Guildford Colonial Gaol

Colonial Gaol

The Colonial Gaol in Meadow Street Guildford was build in several stages between 1841 and 1867.  Very early after settlement (1829) there was already a need for a local lockup.  Guildford had three hotels, and so social problems resulted because of drunk and disorderly conduct in the town.  Besides hotel patrons, employers in those days paid their staff in part with liquor, compounding the issue of drunken citizens and rowdy behaviour.  To deal with the problem a two cell lock up, and a small constable’s room was constructed in 1841.

The Gaol (really a small lock up) was used to contain people for all types of crimes, including overnight stays to sleep off the ravages of drink.  More serious criminals would be kept at the lock up for a short time, before being taken to either Perth or Fremantle Gaol to await trial and sentencing.

Parts of the Gaol were built by convict labour, during the period 1850 to 1868,  In 1853 a larger Magistrate’s room was added to the Colonial Gaol.  Magistrates heard cases in this room for thirteen years, until the Guildford Court House (now the Swan Valley Visitor’s Centre building) was built.  In 1868, a large exercise yard was added to the Gaol complex.  At its full capacity, the Gaol had eleven cells.  A large horse stable was on site, together with houses for the Police Sergeant, and Police Constable nearby.  Commencing from 1917 onwards, parts of the Gaol were demolished.  The horse stable was demolished in 1949.   Only four cells, and the Magistrate’s Room (now called the Justice Room) remain.

The Colonial Gaol was operational until 1969 as a police station.  In that year the police closed the station, and moved to Midland.

The Colonial Gaol is a wonderful example of Colonial architecture.  We invite you to visit us and take a guided tour, to learn about days gone by and Law and Order in Guildford.