History of Old Dubbo Gaol












                           CHRONOLOGY OF OLD DUBBO GAOL


1846 Courts of Petty Session to be held at Dubbo
1847-1848 Police residence, court house and lock up built
1849 The village of Dubbo officially proclaimed
1858 District Court to be held at Dubbo
1862-1863 Second court house and lockup built
1867 Post and telegraph office completed next to the court house on gaol yard.  Exercise yard moved to back of court house
1868 Well sunk behind court house
1869-1870 Additions to back of court house, possibly in area used by gaol
1871 Construction of new gaol, stone with four cells and a day room and bedroom for the gaoler.  Exercise yard not enclosed.  Location of other associated buildings e.g. kitchen and closet, not known.
1873-1874 Extension of the cell block with addition of five cells.  Fenced enclosure around the east end of the cell block.  Possible shelter shed.  Location of kitchen and closet not known.
1874 Circuit court to be held at Dubbo
1877 First execution in Dubbo gaol - prisoner buried in gaol yard
1877-1880 Alterations and additions including the:
  • construction of an L-shaped block comprising a kitchen, store room, hospital ward, surgery and bathroom
  • construction of fencing and closets associated with the L-shaped building
  • alterations to the cell block to provide a door to shut off the east end of the passage and the insertion of a doorway into a window space in the centre of the south wall
  • construction of a shed, enclosed yard and closet at the east end of the cell block to serve as a women's yard and the removal of existing fencing
  • construction of a perimeter wall with two watchtowers and catwalks on diagonally opposite corners and a pair of large entrance gates
  • fencing off the east end of the gaol as a men's working yard and the provision of a shelter shed
  • The 1868 well covered by the construction of the L-shaped hospital block
1886-1887 Construction of third court house on new site with frontage to Brisbane Street

The alternations and additions made to the gaol in the period 1886-1889 included the:

  • construction of a residence with associated yard and outbuildings for the gaoler outside the west wall
  • relocation of the entrance to the gaol to the centre of the west wall adjacent to the new residence and armoury
  • construction of a new gateway with inner and outer gates and the relocation of the existing gate piers and gates to form the outer gates
  • addition of three cells to the east end of the cell block, comprising a padded cell on the north side and two ordinary cells on the south side of the passage
  • conversion of the original gaoler's quarters at the west end of the cell block into two dark cells
  • construction of separate accommodation for women in the north-east corner of the gaol comprising two cells, a shed, kitchen, bathroom, store, yard and closet
  • construction of a wall across the whole width of the gaol enclosure separating the cell block and hospital block from the women's yard and men's yard
  • relocation of the shelter shed within the men's yard
  • installation of an underground tank to collect rainwater from the roofs
  • installation of an iron gate, window gratings and fanlight in the kitchen
  • construction of two workshops on the east side of the hospital block
1887 Dubbo Gaol becomes a minor gaol
Early 1890's Demolition of part of second court house
1895-1898 Additions proposed in 1886 finally put in place, together with some other improvements.  The works included the:
  • extension of the south-west corner of the gaol enclosure into the area once occupied by the 1860's court house
  • removal of part of the south-west boundary wall, watch tower and warder's platform
  • erection of the new line of wall and the relocation of the watch tower and platform at the south-west corner of the new enclosure
  • erection of a trial yard within the extension to the gaol with a shelter shed and closets
  • enclosure of a new labour yard divided into three sections with sheds and closets
  • removal of the shelter shed and carpenters' and shoemakers' shed from the east side of the L-shaped hospital wing
  • construction of additional closets in the hospital yard
  • construction of a new office and guard room (armoury) on the south side of gateway
  • conversion of the room formerly used as an office into part of the gaoler's residence
  • re-flooring the prison kitchen using prison labour
  • the addition of a verandah around the west and south sides of the hospital and cook house block
1900 One large cell converted into two and the two dark cells (formerly the gaoler's quarters) converted into light cells
1904 Kitchen and hospital block roofed with galvanised iron.  The adjacent workshop may also have been re-roofed at the same time
1904 Last execution in Dubbo gaol
1907 Nine iron doors fitted to cells replacing wooden ones
1909 Government Savings Bank built on old court house site on Macquarie Street, on south side of gaol entrance
1914 Gaol reverts to status of police gaol
1924 Electricity installed
1928-1929 Gaoler's residence and site on north side of gaol entrance sold to the Commonwealth Bank.  Additional land on south side of entrance sold to Government Savings Bank.  Macquarie Street entrance to gaol closed and new entrance made in east wall.

The alterations and additions to the gaol in 1928-1929 comprised the:

  • removal of the west wall and its relocation to a position to the east of its original line
  • filling in or strengthening the well to the west of the male cell block, to take the weight of the new wall
  • construction of a new double entrance in the east wall of the gaol, using the inner and outer gates relocated from the Macquarie Street Entrance
  • construction of two gaolers' rooms on the south side of the new entrance between the inner and outer gates
  • construction of a new residence for the Acting Gaoler external tot he gaol on the north side of the new entrance, with a yard adjoining the gaol wall
  • making a new opening in the east wall of the gaol to provide access from the gaoler's residence
  • constructing a second cottage for gaol staff in the south-west corner of the court house grounds, at the back of the post office
  • dismantling the three yards on the east side of the gaol and removing the shelter sheds
  • making two new trial yards to the south of the female cells
  • making three new yards to the east of the kitchen and hospital block, subdividing the existing shelter shed
  • removal of the kitchen from west end of female block
  • raising the tower at the north-east corner

Gaol buildings purchased by Government Savings Bank to be retained for bank use.  South-west watch tower to be used for storage.  Entrance, office and single officer's room to be used for garage and storage purposes.

Area inside entrance gates built up and provided with artificial lighting.

Gaoler's residence purchased by Commonwealth Bank to be refurbished as manager's residence.

1934 Gaol connected to the town sewer.  Works included the:
  • construction of three sets of new closets, to the east of the hospital block and at either end of the shelter shed in the main exercise yard
  • conversion of the shelter shed into a laundry
  • removal of the old closets at north-east corner of hospital yard
  • removal of old iron store adjacent to the kitchen and hospital block and its replacement with a new workshop and store
  • installation of new basins, bath and sinks in existing locations

Well was found beneath the bath in the hospital block, probably the well that had been sunk in 1868.

1945 Two trial yards extended to the west and the toilets relocated to the new extensions.  Part of catwalk along north east wall removed.
1955 Gaol flooded to depth of five feet
31 August 1966 Closure of gaol
1973-1997 Gaol managed by Gaol Restoration Committee of the Dubbo Historical Society
1973-1974 General clean-up, removal of vegetation, general repairs and painting, power and water restored.

Larger scale works including the:

  • restoration of outbuildings and fences
  • restoration of selected cells including the padded cell, condemned cell and the solitary confinement cells (the doors and fittings of which had been removed when the gaol was closed)
  • re-opening western entrance for use as a reception area for visitors, bricks for new work selected to match the original
  • demolition of part of the wall that had been realigned in 1929 in the new work erection of the gallows
1974 Opening of Old Dubbo Gaol
1976-1981 Construction of additions to court house and demolition of gaol staff residences.  Restoration of 1887 court house and part of gaol wall
1981 New court house officially opened
1986-1987 Restoration work including:
  • exterior walls of the main cell block poulticed to dry out the sandstone
  • new drainage pipes laid around building under new concrete paths
  • interior walls of cell block cleaned by removing the fretting sandstone and repainted
  • restoration of parts on the inside face of the gaol wall on the north, east and south sides
  • new cement paths
  • laying turf between the paths with a sprinkler system for watering
  • construction of new catwalk on the north wall, adjacent to the north-east watchtower
1987-1988 Restoration work:
  • restoration of the kitchen / hospital complex
  • reconstruction of a verandah at the west wall of cell block