constable Church and his family moved into the new police station in mid-1920, it being the fourth Prospect police station established since 1884. In 1922, after eight years at the two different Prospect police station locations, Constable Church was promoted to sergeant and transferred to Adelaide.
Many years later, Henry Church’s son, Jack, fondly remembered the family days at the Vine Street police station. “My earliest memories of Prospect go back more than 65 years and centre around its police stations, for my father, was for eight years the local policeman, or as his official title went, the Officer in Charge. I recall the Vine Street police station had a ‘Police’ lamp with red glass. The light remained on all night. The area under his supervision was an extensive one and he was liable to be called to Ovingham, Kilburn, (then called Chicago) and Islington as well as to any place in Prospect. When I was about four years old he made a little seat for me which he fixed on the cross bar of his bicycle and I often used to accompany him. His only means of travel was his departmental bicycle. There were no police cars at that time, in fact, horsedrawn cabs had still not quite vanished. My father used to patrol the streets armed with nothing more than a cane and any larrikin who was slow in making tracks for home when told to do so would receive a swish to set him moving. In about 1920 the Police Department bought a bigger house at No. 89 Prospect Road. We moved there and we were very excited about it all, especially because from our verandah my sister and I could watch the trams go by. At that time my father was on duty all day and every day, except on every fourth Sunday, when he was allowed to take the day off, provided he arranged for his fellow officer at Nailsworth to be on call. My father remained in the police force until he reached the retiring age in 1943, rising from sergeant to inspector, then chief traffic inspector and finally to metropolitan superintendent. He said his days at Prospect stood him in good stead in later years. We were proud of our father. Sadly, he died in 1953, aged 70.”
Until 1934 the Prospect police station operated as a one member station. From 1934 to 1939 two members were permanently stationed there then increased to three and in November, 1942 to four members. In 1951 staffing again increased and the station gradually assumed the role of head station for the northern suburbs police stations of Walkerville, Nailsworth, Gepps Cross and Enfield. In 1942 the police station underwent extensive alterations when a new courthouse, general police office, sergeant’s office, Magistrate’s room together with a first floor section consisting of two bedrooms, a muster room and front balcony for single men’s quarters were constructed on the north western corner of the police house and new police cells erected in the rear yard. Built at a cost of £2,585/12/11, the station design followed a contemporary ‘art moderne’ style with rounded corners and the word ‘Police’ displayed vertically. The additions however, obscured the street view of the former villa house. By the early 1960’s the single men’s quarters were converted into use as offices for the Prospect CIB and the police station was at its zenith for staffing, workload and functions, with the station consisting of a Sergeant 1st Grade as officer in charge and Clerk of Court, Sergeant 3rd Grade (general supervisor), seven uniformed members with a Detective Sergeant and four detectives
Following a major re-organisation of policing in 1970-1972, police patrol activity for the area and CIB were centralised at Holden Hill, where a larger police complex had been built. Prospect thereupon reverted to an office and enquiry station, providing a 16 hour office facility for the public, with the SA Police Historical Society occupying the former CIB office area. Following the closure of the Prospect Court in 1987, the Police Breath Analysis Section occupied the former court rooms. The police office continued to be staffed until November, 1995, when the police station was closed, with an experimental Mobile Police Station bus taking its place in the Prospect District. In April, 1996 the Prospect police station and courthouse premises were sold and since that time the building has been used as a café and restaurant.
Footnote: Of interest, the longest serving member at Prospect police station was Oscar Henning. He initially served there as a constable and from April, 1937 to February, 1955 as the Sergeant in Charge, a period of about 18 years.
Prospect Police Station & Courthouse,89 Prospect Road, Prospect Circa 1965